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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STANG, v.1, n.1 Also staang; rarely stank, also in n.Eng. dial. Vbl. forms: pa.t. stang(i)t, stanged; pa.p. stanged. [stɑŋ]

I. v. 1. tr. To sting, of an insect, a snake, a nettle, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen. (exc. I.) Sc.; to pierce, jab, as with a sting; to wound, cause sudden harm or pain to (the body or the mind). Also ppl.adj. stangin. Hence stanger, the lesser weever, Trachinus vipera (Abd. 1878 Trans. Nat. Hist. Soc. Abd. 89); a jelly-fish, Medusa (e.Lth. 1911); stangie, a jocular nickname for a tailor from the pricking of his needle. Also in Nhb. dial.Sc. 1724 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 136:
Serpents, that wad stang The Hand that gi'es them Food.
Abd. 1777 R. Forbes Ulysses 31:
He loot ane [arrow] fa', it stang't his fit.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Women's Minds iii.:
But for how lang the flie may stang, Let inclination law that.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems x.:
Whare stangin' serpents hiss.
Peb. 1817 R. Brown Comic Poems 172:
Like stirks whan stanged, on sweltry days.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian l.:
They are like wasps — they stang only them that fashes them.
Ayr. 1821 C. Lockhart Poems 49:
Shou'd typhus fever come amang us, . . . Or inflammation, hiddlens, stang us.
Sc. a.1834 Sc. Songs (Whitelaw 1844) 388:
Sair I pled, though fate, unfriendly, Stang'd my heart wi' waes and dules.
Rxb. 1871 R. Allan Poems 122:
It seem'd as if a venomous cleg Had stanged him.
Clc. 1885 J. Beveridge Poets Clc. 167:
That moorland pest, the stangin' ether.
Mry. 1888 J. McQueen Beauties 88:
It stang'd some like a thistle burr.
Ags. 1891 Brechin Advert. (6 Jan.) 3:
Nae nettles grew to stang their feet.
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 22:
Tho' a' the flaes That e'er infestit Garfuird stang his bouk!
Lnk. 1923 G. Rae Lowland Hills 50:
The hummin' bees that stangit sair.
ne.Sc. 1979 Alexander Scott in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 70:
Sair heid frae here,
sair hert frae outbye thonder
- but whilk will stang
wi the shairper stob,
and whatten a stound
will laist the langer?
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 23:
"Feast yer een on the bonnie Tree
That bields ye frae the stangin heat.
Drink frae its leafs an ye'se be haill;
Be aye undeid gin its fruit ye eat.

2. intr. To shoot with pain, throb, ache, lit. and fig. (Sc. 1808 Jam., stank; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; I. and n.Sc., Per., Slg., Lnk., Wgt. 1971). Also in n.Eng. dial. Hence stangin, an ache.Ayr. a.1875 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) III. 154:
The doctors pondered lang and sair, To rid me o' the stanging o't [love].
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden (1922) 120:
Afore it comes on to rain my joints are a' stoondin' an' stangin'.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (29 Oct.):
Hit's dis hollie yakle o' mine. Der been a staangin' intil him da hale day.

II. n. 1. (1) The sting of an insect, the ‘sting' or fang of a serpent (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Also transf. the pipefish, Syngnathus acus (Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife (1803) 127); = stang-fish below (Mry. 1852 Zoologist X. 3457). In 1949 quot. applied opprobriously to a person. Plockit may be a corruption of Plucker.Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 130:
Fu' mony an arse his stang gaed thro' Like ony needle-point.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 207:
Wasps stickin a lang poisoned stang in just below your ee.
Abd. 1861 J. Davidson Poems 118:
I see a bummie leave its stang in Gordon Lillie's broo.
Dmf. 1874 R. Wanlock Moorland Rhymes 69:
Ilka word gaed through me like a stang.
Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (15 May) 477:
Cluds o' muskaetties, wi' stangs like lances.
Gsw. 1898 D. Willox Poems 265:
Though I'd been stickit Wi' either sword or serpent's stang.
Kcd. 1900 W. MacGillivray Glengoyne II. 79:
He cud du onything amo' them [bees] an' nae ean wud put a stang in 'im.
Rs. 1949:
Ye plockit stang,'ar was thee?
Edb. 1965 J. K. Annand Sing it Aince 23:
I got a stang frae a big bumbee.

Comb. stangfish, the weever, Trachinus, esp. the lesser weever, Trachinus vipera (Cai. 1887 Harvie-Brown and Buckley Fauna Cai. 264; Kcb. 1902 J. H. Maxwell Guide to Kcb. 212; Cai. 1971).Bwk. 1838 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1885) 170:
Stangfish . . . Believed to inflict a venomed wound by its strong fin rays.

(2) the awn or beard of barley (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.).

(3) in fig. senses: the capacity to injure in word or deed, a harsh or cutting remark (Sh., Abd. 1971).Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 273:
Scandal points her doubly forkit stangs.
Rnf. a.1810 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 61:
But ne'er provoke the critic's stang.
Bwk. 1823 A. Hewit Poems 123:
May faes nae mair shoot out their stang.
Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 21:
Ye may fin' the bottle's stang Will pierce ye to the quick ere lang.
Lnk. 1922 Hamilton Advert. (2 Sept.):
The stang o' the gossips Drave her faur frae hame.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 29:
A thocht wi' a stang like a bee.
Rxb. 1961 W. Landless Penny Numbers 6:
Her words nae stang wad cairry.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 72:
Bewaur yon Sonnet-Goloch; a sair stang
he'll gie, gin ye're no tentie whan ye read;
his venim kills aw ither vairse stane-deid:
Rime Royal, Auchtfauld Rime an sempil sang
nae maitter hou ye scan thaim soond aw wrang.

2. The wound or stab caused by a sting, or some other sharp object (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Also fig. in dim. stangie, a jocular nickname for a tailor from the pricking of his needle. Phr. to get a stang, fig., to become pregnant (Slk. 1971), to take the stangs, to have a fit of passion (Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 155; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Sc. 18th c. Merry Muses (1911) 45:
But herryin' o' the foggy byke, I fear ye've got a stang, lassie.
Edb. 1839 W. McDowall Poems 118:
The stangie's done the best he can, To mak' it something like a man.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 76:
Upon his back a Bee sat doon a wee, Gied a bit stang an' wauk't the Sleeper.
em.Sc. 1920 J. Black Airtin' Hame 98:
Through the whins, the weary whins, Dreein' mony a stang.

3. A sharp sudden shooting pain such as that caused by a sting, lit. and fig., a pang (of pain, grief, remorse, etc.) (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc.w.Lth. 1768 W. Wilkie Fables 118:
A jibe leaves after it a stang.
Ayr. 1789 Burns To the Toothache i.:
My curse upon your venom'd stang, That shoots my tortur'd gums alang.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 76:
But, Oh! it gae my bosom mony a stang, Whan 'bout my Jean the fallows ran ding dang.
Edb. 1838 W. McDowall Poems 43:
The pleasures o' a private walk, Aft leave a stang behind.
wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 16:
My conscience yet gies me sair stangs when I think about her.
Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 23:
Puir wee chap! the stangs o' pain Thro' the nights sae lang and drearie.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags xxxi.:
The Lord has taken away the stang of pain out of my life.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (15 May):
Da stangs oot frae my yackle,'at wis fleein' troo my head.
Abd. 1929 J. Milne Dreams o' Buchan 4:
The stang o' caller win' an' rain.
s.Sc. 1947 L. Derwent Clashmaclavers 112:
The eident tawse lies on the flair; They'll feel its dirlin' stang nae mair.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 26:
Oor wyes warna yours, we nivver vrocht
Wi net nor line
Nor guttin knife, nor fan on haggert thoom
The stang o the brine.

4. Fig. The sting of death. Cf. 1 Corinthians xv. 55–6.Sc. 1724 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 183:
Took care to gar deaths Stang appear but a flae Byte.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 191:
Death, what's ado? the de'il be licket. Or wi' your stang, you ne'er had pricket.
Ags. 1867 G. W. Donald Poems 162:
Ere fell Death shot in his stang.

[O.Sc. stang, to sting, a.1400, a sting, 1420, sharp pain, 1513, Mid.Eng. stang, O.N. stanga, to prick, goad, gore, orig. an ablaut variant of sting. The n. is from the v.]

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"Stang v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2022 <>



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