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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PLAID, n., v. Also plaide, plade, playd-, pled-; plad; plide, plyde. Dim. plaidie, -y, plaithie (Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 197). [pled, ‡plɑed]

I. n. 1. A rectangular length of twilled woollen cloth, sometimes self-coloured of white or marled gray, but more often of a chequered or Tartan pattern, which was formerly worn as a mantle or outer garment, predominantly in the rural areas of Scotland, later also as a shawl by women in towns, and which now survives as part of the ceremonial dress of members of the pipe bands of Scottish regiments (Sc. 1755 Johnson, 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–26 Wilson). Gen.Sc., now St. Eng. with the pronunciation [plæd]. Cf. Byron Lachin y Gair ii. note. Also fig. as in 1887 quot., and applied by extension to a similarly-shaped mantle of other materials as in combs. Paisley plaid, see 1925 quot. and Paisley harness plaid, see 1888 quot. and Harness.w.Sc. 1703 M. Martin Descr. W. Isles 207:
The Plad wore only by the Men, is made of fine Wool; . . . it consists of divers Colours, and there is a great deal of ingenuity requir'd in sorting the Colours. The Women are at great pains, first to give an exact pattern of the Plade . . . Every Isle differs from each other in their fancy of making Plaids, as to the Stripes in Breadth, and Colours.
Gsw. 1715 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (B.R.S.) 539:
A swatch of one of the manufactorys peculiar to this place, being that of plaids, which are generally used over that pairt of the United Kingdom called Scotland, by our women for covers when they go abroad, and by some men for the morning guns, or for hangings in bedchambers.
Sc. 1729 Musical Misc. II. 56:
He's finer far in's Tartan Plaidy.
Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) II. 99:
He [Prince Charles Edward] was then in Kilt with very indifferent plaid.
Abd. 1751 Abd. Journal (20 Aug.):
On Friday Donald M'Donald, from the Head of Glenshee, was imprisoned for wearing the Philabeg, Tartan Coat, and Highland Plaid.
Sc. 1771 T. Pennant Tour 1769 162:
Their brechan, or plaid, consists of twelve or thirteen yards, of a narrow stuff, wrapt round the middle, and reaches to the knees; is often fastened round the middle with a belt, and is then called brechan-feal.
Ayr. 1796 Burns O wert thou in i.:
My plaidie to the angry airt, I'd shelter thee, I'd shelter thee.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality x.:
I will put on a plaid and slip down with you to the place where they have kept him.
Sc. 1823 Byron Don Juan x. xviii.:
As “Auld Lang Syne” brings Scotland, one and all, Scotch plaids, Scotch snoods, the blue hills, and clear streams.
Lnk. 1887 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 34:
Then, when the gloamin's gath'ring plyde Is dark'ning a' the kintra side.
Fif. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 69:
When last seen she wore a white mutch, broon wincey goon, Rob Roy plyde, and apron.
Rnf. 1925 A. M. Stewart Paisley Shawl 20:
The Paisley shawls were made in three sizes — a shawl measured about 2 yards each way. A Plaid was 4 yards long by 2 yards wide; and a three-quarter plaid was between these two, approximately 60 by 100 inches. . . . Plaids were woven twice the length of a shawl so that when folded double the two rough sides from which all the loose yarn had been cut away were turned inwards and hidden.
Sc. 1964 Scotsman (27 July):
He quickly unpinned his plaid and offered it to the Countess as a warm and elegant-looking stole.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 78:
There was no sudden windfall of wealth at the farm but it prospered a little more with each year's cycle and Susannah in time had a new silk plaid and two dresses as well as her working bodices and thibbet skirts.
m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 178:
He gave her several plaids as well and asked her to fashion the clothes as quickly as possible.
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 69:
Liz saw him then, - a bonnie chiel,
in kilt an tartan plaidy.

Combs.: (1) belted plaid(ie), a long plaid wound round the middle of the body and held in place with a belt, prob. the original form of the Kilt or Fillebeg. See also 1771 quot. above; (2) Glasgow plaid, a plaid of distinctive pattern woven in Glasgow. See also 1700 quot. under 2. (1); (3) harness plide, = 1. See Harnish, 2.; (4) plaid-neuk, -nook, a fold or flap in a plaid used as a pocket, esp. by shepherds for carrying young lambs (e.Lth., wm. and s.Sc. 1966); more loosely, as in 1870 quot., the shelter afforded by one's plaid; in 1919 quot. nonce usage as v., = receive, “pocket”, accept. Also fig., in phr. in one's plaid-neuk, to one's hand, “in one's pocket”. See Neuk, 1.; (5) shepherd's plaid, a plaid of a distinctive black and white checked pattern commonly worn by shepherds, a Maud. Gen.Sc.(1) Sc. 1701 Chrons. Atholl & Tullibardine Families I. 484:
Another part of the English Ladyes Longing must not be forgot; it was to see an Atholl man in a belted Plaid.
Rs. 1711 Hist. MSS. Comm. Report (Portland MSS.) X. 236:
They suffered him neither to eat nor drink from Friday's morning till Sunday's night and obliged him to travel, being in a belted plaid, whereby his legs and thighs were so cut with snow and ice that for several days after he came home he was not able to rise out of his bed.
Sc. c.1800 The Nightingale 55:
I'd take young Donald without trews, With bonnet blue and belted plaidy.
(2) Sc. 1700 Edb. Gazette (27–30 May):
A fine Glasgow Plaid marked B. and Several other things.
(3) wm.Sc. 1888 Anon. Archie Macnab 18:
Betty in her harness plide, bocht in Paisley.
(4) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian viii.:
How can ye bid me pay back siller . . . or dispone Beersheba when it lies sae weel into my ain plaid-nuik.
Rxb. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. I. 263:
I'll fauld ye in my auld plaid-nuik, And dander down my native glen.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped i.:
It was a little Bible, to carry in a plaid-neuk.
s.Sc. 1894 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 429:
He rose and threw his plaid round him, and took his beloved fiddle in the plaid nook and carried it carefully.
Lnk. 1960 Stat. Acc.3 607:
Within living memory the plaids used by shepherds for proteetion against the weather and also, folded in a particular way to form the “plaid-neuk”, as a hold-all for lambs or shopping gear, were made in the parish, of local material finished by the local tailor.
(5) Edb. 1878 S. Jerdan Essays 199:
Wi' weel-spun hose an' buckled shoon, In shepherd's plaid, an' bannet blue.

2. Deriv. plaiding-, -en, playden, pladden, -ing, plyding, plidin(g), plaithin (Mry. 1960), n., the material of which a plaid is made, at one time widely manufactured throughout Scot., “a coarse woollen cloth not the same with flannel . . . but differing from it in being tweeled” (Sc. 1808 Jam., plaiden, -ing). Gen.Sc., obsol. See also 1. In pl., garments made of plaiding, plaids (see 1817 quot.). Freq. used attrib. in such combs. as plaiding hose, -wab, -weaver.Sc. 1702 Records Conv. Burghs (1880) 329–330:
The convention appoynts the several burghs to put the lawes and acts of parliament to vigorous executione within thair respective jurisdiction anent the right makeing of plaiden, fingrams and stockins.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. ii. iii.:
Change thy Plaiding-Coat for Silk, And be a Lady of that Ilk.
Sc. 1762 Session Papers, White v. Taylors Gsw. (21 June) 3:
The making of plaiding-hose was in former times a considerable branch of the taylor-craft, though for some time past it has been very inconsiderable, because of the common use of worset-stockings; but of later years it has revived at Glasgow, and is now carried on to a very great extent, for the use of the negroes in our colonies abroad.
Ayr. 1788 Burns To the Weaver's ii.:
My mither sent me to the town, To warp a plaiden wab.
Sc. 1791 T. Newte Tour Eng. & Scot. 51:
In the Winter, especially in the highland and mountainous parts of Scotland . . . the old women and men very generally wear a kind of boots or hose formed of a coarse thick woollen cloth, or serge, which they call plaiding, and which they roll in folds, one above another, for the sake of heat.
Wgt. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 481:
The old dress of the country men, even of the most respectable farmers, a kilt coat, a blue bonnet, and plaiding hose, have been totally laid aside.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxxvi.:
Fighting wi' a wheen Hielandmen, and singeing their plaidens.
Ags. 1818 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 235:
Next to the shirt he wears an undervest, absurdly enough termed a surcoat. This is made of plaiden and buttons double over the breast.
Ayr. 1824 A. Crawford Tales Grandmother (1825) II. 307:
Had it not been for her romantic spirit, I might, at this time, been a good plaiding weaver in Clydesdale.
Dmf. 1856 T. Carlyle Letters (Bliss 1953) 317:
I wanted a Cape too, now I recollect, of rustic plaiden, duffle or other such structure.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (16 Dec.):
Dey wir gotten a wab o' white plaidin' hame frae da sooth.
Uls. 1951 E. E. Evans Mourne Country 179:
The cloth thus shrunk — a rough druggit — was made by travelling tailors into blankets, petticoats and bawneens, the wide-bottomed “plaidin frock” or cardigan jacket which survived longest among the Carlingford fishermen.

Special combs.: (1) Galloway plaiding, Glasgow-, etc., the distinctive types of plaiding made in Galloway, Glasgow, etc. Cf. 1. (2); (2) plaiding ell, the special unit used for the measurement of plaiding, which, to allow for this material's tendency to shrinkage, was reckoned at 38.416 in., i.e., two thumbsbreadths over the normal Sc. ell of 37.059 in. See also Ell; (3) Plaidin Fair, = (4) (ii) (Abd.4 1929); (4) Plaidin Market, (i) a market held for the sale of plaiding, see quot.; (ii) a jocular term for bed, from the common use of plaiding as material for blankets (Abd., Kcb. 1966). Cf. (3) above and 4.(1) Sc. c.1700 H. G. Graham Soc. Life (1899) II. 247:
The weavers wrought goods which got a special fame for their district — “Glasgow plaidings”.
Sc. 1805 R. Forsyth Beauties Scot. II. 418:
A coarse woollen cloth, called Galloway plaiding, was manufactured in this neighbourhood.
(2) Sc. 1789 J. Swinton Weights, etc. 89:
The Plaiding Ell, of 38½ inches, for Home Manufactures, and Labourers and Tradesmens work.
(4) (i) Per. 1831 Fife Herald (15 Sept.):
The plaiden market, that used to create such a bustle about the Cross on the Thursday mornings, has dwindled to nothing.
(ii) Abd. 1955 People's Jnl. (1 Oct.):
What would you do if you were told to “tak' yer pig and awa' tae the plaiden market”? You would be right if you took your hot-water bottle and got off to bed.

3. = 2. above, the woollen cloth of which plaids are made, plaiding, tartan, homespun; also used attrib.Arg. 1719 Carskey Jnl. (Mackay 1955) 56:
Item 22 Ells plyd at 3 shs 4ds p Ell.
Ork. 1720 P. Ork. A.S. XI. 40:
To 6 Ells plade for Lynning to my Night Goune . . . £12 12 0.
Ayr. 1831 Per. Advertiser (8 Sept.):
Habit Cloths, Coatings, Freizes. Plaid Cloths, Tartan Shawls, Merinoes . . . Grass-Bleached Linens, &c. . . . Ayr Woollen Tryst. — On Tuesday last the supply of cloth brought forward was considerable . . . White brought from 8d. to 11d. and plaid 7d. to 8d. per yard according to the breadth.
ne.Sc. 1928 Alistair and Henrietta Tayler Jacobites of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire in the Forty-Five 130:
Wearing a Highland Dress, a Plaid sash and white cockade.

4. A plaid or tartan cloth used as a blanket, bed-covering (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb Gl.). Comb. bed-plaid, id., a top cover or coverlet for a bed (m.Sc. 1966).Sc. 1700 Fire in Edb., 3 Feb. (Pamphlet):
[They] stop the Windows of their Houses that appears any ways to be in hazard, with some of the coursest of their Bed-plades.
Per. 1715 T. L. K. Oliphant Lairds of Gask (1870) 28:
A Twill & four pr Blankets or Hyland plaids.
Abd. 1731 Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 4:
A pair blankets and a pair plaids valued at ten shillings sterling.
Inv. 1747 More Culloden Papers (Warrand 1930) V. 217:
To 2 bed plaids . . . 14. 6.
s.Sc. 1898 E. Hamilton Mawkin ii.:
Run away back, then, lassie, and put it betwixt the bed-plaides.
Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 97:
It's a waifu' job a lot o' weet plaids.

5. By metonymy: a Highlander.Sc. 1815 Lockhart Scott xxxv.:
The poor plaids who were strapped up at Carlisle.

II. v. To dress (oneself or another) in (a) plaid, to clothe, attire; also fig. as in 1824 quot.; to wrap in a plaid or shawl.Sc. 1809 Scott Prol. Miss Baillie's Play iii.:
The plaided boatman, resting on his oar, Points to the fatal rock amid the roar.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. xiv.:
The other plaids his rare fancy in pure and simple words.
Sc. 1897 Stevenson W. of Hermiston ii.:
I would sooner he were a plaided herd.
Ags. 1927 Brechin Advertiser (25 Oct.) 3:
On a mither's back a plaidit wean, Haudin' in to life wi' a safety preen.

[O.Sc. plaid, = 1., 1510, pladding, 1548. Other O.Sc. spellings include pleyd, plyd, pleid, plade, pled, plead, suggesting a diphthong as well as a simple vowel, both long and short. The word has been derived by some from Gael. plaide, a blanket, but the phonology and semantic history point to its being borrowed into and not from Gael., which seems to have adopted the [plɑd] form. The ulterior etymology is uncertain, but the word may be orig. a pa.p. form (governing cloth or the like understood) from earlier playe, ploy, variants of Ply, to fold. For a somewhat sim. development cf. Faik.]

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



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