Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LEATHER, n., v. Also leither (Sc. 1703 N. Dickson Kirk and its Worthies 202), laidder, ledder (I. and ne.Sc.); †lader (ne.Sc. c.1800 Child Ballads (1956) V. 265). [′leðər, s.Sc. ′læð-, ne.Sc. ′ledər]

I. n. 1. As in Eng. Adj. leddern, made of leather, leathern (Abd. 1960). Phr. leather-ty [to]-patch, orig. the name of a step in a dance, hence adv. of a similar staccato movement or sound; rat-tat-tat or the like. Also in n.Eng. dial. Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) xxv.:
I'll beat leather-ty-patch wi' my buckles on the back-door.
Abd. 1928  Word-Lore III. vi. 147:
On's back a leddern wallet.

2. The skin, now only in slang usage in Eng., the hide of an animal; specif. the lining of the throat, in jocular reference to drinking. Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 186:
Deacon Cocks hae pass'd a law To rax an' weet your leather Wi' drink thir days.
Ayr. 1787  Burns Auld Mare xviii.:
Wi' tentie care I'll flit thy tether. To some hain'd rig, Whare ye may nobly rax your leather.
Rxb. 1826  A. Scott Poems 75:
At times, nae doubt, he wat his leather, Till light his heart lap like a feather.
Ags. 1833  J. S. Sands Poems 133:
An', if ye touch a single feather, I'll score your back till't lose the leather.
Sh. 1899  J. Spence Folk-Lore 239:
I rax'd da tar ledder o' da grice for humbli-baands.
Abd. 1928 4 :
Lat the win' blaw upon strait laidder, i.e. eat your fill and face the weather.

3. The udder of a cow. Also in Eng. dial. Lnk. 1827  J. Watt Poems 56:
To drain the milk frae bruckie's leather.

4. A heavy blow (Bnff., Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; n.Sc., Ags., sm.Sc. 1960). Cf. v.

II. v. 1. As in colloq. Eng., to beat, flog, thrash. Gen.Sc. Vbl.n. leatherin, a hiding (Sc., Sh. 1825 Jam.) and in phr. clean leatherin, a ding-dong fight. Rnf. 1790  A. Wilson Poems 60:
Earth! ye deserve a leath'ring, Right snell, this day.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality xxiii.:
I cam to a place where there had been some clean leatherin', and a' the puir chields were lying there.
Slk. 1820  Hogg Winter Ev. Tales I. 262:
“A leatherin, friend!” said I, “pray what may that mean?” “'Tis what we ca' threshin' ane's skin i' some places; or, a drubbing, as an Englishman wad ca't.”
Arg. 1901  N. Munro Doom Castle xii.:
Lord! yon's a wife who would be nane the waur o' a leatherin', as they say in the south.
Abd. 1925  R. L. Cassie Gangrel Muse 15:
We herdit nowt the simmer throwe, In winter took a raith O' skweelin' wi' a maister brow, Fa wis tae ledderin' laith.

2. To scold, rail at, criticise severely (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 102). Ayr. 1879  J. White Jottings 196:
We'll sing oor sang, tho' critics leather, We'll string oor rhymes, nay aiblins blether.

3. To tie tightly, sc. with a leather thong (Slk. 1825 Jam.).

4. Freq. with at or up: to do anything with vigour and speed, to tear on, to work hard or assiduously (Sc. 1808 Jam., Add., “a low word”; Sh., Ags., Kcb., Uls. 1960), often in conjunction with another verb. Also in Eng. dial.; to urge upon, to argue or plead with, to exhort; with aff: to utter vehemently or volubly. Bwk. a.1838  Jam. MSS. X. 181:
To leather and gang — to walk rapidly. To leather and dance — to dance with much spirit and vigour.
Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 102:
She wiz leatherin' an' washin' the fleer. A'm eye leatherin' at 'im t' learn's lessons.
Lnk. 1893  J. Crawford Sc. Verses 12:
Losh, the laddie's uncommonly gifted; Ye should see him mount up on a chair An' leather awa' at the readin'.
Kcb. 1898  Crockett Standard Bearer xiv.:
He was just leatherin' aff the words that fast the folk couldna tell whether he was gi'en them guid Scots or ill-contrived Laitin.
Abd. 1941  C. Gavin Black Milestone ii.:
He'll be leatherin' awa' at St Paul's missionary journeys.

5. To hurry, hasten, to walk briskly, “get a move on” (Abd., Lth., Slk. 1960). Peb. 1800  Edb. Mag. (Dec.) 477:
On Monday mornin', a' the bairns Through a' their friends are leatherin!
Abd. 1955  :
If you've gotten sairt, then ledder.

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"Leather n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jun 2019 <>



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