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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SPUNG, n.1, v. Also spunge, spoung, spyung. [sp(j)ʌŋ]

I. n. 1. A purse, pouch for holding money frequently closing with a spring device (Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. XIII. 39; Uls. 1953 Traynor); a tobacco pouch (Fif. 1971).Sc. 1701 Household Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) 9:
For a comb and spung . . . 9s. Scots.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 122:
This Man may beet the Poet bare and clung, That rarely has a Shilling in his Spung.
Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems v.:
Health haunt your brisket, wealth your spoung.
Lnk. 1877 W. M'Hutchison Poems 142:
Quite common noo to steal ane's spung An' lea' them bluidy.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 258:
He rypit his siller spung for a plack.
ne.Sc. 1914 G. Greig Folk-Song clxx.:
Sae he drew tippence frae his spunge, A spunge made o' a catskin.

2. A fob, watch pocket in trousers (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 28; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. XIII. 39; Fif. 1949; Bwk. 1961).Sc. 1751 Caled. Mercury (1 April):
£5 in Notes that was in my Spung below my Watch.
Sc. 1770 Hailes Ancient Sc. Poems 342:
In Scotland the word spung is still used for a fob.
s.Sc. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 19:
Then, your bonnie braw goud watch, Was just left dangling in the spung.
wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 512:
I use't to row up my watch and put it carefully in the spung o' my breeks.
e.Lth. 1885 J. Lumsden Rhymes 110:
After the songs, De Quincey took an enormous gold watch from his “spung” and handed it toward me.

3. Esp. in comb. green-sp(y)ung (piller), the green or spotted crab, Carcinus mænas (Abd. 1815 J. Arbuthnott Fishes 30, 1969 Abd. Press and Jnl. (12 March)). See also Piller. So called from the shape of its shell.

II. v. 1. To rob someone of something; to pick someone's pocket (Sc. 1825 Jam.).Sc. 1719 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 127:
If that the Gypsies dinna spung us.
Slg. 1788 R. Galloway Poems 94:
And, if you be not very sly, They'll spung you of your watch.
Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 57:
Ye surely think they're apt to spung ye.
Fif. 1832 Fife Herald (29 Nov.):
Yon birkie we have spung'd in style.

2. To steal, carry off illegally.Lnk. 1877 W. M'Hutchison Poems 65:
They don't deserve the name o' shoon. Nae man, sae fixt, wi' feet sae stung, But would tak' the chance yae pair tae spung.

3. To broach a cask of wine. This has been consistently read from the Foulis MS. (see quot.) as spung but should prob. be spring, to split open, make to leak (see Spring, v., 3.(i)).Sc. 1700 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 270:
For spunging the puncheon.

[Alteration, with prothetic s, of O.E. pung, a purse.]

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"Spung n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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