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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.

BELD, BEL(L), BEL(L)T, Bal', Baul, adj.1, n. and v. Compar. belder. [bɛld Sc., Sh.; bɛlt Bnff., Abd., Ags.; bɛl Lth., Lnk., Kcb., Rxb. + bæl; bɑ(:)l Abd., Kcb.]

1. adj.

(1) Used as bald in St.Eng.Sc. 1891 R. Ford Thistledown iv.:
“Leeze me abune them a',” exclaimed she, “for yon auld, beld, clear-headed man.”
Sc. 1994 Pete Fortune in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 156:
... but then they wid, him bein somethin o a chairakter. Ane o thaim wis as beld as an auld coot - an him juist a bit boy - richt wee gowk he wis.
L.Bnff. 1926 (per Bnff.4):
Bell't pow, bald pow.
Abd.(D) 1767 R. Forbes Jnl. from London, etc. (1869) 14:
The third [traveller] was an auld, wizen'd, haave coloured carlen, a sad gysard indeed, an' as baul' as ony ettercap.
Abd.13 1910:
Hair an' hair maks the carl bel't. Constant dripping wears away a stone.
Knr. [1886] “H. Haliburton” Horace in Homespun (1925) 100:
It's juist a year — it's no' a year, I'm no' a hair the belder.
Lnk. 1862 D. Wingate Poems and Songs 111:
The Dominie's sel', He was gray, thin, and bel'.
Ayr. 1787 Burns To Daunton Me (Cent. ed.) v.:
Wi' his teethless gab and his auld beld pow.
Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 83:
Whut though my pow be scant o' hair, an micht in time be bal'?

Hence beldness, belthness, baldness (Clydes. 1825 Jam.2), and belltness, baldness (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D.Bnff. 216).

Comb.: Baldy Bain, also Baldy Bayne. Nickname for a bald man (Fif., Edb., Gsw., Ayr. 2000s). Edb. 1992:
'What's yer name?' 'Baldy Bain', 'What's yer other?' 'Breid and butter.'
wm.Sc. 1991 Gus Morrison in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 9: Scream If You Want to Go Faster 127: wish ye were wee again and ye wid pit Baldy Bain for yir name and huv an address in another galaxy frae a planet that eats earthlings who think up forms and rifts them into orbit.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 9:
Baldy Bayne A nickname applied to any bald man. I don't know if an original existed but there is at least one pub that bears the name.

(2) Used of animals, esp. horses or cattle, marked with a white spot, gen. on the forehead.Sc. 1703 Acc. Bk. Sir J. Foulis (S.H.S. 1894) (31 May):
To wattie wadie for bleiding the beld horse and haugh milne horss . . . 0. 4. 0.

2. n.

(1) (See quot.)Sc. 1887 Jam.6:
Bell. A bald place, a spot of baldness.

(2) (See quot.)Sc. 1825 Jam.2; also 1879–1882 Jam.5:
Bell on a horse's face. A blaze, a white mark. [Jam.6 1887 adds “a patch of white, as in the forehead of a cow or horse,” but no example of (1) or (2) is given from modern writers.]
Edb. 1739 Caled. Mercury (13 Nov.):
The Colt has a Bell in his Forehead like a half moon.

Deriv.: baldy, a very short haircut.Sc. 2004 Daily Record 15 Sep 3:
'One guy with long hair brought up women's football and Peter went over to him and said, 'That's a question I think we should address, madam'.
'The poor bloke probably went away and got a baldie after that.'
Edb. 1992:
Whae gave ye that baldy?
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 9:
baldy A very short haircut: 'That was a right baldy ye got.

3. v. “To make bald” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D.Bnff. 216).Bnff.2 1933:
They say that the fleg 'at he got bell't his heid in a nicht's time.

ppl.adj. bell't.Abd.9 1934:
Ay faith, Willie, bit ye're gey sair bell't.

Combs.: (1) Bal' kweet, bŭl kweet or bŭlkit, bell-kite, bald coot.Sc. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 178:
From the white bare spot above the bird's bill it is called Bell kite — i.e. Bald coot.
Bch. 1891 J. Forrest in Bch. Field Club ii. 12:
It [the Buchan dialect] thus makes fun of the bald coot, turning that waterfowl first into bal' kweet, and then degrading it further into a bŭl kweet or bŭlkit.
w.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 53:
Also bell-kite. The bald-coot, Fulica atra.

(2) Beld-headit, -headed, -heided, bald-headed.Fif. 1894 W. D. Latto Tammas Bodkin, Swatches o' Hodden-Grey xviii.:
I thocht o' the beld-headit prophet.
Edb. 1839 W. McDowall Poems 89:
He was nae auld beld-headed drone.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae 'Tween Clyde and Tweed 84:
Sae, Jock, I laid my auld beld-heided croon Aside the kye, an' tholed a sair nicht there.

(3) Bell-pow, bald-head.Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxvi.:
Plaiting hair into wigs for auld folks that have bell-pows.

(4) Bel poot, bell-pout, bel powt, the bald coot.e.Lth. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 178:
Bel poot, the coot . . . i.e. Bald-powt or -fowl.
Rxb.1 c.1920:
Thon's no wild duiks, ye blockid, thon's bel powts.
ne., central Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 53:
Bell-pout. . . . The bald-coot.

[O.Sc. beld, belde, adj., with meanings 1 (1) and (2) above (D.O.S.T.). Mid.Eng. balled, orig. = white (belde, bellyde); cf. Welsh bali, blaze on horse's forehead, and bal, having a white mark on the forehead; hence Mod.Sc. beld-heidit, beld coot, and Eng. bald-faced stag.]

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"Beld adj.1, n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jun 2024 <>



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