Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

BALLANT, BALLAN', n. Mod.Sc. form of Eng. ballad. A popular tale, gen. founded on some old tradition, couched in simple metre and often accompanied by music or sung. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1815  Scott Guy M. xlv.:
They [the smugglers] stick to it that they'll . . . hae an auld wife when they're dying to rhyme ower prayers, and ballants, and charms, . . . rather than . . . a minister to come and pray.
Sc. 1825  Jam.2:
Ballant, a ballad; the general pronunciation among the vulgar throughout S[cotland].
Mry.(D) 1924  J. C. Austin in Swatches o' Hamespun 79:
There's Mergit Fyfe, the browster wife, Wha deals in booze an' ballants.
Ags. 1848  J. Myles (ed.) A Feast of Literary Crumbs (1891) 34:
A bunch o' spunks or bawbee ballan', Or hank o' stringin'.
Gall. c.1870  M. Harper in Bards of Gall. (ed. Harper 1889) 161:
To weave in its praise a bit ballant or sang, Hoo the visions o' young days come croodin' sae thrang.

Phrase: A hole in the ballant, orig. the ballad-singer's excuse when his broadside was torn, the phrase was extended to mean “a blank or omission of any kind” (Ags.2). Sc. 1892  R. L. Stevenson The Wrecker v.:
Alexander Loudon, Born Seventeen Ninety-Twa, Died — and then a hole in the ballant.
Arg. 1901  N. Munro Doom Castle xx.:
“A hole in the ballant,” commented the Provost. “Have another skelp at it, Factor.”

[The more familiar ant termination has been substituted for the older at and ad. Cf. Immediately, immedantly. See Ballat.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Ballant n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Dec 2018 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down