Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

DAINTY, Den(n)ty, adj. Sc. usages. The form denty seems to be preferred by modern writers.

1. Pleasant, agreeable; “worthy, excellent” (Sc. 1808 Jam., dainty); fine, handsome; decent, kindly (Ags.2 1940); “plump and thriving; as regarding a child. It is also used of adults in the same sense with stately” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2). Obs. since early 18th cent. in St.Eng. but still in use in n.Eng. dial. Known to Bnff.`2, Abd.9, Ags.17, Slg.3, Fif.10 1940. Sc. a.1698  Sc. Songs (ed. Herd 1776) II. 215:
O leeze me on your curly pow, Dainty Davie.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality vi.:
“Ay? Indeed? a scheme o' yours? That must be a dennty ane!” said the uncle with a very peculiar sneer.
n.Sc. 1825  Jam.2:
A dainty bird indeed, a large or well-grown person.
Ags. 1918  J. Inglis The Laird 15:
The Laird o' Pitsnottie's a denty auld sowl.
Per. 1895  R. Ford Tayside Songs 175:
Ye mind, we burned the dom'nie's tawse, An' stuck preens in his seat! An' sune's the dainty man sat down He bang'd up wi' a yowl.
Edb. 1812  P. Forbes Poems 40:
A dainty crop, wi' sheaves bra' large.
Ayr. 1790  A. Tait Poems 278:
A farmer's life ye see it is dainty.
Rxb. 1821  A. Scott Poems 121:
He kiss'd me weel, And fond on wedlock was inclined, Sweet dainty chiel.

2. Large, fair-sized, “tidy”; of time: considerable. Known to Slg.3 1940. Ork. 1934  E. Linklater M. Merriman 229:
“Mansie!” he said. “Welcome home. It's a denty while since we've seen you here.”
Edb. 1872  J. Smith Jenny Blair's Maunderings (1881) 22:
The Sniggerses are in a denty majority.
Gsw. 1862  J. Gardner Jottiana 94:
When to the miller's ye may plod, A dentie bittock up the road.
Lnk. 1928  W. C. Fraser Yelpin' Stane 135:
Charlie . . . was taken to a room and told to wait, and there he sat for a denty bit.

3. “Liberal, open-hearted” (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.2); sometimes used ironically (Ib.). Sc.   Ib.:
She's a dainty wife; she'll no set you awa' tume-handit.

[Daynté, danté, daintie, etc., in various senses, occur in O.Sc. from c.1450; dentie appears in 1583 (D.O.S.T.).]

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

"Dainty adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jan 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down