Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PARROT, n. Also parrott (Fif. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VIII. 451), parot (Sc. 1705 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 403), paurit (Sc. 1818 S. Ferrier Marriage I. xii.), pawrot (Sc. 1829 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1863) II. 178). Sc. forms and usages:

1. As in Eng. Sc. comb. parrot-sole, the Dover or black sole, Solea solea, because of its beak-like mouth (Fif. 1953).

2. A highly volatile bituminous coal which ignites easily and burns with a clear bright flame and a crackling sound (Sc. 1775 Caled. Mercury (10 May)), short for parrot-coal, id. (Ayr. 1799 Ayr. Arch. and Nat. Hist. Soc. I. 109; Sc. 1808 Jam., 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 49; Kcd., m.Sc., Rxb. 1965). Hence rough parrot, wild parrot, an inferior type of cannel coal (see 1925 and 1952 quots.); deriv. parrot(t)y, adj., of the nature or consistency of parrot coal (Rnf. 1920 Mem. Geol. Surv. Scot. 37). Sc. 1713  Report of Blairingon coal in Atholl MSS.:
They measured the Coall and finds that it is exactly 17 Inches thick of a black Coall and tuo Inches above wall of a parrot Coall.
Ayr. 1764  Session Papers, Orr v. Earl of Eglinton (5 July) 7:
He has consumed in these salt-works, not only the ordinary pan-wood, or small coal, but also a large quantity of parot coal.
Fif. 1772  Edb. Ev. Courant (4 Jan.):
There are several seams of coal in the lands of New Gilstoun, particularly one of fine parrot.
Lnk. 1794  J. Naismith Agric. Cld. 36:
It contains rough coal, splint, and parrot, or jet coal, and is preferred, by the consumers, to all the others, as the most profitable.
Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxiii.:
Standing beside a ranting, roaring, parrot-coal fire.
Sc. 1841  Trans. Highl. Soc. 324:
In the eastern parts of Scotland it [cannel coal] is almost always termed Parrot, probably on account of the crackling noise it makes when burning.
Ayr. 1863  J. Manson Lyrics 97:
Oh heard ye e'er tell o' auld Bauldie Donal', Wha burn'd parrot coal aye, to save his bit can'le.
Lnl. 1925  H. M. Cadell Rocks w.Lth. 19:
Some kinds of cannel, locally known as “wild parrot” or “pelt”, are so full of ash as to be unworkable, and are sometimes associated with fish remains such as scales and teeth, fossils that are very seldom, if ever, found in good common coal.
Fif. 1934  Econ. Geol. Fife Coalfields II. 93:
The blaes immediately overlying the coal is parroty and contains iron pyrites.
w.Fif. 1952  R. Holman Diamond Panes 120:
The coal used in the manufacture of the gas was the “Parrot,” a highly inflammable coal, not very plentiful and only found in narrow seams about two feet in thickness.

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"Parrot n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Dec 2017 <>



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