Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

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

KNOCK, v.1, n.1 Also (t)nock, knack, knok. [nɔk, n.Sc. + knɔk, Ags. + tnɔk]

Sc. usages:

I. v. To beat or pound: ‡1. of grain, esp. barley (Cai. 1960); 2. of flax or cloth. Obs. in Eng. from 14th c. Vbl.n. knockin(g), †knokeing. Now only hist.1. Mry. 1733 Elgin Kirk Session Rec. (Cramond 1897) 328:
Punishing the profainers of the Lord's day by drawing water . . . winnowing of knocked barly.
Ags. 1743 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 1) X. 134:
A farm servant at Coatside confessed that he profaned the Lord's Day by knacking Bear by his master's order.
Sc. c.1750 T. Somerville Life (1861) 334:
The knocking of the barley formed a material part of the cook's daily work.
Bwk. 1764 Session Papers, State of Process, Yules v. Others 85:
When she gathered as clean as she could, she got, in the whole harvest, a knocking of bear, and wheat that made half a dozen of scones.
Ork. 1772 P. Fea MS. Diary (July):
With some [bear] sent into the house for knokeing.
m.Lth. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 8:
A razor for to scrape his beard, A mell for knockin' bear.
Bnff. 1927 Banffshire Jnl. (29 March) 7:
Still the cultivators could not be weaned from “knocking” their barley.
2. Ags. 1744 Arbroath T. C. Minutes (5 April):
He may have liberty to build a mill for washing and knocking cloth or yarn.
Sc. 1756 F. Home Bleaching 213:
I take it up the second day after bucking, and give it a little milling, or hand-bleaching, or bittling, commonly called knocking.
Sc. 1835 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. (1850) xx.:
The knocking of clothes at a washing.
Sc. 1931 A. A. Macgregor Last Voyage to St Kilda vi.:
A tall female . . . “knocking claes” on a stone with a bludgeon.

3. ‡Combs.: (1) knock-beetle, “a person who is severely beaten” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.). See Bittle, n.1; (2) knockin(g)-mell, a wooden mallet, (a) for pounding barley (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ork. 1960); (b) for beating linen cloth after bleaching (Sc. 1887 Jam., Add.). See Mell; (3) knockin(g)-stane, (a) a stone having a deep, hollowed-out cavity in which grain could be roughly ground by pounding with a rounded stone (Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 10; I.Sc., Cai. 1960) or in which green furze was pounded for horses (Uls. 1953 Traynor), a stone mortar; (b) = knockin-mell, see (2) (a); (c) a large smooth-surfaced stone on which linen was beaten after bleaching (Sc. 1887 Jam., Add.); (4) knockin' stick, = (2) (b); (5) knocking stock, id.; (6) knockin(g) trough, = (3) (a) (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.); (7) knockit barley, — bear, barley ground in a knocking-stone, “a small quantity of water being put into the cavity with the barley” (Ags. 1808 Jam.); (8) knockit corn, corn prepared as in (7) (Sh. 1960); (9) knockit kail, kail or cabbage chopped with butter (Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) K 45); †(10) knock-soe hole, a hollow formed in a stone by fishermen pounding bait (Sh.1902 E.D.D.). See Soe.(2) (a) Edb. 1795 G. Robertson Agric. m.Lth. 101:
[Barley meal] was formerly manufactured in a very rude manner in a stone-mortar with a wooden-mallet (called the knocking-stane and knocking-mell), almost every family having one.
s.Sc. a.1830 Kempy Kay in Child Ballads No. 33 F. 6:
When they were laid in marriage bed, And covered oer wi fail, The knocking mell below their heads Did serve them wondrous weel.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 58:
They kill'd Tam Hood wi' a knockin mell.
Lnk. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 115:
A stone mortar, with a wooden pestle called a knocking-mell.
Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 22:
The knockin' stane was a large stone about 14 inches everyway with a hole of 8 or 9 inches diameter sunk 6 or 7 inches deep in it. In primitive form a pounding stone was held in the hands and by pounding on a little corn dropped into the knocking stane the husk or sid was taken off the corn. In more modern times, a knocking mell of hardwood rounded at the bottom like the broad end of an egg, shaped to suit the hole in the stone, and with a handle in the upper end like a hammer, which was grasped in both hands, was commonly employed. To aid the process, the inside of the hole was picked rough, and a very little water put in with the bere slackened the “sid”.
(3) (a) Sc. 1691 H. Arnot Crim. Trials (1785) 161:
He found Ensign Mowat, standing behind a deal, on a knocking-stone under the fore-stair.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 211:
She being in a louting posture, he took her for the knocking-stane.
Nai. 1828 W. Gordon Poems 217:
Geordie's feet they were sae fickle, He fell in the knocking stane.
Sh. 1904 G. Goudie Antiq. Sh. 293:
In Shetland the use of the “knockin' stane” continued much longer than in Scottish districts, and I have myself seen it frequently in use.
Cai. 1916 J. Mowat Proverbs 6:
“It's as guid to drive bare through a knockin stane” is the expressive way of speaking of a difficult task.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 28:
The knocking-stane was a large block of red freestone . . . or of whinstone.
Sc. 1933 E. S. Haldane Scot. of our Fathers 300:
The old knocking-stone . . . went out of general use soon after Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun brought the idea of barley mills into Scotland from Holland, i.e. about 1710.
(c) wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 312:
What sall I tell you, guidwife, our auld mare has eaten the knocking-stane, stoup and roup.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (7 Aug.):
The end of the web was laid in the Knockin' Stane and pounded by the bittle, a wooden article exactly like a pestle.
(4) Ags. 1879 Brechin Advert. (15 April):
A knockin' stick, an auld ace backet.
(5) Rnf. 1761 W. M. Metcalfe Lordship Paisley (1912) 19:
For an old barrell and knocking stock sold.
(6) Rxb. 1902 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 10:
At every farm the pot barley was prepared in what were called “knocking troughs”, similar to baptismal fonts, for which some archæologists have mistaken them.
(7) Sc. 1707 W. Forbes Decisions (1714) 135:
All Meal and Flower, Rice, French Barley, knocked Bear and Mustard brought into this populous Place.
Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) II. 205:
My lairdship can yield me As meikle a-year, As had us in pottage And good knockit bear.
Ags. 1794 W. Anderson Piper of Peebles 5:
Fan knockit bear made Sunday's kail An' fouk in Pots brewed Braithel Ale.
n.Sc. 1822 in E. Burt Letters I. 89:
When the husks are to be taken off for making broth, the grain is moistened, and beaten with a large wooden mallet, or pestle, in a stone mortar. This is called knocked bear, to distinguish it from the pearl-barley, which is done in the miln.
(8) Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 10:
The afternoon yoke finished at eight or nine, and supper might be . . . kail and tatas, or kail and knockit corn. . . . Knockit corn was used in soup instead of barley.
Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Trad. Lore 67:
There is a fine old reel called “Kail an' Knockit Corn”.
(10) Sh. 1899 Shetland News (21 Oct.):
It is unnatural to suppose that they [cup-holes] are anything else than mere holes hollowed out by the constant pounding of “soe” hence the name “knock-soe” hole.

4. Fig. To exhaust, tire out. Cf. Eng. slang “knocked-up.”Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 228:
He fairly nockit himsel' wee the first day's cuttan.

II. n. 1. A type of wooden mallet used for beating linen, etc., after bleaching (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Bwk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 128).Sc. a.1706 in J. Watson Choice Coll. iii. 47:
A Froath-stick, a Can, a Creel, a Knock.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 150:
I laid them o'er my knee, and a com'd crack for crack o'er their hurdies, like a knock bleaching a harn-web.
Per. 1785 D. Young Nat. Improvements on Agric. 165:
Their knocks or bittles which they used in bleaching.
Gsw. 1797 A. Brown Hist. Gsw. II. 248:
Some time after the beginning of this century, we find the ancient mode of burn brae bleaching, with the knocks and the knocking stone, in full force, in the hand of the housewife, with the aid of booking or steeping the cloth in a lee formed of cows dung and urine.

2. The stroke of a bell. Ork. 18th c. B. H. Hossack Kirkwall (1900) 114: 
The said Keeper shall each Sabbath day dilligently attend the said Tolbooth door by the first knock or toll of the first bell, both forenoon and afternoon.

[O.Sc. knok, to beat cloth, c.1470, to pound grain, a.1568, knockit beir, 1584, knoking-stane, 1586, knocking-trowch, 1651.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Knock v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2023 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: