Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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HEFT, n.1, v.1 Also haeft, haift. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. haft.

1. The haft or handle of an implement (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 53; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). Gen.Sc. Hence heftmaker, one who fashions hafts or handles (Sc. 1704 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 374). Sc. 1704 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 343:
6 bone hefts of knyfes and forks and 2 silver hefts of knyves.
Abd. 1716 Sc. N. and Q. (Ser. 1) II. 89:
Ane pen knife with a whyte Bon heft.
Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter 138–140:
A knife a father's throat had mangled — The gray-hairs yet stack to the heft.
Slk. c.1840 Sc. N. and Q. (Ser. 1) IV. 55:
An auld roosted razor, Rotten i' the heft.
m.Lth. 1870 J. Lauder Warblings 101:
But I'll tak' my rifle heft, An' I'll paste them richt an' left.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 121:
A spaed heft 'at I wis tryin' ta mak' ta ane o' Arty's boys.
Bch. 1929 J. Milne Dreams o' Buchan 26:
Up tae the heft he dreeve an' cleft The bag o' clover seed.

2. A fisherman's gaff used for landing a big fish when it is too heavy for the hook to lift (Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1956), a Huggie-Staff.

3. The right-hand side of a band of reapers (Sc. 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 723). Hence phr. haft and point, the outermost party on each side of a field of reapers. Dmf. 1821 Blackwood's Mag. (Jan.) 402:
The Highland sickles . . . could not prevent the haft and the point from advancing before them, forming a front like the horns of a crescent.

4. Phrs.: (1) to be in the heft, — haft, to have complete control (of a situation), to have the whip hand. Cf. (5); (2) to be like heft and blade, to be bosom friends; (3) to be loose in the heft, to be unstable or dissolute in character. Now obs. or dial. in Eng.; (4) to get neither heft nor blade o', to fail to obtain, to get nothing at all; (5) to hae (baith) (the) heft an (the) blade (to haud) in one's hand, = (1) (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Abd.4 1928); (6) to stick to the haft, to remain loyal, stand firm, in any enterprise. (1) Abd. 1839 A. Walker De'il at Baldarroch 24:
Thinkin, he was i' the haft, Whan o' sic documents infeft.
(2) ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 56:
They hed been like heft an' blade The feck o' baith their lives.
(3) Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 66:
Ye're loose in the heft.
(4) Ayr. 1826 Galt Lairds xxxiv.:
He'll not get either heft or blade o' my vote for sic a trifle.
(5) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 77:
Why did ye sae, says Bydby, for ye had In your ain hand to hadd baith haft an' blade.
Abd.27 1950:
They had the heft an the blade i their han. — i.e. they had their fingers deep in the business, implying that they had interfered unduly.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick x.:
Weel, weel an', Laird. Sae be't. 'e heft an' blade's in your han an' nae in mine.
(6) Per. a.1822 in J. Monteith Dunblane Trad. (1889) 107:
The Highland Clans stuck to the haft, An' nearly had restor'd ye.

II. v. 1. To fit with a handle. Gen.Sc. Found gen. in ppl.adj. heftit, hefted, handled, fitted with a handle. Ags. 1712 A. Jervise Land of Lindsays (1853) 342:
Tuelve silver hefted knives.
Sc. 1747 Nairne Peerage Evid. (1874) 80:
Silver plate a dozen silver hefted knives and forks.
Per. 1802 S. Kerr Poems 71:
When auld guidman, wi' carefu luiks, Counts owre, an' sorts out, a' the huiks, Heftin, and sharp'nin up the warst.
Ags. 1855 Montrose Review (1 June) 5:
An' sweep the hearth-stane wi' a heftit broomcow.
Sh. 1901 T. P. Ollason Mareel 93:
An fan aald Lowrie heftin spades Ahint da barn door.

[O.Sc. heft, haft, handle, from a.1400, also fig. in phr. heft and blaid, 1530. Mid.Eng. has forms heft(e) and haft. Cf. P.L.D. § 48.1. (3).]

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"Heft n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jul 2020 <>



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