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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HALTA DANCE, n.comb. Also -dans, hilkadans, halka-, hjalta-.

1. Orig. a fairies' dance. Now only fig., a frantic struggle, a mad rushing-about. Phr. to had a halta dance, to run about scolding and making a noise (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1956).Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
“Shø's dansin' a hilkadans” reported of a tethered cow, trying to break loose.

2. A heat-haze; the shimmering haze which seems to rise from the ground in warm weather (Sh. 1956).Sh. 1937 J. Nicolson Yarns 94:
“Titbow dance” and “halta dance” are names given to that peculiar atmospheric effect seen in dry, warm, summer weather, when the light seems to dance along the hills. The halta dance was a dance of the Fairies.

3. Gossamer, the shimmering motion associated with this (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1956).

[Appar. ad. O.N. (hinn) halta dans, “(the) lame or halting dance,” the fairies, in Sh. tradition, limping when they danced.]

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"Halta Dance n. comb.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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