Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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KITTLIN, n., adj. Also kit(t)lin(g), kit(t)len, and I.Sc. forms in ke-. Dim. kitlinie. [′kɪtlən, I.Sc. ′kjɛt-]

I. n. 1. A kitten (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 413). Also attrib. Gen.Sc. Obs. exc. dial. in Eng. Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 36:
The yeal cats is never kind to kitlens.
Abd. 1792  Sc. N. & Q. (April 1923) 55:
When a Cat has kitlins, the first [litter] should be given away; otherwise the children of the house will not thrive.
Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch vii.:
The cat and the kittling were playing with a mouse.
Mry. 1865  W. H. L. Tester Poems 115:
Elgin brats, like kittlin cats, Will scamper ower the sward.
Uls. 1910  J. Logan McClusky Twins 52:
The bleers are no' oot of your eyes yet, like a kittlin a day ould.
Ork. 1911  Old-Lore Misc. IV. iv. 185:
Da bit a boy tuik hert whan he saw at he wasna tae be droonded like a kettlin'.
Rxb. 1916  Kelso Chron. (24 March) 3:
Young and auld's rinnin aboot like scaded kitlins, some greetin', some sweerin', and a lot laughin'.
Abd. 1928  J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 28:
Mistress Puss bade her kitlinie pirl the grey clew.

Phrs.: (1) cats-an'-kitlins, see Cat, n.1, I. 6.; (2) kittlin's ee, the ace of diamonds (sm.Sc. 1834 A. Cunningham Burns's Wks. VIII. 269); (3) kittlin's lick, a very small amount. See Lick; (4) kitlin's tail, the tail-end piece of yarn on a reel; (5) to droon the first kitlins, to drink one's first pay as a journeyman, according to custom, with one's fellow craftsmen (Fif. 1887 G. Gourlay Old Neighbours 86; Per. 1960). (3) Rxb. 1933  Kelso Chron. (3 Nov.) 5:
They kent the ramagiechan weel at ilka country fair Whaur he pey'd but for the kittlin's lick an' drank the lion's share.
(4) Fif. 1862  St Andrews Gaz. (8 Aug.):
The only thing to dae wi' clashin' wives . . is t'haud yoor wheesht an' no stop the pirn till the threed rins dune at the kitlin's tail.

2. The young of other small animals (Sc. 1909 Colville 298), specif. of mice and rats (Lnk.11 1942), and ferrets (Abd. 1960). Obs. in Eng. Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 222:
Some said it was . . . a sheep's young kitlen.

3. A handful or small quantity of gleanings from the harvest field (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

II. adj. Very small. Obs. in Eng. From I. used attrib. Ags. 1919  T.S.D.C.:
A kittlin pair o' buits.

[O.Sc. kitling, a kitten, 1596, a child, brat, 1541, O.N. ketlingr, kitten.]

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"Kittlin n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jan 2019 <>



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