Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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.).]

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"Dainty adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Apr 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/dainty>

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