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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.

UPTAK, v., n. Also uptack, -tauk, upptak. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. uptake. [v. ʌp′tɑk, em.Sc.(b) ′-tek; n. ′ʌptɑk; vbl.n. ′ʌptɑkɪn]

I. v. 1. To pick, take or lift up, raise, lit. and fig. Obs. in Eng. Vbl.n. uptaking.Dmf. 1861 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 40:
He has himsel' uptaken Frae sic like vice.
Sc. 1888 C. P. Brown Cotton Manuf. 168:
Uptaking. Sc. for the take-up motion.

2. Of money: (1) to exact, collect, gather in payment. Only in ppl.adj. uptaken. Cf. Uplift; (2) to borrow (money) at interest. Only in vbl.n. uptaking, the time of contracting a debt.(1) Per. 1760 A. G. M. MacGregor Hist. Clan Gregor (1901) 474:
An yearly annual rent of Three score pounds Scots money . . . to be furthcoming, uplifted and uptaken at two terms in the year Whitsunday and Martinmas.
(2) Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 44:
It is a lamb at the up-taking, but an auld sheep or ye get it aff.

3. To strike up a tune, to lead the singing in church, act as precentor. Agent n. uptaker, a precentor. See tak up s.v. Tak, v., 1. (14) (ii).Abd. 1895 Banffshire Jnl. (22 Jan.):
Besides being uptaker of psalm and hymn tunes Peter was somewhat of a church reformer.

4. To reprove, correct, cavil at (Fif. 1973). Rare and obs. in Eng.Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (19 June) 535:
Ye ken I'm nae dictionary scholar, an' ye're aye uptaking wi' your bit screeds o' book learnin'.

5. To understand, comprehend, take into the mind (Sh. 1973). Also in n.Eng. dial. Freq. in vbl.n. uptaking (Sc. 1808 Jam.), comprehension, understanding. Also ppl.adj. uptaking, intelligent. Phr. to one's uptaking, as far as one can understand, in one's opinion or surmise.Sc. 1709 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 209:
There was a child found upon the high way by some shearers, to their uptaking, latly born.
Sc. 1717 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) II. 295:
My ordinary conversation with country people, and that adapted to their uptaking in preaching.
Ags. c.1748 F. T. Wainwright Souterrains Southern Pictland (1963) 190:
The Entry . . . may be to my uptaking, traced the length of sixty or seventy yards.
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 148:
Though they [the Dutch] have no vivacity, yet I think they are smart, and smarter, a great deall, than the English, that is, more uptaking.
Dmf. 1830 W. Bennet Traits Sc. Life II. 15:
“I uptak' ye, I uptak' ye!” replied John, who understood at once.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxii.:
The puir stupid quean didna seem to uptak' me at first.
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 32:
Certes he doesna uptak' what I mean.

6. To engross, occupy one's interest or attention. Ppl.adjs. uptaking, preoccupying, absorbing, uptaen, engrossed (Sh. 1973).Sc. 1737 J. Willison Afflicted Man's Companion (1744) 13:
This should be the great and uptaking Business of every Man.
Ayr. 1830 C. Lockhart Poems 96:
The Souter wi' his witching crack, Did his attention sae up-tak, He clean forgat his drouth.

II. n. 1. The lifting or gathering of a crop, esp. of potatoes or other roots (Sh., Mry., Abd. 1973).Abd. 1950 Buchan Observer (26 Oct.):
The up-tak' o' the tatties.

2. A passenger picked up en route by a coach and not travelling the full distance. Also attrib.Sc. 1773 Caled. Mercury (27 Feb.):
Each full passenger to pay £1 6s 6d and allowed 14 lb. of luggage, above that 1½d per lb. Uptakes to pay 3d per mile.
Sc. 1781 Caled. Mercury (9 April):
Tickets 6s. 6d. each seat. Uptake passengers to pay 4d. per mile.

3. The capacity for understanding, power of comprehension, intelligence (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Cai., Inv. 1905 E.D.D.; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Freq. in phrs. gleg, quick, dull, simple, slow, etc. in, at, of the uptak. Also in n.Eng. dial. See Gleg, 1. (3).Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality vii.:
Everybody's no sae gleg at the uptake as ye are yoursell.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xix.:
It is a wee after that the attention can be roused to anything said, or done, however simple in the uptake.
Bte. 1853 W. Bannatyne Poems 244:
Ilk tawtie bare-legged hielan' brat, Whase bump o' uptak proved camstrary.
Sc. 1861 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 75:
“No that gleg i' the uptak,” means not absolute deafness, but not hearing quite distinctly; and is indeed often applied to the understanding also.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb x.:
I'm nae sayin' 't Benjie hisna a better uptak' nor the like o' him.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums xi.:
Jess, who was quicker in the uptake than her daughter.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xi.:
Ye mauna pit sic a strain on yer uptak. It's no human to understand a' that!
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 32:
There's no' much o' him, but he's quick in the uptak.
Sc. 1928 J. Wilson Hamespun 33:
He frae a puppy learnt my ways; Sic uptak whyles wad me amaze.
Bnff. 1942:
Johnnie's some slow in the uptak', bit he'll maybe come at it by and bye.
Gsw. 1965 J. House Heart of Glasgow 132:
I was gleg in the uptak', and I understood from the conversations round about me that this girl had been an opera singer.

4. Of weather: a rising wind, storm, fresh outbreak of bad weather (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1973); a sudden thaw (Mry. 1973).Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
A upptak o' (ill) wadder. He is gaun to be a upptak.
Sh. 1947 New Shetlander (June–July) 2:
Neddir uptak nor doontume, bit wez laand ida homm an hae a keek roond.

5. A liking for, taste for.Kcd. 1900 W. MacGillivray Glengoyne I. iii.:
I hae nae uptak' for thae hymns ava'.

6. Dealings, involvement, relationship (Sh., Ags., Per. 1973).Ags. 1922 J. M. Smith Intrusion of Nancy 6:
Did ever ye hear if Willie had ony uptak wi' a woman body?
Ags. 1950 Forfar Dispatch (2 March):
Never again will I hae ony uptak wi een o' thae mannies.
Sh. 1960 New Shetlander No. 55. 14:
Da Maatron an da uptak at shü haes wi dis young lasses.

[O.Sc. uptak, to collect (money, etc.), 1452, to pick up, 1456, to precent, 1579, uptaker, a collector, 1462, a precentor, 1620, uptaking, comprehension, 1614.]

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"Uptak v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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