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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BIG(G), v. and n.1. Normally conjugated as a weak verb but the pa. t. bug is occas. found (Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 189, Sc. 1920 M.M.S. 126), pa.p. buggen (Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck xii.; M.M.S. ibid.).[bɪg, bɪ̢g Sc.; beig Cai., Crm., e.Rs., Bch. (coast), Fif., n.Rxb.]

A. v.

1. To build, construct (in gen.). Gen.Sc. lit. and fig.Sc. 1701 Records of a Sc. Cloth Manuf. [Hdg.] (S.H.S. 1905) 255:
Mr Maxwell reports that there is a necessety to bigg ane toofall for the presshouse.
Sc. 1896 A. Cheviot Proverbs 194:
If he's biggit in the moss, he maun gang into the mire.
Sc. 1991 John McDonald in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 89:
peened atween a stour o pairticals
an the mynd biggin it (biggin us baith):
Sc. 1995 James S. Adam New Verses for an Auld Sang 12:
I'll bide nae mair the raggit loon,
nae mair o glaikit scrimpit parin,
young Scotia bricht in braw new goun
will breist the braes wi eident bearin;
juist ae wee step twixt me an foun
on whilk tae bigg thon dream we're sharin
Cai. 1929 “Caithness Forum” in John o' Groat Jnl. (20 Dec.):
Hid wis weel near a hunder year efter Flodden 'fore 'e first staine at Barrogill Castle wis biggèd.
ne.Sc. 1952 John R. Allan North-East Lowlands of Scotland (1974) 112:
Old Ronald knew about the translation from Mortlach: "Aye, the Cathedral was first biggit in anither place. But coorse [evil] men troublet the Bishop - he was the minister at that time - and, being a Pape, he workit a miracle.
Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxi.:
It's a richt gweed hoose, gin it hed but a back chimley bigget.
Abd. 1987 Sheena Blackhall in Joy Hendry Chapman 49 57:
Oh waur, full waur, nur only jyle horizon
Invidious, the chynes we forge wirsel!
I wis a prisoner o my ain devisin
Biggin a boundary, I vrocht a cell
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 47:
He was a proud and foolish man, James. There was a huge scaffold biggit for him, thirty feet high, and the street was tight with folk come to see him die.
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 29:
Doun-by Whitockbrae,
A biggit a hoose.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 4:
"No Faither," protested Bryce, "I wis jist goin' up a step or twa to look better ower to the ridge there, where Mither's to hae her hoose. You're maybe too auld to big it, but when I'm up, I'll dae it mysel'."
Ayr. 1726 Burgh Records of Prestwick (Maitland Club 1834) 89:
The wholl frie men shall be obliged to big a dyk wher it is neidfull.
Rxb. 1826 A. Scott Poems 42:
Ships will be biggit that can sail i' the air.
fig. Abd.(D) 1909 G. Greig Mains's Wooin' 39:
Ah lassie, dinna big your hopes on that.

2. “To make a nest preparatory to hatching, as a fowl” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl. 19; Sh.4 1934). 1929 M. W. Simpson Day's End 39:
When the wee birds bigg by ilka bush, An' burns are rinnin' clear!
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 247:
“Oh! Jamie,” quo' I, “it's pairin' time, I'se warrant they're biggin' a nest.”
Slk. a.1835 J. Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) III. 180:
I'm no sae simple a bird as to big my nest with the gowk.

3. “To make up (a fire)” (w.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 55). Gen.Sc.Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann, etc. 20:
An' what'll I get when my mither kens It's niver a maiden that biggs her fire?
Edb. 1824 J. Scott New Song in Royal Sc. Minstrelsy 94:
On Arthur's Seat the beacon fire is biggit black and high.

4. To stack hay, corn, etc. Gen.Sc.Sh.(D) 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 131:
Sibbie wis gain aboot da hoos lack a hen wi' a saft aeg, an' flytin' aboot da biggin' o' da hay.
Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 13:
When ae day, in the corn-yaird biggin' A stack, an' gey an' near the riggin', His fit had slipped.
[O.Sc. had 1, 2 and 3 of the above meanings (D.O.S.T.).]

5. Followed by preps. on, round, upon, tee, up.

(1) Big on, “to increase, to secure — i.e. the guards: a term in curling” (w. and s.Sc. 1887 Jam.6).Gall. 1824 J. MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. (1876) 64–65:
Big-on, a term at the game of channelstone. . . . The order from that side who has in the stone, is commonly to big-on — to guard away — to “block the ice.” [Not in O.Sc.]

(2) Big round, big upon, to surround, fall upon, attack, appar. from the metaphor of an investing army (Abd. 1825 Jam.).

(3) Big tee, to build on (to another building).Abd.(D) 1922 G. P. Dunbar A Whiff o' the Doric 60:
An' a plaicie biggit tee tae haud the coo.

(4) Big up.

(a) to rebuild, repair, as in O.Sc.Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf vii.:
And if we canna big up the auld house sae soon, we'se lay an English ane as low as Heughfoot is.

(b) to raise false hopes in.Bnff. 1866 W. Gregor D.Bnff. 11:
Ya needna big 'im up wee the thocht o' gettin' awa.

(c) to be obstinate in opinion; conceited. Gen. in pa.p.Ib.:
He's sae muckle biggit up in's ain opingin it he sen's a' bodie t' the ill-place it winna say as he says.

(d) to be excessively fond of, proud of. Gen. in pa.p.Abd. 1913 W. R. Melvin Caller Herrin' 6:
Bit Betty Breem's only loonie that she's sae biggit-up in — wae's me!
Ags. 1894 “F. Mackenzie” Humours of Glenbruar vii.:
She's that biggit up in them [children].
[These fig. uses are not given in D.O.S.T., where big up means to build or repair.]

vbl.n. bigging, the act of building. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary iv.:
Prætorian here, Prætorian there, I mind the bigging o't. adj. bigging, building.
m.Lth. 1811 H. Macneill Bygane Times 54:
For I could tell our bigging breether, Villas and Trade gree ill thegither.

Combs.: (1) bigged bed, a built-in bed.  (2)biggit —, bigget land, land built on; cultivated, and hence inhabited country. (3) biggit wa's, buildings, houses. Also fig. terra firma, safety and security.(1)Sh. 1956 U. Venables Life in Shetland i.:
The gusts off Fitful lifted a cornstack and brought it crashing through the thatch of a house there, right into the bigged-bed.
(2) Ags. 1826 A. Balfour Highland Mary I. xi.:
Ye'd better bide upon biggit land, till the wind lower an' the tide turns.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 2:
I wadna wunner but ye'll fin the grun' i' yer stamack afore ye git tae biggit lan' again.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto Tammas Bodkin (1868) xii.:
They thocht themsels on biggit land, an' began to craw unco croose.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize lxiv.:
We perceived not that we had approached so nigh unto any bigget land.
(3) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xix.:
The time has been that I would have liked ill to have sate in biggit wa's waiting for the news of a skirmish to be fought within ten miles of me!
Abd. 1767 Garland of Bonaccord (1886) 35:
The bride's now into biggit wa's.
Rxb. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 4:
I'm glad that I'm in biggit wa's, Although they be but humble.

B. n. Build, model.Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 197–198:
We had rigged an' reekit out a prime swanking wherry; she was o' the right Gourock bigg.

[O.Sc. big, bigge, byg, beig; pa.t. and pa.p. bigget, bigged, etc., meaning build, dwell, occupy land by building on it (D.O.S.T.); from O.N. byggja, to inhabit, dwell in, build, cogn. with O.E. būan, to dwell, occupy (a house), cultivate (land) (Sweet). In Mod.Sc. the comb. biggit land may signify either land built on or land inhabited and cultivated. Big is obs. in Mod.Eng. (no quot. in N.E.D. after 15th cent.) but occurs in Mid.Eng. and in n.Eng. dial. See E.D.D.]

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"Big v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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