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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SEEK, v.1 Also si(c)k (n.Sc.). Pa.t., pa.p. so(u)cht, sowcht, saucht, saght; sowt (I. and s.Sc.); seekt, seekid (Ork.); pa.t. ¶sook (Sc. 1931 H. McDiarmid First Hymn to Lenin 30); pa.p. also sochten (ne.Sc.). [sik, n.Sc. sɪk; pa.t. soxt, I. and s.Sc. sʌut pa.p. id., + ne.Sc. sox(t)n]

Sc. usages: 1. tr. and absol. To search (for), to look (for), go in quest (of). Gen.Sc. Now liter. or dial. in Eng. Also with for.Sc. 1752 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) III. 125:
Tallisker and his hunder men were sicking me for tow days.
Lnk. 1780 Session Papers, Gray v. Farie (4 Aug.) 17:
A person on foot who was going to the fishing, or seeking a besom.
Ags. 1793 Arbirlot Session Rec. MS. (15 Dec.):
To the Kirk officer for seeking the cart 6d.
m.Lth. 1864 A. Logan Auld Reekie Musings 54:
Lang ha'e I socht for't up an' doun.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 135:
Its mother socht it a' day.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 73:
You shud mind an' gie fowk their richt names when ye're seeking them.
Ork. 1907 Old-Lore Misc. I. ii. 63:
Dey sowt an' sowt waan an' oonwaan, but an' ben, . . . bit nae hair o'm fand dey.
Dmf. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 1:
And Jock socht gowans braw To mak' a garland fine.
Abd. 1964:
Fat are ye seekin here? = What do you want here, what is your business here?
Sc. 1983 John McDonald in Joy Hendry Chapman 37 44:
tak tent o the ae life threidin
frae aiglet tae aiglet, the ae life
dirlin in ilka pynt - a pynt whaur
stentless virr comes fair saucht,
whaur life comes daith and daith life.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 9:
Riftin', dozent and weel-fed
He left the empty dishes, socht his bed
Whaur he slept a' nicht unfashed wi' guilt
Fartin' ablow the feather quilt.
Abd. 1991 George Bruce in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 20:
We socht for bait on the bay sands, braid
ahint the far-oot sea, whiles at nicht-fa
and the mune up.
ne.Sc. 1996 Claire Murray in Sandy Stronach New Wirds: An Anthology of Winning Poems and Stories from the Doric Writing Competitions of 1994 and 1995 12:
As they discussed thir plan, e twin hid soucht oot e scent o e teacher an wis het on his trail.

2. To search (a place), look through (Sh., n. and em.Sc., Ayr., sm.Sc. 1969). Also in n.Eng. dial. Also absol.Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 117:
As lyth a bield as can be found In a' the country, seek it round and round.
Sc. 1827 Scott Highl. Widow v.:
They sought brake, rock, and thicket in vain.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 85:
She socht the fair till she saw ane.
Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 110:
Ilka gate's been saucht, an' saucht again!
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 56:
Eleck soucht for lang in ilka pooch.

3. To try to procure, ask for, request (1) with intention to purchase, hire, etc. (Sh., n. and m.Sc. 1969).Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 62:
Gif they sought beer.
Edb. 1881 J. McLaren Poems 41:
I drank a' my siller, then seekit a loan.
Per. 1897 C. M. Stuart Sandy Scott's Bible Class 53:
I was like to seek for the lend o a harp.
Abd. 1945 A. Fraser Second Crop viii.:
And my turnips, Mr. Thomson, will you be seeking them the year?

(2) by begging (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 85; I. and n.Sc., em.Sc. (a), Lth., Kcb. 1969). Also absol. or with for. Hence a seeking man or woman, a male or female beggar (s.Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 283).Kcb. 1703 W. Mackenzie Hist. Gall. (1850) I. App. 44:
Jean M'Murrie sought a piece bread to a lass that she had with her.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. ii.:
With glooman brow the laird seeks in his rent.
Sc. 1799 H. Mitchell Scotticisms 78:
He was obliged to seek his meat. In this phrase both seek and meat are Scotticisms. It ought to be, — He was obliged to beg his bread.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel ii.:
I need not be charged with poverty, till I seek siller of somebody.
Per. 1827 Justiciary Reports (1829) App. 4:
She sought for water first, and then for punch.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sketches 56:
He socht his bit frae toun to toun.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 26:
A couthy motherly body . . . when ye were seekin' naething frae her.
Cai. 1916 J. Mowat Proverbs 6:
Ye needna eat 'e coo an' sik saat wi' 'e tail.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 8:
An' nae a fairin' did she hae, nae maitter foo she socht.
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 10:
Geud honest folk, wha . . . never seekid owt fae ony body.

(3) to ask as a price, as wages, etc. (I., n. and m.Sc. 1969). Phr. to seek a fee, of a farm-servant: to look for a job.Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb viii.:
When Tam . . . “socht”, he somewhat curtly “bade” ten shillings less than the sum Tam mentioned.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden (1922) 77:
What are ye seekin' for your Sabbath men's buits?
Ags. 1921 A. S. Neill Carroty Broon xvi.:
Ploughmen from the whole county came in to seek a fee.
Sc. 1950 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 347:
He took it to a jeweller in Aberdeen who asked Sandy what sum he wanted for it. Sandy replied that he “wis seeking naething for it.”

(4) to require, demand, expect as one's due (Cai., Ags., Per. 1969).Sc. 1700 Seasonable Precautions in Electing the Magistrates 10:
He brought his Accompts to a very narrow Ballance, and left very few Rests to seek in.
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 45:
Sawny nae great priggin saght.

4. To invite, bid one come, do, etc., request (a person) (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Lnk., Ayr., Wgt. 1969), specif. of a farmer inviting a servant to remain with him for the next half-year (Id., obsol.).Abd. 1722 Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 90:
The man that I have on dayes wagges I seeke him not, but when I have dung to wheell.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 65:
Aweel, he had been socht to preach.
Lnk. 1887 A. Wardrop Mid Cauther Fair 205:
He . . . socht me to bring't.
Abd. 1926 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 110:
Na, na, they hinna socht me t' the war. A'm some aul' A doot for that.
Per. 1933 D. Robertson & T. Scott Socht 11:
The maister hisna socht me tae bide yet.
Abd. 1952 Buchan Observer (20 May):
To be “socht,” or not socht, was a ruling with master and man. If a servant was not broached on the subject of re-engagement at least a week before the market, he accepted it as tantamount to dismissal in a quiet but effective way.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 49:
Fin Henry socht Norman roon the neist Setterday fur a suppie maet, he lowpit at the inveet.

5. To seek in marriage, to ask for the hand of (a woman), to propose to. Gen.Sc. Hence seeker, a man looking for a wife.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 39:
[I] am bidden court an' daut, an' seek the lass.
Sc. 1772 Lady Anne Lindsay Auld Robin Gray (B.C.) ii.:
Young Jamie loo'ed me weel, and sought me for his bride.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 9:
Auld Tammy Tailtrees was seeking me, my father wad a haen me to tak him.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 23:
Ther's twa-three lads ay seekin' Bell.
Lth. 1883 M. Oliphant Ladies Lindores xix.:
When he was a Seeker himsel' — I'm meaning when he was looking out for a wife.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet ix.:
Saunders was hurt at this pointed allusion to his condition as a “seekin”, widower. “Wha seeks you, Jess, 'ill be sair ill-aff!”
Ork. 1905 W. T. Dennison Weddings 25:
“To seek his lass” — as asking her father's consent was called.
Bnff. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 18:
Twenty-five past the foort' day o' August, and nae wed nor socht yet.
Abd. 1953 Huntly Express (31 July):
Dod an' Me's gettin' mairrit — he socht ma the streen.

6. Followed by advs., awa, in, out, etc. with ellipse of verb of motion: to make an attempt or request to go, come, etc., ask leave to, indicate a wish to (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Ayr., sm.Sc. 1969).Per. 1811 Letters J. Ramsay (S.H.S.) 284:
She says she will not seek away again.
Sc. 1828 Holy Nunnery in Child Ballads No. 303 xiii.:
But ye maun vow a vow, lady, Before that ye seek in.
Kcd. 1844 W. Jamie Muse of Mearns 91:
When the dreadful storm he saw, Thinks he, I sanna seek awa'.
Lth. 1853 W. Wilson Ailieford II. xiii.:
I never sought in to trouble you.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxix.:
My 'prentice loonie, wha had been at the door seekin' in to his wark.
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 90:
When Babbie would be very busy with her needle her scholars would seek out one by one until they were all free.
Ags. 1922 V. Jacob Tales 209:
“Isabella”, said Doig, a few minutes later, “a'm seekin' in again.”
Abd. 1940 Abd. Press & Jnl. (27 Feb.) 1:
I'm seekin' awa' hame.
Sh. 1953:
Da tird boat's seekin up on da second, i.e. gaining on, drawing up to, in a race.

7. With tae, to: to turn, resort or apply to, to strive for (Sh., ne. and em.Sc.(a) 1969). Cf. 6. above.Lth. 1856 M. Oliphant Lilliesleaf xxxii.:
A manufacturing place, where there's aye another master at hand to seek to, if one has little to do.
Abd. 1913 D. Scott Hum. Sc. Stories 78:
A' dinna think he'll seek ta anither merrage wi' me again.
Sc. 1927 J. Millar Scotland Yet 140:
Auld Scotia's sons, aye upwards tread, The summit aye seek tae.

8. With infin.: to wish, desire (Per. 1915 J. Wilson L. Strathearn 197; Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Kcb. 1969).Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 47:
I am not seeking to go.
Mry. 1899 J. Slater Seaside Idylls 29:
“Had ye plenty laads at yer sister Maggie's waadin?” “Mair than I was sikin'.”

9. To bring, fetch (s.Sc. 1969).Dmf.2 1917:
A'll seek ee some brummles.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 9:
Where the caller air ud seek roses back ti the chafts o the palliest peenge.
Rxb.4 1954:
Wull a' seek the key till ee when a've hed ma denner?

10. To weary, exhaust, wear out, overwork (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 152). Cf. Eng. search. Ppl.adjs. seeking, wearisome; socht, exhausted (ne.Sc., Ags. 1969).Sc. 1825 Jam.:
One is said to be sair socht who is much wasted by debauchery, by disease, or by searching medicines.
Abd. 1867 A. Allardyce Goodwife 10:
An' I maun jist lat aff my burn, The maat's weel socht, I'm sere.
Bnff.2 1930:
Your aul jaickit's gey weel socht; ye'll seen need a new een. . . . A day o' the scythe amon' that stuff's gey seekin' wark.

11. In n.comb.: seek-an-hod, hide-and-seek (Ags. 1825 Jam., Ags. 1969). See Hide, v., A. 1. and Steek, v.1Ags. 1875 J. Watson Verse Samples 111:
She winna brook cairts, for they're aye breedin' brulzies, But tholes Jocky Blindy or yet seek-an'-hod.

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"Seek v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 May 2024 <>



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