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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.

PLET, v., n. Also plett; plat. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. plait. [plɛt, plet, plæt]

I. v. 1. As in Eng. Pa.t. and p. plettit, -ed, plet(t) (Slk. 1825 Jam.), plait (Lnk. 1792 in Airdrie Bards (Knox 1930) 308; m.Lth. 1819 J. Thomson Poems 151), and pleet, pleit from the collateral Eng. form pleat; pr.ppl., vbl.n. pletting. Sc. combs.: †(1) plait-backie, n., “a kind of bed-gown reaching down to the knees, commonly made of blue camlet or serge, with three pleats on the back” (Abd., Ags. 1825 Jam.); †(2) plettin-house, a building where the young girls of the township met in the evenings to plait straw or bent for the making of bonnets, etc. (Ork. 1966); (3) plaitit-strae, the twist of straw formerly worn in the button-hole or hat of a farm-worker at a feeing market to indicate that he was available for employment; (4) plait-row(ie), a bread roll made of plaited strands of dough.Sc. 1719 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. ( 1876) II. 226:
Hir silken cords of twirtle twist, Weil plet with silver sheen.
Ork. 1771 P. Fea Diary (Aug.):
Jo Hay pletting bent for the house use.
Sc. c.1800 Sweet William's Ghost in Child Ballads No. 77. G. i.:
Plett a wand o' bonnie birk, An lay it on my breast.
Sc. 1802 Prince Robert in Child Ballads No. 87. A. xx.:
And thae twa met, and thae twa plat, The birk but and the brier.
s.Sc. 1839 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 169:
The aged dames, in pletted toys, singing “Tarry Woo”.
s.Sc. 1885 W. Scrope Salmon Fishing 157:
Three fadom o' pleit gut at the end of it [a fishing line].
Sh. 1901 Shetland News (8 June):
As shüne as A'm plet me back hair.
Gall. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 132:
Whun we wur weans we use't tae mak wee water-mills wi rashes plettit thegither.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 2:
Derk fir planteens that . . . aamaist pletteet ther brainches abuinheed.
(3) ne.Sc. 1953 Mearns Leader (6 Nov.):
Ay, ay, Tam, I see ye're still weerin' yer plaitit strae — hinna ye gotten the offer o' a fee yet?
(4) Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. xi.:
Whigs, cookies, plait-rows, petticoat-tails.

2. To fold or pleat (cloth or the like) (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Sh., Ags., Kcb. 1966); of the skin: to wrinkle, pucker.Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 111:
Wi' unchristened fingers maun plait down the breeds. Note: This is an allusion to the Scottish Brownie, whose unbaptised fingers loved to plait and fit on the ladies' frills.
Dmf. 1861 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 106:
Care in wan wrinkles deeply plettin' Nell's bonnie face.

3. To cross (the legs or arms), place one limb over the other (ne.Sc., Per., Kcb., Rxb. 1966). Combs. ¶hough-pletter, one who crosses his legs when seated, plait-legged, cross-legged.Abd. c.1803 D. Anderson Sawney and John Bull 12:
To ca' our tars a' nae better Nor poor gangin' proud hough pletter.
s.Sc. 1839 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 251:
He sits down beside you on a sofa — plets his legs.
ne.Sc. 1958 Scottish Studies II. i. 52:
He sits plait-legged, and folds his arms.

4. intr. (1) To twist, cross. Obs. in Eng. Freq. of the limbs: to intertwine as a result of weariness, nervousness, drink, or the like, to fold under one (ne. and em.Sc.(a) 1966).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 69:
For very faut her legs began to plett, She wi' her journey had got sick a sett.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 106:
There was a very little taylor, sitting on a table . . . with his legs plet over other.
Slk. 1802 Hogg Poems (1874) 69:
His hand claive to his hivvye sword, His knees plett lyke the wande.
Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 92:
Wi' swaggerin' gait and plettin' legs Now hame the clowns are steerin'.
Mry.5 1928:
In her nervousness at the organ, her fingers jist pleet ower ither.
ne.Sc. 1956 Mearns Leader (23 March):
In a deep mids, his legs plaitit an' doon he sank.

(2) of a horse's hooves: to curl back into the flesh when left too long untrimmed, to become ingrown.Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 540:
A too quick growing of the hoofs, which plaited under his feet and made him lame.

(3) of a weaver's web: to become matted and tangled through faulty dressing.Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 15, 16:
Soft organzine, which material, if not carefully handled when being “dressed”, is liable to “plait”. . . . She, poor thing, had to wade bare foot through the snow another week or more in consequence of the “plaiting”.

5. To walk in an unsteady, corkscrew or in-toed manner as if the legs were weak, to “weave” about (Cai., of men and horse Per., Fif., Knr. 1966); to stagger, as in drink (em.Sc.(a) and s.Sc. 1966), esp. in ppl.adj. plettin. Cf. 4. (1) above.Abd. 1900 J. Milne Poems 4:
As he gaed platin' out the gate, A carlin cried, “Ah, Neil, yer late.”

6. To go over a piece of ground twice in sowing seed, to double-sow. Abd. 1972 Huntly Express (31 March) 6:
But the man who had to sow the corn with a basket had also to be continually on the alert, straining his eyes to make sure he would neither "miss" nor "plait".

II n. 1. A pleat, fold, crease ( I.Sc., Cai. Ags., Per. 1966).Slk. 1810 Hogg Tales (1874) 75:
“Ye hae settled the pletts o' your sark,” said Barnaby.

2. Fig. an untoward frame of mind, a perverse mood or humour, a kink (Kcb. 1966). Cf. obs. Eng. plait, id.Kcb. 1898 A. J. Armstrong Levellers 84:
He's in ane o' his queer pletts the noo, . . . an' the cowpin' o' the dykes has much to do wi't.

3. A predicament, quandary, “pickle” (s.Sc. 1966).Slk. 1947:
I'm in a fair plet.

[The form plet is a collateral form of Eng. plait, pleat, found only in Sc. and n.Eng. dial., O.Sc. plet, to fold, embrace, 1420, to interlace, 1470, plaited, c.1500. The Eng. forms however are also freq. in Scot. and there has been interchange of meaning among all three. See Plat, n.3, Pleat.]

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"Plet v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2022 <>



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