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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PACK, n.1, v. Also pak (Sh. 1898 Shetland News (8 Oct.)), pakk (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); peck-. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. pack, a bundle, package. Dims. packie (Sc. 1834 M. Scott T. Cringle's Log (1895) xix.). pakki; paikie (Sh. 1832 Old-Lore Misc. VII. iv. 152).

I. n. 1. Specif., as in Eng., a pedlar's pack. Hence †packer, a pedlar (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Combs. and phrs.: (1) pack-house, a warehouse, shed for storing merchandise (Sc. 1808 Jam.); (2) pack-lade, a burden carried in a pack, a pack-load. See Laid; (3) pack-lines, packlins, the tapes or strings of a pedlar's pack; by extension, the fastenings of one's garments (Abd. 1965); (4) packman, packieman, peck-, (i) a pedlar, travelling merchant esp. in soft goods (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; I. and n.Sc., Ayr. 1965). Also in reduced or dim. form packie, pakki, id. (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; Cai., Fif., Kcb. 1965). Hence packie-book, see 1964 quot., ¶packmanship. Comb. and phr. †packman-rich, a highly productive type of barley “having six rows of grain on the ear” (Abd. 1825 Jam.); packman's drouth, hunger, an appetite for food, from the practice of pedlars in asking for a drink of water, in the hope that they will be given something to eat as well. Cf. Pedlar's Drouth; (ii) a type of cloud formation (see (5) (ii)) (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 121; Sh., ne., wm. and s.Sc. 1965); (5) pack-merchan(t), (i) = (4) (i) (Abd. 1825 Jam.); (ii) a small distinctively-shaped cloud (see 1951 quot.) (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 121; Rs. 1921); (6) pack-stane, a stone resembling a pedlar's pack in shape; (7) pack(ie)-wares, a pedlar's stock-in-trade, pedlar's merchandise; (8) to lowse one's pack, fig., to give vent to one's feelings, to break out in anger, etc. See Lowse, v., 1.; (9) to pin the pack, = (10) below; (10) to trim the pack, to be a pedlar.(1) Fif. 1712 Two Students (Dickinson 1952) 14:
For carriage to the porters out of the pack house to the Boat . . . 0:10:06.
Ags. 1746 A. J. Warden Burgh Laws Dundee (1872) 193:
The Town Council, at rouping the common good — reserved the sclait yard at the north end of the pack house, as a proper place for keeping coals in.
Sc. 1773 Annual Register 65:
Several hundred persons . . . at Dundee . . . carried off 400 sacks of wheat and barley, from the packhouse.
(2) Slk. 1824 Hogg Justified Sinner (1874) 518:
Satan wad strodge with a pack-lade o' the souls o' proud professors on his braid shoulders.
(3) Abd. 1955:
To gang to my bed wad mean takin aff aa my packlins.
(4) (i) Sc. 1702 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 26:
A packman or beggar came to Crossbriggs his house, at night, and sought lodging.
Arg. 1721 Carskey Jnl. (Mackay 1955) 63:
Item sold to Thomas Burdie packman att Machrimore miln ane Kow for slaughter.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 94:
The packmans stands he o'erturn'd them, And gard a' the Jocks stand a-beech.
Abd. 1811 G. Keith Agric. Abd. 247:
It [bere] is distinguished from what, by way of eminence, is called barley, by having four rows of corn on its stalk, (and a particular species of it, called packman-rich, has six rows).
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 65:
Ye crockry wives, an' peckmen a', I dread yere trafec's now but sma'.
Slk. 1824 Hogg Justified Sinner (1874) 518:
Auld Ingleby, the Liverpool packman.
Sc. 1831 Blackwood's Mag. (Aug.) 251:
Denying the truth of his picture of packmanship.
Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) P. 3:
They fan the packman's drouth yirnan in their guts.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 92:
Richard Neill . . . traversed the country in the capacity of a pedlar or packman.
Ork. 1868 D. Gorrie Orkneys 30:
Travelling merchants, or packies as they are called in Orkney.
Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Pen'Folk 79:
Children went to ask what o'clock it was, “or will ye gie me a drink” — these were troubled with the “packman's drouth,”and went away with satisfied soul.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 110:
Ae nicht, just i' da mirkenin', dere cam a packman ta da fairmer's door.
Knr. 1890 H. Haliburton In Sc. Fields 128:
Got by barter from some wandering packie.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xi.:
The “Scotch Cuddy” . . . is a travelling packman, who infests communities of working men, and disposes of his goods on the credit system.
Rnf. 1935 L. Kerr Woman of Glenshiels xiv.:
She was going to Glasgow to buy goods and he was to go into the country as a packman.
Sh. 1956 U. Venables Life in Shet. xi.:
Even packie-men and raggies were received like old friends.
Ags. 1964:
A packie-book is the book you get from a shop when you buy goods on credit — it records your debt and the amounts paid off. The packie-man comes to the house to collect instalments.
(ii) Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 103:
Coldingham packmen. This name is given to the form of cloud, called Cumulus, which appears in vast snowy piles, alp over alp, in the north or east, in fine summer afternoons. When weaving was a prosperous trade, packmen were not unlikely to be frequent about Coldingham.
(5) (i) Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 9:
At the hamlet, too, we should find the “chapman” or “pack-merchant,” a very important member of the trading community in those days.
Abd. 1899 Trans. Bch. Field Club V. 141:
On the road he met a pack-merchant that a'body kent was rich, and the laird borrowed forty pounds that the mannie hed in's pouch.
(ii) ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 155:
Small clouds — “packies, pack-merchans” — moving eastwards from south, south-west, or west, indicate that the wind will soon blow from south or south-west.
Abd.27 1951:
Pack merchants. Small clouds of a humped shape, like men with packs on their backs, one following the other, generally indicating the coming of rain and wind from the south or south-east.
(6) Lnk. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 14:
Near the east end of the parish rests a large mass of whinstone, called the pack-stane.
(7) Sh. 1956 U. Venables Life in Shet. xi.:
The glittering packie-wares unpacked upon her floor.
(8) Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 72:
At times when she [the Muse ] may lowse her pack, I'll grant that she can find a knack, To gar auld-warld wordies clack.
(9) Sc. 1727 Six Saints (Fleming 1901) I. xxxvii.:
As long as he had a pack to pin we were not troubled with him, but when his means went from him, he became a vagrant person.
(10) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 477:
In England some o'm's gane the pack to trim.

2. Fig. One's worldly goods, property, fortune. Esp. freq. in phrs. to make up one's pack, to make one's fortune (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), to be at the boddom o' the pack (Ags. 1965), to bring or ca one's pack to the pins, or till a preen (Abd.7 1925; Abd., Kcd., Ags. 1965), hae one's pack at a preen, eat (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 121), herry, or perish the pack (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ayr. 1836 Galt in Tait's Mag. (28 Jan.)), to squander one's fortune, to be or become destitute through extravagance, to be at the end of one's resources. Hence eat-the-pack(ie), n., a waster, spendthrift, ne'er-do-well (Bnff. 1880 Jam.).Edb. 1720 A. Pennecuik Helicon 81:
London's a Place that herrys the Pack.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 268:
You have brought the Pack to the Pins. That is, you have dwindled away your stock.
Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 5:
Lawyers cam' an' sell'd my pack . . . They've left me neither horse nor cow.
Lth. 1801 H. MacNeill Poet. Wks. (1856) 217:
Our Jock's but a gowk, and has naething ava: The hale o' his pack he has now on his back.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie xciii.:
Your old companion Charlie, her son, perished the pack, and they say has spoused his fortune and gone to Indy.
Bch. 1832 W. Scott Poems 187:
Says I to Meg, what sall we do, Our pack it's at a pin.
Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) P 3:
Robert Cummin [a packman] was unco throw-ither, and played the games, bets, etc. at fairs. He perished his pack often.
Rnf. 1862 A. McGilvray Poems 104:
Did the holy lads in black Employ you to make up their pack?
Rxb. 1870 Lauder's Poems (E.E.T.S.) xxxii.:
When a spendthrift is going through the paternal estate, people shake their heads and say “He'll soon be at the boddom o' the pack! ”

3. In dim.: a quantity of fishing line, the amount, varying with district, belonging to one member of a boat's crew (see quots.) (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 170, 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1965). Also a pakki o' tows, id. (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Sh. 1819 Edb. Ev. Courant (14 Aug.) 4:
In their little boats . . . they will go out a distance of 20 or 30 miles, or more, from land, carrying six packies of lines, each packie containing twenty bughts, and each bught from 45 to 50 fathoms; so that each boat has a length of line of from 5000 to 6000 fathoms.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 31:
He was hailen his lines aff da Scord o' Bressa . . . Efter he hed aboot twa packies an' a half in, he fan a heavy wecht ipa da tow.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (21 Oct.):
The number of buchts contained in each packie or weicht varied — according to the locality — from 12 to 20.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 90:
If he lost a packie o' lines noo an' dan trow wadder or ony idder cause.
Sh. 1964 New Shetlander No. 68. 10:
A fleet of lines consisting of six “pakkies” with roughly one thousand hooks on tomes spaced at four fathoms stretching about five miles.

4. A measure of wool, gen. 12 stones Scots weight (Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems Gl.; Cld., Dmf., Slk. 1855 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 1125), or of cloth of varying length, specif. in Sh. and Ork. in reference to Wadmal (see quots.). Only hist.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Works (S.T.S.) II. 247:
Five Pack of Woo I can at Lammas sell, Shorn frae my bob-tail'd Bleeters at the Fell.
Sh. 1772 A. C. O'Dell Hist. Geog. (1939) 241:
Of these Cuttles, 6 made one Guilding or Galleon of which it is said 4 make a pack.
Ayr. 1779 J. Swinton Weights, etc. 62:
For Butter, Cheese, Butcher-meat, Hay, and Wool, of which last 13 stones [tron weight] make a pack.
Ayr. a.1784 Burns Death of Mailie 23–4:
So may his flock increase, an' grow To scores o' lambs, an' packs o' woo'.
Sc. 1805 R. Forsyth Beauties Scot. II. 127:
Of wool . . . A pack is 12 stones; that is, 24 lib. of white, and 25½ lib. of . . . laid wool to the stone.
Sc. 1849 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 210:
A pack of wool . . . contains 10 stones, that is, 240 lb.
Ork. 1887 Jam.:
A pack of wadmael contained 10 gudlings, and each gudling contained 6 cuttels or Scotch ells.

5. A number of sheep owned by a shepherd which are allowed to pasture along with his master's sheep as one of his perquisites (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 258); a single one of this number. Also in n.Eng. dial. and freq. attrib. as in pack-ewe, -flock, -sheep, -shepherd (Watson), -system. This system is obsol. but still in existence in Cai., Ags., Lnk., s.Sc. 1965.Sth. 1831 Brit. Husbandry (Burke 1840) III. 77, 80:
The packs have marks totally different from the flock. . . . The packs, or shepherd's lambs, are divided into two sorts, sellers and keepers.
Cai. 1872 M. McLennan Peasant Life 38:
I hae ta'en on tae be shepherd at the Braefut. Pairt o' the fee is the keep o' a score o' ewes an' . . . the price o' the pack'ill be tae pay tae the waygaein man.
Sc. 1883 Trans. Highl. Soc. 5:
They have a flock of sheep called the shepherd's pack, numbering from 45 to 50.
Slk. 1891 W. Dalgliesh Poems 38:
He's found ane o' his best pack ewes On Wonfell died a-lammin'.
Sc. 1894 Trans. Highl. Soc. 241:
Payments in kind, in the shape of meal and milk, the keep of a cow, potato-land, coal or peat, “pack-flocks,” &c., prevailed to an even greater extent then than now.
Rxb. 1914 Kelso Chron. (11 Dec.) 4:
The change in the payment of shepherds, from the pack system to money payments. . . . I have heard several old shepherds say that when young they made a struggle to save money for a pack, which they would never have done any other way, and a man with a pack is a man with capital, who often attains to be a farmer.
m.Sc. 1915 J. Buchan Thirty-nine Steps vii.:
He made up his mind I was a “pack-shepherd” from those parts.
Rxb. 1924 Kelso Chron. (8 Feb.) 4:
He knew well how to set them out in the showground — either the master's or his own pack-sheep.
Dmf. 1954 W. A. J. Prevost Annals 87:
Shepherd's packs were done away with altogether. The last pack in Moffat district is said to have been on Alton and was handed over in about 1890.
Dmf. 1956:
Under the pack system a shepherd had only a nominal money wage, but he took all the profits from a certain number of sheep (say 30–60) which he kept along with his master's. These sheep were called the herd's pack, and one might say of a certain ewe at a sale “she's a pack yin”. The system died out a generation or so back, apparently because incoming herds usually could not afford to buy over the pack at valuation.

6. The state of being packed or crowded together, a crush, a squeeze (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags. 1965).Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood iii.:
She liked the fuss and the pack in her two-roomed stone-floored cottage.
Abd. 1962:
It was a gey pack to get aa that folk intil ae bus.

II. v. 1. As in Eng., to make into a compact bundle or pack. Combs. and phrs. (1) packin Sunday, the last Sunday before term day when departing farm servants packed their belongings; (2) to pack and peel, -peil(l), (i) lit. to pack and unpack goods, to act as a wholesale merchant in export and import trade. See Peel; (ii) fig. and specif., to have dealings with (unfreemen) in trade, to associate with unprivileged merchants by allowing them the illicit use of the rights of trade in burghs proper to the guilds. Hist.; to have underhand or clandestine relations with anyone; (3) pack (someone) up, To end a relationship with (a girlfriend or boyfriend).(1) Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS. iii.:
The term fell that year on a Teisday so the Sunday afore't was fat the farm servants in yon day ca'd “packin' Sunday”.
(2) (i) Ork. 1709 B. H. Hossack Kirkwall (1900) 101:
Those who have trade only to Inverness or Zetland should have only chopman's ticquets, and for a lesser sum than those who pack and peill in foreign commodities to Leith or further, and have guild brothers' ticquets.
Sc. 1712 W. Forbes Decisions (1714) 612:
A Mine would be run under the ancient Constitution of the Country, to blow up the Privileges of the Royal Burrows, particularly their exclusive Privilege to peil and pack Skins and Hides.
Sc. 1712 Records Conv. Burghs (1885) 62:
The packing and peilling of skin and hyde and obliging the landward butchers when they cary their bulks to any of their mercats to bring the skin therewith, that both may be there presented to sale, is the ancient priveledge of the royal burrows.
(ii) Sc. 1703 Records Conv. Burghs (1880) 352:
Lists of all freemen, burgesses within ther respective burghs, that packs and peills with unfreemen or keeps chopes in unfree burghs or places for retailing of forraigne comodities.
Slk. 1719 T. Craig-Brown Hist. Slk. (1886) II. 185:
Several inhabitants who “pack and peel with unfrie traders” are recommended to be prosecuted before the Dean of Guild.
Gsw. 1757 Faculty Decisions (1788) II. 30:
The incorporation brought an action against them, including that the three saddlers should be discharged to pack and peel with unfreemen, and the merchants prohibited to work in the business appropriated to the corporation . . . That they shall not pack or peel with unfreemen, nor cover unfreemen's goods.
Gsw. 1757 Lumsden and Aitken Hist. Hammermen Gsw. (1912) 17:
I . . . do hereby solemnly swear that I shall . . . not pack or peel with nonfreemen.
Gsw. 1807 Ib. 190:
Messrs. Sword and Co. were summoned in October 1807, for “packing and peeling with unfreemen”.
Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate xxxvii.:
To inform against him for entering into treaty, or, as he called it, packing and peeling with those strangers.
Sc. 1825 Jam. s.v. Peile:
The phrase packing and peiling now denotes unfair means of carrying on trade in a corporation; as when a freeman allows the use of his name in trade to another who has not his privileges.
Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 570:
King's freemen are not limited in the exercise of their trade to the bounds of the corporation where they reside . . . A King's freeman may be assumed as a partner by a member of an incorporation who has become bound not to pack and peel with unfreemen.
Gsw. 1912 Lumsden and Aitken Hist. Hammermen Gsw. 188:
Two other fairly common penal offences were those of “packing and peeling with unfreemen,” i.e., having partners who were not members of the craft, and infringement of its privileges by tradesmen who had not entered its membership.
(3)wm.Sc. 1983 William McIlvanney The Papers of Tony Veitch 138:
He thought of his sister, broken-hearted because the joiner she was going with packed her up, his mother keening in the background that Prince Charming had ridden away.
Edb. 1992:
'What happened to that nice lassie ye were winching?' 'O her? Ah packed her up.'

2. As in Eng., to press, squeeze. Used intr. with i, apo, lit. and fig., to make a painful impression on, bring something forcibly home to (someone) (Sh. 1965).Sh. 1897 Shetland News (25 Dec.):
Pakkin' doon apo' da kail wi' da widden laedle.
Sh. 1898 Ib. (15 Jan.):
Shüs paid du boys fine — an' dee tü, daa — for payin' for her share o' da dippin'; dat packs apo' you a' for your merciful düins.
Sh. 1901 Ib. (6 April):
I pakkid doon i' me pipe wi' me fore finger.

3. In ploughing: to lay the furrows close together (I. and n.Sc., Lth., Lnk., Wgt. 1965); in scything: to press or crush the grain together in a bunch.Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 241:
Not less indispensable are evenness in “packing” the furrows against each other, and neatness in turning out the last narrow strip when the ridge has been pared down.
Abd. 1900 Wkly. Free Press (15 Sept.):
Clutchin' at the scythe handle . . . he was slamin' an' ramin' at the barley; hackin' an' packin', but never cuttin' a stalk.

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"Pack n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Jun 2023 <>



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