Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

JOTTER, v., n. Also joater and variant form joiter. Cf. Dotter, Doiter. [′dʒotər]

I. v. 1. To do odd jobs or light menial work, often in a dilatory manner (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Lth.1, Bwk.2 1959). Hence ppl.adj. jotterin, joit'rin, employed in light work; fiddling, trifling; vbl.n. jotteran, employment in light work (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 92; Abd. 1959), jottereen, menial labour (Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 12). Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 92:
He's eye jotterin' aboot, bit he winna brack the behns o' a sair turn. He's a jotterin' bodie.
e.Lth. 1885  J. Lumsden Rhymes 65:
Joit'rin Jamie laid siege to the Nabob's fair queen.

2. To act in a flurried or flustered manner, to fumble; ppl.adj. jottering, fumbling. Sc. 1886  Stevenson Kidnapped xxix.:
Before your jottering finger could find the trigger, the hilt would dirl on your breast bane.
Ayr. 1886  J. Meikle Lintie 9:
The brush hings in this closet just abune whaur the hen was sittin'. In mother comes . . . jotterin' to get it for her.

3. To flounder about, “to wade in mire” (Lnk. 1825 Jam., joater).

II. n. 1. An odd job man (m.Lth.1 1950); hence a ne'er-do-well, a trifler, a dawdler. Also in form jothart. e.Lth. 1885  J. Lumsden Rhymes 65:
O hae ye ne'er heard, man, o' Jamie the joiter? . . . He wad . . . Mak' trocks for the bairnies.
Kcd. 1889  J. & W. Clark Leisure Musings 120:
I kent the father o' ye, min. The auld jothart, that had neither sheep, siller, nor credit, an' yet he selt mutton.
e.Lth. 1903  J. Lumsden Toorle 66:
The maitter o' a joiter's “jiffy” yet!

2. A flurry, a hurried bustling movement. Ayr. 1885  J. Meikle Yachting Yarns 56:
He withoot kennin' ae bit what he was daein', got up wi' a great jotter an' actually fell intae the sea.

[Freq. form of Jot. In some of the senses however the word may be merely onomat.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Jotter v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Feb 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down