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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GRAITH, v., n. Also graithe, greth (Sh.), greath, grathgryth-. [Sc. greθ, but I.Sc., Per., Uls. grɛθ, Ork. + gre:ð (v.), Fif. + grəiθ]

I. v. 1. To prepare, make ready. Also in n.Eng. dial.

(1) In gen. Arch. or poet.Sc.(E) 1935 W. Soutar Poems in Scots 50:
And we maun graith a haly-place To sain our cankert sod.

(2) Specif.: (a) to prepare a horse for work or riding, to equip with harness, to put on the harness (Fif. 1825 Jam.; Per., Arg., Gall., Dmf., Uls. 1955); (b) to get ready fishing tackle (Cai.7 1955).(a) Sc. c.1710 Hogg Jacobite Relics (1819) I. 69:
And when he graith'd the yaud, . . . Then she wad fidge and wince.
Bwk. 1794 A. Lowe Agric. Bwk. 42:
The cost of graithing a pair of horses for plough and cart, at this time, is equal to 6 or 8l. sterling, in place of 10 or 20s. the common rate formerly.
Sc. 1802 Scott Minstrelsy I. 12:
And graith my horse! . . . For to Etricke Forest hie will I me.
Dmf. 1810 R. H. Cromek Remains 78:
Galloway Tam rides far and near, There's nane can graith wi' siccan gear.
Gall. 1882 J. Douglas Bk. of Gall. 69:
She could . . . graith the wildest filly that ever ran rede.
Cai. 1887 B. Watten Stratharran 103:
Sandy proceeded to graith his horses for the afternoon yoking.

(3) Of persons: to equip, array, dress, esp. to array in armour; sometimes refl. Also fig. Arch.Sc. 1775 Hobie Noble in Child Ballads No. 189 v.:
Then Hobie has graithd his body weel, I wat it was wi baith good iron and steel.
Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays and Lyrics 145:
The blairin trumpet sounded far, And horsemen rode, weel graithed for war.
s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell Psalms xviii. 32:
It is the Lord who graithes me wi' strength, an' mak's my waye perfite.
Hdg. 1889 J. Lumsden Lays Linton 108:
Our wames appeas'd, the young an' stoot Maun graith them for the shootin'. ‡(4) To prepare for food: to winnow (corn), to gut (fish) (Ork. 1929 Marw., graithe).
Ork. 1767 P. Fea MS. Diary (26 Oct.):
Got the Otts that was in the barn clean'd and greath'd and put into the Kiln barn.

2. Vbl.n. graithin(g), equipment in gen., accoutrements, trappings; more specif.: harness, caparison, furnishing, dress. Also in n.Eng. dial.Ayr. 1786 Burns Extemp. to G. Hamilton v.:
Some quarrel the Presbyter gown, Some quarrel Episcopal graithing.
Dmf. 1810 R. H. Cromek Remains 102:
He put siller graithing on them, and hung bobbins o' gowd at their manes, and shawed them at the market, saying — “Some will gie a bode for ye, for the sonks and bridle!”
n.Sc. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads I. 224:
Ye'll bid her shoe her steed before, And a' gowd graithing him behind.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 46:
Ye'll see the floo'ers in brawest graithin Buskit up fu' sweet.

3. To build (round), encompass.Sc.(E) 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms xl. 12:
Ills ayont tellin hae grath'd me about.

4. To steep in a lye of stale urine, etc., to Bouk (see v.1). Cf. n., 6. (5).Ags. 1820 R. Mudie Glenfergus iii.:
Applied to their necks and arms blanching poultices; or had them “boukit an' graithed,” — as housewives are wont to treat their webs in bleaching.

5. To train, give a grounding in the techniques of a trade. Vbl.n. grythin. Fif. 1962:
But A got a graund grythin in my trade aa the same.

II. n. 1. Equipment, tackle, gear (esp. ploughing gear), furnishings, trappings (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 245; ne.Sc., Per., Peb., Lnk., Ayr., Gall. 1955); a contrivance; fig. the virile member (Sc. 18th c. Merry Muses (1911) 48, 1818 Sawers; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 69).Sc. 1709 Compend of Securities 121:
To leave in the said Fortalice at my Removal, all fixed Timber, as Doors, Gates, Presses, Windows, and all Iron-Graith, etc.
Inv. 1719 Steuart Letter-Bk. (S.H.S.) 105:
Ane Elm pomp from 13 to 14 foot in Lenth, with the nesesar greath, being for a new bark abulding here.
Sc. 1727 Rec. Conv. Burghs (1885) 437:
All weavers having looms, graith, etc., not fitted for the branch of weaving they profess.
Edb. 1735 Caled. Mercury (9 Jan.):
. . . at said Shop: Where also you may have the very finest Flower of Mustard Seed, every Sort of Gardners Utensils, with all kinds of Faulcon Graith.
Sc. 1746 Culloden Papers (Warrand 1930) V. 218:
To my fishing greath complete . . . 0. 3. 6.
Abd. 1760 Abd. Journal (19 May):
All Kinds Carts and Cart-Greaths, and all Sorts of Farming Utensils.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Scotch Drink x.:
When Vulcan gies his bellys breath, An' Ploughmen gather wi' their graith.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Poems 81:
Wha may cast by their brewin' graith, Baith pat and pail.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxv.:
Wolf's Crag is burning, . . . a' the fine graith, pictures, tapestries, needle-work, hangings, and other decorements.
Mearns 1844 W. Jamie Muse 164:
I soon got a' the writing graith.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 52:
Hinegreenie's boat was auld, shakan' an' lakan', an' a' his boat graith auld an' aff-gan.
Abd. 1929 Abd. Weekly Jnl. (14 Feb.) 6:
I've never gotten naebody tae pit that weerless graith o' mine intae order.
Slg. 1935 W. D. Cocker Further Poems 14:
A' haun's on deck! Haud fast the tiller! Anither sea like that would fill her. Keep her neb till't! Sned lowse the graith!

Phrs. and Combs.: (1) fut-graith, see fit-graith s.v. Fit, n.1, III. (Arg.3 1955); †(2) house-graith, the furnishings necessary for a house (Sc. 1808 Jam.); †(3) master-graith, “the beam by which horses are joined to a plough or harrow” (Ags. Ib.); (4) plough-graith, the equipment of a plough, including the harness and sometimes also the draught animals (ne.Sc., Per., Ayr., Kcb., Dmf. 1955); (5) to straik graith, to commence the season's ploughing. See also Streek. Hence straikin graith, “the first yoke of ploughing for the season” (Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 155); (6) to tend graith, to make a start with the season's ploughing (Ork. 1929 Marw.); fig. to get under way with anything (Ib.).(4) Sc. 1734 Caled. Mercury (30 May):
Horse Harnessing, Ploughs and Plough graith, etc. To be sold by publick Roup.
Sc. 1769 Erskine Principles iv. iv. § 18:
The offences of destroying plough-graith in time of tillage, and slaying or houghing horses or cows in time of harvest.
Sc. a.1814 J. Ramsay Scot. and Scotsmen (1888) II. 198:
The plough graithsi.e., the timber of the plough — rough and unshapen, were brought by the Highlanders to the Martinmas Fair of Doune.
Sc. 1828 Scott F.M. Perth ii.:
Locks and bars, plough-graith and harrow-teeth!
Abd. 1920 A. Ross MS. i.:
My fadder's ploo graith wis the auld mear an' an owse.
(5) Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 108:
Ploughing was seldom begun before Candlemas, but on Candlemas Day, or as soon after as weather permitted, every good husbandman “straiked graith” (stretched the harness).
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
In Birsay in olden days, before one started the season's ploughing, the harness and plough, etc., were smeared over with urine — a survival evidently of an old heathen rite. This was known as straikan graith.

2. Personal equipment. Also in n.Eng. dial.

(1) Dress, clothes, attire (Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 166).ne.Sc. 1714 R. Smith Poems 81:
He thinks he's in his Highland Graith, When it hings over his Brow.
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 16:
Bids bauld to bear the gree awa' Wi' a' this graith.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Fragment viii.:
An' Chatham's wraith, in heav'nly graith, . . . Wi' kindling eyes, cry'd: “Willie, rise!”
Rxb. 1807 J. Ruickbie Way-side Cottager 132:
When priests in haly graith did shine.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxii.:
I never like to gang frae hame, unprovided wi' sleepin' graith, a reddin' kame, an' a razor.
Wgt. 1877 W. McIlwraith Guide Wgt. 55:
The Queen's “chapel graith,” or “kirk-claes,” were also carried with them in two coffers.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 7:
Gin 't wurna for fashion's sake aw widna weer neck graith o' nae kin', Sunday nor Saiterday.

(2) Armour, accoutrements of war, specif. of an archer, weapons. Arch. except in the usage of the Royal Company of Archers.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 159:
With that his Arch'ry Graith he put In order, and made me his Butt.
Abd. 1748 R. Forbes Ajax 16:
Fan laggert wi' this bouksome graith, You will tyne half your speed.
Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 125:
For bludie faught they leuk't right keen; . . . Dight out in a' their graith sae clean, That glanc't like ony star.
Sc. 1828 Scott F.M. Perth v.:
“And I will sleep like a sentinel, with my graith about me.” As he spoke, he laid his hand on his sword.
s.Sc. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. I. 208:
With swords, and guns, and other graith.
Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 48:
As soon's he spied our Trojan graith He nearhan' swarfed wi' fear.
Sc. 1908 Nat. Lib. Scot. MSS. Catal. I. 23:
Letter of the future King Edward VIII to Major A. A. Gordon, thanking him for the present of a 'graith' (set of bow and arrows).
Sc. 1953 Parade Orders, Royal Cpy. Archers:
Orders for Duty at Garden Party, 24th June. Graith. Bows only (no arrows).

(3) Small shot (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 183; Abd. 1825 Jam.); also small —, id.Sc. 1725 Culloden Papers (Warrand 1925) II. 238:
One of them Archbd. Campbell was shott with smal greath by a servant of Phopachie in the face.

3. Harness, the trappings of a horse. Sometimes in comb. horse graith. Also fig. Gen.Sc., obsol. in I. and n. Sc. Also in Eng. dial.Sc. 1707 Household Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) 15:
For mending sadle graith £2. 7s.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 154:
He that rides ere he be ready, wants some of his graith.
Abd. 1764 Aberdeen Jnl. (7 May):
Houshold, Kitchen and Brew-house Furniture, and Horse and Oxen's Graith.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Ep. J. Lapraik vii.:
Tho' I should pawn my pleugh an' graith.
Dmb. 1817 J. Walker Poems 61:
Our lads tak' breath, or men' horse graith, Or some slight occupation.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian iv.:
A year's rent o' mony a gude estate gaed for horse-graith and harnessing.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb i.:
A hantle mair adee about blaikin that graith o' yours, an' kaimin' the mear's tail.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie xxiii.:
He has thrown aff the graith and coupet the cart o' worldly comforts at the door o' the State.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo iii.:
He cuist his e'e ower the horse graith afore we sterted.
wm.Sc. 1946 H. Reid Big Adventure 10:
Mix ye some faith amang the graith, If ye want your horse tae lead.

4. Mechanical equipment, machinery, tools, implements; the tools and equipment necessary for any particular job, esp. miller's or miner's equipment (Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–26 Wilson; ‡ne.Sc., Slg., Fif., Lth., Peb., wm.Sc., Kcb., Dmf. 1955). Rarely in pl. Combs.: †gangin graith, moving machinery, esp. that of a mill, “which a tenant is bound to uphold” (Sc. 1808 Jam.), as contrasted with lying graith, “that which is upheld by a landlord” (Ib.) or †standin graith, the fixtures, e.g. frames, posts, etc. (Fif. 1825 Jam.). Cf. gaun gear s.v. Gae, v., III. 3. (2).Gsw. 1715 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 534:
To repair the miln in walls, sclait, thack, rigging, ganging graith, such as wheels, axilltree, and other necessars.
Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.T.Misc. (1876) II. 175:
A' graith that ganes to coble shoon, And a thrawcruik to twyne a teather.
Sc. 1782 J. Callander Ancient Sc. Poems 151:
The immoveable wood of a mill is called the lying graith, in opposition to the moving part, which we call the ganging graith.
Mry. 1820 J. Cock Hamespun Lays 26:
As lang's your dam an' graith keeps heal, An' honest folk need curns o' meal. Your cash will ne'er be scant.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 284:
An' Wattie, the smith, wha deals in airn graith, Was to help wi' the selling the whiskie.
Cld. 1866 G. Mills Beggar's Benison I. 8:
“Then the sooner we get the ‘graith'” — meaning the house-breaking implements.
Lth. 1887 P. McNeill Blawearie 126:
Every article of [mining] graith, even to the mell and wedges.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xvii.:
I'm gaun to mak ye a present o' the mill . . . stanes, hopper, an' wheel, stan'in graith an' gangin graith.
wm.Sc. a.1930 N. Munro Looker-on (1933) 214:
A man should ha'e all his workin' graith aboot him before he starts on a roof for a job o' ony kind.
Fif. 1939 J. Lee Tomorrow a New Day 245:
Michael Lee must be given a start or every miner in Fife will lift his graith.

5. Material possessions as distinct from money; wealth in goods (Bnff.7 1927). Also fig. Common in n.Eng. dial.Ayr. 1786 Burns Inventory 2–3:
I send you here a faithfu' list O' guids an' gear an' a' my graith.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick iv.:
If the man has a guid name, an' if he's worthy o' the eldership, we dinna look at his graith or his gear.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Cleg Kelly xxxiv.:
We canna spend gear and graith recklessly on unkenned bairns.
Sc.(E) 1935 W. Soutar Poems in Sc. 54:
Cain hairst the graith o' the gowdan field As owre the heuk he boo'd.
em.Sc.(a) 1991 Kate Armstrong in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 115:
Fer the lid's liftin, sae she sits doon,
Donnerin the hert o her sma warld's graith
Wi the steerin soun,

6. Stuff, material for a particular purpose: †(1) “The twisted threads through which the warp runs in the loom” (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Phr.: a thrum i' the graith, fig. = a hitch (ne.Sc. 1881 Gregor Folk-Lore 180).Sc. 1720 Grievances of the poor Commonality 70:
He puts this Yarn in such a Reed and Graith, as is not for Yarn of this Size.
Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 16:
He span the yarn, an' weav'd it baith, An' ev'ry grain, Baith waft an' warp, an' a' sic graith, Grew in his brain.

(2) In line-fishing: the attachment, consisting of the snuid and tippin, by which the hook is suspended from the line (Rs. 1920; ne.Sc. 1956).

†(3) Fig. Matter, things; goods, wares.Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 209:
Tho' Beagles, Hornings, an' sic graith, Glowre roun' they ne'er sal dread me.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 38:
In his shop he had routh o' richt gaudy-like graith.
Knr. 1925 “H. Haliburton” Horace 182:
At last, a muckle painted sign, . . . “What's that below't but Tammas Wilson? But, Lord, he deals in daft-like graith!”

Phr.: no sma' graith, of some importance, “no small beer.”Fif. 1882 “S. Tytler” Sc. Marriages I. 249:
Jean Kinloch's no sma' graith — least of a' in her ain opinion.
Fif. 1899 “S. Tytler” Miss Nanse ii.:
Houses which were ‘no sma' graith' in the Metropolis.

†(4) Stuff for drinking: liquor, drink, physic. Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 32:
We'll gladly prie Fresh noggans o' your reaming graith.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xi.:
She brews a browst o' black-lookin' graith, that had a dooms ill smell, an' a waur taste.
Sc. 1877 John Cheap I. 23:
Hurriedly swallowed it, but . . . remarked that it was “shurely some o' the new-fangled mixture graith.”

(5) Stale urine, formerly used in washing clothes (esp. blankets) or in dyeing (Ags. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; †Ork. 1929 Marw.); cow's urine (Abd.4 1928), urine of any kind (Sh., ‡Abd. 1954).Kcd. 1850 J. Walker Auld Shankie 34:
And [he] mixed it with strong stail graith Which made a stink.
Sc. 1856 W. L. Lindsay Brit. Lichens 90:
In Scotland, not many years ago, particularly in certain districts, almost every farm and cotter-house had its tank or barrel of ‘graith,' or putrid urine (the form of ammoniacal liquid employed).

Combs.: (a) graith-bing, “the hole or tub at the back of the door where [the urine] was kept” (Marw.); (b) graith-pot, a chamber pot (Sh., Ork. 1955); (c) graith-tub, = (a).(c) Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 129:
Ae time i' 'is maddrum 'e nearlins drooned 'er i' da graith tub.

(6) Stuff for washing: a soapy lather prepared for washing clothes, the dirty soap-suds left after clothes have been washed (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 183). Gen. (exc. I.)Sc., ‡in ne. Hence extended to mean the steeping or washing itself (Ags. 1948). Also used for any thick or dirty liquid: “frothy graith, muddy graith, etc.” (Sc. 1900 E.D.D.) and fig. Also in Nhb. dial.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd i. ii.:
See the Sun Is right far up, and we're no yet begun To freath the Graith.
Lnk. a.1832 W. Watt Poems (1860) 330:
Washerwives, wi' ban'less tongues, Mang freathin' graith are splashin.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 157:
We hae been splashed in slander's graith, For'mony ills.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxx.:
Tibbie, armed wi' a brush an' a cogfu' o' saepy-graith, scoored oor bits o' furniture.
Cai. 1869 M. Maclennan Peasant Life 218:
Mrs Mowat was up to the elbows in soap-graith rubbing away briskly.
Lth. 1885 “J. Strathesk” Blinkbonny 8:
Large quantities of blankets . . . tramping them thoroughly amongst a soapy mixture called a “graith,” which Tibbie skilfully compounded out of singular ingredients.
e.Rs.1 1935:
“I gave the clothes a good graith,” i.e. a thorough wash, with plenty of soap.
Abd. 1954 Buchan Observer (16 Nov.):
Pit mair soap i' yer tub, deem, an' get a gweed graith upo yer watter.
Ags., Fif. 1955:
Freq. in terms first, second graith, etc. “The first graith o' the flannen sarks.” “Thae dungarees'll need anither graith.”

†(7) A depreciatory term for people, gen. of doubtful character (Abd. 1892, ill-graith). Used coll. = dubious company, riff-raff. Rarely in a neutral sense: people, kith and kin, social equals (see 1836 quot.).Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 56:
Ye syne maun graze mang scabbit graith, To mak a-mends.
Bwk. 1821 W. Sutherland Poems 42:
Come a' ye sillert, sickly graith, Wha fear the blow o' tyrant death.
s.Sc. 1836 Wilson's Tales of the Borders II. 325:
I do not believe there's a brawer house than ours — among those o' our ain graith, I mean — in a' Selkirk.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 69:
Ye'll aisy ken fat kyne he is by the ticht graith he tacks up wee.
Rnf. 1878 C. Fleming Poems 222:
Spies, tradesmen-cheats, and all such wretched graith.
Lnk. c.1880 per Edb.3:
An old wife in the village of Crawford used to call another one “an auld graith.”

[O.Sc. has graith(e), gre(a)th, grath, to prepare, make ready (in various senses), a.1400, and in senses 1.–6. (1) of the n. from 1387; n.Mid.Eng. graith, a.1300; O.N. greiða, to arrange, made ready, greiði, arrangement; Norw. dial. greida, to arrange, settle; implements, greide, horse and plough harness. Cf. similar sense developments s.v. Gear.]

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