shanks' nag

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Traced back to shanks-nag, 1758; The expression -- believed to be Scottish in origin (i.e. shanks-naig 1774), refers to the use of shank to refer to the part of the human leg between the knee and ankle.

Alternative forms[edit]

  • shank's nag, shanks-naig, shanks-nag.


shanks' nag (plural shanks' nags)

  1. (idiomatic, Scotland, archaic) Transportation by foot. To "take a shanks' nag" means using one's own legs to walk.
    • 1774, Robert Fergusson, Poems on Various Subjects:
      He took shanks-naig, but fient may care.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  • Shanks' mare, by Michael Quinion, World Wide Words, 2002-08-31
  • Shanks' mare, Gary Martin, 2007.
  • shanks-nag, in A Glossary of the Cleveland Dialect: Explanatory, Derivative, and Critical, by John Christopher Atkinson. J.R. Smith: 1868, p. 442.