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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.

PEAT, n.1, v. Also peatt, peet, pet(e); peit(t) (s.Sc. 1700 Stitchill Court Book (S.H.S.) 140), pit(e); pett; pate, paet(e), pait (Wgt. 1904 J. F. Cannon Whithorn 20), peyt; peht (Gregor); pitt(e) (Sc. 1702 Ho. Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) 64). Adj. peaty, paetie (Sh.). [pit; I.Sc., Bnff., em.Sc. (a) pet]

I. n. 1. A piece, usu. roughly brick-shaped, of the semi-carbonized decayed vegetable matter which underlies the surface turf in boggy moorland, frequently cut, dried, and burned as fuel (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, pete, 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 195, 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. With def. art. in pl.: the work of digging and preparing peat for fuel.Sc. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Orkney (1883) 37:
Pites and Turff are the ordinary fewel they use.
Wgt. 1715 Sess. Rec. Whithorn MS. (28 Aug.):
Alexander Frissal . . . depones that the day of Ballie Guffocks peats he meet the said Agnes McCredy.
Sc. 1726 Session Papers, Petition Dutchess of Buccleugh (12 July):
What Necessity there is for decerning Turf-fuel in a Country where Peats are to be had.
Ayr. 1785 Burns To J. Goldie v.:
A toom tar barrel An' twa red peats wad bring relief.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxix.:
I often wish there was a het peat doun their throats.
Sc. a.1825 False Knight in Child Ballads No. 3. A. iii.:
“What's that you've got in your arm?” “Atweel it is my peit.”
Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Glendornie viii.:
Their mother . . . had gane to set peats in the Moss of Logie.
Per. 1894 Ian Maclaren Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush (1895) 8:
The fireplace was at the other end, and was fed in winter with the sticks and peats brought by the scholars.
Ork. 1910 Old-Lore Misc. III. i. 32:
Ane o' 'is neebors waar cairtan hame dere pates.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
A peat when cut, before it is dried, is about 18 in. long, 8 in. broad, and 3 in. to 4 in. thick.
Gsw. 1921 Neil Munro Erchie & Jimmy Swan (1993) 283:
'Whit would ye use instead' asked Duffy, feelingly. 'Peats! Ye couldna richt boil a potato wi' peat; it's only a smell.'
Cai. 1932 John o' Groat Jnl. (4 Nov.):
He wis cairtin' peyts fae 'e Moss o' Greenland.
Cai. 1941 Neil M. Gunn The Silver Darlings 38:
Hurrying from herself, she made the bed, tidied the room, put new peats to dry around the fire, then lifting two wooden buckets, set out for the well.
Abd. 1961 F. M. McNeill Silver Bough III. 17:
In Aberdeenshire, up to our own time, the formula used by the lads who went about collecting fuel for their Hallowe'en bonfire was, “Gi'e 's a peat to burn the witches!”
Ork. 1967 George Mackay Brown A Calendar of Love (1998) 14:
yet when the peats are cut and brought home, then will come the hour of celebration that will necessitate the wearing of a silk shirt!
Sh. 1975 Andrina Deyell My Shetland 14:
It was no unusual sight in the summertime to see a woman with a cart full of peats, the horse's reins over her arm, and the wires clacking away like a machine.
wm.Sc. 1982 Bernard MacLaverty A Time to Dance (1985) 169:
Patricia took a burning peat from the fire with a pair of tongs and incensed the bedroom.
Sh. 1997 Shetland Times 13/5:
Islands Coal Company now taking orders for burning peats.

Hence pe(a)t(e)ry, -ary, a peat-moss belonging to a landed estate; the right to cut peats from this, a turbary. Hist.Sc. 1810 G. Chalmers Caledonia II. 338:
Ada de Fawnes granted them a peatary, in the territory of Fawnes.
Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders I. 175:
Gathered specimens of a Callitriche in the peatery at Grant's-house.
Sc. 1872 C. Innes Legal Antiq. 227:
They say upon their oath that the burgesses cut their peats in the petary of Waltamshope.
Sc. 1901 Dundee Advertiser (5 June) 5:
Here also are the peatries, where no end of that valuable commodity may yet be had.
Sc. 1931 W. C. Mackenzie Placenames 186:
A name like Mossgrieve may mean the peatary of the grieve, who allotted shares in the moss to tenants.

2. The carbonaceous substance itself (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Orig. Sc., but in Eng. since 17th c. Hence peaty, ¶peaten, adj., composed of or of the nature of peat; freq. of water: peat-stained; peatery, n., a specially prepared part of a garden where selected plants are grown in peat.Sc. 1765 Philos. Trans. LVIII. 183:
It is not possible entirely to free the blue from the peaty matter.
Sc. 1803 Prize Essays Highl. Soc. 3:
Peat is a word used in Scotland and in the north of England, but seldom to be found, till of late years, in English authors.
Abd. 1928 A. A. Jack Angry Heart 113:
No corn will grow on those sloped peaten fields That drain the hill.
Sc. 1947 H. W. Meikle Scotland Plate 59:
The peatery in the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Abd. 1965 Huntly Express (1 Oct.) 6:
As far as the water being peaty after a spate — well, “You can say that again”.
Sc. 2000 Herald (14 Nov) 17:
He means it has the aroma of seaweed toasting gently in the early evening sun. He says the kelp is pollution free from Port Appin and the peat is from Ullapool.
Sc. 2003 Herald (24 Jul) 6:
Although the environmental non-governmental organisations in the UK have been successful in highlighting this issue within government, we have still not managed to reduce the demand for peat among the gardening public. Gardeners are using more peat than in the past, so we have had to change our tack.

3. Special combs. and phrs.: (1) as great as a peat, fig., of the heart: swollen with grief, overburdened; (2) as Hielan or naiteral as a peat, of persons: unsophisticated, naive, guileless, uninhibited, unspoilt (n. and wm. Sc. 1965, Hielan). See Hieland; (3) back-peat, see Back-Paet; (4) breast-peat, see Breist, 3. (4); (5) coal-peat, = Eng. peat-coal, a well-matured peat which has almost acquired the consistency of coal (Ork. 1965); †(6) custom peat, peat due to a landlord as rent in kind or Kane; (7) fit-peat, see Fit, n., III. 28.; (8) half-peat, a peat before it has wholly matured (Bnff.12 1930). Cf. (25); (9) leet-peat, see Leet, n., 1.; (10) peat-backet, a box for holding peats at the fireside (Abd. 1965). See Backet; (11) peat-bag, a bag for carrying peats (Sh. 1965); (12) peat bail(l)ie, the school pupil at one time responsible for ensuring that each of his classmates had contributed his daily due of one peat for the schoolroom fire (see quot.); (13) peat-bank, the bank or vertical face from which peats are cut (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 122; n. and w.Sc. 1880 Jam.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc.; (14) peat-barra, -borro, a flat barrow with a high end and no sides used for carrying peats. Gen.Sc.; (15) peat bing, a heap of peats, freq. the winter's supply, stacked against the gable of the house (Sh., Bnff., wm.Sc. 1965). See Bing, and cf. (24); (16) peat-boat, a boat used to transport peats across sounds or lochs (Sh. 1965); (17) peat bothy, a small shelter or hut built of peats. See Bothy; (18) peat breast, a perpendicular face of a peat-bank or, as in quot., of a peat-stack (Wgt. 1965). See Breist; (19) peat bree, -brew, -broo, the water which drains from peat soil, peaty water (Ayr. 1930; ne.Sc. 1965). See Bree, n.1, Broo; ? erron., “the peat-bank” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D., -broo); (20) peat-bunker, = (10) (Sh. 1965); (21) peat cadger, an itinerant peat merchant (Arg. 1930); (22) peat-cas(s)ie, -cashie, -kishie, a large wide-mouthed basket of plaited straw or rushes, carried on the back and used for transporting peats (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.; Ayr. 1930; I.Sc., Uls. 1965). See Cassie, n.1, Kishie; (23) peat-caster, one who cuts peats and lays them out to dry (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). Hence peat-castin, the performing of this operation. Gen.Sc. See also Cast, v., 13; (24) peat-claig, a stone-walled enclosure for storing peats (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 377); (25) peat-clod, a single peat (Ayr. 1930), esp. one not wholly matured and still of an earthy, friable texture (Sh., n.Sc., Wgt., Uls. 1965); (26) peat-coom, peat dust, the crumbly, drossy remains of a peat (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.; Cai., sm. and s.Sc. 1965). See Coom and (27) below; ¶(27) peat-corn, = (26) (Dmf. 1825 Jam.), phs. in reference to its granular appearance, if not a mistake for coom; (28) peat-creel, = (22) (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ne. and m.Sc., Uls. 1965). Also used of an upright framework placed on top of a cart to hold peats; (29) peat-crue, -kro, = (15) (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1965). See also Crue; (30) peat cutter, A person who cuts peat. (31) peat-day, the day on which the peats are brought home from the peat-bog; (32) peat-delf, the trench out of which peats are dug (Abd. 1965). See Delf; (33) peat-drush, -druss, = (26) (ne.Sc. 1965). See also Drush; (34) peat fitter, a person who sets peats up on end to dry after they have been cut (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). Hence phr. to fit (foot) the peats, to set peats on end to dry (Uls. 1965). See Fit, v.1, 3.; (35) peat flannel, see quot.; (36) peat fluff, fibrous fragments of peat useful for kindling (Ayr. 1930); (37) peat-fog, the moss or sphagnum on a dried peat, “used as tobacco by tinkers, etc.” (Abd. 1965); (38) peat-forret, a peat-working, a trench or pit from which peats have been dug. Cf. (13). Forret may be a reduced form of forehead; (39) peat futherer, one who carts peats from the peat-moss for door-to-door sale in towns and villages. See Futher, v.; (40) peat-gate, the track, road or right-of-way leading to a peat-moss. Cf. moss-gate, id., s.v. Moss, and Gate; (41) peat-grieshoch, a red-hot smouldering peat or peat-fire, peat embers (ne. and sm.Sc. 1965). See also Greeshoch; (42) peat-hag(g), a hole or pit left in an old peat-working (Ayr. 1880 Jam.; Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 259; wm.Sc. 1965). Cf. (32) and see Hag, n.1, 3. (1); (43) peat-hatch, a row of peats set up to dry (Abd. 1965). See Hatch, n.2; (44) peat-hill, the site on which the laird's peats were stacked on an estate. Still found as a place-name. See Hill, n., 5.; more gen., a peat-moss (I.Sc. 1965); (45) peat-hole, (i) an old peat-working on a moor, often filled with rainwater (Uls. 1965); (ii) a corner in a house where peat is stored; (46) peat-house, (i) an outhouse used for storing the winter's supply of peat (Ayr. 1930; Sh., Bnff. 1965); (ii) a bothy used by peat-diggers. Cf. (74); (47) peat-ingle, a peat fire. See Ingle; (48) peat lair, -larroch, the area of moor on which newly cut peats are laid out to dry (Sh., n. and sm.Sc. 1965). See Lair, n.1, 6., Larach; (49) peat laird, a person having a right to cut peat on a certain area of moor. Cf. moss-laird s.v. Moss; (50) peat-leader, one who carts the dried peats from the moss when they are ready for use. Vbl.n. peat-leading, the carting of peats. See Lead, v., 3. (1), Leader, n.; (51) peat-leave, the right to cut peats, a peatery, see 1. above and Leave, n., 2. (Sh. 1965). Cf. Moss-Leave; (52) peat-lifting, the setting up of peats in groups of three for drying (Cai. 1965); (53) peat-low(e), a peat fire, the glow from such a fire (Ayr. 1930). See Low, n.1; (54) peat-malloch, = (26) (Ayr. 1895 H. Ochiltree Redburn i.). See Mulloch; (55) peatman, an estate servant in charge of the peat supply; also an itinerant peat-merchant; (56) peat-meal(l), rent paid for the right to cut peats in a moss. See Mail; (57) peat meel, see (60). Also peat meelins (Cai. 1965); (58) peat-meshie, a Maise, q.v., for carrying peats (Sh. 1965); (59) peat moss, (i) a peat-bog or -moor, “the place where peats are dug” (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc. See Moss; (ii) = 2. above; (60) peat mould, -muild, -meel, (i) = (26) (Cai. 1903 E.D.D., meel; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., muild; Ayr. 1930). Gen.Sc.; (ii) a peaty soil (Ayr. 1930). See Muild; (61) peat mow, (i) a pile of peats kept under cover, or the place where they are stored (Dmf. 1825 Jam.; w.Sc. 1880 Jam.). See Mow, n.4; (ii) = (26) (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.). See Mow, n.2; (62) peat-muir, “the black mellow earth of which peats are made” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1965); (63) peat-neuk, paetie-nook, a corner or alcove, usu. in the kitchen, in which was kept the supply of peats for immediate use (I. and n.Sc., Wgt. 1965); (64) peat-pit, see (65); (65) peat-pot, -pat, a hole from which peats have been dug (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (66) peat-ree, an enclosed recess in- or out-of-doors for storing peats (ne.Sc., Per., Ayr., Kcb. 1965). See Ree; (67) peat-reek, -rick, (i) the pungent smoke from a peat fire (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; (ii) transf. highland whisky, the characteristic flavour of which is imparted allegedly by the smoke from the peat fire used in the drying of the malt (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Also peat-reek whisky, id.; (iii) fig., the romanticism associated with the Highlands of Scotland; (68) peat rickle, a small heap of three or four peats set up on end to dry (Abd. 1965). See Rickle; (69) peat-rivvie, a large peat-kishie (Sh. 1965). See (22) and Rivvakishie; (70) peat-road, a road to a peat-moss; (71) peat-room, a section of a peat-moss or moor; (72) peat-ruig, a heap of peats before they are built into a regular stack (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh., Cai. 1965). See Roog; (73) peats for that!, an exclamation of disdain or derision, “a fig for that!”, “a lot I care!”, from the peat's commonplaceness and small intrinsic value; (74) peat-sheiling, a hut or bothy for the use of peat-workers in a moss. See Sheiling and cf. (46) (ii); (75) peat-shelvin, a wooden extension to the frame of a cart to permit a larger load of peats (Abd. 1965). See Shelvin; (76) peat-skyo, a rough wall built round a peat-stack, to protect it against the weather (Ork. 1929 Marw.). See Skeo; (77) peat-spad(e), -spaad, a specially-shaped spade used for peat-cutting (see 1802 quot.). Phr. (a face, nose, etc.) as lang as a peat-spade (Gall., Uls. 1965); (78) peat-stack, a large stack or pile of dried peats erected out-of-doors as a fuel-store. Gen.Sc.; (79) peat-trap, a small ladder by which to reach the top of a peat-stack (Sh. 1964 Folk-Life II. 17); (80) peat-weght, -waight, a Wecht or canvas (or skin)-bottomed tray for carrying peats from the stack to the house (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.); (81) peat wool, wool intermixed with peat and used as a surgical dressing for its antiseptic properties. Cf. (35); (82) side-peats, long peats set on end in a peat-basket to contain the load (Sh. 1965); (83) to gar (somebodie) dance upon a peat, to make it hot for (someone), to give one a drubbing, prob. orig. to cause to be burned to death (as a witch); (84) to mak peats an kail o', to beat up, reduce to smithereens, destroy (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 123).(1) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 92:
Then Nory, with her finger in her eye, An' heart as gryt's a peat.
Ags. 1825 Jam.:
The heart is said to grow as grit's a peat, when it is ready to burst with suppressed sorrow . . . The allusion seems to be to the swelling of a peat with rain.
(2) Fif. 1894 D. S. Meldrum Margrédel xiii.:
Miss Jean . . . who's as nateral as a peat.
(4) Abd.16 1951:
A New Pitsligo man distinguishes between foggy peats, the surface sod, and breest peats (i.e. breast) the black peats below. When freshly dug he reckons the first to be 16 to the barrow and the second 15.
(5) Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 8:
Along the sidewall two flagstones were set up to form a “paetie-neuk”, where the day's supply of yarpha and good “coal-peats” was stored.
(6) Cai. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XI. 265:
They likewise pay some feet of custom peats, as they are called.
(12) Wgt. 1896 66th Report Brit. Assoc. 619:
Each child carried every morning to school a peat to serve as fuel for the day. A scholar was appointed to see that each brought a peat, and of the proper size. . . . This inspector bore the name of “Peat-bailie”.
(13) Sh. 1887 J. Saxby Lads of Lunda 198:
A snow-wreath . . . filled one of the “peat-banks” — a pit some six feet deep.
Sh. 1928 Manson's Sh. Almanac 188:
Da only bank I iver hed ony acquaintance o'wis da paet bank, an' I assure you, I'm hed plenty o' wark wi' him i' me time.
Abd. 1952 Abd. Press & Jnl. (16 April):
Ludquharn Moss. — All those requiring Peat Banks (increased price 4/6) apply on or before 7th May to Wm. Murray, Moss Grieve.
(15) Bnff. 1954 Banffshire Jnl. (7 Sept.):
Ilky een [cottage] wi' its peat bing snodly biggit for the winter's fires.
(17) Per. 1838 W. Scrope Deer-stalking 242:
The only method to defeat these lawless proceedings, is to throw up peat bothys near the outskirts of the forest at proper intervals, and place keepers in them.
(18) Sc. 1822 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 226:
“Rab” accidentally came into contact with a broken peat-breast, whereupon, first one peat, and then another, and latterly, a full and overwhelming rush . . . descended upon . . . him.
(19) Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan II. ii.:
'Deed no, he was een drowned — that's to say smoored in the peat-broo.
Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer ii.:
The green slimy moss wet with the peat-brew keeps all soft as a quicksand.
Abd. 1921 R. L. Cassie Doric Ditties 19:
The craft was sma', an' weet owre a', Wi' peels o' black peat-bree.
(22) Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 261:
She hed me whombled anunder a muckle paet-cashie dat wis lyin' ipa da fluir.
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 327:
Sittan api' da thaft wi' a mooth like a pate casie an' gannan at the Sheriff like a stoopid nowte.
(23) Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Wigtown 378:
A malevolent peat-caster . . . sent his spade through a partition of the moss which had kept back the water.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (18 June):
What wis I tinkin' aboot büits i' da heat o' paet castin'?
Per. 1928 A. Stewart Highland Parish 50:
The spades of the peat-casters.
Sh. 1931 J. Nicolson Tales 41:
When peat-cutting time came, it was the custom among the various crofters to have “peat castins.” A number of the neighbouring men were invited, and on the day set apart these duly arrived, each with his “tushker” over his shoulder, and began with a will to cut the moor from which the turf had already been removed.
(24) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 182:
My peatclaig is fu' o' links o' gude peats.
(25) Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poetry II. 73:
Took twa three peat-clods frae the stack, To mak the weans their brose.
(26) Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Wigtown 365:
He showed this person how he had “preserved” the meat — layer was placed above layer — and the farmer said he had cured it by “salting it wi' peat-coom.”
(28) Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 60:
Auld Rob Morris I ken him fou weel, His a — it sticks out like ony peat-creel.
Sc. 1733 W. Thomson Orpheus Caled. II. 99:
A Muck-fork, and an auld Peet-creel.
Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 11:
It wad aye help tae hod a daud o' torn paper abeen the peat-creel in ma kitchen.
(29) Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 256:
He güed i' da peat-crüe an' brought in some lang peats ta rest da fire wi'.
Sh.7 1932:
Wiss, hinny, 'at du wid ging ta da paet-kro an' bring me a backpaet.
(30)Sc. 2003 Herald (22 Jul) 8:
A team of archaeologists has revealed that more than a dozen bodies were unearthed in Scotland by peat cutters in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
(31) Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Wigtown 38:
In times of yore, peat-days were classed among the few big days of the year.
(33) Abd. 1851 Apollodora North. Tales ii. 11:
We find peat drush amang our sowens, Lang hairs amang our kail.
Bnff. 1862 Banffshire Jnl. (18 Nov.) 6:
“Peat-drush”, blacking, etc. are slyly put in the water [at a fisherman's wedding].
Bch. 1920:
A backetfu' o' peat-drush maks a fine back tull a laich peat fire.
Bch. 1949 W. R. Melvin Poems 55:
I sometimes eest tae tru' the skeel . . . Or smoke peat druss, an' syne crawl hame Wi' face like yalla ochre.
(35) Sc. 1898 Chambers's Jnl. (19 Feb.) 187:
“Peat flannel” — for so it is called — is a fine, delicately shaded flannel, containing a considerable portion of peat in its contexture. It is extremely deodorant and absorbent, and seems likely to become very well known in a few years.
(38) Per. 1879 P. R. Drummond Bygone Days 303:
They landed in a perfect labyrinth of peat-forrets.
(39) Mry. 1830 Elgin Liter. Mag. 421:
'Tis the land o' peat-futherers and smugglers.
Mry. 1897 C. Rampini Hist. Mry. 307:
It [peat] used to be brought down from the surrounding hills in light carts made of rods and bars, by persons who went by the name of “peat-futherers”.
(40) Abd. 1849 Private Acts 12 & 13 Vict. c. 14. § 1:
The Peatgate from the Moss of Whitecairn by the Lands of Cairness and Cairnglass.
(41) Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer xix.:
Jean takes better with the inside of a box-bed and the warmth of the peat-grieshoch on the hearth.
(42) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xii.:
Warstling wi' hunger and cauld . . . upon wet brae-sides, peat-haggs and flow-mosses.
Bwk. 1842 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club II. x. 8:
Brown barren moors, varied with peat-hags and covers of whin and of broom.
Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken viii.:
Moorland again, past a peat hag with the new cut turf drying in the sun.
Abd. 1883 W. Jolly J. Duncan 173:
An old part of the moss honeycombed with dangerous peat haggs.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
He was wild's a peat-hag, fearsome to look at.
Sc. 1951 Scots Mag. (April) 48:
Dire persecution followed, and the dragoons of Claverhouse hunted the dour, bitter, defiant men over the mosses and peat-hags of the South and the West.
(44) (i) Kcd. 1705 Urie Court Bk. (S.H.S.) 115:
The tennentis . . . in tyme of leading their leit peatts to the peatt hill of Urie.
(ii) Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Frae the Heather 96:
They had lately escaped frae the peathill.
(45) (i) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 328:
I tumbled into a peat-hole, and should have been drowned, had not my sisters been with me.
(ii) Edb. 1825 R. Chambers Traditions II. 198:
These peat-holes were the “benmost bores” of those cellars under the Square.
(46) (i) Ags. 1728 Trial J. Carnegie 117:
She took him by the sleeve, and put him in the peat-house.
Mry. 1756 Session Papers, Cramond v. Allan (17 Dec.) 40:
He possesses a dwelling-house, a shop, a too-fall, a loft and a peat-house.
Dmf. 1777 Dmf. Weekly Jnl. (11 Nov.):
A Tenement of Houses, consisting of a Brewhouse, Cellar, Stables, and Peathouse.
Sc. a.1800 Dick o the Cow in Child Ballads No. 185. xxiii.:
Then Dickie was warr of that auld peat-house, Where there al the night he thought for to ly.
Kcb. 1899 Crockett Kit Kennedy xxi.:
She . . . set him to chop wood and stack it in the little peat-house.
(ii) Sh. 1964 Folk Life II. 17:
During peat flitting the workers, both male and female, lived in temporary quarters on the banks, known as peat hooses. To some extent these represent a degree of modernization, since they are said to have been built only about 1866. Before that, the only form of shelter was an old sail spread over the peat flitters.
(47) Per. 1774 Gentleman and Lady's Weekly Mag. (8 June) 235:
A clear peat-ingle bleez'd on the hearth-stane.
Sc. 1799 Report Cttee. Distilleries Scot. 723:
The flakestand or refrigeratory in proportion; the fire, a peat ingle, on the ground.
(48) Per. 1944 D. M. Forrester Logiealmond 169:
“Peat-larroch” (i.e. the open smooth place on which the newly dug peats were spread out to dry, and afterwards fitted and rickled).
(49) Dmb. 1959 Stat. Acc.3 286:
The owners of land had the right to cut peats in Lenzie Moss and were often known as “peat lairds”.
(50) Abd. c.1760 Trans. Highl. Soc. XIV. 81:
When the bear-seed is over, the oxen plough enters to the faugh and the horseman to the casting and leading muck-fail. This last employs the one till peat-leading, at which both assist.
Rxb. 1764 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1916) 5:
The herd of Whitfield was so troublesome with his hounding the horses the peat-leaders had feeding at the moss side at Caminshaw.
Ork. 1770 P. Fea MS. Diary (July):
Went to Eda with my peat leaders att the smidie and got the last of my Iron work made.
(51) Sc. 1726 Invercauld Rec. (S.C.) 137:
Reserving Peat leave of the Moss of the said Lands of Riecharcarie.
(53) Abd. 1827 J. Imlah May Flowers 138:
When cauld, their cuits an' bosom beek, Those wi' peat lowe, these wi' peat reek.
Sc. 1828 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1863) II. 147:
By the peat-low frae the ingle o' the “auld clay biggin.”
ne.Sc. 1894 A. Gordon Northward Ho! 108:
The heat that came from the blazing peat “lowe”.
(55) Slk. 1724 Session Papers, Rutherford v. Rutherford (1 June) 6:
He has been several Years, and still is Peatman at Ferningtoun.
Abd. 1776 Abd. Journal (4 March):
That no Peatmen or others throw down or leave on the Streets the Stones they bring in for balancing their Loads.
Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 127:
He pelted the peatmen, e'en wi' their ain peats.
(56) Slg. 1717 Balgair Court Min. (S.R.S.) 14:
After allowance to them of all recepts and precepts and peatt meall.
(59) (i) Sc. 1765 Philos. Trans. LVIII. 187:
In almost every peat-moss, there are the remains of oak trees.
Sc. 1822 Scott Pirate vii.:
The fair and varied breadth of Britain could not gratify me, much less the compass of a sea-girdled peat-moss.
Wgt. 1875 W. McIlwraith Guide Wgt. 10:
In the Moors of Wigtownshire peat-mosses are numerous and of considerable extent.
Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer iv.:
The poor lad who lay so still on his face in the soft lair of the peat moss.
(ii) Sc. 1840 Lib. Usef. Knowl. Husb. III. i. 42:
Peat moss was . . . regularly mixed with it in layers.
ne.Sc. 1952 John R. Allan North-East Lowlands of Scotland (1974) 78:
In many cases water was the obstacle, particularly in the old peat mosses where the fuel had been cast, leaving haggs five feet deep, black and dangerous under a cover of moss.
(60) (i) Sh. 1899 Shetland News (14 Oct.):
Da truncher wi' da kirnin' o' butter apo' da flöer among da paet möld.
Cai. 1930 John o' Groat Jnl. (31 Jan.):
E' doonthro' men used til come wi' loads o' peyts, an' their faces broon as a kipper wi' stoor an' peyt meels.
Ork.5 1963:
Cloddy paet muild is good burning.
(ii) Kcb. 1900 Crockett Stickit Minister's Wooing 191:
He dug the grave in the soft marshy flow, and laid the dead in the brown peat-mould.
(61) (ii) Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Journal 3:
Our great gilligapous fallow o' a coach-man turned o'er our gallant cart amon' a heap o' shirrels an' peat-mow.
(63) Sc. 1727 P. Walker Six Saints (1901) I. 208:
One John Hasty a weaver who was obliged to make himself a seat in the peat-nook.
Ayr. 1772 Session Papers, Petition A. McMechan (18 June) Proof 8:
There was a peat-nook at the end of the trance.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poetry II. 222:
Like Colly's whan sair wet wi' rain, In the peat neuk.
Slk. 1819 Hogg Tales (1874) 148:
There was something like a plover cried twice i' the peat-neuk, in at the side o' Will's bed.
ne.Sc. 1874 W. Gregor Olden Time 16:
The peat-neuck, over which rested a goodly number of hens, faced the entrance door.
s.Sc. 1895 J. Bathgate Aunt Janet's Legacy 68:
Cairry in peats and fill the peat-neuk.
Ork. 1910 Old-Lore Misc. III. iv. 205:
Along the side wall two flag-stones were set up to form the “paetie-neuk,” where the day's supply of yarpha and good “coal-peats” was stored.
Abd. 1955 Buchan Observer (20 Sept.):
The daily supply of peat was kept in the peat-neuk, a dark, narrow compartment in a corner of the kitchen.
Uls. 1957 J. J. Abraham Surgeon's Journey 20:
Fresh turves from the “peatnuick.”
(64) w.Lth. 1718 News from Bathgate 10:
They leap just from the Peat-pit to the Mire.
(65) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 268:
Out of the Peat-Pot into the Mire.
Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 8:
Besides, I hae frae the great laird, A peat-pat, and a lang kail-yard.
Abd. 1749 Caled. Mercury (10 July):
Three hopeful Children, . . . were all drowned in a Peat-pot, as they were tending their Father's Sheep in a Moss.
Ags. 1768 Glamis Estate Papers MSS.:
Making 50 rods of small drains for emptying the “peat potts.”
Sc. 1803 Trans. Highl. Soc. II. 118:
Our mosses are generally and irregularly scooped into holes, in particular places, or peat pots, as they are commonly called.
wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 34:
It's naething but a hatter of peat-pots frae the one end to the other.
(67) (i) Ayr. 1788 Burns Ep. to H. Parker 38–39:
Sma', sma' prospect of relief, And nought but peat reek i' my head.
Sc. 1799 Report Cttee. Distilleries Scot. 398:
Impregnating [whisky] with the flavour of peat reek, as it is termed.
Sc. 1803 A. Boswell Poet. Works (1871) 120:
He smelt like a peat-reek warming pan.
Sc. 1826 M. Dods Manual 321:
The best basis of all Liqueurs is pure rectified spirit, or uncoloured proof brandy or whisky, — provided the latter have no smoky or peat-reek flavour.
ne.Sc. 1836 J. Grant Tales 243:
“I'm a rascal,” said he at last, “if I don't smell peat-reek.” . . . A warm sickening vapour, mingled at intervals with puffs of biting smoke, assailed our noses and our eyes as we peeped into a wide artificial cavern, where the whole paraphernalia of illicit distillation was in busy use.
Sc. 1842 D. Vedder Poems (1854) 81:
When his nose was saluted wi Highland peat reek He loupit and danced like a cowt on the heather.
Bnff. 1887 G. G. Green Gordonhaven Intro. vii.:
Carefully applied bay salt and genuine “peat reek” . . . were the media used in curing that delectable fish [yellow haddocks].
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xii.:
I kind of weary for Scots divots and the Scots peat-reek.
Sc. 1901 Daily Chron. (3 Oct.):
This peat-reek . . . smell is presumably imparted to the cloth [Harris tweed] in the process of its manufacture.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 26:
But Tam was nae to haud or bin' Wi' tang o' peat-reek i' the win'.
(ii) Sc. 1792 Caled. Mercury (2 July):
Real peat reek whisky 4s. 0d. per gal.
Per. 1800 Edb. Weekly Jnl. (29 Oct.) 350:
The flavour of Peat reek can be indulged in at a less expence than that of the labourer's barley bannocks.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 91:
A male o' sic food, washed down by a few glasses of peatreek.
Ags. 1834 A. Smart Rhymes 12:
To smell “peat-reek” they'd deem a dangerous frolic, Except by way of cordial for a colic.
Abd. 1840 W. Bannerman Abd. Worthies 10:
Sandy . . . could distinguish as well as most men, your true “peat-reek,” from the “wile potato trash.”
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 111:
We . . . soon healed up the breach with a wee drap of the real peat-reek.
Sc. 1891 R. Ford Thistledown 322:
And a “good-willie waucht” of the “rale peat reek.”
em.Sc. 1996 Hamish Henderson in Timothy Neat The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland 76:
Our feet were bare and up above, smoke was rising from the tent chimneys; the peat reek mingled with the ling and bog-myrtle. I turned and looked at Ben Loyal, at Ben Hope, at the winding river in the sands of the Kyle.
(68) Lnk. 1808 W. Watson Poems 19:
Baith tatoe grapes an' sickles Gaes heels owre goudie in the flight, Like auld dung owre peat rickles.
Bwk. 1869 P. Landreth Fastern's E'en 37:
Here ye are safe and sound frae your lang journey to the peat-rickle.
(70) Ork. 1931 J. T. Leask Peculiar People 46:
The scamp hid beside the peat road.
(71) Ayr. 1721 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (4 April) 83:
The difference that is betwixt Mr. John Steell & Mr. Thomas Hunter anent the peet room that the said Mr. Hunter claims to.
(73) Rxb. 1820 Edb. Mag. (April) 345:
In the twinkling of an eye, the fairy child flew up the chimney, exclaiming, at the same instant, in an imprecating tone, “Peats for that, ye infernal tailor.”
(74) Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie ii.:
The fiddler had found shelter in a peat-sheiling which stood on the hill-top, where the herds at times resided in summer. (76) Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Agric. Peb. 208: The peat-spade is furnished with a triangular cutting mouth, as also, with a cutting wing on the right side, . . . to cut the half-decayed wood found mixed with the moss; the wooden shaft terminates at the end near the iron, in an oblong square shape, on which the peat rests when lifted up.
Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 20:
A'm nae thocht-reader, Ian lad, tho' a peat-spaad could see ye're in a richt ill cut.
(78) Abd. 1733 Session Papers, Fraser v. Buchan (27 Feb.) 6:
Mr. Buchan offers to prove by the Peat-stacks at his Doors, what he has led to Frasersburgh.
Dmf. 1766 Session Papers, Petition E. Howie (11 Feb.) 20:
One day when taking turf from their peat stack.
Peb. 1815 A. Pennecuik Works 72:
In building the peat stacks, the surface tirrings, or turfs pared off before casting, are laid in layers, at regular distances, to bind the stack more firmly together.
Bwk. 1869 P. Landreth Fastern's E'en 36:
Gibby . . . all the while had been concealed in the hollow heart of the neighbouring peat-stack.
Abd. 1954 Huntly Express (6 Aug.):
Mony a peat stack wis jist a rickle an' th' ga'le fell oot.
(81) Sc. 1898 Chambers's Jnl. (19 Feb.) 187:
Peat-wool dressing. This surgical wool is extremely absorbent . . . its deodorising power is great.
(83) Sc. a.1769 Child Ballads (1956) V. 104:
I'se gar ye dance upon a peat Gin I sall cum but near ye.

4. Fig. = the Highlands of Scotland. Cf. 3. (66) (iii).Ags. 1915 V. Jacob Songs of Angus 40:
I will seek ye whaur ye sleep Frae lawlands to the peat.

5. The earth or turf turned over by the spade or plough, a furrow-slice (Sh. 1903 E.D.D., s.v. Pate; Ork. 1959). Phr. to haud a paet(ie), to turn over a furrow (Ork. 1965). Comb. mould paet, a furrow slice composed entirely of soil without any turf attached, cut from the Mids (Ork. 1965).Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 249:
We delled ower da last pate aboot sax o'clock — dat wis a piece o' tatties.
Ork.5 1952:
When the last two furrows have been turned over away from each other an empty space is left [in the middle of the field being ploughed] which is sometimes completed by turning up a “mould paet” from the bottom.

6. Applied to various objects which resemble a peat in shape or colour, specif. (1) a bar of soap, in phr. a peat o' sape (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ayr. 1930).Abd. 1949 W. R. Melvin Poems 96:
[I] found tae my surprise that I hid aiten a peat o' soap an' thocht it wis the best o' gowdy cheese.

(2) one of the stones in the gable-end of a house where wall meets roof and on which the coping-stones rest, a skew-corbel or -table, a spur-stone, in older houses often carved on the face with a date, initials, or the like; also applied to the coping-stones themselves; the keystone of an arch. Comb. peat-stane, -steen, id. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Abd. 1963).Sc. 1707 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 115:
We ordinarly call them corby steps or petts, which reach from the tope of the syde wall to the house's roof.
Gsw. 1736 J. McUre View Gsw. 202:
His Name, Mark, and Year of God is yet to be seen upon the Pate Stone of these two Tenements.
Dmf. 1756 Session Papers, Blair v. Fraser (29 Dec.) 2:
All one Piece from the neck of the Chimney to the Summer Pit.
Abd. 1764 Abd. Council Reg. LXIII. 14:
[They] narrowly inspected the gavels of every different house, with the pent[sic]-stones and marks thereon, as also the dykes of the gardens belonging to the different proprietors.
Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 181:
The garse, like beards o' eldren gaits, Hang waivan, shaggy, frae the pates.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of the Lairds i.:
The pete-stones, or by whatever name the scalar ornaments of the gables may be known.
Ags. 1881 J. Carrie Ancient Things 109:
On the Peat-stone, at the south-west angle of the roof of the tower [of Mains Castle] the arms of Grahame are again displayed.
Sc. 1953 Scotsman (6 April):
The gables are finished with plain skews, the “peet-stanes” being carved with initials and heraldic motifs.

II. v. To fuel with peats, stoke (a fire) with peats.Abd. 1719 E. Bain Merchant Guilds (1887) 230:
All to be formally wrocht, and to peet the oven before working the same.
Abd. 1781 Ib. 231:
The meat to be seasoned and the oven peated the night before working.

[O.Sc., in Latin text, peta, c.1200, petaria, peatery, 1262, pete, c.1400, paitt, = 6. (2), 1583, paitt-stane, 1569. The ulterior etym. is disputed but may be the same word as Med. Lat. petia, Fr. pièce, Eng. piece, a bit of something, which is thought to be of p-Celtic orig. Cf. Gaul. *petti- Welsh peth. In that case, the word, as far as Scot. is concerned, could be one of the rare survivals from Pictish and be compared with the first element Pit- freq. in placenames in N. and E. Scot.]

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"Peat n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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