Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SAP, n.2, v.2 Also sapp. Gen.Sc. form of Eng. sop. See P.L.D. § 54.

I. n. In pl.: pieces of bread soaked or boiled in milk, ale, gravy or the like, often given as food to children (Rxb. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.). Gen.Sc. Hence ale-saps, butter-saps. Fif. 1731 Two Students (Dickinson 1952) lxvi.:
When they have fish they have also sapps of wheat Bread & ale for Broth.
Mry. 1756 Session Papers, Cramond v. Allan (17 Dec.) 20:
She call'd for some ale, bread and butter, to make some sapps for the pursuer.
Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Poems 116:
Wi' saps I played slorp like a snipe.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Ale-saps, wheaten bread boiled in beer; when butter is added, this mess is called butter-saps. This is commonly given as a treat, among the vulgar, at the birth of a child.
Edb. 1828 M. & M. Corbett Tales and Leg. III. 204:
“Gruel”, she rejoined, “hadnae ye ale-saps yesterday?” “Worse and worse; saps of all kinds are my abhorrence.”
Gsw. 1898 D. Willox Poems 242:
M'Neil, who had been instrumental in bringing the exchange of civilities about, relished the result like unto a wean taking saps.
Fif.1 1937:
A boy, who was incautious enough to tell his schoolmates that he always had breadand-milk for supper, had ever afterwards to submit to the nickname of “Sapps”.
Abd. 1952 (Coast):
Porter saps. Warmed porter poured over a “soft biscuit”. Commonly taken by fishermen who had become very chilled standing about waiting for a change of weather, if conditions for seagoing were uncertain.

Hence adj. sapsy, like saps, soft, sloppy, lit. and fig., effeminate (Per., Slg., wm.Sc., Dmf. 1969), also as a n. a soft, weak-willed, characterless person (Fif., wm.Sc. 1969). Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle ii. iv., iii. iii.:
You made him a milk and water softie with all your sapsy treatment o' him. . . . The same great, blubberin' sapsy that used to greet and run to your mother.
Rnf. 1936 G. Blake David and Joanna vi.:
One of the good little boys, eh? . . . . You're a sapsy lot they're breeding nowadays.

II. v. As in Eng.: to soak, steep, saturate, lit. and fig. Ppl.adjs. sappin, soaking wet (ne.Sc. 1969), sappit, id. (Sh., Ags. 1969), of a boat when the timbers are soaked with sea-water (Mry. 1911). Deriv. sapper, an old herring-net sim. saturated, as opposed to a newly-barked one (Abd. 1969). Ags. 1821 A. Wilson Poems 7:
Weel sappit wi' the barley bree.
Edb. 1839 W. McDowall Poems 118:
[My Grannie] wha — at fourscore — did sap her clay Wi' cogs o' brose.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 138:
My hard brown shoon, wi' soles sair sapp'd by wear.
Hdg. 1887 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) X. 333:
The sea is sappin' on the shore, the wind soughs thro' the trees.
Bnff. 1960 Banffshire Advert. (18 Feb.) 9:
A'm weet. A'm sappin'. A'm soakit throweither.
Abd. 1961 P. Buchan Mount Pleasant 58:
We crack aboot gear, an' the times that we've seen Fin the sappers cam' hame tho' the reid eens wis loast.

[O.Sc. saps, 1650.]

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"Sap n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2020 <>



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