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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

AIRT, ART, AIRTH, n.2 Point of the compass, quarter; way, manner; also more gen., direction. Gen.Sc. [ert, ɛrt Sc.; erθ n.Sc., em.Sc.; e1rθ sn.Sc.; art + ert Uls.]

1. n.Sc. 1712 Prof. Blackwell Letters in Spalding Club Misc. (1841) I. 207:
Since Moonday last, Mr Carstares and I have been running amongst the members in all arts of the city, endevouring to shew the unaccountablenes of the same.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 253:
But frae that Airth we needna fear great Skaith.
Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 10:
What airt is the wind in — How is the wind? From what quarter does it blow?
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Airt is the general pronunciation in the West of S., airth in the Eastern counties.
Sc. 1988 Scotsman 29 Dec 9:
During his 14 years as editor Maurice Fleming has built up a close relationship with a dozen or so freelance writers who contribute regularly, and he has a team who contribute to the Speaking Scots column from a' the airts.
Sc. 1989 Scotsman 26 Oct 15:
Glasgow ready to flourish through a culture shock from a' the airts and arts.
Sc. 1991 T. S. Law in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 31:
In siccan a dreech ootlin orrie airt
ane wurld an groo but growthieness
that skyles in aa its sairie stanes
or the groo gangs lirt i the luft
sae nane may lippen ont.
Sc. 1991 Roderick Watson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 103:
See Cresseid in Diomede's tent
(chancy airts thon airmy tents)
syne see Troilus his lane on the waas.
Ork. 1996 Orcadian 4 Jan 13:
I went around the house with the camera, snapping the sunrise under a vast weathermouth spanning the sky from east to west; a sounding gaggle of geese passed over Hoy as I turned the camera in that airt, too far away to be visible in the finished print.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 51:
That gate I'll had, gin I the airths can keep.
Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie xlvi.:
There's naething nae mair to come ower me, Blaw the win' frae ony airt.
Abd. 1993:
I'm fae e Auchterless airt.
Ags. 1846 A. Laing Wayside Flowers (1878) 120:
An' wooers come frae ilka airth. [“Airth not airt is the common Montrose and Brechin form, and Laing was a Brechin man.” Ags.1]
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 64:
The airt you gie me's aye the north.
Heid tae the wun or dowp tae yirth,
nae maitter, the harns pirl roon
an' wi a shoogle an' a trummle syne settle doon
and point me whaur I'd be.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 23:
"Salvation's muckle wondrous scheme
Seek oot in aw the airts tae view,
An aye ye'll fin ma kinrick's warks
Will ful yer ingyne fou. ... "
Fif. 1896 “G. Setoun” R. Urquhart xii. 131:
He's awa' down to the manse. We might tak' a dander that airt thegither.
Lnk. 1881 A. Wardrop Poems, Songs, etc. 9:
It's your ain faut, Johnnie Mathison, for Kirsty Renton crosses ower the muir every ither day, an' you never look the airt she's on.
m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 39:
It wasna likely I was gaun to let my wean be sair'd the same airt, afore my lookin' een.
Edb. 1721 A. Pennecuik Streams from Helicon, Meditation iii.:
Till these come flying on the Wings of Wind, From diff'rent Airths no more to be disjoin'd.
Hdg. 1902 J. Lumsden Toorle, etc. 97:
Sits the wind in that airt?
Hdg.1 1931:
Airth is the usual form in Hdg.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Of a' the Airts i.:
Of a' the airts the wind can blaw I dearly like the west.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Ringan Gilh. II. xxx.:
I arose and went towards the airt from which it had come.
s.Sc. 1730 T. Boston Memoirs 30:
They can have little hope from that airth.
Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn. 3:
Art, airt, point of the compass. “What art is the win' in the day?”

2. Phrase: Airt o' the clicky. The direction shown by the fall of a stick.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 11:
Airt o' the Clicky. — When a pilgrim at any time gets bewildered, he poises his staff perpendicular on the way, then leaves it to itself, and on whatever direction it falls, that he pursues; and this little trait of superstition is termed the Airt o' the Clicky — the direction of the staff.

[Etym. uncertain. Art occurs in Mid.Eng. in 14th cent., and in Sc. in early 15th. Airt appears in early 16th cent., airth a little later. Cf. Gael. aird, point of the compass.]

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"Airt n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jul 2024 <>



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