Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GLIT, n., v., adj. Also glitt, glet, †gleat, gluit. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. gleet. [glɪt, glɛt]

I. n. Also deriv. glitter (Ayr. 1951).

1. Slimy, greasy or sticky matter (Sh., Slg. (glet), Peb., Arg., Ayr., sm.Sc., Rxb. 1954); “glittering liquid, oil floating on water, any similar clear fluid matter” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.); “a superficial coating of some glutinous matter, either in the moist or dried state” (Uls. 1924 W. Lutton Montiaghisms); dirty slime on fish skins (Cai.7 1954). Obs. in Eng. since 15th c. Lnk. 1893 J. Crawford Sc. Verses 68:
Bickerin' aff in unco flitter Through thick and thin among the glitter.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xi.:
There was a clear, brisk air, but the night dew had left a sticky “glet” on the face and hands.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 19:
Streets . . . clairty wui lifty glaar an creeshy glet.

2. The slimy vegetation found on ponds or on stones in half-stagnant water (Sc. 1782 J. Callander Ancient Sc. Poems 58, glitt, 1808 Jam., glit; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 233; w.Sc. 1887 Jam. s.v. glitnit; Arg., Gall., Uls. 1954); the slippery surface of grass in frost. Rxb. 1848 T. Aird Poet. Works (1878) 137:
The stream is almost shrunk Down to the green gleet of its slippery stones.
Bwk. 1883 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club X. 262:
In summer they [ponds] are liable to be covered with a “green glit” — perhaps a Conferva.
Kcb. 1900 Crockett Stickit Minister's Wooing 261:
I knew well from the ‘glet' on the stones and the bits of stick and dried rushes that the waters of the linn filled all the interior in time of flood.
Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 27, s.v. gleet, gluit:
Dampness followed by frost causes a gleet on the grass and a slippiness on the roads.
s.Sc. 1935 Border Mag. (Feb.) 23:
Whaur the striek o' the shore o ' the Soothlan' shire Steals its broons frae the shimmer o' sea, Bringin' nets to its glets.

3. Phlegm, mucus, esp. that “which gathers in the stomach when it is foul” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh., ne.Sc., Per., Arg., Gall., Rxb. 1954); a morbid discharge of thin serum from a ulcer, etc. (Rxb. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry, Gl., 1923 Watson W.-B.). Cf. Glut, n.2, 2. Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS.:
The calf got a hen's egg pitten doon its throat, shell and a', to cut the glitt on its stammack.

4. Animal fat, tallow. Sc. 1776 Kames Gentleman Farmer 197:
A kind of oil, termed gleet, perspires from the animal [sheep].

Comb.: gleat candle, a tallow candle. Bnff. 1702 Sc. N. & Q. (2nd Series) II. 91:
2lb. whyt gleat candle at 12s. 0d.

II. v. 1. “Of a wound, etc.: to discharge watery serum” (Cai. 1900 E.D.D., glit s.v. glet, Cai.7 1954, gleet).

2. To cover with a greasy or slimy coat, found only in ppl.adj. gletted, used e.g. of a whetstone with a slippery skin on it from contact with wet grass (Dmf. 1951), or by being coated with dried oil (Kcb.10 1954).

III. adj. Greasy, slimy. Lnk. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 14:
When rough and gleet was every street, Nor biggins half so pretty.

[O.Sc. has glit(t), glyt, filth, slimy matter, from c.1420; O.Fr. glete, a flow, secretion, mucosity, pus (later glette), Fr. glette, litharge.]

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"Glit n., v., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Sep 2021 <>



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