Scottish phrase of the week: Lick-the-doup

Writer Dr Samuel Johnson, right, with his Scottish biographer James Boswell and the Irish playwright, novelist and poet Oliver Goldsmith. Picture: Getty/Hulton

Writer Dr Samuel Johnson, right, with his Scottish biographer James Boswell and the Irish playwright, novelist and poet Oliver Goldsmith. Picture: Getty/Hulton

1
Have your say

LICK-THE-DOUP: the phrase becomes self-explanatory once you translate doup, an old Scots word that refers to the butt of something (a gun, for example), but more commonly a bottom.

It is both a noun and an adjective: you can call someone a lick-the-doup (or, if said lick-the-doup is in your company, you could ask them to “lick-ma-doup”, a popular variant of the phrase), or you could merely be describing an act of brown-nosing.

CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN

Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning

• You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google +

It’s faded from popular usage somewhat; it is recalled most often from an issue of Fraser’s Magazine in 1832, a right-leaning London-based journal that ran from 1830 to 1882. In it, James Boswell, the biographer of Dr Samuel Johnson, is referred to as a “lick-the-doup”. Boswell was noted for a peerless account of Johnson’s life (it was considered at the time to be one of the best biographies ever written), but with the intimacy of his book came accusations that he fawned over the doctor. Hence: “[Professor Wilson] is what the Bailie Pyepaste calls a lick-the-doup Boswell to that colossus of learning, the Ettrick Shepherd.”

SEE ALSO

Scottish word of the week: Pagger

SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS

• Download your free 30-day trial for our iPad, Android and Kindle apps

Keep up to date with all aspects of Scottish life with The Scotsman iPhone app, completely free to download and use

Back to the top of the page