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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Swet(e, Sweit, Sweat, n.2 Also: suet(e, sweyt, sueit, sueyt, swat(e, suate, swait, sweatt, sueat, sweet, swyt. [ME and e.m.E. swate, swote (both Layamon), suete (Cursor M.), swet (Wyclif), sweet (Trevisa), swett (?a1400), sweate (1535), OE swát, LG swêt, ON sveiti.]

1. The life-blood. Only to lose (tyne) the swete. 1375 Barb. xiii 32.
Sum held on loft, sum tynt the suet [: feit]
c1475 Wall. iii 194.
The Scottis on fute gert mony lois the suete
1513 Doug. i iii 10.
The valiant Hectour losit the swete On Achillis speir
1513 Doug. vii viii 130.
Abowt hym fell down ded, and lost the sweit, Mony of the hyrdmen
1513 Doug. viii vi 76.
1560 Rolland Seven S. Schort Schawing 17.
Baith Scottis & Inglis of Leith lay at the toun, … quhair sindrie loist the sweit

2. Sweat, perspiration.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xviii 305.
For rednes tuk hyme sic abaysinge, That the swet til his fete rane
1513 Doug. xii vi 71.
Hys stedys, rekand of swete quhar thai raid
1533 Bell. Livy I 282/9.
Als sone as his govne was dicht fra suete [L. sudore] and duste [etc.]
1551 Hamilton Cat. 152.
He prayit a lang prayar, sa that his swet come rynnand doune upon the erde lyke droppis of blude
(b) ?1438 Alex. ii 7403.
To put ȝour bodeis to assay, In bath of sueit [F. en baing de süour] and swordis hewin
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 1239.
Swift horsis … Schynand for sweit as thay had bene anoynt
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 202.
Ane borrowit goun, And ane caprowsy barkit all with sweit
1513 Doug. iii iii 51.
The cald sweit our al my body ran
1535 Stewart 12957.
Saturne … With attrie visage droppand full of sweit
1567 G. Ball. 211.
Lang or the sweit cum ouer ȝour browis
a1578 Pitsc. II 60/27.
Quhene they had red throw all his lang manassingis his face runing done witht sueit and fuming at the mouth lyk ane bair
1604 Dundonald Par. Rec. 54.
Gif the sveit vent dounvart to his seit he vald mend
(c) 1375 Barb. xi 613.
For the [rycht] gret heit that thai had … all [thair] flesche of swat wes wete
c1420 Wynt. iv 1037.
In swate all drawkyd, as thai were
(d) 1513 Doug. v iv 81.
In thar dry throtis the aynd worth skant, And swait down triglys in stremys
1575–6 St. A. Kirk S. 415.
His wyffe was sa seik that nane trowit hir lyffe being oppressit with swait and womyng
(e) 1600-1610 Melvill 137.
I wald ly burning thairin [sc. a fever] and reaving, and ryse again without anie swyt
(f) 1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 157.
The vther half of the day melting awy his bodye in extraordiner cauld sweatt, throw the quhilk he depairtit this lyff

b. In (with) blude and swete. Also in fig. context (cf. 4 below). ?1438 Alex. i 869.
My steid … sall halely Be haillit in blude and sueat alsa
?1438 Alex. i 2150.
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) lxxii 53.
With blude and sweit was all deflorde His face
a1568 Bann. MS 33b/40.
Thy tendir hyd … Wery for wrocht in watter blud & sueit
fig. 1562-3 Winȝet I 8/30.
Neuir intendand to clenge thair handis of the kirk rentis, nor of the blude and sueit of the pure anis

c. The swete of (one's) brow (visage, body), hard physical labour (after Genesis iii 19). 1456 Hay I 67/34.
God gave the sentence … that in the suate of his visage he suld wyn his brede
1549 Compl. 123/15.
I susteen ther lyif vitht trauel & vitht the suet of my body
1549 Compl. 142/4.
[The people] succeid sa eysilie to reches vitht out the suet of there brouis, or pane of there body
1561 Bk. Univ. Kirk I 9.
Neyther … leve upoun the sweit of the browes of sick as ar no detteris unto thame
1568 Lyndesay Pref. (STS) 402.
He man eit vp the sweit & laubouris of the pure mannis browis
1586 Reg. Privy C. IV 121.
Idill men … quhilkis utherwayes wald be sustenit as idill belleis on the sueit of uthir menis browis
1596 Dalr. I 98/14.
Thay far starker do make … quhilke nathir … doune can be castne, or without sum trauel, with the sueit of thair browis

3. a. A state or condition of being sweaty. b. A fit of sweating; an illness characterised by fits of this kind. Freq., in (a) swete. Also, the sueit of Britannie, a disease of this kind. c. The action of sweating constantly as a result of illness. d. A film of sweat.a. a1400 Leg. S. xviii 578.
Rycht to the dure with trawal gret Til I come, & in gret swet
b. (1) a1500 Henr. Fab. 491.
Syne, paill of hew, half in ane extasy [She] Fell doun for cair in swoning and in sweit
1513 Doug. xiii Prol. 136.
Fenȝeand hym Jherom forto contyrfeit, Quhar as he lyggis bedovyn, lo, in sweit
(2) a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 514.
With hait fewir ane sweit and trimbling Him tuik
1531 Bell. Boece II 206.
King Duffus … was resolvit in ane continewal sweit, and micht get na rest nor sleip
1596–7 Misc. Spald. C. I 86.
Melting away hir bodie with ane extraordinar sweit
Urquhart Rabelais ii ii.
Great drops of water, such as fall from a puff-bagged man in a top sweat [F. comme quand quelque personne sue copieusement]
1675 Coltness Coll. 350.
She fell into a sweet, and slept … , so that all had good hopes that it might prove a coole
(3) 1596 Dalr. I 5/19.
That sair seiknes named the sueit of Britannie cam nevir till ws
c. 1596 Dalr. I 287/8.
[The king] sueitis continuallie, throw sueit he dekayes, and weiris away, his body heirby is wasted and consumet
d. 1597 Elgin Rec. II 54.
Thair was ane reid kow … that haid a sueit upoun hir back lyik to droppis of bluid

4. fig. Hard labour, toil; pains, exertion.(1) c1420 Wynt. i 161.
And wytht his swat till ete hys brede Drywand hys lyf till dulefulle dede
1513 Doug. ix vii 196.
Mesapus … The goldin gyrdill, and trappouris prowdly wrocht, With mekill swete and labour agane brocht
(2) 1533 Gau 93/23.
Lat wsz notht liff of the sweyt and blwid of the pwir
(3) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii 1241.
With swink & swet Hiddir thai come & trawall gret

5. Sweit bed, ? a hot bed or place, as, a manure heap or midden. Cf. mod. Sc. sweet-bed, heaped malt or the heaping of malt in the process of fermentation (Orkney). a1585 Polwart Flyt. 179 (H).
Thow sowkit syne ane sweit bed sow [T. broid blak sow] Among the midings, mony a yeir

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"Swet n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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