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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid


BREENGE n. a violent or clumsy rush, a dash, a plunge


Breenge is often used of powerful movement, appropriately illustrated in a Herald report on a rugby match between Glasgow Hawks and West of Scotland this April:


"West's efforts finally earned them the try ... as Nick Caddell followed up on Bulloch's initial breenge seven minutes from time".


Breengin may be braw in some situations, but no in aw walks o life. An article in the Scotsman in February 2001 cautioned that


"Those who breenge about changing their principles more frequently than their socks, scurrying from one extreme to another, have to be suspect".


The earliest known examples of both noun and verb are found in late eighteenth-century texts, including Robert Burns' poem, The Auld Farmer's New-Year Morning Salutation to his Auld Mare:


"Thou never braing't, an' fetch't, an' fliskit",


and D. Davidson's poem Seasons (1789):


"Baith wi' a brainge Sprang, hap an' sten, out o'er a nettle An', cry'd revenge".


The word's origins are unclear, though it may have some connection with the Old Scots verb brangle, which had a range of meanings including shake, brandish, batter and brawl. Breengin is often a sign of enthusiastic virr, as in this example from the Herald in January 1998:


"when we noticed that other cities were using their waterfront for urban regeneration, Glasgow breenged back towards the Clyde like an excited toddler heading for the beach".


Many modern examples of breenge reflect this sense of energetic, decisive action. In Sheena Blackhall's The Fower Quarters (2002), she reminisces about the affinity she felt for Disraeli when she was a child:


"Disraeli wis nae groupie: he likit tae breenge aheid o the lave an dae the thing hissel. Fin the Suez Canal wis sikkin backers, ... he jist gaed oot an bocht it - or mebbe the hauf o't - syne booed laich tae Hir Majestie an cried: 'Tis done, Ma'am. You have it.'"  



This week's Scots word was written by Dr Maggie Scott.

First published July 16th 2007.