Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LAT, v. Sc. form and usages of Eng. let, to allow, permit.

A. Forms. 1. Pr.t. lat (Gen.Sc., rather obsol. in em.Sc. (a), wm. and s.Sc.); lit (Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 98), litt (Sc. 1747 C. D. Bentinck Dornoch (1926) 538). Neg. latna (Abd. 1867 A. Allardyce Goodwife 11), letna (Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality iv.). Imper. lat. Low'se (Sh. 1898 W. F. Clark Northern Gleams 49) represents a slurred pronunciation of lat (u)s. [Sc. lɑt; s.Sc. læt]

2. Pa.t. luit (Cld. 1818 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 155; Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 2; Ags. 1954 Forfar Dispatch (9 Sept.)); lute (Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 28; Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 95); löt (Sh. 1952 Robertson & Graham Sh. Dial. 34); lot (Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 119), lote (Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 135; Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Galloway Gossip 61); lüt(e) (Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 17, 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 181); lut (Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 135; Edb. 1819 J. Thomson Poems 37; Ags. 1922 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden xi.); lout (Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 138); loot (Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 162; Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 34; Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween xxiii.; Sc. 1806 Hind Etin in Child Ballads No. 41 A. ii., 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.; Slk. 1824 Hogg Shep. Cal. II. i.; Kcb. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 111; Ags. 1882 Brechin Advertiser (12 Dec.) 3; Sc. 1933 W. Soutar Seeds in the Wind 17), neg. lootna (Abd. 1891 Bon-Accord (11 July) 18); leit (Abd. 1809 J. Skinner Amusements 42), leet (Abd. 1867 A. Allardyce Goodwife xii., 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxiii.; Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie Hills and Sea 58); lat (e.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 30). [I., m. and s.Sc. løt, lyt, lɪt; ne.Sc. lit; Sc. lut]

3. Pa.p. latten (Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 59; Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) viii.; Sh., ne.Sc. 1960); letten, -an, -on, -in (Gall. 1735 A. Trotter E. Gall. Sketches 205, -on; Abd. 1741 Powis Papers (S.C.) 261; Sc. 1815 Scott Waverley lxiv.; Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister xxx.; Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xix.; Kcd. 1934 L. G. Gibbon Grey Granite 163); luitten (s.Sc. 1876 D.S.C.S. 32; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 138); leuten (Per. 1887 R. Cleland Inchbracken 64); lutten (Sc. a.1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 88; Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xx.; Abd. 1927 G. R. Harvey The Shepherds 7); lotten (Sc. 1783 Willie's Lady in Child Ballads No. 6 A. 38; Fif. 1940); looten (Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xlii., 1826 Willie and Lady Maisry in Child Ballads No. 70 A. viii.; s.Sc. 1836 Wilson's Tales of the Borders III. 28; Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 29; Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 113; Ags. 1932 A. Gray Arrows 87), lootin; litten (Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 259); reduced forms: lat (Sc. 1933 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 299); lot (Uls. 1920 J. Logan Uls. in X-Rays 116); loot (Abd. 1813 D. Anderson Poems 123; Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxix.; Dmf. 1874 R. Wanlock Moorland Rhymes 17; Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 23; Sc. 1928 Scots Mag. (May) 135); luit; lat (Cai. 1869 M. Maclennan Peasant Life 203). [Sc. lɑtn, lutn; em.Sc. (a), s.Sc. løtn, lytn, em.Sc. (b) lɛtn]

B. Usages.

1. Followed by an inf. with adv. force, as in Eng. let drive, let fly = to assail or deliver a sudden violent blow, to hurl forcibly, but universally used in Sc. with any word of such connotation, e.g. to lat blatter, claut, flist, fung, skelp, skite, etc., for which see the second element. Ags. 1887  A. D. Willock Rosetty Ends 182:
Lettin' blatter amon' the birds wi' lead draps.
Per. 1904  R. Ford Hum. Sc. Stories II. 77:
As the cat remarked when she let claut at the dog's nose.
Abd. 1928  J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 15:
Hod mon' the peats, an' like tae smore, I harken't as the pair loot fung.

2. Sc. phrs.: (1) let a-be(e), let be, (a) v., to let alone, leave undisturbed, cease, desist (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Now mainly dial. in Eng.; (b) n., give-and-take, esp. in the sense of mutual forbearance or compromise; in 1896 quot. = tit-for-tat, retaliation. Used gen. in proverbial sayings; (c) quasi-prep., let alone, not to mention, much less (Sc. 1808 Jam.; ne.Sc., Kcb., Slk 1960). See also Abe; (2) lat aff, (a) to break wind (Cld. 1825 Jam.; Sh., ne.Sc., Uls. 1960); (b) to make a great display, to show off (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 101). Cf. Aff-Lat; (c) n., a showing off, a piece of ostentation (Ib.); (d) a reduction or abatement of rent, etc. (Sh., Abd., Ags., m.Lth., Bwk. 1960); (3) lat at, to hit out at, lit. and fig., to strike or aim at, to make a sarcastic thrust at (Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 58; n.Sc., Ags., Lth., Uls. 1960); (4) let bat, = (11) (a) (Sh., ne.Sc., Slk. 1960). See Bat, n.2, v.2; (5) lat dab, id. (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 204; Edb. 1926 A. Muir Blue Bonnet 104). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. See Dab, v.1, III. 6.; (6) lat doun, (a) to lower the price of. Gen.Sc. (b) of a cow: to yield (milk). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial.; (c) to swallow (Abd., Ags., Fif., Lnl. 1960). Also in Eng. dial.; (d) to drop a stitch, in knitting (ne.Sc. 1960); (e) absol. or with on, and usu. with neg.: to refrain from teasing or taunting (a person with), to cease to reproach or poke fun (at one for) (ne.Sc. 1960); (7) lat gae, (a) to break wind, lose the power of retention of the natural functions (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1960); (b) to give birth (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 101); (c) to strike up a tune, break into singing, esp. of a church precentor (Sc. 1808 Jam., obsol.). Cf. Lettergae; (8) lat intil, to strike, assail violently, to let fly at (Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Cai., ne.Sc. 1960). Also in Eng. dial. or slang; (9) lat ken, to make known, divulge (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Ayr., sm.Sc., Rxb. 1960); (10) lat (it) licht, lit. to allow to alight. Hence (a) to admit, acknowledge; (b) to divulge, disclose, let fall (a piece of information) privately or casually (ne.Sc. 1960). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (c) to relax, desist; (11) lat on, for earlier lat (it) on oneself, used absol. or with noun clause: (a) to indicate knowledge of anything by word or sign, to divulge, disclose, to betray interest in or connection with something (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 314; Cld. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc., also in Eng. and Ir. dial. and in U.S.; (b) to pretend, feign. Gen.Sc., also in n.Eng. and Ir. dial.; (12) lat out, (a) to allow (a fire) to become extinguished. Gen.Sc.; (b) to commence to speak, to hold forth. Obs. in Eng.; (c) in making straw ropes: to pay in the straw through the fingers while another twists with the thraw-cruik (ne.Sc. 1960). Hence latter-out, the one who does this; (13) lat ower, to swallow (Sc. 1825 Jam., 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 58; Sh., ne. and em.Sc. (a) 1960). Hence as a n., the act of swallowing, appetite (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc., Per. 1960); (14) lat see, as in Eng. to show, produce; specif. to pass, hand over. Gen.Sc.; (15) lat sit, to let alone, leave things as they are (ne.Sc. 1960); (16) lat (one's) tongue about, to speak about, to find words for; (17) lat (a body) wi, (a) to concede to another's desires or opinions, to indulge, humour, as a child (Abd. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.); (b) to confess, admit to (a thing) (ne.Sc. 1960); (18) lat (to) wit, -wot, to let (one) know, to inform, proclaim or make known to (one) (Sc. 1808 Jam.); also absol. = (11) (a) (Abd. 1960); (19) lat ye never ken, may you never know, you cannot imagine (ne.Sc. 1960). (1) (a) Sc. a.1800  Lady Barbara Erskine's Lament in
J. Maidment Sc. Ballads (1868) II. 273:
“Haud your tongue, daughter,” my father said, “And of your weeping let abee.”
Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 12:
Haddocks and skate were let abee For mair important matter.
Sc. 1893  Stevenson Catriona xv.:
Nae sooner was the signal made than he let be the rope.
Abd. 1928  J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 28:
Sae her Tinkler I jist loot abe!
(b) Per. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 369:
When a troublesome person abstains from fighting, upon finding that he is like to meet with his master, the fight is said to be “let a-be for let a-be, like the fight of Maws.”
Sc. 1822  Scott Pirate xxxvii.:
I am for let-a-be for let-a-be, as the boys say.
Sc. 1825  Jam.:
Let-abe maks mony a loon. It denotes that forbearance increases the number of rogues.
Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 71:
Wi' the De'il it's best “tae let be for let be,” as the Harray man said tae the crab.
Sc. 1896  A. Cheviot Proverbs 187:
I'll gie ye let-a-bee for let-a-bee like the bairns o' Kelty.
(c) Sc. 1816  Scott Antiquary xxxix.:
[She] speaks as if she were a prent book, let-a-be an auld fisher's wife.
Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Miller 36:
It was het aneugh to melt whunstanes, let a be airn.
Fif. 1882  S. Tytler Sc. Marriages III. x.:
They have been argufying or fechten, gin my decent lad — let-a-be a minister — would fecht wi' a young reprobate and deil's buckie like thon.
Sc. 1929  Scots Mag. (Feb.) 360:
Thir lanward fouk'll tak warnin' frae a whaup's skirl let be the squeal o' a horse.
(2) (d) m.Lth. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick i.:
He was ahint wi' his rent, and no' like to get muckle o' a let-aff frae the laird.
(3) Abd. 1739  Caled. Mag. (1788) 498:
He first loot at the Ba'.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxii.:
I see brawly fat ye're lattin' at.
Abd. 1879  G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie xxvi.:
Gien ye tyauve ony mair, I'll lat at ye.
Abd. 1920  A. Robb MS. xi.:
The men's been chirpin' on noo and again and lattin' at Kate and me.
(5) Abd. 1932  D. Campbell Bamboozled 33:
Dinna let dab tho' noo ye're inno wir secret.
(6) (a) Fif. 1811  R. Taylor Markinch Minst. (1870) 18:
Of their wheat no more I'll buy until they let it down.
(6) (b) Sc. 1736  Pilulae Spleneticae 14:
Like a cow, who lets down her milk plentifully till near the hinder end.
Ayr. 1870  J. K. Hunter Life Studies 2:
My auld cow began to refuse letting down her milk to the dairymaid.
Gall. 1898  Crockett Standard Bearer xvii.:
The kye wadna let doon their milk withoot Anna.
Abd. 1958  Buchan Observer (29 April) 5:
A cow that is reluctant to let down her milk.
(d) Dmf. 1826  A. Cunningham Paul Jones I. vii.:
I have looten down a loop in Peg Paisley's stocking whilk I maun lift up again.
(e) Abd. 1928  Word-Lore III. 147:
The swiney wis smoret, an' that oonchancy throu'-come wis never latten doon on her.
(7) (c) Abd. 1765  W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd 34:
O Dominie, you're dispossest … You dare no more now, do your best, Lat gae the rhime.
Dmf. 1826  H. Duncan W. Douglas I. iii.:
I verily believe ye hae been preaching or letting gae the line yoursel'!
(8) Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 101:
He leet-intil the ribs o' 'im wee a drive an' caed's heels eemost.
(9) Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 103:
Yet of their loss they let not ken.
Hdg. a.1801  R. Gall Poems (1819) 27:
Ablins it's fitting to let ken To them wha reads.
Per. 1898  C. Spence Poems 167:
He started up when I lat ken That I was laird o' twa pounds ten.
(10) (a) Sc. 1825  Jam.:
I ay said the naig was shaken i' the shouther; but he wadna lat it licht.
Ags. 1893  Arbroath Guide (11 Feb.) 4:
He'll never lat it licht that I'm richt.
(b) Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 227:
A winna lat licht a word o't.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xlvi.:
Maister MacCassock loot licht that he was thinkin' o' buyin' the furniture to the manse.
(c) Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 227:
He widna lat licht till he got it deen.
(11) (a) Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 262:
Never let on you, but laugh. Spoken when people are jeering our projects, pretentions, and designs.
Ayr. 1795  Burns Last May iii.:
I never loot on that I kenn'd it, or car'd.
Cld. 1818  Scots Mag. (Aug.) 155:
Sho cuist mony a lang look at the shearers, but we ne'er luit on that we saw her.
Slk. 1820  Hogg Tales (1874) 241:
My heart was prooder o' ye aften than I loot on.
Sc. 1825  Lockhart Scott lxiv.:
The truth is, I was more taken aback with Wright's epistle than I cared to let on.
Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie ix.:
He's a queer carle that Gaberlunzie; in my humble opinion, he's mair nor he lets on.
Kcb. 1885  A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe xxxvi.:
Ye ken mair aboot the hale affair than ye care to let on.
Abd. 1887  W. Alexander My Ain Folk 168:
Ye're to be crie't the first time only, on Sunday, an' the dominie 'll lat on to nae ane till than.
Ags. 1889  Barrie W. in Thrums vii.:
A body has her feelings, an' lat on 'at I ken Pete's gone I will not.
Kcb. 1901  R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 106:
Ye maun sit awfu quait, an never let on ye'r there.
Uls. 1923  Northern Whig (31 Dec.):
“Niver let on” is a command against divulging some news.
Lth. 1927  R. S. Liddell Gilded Sign 108:
“Won't he tell?” “Nut him! He'll no' let on a single word.”
Abd. 1931  A. M. Williams Bundle of Yarns 88:
A nivver lat on, ye see, the beast wis deed.
(b) Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 151:
He is not so daft, as he lets on him.
Ayr. 1822  Galt Provost xlvii.:
The Provost maun ken nothing about it, or let on that he does na ken, which is the same thing.
wm.Sc. 1837  Laird of Logan 312:
I was just letting on I was a cow, till I would get out o' the bill's gate.
Ayr. 1901  G. Douglas Green Shutters xxvi.:
I let on I wanted to borrow auld Gourlay's key-hole saw.
Uls. 1904  Victoria Coll. Mag. 41:
He may not be so saft as he lets on.
Gsw. 1910  H. Maclaine My Friend 53:
“She's lettin' on she's angry,” Wattie said, winking to me.
m.Lth. 1925  C. P. Slater Marget Pow 40:
They let on that thon out-sized umberellies are for the sun!
Arg. 1947  Scots Mag. (Dec.) 197:
Peigi went on slapping and scrubbing away at the dress, letting on she did not see there was a soul there.
(12) (a) Lth. 1856  M. Oliphant Lilliesleaf i.:
It was a bonnie spring morning, sunny and blythe, and we had let out the fire.
(b) Abd. 1881  W. Paul Past & Present 43:
The precentor … turning round to the minister, said to him, “Lat oot,” upon which the minister at once began the service.
(c) Abd. 1906  Banffshire Jnl. (24 July) 2:
They “cud lat oot” an' thoom an etherin.
Abd. 1918  C. Murray Sough o' War 31:
Lythe in the barn lat oot for rapes, or track a fashious cowt.
Abd. 1929 4 :
Lattin oot raips wi' bere caff — an impossible job.
Abd. 1954 15 :
Sic widder, we wis a' day in the barn lattin' oot rapes. The “latter-oot” seated with a heap of sprots at his left hand, spins the rape, while a lad plies the thrawcrook, as he steadily moves backward ben the loft.
(13) Abd. 1865  G. Macdonald Alec Forbes xxv.:
We're no like you — forced to lat ower ony jabble o' luke-warm water.
Abd. 1886  J. Cowe Jeems Sim 13:
It wis a gey lat owre I'se aseere ye, bit I waml't it a meenit i' the back o' my throat an' syne lat it owre wi' a gulp.
Bnff. 1918  J. Mitchell Bydand 18:
Till — fech! a guff o' pushen-gas fair scumfist my latower.
Abd. 1920  R. H. Calder Gleanings I. 14:
Never lat on but aye lat ower.
(14) Sc. 1881  A. Mackie Scotticisms 58:
Let's see the cheese — pass the cheese.
(15) Abd. 1863  G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod I. iv.:
When a body has a suspeecion o' a trowth, he sud never lat sit till he's gotten … hit.
Abd. 1893  G. Macdonald Songs 59:
Hoot! lat sit; She's but a bairn, the lass!
(16) Bnff. 1882  W. M. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars vi.:
As for his preachin', I dinna weel ken fu to lat my tongue aboot it.
(17) (a) Abd. 1958  :
Aa richt than, I winna threap mair wi ye, I'll lat ye wi't.
(18) n.Sc. c.1730  E. Burt Letters (1815) I. 210:
I let you to wot, that there is a brother departed this life, at the pleasure of Almighty God.
Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 84:
Now Nory kens she in her guess was right, But loot na wit that she had seen the knight.
Edb. 1788  J. Macaulay Poems 187:
Wharas, by Royal proclamation, We did let wit to a' the nation.
Ayr. 1823  Galt R. Gilhaize I. xv.:
Winterton didna let wot that he heard this.
Sc. 1828  Dunlop Letters (1953) III. 261:
I always “let wit” that I am a Scotchman: this secures more affection than the Anglais obtain.
Lnk. 1880  P. M'Arthur Amusements 24:
I ne'er let wit aboot the bill.
(19) ne.Sc. 1957  Mearns Leader (10 May):
Sic a mineer lat ye never ken.

3. With o: to think (well, etc.) of, to esteem. Obs. in Eng. Lnk. 1825  Jam.:
He'll be nae mair lootin o', he will not henceforth be held in estimation.

[The normal development of O.E. ltan, O.North. lēta, is Leet, v.2, q.v. The short vowel forms lat(te) are found in Mid.Eng. a.1300 and are prob. due to an early shortening of the stem in the strong imper. sing. læt, lat ( < lt, O.N. lát), freq. in usage and gen. in unstressed position. Cf. Mak, Shak, Tak. Lat is common in Sc. from 1400 onwards. The reg. pa.t. is lete, leit > leet, etc., but the forms lute, luit appear from c.1550, on the analogy of Class VI verbs like Brak, Cast, Lauch. The pronunciation [lut] is relatively recent and prob. arises from the 18th c. anglicised spelling loot. The other forms are similarly analogical or borrowed from Eng. O.Sc. has lat be, much less, from 1568, lat wit, a.1400, lat doun, give milk, let on, pretend, 1629.]

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"Lat v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <>



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