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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

GRIST, n.2, v.2 Also †girst.

I. n. 1. The size or thickness of yarn, (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 243; Uls. 1900 E.D.D.; Abd., Ayr., s.Sc. 1955). Gen. in textile areas.Sc. 1720 Grievances of the poor Commonality 71:
You will know by the Grist of the Yarn, if it could have been so many Ells of sufficient Cloth.
Edb. 1739 Caled. Mercury (8 May):
Whoever shows the next best 4 Spinnel of the same Girst, shall have Two fine Linnen Neck-Napkins.
Abd. 1750 Aberdeen Jnl. (21 Aug.):
Merchant in Aberdeen gives out Flax to spin of all sorts of Grists from sixteen heirs, to nine or ten Slips in the Pound.
Ork. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 V. 408:
The common grist of the cloth is from 900 to 1200, and some have exceeded 1800 [see Hunder].
Lnk. 1808 W. Watson Poems 73:
Four drogget coats, I trow the grist O them is gayen sma' O.
Gsw. 1852 Glasgow Past & Present (1884) II. 70:
Whereas the East India yarns manufactured into muslins being of various grists, part of the cloth appeared of a fine fabric, while another part of the same cloth seemed quite coarse.
Rxb. 1868 Hawick Advert. (18 April):
It was of the same grists. Nobody in Hawick makes similar yarn.
Sc. 1944 Sc. Woollens (June):
The “count” itself is by the number of yards of thread to the pound and is stated as the number of hanks of 560 yards to which a pound of wool can be spun. Incidentally, the word “grist” is usually substituted in Scotland for count.

2. Extended to mean size, girth, in gen. (Sc. 1818 Sawers); strength, force (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), quality, “proper make or quality, as ‘that's about the right grist'” (Uls.2 1929). Also in s.Don. and w.Yks. dial.Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 34:
Here is the true an' faithfu' list O' Noblemen and Horses; Their eild, their weight, their height, their grist.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Meal is also said to be of a certain grist, according to the particular size of the grains.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 81:
'Tis no for the breadth o' the ocean, 'Tis no for the girst o' the wave.
Ork. 1911 Old-Lore Misc. IV. iv. 186:
Hid wasna at he wanted tae tissle an' fecht wi' ony an' let him be, bit itherways — dan let them try da grist o' him!
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Of someone who has caught hold of you firmly — “I can feel the grist of him yet.”
Ork.5 1955:
“The grist is worn aff hid,” said of something which has lost its new look and become dull or shabby.

II. v. To judge, to guess; “to guess the weight, size, or temperature of a thing without actually weighing or measuring” (Uls. 1900 E.D.D.).Uls. 1901 North. Whig:
The wife, who never likes to see a man without a turn to do, was on fo' me helping with the churn, but we gristed et that ill that I had on'y done in time to hear the hinder end of the case.
Uls. 1993:
Never mind the scales, I'll jist grist it.

[Not in O.Sc. Prob. a variant with met. of girth, + -st suff. as in Grist, n.1, trust, twist, etc.]

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"Grist n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Dec 2022 <>



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