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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.

DICHT, Dight, v., n. and adv. [dɪçt, dɪ̢̈çt Sc., but dəit Ork., dəiçt Mry., Bwk. and Rxb. + dəit]

I. v. The abbr. pa.t. and pa.p. dicht, dight is now obs. exc. in poet. use.

1. To clothe, to array, to deck, to adorn. In this sense obs. in Eng. from 17th cent. until revived by Scott in ppl.adj. dight, in which form it is now in gen. poet. use. Also in Eng. dial.Sc. 1764 Scots Mag. (April) 197:
Sae the black stump of some auld aik, With arms in triumph dight, Seems to the traveller like a man.
Sc. 1808 Scott Marmion vi. Intro. iii.:
But, O! What masquers richly dight.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 23:
Nae mair through Straths in simmer dight We seek the Rose to bless our sight.
Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems, etc. 125:
For bludie faught they leuk't right keen; . . . Dight out in a' their graith sae clean.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems II. 80:
Doure thought in linsey-wousey dicht.

2. Of persons: to make ready, gen. used refl. Obs. in Eng. since 16th cent.Sc. 1821 J. Baillie Metr. Leg., Elden Tree xxv.:
Fetch ye a leech for his body's need, To dight him for earth or heaven.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 91:
An' soon are out o' the auld noorise sight, To dress her milks, hersell who shortly dight.

3. Of things: (1) Gen.: to prepare, dress, make fit for use. Obs. since early 17th cent. in Eng., but revived in early 19th cent. in Sc. since when it has been in gen. poet. and arch. use. Also fig.Sc. 1830 Scott Demonology v. 162:
Perfecting and finishing or, as it is called, dighting.
n.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
A discourse is said to be weil dicht, when the subject is well handled.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 50:
Wi' mason's chisel dighted neat, To gar me look baith clean and feat.

(2) Specifically: †(a) to prepare, to cook a meal; (b) to clean, to gut and prepare fish for cooking (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). Obs. in Eng. since 16th cent.(a) Sc. 1718 Ramsay Chr. Kirk ii. xviii. in Poems (1721):
It was nae best To leave a Supper that was dight, To Brownies, or a Ghaist.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 12:
A friend's dinner is soon dight.
Sc. ?1745 Gude Wallace in Ballads (ed. Child) No. 157a. xviii.:
His board was scarce well covered, Nor yet his dine well scantly dight.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 58:
We . . . sit down Unto a dinner ha'flins dicht.
(b) Sh. 1891 J. J. H. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 29:
An dü wis wirt mi while ta dicht, Güd traath! I'd rip dee open richt.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. (1922) 101:
When the laden carts came home there was a busy time “dighting” the fish. . . . The gills and guts were removed . . . . The sillocks were well washed.

†(3) To repair, to put to rights. Now only dial. in Eng.Gsw. 1702 Rec. Burgh Gsw. (1908) 349:
For taking doun the tolbuith clock . . . cleansing and dighting of her.

4. To sift or winnow grain (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff.2, Abd.19 1940; Ags.13 1948; Fif., Lth., Ayr. Wilson; Rxb. 1948 (per Abd.27)). Ppl.adj. dicht. Also in n.Eng. dial. Vbl.n. dichting, (1) winnowing (Sc. 1855 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 722; Ayr.4 1928); (2) in pl.: the siftings of grain (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), hence refuse, lit. and fig.Sc. 1701 in Thomson and Innes Acts Parl. Scot. (1823) X. 265:
[Allegation that certain tenants maliciously destroyed grain] by throwing in sand and dirt amongst the dicht corn.
Sc. 1702 Seafield Corresp. (S.H.S. 1912) 353:
May 11: Thy complened that it was not so weall dighted as the sampell was which cam hear.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality vii.:
A new-fangled machine for dighting the corn frae the chaff.
Abd. publ. 1867 Mrs Allardyce Goodwife at Home l.:
They're a' bizzy dichtin corn, An' laith to tine the win.
Ags.18 1948:
A wind 'at wid dicht bere.
Fif. 1733 E. Henderson Ann. Dunfermline (1879) 427:
The town's sub-tennant of the heugh mills complains to the town councill of the great loss he sustains for “want of wind” to dight his shealing.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 26:
The lads the byres an' stables muck, An' clean the corn is dightit.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Address Unco Guid (Cent. ed.) Motto:
The cleanest corn that e'er was dight May hae some pyles o' caff in.
Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Works 81:
[He] Offers his help the corn to dight Or big a slap.

Hence dichter, dighter, a winnower (Sc. 1825 Jam.2; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Rxb. 1805 A. Scott Poems 69:
The floating atoms did appear, To dab the dighters over.

Vbl.n.(1) Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 38:
Whan gloming grey out o'er the welkin keeks, . . . And lusty lasses at the dighting tire.
(2) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 29–30:
For had my father sought the warld round, Till he the very dightings o't had found; A filthier hag could not come in his way.

5. To wipe clean (Mry.1 1925; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); “to rub, in order to remove moisture, to dry by rubbing” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. and now the most common meaning. Also in n.Eng. dial. Pa.t. and pa.p. †dight.Sc. 1724–27 Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1762) I. 8:
He dighted his gab, and he pri'd her mou'.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xl.:
Morton . . . underwent a rebuke for not “dighting his shoon.”
Sc. 1988 Scotsman 11 Jun 9:
By elaborate means, she disguised herself as a native, learned to wail like the most destitute of beggars, pray as long and hard as necessary to convince the sceptical, to revel in unsavoury habits, spitting, cursing, and dichting her neb on her fingers . . .
Ork. 1929 J. T. S. Leask in Peace's Ork. Almanac 138:
I keep da bit o' breek here i' me pooch tae dicht my specs.
ne.Sc. 1714 R. Smith Poems 5:
He took his Gun, he dight his Eyen And pour'd the Water out of his Sheen.
ne.Sc. 1986 Peter Mowat in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 156:
"Muckle need o't. Jimmy Tarves, dicht yer beets on the gerss afore ye gin in."
Abd. 1981 Christina Forbes Middleton The Dance in the Village 32:
He's ower six fit tall wi' a lantern jaw
An' a nib ye'd describe as Roman
Nae seener is ae drap dichtit awa
Than anither is hastily formin'.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 61:
At a quarter till echt, he wis aff ower the hills fur the schule run,...uplifting littlins, wytin fur mithers tae dicht bibbly snoots, or tie pynts, or caimb the antrin hudderie heid.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 56:
A maist unceevil veesitor,
He disna speir, "Can I come in?"
He disna wyte, nur dicht his feet,
Nur rattle at the tirlin pin -
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 18:
Aiblins ye'll try a canny keek oot the pane
Dichtin the gless wi yer thoum.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 138:
His palms are sweating and he dichts them on his coat ...
Fif. [1864] W. D. Latto T. Bodkin (1894) 285:
Dinna neglect to dicht yer feet on the mat.
Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 86:
The clout wi whilk ane dights his nis.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Willie Wastle (Cent. ed.) iv.:
But Willie's wife is nae sae trig, She dights her grunzie wi' a hushion.
Rxb. 1870 J. Thomson Doric Lays 13:
When, dightin' Robin's brow, He says, “Meg, gin ye'll buckle to, I'll shear through life wi' you.”

Hence dichter, dighter, “one who wipes so as to clean” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), and †boot dighter, a boots.Sc. 1702 Acc. Bk. Sir J. Foulis (S.H.S. 1894):
Apr. 6: to the boot dighter . . . 0.5.0.

Proverbial usages and phrs.:(1) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 390:
You may dight your Neb and flie up. Taken from pullets who always wipe their Bill upon the ground before they go to Roost. You have ruined and undone your Business, and now you may give over. [Known to Abd. and Ags. correspondents, Fif.10, Kcb.1 1940.]
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie's Wallet xii.:
Wha's to be prime minister say ye? Charlie Fox? Troth man, that's good news indeed. . . . Troth an' Billie Pitt may now e'en dight his neb and flee up.
(2) Abd.13 1910:
Dicht yer ain door steen. See that your own character's right before mis-caain' yer neepor. [Known to Bnff.2, Abd.2, Abd.9 1940.]
(3) Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs 155:
Ne'er kiss a man's wife, or dight his knife, for he'll do baith after you.
(4) Sc. 1722 W. Hamilton Wallace x. ll. 33–34:
There Longoveil that brave and warlike Knight, Nobly behav'd, and did their Doublets dight. [i.e. drubbed, soundly defeated them.]

6. To clean (by sweeping, shovelling, etc.); to make tidy (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. (1922) 150; Cai.3 1931; Bnff.2, Ags.2, Slg.3, Edb.1 1940). Ppl.adj. dightan'. Also used with up.Sc. 1732 Ramsay Unknown Poems in Scots Mag. (June 1932) 215:
To Gay and to ae other Wight We awe our thanks baith Day and Night, Wha did frae rust and rubish dight Blyth British Tunes.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 14:
Johnnie hed a dightan' sheul stan' at his left hand side.
Bnff. 1716 Ann. Bnff. (S.C.) I. 188:
Bill drawen on the thesaurer for . . . 3s. Sc. for dighting the tolbooth loume.
Abd. 1718 Fintray Court Bk. (S.C. Misc.) I. 34:
The tennants, grassmen and crofters are obleieged to dight the Miln loads.
Abd. 1828 Lord Livingston in P. Buchan Ballads (1875) II. 38:
The chamber that they did gang in, There it was daily dight.
Abd. 1994 Stanley Robertson in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 17:
Lichens and mosses alang wi ferns nearly covered the spring well ower but Morag dichted the woodland coverings until she could see deep doon the well itsel.
wm.Sc. 1725 Bk. of Arran (1914) II. 165:
Two men for dighting away the myre from about the kirkyard . . . 8s. Sc.
Gall. 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 336:
Weel, whun the minister cam tae Jock Tamson's, they had a' their Sunday braws on, an everything aboot the hoose dichtit up.

7. To give (someone) a dressing down; “to buffet (a person); to strike on (the mouth)” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); to drive with blows. Known to Abd.19, Lnk.11 1940. Vbl.n. dichtin(g), a drubbing. Also fig. with up, to scold, reproach.n.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
I'll dight you, or gie you a dichting, i.e. I will chastise you.
Bnff. 1714 in W. Cramond Church of Grange (1898) 74:
Would say . . . that her goodman would be dighted out of the tolbooth as his father was befor.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxiv.:
If he didna dicht me up, clean steek, for my undutifu' behaviour, he never did anither thing ahent it! His reproaches and admonitions were truly hard to thole.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 47:
Many birds down it [a hawk] dight Upon the fells.

Hence dichter, dighter, (1) “one who strikes or drubs another” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., rare); (2) “a severe blow” (Ib.).

8. To make a getaway, to clear out, skedaddle (Per. 1952).

II. n.

1. A wipe, a cursory wash; a rub. Gen. (exc. I.)Sc. Also in Nhb. dial.Sc. 1926 E. MacGirr in Scots Mag. (Oct.) 21:
So the kitchen chairs, table, and floor were scrubbed snowy white, “wi' a dicht o' saunstane to keep the colour.”
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 23:
The Tarlan Tink's as black as tar
An his lugs cud dee wi a dicht.
He steers his shelt bi the Northern Star
An he rides bi caunlelicht.
Ags. 1889 J. M. Barrie W. in Thrums iii.:
“For mercy's sake, mother,” said Leeby, “gie yer face a dicht, an' put on a clean mutch.”
Edb. 1893 W. G. Stevenson Wee Johnnie Paterson, etc. 78:
John keeps his nails an' things in't but I'll gie't a bit dicht oot for ye.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxxv.:
Wauken up, ye auld bitch, and gie this coat a dicht.
Rxb. 1868 D. Anderson Musings 40:
He raxed and gied his een a dight, Then pranced and sang.

2. A blow (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), a smack, swipe; a trouncing, a heavy defeat (Abd.27 1948). Also fig.Sc. 1926 “Domsie” in Edb. Evening News (6 Aug.) 4/8:
He saw it birlin' in the nicht, Alang the floor afore his dicht.
Mearns 1934 “L. G. Gibbon” Grey Granite i. 20:
That was a right dight in the face for that sulky, stuck-up bitch.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 17:
here's the wyce tune
aince mair awa an' dinnillin lugs
wi a wow! that disna lippen on drugs
but's a ferlie gien a dicht tae the glum,
tae ilka thowless squeef, tae aa we've become.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 172:
When I was quite sure they had ta'en their dicht, I gaed doon the road lauchin' to mysel' like mad.
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong Robbie Rankine 13:
Maybe I might get a dicht at the poor rates too.

III. adv. Gracefully, sweetly .Sc. a.1783 Bonny Birdy in Child Ballads No. 82 x.:
The birdy sat on the crap of a tree, An I wot it sang fu dight.

[O.Sc. dicht, dight, decht, etc., from 1375, to array, put in good order, prepare food, clean, clean (grain) from chaff; ppl.adj. dicht, of grain: cleaned, from 1542; dichtar, dichter, a cleaner, from 1462; O.E. dihtan, to compose, to write; direct, command, arrange; from Lat. dictare.]

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"Dicht v., n., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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