The Herald - - OPINION -

jag­ger “toothed chisel” – is clearly con­nected.

Dag is now ob­so­lete, ex­cept in some English and Aus­tralian di­alects where it refers to wool clot­ted with dung (and thus hang­ing down) on a sheep’s back­side. Jag how­ever per­sisted, for a time com­ing to mean any dan­gling cloth­ing-ac­ces­sory. Wal­ter Scott some­times used the word to re­fer to a pouch or sad­dleba.

But the re­la­tion­ship to cut­ting/ im­pal­ing/jab­bing also de­vel­oped, and in Scots this mean­ing has now be­come pri­mary, both as a noun and a verb. Scott again, in The Heart of Mid­loth­ian (1818), of­fers a metaphor­i­cal ex­am­ple: “Af­flic­tion may gie him a jagg, and let the wind out o’ him”. The writer Al­lan Cun­ning­ham was doubt­less think­ing of such phrase­ol­ogy when he used the word in his long-for­got­ten ro­mance Lord Roldan (1836): “‘What’s the sting of a net­tle and the jag of a thorn to the scorch­ing of eter­nal fire?” And of course you now know how mighty Partick This­tle ac­quired its nick­name: ‘The Jags’.

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