Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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KILT, v.1, n.1 Also kelt, †quelt. [Sc. kɪlt, Abd. + kjɪlt]

I. v. 1. tr. (1) Gen. of a woman: to tuck up (the skirts) so as to leave the legs free (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 88); to roll up (the sleeves) (Sh. 1960). Also with up. Gen.Sc. Ppl.adj. kilted, -et, tucked up, rolled up. Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 158:
Few Coats she wore, and they were kilted.
Abd. 1746  W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 35:
Kilting up her petticoats Above her hose.
Ayr. 1786  Burns Earnest Cry xvii.:
Her tartan petticoat she'll kilt.
Sc. 1816  Scott Antiquary xxvi.:
As sune as the keel o' the coble touches the sand, . . . the wives maun kilt their coats and wade into the surf to tak' the fish ashore.
Sc. 1864  M. Oliphant Katie Stewart i.:
Janet has the skirt of her dress folded up and secured round her waist, kilted as she calls it.
Sh. 1898  Shetland News (5 March):
She . . . kilted her sleeves abune her elbicks.
Dmf. 1925  Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 13:
If the dress is too long we kilt the skirts of it.
Ork. 1956  C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 69:
Sheu hid on a queer strippid petticoat a' kilted aap aboot her.

Hence kilting, kiltine, (i) “the lap, or part of a woman's petticoat that is tucked up” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); a pleated frill on a petticoat (Kcd., Ags., Dmf. 1960); (ii) = n., 1. below; (iii) fig. of the clouds: see quot. (i) Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 300:
She has got a Kid in her Kilting. That is, she has got a Bastard about her.
(ii) Sc. 1752  J. Campbell Highl. Soc. 8:
Their native Dress (called Kiltine) is different from that of the Lowlands.
(iii) Abd. c.1890  Gregor MSS.:
When the sky “upsets” towards the north, i.e. when large masses of clouds of different hues rise towards the north, or according to an expression sometimes used, “Fan rawns is roastin (from the reddish hues in the clouds),” with the wind from the south, the wind for a time overcomes the clouds, but the saying is: — “There's warrin atween the north an the sooth, an' there'll be nae peace till the north get victory.” The wind goes to the north, and blows a breeze, it may be for a day or two. When the clouds form a large solid mass: — “a kiltin,” as some call it, the breeze is close at hand.

Phr.: high- or heich-kilted, — it, having the skirts well tucked up; hence fig. immodest, indecent (Sc. 1882 C. Mackay Poetry and Humour Sc. Lang. 159; Fif.10 1941). Sc. 1792  Burns's Wks. (Douglas) VI. 413:
High kilted was she, the coat aboon her knee.
Sc. 1809  Scott in Quarterly Rev. (Feb.) 22:
In one or two passages [of the Jolly Beggars] the muse has trespassed slightly upon decorum, where, in the language of Scottish song, High kilted was she As she gaed ower the lea.
Dmf. 1810  R. H. Cromek Remains 13:
Tho' she may gang a wee thing high kilted at times.
Sc. 1824  Scott Redgauntlet Letter v.:
Carried home, in compassion by some high-kilted fishwife.
Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr Duguid 281:
His conversation, . . . though aye stopping short of skulduddery itsel', was whyles, still and on, of a gey heich-kiltit kind.
Abd. 1914  J. Leatham Daavit 63:
Aw'm thinkin' the dance wasna freely sae high-kiltit as it is wi' Maudie.
Sc. 1915  W. Walker Peter Buchan 168:
This collection of the ribald, high-kilted, northern and other muse.

†(2) To raise, lift up or suspend anything quickly (Ags. 1808 Jam.); fig. to hang. Vbl.n. kilting, hanging. Cf. Eng. tuck, truss up. Mry. 1810  J. Cock Simple Strains 69:
Many ane she's kiltet up Syne set them fairly on their doup.
Sc. 1815  Scott Guy M. vi.:
They gie another sort o' help to puir folk than just dinging down a saxpence in the brod on the Sabbath, and kilting and scourging and drumming them a' the sax days o' the week besides.
Sc. 1817  Scott Rob Roy xxiii.:
It wad be sair news to the auld wife . . . that . . . I had kilted you up in a tow.
Sc. 1828  Scott Journal (1890) II. 127:
Our ancestors brought the country to order by kilting thieves and banditti with strings.
Edb. 1926  Broughton Mag. (Summer) 7:
Juist eneuch raip to kilt themsel's.

Comb.: †kilt-rack, a device for raising the rack of a mill (Ags. 1808 Jam.). See Rack.

2. intr. (1) To put on a kilt. Cf. n. 1. Sc. 1741  Sc. Hist. Review II. 303:
The Serjant took hold of him [a private] and desired him at his peril to kilt.

(2) To hasten, to go quickly, expeditiously, as if with the clothes kilted. Sc. 1816  Scott B. Dwarf xviii.:
He's a clever fallow, indeed! maun kilt awa wi' ae bonny lass in the morning, and another at night.
Per. 1894  I. Maclaren Brier Bush 150:
Kiltin' up the braes as hardy as a hielan' sheltie.

II. n. A part of the modern male Highland dress, consisting of a skirt made of tartan cloth, hung from the waist and reaching to the knee, plain in front but thickly pleated at the back. It appears to have originated sometime in the late 17th c. or in the earlier part of the 18th c. from cutting the belted plaid across at the waist so as to make a separate garment. It was orig. called the little kilt or Filibeg, q.v. It is incorrect Sc. usage to use the pl. kilts as a sing. Sc. c.1730  E. Burt Letters (1815) II. 168:
Those . . . who travel on foot . . . vary it [the trowze] into the quelt.
Sc. 1746  Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) II. 99:
He was then in kilt with very indifferent plaid.
Sc. 1771  T. Pennant Tour 1769 163:
The fillebeg, i.e. little plaid, also called kelt, is a sort of short petticoat reaching only to the knees, and is a modern substitute for the lower part of the plaid.
Abd. 1778  Aberdeen Jnl. (23 Feb.):
Had on when he went away a Blue short Coat and little Kilt.
Sc. 1831  J. Logan Sc. Gael (1876) I. 241:
All regular tartans are made, so that, in the fold of the kilt and plaid, which are formed — what is called quilted, or box plaiting, a particular stripe shall appear.
Sc. 1854  H. Miller Schools vi.:
The kilt had been assumed for but a few weeks.
w.Dmf. 1899  Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 336:
The Highland costume . . . was perfected in the plaid and the kilt, otherwise known as the philibeg.
Sc. 1956  Weekly Scotsman (9 May):
Engravings and carved heraldic stones such as those in Nisbet's plates and the stone dated 1692 at Skene House, have been the means of preserving contemporary details of Highland costume, and confounding the much-canvassed statement that the philabeg, or little kilt, was invented by Captain Rawlinson about 1728.

Hence 1. kilted, adj., dressed in a kilt (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; 2. kilter, n., a man wearing the kilt, a soldier in a Highland regiment (Ags., Fif. 1960); a kiltmaker (Per. 1960); 3. kiltie, n., = 2. Gen.Sc.; one who wears “a very short dress” (Cld. 1880 Jam.). 1. Bnff. 1882  W. M. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars 66:
The kiltet mannie puttin' a cigar in his mou.
Sc. 1952  L. B. Oatts Proud Heritage 247:
The Lord Provost protested to the War Office that the citizens wanted a “Highland” regiment! In other words, “Highland” and “kilted” had come to mean the same thing.
3. Sc. 1842  D. Vedder Poems 112:
In double quick time did the kilties career;. . . The weavers an' hecklers, they scamper'd like deer.
Rnf. 1856  Vagabond Songs (Ford 1904) 225:
The kilties gaed to help the Turks, Wi' a' their pistols, guns, and dirks.
Sc. 1909  R. M. Fergusson Silver Shoe-buckle 27:
I noticed after a wee that Rob Roy and a lot o' his kilties was prowling aboot.
Lth. 1918  A. Dodds Lothian Land 71:
He jined a kilty regiment, An' sailed across the sea.
wm.Sc. 1932  J. Corrie A Man o' War 6:
He was in the Kilties; his kilt was fair riddled wi' bullets at Mons.
Ags. 1953  Forfar Dispatch (22 Jan.):
It [skean-dhu]'s a kind o' dirk that kilties wear in their stockins.

[O.Sc. kilt, to tuck up, from 1513, to hang, 1697, North Mid.Eng. kilt, to gird, a.1340. The n. is not found in O.Sc. ‡Norw., Dan. kilte, to tuck up the clothes round the body, O.N. kelta, kjalta, id., kilting, fold, lap of a garment.]

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"Kilt v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Nov 2019 <>



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