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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SNIP, v., n. Also †snipe in sense n., 2. (Sc. 1700 Edb. Gazette (March 18–21)); sneep in sense v., 5. Sc. forms and usages:

I. v. 1. As in Eng., to cut, clip, curtail, pinch. Derivs.: snippart, niggardly, giving short measure (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 173). See also II. 1.(1); snippit, id. (Sc. 1880 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Sh., n.Sc., Slk. 1971); of the nose: short, snub (Ags. 1808 Jam.); snippy, one who gives short measure (Ags. 1808 Jam.). Cf. Eng. dial. snippy, parsimonious; a kind of strong ale brewed in Beith in Ayrshire (Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) S. 105); a wild bee (Kcd., Ags. 1971), phs. from the pinching movements of its jaws; comb. ¶snip-noun, one who is very precise and pedantic in speech.Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy G. Chalmers 32:
Are ye ane o' the snip-nouns tae?
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 230:
He's unco snippit wee's weight.
Sc. 1924 Gsw. Ballad Club 88:
There comes to a' toom barn and thrawart year, And snippit hairst wi' little in the spence.

2. To snub, to scold. Now only dial. in Eng. Derivs.: snippart, -ert, quick of speech, tart (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 173); snippit, id. (Ork., Fif., Lth. 1971); snippen, -in, surly, abrupt, snappish, testy (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), a snippen answer, 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1971) prob. orig. a strong pa.p. form. Cf. Norw. dial. snipen, cross; snippy, adj., id. (Fif., Lth. 1970), also as n., a sharp-tongued person, a scold (Sh. 1971).Ags. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ii.:
“They're a' tarred wi ae stick,” yelpit oot a soople-tongued snippy.

3. To run with short steps, to slip off (Abd. 1904 E.D.D.).Abd. 1898 J. M. Cobban Angel i.:
If I was a door-hesper, I'd just lift the sneck and out I'd snip.

4. To stumble slightly (Lth. 1825 Jam.).

5. Only in ppl.adj. snippin, nipping, biting. Cf. Eng. dial. sniping, snipy, id. From its use with snaw (cf. O.Sc. snypand snaw (Douglas Aeneis VII. Prol. 50)) it apparently comes to be thought of as meaning dazzling, white. Hence snip or sneep (-white), bright, dazzling (s. and wm.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Cf. snell-white, s.v. Snell, adj., 5.Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 90:
Our guidwife coft a snip white coat.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 352, 412:
Whan gurly norlan' blasts wad blaw, And swul in sneep white wrides the snaw. . . . The twasome pied down on the cauld sneep snaw.
Ags. 1882 Brechin Advertiser (18 July) 3:
Though his beard be near as white's the snippin snaw, in my een his manly beauty has suffered nae decay.
Ags. 1899 C. Sievwright Garland 10:
Damacre wives bleached their claes as white's the snippin' snaw.

II. n. 1. As in Eng., a small amount. an insignificant person. Derivs.: (1) snippart, (i) a very small piece of anything, a crumb (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 173); (ii) a small crotchetty person (Ib.); (2) snipper, a small, insignificant, conceited person. Cf. Eng. snipper-snapper, id.Ags. 1891 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) XIV. 180:
There's a little auld carle frae the Nor'ard come doon, An' fu' weel, the wee snipper, we ken him.

2. As in Eng., a white patch on a horse's face. Ppl.adj. snippet, -it, -ed, snipt, having a white spot on the face (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Abd. 1971). Also in n.Eng. dial. Deriv. snipey, a horse having such a mark.Abd. 1769 Abd. Journal (11 Dec.):
The Mare and one of the Horses are long tailed, belled, and snipt.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 237:
Her basoned face, black, blae and snipped.
m.Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recoll. 162:
A horse . . . with a snip, or white list, down his nose [was called] Snipey.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xv.:
Yon's a snippet horsie 't was i' the secont pair — yon young beastie — jist clean spoilt.
Kcb. 1898 T. Murray Frae the Heather 53:
Wi' white snippit nose, yellow cheeks, and eyebrows.

3. A spell (of cold weather), a snap.Knr. 1895 H. Haliburton Dunbar 76:
That no show'r of hail nor snip of cauld Should do offence to flow'r in field or fauld.

4. Pl. in phr. to rin snips, to take a share, go shares, to divide profits equally, as a haul of fish among the crew (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). Cf. Eng. slang to go snip(s), to share.Sc. 1724 Coll. Sc. Poems (1769) 103:
We ran ay Snips. They kend'twas me that filled their banks.
Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1873) 7:
Thought I, sae lang's I see a chucky, I'se nae rin snips.

5. Sc. slang: a police detective. From Eng., to seize hold of suddenly, to snatch. Cf. also Eng. slang snips, handcuffs.Edb. 1861 J. McLevy Curiosities of Crime 105:
I could swear to the hinder-end o' a snip, but not to a particular ane, for they're a' alike.

6. A misfortune, hardship, suffering.Edb. 1727 A. Pennecuik Parnassus 17:
For no Gear wa'd I born your Snips, it was unluckie.

[O.Sc. snippand, bitterly cold, 1513, snippit, with a white patch on the face, of a horse, 1602, to go snips with, c.1675.]

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"Snip v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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