Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BUT, BUTT, adv., prep.1, adj., n.1 [bʌt]

I. adv.

1. Out; into the kitchen or outer room. Gen.Sc. Sh.(D) 1898 J. J. H. Burgess Tang 193:
“Geng but, faeder, an tak midder wi you,” she said in a low voice, and the old folk went into the kitchen.
Mry.(D) 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sketches x.:
Gae awa' butt tae the passage there an' dreep a meenit.
Ags.(D) 1922 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden xv.:
I ran but to the shop.
Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 95:
Gaang but. Go into the outer room.
Peb. 1793 Peggy's Myll (ed. R. D. C. Brown 1832) lxxxvii.:
Kynd Is'bel brocht the bottyl butt.
Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Gen. View Agric. Ayr 115:
The people in the in-seat saw butt to the byre, and the inhabitants of the byre and stable, could look ben to the in-seat.

Phr.: but an' ben, (1) backwards and forwards; from the kitchen to the best room; also fig.; (2) at opposite ends (of the same house, passage or landing). (1) Ork.(D) 1907 J. T. S. Leask in Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc. I. ii. 63:
Dey sowt an' sowt waan an' oonwaan, but an' ben, . . . bit nae hair o'm fand dey.
Abd. c.1746 W. Forbes Dominie Deposed (1800) 11:
Young Jock within wou'd fain be out, An' but an' ben made sic a rout Wi' hands an' feet.
Edb. 1865 M. Barr Poems (1870) 157:
When we were bits o' bairnies, an' toddlin' but an' ben.
Rxb. c.1885 W. Laidlaw Poetry and Prose (1908) 27:
I've searched my mind, baith but an' ben, For something new.
(2) Bch. 1928 (per Abd.15):
Two farmers, joint tenants, but each occupying different rooms in the farmhouse, “eest te bide but an' ben.”
Edb. 1872 J. Smith Jenny Blair's Maunderings (1881) 41:
Timothy Timmertaes, as he ca's himsel, — lives but-an-ben wi' me on the same passage.
Clydes. 1887 Jam.6:
Ken her! we leeve but an' ben wi' ither.

2. Into the parlour (Bnff.2 1937). Rare in this sense; cf. Ben, adj. (2), and etym. note. Fif. 1899 “S. Tytler” Miss Nanse vii.:
And when they were in the inn at Boar Braes they invited but (into the parlour) all the glaikit inn lasses.

II. prep. Out or away from the speaker or spectator; across; along. Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2, Ags.1, Lnk.3, Arg.1 1937. ne.Sc. a.1835 J. Grant Tales of the Glens (1836) 58:
I min', as my father gaed but the trance till's bed, he bade us a' gang hame like gude bairns, and nae brak the Sabbath day.
Bnff.(D) 1933 M. Symon Deveron Days 15:
I see them yet ae summer day come hodgin' but the fleer.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 74:
[Lindy] lifts up his head, an' looking butt the floor, Sees Bydby standing just within the door.

Phr.: but the hoose, — house, but-a-hoose, in or into (1) the kitchen or outer end of a two-roomed cottage; known to Cai.7, Bnff.2, Ags.1 1937; (2) the best room (ne.Sc.); known to Bnff.2 1937. (1) Abd. 1900 A. Paterson in Bnffsh. Jnl. (19 June) 3:
The guidman and guidwife generally, as I have said before, breakfasted “but-a-hoose.”
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake, etc. 85:
Jist rap her oot — she's but the hoose, An' brawlie kenn'd she o' your comin'.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail I. viii.:
Gae but the house, and see gin the supper's ready.
(2) Abd.15 1928:
In Buchan to “gang but-a-hoose” is to go into the best room, or room at the opposite end from the kitchen, or “ben.”

III. adj.

1. Outer, outside; pertaining to the “but” or kitchen (Abd.19, Fif.10 1937). Cai.7 1937 gives but en' only. Sh.(D) 1918 T. Manson Humours Peat Comm. I. ii.:
I would ask him to remember he is not in the butt end of a crofter's house, talking with his neighbour.
Ork. c.1912 J. Omond Orkney 80 Years Ago 8:
We must step warily, as over the but door is the halan' or boards on which the hens sit.

Hence butter, compar. adj., outer; in quot. below prob. = that part towards the sea. Mearns 1880 W. R. Fraser Hist. of Laurencekirk xx.:
The east or . . . the “butter,” end of the town, has been . . . completely transformed.

2 “Applied [in ne.Sc.] to the part of the house furthest from the kitchen” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 218; Bnff.2, Abd.22 1937), i.e. the best room. See also Ben, adj. (2). Abd.(D) 1875 W. Alexander Life among my Ain Folk (1882) vii.:
The corpse was laid out in the “but” end of the house, and there the “kistin'” took place.
Abd. 1900 A. Paterson in Bnffsh. Jnl. (19 June) 3:
The “but end” or parlour was ceiled, but in “the ben,” as the kitchen was termed, the bare, soot-blackened rafters were visible overhead.
Abd.13 1910:
Here but was applied to the parlour or room, although we don't use the word now since the new and larger cottages were built.

IV. n. The kitchen or outer room of a two-roomed cottage; an elliptical use of the adj. Gen.Sc., except for Edb. and Arg. Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xii.:
Caleb . . . found himself behind the hallan, or partition, from which position he could, himself unseen, reconnoitre the interior of the but, or kitchen apartment, of the mansion.
Bch. 1929 W. Littlejohn Buchan Cottar Stories 18:
The but or kitchen end had a lum as an egress for the reek.

Hence butwards, adv., towards (near) the “but” of a cottage or the outer part of a room. Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 122:
To this auld Colen glegly 'gan to hark, Wha' with his Jane sat butwards i' the mark.

Comb.: but-house, -hoose, idem. Ork. c.1912 J. Omond Orkney 80 Years Ago 8:
Most old farm houses were built on the same general plan — a long straggling row of buildings consisting of barn, stable, ben-house, but-house and byre.
Fif. 1881 W. D. Latto in Edwards Mod. Sc. Poets III. 39:
An oot-hoose, an in-hoose, a but-hoose, an' ben.

V. In phr. but and (a) ben, a two-roomed cottage. Gen.Sc. Also attrib. Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xvi.:
If he could get one end of a “but and a ben” cottage . . . he would have been well content.
Slg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 339:
A room and kitchen, or what in the language of the place is stiled a but and ben.
w.Sc. 1865 R. Buchanan Idylls and Leg. of Inverburn (1882) 134:
Almost before I knew the work was done, I found him settled in this but and ben.
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1912) ix.:
I had got a nice wee but and ben at the east end o' the Dry Gill.

[O.Sc. has but(t), adv. and prep., also but and ben (D.O.S.T.); Mid.Eng. bute, early buten, O.E. be-ūtan, būtan, būta, already in use as prep. as well as adv. See also etym. note to Ben, adj.]

But adv., prep.1, adj., n.1

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"But adv., prep.1, adj., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jan 2022 <>



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