Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COTTAR, Cotter, Cottier, n. Older meaning: a tenant on a farm who occupied a cottage with or without a piece of land attached, the farmer working the cottar's land in return for services rendered; a peasant who occupied a cottage and rented a small plot of land from a landlord. Now applied to a married dependant on a farm who has a cottage as part of his contract. [′kɔtər, ′kɔtər] Abd. 1825 Jam.2:
In Aberdeenshire, formerly the servant employed as a ploughman by a farmer had generally a separate house assigned him, with a piece of land, and was denominated . . . the cottar; while the other sub-tenants were, for the sake of distinction, designed cottar-men or cottar-fouk. Hence, till of late, the ploughman was called the cottar, though living in the same house with his master.
Ags. 1845 P. Livingston Poems and Songs 21:
There the cottar and the laird Lie side by side an' slumber In the auld kirk-yard.
Bwk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 II. 174:
Secondly the cottar . . . engages to do harvest work.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Cotter's Saturday Night ii.:
The toil-worn cotter frae his labor goes, This night his weekly moil is at an end.
Kcb. 1895 S. R. Crockett Men of the Moss-Hags ix.:
The man was in his own country, and among his own kenned faces, his holders and cottiers.

Combs.: (1) cottar beer, cotter-bear, a boll of barley given to a cottar as part of his remuneration; a patch of barley grown specially for cottars; (2) cottar dung, manure collected by a cottar, who was allowed the first crop from the land so manured; (3) cottar market, “the market held for the hiring of cottars” (Abd.13 1910); (4) cottar's ha', a cottar's cottage; (5) cottar town, a group of houses inhabited by cottars and their dependants (Ags.1 1937); cf. cottown s.v. Cot; (6) cottar wark, -work, stipulated work done by a cottar for the farmer on whose land he dwells, as part of his contract (Abd.22 1937; Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer I. xx., — wark). (1) Lth. 1801 J. Thomson Poems (1819) 120:
Janet first at Meg did spier, How looks your lint and cottar beer?
e.Lth. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 II. 354:
One boll of barley, for cotter-bear, as it is called.
(2) e.Lth. 1794 G. Buchan-Hepburn Gen. View Agric. e. Lth. 92:
A considerable extent of ground is annually manured in this county, by what we call the cottar dung.
(4) Abd. 1845 P. Still Cottar's Sunday, etc. 17:
I sing that hallowed day as spent in cottar's ha'.
(5) Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters 16:
According to the fashion of the good olden times, there was a cottar town attached to Broombank, containing a number of families; the fathers were all employed on the farm, and also several of the sons and daughters; the cottagers were allowed grazing for a cow, and several other little immunities.
(6) Cai. 1812 J. Henderson Gen. View Agric. Cai. 231:
Some of the cottagers paid a day in the week to the farmer, by the name of cottar-work.

[O.Sc. cottar, cotter, a tenant occupying a cottage and the land attached to it, from c.1400 (D.O.S.T.). From Eng. cot, a cottage, + -ar, -er, or perhaps based on Med.Lat. cotarius. The form cottier (the reg. form in Ireland) has come through older Fr. cotier.]

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"Cottar n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Apr 2021 <>



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