Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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DORTY, adj. Also dortie, ¶doorty. Found also in n.Cy. dial.

1. Pettish, peevish, sulky. Gen.Sc., obsol. Sc. 1936  J. G. Horne Flooer o' the Ling 23:
And ilka mornin waff an' wae — A dour an' dorty limmer.
Ork. 1940 1 :
The bairn was petted and dorty.
Edb. 1773  R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 71:
You needna wag your Duds o' clouts, Nor fa' into your dorty pouts.
Peb. 1805  J. Nicol Poems II. 58:
Nae ferlie that ye're sour an' dortie, An' wearyin sair.

2. Saucy; haughty, supercilious (Ork.2 1949; Ags.17, Kcb.10 (for Ayr. and Kcb.) 1940); “often applied to a young woman who is saucy in her conduct to her suitors, and not easily pleased in the choice of a husband” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Sc. 1716  Ramsay Chr. Kirk ii. xiii. in Poems (1721):
A dink and dortie Dame.
Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 76:
As drum an' dorty, as young miss wad be To country Jock, that needs wad hae a kiss.
Edb. 1856  J. Ballantine Poems 9:
The City Guard sae proud an' dorty, Brave remnant o' the twa-and-forty.
Ayr. 1786  Burns Earnest Cry and Prayer xxiii.:
Then, tho' a Minister grow dorty, An' kick your place, Ye'll snap your fingers.
Ayr. 1826  Galt Lairds 81:
Poor leddies, they hae lang waited for a man to speer their price; and in his state of the perils of poverty, he needna be nice, and neither o' them has any cause to be dorty.
Dmf. 1925  W. A. Scott in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 23:
She's far owre dorty for a herd's hoose.
Slk. 1822  Hogg Perils of Man III. 312:
With him rode the gentlemen of his own name, the hard-rackle Homes, the dorty Dunbars.

Hence †(1) dortilie, adv., “saucily; applied to the demeanour of one who cannot easily be pleased” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); †(2) dorty-pouch, n. comb., a saucy person; ¶(3) dortiship, (Your) High-and-Mightiness. (2) Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xvi.:
To gie the cauld shoother to the twa dorty-pouches wham we had passed wi' sae little ceremony i' the Loan.
(3) Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems II. 152:
A Ferly 'tis your Dortiship to see.

3. Fastidious, over-nice, ill-to-please (Ayr.9, Dmf. (per Abd.27) 1949). Kcb. 1789  D. Davidson Seasons 9:
Scepter'd hands may a' their power display; And dorty minds may luxury admire.
Kcb. 1896  S. R. Crockett Grey Man xx.:
My . . . appetite, which she called “dainty and dorty.”

4. Feeble, delicate, sickly; used of plants or animals that are difficult to rear (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2 1940; Abd.28 1947; Rnf.1 c.1920). Sc. c.1860  in Scotsman (13 Sept. 1910):
“He's a doorty wean” — a delicate child.
Ags. 1914  I. Bell Country Clash 35:
Your carrots are dorty.

5. Sluggish, slow, laggard. Mry. 1824  J. Cock Hamespun Lays 79:
But now, my muse, the dortie hussy, Amaist worn out and something lazy.
Bnff. 1918  J. Mitchell Bydand 21:
My een wi' love shone bright as starns, bit, like a foggy neep My dorty tongue lay douf an' dum'.

6. Of the weather: loath to rain, dry; also of rain: holding off. Ags. 1949  (per Abd.27):
The rain's dortie.
Bwk. 1916  T.S.D.C. II.:
The weather is verra dorty.

[O.Sc. has dortye, dortie, pettish, unwilling, saucy, from c.1590. See further etym. note to Dort, n., v.1, adj.]

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"Dorty adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jan 2019 <>



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