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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BRAK, BRAKK, BRACK, BRAKE, Braik, Breck, Brick, n. Also brek (Dmf. 1921 J. L. Waugh Heroes 86). Sc. forms and usages of St.Eng. break, which is illustrated only where the meaning is exclusively Sc. [brɑk, brɛk Sc.; breik Ags.; brɛk, brɪk s.Sc., Peb.]

Sc. forms:Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 8:
He'd near forgotten aboot the Steeler aathegither fin Miss Mathers cam inno the playgrun wi her siller fussle tae order aabody inno the skweel efter their brakk.

Sc. usages:

1. Ground broken up for cultivation; a division of land under the old system of rotation of crops. Given in N.E.D. in this sense (1674), but not noted by Concise and Un. Eng. Dicts. Known to Bnff.2, Slg.3, Lnk.3 1935.Sc. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XI. 152:
Such farms as are divided into 3 inclosures or, as they are commonly called, breaks.
Abd.2 1935:
Methods of making a break vary in different districts, and also whether it is made in lea or in red-ground.
e.Lth. 1794 G. Buchan-Hepburn Gen. View Agric. e. Lth. 49:
The in-field in this county was divided into four brakes . . . under the following rotation of crops.
Hdg. 1885 “S. Mucklebackit” Rural Rhymes, etc. 178:
After the harrowing, the outworkers should go over the break.
Bwk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 II. 36:
In cropping it [the land] is divided for the most part into five breaks. These breaks are cultivated in regular rotation.
Kcb.9 1935:
A've a big breck this year, forty acre; twenty-five in the Glednest, and fifteen in the Wheelie.
Rxb. 1708 Stitchill Court Bk. (S.H.S.) 160:
The fornamid persons put their lands out of the ordinary breaks.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 182:
On my brick o' fallow my labours I'll ply.

Comb.: fellow-breck, fallow-, “stubble field to be ploughed” (Cai.7 1935).

2. A kind of ploughing. The same as Brak-fur, q.v. Also used attrib.Bnff. 1812 D. Souter Gen. View Agric. Bnff., App. 37:
The field which is designed for bear gets two furrows [furrowings]; the one a break, the other clean.

3. “The bursting of surges on the sea-shore, broken waves rolling towards the sea-shore” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; 1914 Angus Gl.).Sh. 1832 Visit to Shetland in Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc. VII. iv. 153:
Dann tuik up Hermann da grit stane . . . and he cuist it at Saxe, but it . . . fell into da firth, and dere is always a hantle of brak upon him in de finest wather.
Sh.(D) 1877 G. Stewart Sh. Fireside Tales (1892) 4:
Ony idder soond bit da roar o' da brack.

4. A fall of snow or rain; a layer or deposit of snow (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).s.Sc. a.1870 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. (1871) I. 204:
Where winds had swept an ebber [shallower] brack.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Calendar I. i.:
Such a break of snaw as had scarcely ever been seen.

5. “A heavy harrow” (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.1 1935); “sometimes called a ‘double harrow,' usually drawn by two horses” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn., braik); in this sense prob. directly from Mid Du., M.L. Ger. braeke, a brake for flax, Flem. braak, a mattock.Sc. 1776 H. Home Gentleman Farmer 13:
The brake is a large and weighty harrow . . . to reduce a stubborn soil.
Mearns 1889 J. and W. Clark Leisure Musings 78:
I hae a guid box-cart wi' tops . . . Besides a brake o' zigzag harrows.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Ep. J. Lapraik (1786) i.:
An' pownies reek in pleugh or braik.

6. The breaking up (1) of a storm, frost, ice, etc.; (2) “of a market” (Bnff.2, Ags.1 1935).(1) Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.1, Fif.10 1935:
We speak of the beginning of a thaw as the “brack o' a storm.”
Slk. 1825 Jam.2:
Brack, a flood, when the ice breaks in consequence of a thaw.
(2) Bch. 1928 (per Abd.15):
A row like the brack o' a Lowrin Fair.
Ags. 1892 Brechin Advertiser (7 June) 3/4:
The scene in the Free Assembly was liker the brak' o' a Taranty Muir than a meetin' o' rev. gentlemen.

7. “A hollow in a hill” (Sc. 1808 Jam. s.v. break).Abd.(D) 1909 C. Murray Hamewith 67:
An' I slip awa' to the break An' cannily gather my fee.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 175:
A dram or sae, ane weel may tak, Whan drifts blaw owr the brae or brak.

8. “The turning-point of a road or hill” (Sc. 1898 E.D.D. s.v. break).

9. “Failure, bankruptcy” (Bnff.2, Abd.19, Ags.1, Fif.10 1935).ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays and Leg. of the North (1908) 199:
But first came a loss wi' a brither, An' neist in the brak' o' a bank.

10. A defeat.n.Ir. 1898 E.D.D.:
Used by the Uls. Sc. The Break of Drummore. The Break of Killeleigh.

11. A break; breach (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., s.v. brick). Obs. in Eng. (N.E.D. s.v. brack).Rxb. 1808 A. Scott Poems 80:
An' whan they chance to mak a brick, Loud sound their hawing cheers.

12. “A considerable number of people, a crowd; as a break of folk” (Fif. 1825 Jam.2).

[O.Sc. bra(c)k, braik, brake, bre(c)k, n., a breaking, breach; a noise, disturbance (D.O.S.T.); a heavy harrow, 1633 (D.O.S.T. Add.). For the second meaning, cf. O.E. gebræc, a noise, and O.N. brak, a creaking noise, a crack. D.O.S.T. has brek, v., to break the surface of the ground by digging, ploughing, etc.]

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"Brak n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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