Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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HOTTER, v., n. Also hoatter; hutter (Sh.). [′hɔtər, ′hotər]

I. v. 1. To move in an uneven, jerky manner, to jolt about, bump, as of a vehicle on a rough road (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc., m.Lth., Bwk., Rxb. 1957). Of a plane: to shake, jolt, when the wedge does not fit properly (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). Ppl.adj. hotterin(g), jolting, rumbling. Bnff. 1823  G. Greig Folk-Song (1914) vii.:
Athwart the lift the thunder roared, Wi' awfu' hotterin' din.
Bnff. 1880  J. F. S. Gordon Chrons. Keith 148:
Kilns or “Killogies”, Fanners and Sifters were then unknown. In doing a “melder” the primitive mill “hottered” away at the rate of six bolls of Meal ground in a week.
Abd. 1918  W. B. Morren The Hert's Aye 8:
The hurley hotter't ow'r the steens.
Rxb. 1919  Kelso Chron. (14 March) 4:
Hovering steadily in the wake of the hottering vehicle.
Bnff. 1934  J. M. Caie Kindly North 62:
The hotterin' harras that raised sic a stew.

Hence ho(a)ttery, of a road, etc.: rough, uneven (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 81, Rxb. 1957); of a vehicle: jolting, bumpy, rickety (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Rxb. 1925  E. C. Smith Mang Howes 20:
It was at ma tung-ruits ti cry on the hoattery affair, for fear it was ma hinmaist chance o a cairrie ti Haaick.

2. To walk unsteadily, to totter (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1957); “to move like a toad” (Slk. 1825 Jam.). Abd. 1804  W. Tarras Poems 73:
Hale be yir crowns, my canty louns, Tho' age now gars me hotter.
Slk. 1820  Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 41:
I was eidentlye hotteryng along with muckle paishens.
Peb. 1838  W. Welsh Poems 11:
Like streamers some their feet spread out, Some hottert thro' like cripples.
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick v.:
Canny noo meer, fat are ye hotterin aboot 'at gait for?

3. Of liquid, etc.: to seethe, bubble, boil steadily, sputter; also transf. of the vessel in which the liquid is contained (Per. 1825 Jam.; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 29). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. Also used fig. Abd. 1801  W. Beattie Parings 5:
Twa pots soss'd in the chimney nook, Forby ane hott'rin in the crook.
Abd. 1909  C. Murray Hamewith 6:
He was whistlin' to the porridge that were hott'rin' on the fire.
Lnk. 1919  G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 106:
The roset pat is hotterin' on the fire.
Abd. 1930  D. Campbell Kirsty's Surprise 32:
Hotter awa', Angus lad, it's gweed for baith man an' kettle tae lat aff steam fyllies.
Bnff. 1934  J. M. Caie Kindly North 8:
A poothery deevil hotterin' on th' fleer.

4. To shudder, to shiver with cold or fear (Abd., Per. 1825 Jam.), to shake with laughter or excitement (Per. 1825 Jam.). Phr. to be hotterin' wi' fat, to be flabby with stoutness (Kcb.4 1900). Cf. n. 3. Per. 1895  R. Ford Tayside Songs 26:
He glower'd an' leuch, an' glower'd an' leuch, An' hotter'd an' glower'd again.
ne.Sc. 1921  Swatches o' Hamespun 11:
Sit in-bye, Jeems. Ye'll be hotterin' wi' caul'.
ne.Sc. 1953  Mearns Leader (9 Oct.):
The crood hodgin' an' hotterin' wi' the excitement o't.

5. To crowd together, to swarm (w.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Abd., Rxb. 1957), to “mill around”, to move in a crowd. Ppl.adj. hotterin, swarming, seething; crowding. Peb. 1805  J. Nicol Poems II. 102:
'Twas a muir-hen, an' monie a pout Was rinnin, hotterin round about.
Sc. 1860  W. G. Stewart Lectures on the Mountains I. 270:
There is a loch, which under moderately favorable circumstances, is to be seen “hottering” with well sized trouts.
Gall. 1901  Trotter Gall. Gossip 189:
They'r hotterin in a' the big toons in Scotland.
Sc. 1933  W. Soutar Seeds in the Wind 20:
Then Jenny Wren an' a' the burds Gaed hotterin', owre knock an' knowe.
Bnff. 1939  J. M. Caie Hills and Sea 77:
He him leen Gey seen wad sattle a' the hotterin' thrang.

II. n. 1. A shaking or jolting, the rattling sound produced by this (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Abd., Rxb. 1957). Abd. 1804  W. Tarras Poems 55:
My blessing on the cantie Cottar, For many a time, wi' hyte an' hotter, He's hail'd me in a simmer mornin, Wi' muttie cog, an' puckle corn in.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xliii.:
I've stan't mony a roch hotter afore noo i' the wye o' duty.
Abd. 1929  J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 18:
Aw min' on ae aul' wife 'at we cairriet on a han' barra. Gin ye gya a vrang hotter wi' 'er she curs't an' swore.

2. Of liquid: the bubbling made by boiling liquid (Lnl. 1948; ne.Sc., Fif., Dmf. 1957), the boil. Abd. 1923  Banffshire Jnl. (15 May) 3:
Get a biler o' water, umman, an' get it tull the hotter as quick's ye can.

3. A shiver, shake; a start, palpitation. Bnff. 1869  W. Knight Auld Yule 80:
His heart gied twa're royit hotters.

Phr.: to be in a hotter of fat, of an excessively fat person: to quiver as a result of movement or exertion (Mearns 1825 Jam.; Abd. 1957). Cf. v. 4.

4. Fig. The noise of a half-suppressed laugh. Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin v.:
The skirl o' lauchter . . . was clean contrary to a' the laws o' decorum . . . A' my mither's ingenuity even was sairly taskit to smother the hotter that wad be oot in spite o' fate.

5. A seething mass, a crowd; a swarm (of vermin) (Lth. 1825 Jam.), hence a person so infected (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 276) and comb. hotter-bonnet, id. (Ib.); the noise or motion of such a crowd (Mearns 1825 Jam.); a confused, jumbled heap of anything (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd., Bwk., Kcb., s.Sc. 1957); a rash, skin eruption (Bnff.2 1928). Cf. Hatter, n., Hotterel, 2. Sc. 1824  R. Chambers Poet. Rem. (1883) 19:
Its roof's just a hotter o' divots and thack.
Sc. 1837  Tait's Mag. (June) 373:
It's in one hotter and crawl wi' asques, snails, and a' slimy, creeping, venomous things.
Dmf. 1925  Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 29:
The wean's face cam oot in a regular hotter. The mauks were in a hotter on that ewe.
Bnff. 1927  E. S. Rae Hansel Fae Hame 20:
A' roon the neuks o' Lei'ster Square An' 'bune the hotter o' the Strand.

[Prob. a mainly onomat. freq. form from *hot- as in Hotch, etc. Cf. Flem. hotteren, to shake.]

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"Hotter v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 Mar 2018 <>



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