Editors of the Dictionaries of the Scots Language
are kindly supplying us with a Scots word of the month. This month, the word is:
To pluck, twitch or tug
There are many examples of pouk, which often refers to a plucking action with the finger and thumb, in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language
. Some of the most colourful involve the pouking of lugs, as in: 'Ye needna expect to get anything... but a pouket lug' from The Laird of Logan
(1835), or 'Now I must give yourself and lady her blessings and compliments, otherwise I sud hae my lugs pouked' from The Lyon in Mourning
More specific meanings include pulling out the loose hay at the foot of a rick to let in air, as in: '… and I give ilka ane liberty to pouk my stacks' from Alan Cunningham's Lord Roldan
(1836), and this more recent quotation from Arran: 'Ye can start pookin the ricks' (1947).
Pouk is also used for plucking the feathers from a bird, so the adjective pookit can refer to someone thin-looking, wizened, shrivelled, shabby or threadbare. Thus we read: 'Her man was a puir puikit humphie backit bodie' in Grace Webster's Strathbrachan Hospitality
(1868), and 'What a pookit-like body I must have been, walking about in the king's policy like a peacock without a tail' from John Galt's The Ayrshire Legatees
As a noun, a pouk is a sharp pull, used in fishing to refer to a tug on the line. This gives rise to the expression 'to wait for the trout's pook', which means 'to leave things that fraction of a second too late'.
A pouk can also be a 'picking', often a tuft of hair or wool from a sheep, and hence a very small quantity. This is illustrated by the following quotation from Dumfries
(1929): 'I dinna like ony o' yer bricht colours, just a wee pook o' red or yellow'.
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