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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.

WULK, n. Also wilk, welk; wylk (Sh.); wullick. Dims. wulkie, wilkie. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. whelk, in Scot. gen. referring to the periwinkle, Littorina litorea, as distinct from the larger Buckie, Buccinum undatum (Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 17; Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past and Present 46, wilkie; Dmb. 1889 in D. Macleod Poet. Lennox 249). [wʌlk, wɪlk; Sh. wəilk]

1. The periwinkle mollusc and shell (Gall. 1905 E.D.D.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 275, wilk, wulk; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Gen.Sc. Combs. dog-wulk, the dog-periwinkle, Purpura lapillus (Ags. 1940), white wylk.e.Lth. 1722 Justiciary Reports (1861) 690:
Seeking wilks among the rocks at the back of the Admiral Island.
Sh. 1774 G. Low Tour (1879) 159:
They perform the cure [for jaundice] by a powder made of Wilks and their shells dried and bruised together.
Fif. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XII. 538:
The shells are mostly wilks (periwinkles) and muscles.
Fif. 1883 W. D. Latto Bodkin Papers 78:
Puddlin' i' the sea, gatherin' welks.
Rs. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evidence II. 1152:
Two girls and three boys from Leurbost have been taken to the fiscal's office under the control of a policeman for taking oysters out of the ebb in 1864; mussels and wilkies were taxed.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (22 Dec.):
I used ta hunt da limpet an' da wylk.
Arg. 1914 J. M. Hay Gillespie i. ix.:
Jock was off at the wulks wi' the big ebb.
Abd. 1961 P. Buchan Mount Pleasant 38:
Did ye ever . . . bile a curny wulks in an aul' seerup tin?
Ayr. 1971 P. O'Connor Down the Bath Rocks i. x.:
Big white wullicks were sticking to the rocks.
Cai. 1974:
Hingan 'egither lik a wilk — said of a decrepit person.
Sc. 1990 Guardian (20 Oct):
Considering that the cast seemed to subsist on clams, claws, crabmeat crepes and something called wulks, crab cheese slices seemed feasible at the time.

Phrs. and combs.: (1) as fou as a wulk, very drunk, “tight” (ne.Sc., Per., Ayr. 1974). Also full of food (Bnff., Ags., Edb., Arg., Gsw., Ayr. 2000s); (2) as thrawn as a wulk, very contrary or perverse; (3) tight as wulks, taciturn, unwilling to talk; (4) wylk-bed, a bed of periwinkles; (5) wylk-ebb, the sea-shore where periwinkles are accessible at low-tide. To gang i'da wylk ebb, = to be reduced to penury (Sh. 1974); (6) wilk-mou'd, with a mouth like a whelk, having protruding lips.(1) Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 115:
Being as fou's a biled wulk, he put three chairges in the gun, stapping them doon till it was primed to the muzzle, juist like himsel'.
Slg. 1935 W. D. Cocker Further Poems 50:
Juist to keep him cheerie, Gat fou as a wulk ance mair.
wm.Sc. 1949 Scots Mag. (May) 135:
Aye fu' as a wilk at twelve o' clock on a Saturday.
Arg. 1992:
As fou as a wulk.
Sc. 1993 Herald (23 Oct) 9:
Why are animals so perjured in the matter of boozing? "Drunk as an owl, fou' as a wulk, and drunk as David's sow."
Sc. 1993 Herald (30 Oct) 14:
An Englishman can be drunk but a Scot can be fou, smeekit, roarie, the worse o drink, blin fou, roarin fou, fou as a puggie, fou as a wulk, miraculous, pie-eyed, mortal, steamin, steamboats, mingin, fleein, greetin fou, stottin, soople, spuin fou, drouthie, sappie.
Edb. 2004:
I ayewis feel as fou as a wulk efter a curry.
(2) Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 24:
Muckle Bess, as thrawn's a wulk (For days on en' she'd dort an' sulk.)
(3) Edb. 1979 Colin Douglas The Houseman's Trilogy (1985) 367:
'It's like talking to a bunch of Irish tinkers. Half the time they make out they don't understand what you're on about, and the other half they're as tight as wulks.'
(4) Sh. 1973 New Shetlander No. 104. 18:
Bendin ower the wylk-bed, I began hentin up kuddie eftir kuddie o fine big black wylks. I was careful no ta tak ony white wylks or wylks aff a white ston. Uncle had said white wylks were unlucky.
(5) Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Janniwary 17):
Ye canna gadder berries i da wylk ebb.
(6) Sc. 1706 Short Survey Married Life 12:
An Old Wilk-Mou'd, Wirle-faced, Nipped Deformed Creature.

2. A nickname for an inhabitant of the island of Veira in Ork. (Ork. 1883 J. R. Tudor Ork. & Sh. 613, Ork. 1974).Ork. 1809 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 320:
There's naither a stirlin', . . . wilk, sheep, mare or bluidy puddin 'll vote for 'im.

3. A person, usu. a woman, with a sour face and a sour disposition.Peb. 1875 J. Douglas Sc. Wit & Humour 132:
An ill-set, sour, ill-willy wilk — She had a face 'twad yearned milk.
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts and Larks 132:
Some keesent weezent wulks, wha look queens when deck'd in silks.

4. Jocularly, the nose, esp. in phr. to pick one's wulk (Ags., Fif., Dmb. 1974).

[O.Sc. wilk, a whelk, 1500, O.E. weol(o)c. The form wullick is a borrowing from Ir. dial. The form wilk is still common in Eng. dial., whelk becoming the accepted liter. spelling in the 17th c.]

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"Wulk n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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