Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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KNACKIE, adj. Also (k)na(c)ky, knakkie, nauky; ¶knacksy; gneigie (Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 302). [′(k)nɑke]

1. Adroit, deft, ingenious, skilful (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Kcb.4 1900; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. Hence knacky-handed, id. (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein), and reduplic. formation nicknackie, id. (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.). Sc. 1714 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 15:
He was right nacky in his Way.
Sc. 1824 S. E. Ferrier Inheritance I. xv.:
Have you no nice, nacky, little handy work, that you could be doing at?
Dwn. 1844 R. Huddleston Poems 15:
How guileless maidens' witchin' smiles, Are aft disarm'd by nauky guiles.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie xxii.:
She was . . . very knacky at laying out a corpse.
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. viii.:
He's byous knackie at the shifts [in draughts].
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 99:
An' thank them for their service, An' fraise their knacky skill.
Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier xi.:
I'll put it on mysel'. I'm rale knacky wi' a brush.
Cai. 1931 N. Gunn Morning Tide ii. ix.:
Davie, again, was knacky with his hands and very obliging.
Fif. 1951 P. Smith The Herrin' 12:
Knackie baith wi' brain and hands.

Hence ¶knackie-nick, n., a skill, attainment. w.Lth. 1889 F. Barnard Chirps 14:
The wildest gelding he could shae it, Work amang couters, socks, and harrows, Mak' graips, ring wheels o' cairts an' barrows, An' to croun a' his knackie-nicks, Was famed for sharpin' colliers' picks.

2. (1) Of persons: quick in movement, nimble, “nippy”, smart (ne.Sc. 1960). Also used adv. Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (20 Feb.) 343:
“I was saying thir breeks want a button.” “That makes nae difference to me,” said my aunt in her ain peculiar short, nacky way.
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 15:
On the day of the burial he turned upon the same functionary and told him to “look knacky an' screw 'er up.”
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 43:
An' knacky he pat on his hat An' nippet roon the neuk.
Abd. 1926 M. Argo Makkin' o' John 21:
It blecks a', lassie, the wye ye can gar yir feet gang. There's nae mony sae nacky.

(2) Of persons or things: trim, neatly-built, spruce, dainty (Mry. 1925; Abd., Ags., Fif., Lth., Rxb. 1960). Gall. c.1870 Bards Gall. (Harper 1889) 21:
A wean o' the Elfin race — knacky an' fair.
Sc. a.1879 W. McGonnagal in St Andrews Cit. (13 June 1934):
And o'er the stream there is a house right knackie, Of that grand old man, Professor Blackie.
Fif. 1893 G. Setoun Barncraig vii.:
She'll no be sic a nacky body gin she get married. Once a woman's a wife she has no time to be partic'lar about her clothes.
Ags. 1904 W. M. Inglis Angus Par. 162:
They had their bit bothies in the knackiest, cleverest spots ye ever saw in your life. Naething could surpass the Glenisla men in selecting the richt spot.
Rxb. 1942:
Of a neatly-built and very pretty girl — “She's a real knackie lassie.”

3. Witty, entertaining, lively and pleasant in conversation, facetious, quick-witted (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. knak; Rxb. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 97; Uls. 1929; Ork., Bnff., Ags., Lth. 1960). Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 123:
E'en mony a bonny knacky Tale, Bra to set o'er a Pint of Ale.
Lnk. 1808 W. Watson Poems 85:
It pat me fidgen fain to see, Yer knackie lang Epistle.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 35:
A knacksy joake, wi' mirth an' glee, In prose or rhyme.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie iv.:
In the evenings, Andrew had recourse to the firesides of the gash and knacky carles and carlins of the village.
Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Sketches 290:
He had stored his mind with many romantic tales of his travels, and his knacky way of relating these procured for him a hospitable reception at many a farmer's ingleside.
Fif. 1893 G. Setoun Barncraig i.:
Eben's a fine command o' language, no doubt, an' a nacky way o' sayin' things.
Sc. 1904 R. Small Hist. Congregations U.P. Church I. 293:
A writer in the denominational magazine many years ago credited Mr Dunlop with the gift of repartee or knacky remark.

[From Eng. knack, an adroit or ingenious method of doing something, etc. + -Ie. For 3., cf. also Knack, v., 3., n., 1.]

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"Knackie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Jul 2020 <>



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