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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BLATTER, Blatther, v. and n. [′blɑtər Sc.; ′blɑθər Uls.]

1. v., tr. and intr.

(1) “To rattle, beat with violence; often used of rain, hail, etc.; to blare. Of candles: to snuff” (Bnff.2 1934). Gen.Sc.Abd. 1897 G. Macdonald Salted with Fire ix.:
For even the deid wauk whan the trumpet blatters i' their lug!
Ags. 1921 A. S. Meill Carroty Broon xviii.:
“Ye blattered oot the cannels,” he said, “and in the dark I — I — weel, I gae Minnie a wee bit kiss.”
Edb. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 135:
Night coming on, I was right fain To seek a shelter frae the rain, That blatter'd i' my face amain.
Lnk. 1865 J. Hamilton Poems and Sketches 146:
An' the looms they were rattlin' an' blatterin' awa.

(2) To talk fast and noisily. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1845 J. Grant Romance of War xiv.:
I never heard ony ane blatter sic words.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 96:
It's aye the wey — the man that's dreich, or slack . . . Is shair to be the first to blatter oot A great fraca.
Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle xxxiv.:
Sit down or stand aside and don't blatter the ears off us.

(3) To flutter, flicker.Sh.(D) 1877 G. Stewart Sh. Fireside Tales (1892) 42:
A püir deein' objekd, wi' da life just blatterin' in.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); 1914 Angus Gl.:
De light blatters, the light flickers; de sails b[latter], the sails are flapping to and fro (in the wind); blatterin claes (of clothes hung to dry in the wind).
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Calendar II. iv.:
An ye gie but the witches o' Traquair ten minutes, ye will hae naething o' them but moorfowls and paitricks blattering about the rigging o' the kirk. [Jak. supposes a form *blaktra, from O.N. blaka, blakra, v., to wave; cf. Fær. blaktra, flap, flicker.]

(4) “To run noisily and with short steps” (Bnff.2 1934); to clatter.Abd. 1898 J. Milne Poems 19:
Ye canna match the owsen plough . . . They neither blatter on a bog, Nor brattle on a brae.
Bch. 1914 T.S.D.C. I. 22:
Blatter. To walk with quick short steps, as if afraid of falling.
Rxb. 1917 Kelso Chron. (27 July) 2/6:
Barefitted, helter-skelter, through . . . thorns, an' lang grass — blatterin like ma nannie O.
Slk. 1835 Hogg Tales Wars of Montrose III. 224:
Maxwell's feet blattered down the lowest stair.

(5) “To pelt, as with stones” (centr. Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Ags. 1823 A. Balfour Foundling of Glenthorn I. vii.; Ags.1 1934:
For I ken naething that I coud gang handy like about, an' it werena blatterin' stanes at the yeld cattle.

(6) “To tear up, as by wind” (centr. Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

(7) Used with adv. force in phrases cam blatter, let blatter, to denote vigorous, noisy action.Ags.(D) 1922 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden vi.:
An' then they cam blatter in a' at ance.
Ayr. 1900 “G. Douglas” House w. the G. Shutters (1901) xxi.:
The Deacon there couldna let blatter wi' a hearty oath to save his withered sowl.

Hence blatt(e)rin', (a) ppl.adj., noisy, blustering, clattering; usually applied to weather; (b) vbl.n.,loud noise.(a) Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 158:
Ohl Maggie has a fearfu' mither! A thrawart, yatterin', blatterin' mither.
Edb. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 169:
The pompous arch . . . Opens to let by the blatt'rin storm.
(b) Mry. 1830 T. D. Lauder Moray Floods (1873) 232:
It was an aw'some night, what wi' the roar an' ragin' o' the water . . . an' the blatterin' o' the rain without.

2. n.

(1) A loud, rattling or rustling noise. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 283:
The phizzing Bowt came with a Blatter, And dry'd our great Sea to a Gutter.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 9:
Robin, frae a neib'rin' tree, Doun cam dartin' wi' a blatter.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems and Songs 102; Ayr.8 1934:
He brings the cocks down wi' a blatter.

fig. An ostentatious display, a “splash.”Ags. 1896 J. M. Barrie Sentimental Tommy xviii.:
Which [coin] to spend first? . . . The one found in the rat's hole. Ay . . . we'll make the first blatter with it.

(2) “Storm of rain, hail, etc.” (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.1 1934; Fif.1 1936; Edb.1 1929; Ayr.8 1934).m.Sc. 1838 A. Rodger Poems 305:
While trenchers, bowls, and candlesticks, Flee through the house wi' hailstane blatter.
nw.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Blatter, a sharp, heavy shower (of rain).

(3) A blow; a heavy fall; “a shot from a gun” (Bnff.2, Kcb.9 1934).Ags. 1833 J. S. Sands Poems 88:
I never saw a covey fatter, A' kill'd, too, at a single blatter.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 1:
As some outlandish half'lin creatures . . . An' born to thole their buffs an' blatters.
Ayr. [1836] J. Ramsay Woodnotes (1848) 40:
And aye the callans were as keen To stan' and get a blatter, As they had Roman Cath'lics been, And it a' holy water.
Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
“He fell a blatther on the groun',” i.e. with great force.

(4) “An incoherent flow of words” (Bnff.2 1934, Ags.9 1927); a stammer, stuttering.Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary (1818) ix.:
Out cam sic a blatter o' Latin about his lugs, that poor Rab Tull . . . was clean overwhelmed.
Abd. 1895 G. Williams Sk. of Scarbraes 31:
We saw ye makin' mou's to lat a blatter at it, but afore ye got ae cheep oot the thing was awa frae ye.
Ayr. c.1800 D. Hogg Life J. Wightman (1873) 140:
James Wilson, subsequently well-known as Sergeant Blathers from his stammering speech.

[O.Sc. blatter, speak indistinctly, drive with noise and force. Perhaps partly from Lat. blaterāre (D.O.S.T.). Cf. Blutter.]

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"Blatter v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Jun 2023 <>



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