Threap has a long pedigree. Its root is from Old English þréapian, to rebuke, and Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) records various meanings in Scots:
“to argue, dispute, quarrel”, “to assert, insist, maintain obstinately”,
“nag at, be insistent, importune, urge some action upon”.
There’s a vivid depiction of quarrelsomeness from John Carruthers’ A Man Beset (1927):
“That auld threapin’ bubblyjock Targelvie.”
DSL also gives an example of a meaning some may argue is typically Scottish,
“to beat down a price, haggle for a reduction in charge”.
It comes from John Wilson (Christopher North) in Noctes Ambrosianae (1827):
“I wad hate to dine wi' him at a tavern — for he wad aye be for threepin doun the bill.”.
More recently, the word featured in The National (March 2018) in an article which still resonates today:
“Dr Andra Mackillop … telt me at the picket line: “This threap owre pensions is yet mair pruif that the structures o oor public services are being dung doon. University high heid yins consider their ain staff as nae mair nor financial liabilities, an students as piñata fu o siller tae be dunted at will”.
Threap is still very much in use, as this example (meaning “to harp on in general, keep talking endlessly about”) shows. Keeks Mc’s poem A Great Breetish Simmer (2023) depicts a typical family holiday:
“The wather, which locals threap wis glorious til theday, is chilpy, gowsterie an gray makkin a mockery o aa the haliday-makkers in thair breekums and vests ‘makkin the maist o it’”.
This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at https://dsl.ac.uk.