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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CLOOT, CLOUT, Kloot, n.1 The spelling clout often conceals a [klut] pronunciation.

1. A patch. Last quot. in N.E.D. for clout is 1719. Gen.Sc.Abd.4 1928:
Pit a cloot abeen a cloot, An' that 'ill turn the win' aboot.
Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) v.:
They're scarce o' cloots that mend their hose wi' dockens.
Edb. 1922 P. Macgillivray Bog-Myrtle and Peat Reek 39:
The thackit riggin' needs a clout — The place is cauld an' bare.
Dmf. [1777] J. Mayne Siller Gun (1808) 11:
Nae matter tho' the cloot that eeks Is black or blue.

Hence †cloutry, patchwork. Used fig. in quot.Sc. 1723 R. Wodrow Analecta (Maitland Club 1843) III. 15:
Everything is judiciously drauen out of Holy Writ, and not by way of cloutry out of human authors.

2. A thin metal patch used for strengthening a shoe, “the box of a wheel” (Fif.1 1936), or “the barrel of a ploughshare” (Abd.2 1936). Obs. exc. dial. in Eng.Sc. 1702 Household Bk. Lady Grisell Baillie (S.H.S. 1911) 11:
For puting one a new plate on the coch and new clouts . . . £6. 0. 0. Scots.
Abd.(D) 1920 G. P. Dunbar Guff o' Peat Reek 28:
His shop — he wis a vricht, ye ken — Wis steerin wi' the guff O' fooshty timmer, cloots, an' spells — Nae winner he teen snuff.

3. A rag, a piece of cloth; a cloth, often such as is used for housework, e.g. a dishcloth or duster. Gen.Sc.Ork.(D) 1904 Dennison Orcad. Sk. 23:
The g'aists o' the deid folk wad hae torn her tae cloots an' sheu hed no ims'd her [made haste].
Abd.4 1930:
Tie a cloot roon her harns. (Advice for alleviating a headache.)
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 42:
I powkit aboot ma desk, an caad the styew frae the blackboord cloot, an drew a pictur o Miss McTavish on the boord wi a mowser that suited her rale weel.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 68:
They entered the cottage, and when the woman's back was turned, Jonet struck her hand in at the lum and pulled out a little waxen image wrapped in a linen clout.
Hdg. 1876 J. Teenan Song and Satire 16:
Then wi' her besom an' her cloot She sets tae work tae dust an' soop.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Thir Notandums v.:
The table cloot, that by way of a daidly was preened wi' a wee siller saumon. In pl.: “pieces of shirt, etc. torn up and used to serve the purpose of socks” (Ayr.4 1928); “strips of cloth wrapped round the shins (above the stockings) to protect them” (Abd.22 c.1890).

Phrases: (1) a cauld cloot, a “wet blanket”; (2) as fite as a cloot, with a face like a clout, as white as a sheet; (3) a tongue that wad (cud) clip cloots (clouts), a sharp tongue; Gen.Sc.; - like to clip clouts, in reference to a voluble and interminable talker (I., n.Sc., Per., Ayr. 1975); (4) clip-clouts, a sharp-tongued person; (5) to clip cloots wi', to quarrel with, find fault with (someone).(1) w.Dmf. 1917 J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 150:
Glenhead reckons him “a costive preacher, a conscientious veesitor, a cauld cloot at a waddin', a bucker-up at a funeral.”
(2) Bnff. 1882 W. M. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars i.:
But the lassie, peer thing, has suffered sair, for she has been as fite as a cloot ever since.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 155:
But the cook cried to her, and in she went to help with the denner, with a hert like lead, and a face like a clout.
(3) Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood iii.:
She's a tongue that wad clip cloots.
Fif. 1867 J. Morton C. Gray 54:
Wad cock her head an' gie sic pawkie looks, Her tonguie gaun as it wad clippit clouts.
s.Sc. 1835 Wilson's Tales of the Borders I. 108:
Haud yer tongue, ye wicked woman, ye, for it wad clip clouts.
Uls.(D) 1879 W. G. Lyttle Readings by Robin 30:
She has a terble bad tongue: I declare when her temper's up she cud “clip clouts wae it,” as the sayin' is.
(4) Ayr. 1834 Galt Lit. Life III. 29:
There was a carding of sense through Peter's particularity, that made his dry words no so salt as the chandler-pin terms o' that clip-clouts, Stephen Ell.
(5) Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 253:
He had a bit nyaffin' voice in the heid o' him that was aye clippin' cloots wi' somebody.

4. A baby's napkin (Bnff.2, Abd.22, Fif.10, Lnl.1 1936).Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Calendar II. ii.:
Shame fa' my stupidity! thought I to mysell. Is the haill terrible affair endit in a bichel o' baby-clouts?

5. A piece of cloth, gen. brightly coloured, sewed to the wool of a sheep as a mark of ownership. More commonly Aithken, q.v.Ork. 1827 J. Johnston in Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc. (1908) I. v. 210:
W. Nicolson, right lug off, sheer mark a bit behint in left lug and tail off and a clout affore.

6. The sail of a boat. Obs. in Eng. since 17th cent. (see N.E.D.).Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Will we gie her the kloot noo' boy?

7. (1) A garment; often used contemptuously. Frequently in pl. = clothes, vestments (Bnff.2, Ags.2, Lnl.1 1936); (2) In pl. bedclothes. (Bnff. 2000s).(1)Sh. 1801 J. Mill Diary (S.H.S. 1889) 122:
Mr Andrew Melvine . . . had preserved his life when he was in his swadling clouts.
Abd. 1909 J.T. Jeannie Jaffray vii.:
The thocht o' . . . the kirkyaird . . . has mair effeck in makin' men britherly than a' the haily clouts an' cann'les ever inventit.
Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 27:
Till garter height the neith'most clout Is bang'd wi' awfu' force.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 158:
Of course, like the lave of them, cloots, cloots, for ever cloots, is the aim and end of her bit butterflee life.
(2)Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 53:
I could see Hendry squirm underneath the blankets. ... 'If you want to ken onything like that, you will hae tae ask my man. He is lying in there, look, underneath the cloots. ... '

8. A fishing term: a measure of nets — about four yards. Also found in Cum. dial. (E.D.D. Suppl.). Cf. obs. Eng. clout, a measure of silk (N.E.D.).Sc. 1805 R. Forsyth Beauties Scot. II. 280:
Ten clout of nets are the quantity allowed to each fisherman who has only one share in the fishing.
Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 II. 16:
Five of these pocks [bag-shaped fishing-nets] are called a clout.

9. The target used in archery, a large circle of white cloth stretched over a padded frame and set up on legs, now specif. that used by the Royal Company of Archers; a hit on the target. Obs. in Eng. Sc. 1815 J. B. Paul Hist. Royal Co. Archers (1875) 291:
Aim well at the mark to your arrow held out And often enliven the game with a 'clout'.
Sc. 1832 Chambers's Jnl. (Feb.) 24:
Clout shooting is mostly practiced by those who cannot conveniently set up butts or targets near home. The clout, which is quite portable, is made of a round piece of pasteboard, thirty-six inches in circumference, fastened to a stick; or it may be made of white cloth, so contrived as to roll up on a stick that is run through it. In clout shooting, seven is the game, and all arrows tell that fall within three bows' length of the clout.
Sc. 1951 I. Hay Royal Co. Archers 99:
These competitions, fifteen of which are shot at clouts and targets, and five at butts. Most of the shooting at clouts is at the unusually long range of 180 yards.
Sc. 1956 Scotsman (5 July) 9:
Both the target itself, and a hit scored on it, are known as clouts.

[O.Sc. clout, clowt, clut, from 1427, a piece of cloth, a patch, a rag (D.O.S.T.); Mid.Eng. clout(e), clowte, clut(e), O.E. clūt, a piece of cloth, patch, metal plate.]

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"Cloot n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 May 2024 <>



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