Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations & symbols Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1952 (SND Vol. III).

DRIFT, n. and v. Sc. usages.

I. n.

1. A drove, flock, herd (Ayr. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 185). Also in Eng. dial. Also used fig.Sc. c.1775 Hobie Noble in Ballads (ed. Child) No. 189, x.:
And Anton Shiel, he loves not me, For I gat twa drifts of his sheep.
Sc. 1816 Scott in Lockhart Scott (1837) IV. i.:
Think of carrying off a drift of my neighbour's sheep, or half-a-dozen of his milk cows.
Abd. after 1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shepherd (S.T.S.) l.1162:
A' his beasts yeed wi' him in a drift.
wm.Sc. 1835–37 Laird of Logan I. 59:
You may be sure that the ministers hae a drift o' their ain to drive.
Arg. 1701 Arg. Justiciary Records (Stair Soc.) I. 194:
Ane large black mear with ane foal . . . with other three pieces of horses making up drift of the whole.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween iv.:
Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift, An' wander'd thro' the Bow-kail.

Comb.: drift-lock, “a tuft of wool on the head of a sheep's tail” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

2. Falling snow driven by the wind. Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. In phr. like drift = with speed, hastily. For comb. blin'-drift, see Blin', v.2, n., adj.Sc. 1718 Ramsay Chr. Kirk iii. i. in Poems (1721):
. . . the Lads frae Hand Bang'd to their Breeks like Drift, Be Break of Day.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xviii.:
Shoo'ers o' drift an' hail scoorin' across the countra.
Abd.13 1910:
“He winna sell's hen in a rainy day, nor yet his dog in drift.” Said of a person who is greedy and hard at making a bargain.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 54:
Wha can bide his surly blenter, Blindin' drift an' rattlin' hail.
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 9:
Whan Winter, 'midst his nipping train. . . . Sends drift owr a' his bleak domain.
Ayr. 1788 Burns Up in the Morning Early i.:
Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west, The drift is driving sairly.

Hence drifty (Abd. 1825 Jam.2).Sc. 1729 T. Boston Memoirs (1852) 381:
That drifty day stopt a burial appointed to have been upon it, at Kirkhope: so that the corpse behoved to be kept another day.
Mry. 1806 J. Cock Simple Strains 106:
Ae drifty night, 'bout Crowdy time, Deep lay the driven sna'.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Winter Night viii.:
While through the ragged roof and chinky wall, Chill, o'er his slumbers piles the drifty heap!
Rxb. 1918 Kelso Chron. (15 Feb.) 4/1:
The lee sides of the woods would be simply perfect bields on a drifty day.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. II. ix.:
The most dismal storm . . . on record is the Thirteen Drifty Days.

3. A set of fishing-nets, suspended from a cable and allowed to drift with the tide.Sc. 1829 H. Miller Schools (1860) 213:
But though they played beside our buoys by thousands, not a herring swam so low as the upper baulk of our drift.
Sc. 1864 J. M. Mitchell The Herring 93:
Where the nets are not anchored, and the boat attached to one end of the whole . . . they are termed a drift.

Combs.: drift fish, -fisher, -herring.Sc. 1864 Gsw. Daily Herald (24 Sept.):
I have sold drift fish for 12s., and on the same day both drift herring and trawled herring would be selling for 8s.
I was a trawler when trawling was permitted, and a drift fisher as well.

4. A bouncing gait.Sh. 1901 T. P. Ollason Mareel 10:
“Behowlds doo da drift 'at's apon 'er [woman]. What düs hit pit dee amind o'?” “I don't know . . . unless hit bes a lemonade bottle bobbin' aboot atil a jap o' watter.”

II. v.

1. tr. To allow (something) to pass gently (through something), to sift.Sc. 1897 “L. Keith” Bonnie Lady 87:
Before he had taken a dozen turns at the [porridge] pot, she had the spurtel out of his hand and was drifting the meal between her own white fingers.

2. intr. To move rapidly.Kcb.10 1940:
That new powny o' Sam's can drift.

[O.Sc. has drift, a drove or herd, c.1470–80, driving snow, 1569. The v. is not found.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Drift n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Jun 2022 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: