Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

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.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Knackie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Dec 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: