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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MOUNTAIN, n. Also Sc. forms: muntain (Sc. 1724 Ramsay Ever Green I. 228, Edb. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 190; Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 132); muntin (Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 129), -an (Abd. 1932 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 106) and Scotticised form of Eng., moontin (Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 75). [The hist. Sc. form is ′mʌntən (cf. Funtain) but is now practically obs.]

1. Sc. usages in combs.: (1) mountain ash, the aspen, Populus tremula; (2) mountain blackbird, the ring-ouzel, Turdus torquatus (Sc. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 8). Cf. (9); (3) mountain daisy, the white mountain avens, Dryas octopetala; (4) mountain dew, Highland whisky, †esp. that prepared in an illicit still; (5) mountain dulse, the seaweed mountain laver, Ulva montana (Sc. 1808 Jam.); (6) mountain flax, the common quaking grass, Briza media; (7) mountain-riggin, a mountain ridge; (8) mountain-spate, a mountain stream in spate, a mountain torrent; (9) mountain thrush, the ring-ouzel, Turdus torquatus (Kcb. 1878 Zoologist (Ser. 3) II. 427). Cf. (2).(1) Inv. 1872 Sc. Naturalist 54:
The Aspen, (Populus tremula), is known as the Mountain, or Quaking, Ash.
(3) Highl. 1939 Times (30 June) 19:
Great patches of the mountain avens (Dryas octopetala) locally known as the mountain daisy.
(4) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality Intro.:
A pleasing . . . liquor, which was vended . . . under the name of mountain dew.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 3:
What brings on a quicker, or a happier intoxication, than the pure Mountain dew?
Sc. 1828 Quarterly Jnl. Agric. I. 361:
It is a curious fact, that until the legal distillation of whisky was prohibited in the Highlands, it was never drunk at gentlemen's tables. “Mountain dew,” and such poetic names, are of modern invention, since this liquor became fashionable.
Fif. 1845 T. C. Latto Minister's Kail-yard 26:
Wi' mountain-dew themsells' they'd warm'd.
Sc. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evid. IV. 3133:
They are exposed more or less to temptation when they go to the hills sporting. I suppose some mountain dew will be going there, and I am afraid some of them will come to be a little too fond of it.
Highl. 1891 R. S. Fittis Sports and Pastimes of Scotland 179:
The prize was a keg of genuine mountain-dew, which, when won was broached and drunk out on the field by both sides.
(5) Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Sc. II. 974:
It [Ulva montana or Mountain Dulse] smells like Dulse (Fucus palmatus) and bears some resemblance to it, from whence it obtain'd its name.
(6) Kcb. 1871 Sc. Naturalist I. 54:
In Kirkcudbrightshire, the Quaking Grass (Briza), is called Mountain Flax, and is used medicinally.
(7) Ags. 1848 W. Gardiner Flora Frfsh. 88:
Their long and fatiguing rambles round the mountain-riggins.
(8) Sc. 1831 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) III. 133:
A few mountain-spates, or twa-three dreadfu' glooms o' thunner and lichtnin.

2. In specif. reference to the mountain refuges, esp. in Gall., of the Covenanters at the time of persecution (1670–88). Hence mountaineer and combs. mountain folk(s), man, -minister, -people. Later applied to the Macmillanites, q.v., or Reformed Presbyterian Church, which descended from the intransigent Covenanters. Cf. Hill, n., 1. Combs.Sc. 1708 Ravished Maid in the Wilderness Title:
These that follows Mr John Mackmillan, commonly called Mountain Men.
Sc. 1713 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) I. 520:
The mountain folks, as they were called, who did not join in hearing till they gave in a written testimony against the indulgence.
Sc. 1724 Ib. III. 125:
I hear the publishing of Mr Hepburn's testimony is disowned by his son, and the deed of some mountain people.
Sc. 1741 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 34:
You see some parishioners, who value their spiritual benefit more than their temporal concerns, turned out of their farms, etc. for not voting on their landlords side for a Minister; and other are obliged to go seek sermon at very inconvenient distances; and, forsooth, must be at the reverence too of these intruding, political, not gospel, Ministers, for testimonials to other Ministers to have the sacraments administered to them, or their children; which often obliged them to take up with those called Mountain Ministers.
Sc. 1751 A. Carlyle Autobiog. (1910) 249:
Grandfather of the present Earl of Hyndford, and the son of a celebrated mountaineer in Galloway.
Arg. 1781 J. Porter Visions, etc. 8:
I will bring a small army with a few ministers of the principles of the mountain men some time ago nicknamed whigs.
Sc. 1791 Trial T. Muir (Robertson) 42:
When the oath was proposed to be administered to this witness, he refused to swear, as being contrary to his religious principles. Being asked what these principles were, he declared he was one of those who are called the Mountain.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Mountain-men, The Presbyterians in this country, who do not acknowledge the lawfulness of the present civil government; as adhering to the principles of those who disowned the authority of Charles II. and James.
Fif. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IX. 162:
Till lately, there existed a remnant of that old sect of Christians, the Cameronians, or Mountaineers as they were sometimes termed.

3. The name given to the meeting place used by a social club of Edinburgh lawyers at the time of the French Revolution, so called after La Montagne, the extreme party of French revolutionaries who occupied the highest seats in the Chamber of the National Convention.Edb. 1792 Lockhart Scott vii.:
The place where these idlers mostly congregated was called, it seems, by a name which sufficiently marks the date — it was the Mountain. Here . . . “there was more news than law.”

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"Mountain n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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