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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

KYTHE, v., n. Also kithe, kyth, cythe; kyve. See also Ky. Obs. exc. in n.dial. in Eng. [kɑeð, Rxb. + kɛiv]

I. v. 1. tr. To reveal, make manifest, show, prove; to show signs of (Gall. 1900). Now mainly liter.Sc. 1704 J. Clark Picture of Present Generation 11:
I trow there is none of us all, but upon Tryal have kythed Frowardness enough this way.
Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) II. 158:
Well can my Jocky kyth His love and courtesie.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Poems (S.T.S.) 144:
But they'll say that auld fouk are twice bairns indeed, An' sae she has kythed it.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Halloween iii.:
Their faces blythe fu' sweetly kythe Hearts leal, an' warm, an' kin'.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel v.:
Send Solomon, King of the Jews, to Francis of France! — Body of me, man, it would have kythed Cellini mad.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xlvi.:
I canna understand this new-kythed kindness.
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 234:
The glum lift kythed a swarming sheen Of wingit insects.
Sc.(E) 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 76:
He cheenged naething, And hesna kythed Hissel!

2. intr., with refl. force: (1) to show or present oneself or itself, to appear, to become manifest, to seem; to show one's true character, “without any guile or hypocrisy” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 306; Dmf.6 1930); to appear in view, to come into sight (‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., kythe, kyve). Ppl.adj. kythin, forthcoming, present, appearing (Abd.6 1913; Dmf.6 1930), specif. of the sky: appearing more clearly, brightening. Vbl.n. kithing, keethin(g), appearance, manifestation, specif. the circles which betray the movements of a fish in the water. Also used attrib. in combs. ¶keethin ring, the ring of light round a star (Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 91), keethin(g) sight, the view a fisherman gets of ripples in the water which reveal the movements of a fish (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.). Edb. 1703 Plea against Pamphlets:
I am not a little scandalized at the spirit which kythes in and runs through the most part of the scurrilous Pamphlets that I have seen.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 48, 73:
Kyth in your ain colours that fowk may ken you. . . . True love kyths in time o' need.
Abd. 1777 R. Forbes in Sc. Poems 22, 29:
Did Ajax' courage ever kyth To say anes he wad byde? . . . Simmer an' winter on it kyths, And mony a bonny town.
Abd. 1796 Session Papers, Leslie v. Fraser (29 March 1805) 126, 139:
When they expect to have bodily sight of the fish, the fishers most commonly use the high sight on the Fraserfield side above the bridge; but below the bridge . . . they have keething and drawing sights. . . . They wrought that shot by sinking their nets when they saw fish in it, and they would have seen them by keethings, or showing themselves above water.
Slk. 1813 Hogg Poems (1874) 173:
The mind that kythes as the body fair.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxxiv.:
Ah! Rob, had ither folk's purses been as weel guarded, I doubt if your sporran wad hae been as weel filled as it kythes to be by the weight.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize iii.:
His abundant hair . . . was also clouded and streaked with the kithings of the cranreuch of age.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 123:
His eye caught something movan' on the hillside atween him an' the kythan' sky.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 17:
As lang as simmer-glances kythe.
Slk. 1910 per Miss Arbuckle:
A friend was hailed by an old man coming out of church at Ettrick: “Is yer faither a-kythin?”
Rs. 1939:
My feyther's kythin' at the buchts.
m.Sc. 1986 Ian A. Bowman in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 165:
Your minnie, forejeskit, tousie, white as the blossom
o the new-sprung gean ablow:
your ainsel, newborn life kythin in my airms
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 29:
Whit kythins o life micht suddenly appear
whaur aa seems deid, the wecht o miscomfited past
lourd on ilka ane, and whit lichtnins micht skeer
this dairk that's thrawn eneuch tae last
and pitmirk us for aye?
Sc. 1991 John McDonald in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 89:
lowe an tallie yin rummle
(God an chiel plet)
kythin an vainishin aw at yince:
like owrecome an variorum in a pibroch set.
Fif. 1991 William Hershaw in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 167:
Handselled the dark wi flesh and smoke
That the laich licht micht kyth.
Fif. 1992 Simon Taylor Mortimer's Deep 251:
'...Syne a figur o a man kythit itsel on the port side.'
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 19:
"Hou cud ye iver gledly jyne
In a Saubbath service that has nae end?
An hou cud luve kythe in yer sowels
For things yer flesh cudna comprehend? ... "
Uls. 2001 Belfast News Letter 13 Oct 22:
This shaws forby at 'Scottishness' widna kythe in Scotlann lane. The 'Sheuch', far frae bein a mairch o culturs, wid be juist the mids o an aefauld cultur.

Hence †kyth(e)some, adj., pleasant, of prepossessing appearance, used in conjunction with blythesome.Per. 1818 J. Sinclair Simple Lays 9:
An' blythsome, an' kythsome, Enjoy a dander sweet.
Gsw. 1863 W. Miller Nursery Songs 20:
We meet wi' blythesome an kythesome cheerie weans.
Lnk. 1897 J. Wright Scenes Sc. Life 73:
Some folk sing o' the summer wi' its blythesome, kythesome days.

(2) (a) With into: to turn, change, be transformed; (b) with to, wi: to take after, to resemble in manners, looks, disposition, etc., to match (‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); to be attracted to (Kcd. 1960).(a) Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie ci.:
Sir Andrew has so kithed into the great man I always thought he would be.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 44:
A spirit of speering into the causes of things, that kythed belyve into a settled purpose and resolve that I would be a doctor.
(b) Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 48:
It surely canna be a sin past feelin's to regret, Do what I may, I fin' my heart aye kyth's to Willie yet.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 197:
Gie veils tae dames o' Eastern climes, Whase taste I canna reeze; It kythesna wi' the Norlan hills, The heather, an' the breeze.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
The bairn kythes ti its mother's folk.

II. n. ¶1. Appearance, aspect .Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 32:
But nature, thy feature, An' mien o' various kythe.

2. A living being in its earliest manifestations, e.g. a young child. Cf. n.Eng. dial. usage = the tender shoot of herbs or trees.Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 219:
When Hughie's weary darg is done, Whau's e'en but yet a kythe, man.

[O.Sc. kyth(e), keth(e), to display one's actions, display in performance, c.1400, to show oneself, 1606; Mid.Eng. cuthen, kithen, to make known, show, O.E. cýðan, to make known, announce, reveal, prove. The n. usages derive from the v.]

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"Kythe v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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