Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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.]

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"Ballant n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Mar 2018 <>



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