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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

KNICK, v., n. Also (g)nick. Obs. in Eng. since 17th c. [(k)nɪk]

I. v. 1. intr. To make a cracking, clicking or ticking sound (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Ayr.4 1928; Ork., Ags. 1960).Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 124:
Now tries his skill to gar it [watch] knick.
Sc. 1887 Jam., Add.:
He can gar his fingers knick.
Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 124:
Miny a time whin 'e gaed a reult A'm hard da banes o' 'is sheuther nickan.

2. tr. (1) To cause to make a cracking or clicking sound, esp. used of the fingers (Bnff., Abd., Ags. 1960); to break, snap (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Cai. 1960). Vbl.n. nicking, breaking.Sc. a.1827 Laird o' Logie in Child Ballads No. 182 E. 1.:
May Margaret sits in the queen's bouir, Knicking her fingers ane by ane.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) xxvi.:
Baking, and brewing — nicking of geese's craigs — hacking the necks of dead chickens.
Abd.7 1925:
When one speaks of “gnickin' the neck of a hen” it is meant that the neck of the fowl is broken or the joint severed.

(2) In marbles: to propel smartly by means of the thumb and first finger (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Bnff., Gsw., Wgt. 1960), to flick, to hit the mark (Bnff. 1880 Jam.).Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie x.:
At bools thou nicks, at paips thou praps, Thou birls bawbees, thou dozes taps.

Hence nickem, -um, in the game of holie, a flat stone or disc of metal about three inches in diameter used for striking (Ags. 1919 T.S.D.C.). See Hole, n., 2.; nicker, a marble used for striking (Gsw. 1960). Mainly dial. in Eng.Ags. 1894 J. Inglis Ain Folk xii.:
Every boy prided himself on having a favourite nicker. . . . It was reserved for leading off with in the game, and was seldom risked as a stake.
s.Sc. 1904 W. G. Stevenson Glen Sloken x.:
“I'll gie ye ma peerie; it's a rare bummer, an' fower bools.” “An' the gless nicker?”
Ags. 1934 G. M. Martin Dundee Worthies 179:
All “Mites” landing on the pavement became the property of the player who struck them with his “Nickem”.

†(3) To do, say, move, push on smartly.Sc. 1717 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 20:
To the sma' Hours we aft sat still, Nick'd round our Toasts and Snishing Mill.

II. n. A click, a cracking or sharp rapping sound (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Ork., ne.Sc., Ags. 1960), a sudden pang, as in a joint (Ork. 1929 Marw.). Derivs. nick(-a)-nack, nickety-nackety, reduplic. formations, descriptive of a cracking, rapping, or breaking sound, crick-crack. Hence phr. to gae or play nick nack, to knock or strike sharply and quickly, to go “tick-tock”. Cf. Knack, n., 1.Sc. 1809 T. Donaldson Poems 137:
So may your pickers gae nick nack Just like the pend'lum o' your clock.
Sc. a.1843 Sc. Songs (Whitelaw) 333:
There was a wee cooper who lived in Fife, Nickity, nackity, noo, noo, noo.
Sc. 1845 The Keach i' the Creel in Child Ballads V. 123:
Till every rib i the auld wife's side Playd nick-nack on the wa.
Sc. 1933 W. Soutar Seeds in the Wind 10:
Tick-a-tack, nick-a-nack, Brek your hawse-bane.

[Imit. in orig. Cf. Du. knikken, M.L.Ger. knicken, to snap, crack lightly, Norw. knekkja, to break, and Knack.]

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"Knick v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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