Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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CATTLE, n. Sc. usages.

1. (1) “Applied to lice and other similar insects” (Sc. 1898 E.D.D.). Known to Abd. correspondents and Lnk.3 1938. Ayr. 1786  Burns To a Louse iii.:
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle, Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle.

(2) Applied to beasts, birds, etc., in gen. (Abd.9, Abd.22 1938). Obs. or arch. now in this sense in Eng. Fif. 1897  “S. Tytler” Witch-Wife xiv.:
She acted similarly with the boxes containing her “wee cattle” of birds and beasts.

2. Used contemptuously of persons. Known to Abd. correspondents, Fif.10, Slg.3, Lnk.3 1938. Arch. in this sense in Eng. (N.E.D.), but given in Un. and Concise Eng. Dicts. Ags. 1851  T. Watson Rhymer's Family 6:
Oh, fie! auld nick, thou shameless devil! Wad thou at hame but riot and revel, And be content to bear the bell 'Mang gruesome cattle like thysel'.
Fif. 1895  “S. Tytler” Kincaid's Widow x.:
Like draws to like, and strange cattle maun learn to keep their place.

3. Combs.: (1) cattle beas(ts), -bastes, “the generic name for all sorts of live stock”(Ags. 1893 J. Inglis Oor Ain Folk (1894) vi., — beasts); see also Beas'; very rarely used in sing. = a cow; known to Bnff.2, Abd., Ags. and Fif. correspondents, Slg.3, Lnk.3 1938; (2) cattle-bucht, -pen, “enclosed court for cattle” (Upper Deeside 1917 (per Abd.8)); also known to Abd.2, Fif.10 1938; (3) cattle-court = (2); known to Bnff.2, Abd.22, Ags.1 1938; (4) cattle-creep, “a low arch or gangway to enable cattle to pass under or over a railway” (Sc. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.; Bnff.2 1938; w.Fif.4 1930); (5) cattle-pen, see (2); (6) cattle-raik, — rake, †(a) “a common, or extensive pasture, where cattle feed at large” (Sc. 1808 Jam., -raik); (b) “a road for driving cattle to fairs” (Ags.1, Ags.2 1938); (7) cattle reed = (2) (Sc. 1855 J. C. Morton (ed.) Cycl. Agric. II. 721; Abd.2 1938; Upper Deeside 1917 (per Abd.8), rare; Ags.17 1938; Per., Fif. 1916 T.S.D.C. II.; Fif.10 1938). See also Reed. (1) Sc. 1928  L. Spence in Scots Mag. (July) 271:
On Crossmorton pasture the yowes wes hoastin' like it wes the back-end, and disease had gotten amang the cattle-bastes.
Ags. 1861  R. Leighton Rhymes and Poems (2nd ed.) 56:
Legs and horns like cattle beas.
em.Sc. 1894  (a) “I. Maclaren” Bonnie Brier Bush 17:
Little mair than the price o' a cattle beast.
(3) Mearns 1932  “L. G. Gibbon” Sunset Song, Prelude 24:
Right between the byre and the stable and the barn on one side and the house on the other was the cattle-court.
(6) (b) Ags. 1912  J. A. Duthie Rhymes and Reminisc. 121:
I thocht I'd tak' a bit daunder alang the auld “Cattle Rake.”
(7) Fif. 1936  St Andrews Cit. (5 Sept.) 10/6:
The firemen . . . succeeded in saving the stables, cattle reeds, and several other smaller buildings.
em.Sc. 1895  (a) “I. Maclaren” Days of Auld Langsyne 26:
[It was] juist some bit differ wi' the new factor. . . . Noo, if it hed been ower a cattle reed ye cud hae understude it.

[Catale, cattell, etc., cattle, live-stock, found in O.Sc. from 1375 (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Cattle n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2019 <>



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