Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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STAIG, n. Also sta(i)ge, stague, steag; stag(g), styaag, and dim. forms staigie, st(y)ag(g)ie. [steg, Abd. + ‡stjɑ:g; †stɑg]

1. A young horse from one to three years old, of either sex and not yet broken to work, specif. a young castrated horse, a colt, gelding (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 276; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 187; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I.Sc. Cai., e. and wm.Sc., Wgt. 1971). Also in Eng. dial. Comb. stagghouse, a shed or stable for young horses (Ags. 1752 Farm Inventory MS.). Sc. 1700 Edb. Gazette (27–30 May):
A Dark Brown Staig of four Years, with a White Spot on his far hinder Foot.
Sc. 1710 Sc. Courant (2–4 Aug.):
A black din lyred Horse-Staig with the Hair unpolled.
e.Lth. 1721 Caled. Mercury (19 Sept.):
There was Stolen a dark brown Mare-Stag.
Edb. 1739 Caled. Mercury (13 Nov.):
Four Stags, viz. A brown two-year old Fillie, with a white Face and a white Hind-foot; A grey year-old Fillie; Two Foals, one a Colt, the other a Fillie.
Ork. 1772 P. Fea MS. Diary (August):
Sold the black 3 year old Stage for 6 Gns.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To his Auld Mare i.:
Thou could hae gane like ony staggie.
Abd. 1809 J. Skinner Amusements 39:
Wi' mony a staig and mony a stirk An' fowth o' gear.
Bwk. 1809 J. Kerr Agric. Bwk. 502:
A young gelding is often called a staig.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 160:
Wild staigies, wild fillies an' a'.
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 591:
Du tocht nethin ta pit dye mark apo mye steag.
Ags. 1879 Brechin Advert. (15 April):
I'll maybe sell my geldin staig.
Cai. 1916 John o' Groat Jnl. (14 Jan.):
“A pelly staig maks a good horse” — a rough or poorly clad boy may become a good man.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood x.:
I cam here through stane and briar like a dementit staig.

2. A stallion, an entire male horse (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson; Ork., n.Sc., em.Sc. (a), Arg., Ayr., Wgt. 1971). Deriv. staiger, a man who travels a stallion for breeding purposes (Abd. 1967 Press and Jnl. (15 July); ne.Sc., Per., Fif. 1971), comb. †staiger's breeks, a type of tight-fitting drainpipe trousers without turnups specially worn by stallion-grooms (Abd. 1961). Slg. 1841 R. M. Stupart Harp of Strila 55:
I'll shoe a staig, or ploughman's naig, Wi' onie in the shire.
ne.Sc. 1910 Scottish Studies III. 204:
There is three horse in the stable, John, . . . And the styagie for yer nainsel, John.
Ork. 1929 Peace's Ork. Almanac 139:
Da mare o' Nazegoe's haen a pair o' foals — twa staigs.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xvii.:
Layin at 'e grun wi wir feet like a young an' mettlesome styaag yarkin at its traivis.
ne.Sc. 1956 Mearns Leader (23 March):
A staiger that's been on the road for seiven-an'-twenty year.
Abd. 1962 H. Diack Boy in Village 11:
We always spoke of it as “Jamie Deeick's steg” and the fact that Jamie Deeick drove a stallion in a cart added awe to the fear he inspired.

Combs. staig-chiel, a stallion groom (Bnff. 1930); staigie-man, id. (Ork. 1971); staig-foal, a male foal. Ork. 1767 P. Fea MS. Diary (12 May):
My Bay mare foled a Stag fole.
Ork. c.1836 Old-Lore Misc. I. vii. 265:
Thrive a' your horse upon the hill, An' ilka mair wi' a staig foal.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 106:
If exceedingly anxious to secure the smiles of fortune, he [the farmer] was particular to tie the drawing ropes [of the plough] with hair from the tail of a mare which had had two “staig” foals.

3. A bullock, young ox. Also in Eng. dial. Comb. bull-staig, a castrated bull (Sc. 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 726). Arch. Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xiv.:
He thought he heard the “young staig loose in the byre.”

4. Erroneously used for a stag, a male deer. Sc. 1922 P. Macgillivray Bog Myrtle 31:
Nae mair like oor Hielan' kin Than staig's like market stot.

5. A gawky girl (Cai. 1971).

[O.Sc. stag, staig, = 1. or 2., 1478. Sc. variant of Eng. stag, but the phonology is somewhat unusual and may be influenced by the cogn. O.N. steggi, a male bird.]

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"Staig n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2020 <>



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