Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PUIRTITH, n. Also pourtith (Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs (1881) 1), poortith; peertith (ne.Sc.); puirta, poortha, pörta, purta. [′pørtəθ]

1. Poverty, destitution, want (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc., obs. exc. in liter. usage. Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 95:
Eild and Poortha is a sore Burthen on one Back.
Sc. 1736  Ramsay Proverbs (1777) 18:
Bear wealth weil, poortith will bear it sell.
Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 137:
Sair wark and poortith douna weel be join'd.
Ayr. 1786  Burns Twa Dogs 103:
They're no sae wretched's ane wad think; Tho' constantly on poortith's brink.
Sc. 1822  Scott F. Nigel xxxv.:
I ken weel, by sad experience, that poortith takes away pith.
Slk. 1827  Hogg Tales (1874) 352:
Sair pressed down wi' poortith although she be.
Mry. 1852  A. Christie Mountain Strains 49:
Mony a time they shipwreck'd me On purta's coast.
Kcb. 1882  G. Murray Poems 53:
Jeanie was a bauld wee wife Wi' poortith waged successfu' strife.
Fif. 1895  S. Tytler Kincaid's Widow i.:
A hantle better puirtith, however griping, than wickedness rampant.
Sh. 1899  J. Spence Folk-Lore 143:
In sorrow may dey live an' dee, In pörta may dey pine.
e.Lth. 1908  J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 58:
Poortith is the mither o' a' airts!
Abd. 1925  R. L. Cassie Gangrel Muse 15:
A sang we'll sing o' peertith caul', Fan we cam throwe the hard.

2. Weakness or lack of condition in an animal, esp. due to scarcity of food, a poor physical state. Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 20:
Their ae beast cow I saw them lately flea, That for plain poortith lairt intill a bogg.
Sh. 1897  Shetland News (15 May):
As I cam trow shü [a ewe] made upon her ta rise, an' . . . shü hed twise ta tak till her afore shü wan till her feet, an' dat wi' solid purta.

[O.Sc. powerte, 1375, purte, a.1400, O.Fr. poverte, purteth, c.1500, from O.Fr. pouretet, Lat. paupertas, -tat-, poverty. For -ith cf. Daintith.]

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



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