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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MITE, n., v. Sc. usages. [məit]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., a small insect, esp. one infesting cheese. In phr. to tak the mite, of cheese: to become overripe or infested with cheese-mites (Bnff. 1963). Deriv. mit(t)ie, -(e)y [′məiti], infested with mites (Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 14; m.Lth. 1812 P. Forbes Poems 25; Sc. 1827 Blackwood's Mag. (Sept.) 383; Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 63; Sh., Abd., Ayr , Kcb. 1963).Abd. 1922 G. P. Dunbar Doric 33:
A futtrat wirry't half the deuks The cheese hed taen the mite.

2. Phr. in the mite, in small things, in details, with play on might and main in quot.Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 180:
Men o' wit an' wise men; Gree aft in the mite, an' aye in the main.

3. A small or undersized object. Adj. mitie, small, tiny (Sh. 1963). Specif. (1) an undersized potato (Sh. 1903 E.D.D.); (2) a small clay marble (Mry., Ags. 1919 T.S.D.C.); (3) the smaller size of button used in the game of Buttony (Slg. 1956); in pl., the game itself (Ags. 1919 T.S.D.C.).(l) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (20 Oct.):
Shü hüv'd a weet möldie kishie, half foo o' grice mites, apo da flör.
(2) Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 138, 151:
Who would have given three “mites” any day for a “cheena” . . . “Gibbery this time.” “A' richt. In wi' yer mites.”
(3) Ags. 1934 G. M. Martin Dundee Worthies 178:
“The mites” — This game like the “bools” had many variants. The usual “mite” was the ordinary brass trouser button.

II. v. To pick mites out of anything (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 228).

[I. 3. may be from mite, orig. a small Du. coin. O.Sc. has mity, of cheese, 1681.]

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"Mite n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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