Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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KITTLIE, adj. Also kit(t)ly, kittley. [′kɪtlɪ]

1. Of things: tickly, causing a tickling sensation; of persons: susceptible to tickling, itchy, ticklish (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. Hence kittlieness, tickliness, and comb. kittlie-forkie, an earwig (Ags., Per. 1960). Slk. 1830  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) III. 25:
The venom's drawn out . . . and the spat's only kittly.
Ags. 1894  J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xiv.:
You ken what I mean — the kind o' a' ower kittlie feelin'.
Gsw. 1909  J. J. Bell Oh! Christina! ix.:
Ay, they're awfu' kitly things, the measles.
Abd. 1920  G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 30:
Amo' my ribs ye're racin' roon Wi' kittley feet.
Sc. 1929  Scots Mag. (Oct.) 19:
Doubtless the praise lavished on her cooking brought a “kittley” feeling of pleasure to her heart.
Sh. 1949  J. Gray Lowrie 87:
Kirsie tald me mony a time it I wis juist a rael fule wi' kittlyness.

2. Sensitive, easily roused or provoked (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Lth. 1960). Ayr. 1822  Galt Steam-boat viii.:
I was not so kittly as she thought, and could thole her progs and jokes with the greatest pleasance and composure.

3. Troublesome, difficult, dangerous, ticklish, precarious (Cld. 1880 Jam.; ne.Sc., Fif. 1960); obscure, intricate, puzzling, difficult to understand or pronounce (Fif., Lth. 1960). Dmb. 1844  W. Cross Disruption (1846) v.:
There's three questions abreast, nae less . . . tho' there's nane o' them very kittlie.
Lnk. 1895  W. C. Fraser Whaups of Durley v.:
I had gane through the Genesis, the Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, away ben to the kittley Chronicles.
Hdg. 1903  J. Lumsden Toorle 151:
Abstrack metapheesical ham banes, Kittlier than dreams, and hard as chuckie-stanes.
Abd. 1929  Sc. Readings (Paterson) 79:
We've tae cater for the intellect . . . an' that's aye a kittly job.

[From Kittle, v.1 + adj. suff. -Ie. Cf. Kittle, adj.]

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"Kittlie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Nov 2018 <>



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