Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GROATS, Also grotts (Slg. 1741 Burgh Rec. Slg. (1889) 261), grots (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.). Hulled grain, fig. in Sc. phrs.: †1. to get such groats in kail, to receive similar treatment, to be paid back in one's own coin. Cf. 3.; †2. to gie (someone) groats for pease, to pay (someone) back in his own coin; †3. to gie (someone) kail o' his ain groats, idem; †4. to ken (tell) one's (ain) groats in (amo') ither folk's kail, to be wily, to be sharp in recognising one's own property or one's own interests. 1. Lnk. c.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 252:
A woe be to such a hot zeal, To smite the wounded on the fiel', It's just they get such groats in kail, Who do the same.
2. Lnk. 1727  P. Walker Remark. Passages 64:
The Church excommunicated him, and he gave them Groats for Pease, he excommunicated them.
3. Sc. 1819  J. Rennie St. Patrick I. 76:
He tell't . . . how keen ye war tae gae the warlocks kail o' their ain groats.
4. Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 153:
He kens his Groats in other Folks Kail. Spoken of those who are sharp and sagacious in knowing their own.
Sc. 1861  E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 93:
D'ye think, Sir, I dinna ken my ain groats in ither folk's kail?
Edb. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick ix.:
There's nae dou't he kent his groats in ither folk's kail.
Abd. 1914  J. Leatham Daavit 47:
There wiz naething in the oreeginal bit the legs an' wings o' the story, an' bi the time we hid deen wi't Johnnie couldna tell his ain grotts amo' ither folks' kail!

Hence groatie, -ey, grottie, adj., made of groats (Bnff.4 1927). Sh. 1922  J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 158:
“What's dis?” I said, as I luikid i' da kettle. “A spüne o' grottie broth, Mansie, an' dat shürely is a rarity.”

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"Groats n. pl.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Dec 2018 <>



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