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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FINGER, n., v. [′fɪŋər]

I. n. Sc. usages in phrs. and combs.: 1. finger-fed, pampered, delicately reared (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Abd. 1950); 2. finger-neb(b), finger-tip (Fif., Ayr. 1950); 3. finger o' scorn, a contemptible person (Kcb. 1942); 4. finger stone, a curling stone with fingerholes instead of a handle; 5. finger-stuil (Sh., Per., Arg., Ayr., Wgt., Rxb. 1950), -steel (Ags., Rxb., 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; n.Sc., Bwk. 1950), -still (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd.4 1931), -stail (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.); -stool (Cai., Abd., Ags., Fif. 1942) a finger-stall, sheath for an injured finger; also fig. a catspaw; 6. finger-taps, finger-tips; 7. finger, thoom or pinkie, a question game “in which a boy on the back of another stooping, puts this guess; the latter, if he guesses correctly which [finger] is pointed upwards by the former, takes his place. Also finger or thoom” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ags.19 1951); †8. on one's finger-en's, under one's thumb, in complete subjection; 9. to turn up the wee finger, to be addicted to drink (ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Arg., Gall., Rxb. 1950); 10. wi' a wat finger, see Wat; 11. wi' one's finger in one's cheek, denoting failure and mortification.1. Fif. 1715 Master of Sinclair Memoirs (Abbotsford Cl.) 176:
A finger-fed dog and a favourite, and keen enough.
Sc. 1897 “L. Keith” Bonnie Lady v.:
A young lady like you, finger-fed and gently reared.
Per. 1933 N. B. Morrison Gowk Storm 195:
She was what Nannie would call “finger-fed” — quite unfitted for the wear and tear of daily life.
2. Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 30:
The Session now is at an end: Writers, your finger-nebbs unbend.
Lnk. 1866 D. Wingate Annie Weir 45:
The hale day lang I've pingled owre That heap o' tautit tow, And thought my burning finger-nebs Wad sotten't in a low.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
The hand of him held out wi' the black nails upon the finger-nebs.
Sc. 1983 John McDonald in Joy Hendry Chapman 37 44:
we're taigled the yin tae the titcher,
oor weird airtit;
ilkane nocht bit a fingerneb;
a field o sensation whaur 'God' comes
tae ken his Warl ...
3. Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of the Lairds iv.:
I had my satisfaction o' that finger o' scorn, Gilbert.
4. Sc. 1838 Chambers's Jnl. (28 April) 108:
The said "channel stane" had no handle; but as a substitute, spaces were regularly cut for the proper action of the finger and thumb. In other respects it was of the common form, but a good deal smaller, from the want of the lever the handle supplies . . . "finger-stones" were known in his young days, and the father of Mr. Mundell of Wallace Hall was the first man who introduced the handle.
5. Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxv.:
Some mendin' their finger-steels, some pykin' oot thristles.
Fif. 1887 G. Gourlay Old Neighbours 83:
The bailies of East Anster at this time, as Kilbrachmont used to say, only “sae mony finger-stools tae the laird.”
ne.Sc. 1909 G. Greig Folk-Song No. III. 1:
We buckle on oor finger steels, And follow oot the scyther.
6. Dmf. 1917 J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 102:
The Shinnel grocer wad gi'e his finger-taps to be in here.
8. Lnk. 1865 J. Hamilton Poems 36:
[He] sune wan her he'rt, an' hoo, gude kens, Gat Mysie on his finger en's.
9. Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 236:
He turned his wee finger owre aften up, ye ken.
Fif.10 1943:
He'd hae the job yet if it wasna for his turnin up his wee finger.
11. Sc. 1747 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) I. 162:
Upon this the General and his Command returned with their fingers in their cheek when in the meantime they thought they had been sure to catch the much-coveted price of blood.

II. v. 1. To spin (yarn) on the small wheel. See Fingerin(g).Abd. 1777 Abd. Journal (29 Sept.):
Stolen, . . . a Piece of Fingered Wheeling Sey, not half milled, some foul Wool in it.

2. In Weaving: to work flowers or similar patterns on a web, the yarn being generally interwoven into the fabric by the hand or finger (Sc. 1818 Sawers). Hence fingerer, the boy or girl who does this (Ib.).Sc. 1808 J. Duncan Weaving II. 219:
In working brocades, one half of the fingering is generally performed by the weaver, and the other half by a boy or girl, employed for the purpose.

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



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