Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SWATTER, v., n. Also swater; swather; swotter. [′swɑtər]

I. v. 1. To splash in a hasty or excited manner through water or other liquid, to dabble, splatter, flounder about (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1930; Kcb. 1972); “to swim close together like young ducks” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 442); to surge, swirl. Also fig. Sc. 1720  A. Pennecuik Helicon 8:
Poor dabbled Aulus, swat'ring thro' the Pond.
Kcb. 1814  W. Nicholson Tales 100:
'Mang wants an' woes an' wars to swatter.
Sc. 1816  Scott B. Dwarf xviii.:
He lap the window into the castle-moat, and swattered through it like a wild-duck.
Lnk. 1816  G. Muir Minstrelsy 4:
Owre whins, owre bent, owre moss, they swather, Like ducks pursuin' eels amang the water.
Sc. 1825  Twa Sisters in
Child Ballads (1956) I. 135:
Aye she swattered and aye she swam.
Dmf. 1828  Carlyle Letters (Norton) I. 166:
All is swashing and swattering in extremity of bustle.
m.Sc. 1842  Whistle Binkie 43:
The blude a' swater't through my heart.
Uls. 1844  R. Huddleston Poems 24:
Quack, quack, some swaterin' braid fit crys.
Slk. 1893  R. Hall Schools 19:
Half the boys in the town might have been seen “swattering” after trout and eels.

2. tr. To souse in water, to swill. Dmf. 1920  D. J. Bell-Irving Tally-Ho 109:
I wad swatter him aboot at the bottom o' this tank like a clockin' hen.

3. To run pell-mell, to dash forward, to scurry in a wild excited manner. Bwk. 1807  A. Hewit Poems 58:
They took good night an' syne fu' fast They hameward swatter.
Uls. 1854  Uls. Jnl. Archaeol. II. 14:
We formed our body at the ford, And down the brae did swatter.

II. n. 1. A splashing or floundering about in water, a confused moving or struggling on some wet substance. Deriv. ¶swatroch, soft liquid food, drink, esp. in abundance, “lashings.” Rxb. 1815  J. Ruickbie Poems 206:
Seceders at the breach made sic a swatter.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 27:
Milkporritch, sowings, and sic like glorious belly-timmer — famous swatroch, man.
m.Lth. c.1830  J. Taylor Curling (1884) 123:
A general swatter now ensued for the shore.
Fif. 1832  Fife Herald (26 July):
The Witch Lake and Castle Creek are like goose-dubs — nothing but swatter all day long.
Kcb. 1898  Crockett Standard Bearer 14:
Reamin' swatrochs of Hollands an' French brandy.

2. A large collection or crowd, esp. of small creatures or things in animation, a swarm, drove (Lth., Ayr. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., swotter; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein, of bees, minnows; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Bnff., Abd. 1972). Deriv. swatterich. Lth. 1808  Jam.:
A swatter of bairns, a great number of children.
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.:
The diverse activities of the ‘swatterich o' geets'.
Kcd. 1958  Mearns Leader (1 Aug.):
Claes, sheen, an' Gweed kens fit a' for a swatter o' kids.

[O.Sc. swatter, to splash about, 1501, of freq. formation and imit. orig. Cf. Squatter, Swattle, v.1, and Du. dial. zwadderen, L.Ger. schwadern, id.]

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"Swatter v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Mar 2018 <>



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