Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LEET, n.2, v.1 Also †lite, †lyte, †leit(t), †liet. [lit]

I. n. 1. A list of candidates or nominees eligible for a post or office, gen. the select list of those considered the most suitable, the long or short leet (see below) (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Obs. in Eng. since 16th c. Also of any list of persons. Rare. Comb. and phr.: leet-preaching, the series of preachings by the candidates for a vacant church before the final selection by the congregation; to shorten the leet, see 1779 quot. and short leet below. Sc. 1705  Overt. Discip. Ch. Sc. 37:
The Moderator is chosen out of a Lite made up by the old Moderator.
Sc. 1716  Rec. Conv. Burghs (1885) 159:
In all time coming the magistrats for the time should make a leit of the persons to be chosen for the following year.
Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 116:
My Burchet's Name! well pleas'd, I saw Amang the chosen Leet.
Bte. 1750  Rothesay T.C. Rec. (1935) II. 809:
Such of the forenamed persons as were present nominated the saids Hugh M'Bryde, Duncan M'Lea and Mr James Campbell to be the Leet for Provost.
Ags. 1776  First Hist. Dundee (Millar 1923) 155:
After the said Merchant & Trades Counsellers are Chosen and Accept, the Old and New Councell proceed to the making up leets for the New Councill, and after the Nominating of four persons who have carried the charge of the Magistracy, they make choice of two to be on the leet for the Provost Office.
Sc. 1779  H. Arnot Hist. Edb. 508:
These fourteen lists, or leets, are laid before the ordinary council of twenty-five, who strike off three names from the six, and return the list, so abridged, to the different incorporations; and this is termed “shortening of the leets.”
Cai. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 X. 30:
The old magistrates make out a leet, consisting of two out of which a Provost, four out of which two bailies are to be chosen, by the burgesses on the roll.
Ayr. 1822  Galt Provost vii.:
The policy of gentlemen putting themselves on the leet to be members of Parliament.
Rnf. 1835  D. Webster Rhymes 72:
Keep melancholy out the leet.
Sc. 1842  D. Vedder Poems 196:
Or, if ye binna yet ordained, Ye're on the leet.
Sc. 1890  Scots Mag. (Nov.) 404:
Eight [translations] were to city charges in Edinburgh and Glasgow, which have never fallen into the leet-preaching method.
Kcd. 1933  L. G. Gibbon Cloud Howe 47:
The news that he'd topped the leet at the poll was brought to Robert by an elder of Segget.

Hence long leet, in Sc. burghs, before the Burgh Reform Act of 1832, the pre-election list of nominees for the seats of the retiring part of the Town Council submitted by the merchant burgesses of the Incorporated Trades to the existing Council for scrutiny and reduction by half. Also fig.; muckle leet, see 1947 quot.; short leet, the list when so reduced, on which voting took place, obs. as regards Town Councils but now in Gen.Sc. usage applied to the final list of candidates for any post after the preliminary rejection of the less suitable applicants on the long leet. Sc. 1735  Occasional Tinclarian in a Letter to Sir John de Graham 9:
You are soon to make up your Long-Leets.
Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 190:
Some Deacons … Inrow'd in the lang leet O' death yon night.
Sc. 1830  W. Chambers Bk. Scotland 69:
These lists of six [nominees of the Trade Incorporations] being then handed to the magistracy and town council for the time existent, is by them reduced one half, and remitted back to the corporated bodies from whom they were sent. The list of six is technically called the long leet, and the mutilated list of three receives the name of the short leet. This process is called “shortening the leets.”
Kcb. 1893  Crockett Stickit Minister 150:
The “short leet” did not come all at once … But they came … each for a Sabbath … preaching at noon in the kirk, and in the evening in the school-house of the clachan.
m.Lth. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick ii.:
There were twa candidates on the short leet for the Pairish o' Snawdon.
Abd. 1928  Abd. Wkly. Jnl. (13 Dec.) 6:
She drew up a short leet o' billies 'at appear'd t' hae the necessar abeelity.
Rxb. 1947  W. S. Robson Hawick 113:
There was the Cornet's leets, enumerating his own circle of acquaintances, and there was the “muckle leet”, prepared by the Cornet in consultation with his immediate associates [in Hawick Common Riding].
Sc. 1958  Scotsman (19 Dec.) 5:
The rectors of four well-known Scottish schools form the proposed short-leet for the post of rector of Aberdeen Grammar School.

2. The select or prize-winning animals at an agricultural show (Gall. 1960). Kcb. 1956  Dmf. & Gall. Standard (15 Dec.) 14:
There were strong classes of non-pedigree heifers … These met a splendid demand, with the prize-leets realising high prices.
Kcb. 1957  Scotsman (22 March):
The quality was not quite so high all over, but the prize-winning leets all met a grand trade.

II. v. To make up a leet or list of suitable candidates (for an office), to put a candidate's name on a select list. Gen.Sc. Vbl.n. leeting. Fif. 1702  L. Macbean Kirkcaldy Burgh Rec. (1908) 220:
And after orderlie leitting and voitting the said Captain James Oswald, nemine contradicente, was elected and appointed Commissioner.
Ags. 1716  Dundee Kirk Session Records (20 Feb.):
A full meeting of Session being called in order to choise a kirk theauserer the[y] proceeded to a lite and accordingly lited [6 names].
Gsw. 1744  in P.B. McNab Hist. Incorpor. Gardeners Gsw. (1903) 40:
The present Deacon if he be leeted and elected to be Deacon for a second year.
Ags. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XXI. 108:
They meet on any lawful day within ten days preceding Michaelmas, for the purpose of electing counsellors and leeting magistrates.

[O.Sc. leit, n., 1590, v., 1612, aphaeretic form of Fr. élite. The older Sc. form lite [ləit], Mid.Eng. elite, O.Fr. eslite, Med.Lat. electa, choice, is now obs.]

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"Leet n.2, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



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