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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PRIG, v., n. Also prigg, preeg. [prɪg]

I. v. 1. intr. To haggle over the price (of a commodity), to bargain, chaffer (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., wm.Sc. 1966). Also in Eng. dial. and fig. Vbl.n. prigging, the act of bargaining, haggling (Sc. 1808 Jam.).Abd. 1746 W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 33:
The least price there is twenty groats, And prigging sair.
Dmf. 1760 Session Papers, Jardine v. Corbet Proof 29:
After some chaffering or prigging, they at last agreed upon the said six and sixpence.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Brigs o' Ayr 188:
Men wha grew wise priggin owre hops an' raisins.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of Lairds xiv.:
Your hainings and gatherings, your pinchings, your priggings, your counts and reckonings.
Abd. 1833 Abd. Shaver (17 Oct.) 12:
The “Prigging System”, or the practice of asking for an article one-third or one-fourth more than you can afford to sell it at, has existed in Aberdeen for a long period.
Gsw. 1884 H. Johnston M. Spreull 50:
These are a' respectable shops, an' what ye get in them can be depended on, but they're no' used to priggin'.
Dmf. 1917 J.L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 112:
Priggin' an' bargainin' is juist the breath o' my nostrils.
Lth. 1920 A. Dodds Songs 3:
When he'd corn tae sell he'd prig and he'd fleech.
Abd. 1928 Abd. Book-Lover VI. 1. 13:
Though there's speerin' an' priggin, they're nae slack o' biddin'.

Combs. and deriv. (1) prigger, n., one who makes a practice of chaffering, a haggler. Comb. penny-prigger, id. (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis); (2) prig-penny, (i) = (1) (Id.); (ii) the coin or sum of money handed over in a business transaction by the seller to the buyer to seal the bargain, a luck-penny, see Luck, n., 1. (2).(1) Ayr. 1873 A. Aitken Poems 67:
When priggers or touslers come in for to spy Your guids an' their prices an' no' for to buy.
Ayr. 1891 H. Johnston Kilmallie I. v.:
I'm nane against priggers, the best profits maistly come from them.
(2) (ii) Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 205:
Soon he did and gat his cash in hand, Nor mickle did on the prig-penny stand.

2. tr. with doun: to beat down the price of an article by bargaining, to cheapen, to beat a person down to a lower price (ne.Sc., Lnk., Dmf., Rxb. 1966). Also absol.m.Lth. 1709 Session Rec. Cramond MS. 228:
To examin his accompt and prigg down what he can.
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 226:
So, after priging it down to the lowest, “Now, what will you hire me this for?”
Edb. 1811 H. MacNeill Bygane Times 10:
Thinks na o' cost, but dishes plenty, Nor e'er priggs down.
Lnk. 1873 J. Nicholson Wee Tibbie 51:
I prig doon the butcher the siller to hain.
Ags. 1881 J. S. Neish Byways 26:
What was James's surprise and indignation to find a group of fishermen in the Theatre, and his wife “higgling and prigging” down the price of a lot of fish.
Abd. 1906 Banffshire Jnl. (10 July) 10:
The wives wad try to prig 'im doun.

3. intr. With at or wi (a person) for (a thing): to plead, be importunate with (a person)for (something) (I., n.and em.Sc.(a), Kcb. 1966). Also absol. Vbl.n. priggin, entreaty, pleading, persuasive talk. Also ppl.adj. priggin.Sc. 1700 D. Williamson Sermon in Parl. Ho. 17:
The bound duty of Inferiours to yield and not unmannerly to Prig with those above them.
Sc. 1714 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1842) I. 553:
Many think it was very great imprudence, and much of a party in him, to prigg so with the Assembly from the throne upon this head.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 187:
I winna prig for red or whyt, Love alane can gi'e delyt.
Abd. 1748 R. Forbes Ajax 19:
Fat gars you then, mischievous tyke! For this propine to prig?
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. lv.:
I saved the bairn's life and sair, sair I prigged and prayed they would leave him wi' me.
Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 153:
Death, the strange cauld-hearted thief, Is deaf to priggin'.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister xii.:
I dinna like to prig wi' them to take a round about road.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xxvi.:
He prigged and prayed for a dose o' the whisky ere he won away.
Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. 141:
I priggid at hir and tised hir, but no, no shu said, she couldna amang aa dis folk.
Cai. 1958 Edb. John o' Groat Lit. Soc.:
A hev til preeg an' preeg, an', aye, aalmost go doon on ma knees.
Bnff. 1966 Bnff. Advertiser (21 April) 10:
They've a'thing cut and dried. They'll shut the line nae maitter foo hard they're priggit wi'.
Abd. 1981 Christina Forbes Middleton The Dance in the Village 9:
A sand that's heard frae the farthest north
Doon tae the Straits o' Dover
The cavortin's o' a couple keen
Priggin' tae roll me over!
Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 126:
Mother just would not stay at home, although Katie and I prigged with her. 'I maun get oot o' the house,' she said.
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 44:
Syne he maun spik lik sae - "lassies" - or "bonnie lassies" - "I want ye" - or - "I wad prig at ye" - or - "for onie sake dinnae be feartit an trummle. ..."
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 118:
Mony a weeping mother prigged sair with her sons not to join the army on market days.
ne.Sc. 1992 Press and Journal 19 Dec 4:
This year, perhaps, Virginia couldn't take any more prigging. Perhaps she was genuinely keen to enjoy the food at the Christmas party. Or perhaps she just wanted a quiet life.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 94:
... no one could remember the last time he had brought his wife with him, and her wearing the same green coat she wore to the kirk. This was for Tammy's benefit; likely Davie had had to indulge in a good deal of preeging to get her out.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 45:
Frae howff an office, wirkers takk their ease,
Ettin their denner piece neth kirkyaird trees.
Puir beggars heist their priggin cleuks fur alms
An clorty winos droon their drooth wi drams.

4. tr. (1) with person as obj.: to beseech, entreat, importune. Gen.Sc.Edb. 1811 G. Bruce Poems 79:
Think nae I'm for int'rest priggin' Thee to stay this night wi' me.
Kcd. 1933 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 332:
Women you'd to prig and to pat afore they'd come on.
Ags. 1947 J. B. Salmond Toby Jug ix.:
Onywey I have him priggit to bide in this hoose a' winter.
Per.4 1950:
A'll no prig ye any mair.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 61:
An mebbe there wis a thocht o mockery, like luvers in a park, sayin tae a tribblesome bairn, "C'wa be a gweed loon gyang an play ba wi yersel". I wis getting roosed; bit, steid o slawin doon an drivin cannie like I sud hae daen, ma ill natur carriet me awa inno daein fit Tullio priggit me tae dae.

(2) with article sought as obj.: to ask for, seek, beg, insist on.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick i.:
The Frees are aye ruggin at me for subscriptions — priggin siller here an' siller there.
Abd. 1916 A. Gibson Under the Cruisie 118:
She flings her airms aboot my neck An' prigs a kiss fae me.

II. n. 1. The act of bargaining, a haggle.Ayr. 1833 Galt Poems 41:
She maun thole the snash and prig.

2. The act of pressing (someone) to accept some form of hospitality, a pressing invitation, entreaty (Ork. 1966).Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 191:
We wet our wizens wi' a drap, Withoot a prig.

[Of uncertain orig. N.E.D. suggests association with 16th c. cant prig, to steal, but the semantic development is not clear. On the other hand, since many cant words of this period are of Du. orig., the source of the word may in fact be Du., e.g. Mid. Du. and Du. dial. prigen, to strive, exert oneself, resist, stand against, which is nearer in sense to the Sc. usages. The earliest recorded use of the word is O.Sc. prigpenny, a haggler, hard bargainer, 1513, prigging, haggling, 1591. Prigge, to chaffer, is found c.1620.]

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



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