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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

LAFT, n., v. Also laaft (Sh.); laift (Kcd. 1903 Crockett Banner of Blue xxx.); laff-; laught (Rnf., Ayr. 1880 Jam.); loaft. Dim. laftie. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. loft. [lɑft]

I. n. 1. As in Eng. but specif. of the upper storey of a two-storied building (Cai. 1902 E.D.D.). Gen.(exc. s.)Sc.; a ceiling (Rnf., Ayr. 1880 Jam.; Sh. 1898 W. F. Clark Northern Gleams 19). Also fig. Combs. loft-house, see quot. (Uls. 1960); laft-tree, a ceiling joist.Rnf. 1741 in Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) L.7:
Clock, meikle-kist, vessell board, meikle chair, meikle pot, meikle Bible, laft and laft-trees, buissenstanes, hecks, etc.
Abd. 1825 Jam.:
Loft-house still denotes the upper part of any building, used as a warehouse; or the whole building, the loft of which is thus appropriated.
Dmf. 1863 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 147:
The half what's in his upper laft, A bardie never dreamest.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 18:
The fleurs o' the lafts o the ha' hoose teuk fire.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 69:
The poor body . . . left her leafu' lane in the dark laft of the steeple.

2. A gallery in a church (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 225). Gen.(exc. s.)Sc. Now obs. in Eng. exc. in combs. organ-loft, etc.Abd. 1700 in W. Cramond Church of Aberdour (1896) 42:
Severall young people do possess the forebreast of the common loft in tyme of sermon to the prejudice of others that are old.
Sth. 1732 C. D. Bentinck Dornoch (1926) 286:
Space was assigned to Lord Strathnaver “on the east side of the South Isle of the Kirk” for the erection of a loft, with permission “to strike out a door” for entrance to his loft.
Ags. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 III. 360:
The church is in good repair; it has two lofts, one to the east, the other to the west.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie I. iii.:
Mary would peep over the front of the Laird's laft, to where Andrew sat beside his grandmother in the area below.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 160:
You'll see an ill-faured, pock-marked, black-a-viced hizzie in the front laft, opposite the poupit.
e.Lth. 1854 Stat. Acc.2 II. 113:
The gallery in church appropriated for their use, has received . . . the appellation of “the Bishop's laft.”
Inv. 1877 Alexander Ross Freemasonry in Inverness 48:
Building of a loaft in the Highland Kirk.
Fif. 1894 J. Menzies Our Town 67:
Jacob had “a seat o' his ain in the Auld Kirk, number thirty-aucht in the wast laft.”
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 174:
At the east and back wings were two outside stone stairs, leading to what were called the “lafts”.
Ags. 1922 V. Jacob My Own Country 53:
It gave a good view of “the breist o' the laft” from end to end.

3. See quot. Cf. Luff, n.Arg. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VII. 15:
When the woods are cut and the trees barked, the bark is dried on what is termed lofts, being forked stakes driven into the ground in two rows, and from two to three feet in height, and by laying bars across on these forked bearers, floors are made on which the bark is laid; that of the branches and youngest wood being placed beneath, and the broader pieces of the larger timber over them.

4. In Golf: the act of striking the ball so as to make it rise high in the air; the slope on the face of a golf-club which causes this.Sc. 1887 W. G. Simpson Golf 159:
A medium amount of loft is best.
Sc. 1936 Times (25 Oct.) 6:
Loft is perhaps not really so important as shallowness of face.
Sc. 1994 Herald (23 Aug) 23:
"With steel, I'm finding it easier to hit, for example, a punched five iron. But with the middle irons, I'll have to check the lofts over, because I'm hitting them up in the air a bit."

II. v. 1. (1) To make a loft or upper storey by flooring the joists of the ceiling of the room below. Hence laftin, lofting, -en, the act of doing this, the wood used for this purpose, wood similarly used as a ceiling to a working in a coal-mine (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 43); lofted house, a house with an upper storey. Also in n.Eng. dial.Ags. 1702 R. Finlayson Arbroath Documents (1923) 18:
24 deals to finish the loftings, the trap and inner doors . . . £9. 12. 0.
Kcd. 1711 J. A. Henderson Banchory-Devenick (1890) 75:
The Session did unanimously ordain that the said school house should be lafted with dails upon the publick charges.
Per. 1716 A. G. Reid Auchterarder (1899) 129:
Being a lofted house and much wood in it, was very soon reduced to ashes.
Rnf. 1733 in Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) L. 6:
I gat nae lafting, neither in byre, insett, nor spence, whereas I now furnished byre insett, and spence with jeists and ribs.
Sth. 1782 C. D. Bentinck Dornoch (1926) 313:
Mr Bethune had also suggested the desirability of “Coom Ceiling as well as lofting the Cathedral.”
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xix.:
A lofted house, that is, a building of two stories.
Fif. 1899 J. Allan Cracks wi' Flutorum 35:
Fae sooty laffin', nettercaps Spun oot their wubs by nicht.
Rxb. 1917 Kelso Chron. (3 July) 2:
When you flitted, you carried about with you your own jamb-stanes, or fireplace, and the “loften,” as your house was just no better than an open shed.

(2) Sim. of a deck on a boat. Hence vbl.n. lofting, the deck.Sc. 1723 Caled. Mercury (11 Nov.):
Then a deal from the lofting of the boat came near him, and he grasped it firmly.

2. (1) To lift the feet high in the air in walking (Slk. 1825 Jam.), or dancing, to rise on tiptoe (Sh. 1960).Peb. 1838 W. Welsh Poems 12:
The women lofted an' turn'd round.

(2) To cause to rise or leap in the air or to jump up on something high for safety or with fright; also, to surmount, cross over or on top of. Also ppl.adj. laftit.Ags. 1819 J. Ross Angusshire Chaplet 30:
Yet mony a raft he [Napoleon] laid to laft The Channel's kittle jaw, man.
Hdg. 1883 J. Martine Reminisc. 120:
He [a goat] was a pawky, ill-contrived beast, and thought nothing of pouting and “lafting” folk.
Ags. 1902 Barrie Little White Bird xxiv.:
We had lofted him out of the story.
Fif. 1938 Daily Record (23 June):
I'm laftit fur that dug.
Fif. 1990:
Ah wis fair laftit when the door startit tae open itsel.
Fif. 1993:
Laftit, o aye definitely Cellardyke and Anstruther - I don't even know if it occurs in any of the villages round about.

3. Specif. in Golf: to strike (the ball) so as to make it rise high and clear any obstacle (Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 80). Now always in form loft. Gen.Sc. Hence lofting-iron, a club used for this purpose, and lofted, of a golf-club: having the face sloping forwards from the sole, of use in lofting the ball.Sc. 1858 Chambers's Jnl. (4 Sept.) 157:
He takes that little straight-faced iron-headed tool, and, by a beautifully played shot, and admirable strength, “lofts” his ball over the bunker.
Sc. 1887 W. G. Simpson Art of Golf 22, 151, 159:
Lofting irons are more light-headed. If a bunker is between us and the hole, . . . the ball must be lofted high or else spun . . . A much lofted iron is very difficult to use.
Fif. 1897 R. Forgan Golfer's Manual 17:
The “Lofting Iron” is a light weapon, well sloped in the face, and intended almost solely for playing quarter-strokes (and “stimies”).
Sc. 1936 Times (25 Oct.) 6:
A short lofted brassey that I'm rather fond of.

[O.Sc. laft, n., v., (to make) a loft, 1600, from earlier loft. The golfing meanings derive from the general meaning of “to lift”, which is a cognate form. Cf. O.E., O.N. loft, air, and Eng. aloft.]

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



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