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

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First published 1983 (DOST Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Petty, -i(e, a. Also: pet-; pitt- and , -ey, -ae. [ME. and e.m.E. pety (Piers Plowman), petie (1532), pettie (1582), also pittie (Waterford Municipal Archive), phonetic spelling after French pronunciation of Petit a.] Petty, in the usual senses.

1. Only when prefixed to a proper name, as part of a nickname: Small in size or stature. 1494 Treas. Acc. I. 233.
Pette Johnne
1497 Ib. 326.
Pete Johne
1513 Ib. IV. 531. 1633 Edinb. Sasines XX. 343 b.
Johne Hope alias pittae Johne

2. Of persons or, chiefly, things: Of less size or importance (than another person or thing specified or, usu., implied); minor, lesser; smaller; inferior.Freq. comb. with a following noun, as e.g. (the) petty commoun (of Dunfermline and Culross), cf. Commoun n. 4.; petty lairdner; pety quarter, ‘appar. a measure introduced from France, perhaps referring to 25 instead of 28, which is the fourth of ‘the lang hunder wecht’ ’ (Jam.); petty schole, a school for young boys [cf. e.m.E. petie scole id. (1555–6)]; Petty-custom(e n.; etc.(1) 1444 Aberd. B. Rec. MS. IV. 350.
Ilke pety quarter of salt that thai had in the samyn schip
1466–7 Ib. V. i. 592 (12 Jan.).
Twa pety quarteris of quheit
1498 Halyb. 178.
ij pety quartris of salt
(2) 1457 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I. 16.
Lie pittie heavin syluer de Leyth
1658 Lanark B. Rec. 167.
In the caice of pittie debt
1666 Glasgow Chart. II. 63.
Ane impost and exactione of certane pittie dewties upon the river of Clyde
1680 Edinb. B. Rec. X. 394.
The pittie impost of wynes [is] exacted by … taxmen
1681 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. 12 Jan.
Anent his pittey impost
1696 Sc. Hist. Rev. XVIII. 254.
[The skipper was to receive £18 Scots] together also with towadge and rowadge and pittie pillitage and other dewties
(b) 1660 Old Ross-shire I. 186.
1679 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. MS. 27 Nov.
Uthyre pettie compts
(3) 1531–2 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I. 105.
Tua grete kystis ane … to the petty lairdner
? 1605 Reg. Privy C. VII. 744.
That in every parish there may be some lurgg dogges kept … for following of pettie stouthes
1612 Dundee Shipping L. 230 (see Card n.2 (b)). 1641 Spalding II. 50.
Chantoris or petty chantoris
16.. Gordon Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II. 312.
Ther be other pettie countreys south … from Ros, as Knoydert [etc.]
(b) 1622 Mar & Kellie MSS. Suppl. 134.
Hurt in the pittie ventre with a pyke
1648 S. Leith Rec. 84.
Pittie brewings
1661 Red Bk. Grandtully II. 159.
The doctrine and disclipline of our church as it now stands from the pittie sessione to the generall assemblie
1665–7 Lauder Jrnl. 70.
Pitty roobery or theifte
(4) 1534 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 118.
Myllar to the myllof Bawmyll … perteynyng to the petycommon of Dunfermlyn
1560 (1565) Reg. Great S. 387.
Ad lie petticommone … inter lie pittecommone hortos ville de Culros communes latrinas vulgo lie nestreis et semitam ab illis ad [etc.]
1598 Retours Inq. Val. Dominii de Culross (4).
Twa aikeris of land … and his pairt of the petticomoun
1545 Reg. Privy S. III. 204/2.
Super vicaria lie petty vicarage de Strathmeglo
(5) a1578 Pitsc. I. 241/10.
That he was callit … the pittie roy [v.r. petteroy] of Napillis
1657 Balfour Ann. I. 20.
One of the pittey kinges of that iyland [sc. Ireland]
(6) 1660 Dumfries Council Min. 12 Mar.
Detaining of thair children from the grammar schoole of this brugh & be puttin thair children to wther pettie schooles within this brughe
Ib. 10 Dec.
To petty schooles ather in brughe or landward

3. Of small importance; insignificant, trifling. 1606 Birnie Kirk-b. xiii.
And if I were posed of my pettie opinion heerein [etc.]
1661 Red Bk. Grandtully 161.
1665 Lauder Jrnl. 27.
Of this chamber goes a pitty but pretty litle cabinet for devotion
1669 Peebles B. Rec. II. 79.
Everie traidsman … to pay each mercate … ane pettie sowme to the box-maister of the burgh wher they sell waire

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"Petty adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 May 2024 <>



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