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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.

KNAG, n.1 Also knagg, nag, knig (Bnff. 1923 Swatches o' Hamespun 58), poss. a misprint; tnag(gie) (Ags. a.1879 Forfar Poets (Fenton) 156, Ags. 1975). See T, letter, 4. Dim. knagie (Abd.4 1931). [(k)nag]

1. A knot or spur projecting from a tree-trunk or branch, a rough, knotty stump; a hard knot in wood (Sc. 1755 Johnson Dict.; ne.Sc., Per., Fif. 1960); a lump, bump, knob, in gen. Also in Eng. dial. Hence knagget, -it, having rough, projecting spurs, jagged (Ib.), tattered (Bnff. 1960); fig., tart, snappish, sour, ill-humoured in conversation (Fif. 1808 Jam.); (k)naggie, -y, id. (Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems Gl.); of a horse: bony, knobbly. Cf. Eng. dial. (k)naggy, ill-tempered, peevish; knaglie, id. = knagget (Sc. 1808 Jam.).Sc. 1759 J. Justice Br. Gardener's Cal. 334:
Not leaving them [pruned branches] in knags or spurs.
Sc. a.1775 Jock o' the Side in Child Ballads No. 187 C. 8:
They cut a tree with fifty nags upo each side For to clim Newcastle wall.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Auld Farmer's Salutation i.:
Thou's howe-backit now, an' knaggie.
Sc. 1796 Sc. Musical Museum V. 500:
Her lunzie-banes were knaggs and neuks.
Lnk. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 116:
Through the hair yer hainches twa stuck oot like timmer knags.
Sc. 1887 Jam.:
As naggy as a thorn-stick.
Abd. 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 6:
Tam . . . carried a hand-saw beneath his coat with which to cut off . . . the thick “rozetty knags.”
Abd. 1943:
The bairns cam hame wi' their claes in tatters efter climmin' aboot amo' that knagget sticks.
Bnff. 1957 Banffshire Jnl. Xmas Annual:
A reevin' fire o' peat an' fir knags.

2. A peg, hook or projection for hanging things on, or for supporting something (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 356; Ags., Fif., Ayr., Wgt., Kcb., Dmf. 1960; Ags. 1990s); one of the wooden pegs set in the Heck (see n.1, 2., s.v.) in a warping machine; the handgrip of a scythe (Wgt. 1960).Sc. a.1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 142:
He did hing up the pockie, O, At her bed-side, as I hear say, Upon a little knagie, O.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 297:
A large big cleik or nag.
Sc. 1799 W. Nicol Pract. Planter 305:
Two knags are driven into the ground at the distance of a foot from each other.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 175:
And he's hung up on a nag to be ham'd, In the reekiest neuk o' hell.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Knag. . . . a wooden hook fixed in the wall, on which clothes, etc., are hung. It is very often one of the upper growths of the Scottish pine, which is fastened to the joist of a hut, the branches serving as so many pegs.
Mry. 1828 Lays and Leg. (Douglas 1939) 93:
And on a knag her gutcher's wig, I gat it in the bothie.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) iii.:
My cloak . . . is hanging on one of the wooden knags in the garret.
Kcb. 1885 J. S. McCulloch Poems 10:
The Murdochs heard the stirring soun'. . . . An' frae the knaggs their plaids flang doun.
Ags. a.1893 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) XV. 401:
As weel from weaver bodies take Twa best knags out o' ilka haik.
Ags. 1929 Scots Mag. (May) 148:
He'd be to hing his coat there on the lobby nag.

Phr.: ‡at the knag an' the widdie, at variance, at loggerheads (Bnff.2 1942; ne.Sc. 1960), sc. pulling in different directions, not pulling together. See Widdie.Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xlix.:
Dawvid an' him was at the knag an' the wuddie ere he was an ouk there.
Abd. 1951 Buchan Observer (17 April):
Some neiper fairmers were often at the knag an' the widdie ower the heids of trespassing.

3. Fig. A rough fellow.Abd. 1880 G. Webster Crim. Officer 42:
I hears twa-three knaggs at the tither side o' the table . . . sayin'. . . .

[O.Sc. knag, a peg, knob for hanging things on, 1540, Mid.Eng. knag(ge), cnag, a knot, peg, M.L.Ger. knagge, a rough projection. Norw. knag, a peg or hook.]

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"Knag n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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