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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FLING, v., n. Sc. forms and usages. Fling covers most of the senses of Eng. throw, which is correspondingly rare in Sc.

I. v. Pa.t.: flang. Sc. form of Eng. flung.Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 10:
The wye he flang hissel aboot the pulpit on Sundays, Davie wisna at aa surprised. Fyles he wis that ferocious, Davie thocht he'd caa the pulpit tae crockanation an flee aff throw the stained glaiss windae.

Pa.p.: flung; †flunged (Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 56); flang. Sc. forms of Eng. flung.Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 46:
Flang in the fearie chapel tae repent,
The hapless bairn bi rattens' teeth wis rent.

1. To kick, to strike backwards with the heels, of a horse or other animal (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry, Gl.); Gen.Sc., now rare or dial. in Eng.; “to drive with the feet in walking” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 206). Hence flinger, a cow that kicks (Bch. 1926 E. Dieth Bch. Dial. 145; Abd.27 1952).Slk. 1823 Hogg Shep. Calendar i.:
It's hard to gar a wicked cout leave off flinging.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 47:
I saw him fighting wi' a flingin' horse.
wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 173:
What he knew, he said he had “picked up at his ain hand, as the cow learned the flinging.”
Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie xxxvi.:
“Noo' she'll naither stick nor fling,” said Donal; she could but bellow, and paw with her fore-feet.
m.Lth. 1882 Mod. Sc. Poets (ed. Edwards) IV. 388:
Ye needna wriggle, pu' an' fling, For Death will nip ye.

Phr.: †to fling up (one's) fit, of persons, to become angry, be very resentful.Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie ix.:
She flang up her fit at me when I speert if she was perfect sure she didna jalouse who its faither was.

2. intr. Of persons: to jerk the head or body sideways as a gesture of displeasure or disdain, to flounce (Ork.5, Abd.27, Ags.19, m.Lth.1, Bwk.3, Rxb.4 1952); to go off in a pet. Phr. no to fling at, not to be despised (Ork.5 1952).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Rock and Wee Pickle Tow i.:
She sat an' she grat, an' she flet an' she flang.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 11:
[The day] in whase loud praise the Muse has dung A' kind o' print; But wow! the limmer's fairly flung; There's naething in't.
Mry. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 311:
He's no to fling at, gin he want ye.
Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth xix.:
Mass, but she's out in the street, come o't what like, and the auld Glover will be as mad as if I could withhold her, will she nill she, flyte she, fling she.

3. To dance, esp. a Sc. dance, to throw the legs about, to caper (ne., em.Sc., Ayr. 1946). Hence †flinger, a dancer. Comb. highland-fling, to dance the Highland fling. See n. 2.Lnk. 1727 P. Walker Life of Semple, etc. 60:
I have often wondered thorow my Life, how any that ever knew what it was to bow a Knee in earnest to pray, durst crook a Hough to fyke and fling at Piper's and Fidler's Springs.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 112:
An' throw an' throw, they lap they flang they ran; The cuintray dances, an' the cuintray reels.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 160–1:
Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal, Louping an' flinging on a crummock.
Slg. 1806 G. Galloway Nelson 14:
O! to see them highland fling in plaiden.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian x.:
If I hear ye, quean lassies, sae muckle as name dancing, or think there's sic a thing in this warld as flinging to fiddler's sounds and piper's springs.
Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate ix.:
That's as muckle as to say, that I suld hae minded you was a flinger and a fiddler yoursell.
wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 559:
The worst thing for me was the kicking and flinging at Highlan reels.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
He . . . lowped and flang and danced like a daft quean at a waddin.

4. To jilt (ne.Sc., Fif. 1952).Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 152:
Wise heads have lang been kend to curb the tongue; Had I that maxim kept I'd ne'er been flung.
Rxb. 1811 A. Scott Poems 24:
Thinks he, ah me! — the sorrows in't, The faithless hizzie has me flung.

5. To apply oneself, work energetically (Cld. 1880 Jam.); specif. to thresh grain (Id.).Ib.:
Fling at it, man, when the airn's het.
m.Lth.1 1952:
Fling intae your wark, man.

6. A fit, spasm, outburst. Sc. 1741 Session Papers, Stedman v. Stedman (27 Nov.) 15:
The other Witnesses had taken a Fling of Hurry.

II. n. 1. The act of kicking, a kick from a horse (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ork.5, Abd.27, Ags.19, m.Lth.1, Rxb.4 1952). Of persons, a caper; a high-stepping, sweeping style of walking (Sh.11 1952). Also fig.Abd. 1809 J. Skinner Amusements 102:
She never fykes wi' flighty flings Of heathen Gods.
Abd. 1890 Bon-Accord (15 March) 20:
Roon an' roon the park he careered past the ither horses, fa gaed's a fling wi' their hin' legs i' the bye-gaun.

2. A Scots dance, esp. in gen. Sc. phr. the Hielan(d) fling, see 1842 quot. Also the tune to which the dance is performed.Sc. 1715 in Hogg Jacobite Relics (1819) I. 81:
We took a spring, and danc'd a fling.
Sc. a.1788 Sc. Musical Museum No. 162:
Now ilka lad has got a lass . . ., And ta'en a fling upon the grass.
Sc. 1800 Scots Mag. (March) 176:
Demurely practising a minuet, or transacting the more serious business of acquiring the highland fling.
Sc. 1807 J. Hall Travels I. 388:
But finding the highland fling, as it is termed, more natural than my stiff see-saw method of dancing, I adopted it as well as I could.
Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. vi.:
Lady Binks had made the company at the Well alternately admire, smile, and stare, by dancing the highest Highland fling.
Sc. 1842 Chambers's Information 560:
Highlanders dance reels with great agility, and are fond of introducing the steps ordinarily called the Highland fling, which is of the character of dancing on each foot alternately, and flinging the other in front and behind the leg which is dancing.
Per. 1879 P.R. Drummond Bygone Days 312:
No gipsy of Old Spain was ever more attached to her grotesque “Fandango” than these two maidens were to their “Shantruse,” their “Hulachan,” and “Highland Fling.”
Lth. 1928 S. A. Robertson With Double Tongue 81:
At reel, poussette, or fling nane there wi' them could bear the gree.

3. A disappointment, a repulse (Sc. 1808 Jam.), specif. of being jilted, thrown over, in love (Id.), esp. in phr. to get (gie) (someone) the fling (ne.Sc., m.Lth., Bwk. 1952).Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 43:
Dark cluds o' sorrow heavy hing Owre ilka ee; An' a' because ye've got the fling.
Rnf. 1806 R. Tannahill Poems (1875) 116:
'Tis also said, our noble Prince Has play'd the wee saut loon for ance, Has gien his bonnie wife the fling.
Lth. 1809 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 846:
Your kindness kirsten'd wi' a gill Might gi'et [poverty] the fling.

4. A fit of ill-humour (Sh.10, Fif.10 1946), gen. in phr. to tak the fling(s), — fling-strings, to take the sulks, to turn sullen and resentful. For the orig. meaning of fling-string, see III. 5.Sc. 1719 in Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 129:
She [the Muse] 'll take the Flings; Verse may grow scanter.
Sc. 1824 Bk. Sc. Song (ed.Whitelaw 1844) 43:
I'll tak' the fling-strings, If he winna buy to me Twal bonnie gowd rings.
Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 226:
Syne I'll gar my gudeman trow That I hae taen the flings.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 68:
Aince he had taen the flings, he was as thrawn as the hint leg o' a cuddy.
Fif. 1897 “S. Tytler” Witch-Wife xiv.:
[Her eyes] were tranquil and serene, save when she took her “flings.”

5. The knack, the “hang,” the right way of using a tool or of working (Cld. 1879 Jam.).Ib.:
Ye've the fling o't now, keep at it.

III Combs.: †1. fling bag, a bag or wallet carried thrown over the shoulder (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 206); †2. fling-crab, ? the fiddler crab; †3. flingin tree, (a) the swingle of a flail, the arm which strikes the grain; (b) “a piece of timber hung by way of partition between two horses in a stable” (Ayr. 1787 Burns Poems, Gl.); †4. flingstick, “a rowly-powly man,” a man in charge of a cockshy at a fair (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 206); †5. fling-string, the cord of a spinning wheel which communicates the motion of the large wheel to the spindle (Rnf. 1837 Crawfurd MSS. XI. 306). For phr. to tak the fling-strings, see II. 4.; 6. fling-to, a forcible closing (of a door), a slam.2. Ags. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XI. 256:
The shell-fish are, lobsters, partens, crabs, fling-crab, hedge-hog, oyster.
3. (a) Ayr. 1786 Burns Vision i. ii.:
The Thresher's weary flingin-tree, The lee-lang day had tir'd me.
Fif. 1823 W. Tennant Card. Beaton 118:
Ay, ay, e'en to the thrashin' o' a prelate's banes wi' our flingin'-trees.
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 138:
Where Johnnie ply'd the flinging tree, The golden grain from straw to free.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 14:
At five o'clock, to thresh i' the barn, An' set your flingin' tree a jiggin'.
6. Ags. 1888 Barrie Auld Licht Idylls viii.:
Gie the door a fling-to' ahent ye.

[O.Sc. fling, flyng, to kick, 1375, to dance, 1528, flingar, a dancer, c.1500.]

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"Fling v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Jun 2023 <>



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