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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.

BUNKER, Bunkart, Bunkert, Binkart, n. Also bonkard[′bʌŋkər(t), bɪŋkərt]

1. A chest; “window-seat” (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 169; Bnff., Edb., Ayr. 2000s); bench or pew; “a large chest for containing meal” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; 1914 Angus Gl. s.v. bunk). Known to Abd.22, Lnk.3 1937.Sc. 1718 Ramsay Chr. Kirke iii. xxiii. in Poems (1721):
Ithers frae aff the Bunkers sank, Wi' Een like Collops scor'd.
Sc. 1728 Session Papers, Hall v. Cunningham (4 Dec.) 2:
All the Writs were turned out of the Pocks upon the Bonkard before the Bar.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian ix.:
There was no seat accommodated him so well as the “bunker” at Woodend.
Edb. a.1881 J. Smith Jenny Blair's Maunderings (6th ed.) 18:
Mistress So-and-So's either under the bed, or hidin' hersel' in the bunker.
wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 20:
By the window in the back wall a bunker with a hand kirn, two buckets of water, a tin can, a crook and two bowls.
Lnk.1 1932:
The choir wis weel oot last nicht: we had a fine fu' bunker.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize II. ix.:
The kirk was filled to its uttermost bunkers.

2. “An earthen seat in the fields” (Abd. 1808 Jam.); “a low bank at a road side, a road-side channel” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.); “the strip of grass at the side of the road” (n.Ant. 1924 North. Whig (14 Jan.)). Known to Abd.2, Ags.1 1937.Sc. 1805 State, Leslie of Powis, etc. 146 (Jam.):
The fishers . . . built an open bunkart or seat, to shelter them from the wind.
Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xiii.:
I tak' a bit dander oot the bunkers on a Sabbath mornin' whiles for a pucklie chuckinwirth to Dickie.

3. The precentor's seat in a church; the gen. raised area in front of the pulpit in which the elders are seated at Communion.Lth. 1841–1851 “J. Strathesk” Bits from Blinkbonny (1882) viii.:
He most frequently occupied the “desk,” as the precentor's seat was called (sometimes, however, the “bunker”).
Lnk. 1833 Whigs of Scot. II. i.:
The form of a rude pulpit, with its bunker, for the reception of the elders.

4. The part of the boat which the skipper occupies when steering. Comb. boat-bunker, id.Sc. 1831 Blackwood's Mag. (April) 586:
Tying the boat-bunker to the end of the rope for a buoy.
Mry. 1914 R. Cairns in Bnffsh. Field Club 24:
The skipper sat on the starn-steel, with his feet in the bunkart, and steered.

5. “A large heap of any material, such as stones, clay, etc.” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff., binkart 11, bunkart 20; Bnff., Fif. 1887 Jam.6). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2 1937. Also fig.Abd.(D) 1915 H. Beaton Back o' Benachie 96:
The Lord hae mercy on's, see sic a bunkart o' a black clood on Benachie!
Bch. 1928 (per Abd.15):
Ay, he'd trochle throwe the heddir wi's staffie in's hand fin-finnin for pots an' holes an' bunkerts he mith fa' on.

6. Used in the game of curling: “a hillock or prominence on the ice” (Ayr.4 1928).Lth. 1831–1841 “J. Strathesk” More Bits from Blinkbonny, Curlers, Song (1885) xiv.:
Yet bunkers aften send aglee, Altho' they weel did ettle.

7. A small sand-pit; now gen. used in reference to golf. Comb. bunker iron, a golf club used to dislodge a ball from a bunker.Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Letter x.:
They sat cosily niched, into what you might call a bunker, a little sand-pit, dry and snug, and surrounded by its banks.
Fif. 1812 in Rules of Golf (ed. C. B. Clapcott 1935) 44:
Stones, Bones, or any break-club within a club-length of the Ball may be removed when the Ball lies on grass, but nothing can be removed if it lie on Sand or in a bunker.
Fif. 1805 Session Papers, Cleghorn v. Dempster (17 Dec.) 17, 51:
The rabbits generally lodge in the sandy hillocks round the golfing course, and sometimes in the course itself, that is, in the bunkers or hazards of it. . . . He never uses an iron club, except when the ball gets into a bunker.
Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 20:
The first of these clubs [the bunker iron] is especially at home in a bunker - in a thickset whin - amongst the stones of a road - or, in fact, in any scrape where a wooden-headed tool would be useless.

8. Receptacle for coal. Used in Eng. of ships but extended in Sc. to the receptacle used for storing household coal, either inside or outside the house; “wooden box for storing coal in tenement houses — often beside kitchen sink. Name still given to the lid of the wash-tub beside the kitchensink” (Edb.1 1929). Known to Abd.19, Fif.10, Lnl.1, Edb. (per Abd.9), Arg.1 1937. Hence, any working surface in a kitchen (Bnff., Edb., Fif., Rxb. 2000s).Sc. 1774 New Letters D. Hume (Klibansky and Mossner 1954) 206:
He was sent by Lady Wallace to desire that some Stone Pavement under the Coal Bunker should be repaired.
Sc. 1858 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. (1862) II. v.:
A' the bunkers are fu'.
Sc. 2000 Scotsman (23 Oct.)  15:
The eager youth, perched on his kitchen bunker, rattling through his favourite REM albums.
Sc. 2004 Evening Times (19 Aug.)  20:
The first-floor flat is a typical late Victorian example, consisting of four rooms and retaining most of its original features such as its bed recesses, kitchen range, coal bunker and bathroom.
Ags. 1994 Courier 21 Mar :
With the exception of three teachers he was treated as a clown, and at home, "Father would stand me on the bunker and make me perform Jolson songs."
Dundee 1995 Courier 4 Dec :
"I was born and brought up in Dundee and the house we lived in had just such a window seat - but it was actually a coal bunker because the lid lifted and our coal was kept inside. ... "
Fif. 1995 Courier 27 Nov :
A reader from Dunfermline wonders if anyone recalls this particular meaning of the word "bunker."
He writes, "In the 20s and 30s we used the word to describe the wooden fixture at the living room or kitchen window. This fixture supported the kitchen sink and mains water tap. Underneath were usually two doors opening to where was kept the cleaning materials and possibly the gas meter."
Edb. 1991:
I left my keys on the bunker this morning.
Edb. 1993:
Yeah, we talk about the bunker meaning the draining board or roundabout that area.
Gsw. 1998 Gilmorehill Gazette 4 Mar :
The teacher asked one class member [in food and nutrition] to explain something and she started off talking about 'the bunker' in the kitchen. I knew she meant the kitchen work-top, I often use the word myself.
Lnk. 1995:
Open the wine will you? It's on the bunker next to the cooker.

9. “A cupboard in the space below a staircase, sometimes without a door” (Kcb. 1937 (per Kcb.9)).

10. A bunk, a sleeping-berth (Arg.1 1937).wm.Sc. 1835–1837 Laird of Logan II. 238:
The steward hinted that it was time for us to be trintling aff to our bunkers.

11. A small opening in the wall of a building.Per. 1835 J. Monteath Dunblane Traditions 32:
Monteath . . . proposed that an attempt should first be made to shoot the robbers through the bunkers. A shot was accordingly fired through one of these boles.

12. See quot. Kcb. 1911 Crockett Rose of the Wilderness i.:
They [sheep] haunted coves under rocks, called "bunkers".

[O.Sc. bonker, bunkur, bunker, a chest or box, freq. serving also as a seat, earliest quot. 1540 (D.O.S.T.). Does not appear in Eng. until 19th cent. Same origin as Eng. bunk, prob. Scand., cf. O.Sw. bunke, planking of a ship forming a shelter for merchandise (Ihre), Sw. and Norw. bunke, O.N. bunki, a heap. The development of meaning would be: wood material, box, etc., made of wood, contents of same; cf. similar development in Bugdalin.]

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"Bunker n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Apr 2024 <>



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