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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.

RUG, v., n.1 Also rugg, †ruge; roog (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.), roug; roag (Cai. 1934); rogg (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); reduplic. form rug-rug and freq. forms rug(g)le. [rʌg, Cai. rug]

I. v. 1. tr. Freq. with advs.: to pull vigorously, to tug, drag, draw (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1808 Jam.; wm.Sc. 1880 Jam., ruggle; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–1926 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh. 1968, rug(gle)). Gen.Sc., also in Eng. dial. Vbl.n. ruggin(g), a pulling, the act of pulling hastily or roughly (Sc. 1880 Jam.). Derivs. ruggly, of a broken-toothed comb: causing an unsteady pulling or tugging (w.Sc. 1880 Jam.).Sc. 1717 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 19:
To bleer and greet, to sob and mane, And rugg our Hair.
Sc. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 124:
Owr me the muckle horses gallop, Eneugh to rug my very saul up.
Ags. 1795 Session Papers, Arbuthnott v. Scott (11 March) 156:
He has rugged in-by stones to the face of the dike.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxviii.:
Like Punch and the Deevil rugging about the Baker at the fair.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals vii.:
Having rugget out the evergreens and other unprofitable plants.
Sc. 1849 M. Oliphant M. Maitland xvii.:
To gang and rug the auld man out, whiles — by the lug and the horn.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb iii.:
I'se rug yer lugs t'ye gin ye dinna gae this minit.
Ork. 1910 Old-Lore Misc. III. i. 31:
Dey gaed ower nar an' da ferries teuk a had o' Jock an' ruggid 'im in.
Ags. 1915 V. Jacob Songs of Angus 9:
The Sawbath day could mind itsel' Withoot a hand to rug the bell.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 88:
The stouns that are ruggin' the hairt.
Bnff. 1937 E. S. Rae Light in Window 39:
Rug in aboot a chier.
ne.Sc. 1979 Alastair Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 63:
I am fou on the age-auld voice o yours
that jows fae your mony gabs
like green bells ruggit backwards and syne smoored.
Abd. 1987 Sheena Blackhall in Joy Hendry Chapman 49 57:
An ill-yokit pair is merriment an' dule
Ane's trottin trig, the tither rugs the load
Heid-doon, slaw fittit, foonert in the glaur
The tichtenin bit, gyan deep as ony goad.
Sc. 1991 Roderick Watson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 103:
But Troilus saw her yet
sae trig an sure as a siller birk
that's pit doun seed i the mool o his hert
an wi its roots has happit his hert,
an ruggit awa an crackit his hert
wi thrang, naitural, surprisin dule.

Hence comb. rug(g)-saw, a two-handed or cross-cut saw (Lnk. 1968).Sc. 1751 Atholl MSS.:
To one Steel platte Ruge Saw set and sherped mounted with handels &c.
Rxb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 135:
The spears were of such size that a rugg saw was made out of each.

2. intr. To pull vigorously or roughly, to tug, draw, lit. and fig. Also tr. with at. Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. Ppl.adj. ruggin, of a fowl: tough, difficult to carve or eat (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). Cf. 6. (5).n.Sc. 1714 R. Smith Poems (1869) 85:
He's brought stones from the Hill; With Rugging and drouging.
Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 18:
Jouk three Times rugged at his Shouder.
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 72:
He will rage, an' rugg, an' faem At his best frien'.
Sc. 1828 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 70:
A' the while something is rug-ruggin at the heart itsel.
Fif. 1864 St Andrews Gazette (27 Feb.):
The bad masters and the bad servants would come to be paired off together, and then, he said, “let the rogues rug.”
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 132:
He ruggit by a' the earth like a mad stirk.
Edb. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar xxvii.:
A yellow-hair'd laddie, that was ruggin' at her coats.
Dmf. 1917 J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 27:
Glaur or no glaur, it [rose] has ruggit ye terr'le.
Slk. 1964 Southern Reporter (26 March) 9:
Auld Scotland rugs at our hearts.

3. To plunder, take by force (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1808 Jam.).Inv. 1803 A. Grant Poems 410:
The isles of Greece they next did fleece; Sic rugging ye ne'er saw, man.

4. Of pain, hunger, an empty stomach, etc.: to affect persistently, to gnaw, ache, nag (wm.Sc. 1880 Jam.; ne.Sc., Ags. 1968). Ppl.adj., vbl.n. rugging, gnawing (Uls. 1953 Traynor). Freq. in phrs. with hert, stomach (see Hert, n., and quots. below).Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) II. 129:
Hunger rugg'd at Watty's breast.
Sc. 1814 C. I. Johnstone Saxon and Gael I. xi.:
Having been dying at home these two years, with the “rugging at the heart”, I advised him to get the doctor to her. Footnote: The craving or rugging at the heart, i.e. hunger, is a disease but too frequent among the Highlanders.
wm.Sc. 1880 Jam.:
To hae hunger ruggin at the verra heart, to be hungry.
Abd. 1920 T. McWilliam Light and Shadow 61:
I've a shouther here that's been ruggin' wi' the rheumatics.
Abd.30 1965:
I'm scunner't wi' a' this modern meat. My hert's ruggin for a bowl o' brose.

5. Phrs.: (1) to rug awa i' the face o'd, to work persistently at a tedious laborious task (Ork. 1968); (2) to rug and rive, (i) tr. and intr., used intensively: to tug, tear, pull (at) with great force or persistence (Uls. 1953 Traynor), to struggle strenuously, tussle. Gen.Sc. Vbl.n. ruggin and rivin, pulling this way and that in a quarrel or struggle (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (ii) to carry off by force, to rob, pillage, plunder (Ib.; Fif. c.1850 R. Peattie MS.); (iii) to tear at food, devour greedily (Ork., Abd. 1968); used pass. in neg. expressions, of meat: to be so tough as to be inedible (ne.Sc. 1968), in 1930 quot. used fig. of an intransigent or inflexible person; (iv) intr. with at: to discuss minutely and critically, to bandy about, to wrangle; (3) to tug and rug, (i) = (2) (i); (ii) = (2) (iv).(2) (i) Rnf. 1722 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1876) I. 104:
He, when the complainer [a woman] getting up and getting hold of ane post, did there rugg and rive her.
Sc. 1818 S. Ferrier Marriage II. xi.:
As soon as the ceremony was ow'r, ilk ane ran till her an' rugget an' rave at her for the favors.
Ayr. 1836 J. Ramsay Woodnotes (1848) 247:
Nae wives we dread, our shins to bleed, Our hair to rug and rive, Sir.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 318:
Swearin' an' tearin', they rug an' they rive, Wha to be foremost wi' Meggie McGivelry.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 40:
They lifted an they pu'd, they rugged an dey rave.
Knr. 1895 H. Haliburton Dunbar 108:
Bauldly may ye rug an rive.
Gall. 1929 Gallovidian 77:
To rive an' rugle, spaul frae spaul, Wi' stourin clash an' din.
Bnff. 1950 Banffshire Herald (4 Nov.):
The Buchan humlies keep their jog, an' rug an' rive awa'.
ne.Sc. 1995 Ken Morrice in Sheena Blackhall Lament for the Raj 31:
Ye've got the sangs, lassie,
The spik and the wey tae rug
and rive it intae shape,
tae dirl the lug, brichten the ee.
(ii) Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xlii.:
The gude auld times of rugging and riving . . . are come back again.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail lxxxvi.:
The rugging and riving times of antiquity were so well over in the north of Scotland.
Mry. 1830 Elgin Liter. Mag. 426:
In those days of rugging and riving.
(iii) Per. 1814 Scots Mag. (March) 215:
Gentle folk did rug and rive At beef and veal.
Sc. 1822 A. Sutherland Cospatrick I. ii.:
To rug and rive at whatever will eat.
Abd.13 1910:
It'll nedder rug nor rive. Said of tough meat.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood xv.:
As auld's the Hills o' Birse — she [a hen] wad neither rug nor rive.
Cai. 1930 Caithness Forum (3 Jan.):
A hee'rd a whumper he widna roog or rive.
Kcd. 1958 Mearns Leader (26 Dec.):
“It wid naither rugg nor rive”, cries the chiel, garrin the defunct rabbit fling at the man o' iron.
wm.Sc. 1967:
Tough material is no to rug, rive nor gully-cut.
(iv) Sc. 1728 Last and dying Words of the Tinclarian Doctor Preface:
I have seen and heard them — rug and rive at God's great Name.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xiv.:
After the Commons' Parliament had tuggit, and rived, and ruggit at Morris and his rubbery till they were tired o't.
(3) (i) Slk. 1744 Session Papers, Emmond v. Magistrates Selkirk (19 June) 5:
[The] Mob obstructed their Passage, by tugging and rugging.
(ii) Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb i.:
They “tuggit an' ruggit” to no purpose, till at last a compromise was reached, and the bargain concluded.

II. n. 1. A pull, a rough, hasty tug (Sc. 1808 Jam.; w.Sc. 1880 Jam., ruggle; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Gen.Sc. Also fig.; the act of dragging or pulling with intermittent jerks (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). Phr. rug and rive, id., with intensive force. Cf. I. 5. (2) (i).Sc. 1719 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 213:
Three Times I ga'e the Muse a Rug.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie ciii.:
Needing mony a rug and rive by the powerfu' hand of chastisement.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 228:
Tak haud o' the string very gently, for the least rug'ill bring down the squash like the Falls of the Clyde.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 29:
A rug o' pith is what we need.
Rnf. 1878 C. Fleming Poems 231:
What then though the Pope gi'e our auld Kirk a rug?
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 28:
He t'ought his hass-been be brakin wi' the rug he ga'e i' pu'in at the neck-jogg.
Abd. 1882 T. Mair John o' Arnha's Latter-Day Exploits 47:
Here's a beast would gie a rug To ony shippie wantin' oot.
Abd. 1934 D. Scott Stories 74:
I winna gi'e ye a rug at it; ye micht ca' 'er oot o' gear.

2. Specif. the tug on a fishing line when a fish has been hooked, a bite (I., n. and m.Sc. 1968).Edb. 1850 D. Maclagan Nugae (1873) 105:
A moment mair, the line is stent — A rug, and then a draw, man.
Inv. 1948 Football Times (11 Sept.):
If you excitedly cried — “That was a rug,” it meant that the fish was biting.
Ags. 1950 Scots Mag. (May) 145:
Never a rug dae they get, no' even frae an auld spent kelt.

3. Of grazing animals: a bite of grass, a feed (Bnff., Kcb. 1968).Rxb. 1767 Craig & Laing Hawick Tradition (1898) 225:
He brought them [sheep] on to the several ground to give them a rugg for a part of the day.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxxv.:
Your beasts had been taking a rug of their moorland grass in the by-ganging.

4. A strong under-current in the sea, a strong tide (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), rugg, rogg; Sh., ne.Sc., Per. 1968).Fif. 1884 G. Bruce Reminisc. 220:
On the tide flowing and ebbing the “back rug,” or under-current, hauled it out.
Ork. 1999 Orcadian 4 Nov 19:
... the word oot-rugg which we use and which has no mention, or even a part explanation, in Marwick's Norn, does have a connection with Shetland.
The word rugg, as recorded by Jakobsen, has various meanings, one of which is a strong tide. In North Ronaldsay oot-rugg means an undercurrent - or tide even, which is caused by the rebound of beach waves. A sheep, or a person for that matter, could be caught in the oot-rugg and dragged out to sea.

5. A twinge or pang of the nerves or emotions (ne.Sc., Per., Ayr. 1968). Comb. heart-rug, a strain on the emotions, a blow (I.Sc. 1968).Gsw. 1879 A. G. Murdoch Rhymes 81:
My nerves got a by-or'nar rug.
Abd. 1901 Weekly Free Press (24 Aug.):
It's an awfu' heart-rug tae lose a bairn in this way.
Lnl. 1910 J. White Eppie Gray 15:
Alas! his hert had got a rugg.
Bnff. 1922 Banffshire Jnl. (21 Feb.) 6:
My hert gies a rugg an' I try nae to greet.

6. A knot or tangle of hair (Ork., Bnff., Abd. 1968). Deriv. ruggie, -y, of hair: difficult to comb, knotted, tangled (ne.Sc., Per., Slg., Bwk., Lnk. 1968); fig. rough, hard, difficult, poss. with a play on rugged. Comb. ruggy-duggy, a rough, uncouth or unkempt fellow. The second element suggests Dug.m.Lth. 1866 J. Smith Merry Bridal 19:
Up wi' a dance! — a reel! — a reel! A reel, ye ruggy-duggies.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 69:
An' life's noo geyan ruggie.
s.Sc. 1979 Lavinia Derwent A Border Bairn (1986) 55:
My hair had been brushed and combed to take all the tangles out - the 'rugs', Jessie called them -
Edb. 2004:
When yer hair is lang an curly it's aye ful o rugs.
Uls. 2005:
Your hair's full of rugs this morning.

7. (1) A bargain, esp. one which takes unfair advantage of the seller (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 264; n.Sc., Ags., ‡Ayr. 1968); an unreasonably high profit, a “cut”, “rake-off” (Mry. 1921 T.S.D.C. 35). Phr. r(o)ug a rug, a street cry used by fishwives extolling the value of their wares.(1) Dmf. 1746 R. Edgar Hist. Dmf. (1915) 62:
A gross mistake to let such a sum as 25,000 merks be paid for that building if they got not a rug for it as it passed.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xi.:
Sir John sat in the last Scots Parliament and voted for the Union, having gotten, it was thought, a rug of the compensations.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch vi.:
With fishwives from Newhaven, Cockenzie, and Fisher-row, skirling “roug-a-rug, warstling herring.”
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller 243:
The auld grip-gear wadna hae gien ye the wark to do unless to get a rug aff ye.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden (1922) 105:
He never bocht onything, but he had got the most terrible rug o'd as ever was.
Edb. 1909 Bk. Old. Edb. Club II. 189:
The sale of haddocks and cods was at one time announced by the old cry of “Rug-a-rug o' the caller haddies; Rug-a-rug o' the caller cod.”
Arg. 1936 L. McInnes S. Kintyre 22:
Ye got a rug o' a bargain o' that yin.
Abd. 1950 Buchan Observer (19 Sept.):
For a thresh of some 80 to 120 qrs. oats likely to bring around 15/- a qr. it was something of a “rug”.

(2) of people: a good match, a “catch”. Phr. no great rug, gen. of people: not up to much, almost worthless, “no great shakes” (Ork. 1968).(2) Sc. 1746 M. Calderwood Letters (1884) liii.:
He once thought he had the therty thousand rugg, [i.e. the chance of marrying a young woman with that fortune].
Sc. 1793 Tam Thrum Look before ye Loup 23:
This warld is nae great rug at best.
Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 131:
Na, 'e waas no great rug, bit hid's no fair tae cast canteelins at onyane 'at's gaen in 'is accoont.

8. A share, endowment, portion, gen. of abstract qualities (Cai. 1968).Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 117:
Gif Fortune did me ever hug, Or gie me o' her joys a rug.
Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers 28:
She possessed not only a roug of common sense but a keenness of perception that few women were equal to.
Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 45:
To get o' gear the largest rug.

[O.Sc. rug, to tug, a.1400, a tug, 1420, rugsaw, 1582, of Scand. orig. Cf. Norw., Icel., Faer. rugga, to sway, swing back and forwards, rock. Poss. connected ultimately with rock.]

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



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