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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MENAGE, n. Also menauge, menoj, menodge, mennodge, minauge; manege, manawdge. Sc. usages: a kind of friendly society or savings club to which each member contributes a fixed sum weekly for a stated period, the members deciding by lot the order in which each is to receive the total contribution for any given week, subject to various deductions for entertainment, the expenses or trouble of the person acting as banker, etc. (Edb. 1825 Jam.). The practice, orig. an alternative to a savings bank, is now widely adopted in poorer industrial districts by hire-purchase firms and small shopkeepers as a means of pushing sales (m. and s.Sc. 1961). Freq. attrib. Also in n.Eng. dial. Also applied to the modern local savings group (Slk. 1962). [mə′nɑdʒ, -′nǫdʒ]Sc. 1815 Report Highl. Soc. on Savings Banks 4:
The disadvantages of Friendly Societies have given rise, in many parts of the country, to institutions known by the name of Menages . . . a certain number of persons agree to pay a certain sum each, periodically, for a certain period.
Rnf. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VII. 296:
Of institutions of the nature of a manege, there are many in Paisley, and they have been the means of much good.
Ags. 1866 D. Mitchell Hist. Montrose 85:
They would have got their clothing by joining a menage to which they paid 1/- in the week.
Lnk. 1889 A. G. Murdoch Readings I. 69, 72:
Mrs Gruppy was a manawdge wife who had considerable experience in the business. She was a sort of accepted stair-head banker and chancellor of the local exchequer . . . Washerwife for Mrs Gruppy's manawdge-circle in particular.
Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie vi.:
I'm needin' a new kep mysel', and I'm in a menoj for a bicycle.
Edb. 1917 Scotsman (18 Dec.) 5:
While acting as treasurer of a grocery “menage”, [she] embezzled various sums of money, amounting in all to £25, 4s. 6d. About thirty-five women had joined the club for the purpose of purchasing goods from an Edinburgh grocer at Christmas.
Gsw. 1924 J. H. Bone Crystal Set 22:
Here! that's ma menauge caird.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 15:
Menage = a sort of savings club having several of the characteristics of a lottery, at one time very popular among certain of the working-classes. Weekly payments of a fixed sum were made, and, in the order in which the names were extracted from the hat, each member received a full period's total subscriptions. Thus the owner of the first name had the advantage of receiving a lump sum straight away.
Fif. 1949 Scots Mag. (June) 199:
The workers of these days had a helping hand from friendly societies. For a shilling a week they provided sick benefit, and perhaps at the end of the year the “menage” yielded £2 10s.
wm.Sc. 1950 M. Hamilton Bull's Penny xiii.:
There'd be nothing left for the wives even to pay off Tammas's weekly menodge.
Edb. 1959 Edb. Evening News (23 Sept.):
Girls wanted to take up menages. — Apply Parkers Stores, Bristo Street.
Gsw. 1972 Molly Weir Best Foot Forward (1974) 182:
The nearest we ever got to HP, apart from my mother's mad flight of fancy with the piano, was 'the Menage', or 'Minodge', as we pronounced it, to which working-class wives belonged because it meant being able to buy sheets and blankets and towels when they were needed, all essential items if the decencies were to be preserved, and which could be paid off at the rate of a sixpence or a shilling a week over what seemed like an eternity of time.
Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 32:
When Marks and Spencers came to Paisley you could get a £1 menage and get a burberry coat for 4/11, a pair of shoes for 4/11 and a jumper and skirt, all for your £1.

Phr.: he etc. couldnae run a menage, He etc. is bad at managing or organising anything.Rnf. 1972 Bill Bryden Willie Rough 28:
They couldnae run a minauge, so they couldnae.
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 60:
Yon Toon Cooncil couldny run a menage. The District Council couldn't organise the simplest of things.
Gsw. 1988 George MacDonald Fraser The Sheikh and the Dustbin (1989) 51:
"They're no' fit tae run a mennodge. ..."
Lnk. 2000 Lanark Gazette 15 Jun :
"It's the polis tae blame", "They couldnae run a menage", "They dina ken ther - frae their elbae", "It's no Lanarkians that run it". These were among the unkind comments heard around us waiting on High Street to applaud the massed bands and cheer our Lord Cornet.

[Fr. ménage, housekeeping, household; earlier in sense 'good, economical management']

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"Menage n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Nov 2023 <>



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