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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HUNGRY, adj. Sc. usages. [′hʌŋri]

1. Combs. and Phr.: (1) hungry-bitten, of soil: poor, unproductive, “sometimes applied as a name to such a field” (Cai.9 1940). Cf. Eng. hunger-bitten; (2) hungry folk's meat, food that seems to take a long time to cook; ‡(3) hungry grass, enchanted grass with the power of inducing hunger in those who tread on it. Cf. (4) and (5); †(4) hungry ground, a piece of enchanted ground. See quot., (3) and (5); †(5) hungry-hillock, an enchanted mound. See quot., (3) and (4). Still found in place-names; †(6) hungry worm, see quot. and cf. heart-worm s.v. Hert.(2) ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 30:
In cooking any dish, if the cooking seemed to require longer time than usual, it was said that there was “hungry folk's meat” in the pot.
(3) Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
When a person treads on it in the fields he is seized with an intolerable hunger and weakness. A crop of hungry grass is said to spring up if persons who have dined in the fields do not throw some of the fragments away for the fairies.
(4) w.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Some tracts of country are believed to be so much under the power of enchantment, that he, who passes over any one of them, would infallibly faint, if he did not use something for the support of nature. It is therefore customary to carry a piece of bread in one's pocket, to be eaten when one comes to what is called the hungry ground.
(5) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 84:
A bewitched hillock, over which if one walks, he is seized with great hunger; as, “A'm sae yaap, a've surely gehn our a hungry-hillock.”
(6) n.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
A phrase used to express a popular idea in regard to the cause of keen hunger, and the danger of children fasting too long. It is common to say in the morning, “Gie the bairn a bit piece, for fear the hungry worm cut its heart”.

2. Mean, miserly, stingy, greedy. Gen.Sc.Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 122:
There's rowth o' a' thing ane could want, an' sae, whae'er may ca', There is nae hungry welcome ever gi'en at Davy's Ha'.
Lnk. 1926 W. Queen We're a' Coortin' 12:
The hungry auld deevil! Him an' his twa guineas! He micht hiv made it ten!

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"Hungry adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2023 <>



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