Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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HEATHER-BLEAT(ER), n. Also -bleet (Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 149); -blu(i)tter (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Kcb.3 1929); †-bloter; hether blutter. Cf. Earn-Bleater. The common snipe, Capella gallinago (Per. 1825 Jam., -bleater; Lnk. Ib., -bleat; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., -bleat; Sc. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 192; Cai., Inv., Mry., Bnff. (-bleat), Abd., Knr., Gall., s.Sc., Uls. 1956). Occas. applied to the bittern (Ayr. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 II. 72; Kcb.3 1929). Cf. Bleater, Blitter, n.1, Bluiter, n.4 Dmf. c.1700  Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. (1901) 58:
Myresnipes (which like a Feldefare), called heatherbleet. In summer evenings they soar high in the air with a quivering voice.
Sc. c.1720  Ramsay's Works (1853) I. 32:
There were also printed some verses called, “Allan Ramsay metamorphosed to a Heather-bloter Poet; in a pastoral between Aegon and Melibiae.”
Sc. 1820  Scott Monastery iv.:
“But what saw she in the bog, then,” said Dame Glendinning, “forbye moor-cocks and heather-blutters?”
Slk. 1820  Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 297:
Very like the sounds uttered by the bird, called in this country the Heather Bleater, when he wings the air in the gloaming.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 258:
The laverock and the lark, The bawkie and the bat, The heather-bleet, the mire-snipe, How many burds be that?
wm.Sc. 1854  Laird of Logan 34:
Maybe, my lord judge, ye'll be able to explain what he means, for to me there's just as muckle sense in the blether o' the heather blutter.
Kcb. 1894  Crockett Raiders xli.:
I set my hands to my mouth. . . . and made the whinny of the heatherbleat palpitate across the moor.
Cai. 1946 9 :
“The mire-snipe, the heather-bleat, and the horse-gowk all sleep in the same skin at neicht.” These are different names for the snipe according to its various calls.

[O.Sc. 1590 hedderbluter, id., from O.E. hæferblte, id., lit. “goat-bleater,” with later assimilation of first element to heather- by pop. analogy. Orig. from the noise made by the bird in flight, compared in many languages to the bleating of a goat.]

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"Heather-bleat(er) n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Feb 2019 <>



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