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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

RING, n.1, v.1 Also †reing (Fif. 1723 W. Macfarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 306. Cf. keeng, King). Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. As in Eng. (1) in combs.: (i) ring-board, a circular frame-work or shuttering of wood lining the sides of a well while it is being dug; (ii) ring-cup, lady's mantle Alchemilla vulgaris (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) 36); (iii) ring-cutter, in Curling: an instrument consisting of a board with nails driven in at intervals revolving round a centre and used to mark the concentric circle round the tees on the ice, a tee-ringer. Gen.Sc.; (iv) ring-drain, a drain round the perimeter of an area of ground; (v) ring-fowl(ie), the reed-bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus (Sc. 1840 W. MacGillivray Brit. Ornith. I. 190; Mry. 1844 Zoologist II. 508; Abd. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 71; Bnff. 1888 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 27; ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna ofDee” 102; Abd. 1968); (vi) ring-gang, the topmost circle of sheaves in the vertical wall of a stack which are made to project as eaves before the roof begins to slope away (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) R.40); (vii) ring-necked loon, the great northern diver, Colymbus immer (e.Lth. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 213); (viii) ring-net, a herring-net suspended between two boats which gradually sail closer to one another with a circular sweep till the net closes and traps the fish. Also attrib. and in derivs. ring-netter, ring-netting (see 1957 quot.); (ix) ring-pen, the semi-circle of wedge-shaped stones which compose an arch, the voussoirs. See Pend; (x) ring sheaf, = (vi) (Ayr. 1930); (xi) ring-tails, left-overs, remnants, specif. the dregs of drink; the odd pieces of business left to be wound up at the closing of a large concern, arrears of rent (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).(i) Gsw. 1733 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 391:
Making of rones for carrying of the water, and making and putting down the ringboard.
(iii) Sc. 1868 Caled. Curling Club Ann. 275:
The rinks are next steppit, the ringcutter grippit, And fair bonnie circles are drawn ro'on the tee.
(iv) Ayr. 1800 J. Headrick Communic. Board Agric. II. 316:
A ring-drain, serving the purpose of a fence, is thrown round the moss at the line where the rising ground commences.
(v) Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 21:
Awa' to the ring fowlie, then we wad haste, An' try to surprise the wee thing on its nest.
(vi) wm.Sc. 1773 Sc. Farmer I. 592:
This is done by filling the heart well, and thereby sloping the outer sheaves, so as to drain off the wetness readily. This is an easy work above the ring-gang, where it is most needful.
Per. 1857 D. Gorrie Life of a Ploughboy 50:
There was sax-and-thirty thrave into the ring gang.
(viii) Sc. 1851 Acts 14 & 15 Vict. c. 26 § 6:
To use for the Purpose of taking Herrings . . . any Sweep, Circle, Ring Net.
Sc. 1935 St. Andrews Cit. (23 Feb.) 2:
Several Arbroath fishing boats and an Aberdeen one, which have been engaged in ring net fishing in the vicinity of St. Andrews Bay.
Sc. 1950 P. Anson Scots Fisherfolk 67:
About that date [1830] a special type of seine — known as a “ring net” — worked by two boats, was introduced.
Sc. 1957 W. C. Hodgson Herring 37–9:
Drift-netting has given way to the much cheaper methods, ring-netting and purse-seining; the former being used in Scotland. The small ring-net boats cannot work in weather worse than a fresh breeze. . . . The ring-netters are picturesque little craft about 48 to 50 feet in length. The net used in this kind of fishing . . . is a symmetrical net with a fine-meshed “sling” in the centre where the herrings are finally held, and “shoulders” and “wings” on each side. The net is hauled from the bottom centre by two “messengers” so that the net takes the shape of a bag. . . . Ring netters nearly always work in pairs.
(ix) Ayr. 1748 Munim. Irvine (1891) 137:
The pen of each arch of twenty seven inches deep, and each stone of the ring pen of the same number of twenty seven inches deep.
Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm I. 202:
24 [lineal feet of] Ringpens of archways to granary.
(xi) Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
Tak off your ring-tails, and brew again.

(2) Phrs.: (i) Ringie, Ringie, Red Belt, a children's game (see quot.); (ii) to ride at the ring, see Ride, v., 1. (4); (iii) to tak the ring fae, to be victorious over (Ork. 1912 Old-Lore Misc. V. ii. 72), from the ring which competing riders tried to carry off on the point of a lance. See (ii) above.(i) Abd. 1898 A. B. Gomme Trad. Games II. 111:
Take a small splint of wood, kindle it, and when it is burning turn it rapidly round in a circle, repeating the words —
Ringie, ringie, Red Belt, rides wi' the king,
Nae a penny in's purse t' buy a gold ring.

(3) Deriv. ringer, (i) Curling: a stone which lies within the ring surrounding the tee (Sc. 1825 Jam.);. Gen.Sc.; (ii) an animal fit for the show ring (Ib.); (iii) a fisherman who uses a ring-net, see (1) (viii).(iii) Arg. 1952 N. Mitchison Lobsters on the Agenda vii.:
They bloody ringers . . . sweeping up the herring all sizes.
Sc. 1957 W. C. Hodgson Herring 38:
The “ringers” are highly skilled fishermen and absolute masters of their crafts.

2. A circular earthwork consisting of ditch and rampart which characterises the prehistoric, gen. early Iron Age, hill-fort (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) R. 41). Also in Eng. local usage in place-names. Also applied to a circle of standing stones, esp. in place-names.Lnk. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VI. 78:
There are in this parish [Culter] four encampments, all of a circular figure, called rings by the common people.
Bwk. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 I. 77:
There are many Pictish and Scotch encampments in this parish. . . . All of them are of a round or oval figure, and are called rings by the common people.
Peb. 1815 in A. Pennecuik Works 203:
One of those Rings consisting of a ditch and earthen rampart, for the protection of cattle and other property.
Ork. 1883 J. R. Tudor Ork. and Shet. 15:
Stone Circles. — Of these in the Orkneys, there are only two, the Rings of Brogar and Stenness.

3. A traditional dance of circular formation. Also in comb. ring dance, id., and phr. to be at the ring, to perform such a dance.Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
Ring dances, a kind of Dance of many together in a ring or circle taking one another by the hands, and quitting them again at certain turns of the Tune (or Spring, as Scot. we call it), and sometimes the Piper is put in center.
Sc. 1737 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) II. 198:
Quoth Willy, I've been at the ring, With bobbing, faith, my shanks are sair.
s.Sc. 1801 J. Leyden Complaynt Scot. 130:
This dance is still retained among the Scotish Highlanders, who frequently dance the Ring in the open fields, when they visit the south of Scotland as reapers, during the Autumnal months.

4. A circle drawn on the ground and used as a target area in a game of marbles; the game itself (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.), freq. with def. article. Also in dims. ringie, ring(e)y. Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial.Edb. 1821 Blackwood's Mag. (July) 401:
When I pass the light-hearted companies playing at the ring.
Gsw. 1870 G. Henderson Recollections (1914) 31:
All the “bool” games, whether “labby” or “ringy”, were real games of skill, the one requiring accuracy at long range, the other equal accuracy, but instead of the bool being thrown it was plunked with the thumb, the bool lying on the tip of the forefinger. Footnote: Divided into Irish and English Ringy. The former was the more deadly, and was known as “kill-and-slay-a'-roads”.
Abd. 1873 J. Ogg Willie Waly 76:
Hie, first wi' ye, you, at the “bools” or the “ring”. A ring then is made, an' oor “lakes” are put in.
Lth. 1885 J. Strathesk Blinkbonny 33:
Marbles or the bools was entirely a boys' game from the Ring, Winnie or Funny.
Ayr. 1894 A. Laing Poems 11:
When at jing-ga-ring . . . or kipperdy smash, Or ringy, or stakey.
Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 190:
The momentary slackening of a knuckle at “ringy”.
Lnk. 1910 W. Wingate Poems (1919) 74:
Reddies and stanies for “mooshie” or “ring”.
Clc. 1911 J. Archibald Alloa 47:
First came the “bools” in the early spring. The game usually played was called “ringy”.
Ags. 1934 G. M. Martin Dundee Worthies 177:
“The Ringey” was the favourite type of this game and proud was the boy with a new heel clamp on his boots who could make a perfect circle on the pavement by using the ball of his foot as a centre and scribing with his heel clamp.
Kcb.9 1937:
“Ring” refers to two forms of the game of marbles, Big Ringie and Wee Ringie. In the first a large circle was drawn on the ground, the “stakes”, generally clayies, thrown into the middle and the “taw” thrown underhand, or “plunked” from the knuckle of the thumb, from the circumference of the circle. In Wee Ringie the stakes were put in a smaller circle and the players stood back to a line scratched on the ground. In both cases the stakes had to be struck out of the circle to count.

5. In dim. ringie, a game of hide and seek (see quot.).Per. c.1910:
Ringy was a game played by a number of children. One stood at a post and counted up to 500, while the others hid. The person counting then proceeded to find those hiding, and when he had done so, would shout “ringy”.
Per. 1958:
The game of hide-and-seek, in which the home is called the “ringie” and “Ringie!” is shouted by the one who reaches it first.

6. The meal which, in the process of grinding corn, falls into the space between the millstone and the casing surrounding it (Sc. 1825 Jam.), regarded as the miller's perquisite. Hence ring-bear, -corn, -malt, a proportion of such grain regarded as a perquisite.Sc. 1752 Session Papers, Adam v. Heritors of Cushney (18 June) 4:
The Heretors appeared and claimed a Deduction for sixteen Bolls of what they call Ring-bear Multure; his Lordship reported that there were 16 Bolls of Ring-bear then payable to the Heretors, which sometime was payable to the Multurer of the Mill.
Abd. 1794 Hatton Estate MSS.:
And also pay the Knavship, Rings and Services with Water Corn to the New Miln.
Sc. 1814 Session Papers, Mill of Inveramsay Proof 2:
By Decreet Arbitral, 1 firlot of corn and 1 firlot of malt, as ring-corn and ring-malt, out of each plough.

7. A ring-net (see 1. (1) (viii)), the circular path taken by a boat using a ring-net.Sc. 1953 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 147:
Not the wee black tick of a spot of herring. He'd make a ring for that. Any kind of an appearance of herring and there'd be the ring out.

II. v. Pa.t. and pa.p. ringit; occas. also strong form rung by confusion with Ring, v.2

1. To make a circle, form a ring. Rare in Eng.Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 94:
Then roun' him ring, an' prance, an' squeel

2. To place a metal tyre round the felloes of a wheel (Gall. 1904 E.D.D.; Ork., ne.Sc., Ags. 1968). Also in Eng. dial. Hence ringing-bed, -stane, a bed of stone or metal plate on which the red-hot metal rim is placed on the wheel and shrunk to fit it (n.Sc., Per., Fif. 1968).Abd. 1880 G. Webster Crim. Officer 114:
Heavy smith wark, siclike as sheein' horse, or ringin' cairt wheels.
Bnff. 1917 Banffshire Jnl. (4 Dec.) 5:
The ringin' bed is oot o' sicht The girss is owre its croon.
Abd. 1947 Abd. Press & Jnl. (16 July):
Vertical Anvil. Tyre Bender. Ringing Bed.

3. Ppl.adj. ringit, ryngit, (1) of the eye: having a circle of white round the iris, wall-eyed (Sc. 1845 T. Brown Dict.; Sh., Per., Kcb. 1968); also, having a ring of white hair round the eye, of an animal (Sh. 1968). Cf. Ringle; (2) in comb. ringit quoy, a portion of land taken from open common land and fenced round with a boundary wall. See Quoy and quot.(2) Ork. 1825 Jam.:
A ringit quoy is one which has at least originally been of a circular form. But it is conjectured that it has derived its name from being surrounded on all sides by hill-ground. For more generally, it has the form of a rounded square. . . . It is said scornfully to one who has a possession of this kind “You have nothing but a ringet-quoy”; as signifying that he has as it were stolen what he calls his property; that he has no right to hill pasturage in common with his neighbours, as not paying scatt for his quoy, and no right to poind the cattle which trespass on this inclosure.

4. Phr. to ring the mill, to provide the first grain for a mill to grind after the mill-stones have been picked (Sc. 1808 Jam.), fig. to keep (one) going; to collect the meal that has fallen into the ring (see I. 6.).Abd. 1789 Philorth Baron Court Book MS V 86:
[He] thought it proper to take his sack of shillen off the Crubs till such time as the Tails were ready to ring the mill.
Sc. 1814 Session Papers, Mill of Inveramsay Proof 2:
The tenants ringing the mill to themselves, and carrying away the same ring with them.
Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 8:
Tak it up. A' that's in't [cup of whisky] 'll ne'er ring your mill.
Uls. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Rhymes 67:
He owes me quite a little bill, 'Twill always help to ring the mill.

5. Ppl.adj. rung, of a tree: having the growth rings loosened one from the other and hence useless for timber, frequent in oak trees planted near a road where the traffic vibration seems to loosen the rings (Slg. 1953).

[O.Sc. reing, a finger-ring, 1499, ring, a miller's perquisite, 1539, ring-bear, 1473.]

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"Ring n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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