Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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DEAF, DEEF, Deif, Daef, adj. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. deaf. [dif Sc., but Sh., Cai. def, Ags. deɪf, Per., Fif., Slg. + def]

1. (1) As in Eng. = hard of hearing. Gen.Sc. The form deef is also found in Eng. (mainly n.) dial. Sc. 1931  J. Lorimer Red Sergeant xix.:
Mistress Cowieson can be maist conveniently deif where folk speir.
Abd. 1865  G. Macdonald Alec Forbes I. xxix.:
He's as deef's a door-nail.
Fif. 1929  A. Taylor Bitter Bread 102:
I didna jalouse ye were deef and dumb as well.
Ayr. 1789  Burns Kirk's Alarm iii.:
Provost John is still deaf To the church's relief.
Slk. 1914  Southern Reporter (17 Dec.) 9/1:
Ye're awfu' deef gettin', John. Can ye no' hear the powney?
Tyr. 1928  “M. Mulcaghey” Ballymulcaghey (1929) 15:
There's no use in payin' half-a-crown for a dog that's as deef as a stone.

Comb.: deef-lugs, the common houseleek, Sempervivum tectorum (Ayr. 1916 T.S.D.C. II.).

(2) Quiet, silent. Rxb. 1923  Watson W.-B.:
The deef side o' a street.

2. Unproductive, empty, barren; of soil: poor, “spongy or springy to the tread (but dry)” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); of coal: dead, burning without flame. Cf. Dowf, adj., 5. Sc. 1808  Jam.:
Grain that hath lost the power of germinating is said to be deaf.
n.Sc.   Ib.:
Deaf ground, an insipid soil, that either produces no crop, or a very insufficient one.
Arg. 1937 1 :
Deef grun and deef laan are terms applied to poor, light, unresponsive soil.
Dmf. 1894  J. Shaw in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 145:
Deaf coals don't burn easily.

Comb.: deaf nit (nut), a nut without a kernel (Lnk.3 1940); used fig. of something hollow, unsubstantial, usu. in phrs.: †(1) nae deaf nit (nuts), no trifle, no inconsiderable matter or person; (2) not (to be) fed (up)o(n) (wi') deaf nuts, (to be) plump, well-fed, well-developed; (3) not to leeve on deaf nits, = (2). Common in Eng. dial . Dmf. 1836  A. Cunningham Lord Roldan II. x.:
I wadna gie the worth of a deaf nit for the truth o' the intelligence.
(1) Sc. 1821  Scott Pirate xxiv.:
Bryce Snailsfoot says, that the value will mount to an hundred pounds English, and that is nae deaf nuts.
Peb. a.1835  J. Affleck Poet. Wks. (1836) 81:
I'm nae deaf nit: my tocher's fifty pounds in hale.
Rnf. 1813  E. Picken Poems, etc. I. 151:
His lang head Is nae deaf nit for Lair.
(2) Sc. 1737  Ramsay Proverbs 82:
Ye're not fed wi' deaf Nuts.
Abd. 1817  Broadside in Garland of Bon-Accord (1886) 4:
An' Rob, wi's brosy wame Wasna fed upo' deaf nits.
Fif. 1930 10 :
A well-developed child at birth in Fife was hailed with the remark, “Ay, this ane hasna been fed on deaf nuts.” The expression . . . was a ritual expression all over Fife.
(3) Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr Duguid 227:
He didna leeve on deaf nits onyway.

[O.Sc. has defe, deif, etc. = deaf, from a.1400, and = dull, unresponsive, a.1586. O.E. has dēaf corn, an empty ear of corn, but the word is not recorded in O.Sc. with this meaning. For the sense of “unproductive, barren, empty,” cf. Mid.Du. doofhout, rotten wood, and Ger. eine taube nuss. ]

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"Deaf adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <>



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