Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

SCUTTER, v., n.1 Also skutter; ¶skatter. [′skʌtər]

I. v. 1. tr. and intr. To do anything in a slovenly or bungling manner, to botch, make a mess (of), spill or splash about, spatter (Bnff., Abd. 1825 Jam.; Bnf. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 152; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; I. and n.Sc. Ags., Per. 1969). Ppl.adj. scutterin, inept or slovenly at work (Gregor). Abd. 1832  W. Scott Poems 22:
Tak' aff their milk, an' leave their edders teem. An' trail the raip, an' scutter a' the reem.
Sc. 1891  J. G. McPherson Golf & Golfers 1, 45:
The time was when a mistake at any place was severly punished; now, the course can be “skuttered” without much loss. . . . He was disgusted at the miserable play of a learned Professor: “Ye jist skutter at gowf”.
Fif. 1899  E. T. Heddle Marget at the Manse 42:
She hates a scutterin' mess o' men's boots on her clean floor!
Ags. 1933  W. Muir Mrs Ritchie xviii.:
I winna have any scuttering about on this floor.
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.:
Awa wi ye, ye scutterin crater o' a deem.

2. To be engaged in some troublesome time-wasting, pointless work, to fiddle or potter about in an aimless confused manner, to dawdle, dally (n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1969). Ppl.adj. scutterin, fiddling, time-wasting. Mry. 1883  F. Sutherland Memories 127:
Auld Scroggie's sair changed since we scuttert wi' scanticks.
Abd. 1887  Bon-Accord (12 Nov.) 14:
Fat an awfu' scutterin' wauy o' daen' it is hae'n tae flit?
Ags. 1895  Caledonia I. 433:
In my young days a loon wis considered weel aff gin he got his meat for herdin' or for any orra scutterin' wark.
Abd. 1918  C. Murray Sough o' War 32:
[I] scutter in the lang forenichts wi' britchin, bit, an' haims.
Abd. 1931  A. M. Williams Bundle of Yarns 78:
“Hiv ye stoppit gaun tae the kirk?” “Aye,” was the answer, “A'm scutterin' awa' wi' ma sowl masel' th' noo.”
Sh. 1957  Shetland News (5 March):
Laurence could “skatter aboot da croft an' hill work as good as the next man.”
Abd. 1962  H. Diack Boy in Village 30:
Fut are ye scutterin' aboot wi' that door for?

3. To hinder with some fiddling trifle, to detain through some needless or annoying cause (ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1969). Bnff. 1871  Banffshire Jnl. (26 Dec.) 7:
I've never engaged ony o' that stemmers. I've seen some fouk scuttert wi' some o' them.
Abd. 1936  D. Bruce Cheengefu' Wordle 26:
I've been scuttert ower lang the nicht already.

II. n. 1. The doing of work in an awkward dirty manner, a botch, bungle (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 152; I., n. and em.Sc. (a) 1969); any footling time-consuming occupation, one that irritates by its trouble someness and triviality (Kcd. 1880 Jam.: n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1969). Dim. scutterie, deriv. scutterification, id. Adj., scutterie, troublesome, of a job, time-wasting, muddling, footling (ne.Sc. 1969). Mry. 1870  W. Tester Select Poems 209:
Auld maiden ladies — a scunner an' scutter.
Ags. 1893  Arbroath Guide (13 May) 3:
I'm wantin' a bit lassie to dae my little scutterie.
Abd. 1898  J. R. Imray Sandy Todd viii.:
Mony scutterie bits o' jobbies.
Sc. 1924  Scots Mag. (Oct.) 60:
“Yon's a scutter o' a job; he's awfa scuttery wi's wark”.
Abd. 1931  Abd. Press and Jnl. (18 Feb.):
The writer of the short story above is not singular in making a scutter of the whole thing.
Abd. 1958  Huntly Express (28 Feb.):
I fear we are committed to a “scutterie” spring.
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick viii.:
A' the hinneration and scutterification 'at we hid hid in France.

2. One who works in an ineffective, muddled or dirty manner (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 152; n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1969); a dilatory, dawdling, exasperating creature. Abd. 1867  W. Anderson Rhymes 25:
Benjie, although but a scutter through life.
ne.Sc. 1957  Mearns Leader (22 Feb.):
Tae treesch wi' that sweet-mou'd scutter o' a beast finever she tak's a tigg o' this kine.

3. A state of excitement, a flurry. Abd. 1931  D. Campbell Uncle Andie 5:
It's ma hairt that's geen a' tae a scutter, flutterin' up an' doon in my breist like a railway seegnal.

[Orig. somewhat uncertain. Phs. a euphemistic alteration of Skitter, with extension of meaning, and phs. also influenced by Eng. scutter, to scurry, and Scuttle, v. Cf. Skiddle.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Scutter v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Feb 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down