Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

from 2005 supplement

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KETTLE, n. 1. Add Comb.: kettle-boiler, also kettle biler. Derogatory term for a house-husband.Dundee 1986  David A. MacMurchie I Remember Another Princes Street! 18:
This system persisted in Dundee, that is, work for women but little for men, and gave rise to the charge that Dundee men were 'kettle-boilers' — a grave libel!
Dundee 1980s  :
Her man's a kettle biler.
Dundee 1998  Scots Tung Wittins Spring :
Kettle-biler = a byenem gien tae the men o Dundee. No lang syne, maist o the weemin wirkit in the jute mills an the men wirkit in the docks, the Caledon shipyaird or in ither heavy ingineerin wark. Noo the men wisna sweir tae gaun on strike an, wi maist o thair weemin-fowk wirkin in the mills, thai cuid afford tae bide oot a guid while langer nor men fae ither airts. Sae, excepp whan thare wis a fitba match on, thai juist bid in the hoose an biled the kettle tae hae the wife's tea on the table for her comin hame fae the mill. We'r no sayin thai wur aw tarred wi the ae brush but, thare maun hae been a wheen o thaim for the byenem tae stick.
Dundee 1999  T. M. Devine The Scottish Nation 1700-2000 533:
Dundee had a reputation as a 'women's town', where women not in paid employment were regarded as lazy and the men who remained at home were referred to as 'kettle boilers' who prepared the meals.
Dundee 1999  Sunday Times 3 Oct :
For 100 years until the mid-1900s, women outnumbered men in the city's population. More women worked in Dundee than in any other city, eight out of 10 of them in the mills. Their labour was cheap, relative to male rates — though many men dismissed it as women's work. While the girls headed out for their gruelling shifts, the men fought to find jobs. Husbands who failed stayed at home, earning the sobriquet "kettle bilers".
Dundee 2002  Sunday Times 6 Oct 7:
Shift the scene to an overpopulated tenement in jute-manufacturing Dundee. Women work in the jute mills and the men become known as stay-at-home "kettle bilers".

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"Kettle n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2019 <>



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