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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

THREAP, v., n. Also threep (Sc. 1825 Jam.), threip, thriep (Sc. 1899 Times (3 Oct. 1936) 5; Uls. 1924 Northern Whig (4 Jan.)), †thrip, threpe (Lth. 1925 C. Slater Marget Pow 169; Uls. 1953 Traynor); thraep (Cai. 1905 E.D.D.), thraip (Fif. 1862 St Andrews Gazette (8 Aug.); Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 192; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 208; Rs., Mry. 1929), thrape (Uls. 1953 Traynor), threp (Per. 1881 D. MacAra Crieff 220); and I.Sc. forms traep, traip, trep; sm.Sc. trape in sense II. 5. [θrip, Mry., Bnff., em.Sc. (a) θrep; I.Sc. trep]

I. v. 1. (1) intr. or absol. To argue, contend, to assert one's opinions in a persistent and polemical manner, to engage in controversy, be disputatious (Ork. 1904 E.D.D.; I., n.Sc., Ags., Per., Kcb., Dmf. 1972); to haggle, wrangle. Also in n.Eng. dial. Freq. with wi. Vbl.n., ppl.adj. threapin, argument, wrangling; argumentative, pertinacious in assertion.Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 337:
It's a treat to hear the tane threepin and the tither threepin.
Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 132:
I . . . sanna threep but own at ance, Fause tongue ye li'd.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb i.:
Johnny offered “sax poun” and a shilling of “arles,” after much “threepin',” as his ultimatum.
Dmf. 1877 R. W. Thom Jock o' Knowe 19:
An' syne they threep'd an' bragg'd an' drank.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 92:
I'll threap an' thraw nae langer wi' him.
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 79:
Let priests an' parsons owre their auld creeds threep!
Ags. 1920 A. Gray Songs from Heine 39:
Though you should threap or scawld or flyte.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 23:
For aa ei threepeet, ei gaed yins-yirrint an fand oot the richt teime for iz.
Ayr. 1927 J. Carruthers A Man Beset i. i.:
That auld threapin' bubblyjock Targelvie.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 19. 44:
Dis set dem a-trepin, an' as dey argued da wirds grew haeter.
Sc. 1995 James S. Adam New Verses for an Auld Sang 16:
Thon braw muckle stookie o Weelam Wallys i Union Terrace, Aiberdeen, has a wheen o sayins o Wallys roun about its found. Ane o them threips tae be fae his speak whilk he made i St Stephen's Hall, Westminster, whan he was chairged wi traison agin Edward I i the year 1305 an sentenced tae be hingit, draan an quartert:

¶(2) rarely tr.: to argue with, to reduce by argument to a certain state.e.Lth. 1905 J. Lumsden Croonings 331:
They threep'd ilk ither hairse an' blind.

2. (1) tr., with direct obj. or noun clause: to assert positively and vehemently, to persist in maintaining, esp. against contradiction (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 95, 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc., and n.Eng. dial.; “to assert as true in order to elicit the truth” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 192). Agent n. threeper, thraiper, one who persists in a story, specif. a falsehood.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 47:
The Chamaeleon, I say, he's Blue; He threaps he's Green.
Sh. 1732–5 Old-Lore Misc. IV. iii. 120:
Butter threaped [alleged to have been paid as teind] of which I know nothing.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 119:
Nae mair shall Glasgow Striplings threap Their City's Beauty and its Shape.
Ayr. 1785 Burns To W. Simpson xxiii.:
Some herds, weel learn'd upo' the beuk, Wad threap auld folk the thing misteuk.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxviii.:
Halliday aye threeps he had a promise frae yoursell.
Fif. 1862 St Andrews Gazette (8 Aug.):
I hate a' argling an' hargarbargling wi' weemen folk, they'l thraip the very sowl oot o' ye.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms xxvii. 12:
Threepers o' lies again me heis.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 253:
He traepèd an traepèd dat she hed some.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders xxiii.:
When Eppie cam to hersel', she threepit and better threepit, that she had seen the lassie rinnin' afore her.
Ags. 1918 J. Inglis The Laird 15:
He threeps an' he threatens he'll pit ye awa'.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xiv.:
I'll threip that they were left by Leslie's folk and that ye kenned nocht about them.
Inv. 1948 Football Times (11 Sept.):
The untruthful boy was called a “thraiper.”

Also in emphatic extended forms to threap ben one's lug, — doun one's hass (Kcb. 1900), -thrapple, -throat (Gen.Sc.), -doun through one, id., to force one's opinions on another, to try hard to make one believe.Edb. 1839 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxiii.:
Threaping down Cursecowl's throat that he must have been feloniously keeping in his breath.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Thrawn Janet:
He wad threep it doun their thrapples that thir days were a' gane by.
Ags. 1888 Barrie Auld Licht Idylls 21:
Another member would “thrip down the throat” of the auctioneer that he had a right to his former seat.
Dmf. 1894 J. Cunningham Broomieburn 50:
He threepit doon through me that he gaed up seven pair o' stairs tae his bed.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 33:
I'd threipit ben his lug, that no ae dab O' richt had he to claim his faither's name.
Cai. 1929 John o' Groat Jnl. (18 Oct.):
He wid threep doon my throat at he wis getting younger.
Peb. 1950 J. Veitch Kindred Earth vi.:
Ye thrieped down ma throat that she maun stay at Stanalane.

(2) with indirect personal obj. governed by at, owre, (up)on, (Uls. 1953 Traynor), to, wi:Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 360:
Our ain auld cherry-tree that ye threeped upon me was dead.
Per. 1830 Perthshire Advert. (1 April):
He endeavoured to “threip” upon them that this very Bill which appeared so obnoxious to them was substantially a production of their own.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxv.:
Braeside threepit owre huz that yon was him.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 43:
Sheu was t'raepin a sheemfu' lee apo' me.
Ayr. 1897 H. Ochiltree Out of her Shroud x.:
Deil a bit o' the laird was there. I'll threep it wi' ye.
Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 67:
He threepit doun wi' me The ‘madman' was nae ither madman else Than Murray o' Scadfit!
Sh. 1928 Shetland Times (14 July) 3:
I treppid wi her it me face wis clean.

(3) with adv. doun: to beat down (a price), to haggle for a reduction in a charge.Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 282:
I wad hate to dine wi' him at a tavern — for he wad aye be for threepin doun the bill.

3. (1) With at, on, wi or absol.: to nag at, be insistent with, importune, urge some action upon (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ayr., Kcb., Dmf. 1972). Ppl.adj. threapin, importunate, pressing.Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xv.:
Monkbarns had threepit on them to gang in till't to see the wark o' the monks.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xiii.:
He flamed up in a terrible passion; threepit at the elders that they had no proof.
Edb. 1884 R. F. Hardy J. Halliday xix.:
Thae fo'k maun jist hae threepit on the bairn to tak them.
Per. 1897 C. M. Stuart Sandy Stuart's Bible Class 83:
There wasna naething to hinder me threeping aye at him.
Sc. 1908 Gsw. Ballad Club III. 215:
Mair threapin' the messenger noo at his door.
Per.4 1950:
He kept threipin at me till A went for verra pace.

Specif. in phr. †to threap kindness (up)on, to take no denial of favour or grace from, to beg or solicit kindness and love importunately from, to throw oneself on the mercy of (God).Sc. 1714 J. Thomson Cloud of Witnesses (1871) 350:
Though you have destroyed yourself, threep kindness upon Him.
Sc. 1730 T. Boston Works (1855) V. 552:
It will make men very peremptory for Christ, that they will not take a refusal, to threap kindness on him.

(2) used absol. with inf.: to insist on or persist in doing something.Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's Well xiv.:
He threapit to see the auld hardened blood-shedder.
Sc. 1827 Scott Surgeon's Daughter i.:
She threeps to keep on a black fause-face, and skirls i we offer to take it away.

(3) to harp on in gen., keep talking endlessly about. Also with awa.Kcd. 1896 M. M. Black Most Provoking Girl v.:
He's awfu' to gang to the college an' his mither's aye threepin' aboot it.
Sc. 1931 I. Burnett The Ravens i. ii.:
For days he would be sulky, threaping on his losses, and swearing he would never touch the cards again.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 34:
He aye threips oan that when ye're deid ye're deid.
Thae's be nae girnin in ablo the mool ...
nor tholin Clootie's salutorie dool.
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 85:
I'm threipin awa
til an auld sang the nicht
Are ye needin ony guisers
wha sing in a minor key?

4. tr. To threaten (an action) repeatedly, to vow (retribution, etc.).Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 202:
A voice oor paikment threeps “Ye deevil's buckies, that ye are.”

II. n. 1. A controversial discussion, argument, a dispute, quarrel (Sh., Abd., Ags., Rxb. 1972). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial.Slg. 1762 Session Papers, Scot v. Buchanan (15 Nov.) 8:
This resolved in a Threap between the Master and his Tenants.
m.Lth. 1786 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) lxi.:
They stop at last, but still look laith The threap to yield.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 15:
The Douglasses an' we had aye some threep, An' gried just like twa cats outower a rape.
Dmf. 1866 Carlyle Life in London (Froude 1884) II. 308:
I had privately a kind of threap that the brandy should be yours.
Fif. 1882 J. Hutton Poet. Musings 19:
Jock says he's no feared To staun' his ain grund in a thrape wi' the laird!
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (3 July):
We're no gaun ta git in a traep aboot dat da night.
Sc. 1924 Scots Mag. (July) 241:
Twa bodachs, I mind, had a threep yae day, Aboot man's chief end.

Combs.: threap-land, -muir, -neuk, -wood, pieces of ground the ownership of which is in dispute, now only in place-names, esp. in Rnf., Ayr., Lnk., Bwk., and Dmf. In Sc. history the Threaplands were specif. the Debateable Lands on the Scottish-English border.

2. A vehemently-maintained opinion, purpose or attitude, a persistent and dogmatic insistence on the truth of a statement or allegation, the aggressive assertion of one's beliefs or aims (Sc. 1808 Jam.; n., em.Sc. (a) 1972). Also fig. Obs. in Eng. Comb. and phrs. thraip-knot, “an assertion without foundation in order to bring out the truth of what one suspects” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 192); to keep (up or to), stand or stick to one's threap, to persist in one's opinions or purpose despite all opposition or contradiction, to stick to one's guns (Cai. 1905 E.D.D.), to take up a threap, to take up a determined or intransigent attitude.Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 260:
With an address to the bride, on the wisdom of her choice, and incouraging her to keep to her threap.
Sc. 1762 Session Papers, Memorial J. Rannie (11 Dec.) 5:
When brought before the Bailie, each stood to his Threep.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 36:
Whan he an' I 'bout ony threap fell out, That was the road that he was for, but doubt.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxvii.:
Lady Ashton will, as Scotchmen say, keep her threep . . . her husband dares not contradict her.
Sc. 1825 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) IX. 313:
Those who have taken up a threap as we Scots folk say are far worse to convince than men who are actually founding on something like reason.
Per. 1831 Perthshire Advert. (6 Jan.):
I have read your bullying letter, and from first to last it is nothing but a petulant “thriep.”
Dmb. 1844 W. Cross Disruption xi.:
Ye're right to stick till't. Keep up your threep like a game cock.
s.Sc. 1897 J. C. Snaith Fierceheart vi.:
The threep was fause, an' he gang'd tae the woodie.
Kcb. 1905 Crockett Cherry Ribband viii.:
He had, in the phrase of the people and the time, taken a thriep with himself, and if he must wade chin-deep through blood and hatred and engage the eternal loathing of a whole people, he would yet keep his “thriep.”
Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 69:
Maist [nations] rase by threap, tho' nane by thole.
Abd. 1930 E. S. Rae Waff o' Win 59:
The siller's aye his snag; For foreign missions — that's his threep.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 7:
In the how-dumb-deid, when aw the warld's
Fawn ower, lourd wi sleep,
The trumpet's sudden skirl will steir
Mankind wi'ts muckle threip.

3. An inveterately-held superstition, a traditional notion or saying (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xlv.:
They'll be streekit, and hae an auld wife when they're dying to rhyme ower prayers, and ballants, and charms. That's an auld threep o' theirs.
s.Sc. 1898 E. Hamilton Mawkin iii.:
An auld threip that any that drains two cups of this water shall have whatever they wish.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 34:
My heid was fou o' sangs and threep O' folk that feared nae mortal might.

4. A threat, phs. by formal confusion with threat. Cf. obs. Eng. threapen, to threaten.Sc. 1928 J. Wilson Hamespun 23:
She there an' then lays doon the law Wi' threaps I daurna mention.

5. The angle or distance between the point of the coulter of a plough and the point of the share which determines the form of the crest of the furrow (Per. 1961), “the cut of plough irons” (Ags. 1921 T.S.D.C.), the beam or cross-shaft connected to the muzzle of a plough, which takes the strain of the draught, the swingle-tree (sm.Sc. 1972, trape(s)), also comb. threep-tree, id. (Lnk. 1825 Jam.), prob. so called because the adjustment of any of these determines the lie of the land and breadth of the furrow, and hence is an extension of usage from 1. and Combs. Also in Cum. dial.

[O.Sc. threip, threpe-land, 1296, argument, a.1400, to quarrel, contend, assert, a.1500, threep kindness, 1589, Mid.Eng. threpe, to quarrel, assert, O.E. þrēapian, to rebuke, chide.]

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"Threap v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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