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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid



THREAP, v., n.


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