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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

WHACK, v., n. Also wha(u)k, whawk; whake, wheck. See etym. note. [ʍɑk; †ʍɛk]

I. v. 1. As in Eng. to beat, thrash, wallop (Sc. 1808 Jam.); also fig. Ppl.adj. whauken, whacking, great, big, “thumping” (Ork., ne.Sc., Per., wm.Sc. 1974), agent n. whacker, anything big of its kind, a thumper, whopper (Dmf. 1825 Jam.), transf. a stick of candy rock (Per. 1932 Our Meigle Book 122; Rxb. 1974). Freq. form ¶whackle, to whip a stream in fishing, to fish with a fly.Sc. 1719 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 132:
Why should we let Whimsies bawk us, And thole sae aft the Spleen to whauk us Out of our Reason.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 106:
I'll gie you a whaken pennyworth.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 213:
The honest lads . . . M-g-s book see they Whauk 'er.
Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 149:
A whakin' fee gets tauld them down For sorry haet, I trow.
Ayr. 1817 D. McKillop Poems 26:
Till ance your hearty whaukin' knocks in Their bane-mill fleet.
Sc. 1823 Scott Q. Durward Intro. ix.:
A certain whacking priest in our neighbourhood.
Lnk. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 36:
Six whauken carrots we'll slice doon. Big neeps we'll howk for Hallowe'en.
Fif. 1883 J. W. Wood Gipsy Heir 147:
And Jock's minister wi' his jecket, Leuch to see the big ane wheckit.
Lnk. 1886 J. Stewart Twa Elders 143:
Others preferred the bonnie Tweed, Its purling stream to whackle.

2. To slash, or cut severely with any sharp instrument (s.Sc. 1825 Jam., whauk), hence to whauk doun, to cut in slices, esp. of a cheese (Id.). Cf. Whang, v., 2., which appears to have influenced this meaning.Sc. 1788 Poet. Dialogues 12:
An 'at your word, man, here I tak ye, An' wi' your ain claymore will whauk ye.
Fif. 1883 W. D. Latto Bodkin Papers 43:
To hae my head whaukit aff by a scythe heuk.

3. To drink copiously (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 209, also with oot, up), to make a slurping noise when drinking.

II. n. 1. A sharp, heavy stroke or blow, a thump, a smack (Rxb. 1801 J. Leyden Complaynt 375; Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Phrs. to get one's whacks, to be punished, to get one's just deserts (n.Sc., Per., Ayr., Kcb. 1974), to play whack, to thump, beat violently (Bnff. 1930).Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 15:
As sair greets the bairn that's paid at e'en as he that gets his whawks in the morning.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 213:
The Britons he makes tremble all And gi'es the Southerns whakes.
Per. 1817 A. Buchanan Rural Poetry 58:
Rhymin' quacks, Wha for their warks, baith dull and lang, Deserve their whauks.
Gall. 1832 J. Denniston Craignilder 60:
He got his whacks for a' his cracks.
Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 76:
Bob's heart, swellin' up 'gainst his fat ribs, plays whack.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 29:
He tuik a stoot stick, an' pey'd her a whack.

2. A cut, incision (Sc. 1905 E.D.D.); a large slice (Sc. 1825 Jam.; n.Sc., Per. 1974).Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 91:
Whauks o' guid ait-far'le cowins.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 83:
Thro' the surloin let their blade Make unco whacks.

3. A great number, a large quantity (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 209; I. and n.Sc., Per., wm.Sc. 1974); “the lot”.Arg. 1914 J. M. Hay Gillespie i. xviii.:
“Ye'll send me my hauf o' the wheck o' that” — with the sheaf he indicated Lorend's straggling papers.
Abd. c.1930:
I'll tak the haill whack.

4. A charge, cost, fee.m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 291:
Whan I asket the wheck, he jist said ne'er tae mind.

[A variant form of E.M.E. thwack, id., which is first recorded in Sc. (whak, 1638), but was adopted into St. or at least colloq. Eng. in lit. and fig. usages in the 18th c. Cf.W, letter, 7. (2) (iii). Orig. imit.]

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"Whack v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Feb 2024 <>



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