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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

SHANGIE, n.1, v. Also shangy, shanjie and with variant dim. ending shangan, -in, shanjan (Jam.). [′ʃɑŋi, ′ʃɑŋən]

I. n. 1. A cleft stick put on a dog's tail so as to grip “by way of mischief, or to frighten him away” (Ayr. 1787 Burns Poems Gl.; Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 425; s.Sc. 1880); a tin can or the like tied to a dog's tail. Also fig., a curb, check; a plague, nuisance, mischievous person. Used attrib. in 1824 quot.Ayr. 1786 Burns Ordination ii.:
He'll clap a shangan on her tail, An' set the bairns to daud her.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 20:
And Gibby skelp'd before the fae Like Colly wi' a shangin.
Dmf. 1805 Scots Mag. (May) 357:
My instructors were men and women whom the pride of your Lordship's shangan often spurns from your presence.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 124:
Sax littleanes clag my shangy tail, The auldest nae eleven.
Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
It is pronounced shangie. A letter is sometimes fastened by this means to the tail of a dog, who carries it to the place appointed, faster than it would go by post.
Sc. 1833 Scott Works Gl. XLVIII. 444:
Collie-shangy, quarrel; confused uproar like that produced when collies fall a-worrying one another about one of their own kind who has got a shangie or sha[n]gan, i.e. a canister, etc. tied to his tail.
Per. 1835 R. Nicoll Poems 63:
Sic a slee tricksy shangie was Minister Tam.

2. An ornament or ribbon on a horse's tail.Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 228:
Their ginger'd docks, which gart them cock, An' braw shangies on their tails, man.

3. A shackle or tether on a moveable ring on a stake to which a cow is bound in a byre (Fif. 1808 Jam., 1904 E.D.D.); a chain by which dogs are coupled (Fif. 1825 Jam.).Per. 1919 P.S.A.S. LIV. 14:
Shackle or “Shangy”, consisting of a curved piece of wood with two perforations from which a cord, knotted at one end, forms a rough loop.

4. A washer, gen. of straw or hemp, put round a drill or bolt to prevent leakage of water or grit, as in quarrying or coal-boring (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 59; Ork. 1929 Marw.), or in shipyard work (Abd., wm.Sc. 1970); a lubricating tassel on a locomotive piston (Slg. 1966).

5. A sliding noose or hitch of rope or gut moving round a mast, in which the heel or butt end of the sprit was put (Ork. 1887 Jam., 1929 Marw.; Ork., Cai. 1970); a loop of rope for an oar to work in as a substitute for a rowlock (Marw.).

6. In pl.: (1) manacles, handcuffs (Abd., Ags., Per. 1970). Also fig. in phr. to pit the shangies on (someone), to restrain, curb, thwart (someone) (Abd. 1970).Ags. 1828 Dundee Advertiser (12 May):
He twisted off the shangies, which they had contrived to get on his wrists.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin x.:
But hoo to get the shangies aff my wrists was the next question.
Ags. 1890 Arbroath Guide (11 Oct.) 4:
A pair o' gude shangies, the finest o' steel.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 27:
" ... Will I be fee'd for endless terms?
An will he niver lowse ma cheens
Or strike the shangies frae ma airms? ... "

(2) a form of tig in which the chaser had to run about as if he were handcuffed, with his left wrist grasped by his right hand (Ags.19 1948).

(3) a position in curling or carpet bowls in which one stone or bowl is played so as to lie close to another and block the means of removing it (Kcb. 1970). See II. 3.

7. A temporary handle fixed to the point of an ordinary saw to make it usable as a cross-cut saw (Per. 1970).

8. A branch or twig, esp. one lopped off the top of a tree (Mry.1 1925).

9. A forked stick used for the legs of a catapult (Bnff., Ags., Peb., sm.Sc. 1970).

10. A tie-bar, used e.g. in shuttering for concrete (Sh. 1970).

II. v. 1. To put a shangie on a dog's tail, gen. In fig. senses, to restrain, curb, put under control or surveillance; to tie or bind together, attach; to press, constrain. Comb. tail-shangie, id.Dmf. 1798 Edb. Mag. (Jan.) 62:
Her Thistle's shangant wi' the Rose.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems II. 8:
The watch war there resortin, To shangie ilka lassie's tail, An' plague the lads whan courtin.
Dmf. 1848 J. Kennedy Poems 68:
Upon a day a giglet gay Tail shangit the weird wife, man, Avowed that she should shangit be Before the close o' life, man.
Ags. 1946 Forfar Dispatch (3 Oct.):
The wirds a' rins clean oot o' my heid, fin I tries tae shangie them intae poetry.

2. To fix a second handle to a saw. See I. 7.Per.4 1950:
Tak an shangie that saw.

3. In curling or carpet bowls: to play a stone or bowl against (another) so as to touch it only and lie slightly to one side of it and thus prevent it being used by the opponents as a means of reaching the tee, to obstruct (a stone or bowl) from further play (sm.Sc. 1970). Vbl.n. shangiein. Cf. Shackle, n., 8.

[O.Sc. shanie, = I. 1., 1670. Of uncertain orig. N.E.D. suggests Gael. seangan, = I. 1., ? from seang, thin, narrow (cf. Shangie, adj.), but the evidence for the history of the Gael. word is obscure and it may well be rather a borrowing from Sc. It is possible that the word is a by-form, with extended meanings, of chain, for which O.Sc. has the variant forms chanȝe, scheangie, schenȝe. The -an forms might then be reborrowings via Gael.]

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"Shangie n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Aug 2022 <>



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