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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.

VAIG, v., n. Also veg(e) (Abd. 1719 Rec. Old Abd. (S.C.) I. 178), vage, vague; vag(g), vaag, vaug; ne.Sc. forms esp. as n., vya(a)g, vyaug, vyague; erron. vang (Slg. 1751 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. (1924) 45). [′veg; ne.Sc. ‡vjag]

I. v. To wander about idly, to roam in an aimless way, to gad about (Rxb. 1801 J. Leyden Complaynt 379; Sc. 1808 Jam.; ‡Ork., Ags., Fif., Ayr. 1973). Deriv. vaiger, vaguer (Ags. 1926), a footloose person, a gadabout, esp. hist. one who strolled about the streets during church service. Ppl.adj. vaiging, roaming, vagrant, straying. Now chiefly liter. Also vbl.n. Also fig.Sc. 1701 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 337:
Vaging or standing idle upon the streets.
Ork. 1715 A. W. Johnston Church in Ork. (1940) 73:
Severall servants and young people doth goe avagging on the Sabbath day, . . . if any should be found to wander and vagg herafter their masters or fathers should be punished.
Sc. 1763 Boswell London Jnl. (1950) 340:
We here would never think of bestowing anything upon a vaguing Englishman except a dinner or a supper.
Gsw. 18th c. H. G. Graham Social Life (1899) I. 137:
The “seizers” or elders visited the Green in the evening haling all “vaguers” to kirk or session.
Sc. 1770 J. P. Muirhead Life James Watt (1859) 198:
The vaguing about the country.
Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 197:
By and bye the time of vaaging was over for a season.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 21:
Man was aye a wilyart sorrow and a vaguin' dyvour.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ III. xxiii.:
Tether my monie vaigin thochts.
Ayr. 1913 “Kissock” Poems 9:
The Kelpie lo'es the green burnside, Whaur ne'er a vaiger gangs.
Ork. 1951 R. Rendall Ork. Variants 11:
He was aye vaigan b' the shore.
m.Sc. 1991 Tom Scott in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 37:
Whit's aa your Art but a vaigin in the mirk
By the saul launcht oot frae its lang ootworn kirk
And batterit by the typhoon's rage and roar?

II. n. A vagrant, vagabond, tramp (Kcd. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Abd. 1921; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Uls. 1953 Traynor), esp. a rough-living, disreputable person, a rascal, rogue (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Kcd., Ags. 1973); freq. applied to a woman: a gadabout, a trull, an ill-conditioned gossiping female (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 204, vyaug; Mry. 1911 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 108; Bnff., Abd. 1929, vyaag; Ags. 1973), dim. vaigie, used playfully of a lively romping girl (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); also of a roaming animal. Adj. vaigish, roaming, vagrant (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.).Ags. 1815 G. Beattie John o' Arnha' (1852) 20:
Your worthless carcase whilk ye brag on, I winna leave a rotten rag on, . . . Ye vaig!
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ii.:
She's a wild vaig that.
Ayr. 1891 H. Johnston Kilmallie I. 118:
What's the meaning o' conduct like yon, ye vaig, ye?
Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 64:
It's some drunken vaig, I'll warrant ye.
Uls. 1898 S. MacManus Bend of Road 33:
Ye natarnal veg ye! bad luck to ye!
Abd., Kcd. 1921 T.S.D.C.:
Pit oot that vyaug o' a hen, she's scrapin' amo' the taties.
Mry. 1931 J. Geddie Characters 128:
Oh, the vaag (or limmer). An' her richer than I am masel'!

[O.Sc. vage, to roam, 1420, Fr. vaguer, Lat. vagari, id. The n., which is much more recent, may be from the v. or phs. rather a reduced form of vaigabone, Vagabond.]

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"Vaig v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Dec 2023 <>



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