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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LUCKEN, adj., n.1, v. Also luckan, luken, -in. [′lʌkən]

I. adj. 1. Locked, fastened by lock and key. Now only in comb. luckenbooth (erron. lucky-), a booth or shop in a market which can be locked up, common in medieval Sc. towns, and specif. in hist. usage of a row of such shops in the High Street of Edinburgh to the north of St Giles Kirk, demolished in 1817 (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis). Hence luckenbooth brooch, see 1902 quot. (Sc. 1939 Catalogue of Sc. Art Exhibition in London xxvi.). The 1896 quot. is a misapplication.Edb. 1712 Edb. Ev. Post (23–26 Feb.):
An high Merchant Shop in the said Lucken-Booths.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 125:
Would it no fret the hardest stane Beneath the Luckenbooths to grane?
Sc. 1782 J. Callander Ancient Sc. Poems 48:
That part of Edinburgh where the merchants have their shops, is called Luckenbooths, rather Lockenboths, from the booths, or shops, being locked up at night.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian vi.:
A huge pile of buildings called the Luckenbooths, which, for some inconceivable reason, our ancestors had jammed into the midst of the principal street of the town.
Ags. 1874 J. Thomson Hist. Dundee 180:
The eastern end of the Overgate [Dundee], where it joins the High Street, was formerly called the “Lucken-Booths,” a name now almost forgotten.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man ii.:
At the fair I had spent all my silver, buying of trittle-trattles at the lucky-booths and about the market-stalls.
Sc. 1902 Sc. History and Life (Paton) 250:
Luckenbooth Brooches. These were small in size — sometimes very small — and were principally made of silver, frequently engraved, and occasionally enriched with garnets, crystals, and coloured glass. They derived their name from the Luckenbooths, a narrow range of buildings close to St Giles' Church in Edinburgh, where many of the jewellers and silversmiths of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had their booths . . . They were principally love-tokens or betrothal brooches, and the prevailing form was that of a heart or two hearts intertwined.

2. Fig. uses of something drawn together, contracted, close-joined: (1) of the brows: knit, close-set, contracted as in a frown. Cf. v., 1. Adj. lucken-browed (Lth. 1825 Jam.).Dmf. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (July) 386:
Mony a rosy quean, that made mouths at the lucken brows o' Madge Mackettrick.
Sc. 1832 Fraser's Mag. (Oct.) 303:
Knitting her thick lucken-brows, till they stood mingled.
Bnff. 1852 A. Harper Solitary Hours 50:
A leering eye and lucken brows, And large Mongolian mouth and nose.

†(2) Of flowers: having a close head with the petals drawn together as in a bud. For comb. lucken-gowan, the globe-flower, Trollius europaeus, see also Gowan, 3. (8). Also in n.Eng. dial. Hence reduced form lucken, id.; of the brassica type of vegetable: having a firm, close heart; and by extension, of animals: firm, well-knit, thriving.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 173:
Nelly's gawsy, saft and gay, Fresh as the lucken Flowers in May.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
The blossom of the globe-flower or lucken-gowan expands only in bright sunshine. In dull or cloudy weather, it remains closed; and forms a complete globe.
s.Sc. c.1830 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club XXIII. 76:
Fortunate presages were first, cabbage growing double i.e. two stocks or shoots from one root. Growing lucken, i.e. having a great many leaves growing open, instead of closing or growing into what is called a stock [definition erroneous].
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 310:
The lucken is loupin', the bloom's on the haw.
Ayr. 1876 J. Ramsay Gleanings 89:
In holy beauty, trefoil's crimson cone, And lukengowan hung the heavy head.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Thae cabbitch is no lucken. The calf's lucken.

(3) Of a fish, gen. a haddock or whiting: cut open and cleaned but not split down to the tail (Ags., Fif. 1808 Jam., s.v. Craill-capon; ne.Sc. 1961). Comb. lucken-haddock (Abd. 1825 Jam.).Edb. 1861 Edb. Ev. Courant (8 Oct.):
Large arrivals of Deep Sea Fish, moderate. Luckan Haddocks. Silver Eels, 6d. per lb.

(4) Of the fingers or toes: joined together by a membrane, webbed (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 460); having the sinews shrunken, bent, contracted; fig. close-fisted, stingy.Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 156:
Her [a seal] lucken feet fast frozen in the flood.
Dmf. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 104:
For lucken hands, she ne'er had nane To man or beast.
Mry. a.1849 in J. A. Cameron Monks of Grange 113:
And kindly Tam o' Rivan Wha has the lucken han'.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 26:
“Lucken toes,” that is, toes joined by a web, indicated luck.

Hence ppl.adjs. lucken-fingered (Mry.1 1925), -footed, -handed, having the fist contracted, the fingers being drawn down towards the palm of the hand (Sc. 1808 Jam.), web-fingered, fig. close-fisted (Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems Gl.), -hippit, having a contraction or deformity in the hip-joint, constricting the movement of the leg (Abd.4 1928), -taed (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Mry.1 1925).Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife (1803) 109:
Turtur maritimus insulae Bass . . . this is palmipes, that's luckenfooted.
Abd. 1847 Gill Binklets 48:
An' lucken-hipped Jenny Yeats, A gallant jade at stealing peats.
Sc. 1872 J. Longmuir Land of Burns 61:
“The bairnie's clepped!” — that is, had its fingers closely united, or, according to the expression in other districts, it was “lucken-handed.”

†(5) Of leather: consolidated and thickened by tanning and hammering.Bnff. 1748 W. Cramond Annals Cullen (1888) 101:
The boat contained Flemish, white, and bound lint to the value of £413 Sc., 91 hides lucken leather.
Fif. 1758 Caled. Mercury (9 March):
The following Sorts of Leather . . . twenty-three Hydes Lucken-leather in whole Hydes.
Abd. 1774 Aberdeen Jnl. (18 July):
That Alexander Birnie hath opened Shop in the Nether-kirk-gate, and sells Bend, drest, and Lucken Leather, with Calves Skins, and sundry other Articles belonging to the Shoemaker Trade.

II. n., from a substantival use of adj., 2. (3): a half-split haddock for drying or smoking (Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 460; ne.Sc. 1961) and in deriv. luck(e)ner (Mry. 1930 Fishery Board Gl.). Dim. luckenie, id.Mry. 1937 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 173:
The boys used to pin haddock and whiting on a hook, smoking it in the chimney. He questioned his old chum's mother teasingly: “Where's all the luckners?”

III. v. 1. To contract or knit the brows, to cause to frown. Also in n.Eng. dial. Cf. I. 2. (1).Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads II. 173:
While anger lucken'd his dark brows.

2. Of vegetation which forms a bud or head: to grow compact or firm. Also tr. to cause to swell or thrive. Cf. I. 2. (2).Slk. 1825 Jam.:
A cabbage is said to lucken when it grows firm in the heart.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms i. 3, lxv. 9:
His vera blade blights-na, bot a' the growth he maks luckens. . . . Ye lucken their corn i' the growin'.
Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah xviii. 5:
Afore the hairst wins on, an' the bud's weel lucken'd, an' the blum's like a boukit berry.

[O.Sc. lukkin, locked, from 1438, webbed, c.1470, lwkyn bothys, 1456, Mid.Eng. loken, O.E. (ge-)locen, pa.p. of lūcan, to lock, which survived in Eng. as louk till the 15th c. and in Sc. till the 17th.]

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"Lucken adj., n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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