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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.

STAIG, n. Also sta(i)ge, stague, steag; stag(g), styaag, and dim. forms staigie, st(y)ag(g)ie. [steg, Abd. + ‡stjɑ:g; †stɑg]

1. A young horse from one to three years old, of either sex and not yet broken to work, specif. a young castrated horse, a colt, gelding (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 276; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 187; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I.Sc. Cai., e. and wm.Sc., Wgt. 1971). Also in Eng. dial. Comb. stagghouse, a shed or stable for young horses (Ags. 1752 Farm Inventory MS.).Sc. 1700 Edb. Gazette (27–30 May):
A Dark Brown Staig of four Years, with a White Spot on his far hinder Foot.
Sc. 1710 Sc. Courant (2–4 Aug.):
A black din lyred Horse-Staig with the Hair unpolled.
e.Lth. 1721 Caled. Mercury (19 Sept.):
There was Stolen a dark brown Mare-Stag.
Edb. 1739 Caled. Mercury (13 Nov.):
Four Stags, viz. A brown two-year old Fillie, with a white Face and a white Hind-foot; A grey year-old Fillie; Two Foals, one a Colt, the other a Fillie.
Ork. 1772 P. Fea MS. Diary (August):
Sold the black 3 year old Stage for 6 Gns.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To his Auld Mare i.:
Thou could hae gane like ony staggie.
Abd. 1809 J. Skinner Amusements 39:
Wi' mony a staig and mony a stirk An' fowth o' gear.
Bwk. 1809 J. Kerr Agric. Bwk. 502:
A young gelding is often called a staig.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 160:
Wild staigies, wild fillies an' a'.
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 591:
Du tocht nethin ta pit dye mark apo mye steag.
Ags. 1879 Brechin Advert. (15 April):
I'll maybe sell my geldin staig.
Cai. 1916 John o' Groat Jnl. (14 Jan.):
“A pelly staig maks a good horse” — a rough or poorly clad boy may become a good man.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood x.:
I cam here through stane and briar like a dementit staig.

2. A stallion, an entire male horse (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson; Ork., n.Sc., em.Sc. (a), Arg., Ayr., Wgt. 1971). Deriv. staiger, a man who travels a stallion for breeding purposes (Abd. 1967 Press and Jnl. (15 July); ne.Sc., Per., Fif. 1971), comb. †staiger's breeks, a type of tight-fitting drainpipe trousers without turnups specially worn by stallion-grooms (Abd. 1961).Slg. 1841 R. M. Stupart Harp of Strila 55:
I'll shoe a staig, or ploughman's naig, Wi' onie in the shire.
ne.Sc. 1910 Scottish Studies III. 204:
There is three horse in the stable, John, . . . And the styagie for yer nainsel, John.
Ork. 1929 Peace's Ork. Almanac 139:
Da mare o' Nazegoe's haen a pair o' foals — twa staigs.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xvii.:
Layin at 'e grun wi wir feet like a young an' mettlesome styaag yarkin at its traivis.
ne.Sc. 1956 Mearns Leader (23 March):
A staiger that's been on the road for seiven-an'-twenty year.
Abd. 1962 H. Diack Boy in Village 11:
We always spoke of it as “Jamie Deeick's steg” and the fact that Jamie Deeick drove a stallion in a cart added awe to the fear he inspired.
Abd. 1993:
Fin e staiger cam e loons hid ahin e shed an watched e staig coverin e meer.

Combs. staig-chiel, a stallion groom (Bnff. 1930); staigie-man, id. (Ork. 1971); staig-foal, a male foal.Ork. 1767 P. Fea MS. Diary (12 May):
My Bay mare foled a Stag fole.
Ork. c.1836 Old-Lore Misc. I. vii. 265:
Thrive a' your horse upon the hill, An' ilka mair wi' a staig foal.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 106:
If exceedingly anxious to secure the smiles of fortune, he [the farmer] was particular to tie the drawing ropes [of the plough] with hair from the tail of a mare which had had two “staig” foals.

3. A bullock, young ox. Also in Eng. dial. Comb. bull-staig, a castrated bull (Sc. 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 726). Arch.Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xiv.:
He thought he heard the “young staig loose in the byre.”

4. Erroneously used for a stag, a male deer.Sc. 1922 P. Macgillivray Bog Myrtle 31:
Nae mair like oor Hielan' kin Than staig's like market stot.

5. A gawky girl (Cai. 1971).

[O.Sc. stag, staig, = 1. or 2., 1478. Sc. variant of Eng. stag, but the phonology is somewhat unusual and may be influenced by the cogn. O.N. steggi, a male bird.]

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"Staig n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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