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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.

NOCHT, n., adj., adv., v. Also noucht (Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 268; Abd. 1895 G. Williams Scarbraes 29), nowcht, naucht (Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 13), noht (Abd. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (15 May) 3); noth (ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 60, Bch. 1931 Abd. Press & Jnl. (30 Jan.)). Sc. forms of nought, nothing, now only liter. in Eng. The Eng. spelling freq. disguises the Sc. pronunciation of the fricative, which however has gen. disappeared in s.Sc. in the last two generations to give the form Nowt, n.2, q.v. The pl. forms nochts, noughts, are also found in s.Sc. The Eng. form naught seems to have been rare in O.Sc. and naught forms below are prob. due to later anglicisation. [noxt; s.Sc. ‡nʌuxʍt]

I. n. 1. Nothing. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc. Also in pl. (Rxb. 1873 D.S.C.S. 246; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Phr. to hae nocht adae, to have no business.Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shep. MS. 125:
My blessing o' you, 'tis nae for noth ye're spar'd For ye was born and hopes ye'll die a Laird.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 110:
Without Souring nocht is sweet.
Ayr. 1794 Burns Ca' the Yowes v.:
Thou'rt to Love and Heav'n sae dear, Nocht of ill may come thee near.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 146:
But tell the Croon she's nocht adae Tae crush her toilin' millions sae.
Rxb. 1868 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 28:
If he were asked “What to do” , [he answered] “Nochts ava.”
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders ix.:
Fu' o' wind, and maybe a pea or two rattling i' the wame o' ye! Nocht else!
Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Kincaid's Widow xii.:
“It's true”, pondered Maister Peter, “she was set at nocht and sair hadden down, puir creature.”
Abd. 1923 B. M'Intosh Scent o' Broom 38:
Sae for this lad I'll aye haud oot Till nocht frae me can pairt him.
Dmf. 1931–3 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 249:
The English word nothing was in their speech nocht. . . . “Hoo can I dae ocht when I've nocht to dae ocht wi'?”
s.Sc. 1952 Sc. Home & Country (Sept.) 270:
He was nocht but a gaun-aboot buddie.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 71:
The lang notes dwinnil or naething's heard
but peeriest soond an' syne nocht ava, ...
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 25:
... a hantle o fowk hae trockit
thir tongue for a pig in a poke
an a sicht mair ken nocht
but a puckle o words.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 15:
Sae the sax days' darg o God is skailt.
An brocht by fire tae nocht again.

Derivs.: (1) nochtie, -y (Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 204), noughty, and anglicised forms naughtie, -y, nautie, adj., of persons: puny, feeble, insignificant, good-for-nothing (Ags. 1825 Jam.), unreliable (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 259); of things: small, worthless, unfit for use (Abd. 1825 Jam.; Mry. 1925; Sh., Kcd., Ags., Fif. 1964); (2) nochtifie, -y, naughtafee, v., to disparage, deprecate, treat contemptuously, speak slightingly of (Sh. 1964); (3) nochtless, nought-, naught-, (i) adj., worthless, of no account, useless (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., s.Sc. 1964). Also in Eng. dial. The form is an erroneous formation on the analogy of worthless, Mauchtless, etc. but may orig. be due to confusion with Knotless; (ii) adv., nevertheless.(1) Inv. 1729 Steuart Letter Bk. (S.H.S.) 332:
A Buckdealling to Wm. Beany, which I sold in the Highlands for tenn shillings, the Dealls being wery naughtie, and scarce good for nothing except Lath for plaster.
Sc. 1805–18 Earl of Errol in Child Ballads V. 267:
To gee't to ony naughty knight That a toucher canna wine.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Ayrshire Legatees viii.:
If she be a noghty woman, awa' wi' her.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 91:
Use her weel, and no be nautie To grip her strait.
Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 61:
The toon schule i' thae days was a nochty place, the bare stanes glowerin' oot o' the wa', an' the kaibers a' nakit abune.
Fif. 1862 St. Andrews Gazette (8 Aug.):
Weel, sir, there was a bonny shirra in my brither Jamie's house yestreen, when his second auldest laddie brocht hame his wee nochty bit buik for bein' third or fort dux.
Abd. 1882 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 101:
The farmers did not wish to have a Highland cow, and the coupers who passed sneered at it as a “nochty beastie”.
Ags. 1947 Forfar Dispatch (9 Jan.):
Inahent the coonter she's no' near sic a nochtie, shilpit, wee thingie.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 17:
"Fit's a dominie onywye?" the auld fairmer girned. "A loon amang men an a man amang loons - a nochtie craitur. Nae a richt man. ... "
(2) Sh. 1898 Shetland News (12 Feb.):
Naughtafeein' what a body haes ta sell.
Ags. 1914 I. Bell Country Clash 132:
To hae honest, dacent forefathers is a thing no to be nochtifieed.
Per. 1957:
An awfu man tae nochtifie ither folks' character.
(3) (i) Sc. 1828 Earl of Errol in Child Ballads No. 231 C. xii.:
To gar my father sell his land . . . To such a noughtless heir as you, That canno get a son.
(ii) Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms 3:
Nochtless, it has been keepit ay on sen his day.

2. A mean or insignificant person (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).m.Sc. 1961 T. T. Kilbucho Shepherd's Years 12:
A braw-like lass at that, But when I h'ard the pettit nocht, I turned awa an' grat.

3. A small egg, usu. the last in a batch laid by a hen.Wgt. 1897 Proc. British Assoc. V. 471:
The small egg a hen sometimes lays bears the names of a “nocht” and “a mock”. Such an occurrence is regarded as the forerunner of some piece of misfortune.

II. adj. Worthless, good-for-nothing.Rxb. 1865 N. & Q. (Ser. 3) VIII. 537:
A man may care, and still be bare, If his wife be nought; A man may spend, and still may mend, If his wife be ought.

III. adv. Not (Gsw. 1716 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (B.R.S.) IV. 606; Abd. 1893 G. Macdonald Songs 53; Sc.(E.) 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 134), not at all, in no way. Now chiefly liter. or arch., exc. as in 1962 quot. See No.Sc. 1724 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 87:
But its nocht fit an mortal Man Sould ken all I can tell.
Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 166:
Wi' good white bread, and farrow-cow milk, I wat she fed me nought.
Cai. 1872 M. MacLennan Peasant Life 38:
I hae noucht understandin' o' it.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle ii.:
Man, Behauld the End of All. Be Nocht Wiser than the Hiest. Hope in God!
Sc. 1931 Sc. Educ. Jnl. (18 Dec.):
In Summer-time in laum'er broun, An' nocht kenspeckle frae the rest.
Wgt. 1962:
Of emphatic denial: I did nocht.

IV. v. To hold in contempt, to disparage (Sh. 1964).

[For the Abd. form noth cf mith. Micht.]

Nocht n., adj., adv., v.

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"Nocht n., adj., adv., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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