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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PARRITCH, n., v. Also par(r)i(t)ch, parra(t)ch, parech; porritch, purritch; parrage, -idge. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. porridge, the dish of oatmeal boiled in salted water (Sc. 1808 Jam.).

I. n. 1. In Sc. freq. construed as a pl. From its being a staple of Scottish diet, the word came to be freq. used for food in gen., one's sustenance, daily bread. Also attrib. in combs. parritch kettle, -pan, -pat (Ayr. 1789 Burns Grose's Peregr. vi.), -time, etc. For special combs. and phrs. see below. Adj. ¶parritchable, able to eat one's food, in a good state of health. Cf. Combs. (8) below.Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 186:
Hae done your paritch, lassie Liz, Gi'e me my sark an' gravat.
Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 182:
Ye's get a panfu' of plumpin parrage; And butter in them.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Cotter's Sat. Night xi.:
But now the Supper crowns their simple board, The halesome Porritch, chief of Scotia's food.
Mry. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 400:
The diet of the labouring people here, and in general, all through the Lowlands of the North of Scotland, is porridge, made of oat meal, with milk or beer, to breakfast.
e.Lth. a.1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 26:
An' [Meg] sturdily did hook The parritch-kettle on the crook.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality vi., xiv.:
“They're gude parritch eneugh,” said Mrs. Wilson, “if ye wad but take time to sup them.” . . . This morning about parritch-time.
Rxb. 1824 W. Wilson Poems 11:
The parrach pan was fill'd up rather fu'.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 112:
Singin'and dringin', token clear That merry parridge-time was near.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 75:
Cauld parritch is sooner het again than new anes made.
Slk. 1874 Border Treasury (1 Aug.) 16:
I doot some o'ye hae taen ower mony whey porridge the day.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped iii.:
They're fine, halesome food — they're grand food, parritch.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet ix.:
Ye hinna carried in a single peat, an' it comin' on for parritch-time.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xxi.:
I would rather an ill deil sat forenenst me at the table, than parratch in a poke.
Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie xii.:
Nane o'your fancy foods for weans for Wullie John. It was rale auld Caledonia — parridge and soor dook.
em.Sc. 1912 W. Cuthbertson Dykeside Folk 70:
I sair misdoot if ye'll no be parritchable i' the mornin'.
Uls. 1923 J. Logan Uls. in X-Rays 70:
The porridge is hot, and I need some milk on them.
Sc. 1926 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 418:
Ye hae nae ambition, nae wish for onything beyond yer purritch an' yer bed.
Sc. 1953 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 170:
It was parritch in the mornin, oatmeal fried in creesh and tatties at dennertime, and parritch at nicht.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 1:
Attie likit a dram in a drap o tarry tea - a Birse cup he caad it. He likit his sark weel-aired ilkie mornin afore the fire fyle he cweeled his parridge wi a jeelip o cream, syne suppit it doon afore stridin ootower the coort ...

Special combs. and phrs.: (1) as plain as parritch, (i) self-evident, obvious to all, as clear as crystal; (ii) of persons: homely, unattractive in appearance, very plain; (2) auld claes an' parritch, auld claes an porridge, the humdrum workaday world, one's usual daily routine, the common round, fig. sober reality, hard facts; (3) (i) no to be able to buy saut for one's parritch, to be very poor, unable to afford any but the barest necessaries of life. Cf. Kail, 6. (5); (ii) no to be worth the saut to one's parritch, to be worthless in spirit or character; (4) parritch bicker, a wooden porridge-bowl. See Bicker, n.2; (5) parritch-broo, the mixture of oatmeal and water from which porridge is made. See Broo, n.1; (6) parritch-cap, = (4). See Cap; (7) parritch cog(gie), = (4). See Cog, n.1, 1.; †(8) parritch-hale, relishing one's food, having a healthy appetite (Fif. 1825 Jam.); (9) parritch-hertit, adj., sentimental, weakly emotional, “sloppy”. Hence n. parritch-hertitness, sentimentality, excessive softheartedness, oversensibility; (10) parritch-hour, a mealtime; (11) parritch luggie, = (4). See Luggie, n., 1.; (12) parritch-meal, the meal used to make porridge, oatmeal; (13) parritch-pingle, see Pingle, n.2; (14) parritch-spurtle, -spurkle, a stick used for stirring porridge. Also fig. See Spurtle; (15) parritch-stick, (i) = (14). Phr. to gie somebody a clean parritch stick to lick, to be a match for, to get the better of, to outsmart, outwit; (ii) one of the strokes a child makes when he is learning to write, a “pot-hook”; (16) parritch-tree, = (14) (Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). See Tree; (17) to boil somebody's parritch-pot, to provide one with a living, to support or keep one going with help; to get one out of a difficulty; (18) to cook the parritch for ane, id., to arrange or manage matters for, to smooth the way for (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (19) to get one's (gie one his) parritch, to get (give one) a severe scolding or chastisement, “what for”. Cf. Kail, n., 6. (6); (20) to keep (save) one's breath to cool one's parritch, to hold one's tongue, save oneself the trouble of speaking, usu. in imper. as a rebuff, = “mind your own business!” “shut up!” Now only dial. in Eng.; (21) to pepper one's parritch for him, to make things hot for one, give one a hot reception.(1) (i) Sc. 1761 Magopico 45:
It's as plain as parridge, that he was baith a Romin, and Socinian.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xv.:
Man, it's as plain's parridge! There's a gentleman in the toon doon by that's a hot wooer, and daddy's for nane o' his kind roon' Doom.
Slg. 1902 W. C. Paterson Echoes 72:
As plain as parritch can be seen ye dinna ken the Scotch.
(ii) Fif. 1899 E. F. Heddle Marget at Manse 60:
Ill-natured, carblin' back-biting, fashious, greedy auld carle! And plain as parritch forbye!
(2) Ayr. 1896 G. Umber Idylls 94:
It aye comes back to parritch an' auld claes at the hin'ren'.
Ags. 1955 Forfar Dispatch (18 Aug.):
And here am I, back tee auld claes and porridge.
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 45:
Anyway that's Him away back this morning. So that's me. Auld claes and parritch! Never really slept right last night, well, you never do.
Sc. 1998 Herald 5 Jun 22:
But I went ahead because I wanted to give the public, if they would ever be around, the chance to have a nice story and a good read. For a year, while I paid the deficit in instalments, it was back to "auld claes and porridge".
(3) (i) Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 65:
He can nae buy sa't for's parritch.
(ii) Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxi.:
If he does not . . . he will no be worth the salt in his porridge.
(4) Dmf. 1863 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 75:
I wadna steer my parritch bicker, Though caul' and ready, Till by my name they'd ca'me siccar.
(5) Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 47:
Maysie links on the porritch broo, An' lilts some cheery sang.
(6) Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 88:
The gudeman out-by maun fill his crap Frae the milk coggie, or the parritch cap.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 77:
Winter's keen breath has made him yap: He longs to see the parritch cap.
Per. 1837 R. Nicoll Poems (1842) 160:
Although our parritch-cap be sma . . . We'll spare a sup.
(7) Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 23:
Mammie! Fill the parritch coggie! Chase that shilpet wean awa!
Fif. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 114:
He wildly drave the horn spune into the parritch coggie.
(9) Abd. 1877 G. Macdonald M. of Lossie II. x.:
She cudna be in sic a mist o' benevolence and parritch-hertitness gien she cud lippen till a wiser.
(10) Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 45:
Ye never stick to parrach hours, Nor dinner, or late supper rules.
(11) Lnk. 1805 G. McIndoe Poems 68:
Or e'er I wish'd, twa dabs she gae me, And took my porrage luggie frae me.
(12) s.Sc. 1859 Bards of Border (Watson) 76:
To work for bread an' parritch meal.
(13) Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 27:
The cotter's cur At's ain fire-side, roused by the glad alarm, Out owre the porritch-pingle takes a sten.
(14) Sc. 1776 Our Goodman in Child Ballads No. 274 A. xi.:
It's but a porridge-spurtle, My minnie sent to me.
Sc. 1886 A. G. Murdoch Readings ii. 99:
She'll mak' the parritch-spurkle become closely acquaint wi' the back o' my heid.
Dmf. 1898 J. Paton Castlebraes 144:
As plain as a parritch spurtle, an' as practical as the Multiplication Table.
m.Sc. 1928 W. P. McKenzie Fowls o' the Air 2:
They haud the parritch spurtle . . . An' stir the parritch pluffin' i' the pat.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 24:
Henry wisna eesed wi seein sae muckle bare-buff weemin - nae ooto a magazine. Naebody else battit an ee. Henry vowed nae tae tirr his sark, kennin his pectorals war like lumpy parridge spurtles.
(15) (i) Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 8:
A parratch-stick, a mouse's trap, Sax cutties, an' a spoon.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xviii.:
All were watching beside the camp-kettles, some stirring them with spurtles, or parritch sticks, or forks.
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie xii.:
Wha's to be prime minister say ye? Charlie Fox? Troth man, that's good news indeed: he's the boy that'll gie them a clean parritch stick to lick.
Lth. 1885 J. Strathesk More Bits vi.:
A twentypence luggie for fifteenpence, an' a parritch stick into the bargain!
m.Sc. 1944 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 121:
Look at the cratur'wi'legs like parritch-sticks and his humpy back and specs. too — specs at his age.
(ii) Edb. 1881 J. Smith Habbie and Madge 55, 63:
Big stalwart chields wi' beards, thrang drivin' awa at their A B abs. scrawlin' parritch sticks on copy books. . . . An' ye helplessly trust yersel' to the tender mercies an' parritch stick scribblin' o' an auld vinegar faced incarnation of greed.
(17) Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 124:
Buy what they like, fu' weel I wat It ne'er will boil my parritch pat .
Kcd. 1884 D. Grant Lays 121:
'Twas the [Insurance] Company Gat his parritch pot to boil.
(18) Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley lxxi.:
But wha cookit the parritch for him? . . . Wha but your Honour's to command, Duncan Macwheeble?
(19) Lnk. 1884 T. M'Lachlan Thoughts 20:
O, if I had my will o'the men, My certie, I'd gie them their porridge.
(20) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxvi.:
Hold your peace sir, . . . and keep your ain breath to cool your ain porridge — ye'll find them scalding hot, I promise you.
Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken xii.:
If our young Captain has wance ta'en the notion, they may save their breath to cool their parritch, that would gainsay him.
(21) Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 39:
Lat Frenchie cum gif he likes, an'we'll pepper's parritch for'm.

2. In skipping games: fast turns of the rope (Slk. 1965, porridge). Cf. Pepper, n.

II. v. tr. To feed or provide with porridge.Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) xi.:
I widna care aboot porridgin' them ilka mornin', for there's a gey cleckin' o' them.

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



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