Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SCLATE, n., v. Also scla(i)t(t), scleat, sklait(t), sklate, skleat, sklaet, sklet. Sc. forms of Eng. slate. See also Slate. [sklet]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., the material, a roofing-slate, writing-slate, etc., and attrib. Gen.Sc. Dim. sclattie, sclaitey, slate-pencil (Bnff. 1948), a marble made of slate (Ags. 1969). Phr. to want a sclate, to be weak in the head, have a slate loose. Gen.Sc. Adj. sclaty. Sc. 1701  Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 321:
To put ane sklaitt roof thereon.
Rs. 1720  W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 195:
I was speaking to McKinay about winning skleat at Ulladeall.
Ayr. 1733  Ayr. Presb. Reg. MS. (30 May):
Three hundred sklait naills three shillings.
Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 156:
Now shou'd our sclates wi' hailstanes ring.
Sc. 1826  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 124:
He could rin up three columns of feegures at a time, no wi' his finger on the sclate, but just in his mind's ee.
Slk. 1889  Blackwood's Mag. (Oct.) 560:
New houses, . . . cauld and peekit Wi' sklates.
Ags. 1895  J. Inglis Oor Ain Folk 94:
Our bools were known as “piggers,” “marleys,” and “sclaiteys.”
Abd. 1903  W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 79:
Work in the sklate quarries o' Foudlan'.
Kcb. 1913  A. Anderson Later Poems 4:
Last to get his books an sklate.
s.Sc. 1929  Sc. Readings (Paterson) 47:
She's wantin' a sclate or twae.

Combs.: (1) sclateban(d), a stratum of slate between bands of rock, schistus; (2) sclate-house, a slated house, one with a slate roof, as opposed to thatch; (3) sclate-pen, a slate pencil (Cld. 1882 Jam.); (4) sklet-pike, id.; (5) sclate-stane, a piece of slate or piece of stone resembling slate (Sc. 1825 Jam.), freq. used in proverbial phrs. and similes as in quots. alluding to money being abundant and hence, by implication, of less value or account, and appar. originating in the belief mentioned by Jam. “that the money given by the devil, or any of his emissaries, as a reward for service, or as arles on entering into it, although when received it had every appearance of good coin, would again next day appear merely as a piece of slate” (See 1818, 1822 quots.). Gen.Sc. (1) Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 191:
The sclateban o' the quarry shott.
(2) Ayr. 1821  Galt Annals ii.:
At the corner where John Bayne has biggit the sclate-house for his grocery-shop.
(4) Abd. 1879  G. MacDonald Sir Gibbie xxiv.:
Donal's school-slate, with a sklet-pike.
(5) Sc. 1720  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 181:
When she comes to count the Cunzie, 'Tis a' Sklate-stanes instead of Money.
Sc. 1793  Tam Thrum Look before ye Loup 10:
The siller's as plenty wi' him as sclate stanes.
Cld. 1818  Scots Mag. (Aug.) 157:
The fairies . . . immediately vanished, leaving a large purse of money behind them, which the good dame would not touch till she had sained it, when, finding that it did not turn into withered leaves, nor bits of “sclate stanes, but bade still gude white siller”.
Ayr. 1821  Galt Legatees 168:
Seeing the money fleeing like sclate stanes.
Sc. 1822  Scott Pirate vi.:
Gie the ladie back her bonie die there, and be blithe to be sae rid on't — it will be a sclate-stane the morn, if not something worse.
Slk. 1823  Hogg Tales (1876) 293:
Ye threw away money as ye had been sawing sklate-stanes.
Bnff. a.1829  J. Sellar Poems (1844) 28:
He near han' gar'd the sclate stanes dance Whan he began to diddle.
Abd. 1882  W. Alexander My Ain Folk 16:
Skellie's deein' weel — makin' siller like sclate steens.
Kcb. 1896  Crockett Grey Man xxiv.:
Scarted other folk's siller into their wallets like sclate-stanes.

2. A flat piece of hardwood nailed on the under- and fore-side of an oar to prevent wearing against the thole-pin (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1969). Sh. 1898  Shetland News (23 April):
He laid his aer in ta da sklaets.

II. v. 1. As in Eng., to cover (a roof) with slates (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 168). Gen.Sc. Mry. 1707  J. B. Ritchie Forres (1926) 97:
Eighteen pounds Scots paid to John Young, skletter, in part for skletting the school.
Ork. 1771  P. Fea MS. Diary (Sept.):
He agreed with Ed Moodie to Scleat his house.
Sc. 1818  Scott Bride of Lamm. xxiv.:
Folk are far frae respecting me as they wad do if I lived in a twa-lofted sclated house.
Bnff. 1869  W. Knight Auld Yule 176:
They're at hame in a braw, sclatit house.
Rxb. 1925  E. C. Smith Mang Howes 21:
The riggens an ruiffs o Denum — theekeet yins an sklaitteet yins.
Bwk. 1947  W. L. Ferguson Makar's Medley 59:
Her byre was hard-up i' the riggin', And sae we fell to sklatin' wark.

Hence scla(i)(t)ter, skla(i)tter, scletter, skl-, (1) a slater. Also as v. to work as a slater. Gen.Sc.; (2) the wood-louse, Oniscus (Sc. 1741 A. McDonald Galick Vocab. 71; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 361). Gen.Sc., also in n.Eng. dial., said to be so called from being freq. found under roof slates. (1) Sc. 1701  Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 288:
To Rot Crichtoune, sklaitter, to drink, for helping the roof of Capn douglas house . . .5s.
Sc. 1721  Ramsay Poems List of Subscribers:
James Sym his Majesties Sclater.
Ags. 1762  Dundee Charters, etc. (1880) 166:
The Sclaiters of this Burgh are always very assisting with ladders for extinguishing fires.
Sc. 1818  S. Ferrier Marriage II. xi.:
To see tyleyors and sclaters leavin, whar I mind Jewks and Yerls.
Abd. 1884  D. Grant Lays 55:
The sclaiters, plasterers, an' vrichts.
Dmf. 1921  J. L. Waugh Heroes 12:
Ser'ed his time to the sclaterin' wi' his faither here.
(2) Sc. 1704  J. Moncrief Poor Man's Physician (1731) 245:
With the Juice of 400 or 500 Sclaters squeez'd through Linen into the Barrel.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 422:
Sclater's eggs, little white eggs like beads, found amongst red land.
Lth. 1825  Jam. s.v. heart-axes:
The heartburn, or Cardialgia. The common cure for it, in the country, is to swallow sclaters, or wood-lice.
Abd. 1892  Blackwood's Mag. (Oct.) 480:
I canna sleep at hame for the rattons and the sklaters.
Sc. 1931  J. Lorimer Red Sergeant xviii.:
Mistress Laidlaw disna shed the blood o' sclaters, gin it's bluid they beasties hae.

2. To write down on a slate. Rare and later in Eng. Ayr. 1835  Galt Efforts by an Invalid 40:
To read and write, and sclate 'rithmetic wark.

[O.Sc. sclater, as a prop. n., 1398, sclate, a slate, 1456, Mid.Eng. sclate, O.Fr. esclate. The scl- forms disappear from Eng. after 1630.]

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"Sclate n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Apr 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/sclate>

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