Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LAITH, adj., n. Also leath, lathe; l(a)eth, laithe (Sh.); leeth-. Sc. forms of Eng. loath. See P.L.D. § 32. [leθ]

I. adj. 1. As in Eng., loath, unwilling, reluctant. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1714  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 17:
To quat the Grip he was right laith.
Sc. 1776  Sir Patrick Spens in
Child Ballads No. 58 B. xii.:
Laith, laith were our Scottish lords To weit their coal-black shoon.
Ayr. 1786  Burns To a Mouse i.:
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee, Wi' murd'ring pattle!
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality xxxv.:
O Cuddie, man, laith wad I be they suld hurt ye.
Sc. 1832  A. Henderson Proverbs 14:
Laith to drink, and laith frae it.
Slk. a.1835  Hogg Tales (1874) 593:
I was laith to pit the secret out.
Sc. 1886  Stevenson Kidnapped xxi.:
I own I am laith to cut another.
Abd. 1904  W. Farquhar Fyvie Lintie 132:
A dominie may be an ass Though unco laith in thinkin't.
Sh. 1937  J. Nicolson Yarns 99:
I felt rather leath ta leave.

2. In Sh. usage, with (ap)o: tired of, surfeited with (Sh. 1960). Sh. 1898  Shetland News (26 Nov.):
Pat doo a lisk o' hay afore da sholmist koo? I kinna what's makkin' her laeth apo' da güde Scots aits strae.
Sh. 1899  J. Spence Folk-Lore 222:
Guid is laithe o' the greedy man.
Sh. 1922  J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 25:
Noo bairns we're nedder leth o' your company, or o' your kindness, bit hame we maun geng.

II. n. Loathing, despite, scorn (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Phr. to cast laith at, to scorn, show contempt for. Fif. 1882  S. Tytler Sc. Marriages I. ii.:
Jean Kinloch, you may cast laith at me, you've ower gude richt.
Knr. 1891  H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 51:
Auld brither, tho' your thrawart soul Needna cast laith at offer'd mercies.
Sh. 1898  Shetland News (29 Jan.):
But let dem tüd, yea, be me feth Aboot is a' intil dir leth.
Ork. 1960 5 :
Ids a laith o the craw at shites in ids ain nest — a shame on the one who slanders his own family in public.

III. Derivs.: 1. laithfu, leath-, leeth-, (1) reluctant, unwilling, loath (Wgt. 1960); lazy, indolent. Also adv.; (2) shy, bashful, backward (‡Slg. 1960). Also adv.; (3) disgusting, loathsome, filthy (Mry. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc., Per., Lth. 1960). Also adv.; 2. laithless, without reluctance or hesitation, readily, gladly; in 1867 quot. wrongly used, appar. = uncared for; ¶3. laithlounkie, dejected, crest-fallen (Ayr. 1825 Jam.). Of doubtful authenticity; 4. laith(e)ly, laidly, lail(l)y, lay(e)ly, loathsome, foul, disgusting; clumsy, boorish (Ags. 1808 Jam.); 5. laithsome, loathsome (m.Lth. 1960). 1. (1) Abd. 1742  R. Forbes Journal 6:
We . . . left the auld gabby carly, . . . to help the leethfu' leepit sleeth o' a coach-man to yoke his horse.
Lth. 1813  G. Bruce Poems 102:
As canty grew ilk honest heart, To break up a' were laithfu'.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 335:
To glunch at her I'd sorry be, Ay most confounded laithfu'.
Lnk. 1899  H. Muir Hamely Echoes 105:
Daein what I'd laithfu' oun.
(2) Ayr. 1786  Burns Cotter's Sat. Night viii.:
The youngster's artless heart o'erflows wi' joy, But blate and laithfu' scarce can weel behave.
Sc. 1812  The Scotchman 62:
Nor sae blate laithfu misleart an bumbaizt in company.
Dmf. 1820  Blackwood's Mag. (April) 54:
It is nigh the supper hour, and the strange lad will like company — a single spoon is aye laithful.
Edb. 1822  R. Wilson Poems ix.:
Fu' laithfu' peepin' past the hallen O' lovely Learning's mensefu' dwallin'.
Abd. 1844  W. Thom Rhymes 34:
Syne laithfu', lanely, Love 'gan scud Down Ury's waefu' stream.
s.Sc. 1847  H. S. Riddell Poems 14:
They did not like to bid him stay To hear them read and hear them pray, Sae laithfu' was their breeding.
Sc. 1870  A. Hislop Proverbs 29:
A landward lad is aye laithfu'.
(3) Abd. 1824  G. Smith Douglas 91:
See what he's gotten his passion to gorge — The full o' his oxter o' a'thing that's laithfu'.
Abd. 1875  W. Alexander My Ain Folk 82:
Tribbles an' disagreements that mak' oor life snell an' bitter faur it mith be sweet an' pleasant.
Sc. c.1919  R. Thomas Sandie McWhustler's Waddin' 50:
For a' he was sic a laithfu' chiel he was unco fond o' a plisky as weel as the lave o's.
Abd. 1929 1 :
The maister, was sair hauden doon wi a laithfu' sweir wife — a doonricht warridrag.
2. Lnk. 1867  J. M. Peacock Reverie 124:
The hoolet-like look o' his wee sleekit een Tauld weel he was hunger't, an' laithless had been.
Per. 1895  R. Ford Tayside Songs 41:
[I] laithless, wad gie them the back o' my hand For the woods an' the glades o' Dunsinnan again.
4. Sc. 1818  Laily Worm in
Child Ballads No. 36 ii.:
For she has made me the lailly worm That lays att the fitt of the tree.
Sc. 1820  Scots Mag. (May) 93:
The laidlie droich Perform'd his lord's commands.
Ags. 1822  A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters II. 23:
He was a laidly auld fallow, an' had a liking for the women.
Per. 1845  G. Blair Holocaust 115:
Kate M'Niven's laithely form was seen.
Lnk. 1856  “Young Glasgow” Deil's Hallowe'en 15:
Some moaned, in laithly serpents' fauld, Their banes a' crunchin' as they crawled.
Abd. 1879  G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie xlvi.:
It was jist laithly to luik upo'.
Sc.(E) 1925  H. M'Diarmid Sangschaw 24:
It lowes wi' a reid and laithly flame That springs frae the evil place.
5. Sc. 1834  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1864) IV. 64:
Maist laithsome to see him hotchin on his seat, and to hear him mumplin in the mouth at sic a sicht.
Lnk. 1888  J. Nicholson Tibbie's Garland 78:
The drunkard's laithsome den.

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"Laith adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2019 <>



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