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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WAB, n., v. Also wub (Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 80; Fif. 1916 G. Blaik Rustic Rhymes 98, 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 273, Sh. 1973), wob (Bwk. 1712 A. Thomson Coldingham (1908) App. xxvi. (4); Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 38; Abd. 1759 F. Douglas Rural Love 20; Mry. 1824 J. Cock Homespun Lays 80; Ags. 1866 D. Mitchell Hist. Montrose 76; Rxb. 1872 Jethart Worthies 33; Abd. 1969 Buchan Observer (7 Jan.) 4), wobb (Sc. a.1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs I. 312), wobe (Slk. 1899 Border Mag. (Sept.) 171, Slk. 1958); webb. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. web (Sc. 1709 Household Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) 138; Ayr. 1796 Burns Cardin' o't i.; Dmf. 1805 Scots Mag (Sept.) 782; Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 125; Edb. 1839 W. McDowall Poems 35; Rxb. 1868 D. Anderson Musings 11; Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 18; e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 270; Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood i.). See P.L.D. §§ 27.1, 56, 76.1. [wɑb; Ags., Fif., wʌ b; ne.Sc. wɔb; s.Sc. + wob]

I. n. 1. As in Eng. (1) A (piece of) woven fabric, specif. the length woven on one loom (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Ork., ne.Sc., m., s.Sc. 1973, somewhat obsol.). Freq. in proverbial and colloq. phrs.Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 295:
At langrin, wi' coaxin' and fleechin', She knit up her thrum to his wab.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 150:
Ye're cawking the claith ere the wab be in the loom.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 43:
We winno' mak' flesh o' ane an' fish o' anither. They hae baith weaved ae wab.
Sc. 1896 A. Cheviot Proverbs 316:
The best o' wabs are rough at the roons.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl. 166:
Du'll hae a weary wub ta bleach.
Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie Hills and Sea 4:
Fa yacht the bairnie, than? Aye, but ye're speerin', Naebody kens o' fat wab he's a swatch.

(2) A spider's web (Sh., ne.Sc. (wob), em.Sc. (a), Ayr., Dmf. (wab) 1973). Cf. (3) (i), (iii). Adj. wobby, covered with cobwebs (Bnff., Abd., Fif. 1973). Also fig.Abd. 1920 C. Murray Country Places 3:
Like a wyver that waits For a flee in his wob on the wa'.
Abd. 1963 J. C. Milne Poems 56:
O for a brush or besom Te dicht the wobby wa'!

(3) Combs., phrs. and derivs.: (i) cobwabs, -wobs, cobwebs (Ork. 1973); (ii) to gie in the wab, see 1920 quot.; (iii) mouse-wabs, see Mouse, 1. (11); (iv) Peneloap's wab, see quot.; (v) to tak in the wab, see 1920 quot. under (ii); (vi) wab('s) end, in various fig. usages, e.g. “the end of one's tether”, breaking point, “the end of the line”. For phr. to sneg off at the wob end, see Sneg, v., 1.; (vii) wab-fittit, web-footed (Cld. 1825 Jam.); (viii) wub-gless, web-glass, a magnifying glass for examining a web of cloth (Fif. 1973); (ix) wabless, webless; (x) to have one's wab oot, to have finished laying out the warp threads (Ayr. 1951); to have one's piece of cloth completed and off the loom (Ib.). Also fig.(i) Sc. 1828 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 71:
You dauner about the doors, no mindin the cobwabs.
Uls. 1888 W. G. Lyttle Betsy Gray iii.:
Mebbe a'll bleed till daith. Get me a cobwab, fast!
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 85:
Pou thae speeder cob-wabs doon.
Abd. 1931 Abd. Press and Jnl. (11 Feb.):
“Cobwobs” are the spiders' webs.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 86:
A' that slammachs on the girse ... A' they spider wobs on the whuns.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web vi:
As a Scots screiver, I sit in the mids o ma culture, like a wyver in her wab. The wab is gossamer thin. It's fell intricate. It's auld, an delicate, an easy torn.
(ii) Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems xii.:
To assist some of the neighbouring weavers in what is technically called “giving in their webs.”
Peb. 1896 T. Dobson Innerleithen 116:
I mind well, as a boy, occasionally “geein' in wobs ” to him.
Ags. 1920 D. H. Edwards Muirside 23:
A boy or a girl sat on the outside of what was called the “caums”, and handed thread after thread to the weaver on the other side, who took it between his fingers and drew it through the “caums”. This was called, on the boy's part, “gi'en in the web,” and on the weaver's part, “takin' in the web.”
(iv) m.Sc. 1933 J. Buchan Andrew Lang 7:
One old woman of my acquaintance declared to me that her son's socks were no better than ‘Peneloap's wab', for what she mended in the morning were as bad again ere night.
(vi) Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 170:
When we were juist aboot oor wab's end and I was beginning to question the existence o' a God o' love and mercy and oversicht a very strange thing happened.
Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (11 Dec.) 13:
“The want'll come at the wab's en'” bespeaks a reckless spendthrift.
(viii) Fif. 1894 A. S. Robertson Provost 99:
It's a strong web-glass 'ill be put on yer claith there. A' yer felters will be detected.
Fif. 1909 J. C. Craig Sangs o' Bairns 209:
He'll len' him his knife or his wub-gless.
(ix) Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 174:
Ilk wabster chiel may sit an gloom, Wi' hungry kyte, o'er wabless loom.
(x) wm.Sc. 1898 Gsw. Ballad Club II. 30:
The shuttle sleeps, the wab is oot O' the wale o' weavers.
Ags. 1957 Huntly Express (18 Jan.):
In weaving centres where the work is done on a piece-work basis, a frequent query put by one weaver to another towards the end of the week is: “Is your wob oot?” The meaning of the query in this case is “Has the wob been completed to allow of being included in this week's pay-sheet? ”

2. Mining: the extent of a face or wall of coal, esp. with regard to its depth or thickness (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 72). Also in Eng. mining usage. Adv. comb. web-ways, in depth.m.Lth. 1767 Session Papers, Earl of Abercorn v. Hope (14 July) 7:
There is no less than 56 fathom of web of whole coal in the Gillespie seam.
m.Lth. 1770 Session Papers, Henry v. Clerk (24 Feb.) 42, State of Process 40:
The attempts made to ascertain the lost level by piling the work, and measuring the breadth of the webb of coal at different places. . . . Nine inches and an eighth part perpendicular of lost level, and four feet and a half web-ways.

3. The fatty covering of the large intestine of animals, the caul, omentum (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh., Cai., Wgt. 1973). Also wub-fat (Sh., Cai., Wgt. 1973), wab o' the wame (Ork. 1929 Marw.), web tallon (Sh. 1973), id. Cf. Eng. dial. web-of-the-body, id.Sh. 1899 Shetland News (23 Dec.):
“Hed he [a sheep] muckle tallin?” “Very güde apo' da neers, bit da wab wisna ta mak' a sang aboot.”

II. v. As in Eng., to weave. Also fig.Gsw. 1889 A. G. Murdoch Readings 28:
A greater lee than that never was wabbit in auld Camlachie.

[O.Sc. wobb, a web, a.1500.]

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"Wab n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Mar 2024 <>



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