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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.

CUTTY, CUTTIE, adj. and n. Most of the following meanings are also to be found in Eng. dial. (see E.D.D.).

I. adj.

1. Short, stumpy, diminutive (Sc. 1808 Jam.). In mod. usage mostly in combs. (see section 4) or followed by such words as knife, and -wren (Kcb.9, Kcb.10 1942), -wran (Per., Fif., Lth. Wilson; Ayr.4 1928; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 157).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 295:
With cutty Steps to ding their Striddle, And gar them fag.
Sc. 1832–46 J. Ballantyne in Whistle-Binkie (Series 2) 73:
Out cam the lang weaver wi' his biggest shuttle, Out cam the short snab wi' his sharp cutty whittle.
Peb. 1793 Carlop Green (ed. R. D. C. Brown 1832) ii. 25:
And Gawfer, wi' his cutty-thees, And lang lowse lampin' legs.
Lnk. 1923 J. S. Martin Scottish Earth 39:
Sax straks o' his cuttie knife, A weet, sax chaps and syne The bark comes aff.
Gall. c.1870 Bards of Gall. (ed. Harper 1889) 161:
Roun' the craft o' the Buchan, an' a' Causeyen' We kent ilka haunt o' the wee cutty-wren.
e.Dmf. 1894 J. Cunningham Broomieburn i.:
Cutty Beattie's offered tae wursel Bob the saddler.

2. Fig. “Testy, hasty” (Fif. 1825 Jam.2; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein), short in the temper. Given also for Per. in E.D.D.

3. Noun phrs.: (1) cutty hunker dance (see quot.), cf. curry-hunker s.v. Cooriehunker; (2) cutty-mun and treeladle, “supposed to be the name of an old [dance] tune” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2), used esp. at weddings; also simply cuttyman, the dance itself, and phr. to dance cuttymun, used fig. = to be hanged; (3) cutty-spoon and treeladle, = (2).(1) Mry. 1871 N. and Q. (4th Series) VIII. 356:
There was an old dance called “Cutty Hunker Dance,” a burlesque on dancing. It was performed by two dancers, sometimes a woman crouching down to an almost sitting posture, leaning the body forward and grasping her knees tight with both arms, and then leaping from side to side all round the room in the most grotesque fashion imaginable.
(2) Sc. 1716 Ramsay Chr. Kirk ii. xii. in Poems (1721):
He fits the Floor syne wi' the Bride To Cuttymun and Treeladle, Thick, thick that day.
Sc. 1771 W. in Weekly Mag. (24 Oct.) 115:
Old men and wives in Cuttyman surpass The youth who reel, then roll upon the grass.
Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 28:
May he dance cutty-mun, Wi' his neb to the sun And his doup to the General Director, young man.
(3) Peb. 1793 Carlop Green (ed. R. D. C. Brown 1832) ii. 32:
And trig Tam Thoomb's son, that can dance “Cutty-spoon and tree-ladle.”

4. Combs.: (1) cuttie-boynie, see Cuittyboyne; (2) cutty-clay, a short, stumpy, clay pipe (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10, Lnk.111941); †(3) cutty-gun, a short tobacco-pipe (Mearns 1825 Jam.2); †(4) cuttie-horn, “a short-shanked spoon” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 156); (5) cuttie(-y)-mun, (a) “a spoon with a small mouth and a short shaft” (Kcb.4 1900); †(b) “a short person, with an extremely small face. This face is said to be like a mun” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 155); (6) cutty(-ie)-pipe, = (2); Gen.Sc.; †(7) cutty-rung, “a crupper used for a horse that bears a pack-saddle, formed by a short piece of wood fixed to the saddle at each end by a cord” (Mearns 1808 Jam.); also corrupt form cuttumrung; †(8) cutty(-ie) sark, a short chemise or undergarment; (9) cutty(-ie) spoon, -spune, a short-handled spoon, gen. of horn; formerly Gen.Sc. Given as obsol. by Watson in Rxb. W.-B. (1923); †(10) cutty(-ie)-stoup, “a pewter vessel holding the eighth part of a chopin or quart” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2).(2) Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes II. vi.:
The same cutty-clay, of enviable blackness, reposed between the teeth of Mr. Cupples.
(3) Sc. [1724–27] Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1762) IV. 423:
When we had three times toom'd our stoup . . . In started, to heeze up our hope, Young Andro with his cutty gun.
Fif. 1897 “S. Tytler” Witch-Wife vi.:
Fire and sword directed against the Government and its allies lurked under the talk of “cutty-guns” and salmon-spears.
(5) (a) Sc. a.1796 Merry Muses (1827) 15:
O some delight in cutty-stoup And some delight in cutty-mun.
(6) Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxvi.:
Not a gleed of fire, then, except the bit kindling peat, and maybe a spunk in Mysie's cutty-pipe.
Abd. 1860 in Bnffsh. Jnl. (31 Jan.) 6:
Wi' a cuttie pipe stuck in his cheek.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie v.:
The brothers would smoke black cutty pipes a' through the house.
sm.Sc. 1979 Alan Temperley Tales of Galloway (1986) 296:
Sandy finished his dinner, wiped his mouth with the back of a hand and pulled out his cutty pipe.
(7) n.Sc. 1906–11 Rymour Club Misc. I. 173:
Saw ye a green-yalla hummle-mare, She'd . . . a cutty-rung aneth 'im tail.
Abd. 1825 Old Proclamation in Jam.2:
Onie body saw a reid hummel yallow marie (little mare) gaïn o'er the Brig o' Don . . . wi' a . . . cuttumrung aneth her tail . . . may gang hame to my fader . . . an' they'll get gueed satisfaction for their pains.
(8) Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 271:
A cutty sark of guide harn sheet, My mitter he pe spin, mattam.
Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter (Cent. ed.) ll. 171–174:
Her cutty sark, o' Paisley harn, That while a lassie she had worn, In longitude tho' sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntie.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders xxi.:
Ye wad think I was a quean in a cuttie sark to hear ye.
(9) Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 88:
Ilka time the breakfast's spread, A dozen o' cuttie-spunes are laid.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 58:
When cog o' brose an' cutty spoon Is a' our cottar childer's boon.
(10) Abd. c.1746 W. Forbes Dominie Deposed (n.d.) 28:
He liked, still sitting on his doup, To view the pint or cutty-stoup.
Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 65:
An' when ye buy a cuttie stoup Into it put a double doup, An' this'll mak' it had a soup O' liquor less.
Rxb. 1815 J. Ruickbie Poems 56:
O how ye did revive our hope, Whene'er ye fill'd the cutty stoup!

II. n.

1. Given as obsol. by Watson in Rxb. W.-B. (1923).

(1) “A short stump of a girl” (Dmf. 1825 Jam.2). Known to Ags.17 1941.Ayr. 1821 Galt Ayrshire Legatees ix.:
The great Babylonian madam is now, indeed, but a very little cutty.

(2) Used affectionately of a young child, or applied to a mischievous or disobedient girl (Sc. 1818 Sawers Dict. Sc. Lang.). Also used attrib. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1884 A. S. Swan Carlowrie 22:
She's a delicate, peevish, spoiled wee cutty, that greets at naething.
Rs. (Avoch) 1914 (per Mry.2):
Keep me, cutty, 'at [what] luftet thee this time o' day?
em.Sc. (a) 1896 “I. Maclaren” Kate Carnegie 71:
What are ye glowerin' at there, ye little cutty?
Edb. 1866 J. Smith Poems 23:
Wee Joukydaidles, Toddlin' out an' in: Oh but she's a cuttie, Makin' sic a din!
wm.Sc. [1835–37] Laird of Logan (1868) Add. 496:
Ah! ye cuttie, I'll gar your lugs ring, if I come to you.

(3) Used as a term of reproach of a vulgar or worthless woman (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1941; Per., Fif., Lth. Wilson; Fif.10 1941).Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality x.:
They say he's gaun to be married to Meg Murdieson, ill-fa'ard cuttie as she is.
Ags. 1891 J. M. Barrie Little Minister viii.:
As for her being a cuttie, you've said yoursel, Mr.Dishart, that we're all desperately wicked.
Fif. 1887 “S. Tytler” Logie Town II. xi.:
And the worst word ever waured on her was “caidgie cuttie.”
Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 455:
The sleekit cutty! wha wud 'a' thocht it o' her?

2. A contr. form of cutty-pipe (see Combs. above). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1737 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 40:
I'm no sae scant of clean pipes as to blaw wi' a brunt cutty.
Abd. 1714 R. Smith Poems (1853) 82:
Each one his Cutty reeks.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 69:
Cley cuttie, parritch-coggie, tass,
scartit oot upo this stane;
sair jeedgement on Mulroy they pass,
wha gied thaim nither saucht nor hain.
wm.Sc. [1835–37] Laird of Logan (1868) 32:
Donald had exceeded his usual . . . in toddy . . . spying on the plate shelf what he thought [was the “gathering peat,” he] applied his cuttie to a phosphorescent fresh herring.
Ayr. 1901 “G. Douglas” Green Shutters i.:
The slaver slid unheeded along the cutties which the left hand held to their toothless mouths.

3. A contr. form of cutty spoon (see Combs. above). Also transf. a baffing-spoon in golf.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 210:
It is better to sup with a Cutty, than want a Spoon.
Mry.(D) 1824 J. Cock Hamespun Lays 129:
Her siller cutties glancin' clear, Seem'd proud to tell she brought them wi' her.
Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 19:
The Baffing Spoon, although the smallest in stature, is by no means the least in usefulness of this family. Why it is called by either this soubriquet, or by its other title "the cutty," we leave speculative readers to determine.
Rxb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 III. 167:
The horn-spoons, or “cutties,” are very generally used by the peasantry.
Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
“There you are puttin' in your cutty among spoons,” said to a youngster who attempts to join in the conversation of the elders.

4. “A small thick cake of oatbread usually with a hole in the centre made by the finger of the person who baked” (Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 70; Cai.7 1941); “last baked bannock of oatcake, usually small and sometimes with a hole in it” (Cai.8 1934), “the one made of the last bit of dough in the baking dish” (Ork. 1929 Marw. s.v. foal). Cf. Kutty.Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 70:
School children [and fishermen (Cai.7)] used to take such a cutty with them for luncheon. Hence of a young fellow who apes the ways of a man: “A cutty an' a hole in'd wid be mair lek him.” (This chiefly in reference to sweethearting.)

[From cut, v. O.Sc. has only cuttie (spoone), 1650 (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Cutty adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 May 2024 <>



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