Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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DOTTER, v. and n. Also †dottar, dotther (Uls.). Cf. Doiter.

1. v. To walk unsteadily, to stagger; to shake, nod (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.; Uls.2 1929, dotter). Ppl.adj. dotterin'. Also in Eng. dial. ¶Used tr. in second quot. Sc. 1724  in Ramsay Evergreen I. 213:
In brief ther, with Grief ther I dottard owre on Sleip.
Sc. a.1813  A. Murray Hist. Eur. Langs. (1823) I. 455:
He dottered my hand, is he shook it by a little push.
Per. 1900  E.D.D.:
Auld Jock Tamson's gettin frail an' dotters at every other step.
Gall. 1796  J. Lauderdale Poems 17:
For when that I come to the bank, Or dottren owre yon dirty stank.
Kcb. 1789  D. Davidson Seasons 113:
Willie dottart by himsel Among the hens.
w.Dmf. 1921  J. L. Waugh Heroes 17:
Gee up, you daverin', dotterin' auld fule.

Hence (1) dotterin' Davie, “a spinning-top that jumps about as it spins” (Ags.17 1940); (2) dotthery, unsteady, bemused from drink. (2) Uls. 1901  A. M'Ilroy in North. Whig:
When a man is not drunk but on the way thereto he is said to “have a drap in” Or to be “a bit dotthery.”

2. n. A stagger, a stumbling movement. Per. 1900  E.D.D.:
Tam Sinclair's taen sic a tout that he canna gang without a dotter.
Uls. 1922  “Lynn Doyle” Lobster Salad 37:
“Look at it,” sez he, makin' a dotther towards her, an' thrippin' over a wee stool.

[Of freq. formation and imit. origin. Cf. Dot, n.2, v.2]

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"Dotter v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Dec 2018 <>



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