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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

HAGGIS, n. Also heggis; obs. forms hag(g)ish; haggies (Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. ii. i.); haggas(s); hag(a)s (Per. 1737 Ochtertyre Ho. Bk. (S.H.S.) 67–8); haggise.

1. A dish consisting of the pluck or heart, lungs and liver of a sheep minced and mixed with suet, oatmeal, onion and seasoning and boiled in a sheep's maw or stomach. Gen.Sc. Now regarded as a traditionally Scottish dish, but also popular in England until the beginning of the 18th cent. and still made in n.Eng. with some variation of the ingredients. Also used fig. as a term of contempt for a person. Adj. combs. haggis-fed; haggis-headed, fig. blockheaded, stupid.Kcd. 1699 Black Bk. (Anderson 1843) 94:
He saw Carnegie himself have in his hand a hot sheep's haggis.
Edb. 1715 A. Pennecuik Works (1815) 412:
Bring haggis-headed William Younger.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 38:
A Man may love a Haggish that wo'd not have the Bag bladed in his Teeth. A Man may say, or do, a Thing in his Airs, and Humour, who would not be told of it again.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (1925) 57:
Imprimis, then, a haggis fat, Weel tottl'd in a seything pat, Wi' spice and ingans weel ca'd thro'.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 14:
A piping het haggies, made of the creish of the black boul horn'd Ewe, boil'd in the meikle bag, mixt with bear meal, onions, spice and mint.
Ayr. 1787 Burns To a Haggis viii.:
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware, That jaups in luggies, But, if we wish her gratefu' prayer, Gie her a Haggis! [Also haggis-fed (Ib. vii.).]
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxv.:
Here I stand, that hae slashed as het a haggies as ony o' the twa o' ye, and thought nae muckle o' my morning's wark when it was dune.
Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xiii.:
The special tup's-head and trotters, the haggis and the side of mutton, with which her table was set forth.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 186:
If I “would accompany the minister, and take a share of a haggis wi' them.”
Dmf. 1822 Carlyle Early Letters (1886) II. 28:
The lazy haggises! they must sink when we shall soar.
Lth. 1882 “J. Strathesk” Blinkbonny 187:
Her stews and “hashes,” and haggises and white puddings.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 43:
Haggis and tripe, and puddin's black, and yill.
Sc. 1954 Edb. Ev. News (26 Jan.) 7:
200 people honouring “The Immortal Memory” of Robert Burns on the 195th anniversary of his birthday enthusiastically disposed of a smaller replica. The bigger haggis was feted in the traditional manner. . . At the end of the ode he plunged a long knife into the haggis to prepare portions for the 200 guests.
Sc. 1998 Herald (28 Jul.) 5:
The makers of Irn-Bru, a product as Scottish as haggis or fine malt whisky, insist the advert is supposed to be humorous, not offensive.
Sc. 1999 Herald (27 Nov.) 30:
I have always loved black pudding and haggis - both wonderful comfort food dishes, as long as you don't give too much thought to their ingredients.
Sc. 2001 Evening Times (24 Jan.) 13:
The chain will be supplying its stores throughout the UK with four varieties including a vegetarian haggis which swops meat for lentils.
Sc. 2002 Sunday Herald (24 Nov.) 7:
While we in Scotland continue to squabble about the merits of making St Andrew's day a national holiday, in deepest Russia Caledonian expats are wondering merely how they will get their hands on a decent haggis.
Sc. 2002 Herald (20 Jan.) 7:
The haggis samosa - to be launched on Friday to coincide with Burns Night - consists of vegetarian haggis, neeps, tatties and spices, and comes complete with tasteful yellow tartan packaging.
Sc. 2003 Herald (15 Feb.) 6:
Of all puddings and sausages, black (blood) pudding is probably the oldest. Certainly, it beats haggis in antiquity, with a mention in Homer's Odyssey (circa 1000BC), describing a stomach filled with blood and fat which is roasted over the fire.
Sc. 2003 Evening Times (28 Apr.) 41:
Other tasty recipes include Drambuie ice-cream, drop scones, Edinburgh fog (a rich dessert), fish sausages (variation on fish cakes), Turnberry Hotel's haggis millefeuille, het pint (traditional New year drink) and Nick Nairn's pan-fried partridge.
Sc. 2003 Herald (17 Jun.) 3:
[Duke Siegfried], Duke of Saalfelden, unveiled McHagmoar in a weekend ceremony complete with Scottish pipers, a druid and, of course, a haggis.
Sc. 2003 Herald (9 Sep.) 16:
A generous Tartan Army lieutenant took some visiting Faroe Islanders out for Sunday lunch, introducing them to haggis, neeps, and tatties, which they much enjoyed.

2. The stomach (of a man or animal), the paunch; also used attrib. (Edb. 1812 P. Forbes Poems 40).Abd. 1755 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 28:
The second chiel was a thick, setterel, swown pallach, wi' a great chuller oner his chocks, like an ill scraped haggis.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 210:
Away then John goes to the amry and lays to the haggies, till his ain haggies cou'd had nae mair.
Bnff. 1851 Trans. Bnff. Field Club (1939) 38:
I seed them taken up, desected, and their Haggises carried off to be analised.

3. A botched job, a mess (Ork. 1956).Ork. 1929 Marw.:
He'll just mak a haggis o' the job.
Ork. 1952 R. T. Johnston Stenwick Days (1984) 119:
"Wur lossin'," moaned Eustace. "Harray's winnin' iss wen-noathing. Nathaniel Swenney is playin' in thee pliss, an' makkin' the most aafil heggis o' id that thoo iver saa. ... "

4. Used as an epithet for the second day's auction (sc. of inferior or mixed quality) at a large sheep sale.Rxb. 1851 Edb. Ev. Courant (25 Sept.):
The result of yesterday was realised on the sale stance to-day. Although a few lots of good sheep appeared, it was allowed, being “Haggis” (or second day), that the dealers who were not supplied would . . . give an impetus to the market, but in this they were disappointed.

5. Phrs. and combs.: (1) haggis-bag, the sheep's stomach in which a haggis is cooked (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1956); also used fig. = a windbag, a piece of empty nonsense; †(2) haggies kail, the water or broth in which a haggis has been boiled; (3) haggis royal, a rich kind of haggis (Sc. 1837 M. Dods Manual 304); (4) sweet haggis, see quot.; (5) white haggis, id.(1) Sc. 1787 S. MacIver Cookery 71:
Make the haggies-bag perfectly clean. . . . Put all the haggies-meat into the bag.
Sc. 1819 Blackwood's Mag. (Sept.) 676:
It is more like an empty haggis-bag than any thing else.
Dmb. 1846 W. Cross Disruption v.:
“Principles! haggis bags!” exclaimed the lady.
Sc. 1870 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 42:
And he ate up a' the haggis bag, and his name was Aiken Drum.
(2) Sc. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 52:
Wi' puddin broe or haggies' kail. Or something maks a battin meal.
(4) Kcb.10 1956:
There was also a white or sweet haggis, of suet, oatmeal, currants, etc., cooked and sliced when cold and hard.

[O.Sc. haggeis, haggies from c.1500, E.M.E. haggas, hagges, haggice, Mid.Eng. hagas, hageys, hagese, c.1420, id. Orig. uncertain, but prob. a deriv. of Hag. v.1, n.1, to chop.]

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"Haggis n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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