Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SNAP, v., n.1, adj. Also snapp (Jak.). [snɑp]

I. v. 1. As in Eng. Combs. and derivs. (1) snap an(d) rattle, snappin' —, toasted oatcakes crumbled in milk (ne.Sc. 1970). Also in n.Eng. dial.; ¶(2) snapgash, clipped or affected English; (3) snappie, -y, a small cod, Gadus callarias (Rs., Crm. 1921 T.S.D.C., Crm. 1970) or haddock (Ork. 1970); (4) snappit, -et, (i) snappish in manner, brusque, curt, tart (Ork., Ags. 1970). Used adv. in quots.; (ii) dear in price, exorbitant; ¶(5) snap-the-louse, a jocular name for a tailor. Cf. Eng. dial. prick-the-louse, id. (1) Bnff. 1946 Abd. Press & Jnl. (21 Sept.):
Snappin' rattle was oatcakes heated at the fire and crumbled into a bowl of milk.
(2) Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy G. Chalmers 32:
“To the genius o' the snapgash,” he retorted. “What, sir! are ye ane o' the snip-nouns tae?.”
(4) (i) Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) i.:
“What are ye stanin' glowerin' at?” says Sandy till him, gey snappit like.
(ii) Ayr. 1819 J. Kennedy Misc. Poems 132:
For ilka bit [of tobacco] I buy's sae snappet, I doubt I'll be obliged to drap it.
(5) Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 84:
First when the Billie, snap-the-louse, Got you into his hand.

2. With inf.: to attempt. Per. 1766 A. Nicol Poems 19:
If some auld swinger snap to speak Of pink-ey'd queans, he gives a squeek.

3. tr. To snatch, catch or seize quickly or suddenly (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff., Abd. 1970). Now dial. in Eng. Deriv. snappie, the school attendance officer (Abd. 1960). Sc. 1823 Scott Q. Durward xxxvi.:
She is not quite goose enough to fall in love with the fox who has snapped her.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 499:
Now a trap did snap him gye snell.
s.Sc. 1859 J. Watson Bards of Border 73:
If disease them didna snap, He wad ha'e plenty tatties.

4. Freq. with up: to devour with relish, gobble, eat hastily (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. Sc. 1825 Jam.:
He snapt up his parritch.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 34:
The hen . . . the banes o't are bare, 'Tis roastet an' snappet.
Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Wigtown 364:
She snappit them up, an' took a guid bellyfa every time she wus at them.

5. To stumble, to trip, to fall (Gall. 1904 E.D.D.). Cf. Snapper, v.1

II. n. 1. As in Eng. Derivs. (1) snap-maker, appar. a maker of snap-hooks for buckles; (2) snapp(o)us, hasty in temper, testy, crabbed (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Abd. 1970); (3) snappy, -ie, keen in one's dealings, hard-bargaining (Ags. 1825 Jam., Ags. 1970); (4) snapsy, tart, crusty (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.). See -Sie, suff. (1) Edb. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar xxix.:
Lorimer and snapmaker to my lord.
(2) Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxiii.:
Ye mauna be owre snappus wi' fowk.
Bnff. 1928 Abd. Univ. Review (Nov.) 23:
Ye're snappus as an aidder's fang.
(3) Ags. 1821 D. Shaw Songs 4:
But brave Geordie Dempster he's no half sae snappie. For crappin his tenants may live at their ease.
(4) Per. 1766 A. Nicol Poems 20:
The snapsy karles grane in ease; They sleep and eat whene'er they please.

2. A small piece, a scrap, esp. in emphatic phrs. every snap, not a snap; specif., a small piece of food, a morsel, a snack (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 172; Sh., Cai., Ags., Per. 1970). Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 181:
Of cash they left no not a snap.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxx.:
First taste a snap of right Hollands.
Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 61:
There's little boil'd, an' nae a snap to roast.
s.Sc. 1837 Wilson's Tales of the Borders III. 257:
The puir hungry wratches will eat it up, every snap, afore morning.

3. A small round gingerbread biscuit baked hard and crisp and snapping when bitten (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 429; Sc. 1825 Jam.). Orig. Sc., now adopted in Eng. Also used coll. Combs. snapman, a gingerbread cake in the shape of a man; snap-wife, -woman, a female seller of snaps. Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 64:
Wi' sangs an' snap may sair the Town.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xii.:
She will gi'e ye a ginge-bread snap.
Dmf. 1831 R. Shennan Tales 42:
The auctioneers and snap-wives too Had staid to try what they could do.
Ayr. 1841 J. Paton Songs 19:
I'll buy sweetmegs and snap.
Edb. 1849 G. Bell Wynds Edb. 27:
Every man or woman who bought a dram got a lozenge or “snap,” as a bribe to come back again.
Ags. 1864 D. M. Ogilvy Poems (1873) 128:
Wi' sweeties and snaps, and snoods for her hair.
Sc. a.1881 J. W. Carlyle Letters (Froude 1883) I. 110:
Beggars, ballad-singers, snap-women, &c.
Sc. 1907 E. W. Kirk Tried Favourites 167:
Ginger Snaps. To make them snappish, when the ingredents are put together before the flour is added, the mixture must be brought to a boil.
sm.Sc. 1923 R. W. Mackenna Bracken and Thistledown 11:
Naething wad satisfy her but I maun buy her a ‘snap-man'.
Sc. 1929 F. M. McNeill Sc. Kitchen 192:
Snaps: Flour, sugar, butter, ground ginger, syrup or treacle.

4. A sharp blow, rap (Sh., n.Sc. 1970). Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff, 172:
The maister ga' the loon a snap on the fingers.

5. A stumble, a sudden trip or fall (Gall. 1904 E.D.D.). Cf. Snapper, n.1

6. Phr. in a snap, upon snap, in a trice, like a shot, with no delay (Sh., Cai. 1970). Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 132:
The face o' things is alter'd in a snap.
Abd. 1847 Gill Binklets 82:
Gif ye dinna pay me, an' that upon snap tee.

III. adj. 1. Quick, eager, ready, acute, smart (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Adv. snaply, quickly, immediately (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Abd. 1739 Caled. Mag. (1788) 503:
But a lang trypal there was snap, Came on him wi' a benn.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 125:
What the squire desir'd was snaply done.
Sc. 1780 Caled. Mercury (27 May):
Hercules was got by a very fine Arabian out of a snap mare.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 352:
She is a lass fu' snap To grant her patronage.
Ayr. a.1796 Burns Pastoral Poetry ix.:
Nae snap conceits, but that sweet spell O' witchin love.
Bnff. 1852 A. Harper Solitary Hours 54:
Or, gin he threpe that day is night, He'll snaply say, “Ye're vera right.”

2. Brittle, crisp, short-grained (wm.Sc. 1880 Jam.).

3. Short-tempered, giving a quick, short or evasive reply, ready to find fault, surly (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), snapp, Sh. 1970).

[For in a snap cf. Fris. in ien snap, Du. met een snap, id.]

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"Snap v., n.1, adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Aug 2021 <>



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