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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.

WHIG, n.1, v.1 Also whigg; wig(g). [ʍɪg; wɪg]

I. n. Applied to various products resulting from the souring of milk, specif. whey, buttermilk, the serous or fluid part of sour milk (see quots.) (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Abd. 1930). Now only dial. in Eng.Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Journal 30:
As sowr as ony bladoch, or wigg that comes out o' the reem-kirn.
Abd. 1759 Gordon's Mill Farming Club (1962) 78:
Many of the Country People keep their Cream fourteen, or twenty days, and as they cannot help observing that it acquires a most disaggreeable taste, in order to carry off this, they pour into it a quantity of boiled whey; which after it has stood some time, they draw off, and frequently repeat the dose. This liquor they call Whig. The Whig, tho' it carries off much of the ill taste of the Cream, at the same time carries off the Yellow oily part of it; makes it yield less Butter, and what it does yield, is of an ugly whitish greasy colour.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Three Perils of Man (1972) xviii.:
A pail of thin sour milk, called whig.
Gall. 1834 Tait's Mag. I. 736:
Whig, it is well known, is the provincial name in the south-west of Scotland for that blue-and-yellowish, thin sub-acid liquid which gathers on the surface of whey or butter milk, when those dairy commodities are allowed to settle down.
Lnk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VI. 385:
A certain quantity of sweet milk is put into a wooden vessel or vat, which is placed in a proper degree of heat, and covered with a linen cloth. In due time the serous or watery part of the milk begins to separate from the rest and is called whig.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 194:
There was at the bottom of the utensil in which the cream was kept a small hole into which was inserted a short tube, stopped by a pin. This tube and pin went by the name of a “cock and pail” and served to draw off the thin sour part of the cream — the “wig.”

II. v. Of milk, buttermilk, etc.: to separate into its constituent parts. Also tr., to carry out this process by boiling, etc.Sc. 1756 F. Home Bleaching 78:
A half-pound of butter milk, whigged, and well soured, by a mixture of water, and by boiling.
Dmf. 1825 Jam.:
Stale churned milk, when it throws off a sediment, is said to whig.

[E.M.E. whig, = I., of uncertain orig., but poss. connected with whey as a northern form. Cf. note to Fleg, v.1, n.1]

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"Whig n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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