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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PLEEP, n., v. Also plip (Jak.): plep.

I. n. A shrill piping cry, esp. that of a wading bird, the weak peeping cry of a young bird (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc. 1966).Sh. 1897 Shetland News (19 June):
I tink I could hear da pleeps o' hit whin it wis i' his stameck.

2. A sea-bird having a thin, high-pitched cry. Also in comb. water(y)-pleep(s), id. Applied specif. to (1) the oyster-catcher, Haematopus ostralegus (Sc. 1952 Scots Mag. (July) 298; Mry., Slk. 1966); (2) the red-shank, Totanus totanus (Ork. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 197; Mry., Per. 1966); (3) the common sandpiper, Actitis hypoleuca; (4) the snipe, Capella galinago (Ork. 1966).(1) Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 53:
An Nicht shü wheests da brülin baess, Da pleeps alang da shore.
(2) Per.4 1950:
There's a pair o pleeps nestin in the bog.
(3) Ork. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 196:
The piping note this bird [Common Sand-piper] utters when disturbed has given rise to its names of Heather peeper (Aberdeen) . . . watery pleeps (Orkney Isles).
(4) Ork.4 1957:
A horse gowk, a water pleep an a snipe a' rin on the same twa feet, i.e. they are all the same bird.

3. A complaint, grumble, “moan”; a querulous, peevish tone of voice (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); I.Sc. 1966), “the sound made by people so ill that they cannot speak in the ordinary way” (Ork. 1929 Marw.).Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
Hold dy plip! hold your tongue.
Ork. 1910 Old-Lore Misc. III. i. 32:
Wi' a pleep he telt 'er dere wad be naethin for id neist winter bit stark starvation.
Sh. 1951 New Shetlander No. 29, 15:
“Noo, furt wi dee,” she said. “An not anidder pleep oot o dee head aboot brönis”

II. v. 1. To utter a shrill, high-pitched cry, to peep, gen. of birds (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 176; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh., Cai., Per. 1966). Also in freq. forms pleeps, pleeper, id. (Jak.). Ppl.adj. pleepsit, shrill, wailing, adv. pleepsit-wye; vbl.n. pleeper, pliper, a peeping sound (Jak.); the oyster-catcher (Arg. 1966). See I. 2.Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 252:
Dere wis a peesterin' an' a neesterin' a pleepin' an' a cheepin'.
Sh. 1950 New Shetlander No. 20. 25:
Peerie Willie at lay i da girse and pleepid back ta da peerie fools he wis watchin.
Sh. 1954 Ib. No. 40. 7:
I heard da shaalders pleepsit trill, Far doon apo da shore. . . . Bit afore lang da maas medd menn, first ava pleepsit-wye, dan wi a klaagin is an dey'd büne raamest an tirn.

2. To complain, whine, “moan”; to grumble (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 176; Ork., Cai. 1966), to “plead poverty or sickness” (Sh. 1880 Jam.). Also in form pleeps, id. (Sh. 1961 Pulse VI. 24). Ppl.adj. ple(e)psit, -et, peevish, whining, discontented, fretful (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1966).Sh. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 312:
Shu's aye pleepin aboot something.
Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. 84:
His voice is kind o plepsit, bit it's been very gude in its day.
Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 137:
Sheu deudna pleuter or pleep aboot id.
Sh. 1956 New Shetlander No. 44. 12:
Ye ken dis Eppie oda Mires is juist a aald pleepsit body an dir naethin really wrang wi her.
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 64:
The aald wife wis a kindo pleepan body.

[Onomat. Cf. Peep.]

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"Pleep n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Oct 2023 <>



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