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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CLEG, Clegg, Cleig, Kleg(g), Gleg, n.1 [klɛg Sc., but ne.Sc., Ags., Edb., Lnl. + glɛg; kleig Cai.]

1. The gad-fly, Tabanus lineola. Marw. (1929) gives the form klegg for Ork., and Cai.7 1940 gives cleig. Gen.Sc. Formerly also in St.Eng. but now only dial. Cf. Clag, n.2 Hence cleggit, ppl.adj., pestered by clegs.Sc. 1732 P. Walker Six Saints (Fleming 1901) II. 29:
Insects decaying, that seldom a fly or cleg was to be seen.
Sc. 1987 Times 29 Jul :
There are several, small, festering pin-pricks on fingers, hands and face caused by the barbed hooks of salmon flies flung into my flesh by Scottish gales. When the wind dropped the midges and the clegs took over.
Sc. 1992 Herald 5 Aug 12:
In this season of clegs and mellow frightfulness, lovers of Keats on holiday in Skye have a peculiar source of consolation. We are sharing the experiences of the poet on his walking tour with Charles Brown in August, 1818. "Cursed gadflies," he called them, Chamber's Dictionary defines a gadfly as a cleg.
Sc. 2000 Sunday Herald 5 Mar 1:
This happens on those days when it hasn't rained for a month and the only things moving on the water are pondskaters and clegs, or when the delicate little spate river you expected to see looks more like the Zambezi, sweeping fallen trees and bloated wildebeest along its path of roaring destruction.
Abd.(D) 1915 H. Beaton Back o' Benachie 90:
Peter wis tae herd them [the cattle] till the glegs began.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Middleton in Sandy Stronach New Wirds: An Anthology of Winning Poems and Stories from the Doric Writing Competitions of 1994 and 1995 35:
"Because o ye the Tad Losgann is deid, fa suppit the glegs an midgies aa aroon Braemar. An noo, aa simmer Deeside will be deaved wi the things.
m.Sc. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls o' Hame 10:
Whaur the midges mazy dance, Clegs dart oot the fiery lance.
Rnf. 1815 W. Finlayson Simple Sc. Rhymes 15:
Or talk a simmer-day on klegs An' beetle clocks.
Lnk. 1947 G. Rae Sandy McCrae 129:
Daft folk breengin' a' airts, like cleggit cattle, through this mawkit world o' men.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 169:
A spirit of restlessness, like the bizzing of the midges and cleggs in the simmer time, seemed to be in the air.
Ayr. 1987:
That big bumbling thing is a clegg, and it could give you or that horse a nasty bite.
Wgt. 1887 G. Fraser Sketches, etc., of Wgt. 380:
The rustic had not proceeded far when down came the scaffolding, leaving Geordie hanging on by the wall, like a cleg on a cow's side.

2. A jocular name for a doctor, sc. one who draws blood (Ayr. 1964).

3. A missile used by rioters against mounted troops or police or their horses, esp. during the Radical movement in the 1820's (see quots.). m.Sc. 1820 Edb. Ev. Courant (8 April) 3:
A Cleg was thrown at him, which cut him in the cheek. This instrument is somewhat of the nature of a shuttle-cock, has a steel point three inches long, is loaded with lead at the head, and dressed with feathers so as to guide it when thrown.
Rnf. 1846 Rnf. Mag. (Dec.) 129:
Some laddies scaured him aff wi' their clegs, and haurled awa' the puir man.
Ayr. 1822 J. Goldie Poems 100:
A sharp pike an' a radical cleg.

[O.Sc. cleg, gleg, a horse-fly, first date c.1420 (D.O.S.T.), O.N. kleggi, id. (Zoëga), from Gmc. root *kli-, to stick.]

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"Cleg n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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