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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

JACK, n.1 Also Jaick (Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 101), Jake (Edb. 1916 J. Fergus Sodger 16; Jaik; Jeck (Abd. 1913 G. Greig Mains Again 35; Ags. 1929 Scots Mag. (May) 149). Dims. Ja(i)kie, Jacky. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. prop. n. Jack. The commoner Sc. form is Jock, q.v. [dʒɑk; dʒek, dʒɛk]

1. A generic term for a man, a chap, fellow, esp. a countryman, a farm worker (ne.Sc. 1959). Cf. Jock, n. 1. (1).Mry. 1954 Bulletin (10 Aug.) 4:
If the farmer did not get his subsidies then he would not be able to pay the farm jake.

2. In pl. Small stones or bones used in the children's game of chuck-stones or knuckle-bones, the game itself (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Arg., Kcb., Uls. 1959). Also in comb. jack stones (Patterson; Uls. 1947), jacky-stanes (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. Add. 341). Also in Eng. dial. See also Chuck, n.2Kcb. 1900 Crockett Anna Mark xii.:
Playing at quoits, tops, marbles, tic-tac-toe, jacks, knuckle-bones.
Ant. 1927 per Fif.1:
Jackstones . . . name applied to a game which consists of throwing up small stones. Boulders on the coast are known as “Giants' jack-stones”.
Arg.3 1950:
The game of chuckies or chuck stones is known as “jecks” in Kintyre. Among the hands played are the following — Wansy, Twosy, Threesy, Fowrsy, Big span and wee span, Lay the eggs, Catch the fly, and Catch the spider.

3. Mining: “a narrow dyke, usually of igneous rock; a whin gaw” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 39), a large piece of rock in a coal seam (Edb.6 1959). In n.Eng. dial. = a large crack or loose stone in the roof of a mine. Cf. Jock, n., 3.

4. The jackdaw, Corvus monedula (Sc. 1865 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 81; Rxb. 1942 Zai, jeck). Also in dim. (Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 250; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; em.Sc., Lnk., Kcb., Dmf. 1959; Ork., Ags., Edb., Lnk., Ayr. jaikie; Fif. 2000s jeckie) and deriv. Jacko, jecko (w.Sc. 1887 Jam.), id., also the magpie, Pica pica (Ib.). Combs. jackbit (Cai. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VII. 574), jakedaw (Lth. 1924 A. Dodds Poppies in the Corn 35), jack pie (Bte. 1820 J. Blain Hist. Bte. (1880) 22), the jackdaw.e.Lth. 1924 I. Adair Glowerower 31:
The bairns were tae be guid tae the jakies, or they wad be turned into craws next spring.

5. Sc. form of Eng. jack (in cards). (jake w.Lth. 1980s, Bnff., Ags., Edb., Ayr., Rxb. 2000s).

6. Phrs. and combs.: (1) Jeck-a-lum, Jack in the chimney, a children's game (see quot.); (2) Jack beside the middle horse, a star in the constellation of Ursa Major (Uls. 1947). Cf. Eng. dial. Jack and his team, etc. = the Plough; (3) jaik(ie) boot, a kind of strong leather boot, a jackboot; (4) Jeck-easy, offhand, easy-going (Gen.Sc.), esp. in phr. to be jeck-easy, to be indifferent, not caring one way or the other (Id.). Cf. Eng. slang, “I'm easy”; (5) Jackie Bluecap, the blue tit, Parus caeruleus (Rxb. 1930); (6) Ja(i)ckie Downie, the bib or pout, Gadus luscus (Mry. 1852 Zoologist X. 3484; e.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna of Dee 237; Mry. 1959); †(7) jacking-gown [i.e. Jack-in-gown], a clergyman; †(8) Jack-i'-the-Bush, navel-wort, Cotyledon umbilicus (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (9) Jaik-jag-the-flae, a contemptuous name for a tailor. See Jag, n.1, v.1; (10) Jack's alive, a children's game (see 1825 quot.). Also in Eng. dial. Cf. Jock; (11) Jack-show-the-licht, a kind of hide-and-seek game played in the dark, in which the pursued occas. gives a clue to his position by flashing an electric torch (Fif. 1959); (12) Jack snipe, the dunlin, Erolia alpina (Sh. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 193, 1899 Evans and Buckley Fauna Shet. 167). Common in Eng. and U.S. for various species of snipe; (13) Jack startles a stovy or stoopy, a shimmering of the atmosphere near the ground on a hot day, a heat haze. See Jock and Stairtle; (14) Jeck wi' the monie feet, a centipede (Arg., Kcb. 1959). Cf. Jennie, I. 7. (12), and Maggie; (15) Jacky Forster, the male long-tailed duck, Clangula hiemalis; (16) Jecky-forty-feet, a centipede; a grub of the species of beetle Elater (Cai. 1902 E.D.D., Cai.8 1934). Cf. (14) and Jennie, I. 7. (12); (17) Jecky-jump-up, a sparkling wine, champagne or the like (Ags. 1962 D. Phillips Lichty Nichts 53).(1) Sh.10 1959:
In Jeck-a-lum, one player became Jeck and another the Mother. The rest were her children. The Mother went out and Jeck came on various pretexts and stole all her children one by one. The Mother went to ask them back and Jeck and she agreed on a certain test, e.g. a simple question, like “Do you like butter?” According to the answer “No” or “Yes”, the child was put to Jeck's or the Mother's side, and a tug of war between the two sides ended the game.
(2) Ags. 1730 in A. J. Warden Burgh Laws Dundee (1872) 384:
He shall be obliged to make to satisfaction of the Trade a pair of Jaikt or strong bootts, a pair of Jaikie or light bootts, a pair of Sea boots.
(3) Cai. 1934 Times (1 Feb.) 10:
The Plough is called the Wain, or Cart, and “Jack” is the small star close to the third one in the “handle” known as “Jack beside the Middle Horse”.
(4) Gsw. 1888 A. G. Murdoch Readings (Ser. 2) 31:
Buy't if ye like; I'm jake-easy on't, Betty.
Arg. 1917 A. W. Blue Quay Head Tryst 149:
“Fricht! Naw!” said Peter, “we're a' jeck-easy”.
Sc. 1937 F. Niven Staff at Simson's i.:
His gait that of one tolerant, uncensorious, jack-easy.
(7) Dmf. c.1830 Vagabond Songs (Ford 1904) 196:
A fig, say I, for jacking gown, Or priest or elder in the toun.
(9) Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 20:
“Come noo'” cried Tammie, “that'll dae; Nae mair o't, lang Jaik-jag-the-flae!”
(10) Sc. 1822 Blackwood's Mag. (Nov.) 602:
Now “Hunt the Whistle” mirth creates Or “Jack's alive”, an' then the fun Redeeming forfeits lost an' won.
Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
A piece of paper or match is handed round a circle, he who takes hold of it saying, “Jack's alive, he's no die in my hand” He, in whose hand it dies or is extinguished, forfeits a wad; . . . It might perhaps be a sort of substitute for the English sport of Jack o' Lent.
(13) Rxb. 1889 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club XII. 475:
He gave the term of “Jack startles a stovy” or “stoopy” to the undulatory exhalations in hot weather, when the hill-tops appear to be running off, like a band of “startled” cattle. When “Jack startles his stovie,” it is the signal for the children on the hills to go bare-footed.
(15) Bwk. 1911 A. H. Evans Fauna Tweed 167:
Long-tailed Duck . . . Gunners who remain inshore are not likely to meet with “Jacky Forsters” or “Jenny Forsters,” as the males and females are respectively termed by some of the fishermen.

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"Jack n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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