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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid




STAP v stuff, block, stop


After a day of “Ryvin’ an’ stechin’ an’ stappin’ an’ eatin’” (Kelso Chronicle 1917), still stappit fu of Christmas dinner, with the prospect of further stappin with turkey and sprout sandwiches, I thought this might be a good day to look at the verb to stap. If, after feasting, you are looking for plain and wholesome fare, try stappit heids, also known as crappit heids. James Logan’s version in The Scottish Gael (1876) is


“A favourite winter dish...“stappit heads”, or boiled haddocks, the heads being filled with a mixture of oatmeal, onions and pepper”.


The Fraserburgh Herald (1951) uses cod’s heads for


“Stappit heedies”.


Seasoned oatmeal and onions make excellent stappin for chickens. For finer fowls, Mrs McLintock’s Receipts (1736) recommends that you


“Take Muir-Fowl or Partridges, take grated Bread and Spice, and a little Sugar and Butter and stop their Bellies”.


Outwith culinary matters, stappin makes the lady described in G. P. Dunbar’s Doric (1922) a good prospect for the fortunehunter:


“She’d a craftie weel happit, A moggin (the leg of a stocking) weel stappit Wi’ siller in muckles an’ sma’s”.


It can mean placing something, without cramming, as in this custom described by R D Trotter in Galloway Gossip (1901)


“They ey cairry’t a wee pickle sun-saut wi’ them - Saut yt they had made oot o’ saut-water theirsels: an’ as sune as ever the wean wus born, they stappit o’t inta its mooth, an than the fairies wusna able to cheinge’t”.


A stappit neb comes with a cold and stappit lugs are not listening. Many senses overlap with English ‘stop’ and this spelling is found in earlier Scots texts. The sense of to stay or remain, not recorded in English until 1801, appears in Sir David Lindsay’s Squyer Meldrum about 1550:


“This squyer … stoutlie stoppit in the stour And dang on thame with dintis dour”.

This Scots Word of the Week was written by Chris Robinson of Scottish Language Dictionaries.
First published 28th December 2009.