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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

THIG, v., n. Also theg (Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 132); tig(g) (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1908)); erron. thrigg. [θɪg; Sh. tɪg]

I. v. 1. tr. and intr. To beg, solicit a free gift, esp. from friends as when setting up in housekeeping, business, etc. (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 95, 1808 Jam.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; ‡ne.Sc. 1972); to procure an article at little or no cost (Kcb.4 1900). Formerly freq. in phr. thig and sorn, see also Sorn, v., 1.Lnk. 1711 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 117:
That no companies pass in the country, and ly on the King's leidges, or thig or sojourn house on them.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 66:
Better a thigging Mother than a riding Father.
n.Sc. 1736 W. Fraser Chiefs of Grant (1883) II. 129:
Don't think by this that I intend to goe and thigg among my friends.
Lnk. 1771 Letter concerning Roups Corn 8:
When the laird is to buy a commission for his son, or to get a daughter married, he sends his livery-man, and his ground-officer among his tenants to thigg, that is, to beg, extort, force, as much money from them, as will answer his purpose.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
Lang-legged Hieland gillies that will neither work nor want, and maun gang thigging and sorning about on their acquaintance.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 178:
The new tenant . . . went from farm to farm, and got a peck or two from this one, a leppie from the next one, a hathish-cogful from the next one. This was called “thiggin the seed.”
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags xxiii.:
It's rank conspiracy to thig and barter to get it back.
Abd. 1912 Rymour Club Misc. II. 27:
I ken them a' by heid and horn, Their father used to thig the corn.
Abd. 1967 Buchan Observer (21 Feb.) 2:
Wi a' the lades o' stanes we thiggit When a' oor fowks turnt oot tae big it!

2. To beg in gen., to ask for charity (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc., Wgt. 1972) to cadge, sponge (Bnf. 1972).Abd. 1714 R. Smith Poems (1855) 3:
The Master went from Door to Door, As any Beggar that doth thigg.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 66:
The father buys, the son biggs, the oye sells, and his son thiggs.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Address Beelzebub 45–6:
An' if the wives an' dirty brats Come thiggin at your doors an' yetts.
Ags. 1814 J. Ross Poems 101:
Else we maun thig, or ye maun big Us charity hospitals.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 160:
Very often on New Year's Day companies of young men in twos, threes, and fours set out shortly after breakfast to “thigg” for an old woman, or an old man, or an aged couple, or an invalid that might be in narrow circumstances.
Gall. 1933 Gallov. Annual 88:
[To] thig a' they can get aff the pairish or the dole.
wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 5:
He thigged some dinner and a cup of tea.
Sh. 1969 Sc. Poetry 4 57:
Meesirie wis on 'ir, an shu buist ta tig.

3. To take or appropriate for one's own use, to borrow with or without leave, to plagiarise.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems ( S.T.S. ) II. 154:
Windy Fancies That he has thigit frae Romances.
Edb. 1787 W. Taylor Sc. Poems 176:
As Phoebe frae the Sun thigs light.
Abd. 1922 G. P. Dunbar Whiff o' Doric 24:
He saw the robin biggin', and the corbies thiggin' sticks.

4. To crave, beseech in malediction, to invoke or call down (curses). Cf. Douglas Aeneis vii. ix. 75, “thyg vengeance at the goddis.”Rnf. 1720 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1876) I. 221:
He did . . . Thigg many Curses and Imprecationes upon the family.

5. Derivs. and phrs.: (1) thiger, tiggar, -er, a kind of beggar, one who ekes out a livelihood by asking or depending on his neighbours for gifts of food, seed-corn, fodder, etc. (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1972, hist.); a beggar in gen., a mendicant (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl., tiggar, -er). Phr. thigger and sorner. See also Sorn, v., 1.; (2) thigging, †thigeing, vbl.n., (i) the practice of begging or soliciting gifts (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., Cai., Abd. 1972, hist.); (ii) the gift or contribution so obtained (Per. 1825 Jam.), also comb. thigging bit, id.; (iii) phr. to go a thigging, to go on a begging expedition; (3) thigster, = (1) (Sc. 1710 Dict. Feudal Law 151); (4) to tig the nine midders' maet, see Nine, I.(5).(1) Sc. 1730 W. Forbes Institutes II. 77:
Beggars betwixt fourteen and sixty Years, particularly Thiggers and gentle Beggars, wanting a Token of their being unable to win their Living, from the Sheriff in Landward, and the Bailies in Burghs.
Sh. c.1733 in P.S.A.S. (1891–2) 196:
All thiggers of wool, corn, fish, and others be apprehended whereever they come.
Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate v.:
This is the house of his lordship's factor, and no place of reset for thiggers or sorners.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 445:
Thiggers are those who beg in a genteel way; who have their houses they call at in certain seasons, and get corn, and other little things.
Ags. 1879 J. Guthrie Poems 18:
The thigger comes his round, wi' cart and shalt, Genteely cravin' aits to saw his land.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 212:
Tiggers soodna be tarrowers.
wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 4:
I get the scowls frae the canty souls, For thiggers maun aye be blate.
(2) (i) n.Sc. c.1730 E. Burt Letters (1815) II. 188:
At a young Highlander's first setting up for himself, he goes about among his near relations and friends; and from one he begs a cow, from another a sheep; a third gives him seed to sow his land; and so on, till he has procured for himself a tolerable stock for a beginner. This they call thigging.
Bte. 1820 J. Blair Hist. Bute (1880) 247:
Wool bears now a very low price, whereby the thigging trade in that article is put an end to.
Inv. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XIV. 473:
The fishers marry at an early age, and generally before they acquire the means of furnishing a house even with the necessary articles. To compensate in some measure for the deficiency, the custom of thigging, as it is called, is adopted by the young wife a few days after marriage. She, accompanied by her bride's-maid, visits her neighbours and friends, and they each present her with some little article of house-plenishing, generally a piece of earthenware, usage permitting the visitor to choose what article she pleases.
ne.Sc. 1874 W. Gregor Olden Time 109:
One or more days were given to the thigging of wool from her friends and neighbours.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xiii.:
Rape, arson, forgery, robbery, thigging or high treason?
Abd. 1899 Bk. Methlick (1939) 42:
A very common custom among poor folks, or those who took the lease of a croft, was thigging, that is, they went round the country with a sack collecting corn or meal.
(ii) Bnff. 1703 Rec. Bnff. (S.C.) 246:
It is statute by the Justices that any person promiseing by himself or any uther persone to his knowledge any gratuitie thigeing or the lyke dureing service or thereafter shall be fyned in fyftie poundes Scots.
Abd. 1718 Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 77:
To thiggings and chariety when in Monymuske by meal.
Abd. 1841 J. Imlah Poems 176:
They made a penny wedding o't, And monie a thiggin bit they got.
Sc. 1904 R. Ford Vagabond Songs 120:
I'll get a thiggin' frae auld John Watt.
(iii) Mry. 1705 W. Cramond Grant Ct. Bk. (1897) 19:
A bad custome that several serving women used to go thorow the country a thigging of wool and held themselves loose from service on this accompt.
Ags. 1818 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 127:
If a man has an acre or two to sow, for which he has neither seed nor money to purchase it, he goes a thigging among the farmers. He is not considered a beggar.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 132:
The bridegroom gaed a theggan' among the friends, an' got presents o' corn an ither gear in token o' their well wishes.

II. n. The act of thigging, begging.Sc. 1898 Blackwood's Mag. (July) 82:
Master Brown sat studying through horn specks the tale of thig and theft which the town officer had made up a report on.

[O.Sc. thig, to beg, a.1400, to be a mendicant, to request, c.1425, thiggar, 1424, North. Mid.Eng. thigge, to beg, O.N. þiggja, to receive, cogn. with O.E. þicgan, id. For the relation of the practice of thigging to the corresp. Gael. faighdhe, O. Ir. faigde, see W. J. Watson Sc. Verse from the Book of the Dean of Lismore (1937) 272–5.]

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"Thig v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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