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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.

DWANG, v., n. [dwɑŋ]

I. v.

1. tr.

(1) To compel, oppress; to harass, worry (Ags.19 1950); to impose a strain on (see first quot.) (Abd.8 1917). Ppl.adj. dwang'd.n.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
One horse in a plough, or one ox under the yoke, is in this sense said to dwang another.
Abd. 1742 R. Forbes Ajax (1767) 7:
The lyart lad, wi' years sair dwang'd, The traitor thief did leave.
Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' xxxi.:
But think nae, billy, ye're to dwang Fowk wi' a sham.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) iv.:
D'ye mean to tell me that Mysie 'ill be dwanged trailin' throo a' eternity wi' a bit bairnie aucht days auld?

†(2) With over: to suppress.Sc. 1701–31 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C. 1842) II. 104:
There seemed to be some concern anent The History of the Sufferings, but I think it shall be dwanged over till matter be lost.

(3) To fix a dwang (see n., 3.) in position.Sc. 1851–53 Trans. Highl. and Agric. Soc. 113:
The division stones in stall-byres to be 5 feet square, and 4½ inches thick, droved Arbroath pavement rounded on the angles, firmly dwanged with the feeding-cribs.

2. intr. To toil, to work hard (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.).Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 176:
Trash, hence frae me, nae mair w*i' you I'll dwang.
Per. 1900 E.D.D.:
An old schoolmaster on a hot summer's afternoon twenty-five years ago used to ask his pupils, “What are ye dwanging owre yer slates . . . for?”

II. n.

1. Toil, labour, harassment; rough handling (Ags.17 1941; Per. 1900 E.D.D.).Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings 13:
At length, when dancing turn'd a dwang Quo' Aunty, Mains, ye'll gi'es a sang.
Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 157:
To gar our bed look hale and neighbour-like, Wi' gleesome speed last week I span a tike; To mak it out my wheel got mony dwang.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) iv.:
“I dinna see hoo Mysie cudna get redd o' her bairn for an oor noo an' than.” “But that wud juist be a dwang to the lassies, syne.”
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 102:
William and James, "gone to their Maker," an' lowpin yet,
nae doot, i the aye-green fields whaur there shanna be
dwang or dool, only caller bricht air, whaur consumption canna fret
lungs meant for breathin.

2. A large iron lever, used by blacksmiths for screwing bolt-nuts; a tap-wrench (Abd., Mearns, Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; Per. 1900 E.D.D.; Gsw., Rxb. 1950). Phr. †turn(ing) the dwang, (see quot.).Mearns 1825 Jam.2:
Turning the Dwang, is a pastime among men for the trial of strength. The person, who attempts to turn the dwang, holds it by the small end, and endeavours to raise the heavy end from the ground, and to turn it round perpendicularly.

Comb.: dwang-staff, “a tool used for bending a plank to be laid on a boat for building” (Mry.1 1916, obs.).

3. A transverse piece of wood or strut inserted between joists or posts to strengthen them (Sc. 1842 J. Gwilt Archit., Gl.); Gen.Sc. In Mining: a punch-prop (Lnk. 1944 (per Edb.6)).Sc. 1849 H. Stephens Bk. Farm (1851) II. 535:
Price to include for dwangs and wall plates at 3s. 9d.
Gsw. 1813 J. Cleland Specifications Magdalenes Asylum 16:
The joists in the wings are to have one row of dwangs, eleven by two and a half inches.
Gsw. 1911 Gsw. Herald (29 Aug.) 6/8:
Ye were puttin up a four an' a half standard partition wi' transverse dwangs an a yellow pine runner!

4. “A stout club, or bar of wood, used by carters for tightening ropes [or chains]” (Cld. 1880 Jam.5; Mearns6 1949).Abd.27 1947:
Gie the dwang anither thraw.

5. “A lever of wood or iron fastened under the lower jaw of an unmanageable horse” (Bnff.2 1930; Abd.8 1917).

6. A stocking-press (Edb. 1948); a lever or turnscrew in a dyer's press.Abd. 1758 Aberdeen Jnl. (2 May):
They consist of a press, dwangs, sole, boards, two leads.
Abd. 1778 Aberdeen Jnl. (7 Dec.):
A Neat Set of Dyers Tools . . . Eight Press Boards, Two Iron Dwangs, a large Blue Vatt.

7. Lever power, strain.Abd.6 1916:
Dinna pit sae muckle dwang on the yoke.

[O.Sc. has dwang, a short transverse piece of timber, from 1497; to subject to pressure or compulsion, to harass, oppress, from 1583. Cf. Du. dwang, compulsion, restraint, M.L.Ger. dwanc, id., O.H.Ger. dwang, bridle, curb, Du. dwingen, to force, constrain.]

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"Dwang v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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