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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

PUTT, v., n.1 Also put; pout. Pa.t. and pa.ppl. puttet, -it, putted; by confusion with Pit, v.1, pat. [pʌt]

I. v. 1. tr. or absol. (1) To push or nudge gently, to prod, poke softly; of an animal: to push or prod with the head or horns, to butt (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, put, 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc., Cai., ne.Sc. 1967); “to kick, as in playing football” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). Hence putter, n., in thieves' slang: an instrument or weapon for giving a victim a “prod”, a cosh, club. Comb. put-(stock-)mill, a machine in which cloth is washed by means of a gentle patting or prodding motion, a plash-mill (Sc. 1756 F. Home Bleaching 24). Cf. Pushing Mill.Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
He looks like a putting stott, i.e. frowns or threatens by his looks.
Sc. 1756 F. Home Bleaching 45:
After steeping, the cloth is carried to the putstock-mill, to be freed of all its loose foulness. There can be nothing contrived so effectual to answer the purpose as this mill. Its motion is easy, regular, and safe. While it presses gently, it turns the cloth; which is continually washed with a stream of water.
Edb. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 119:
For tho' a daintier beast was never shorn, He winna stan' to put you wi' his horn.
Sc. 1821 D. Haggart Life 53:
Both his oglers being darkened by the milvad with the putter [an ox-foot].
Kcd. a.1826 J. Burness Garron Ha' (1887) 37:
His horse took fleg at a raised stot . . . An' ran an' puttit a' he saw.
Fif. 1857 W. Blair Rambling Recoll. 32:
Johnson i' Lathreesh had a great big puttin' bull.
Hdg. 1883 J. Martine Reminisc. 120:
He [a goat] was a pawky, ill-contrived beast, and thought nothing of pouting and “lafting” folk.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 6:
[He] set forrit his heid like's he was gaen awa' to putt somebody.
Cai. 1961 “Castlegreen” Tatties an' Herreen' 4:
Wi' Cheordie edgan' doon 'e rod, 'e gostie at hees heels! . . . Puttan' 'im wi' ids slimy han' an' preegan' wi'm for more!

Hence of a gun: to rebound after firing, to “kick” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).Ags. 1891 A. Lowson Tales 90:
The shot wis sae strong, the gun puttit me.

(2) in Mining: to propel a loaded coal-hutch from the coal-face to the pit-bottom by means of a series of shoves or pushes. Hence (coal-)putter, a person who does this, “a man or boy who assists a drawer to take his hutch along a difficult part of a drawing-road” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 53; Lnk. 1967). Also in Eng. tech. or dial. use.Sc. 1770 A. Hunter Georgic. Essays (1803) II. 159:
They are employed . . . in putting or drawing the coals.
Fif. 1841 Trans. Highl. Soc. 304:
The coals are brought from the wall faces in corves or tubs by females, who push or drag them on trams to the pit bottom . . . from the nature of their employment these females are named Putters.
em.Sc. 1842 Children in Mines Report (1) 28, 29, 94:
This operation, called “putting”, prevails in Fifeshire, Clackmannan, Stirlingshire, and in parts of the Lothians. . . . Katherine Logan, sixteen years old, coal-putter. . . . Putters drag or push the carts containing coal, from the coal-wall to the pit-bottom.
Sc. 1869 D. Bremner Industries 15:
As the coal is broken away from the face, it is shovelled aside, and committed to the care of the “putter”, who fills it into his “tub” and wheels it along to the pit bottom.
Lnk. 1954 Bulletin (27 Jan.) 3:
The dismissed men, who had been employed in the South Main coal section, asked the management to give them a putter — an extra hand to help push the coal hutches from the loading point at the face to the main haulage out-bye.

(3) to impel (a stone or heavy metal ball) by means of a strong thrust or push from the shoulder, esp. as a competitive athletic exercise or feat. Gen.Sc. Also intr. with at. Hence putter, n., one who performs this action (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Comb. puttin(g)-stane, the stone so thrown, the sport or feat involved in this. See also Shot.Sc. 1724 Ramsay Gentle Shep. ii. iv.:
When thou didst wrestle, run, or putt the Stane, And wan the Day, my Heart was flightering fain.
Sc. 1771 T. Pennant Tour 1769 167:
Most of the antient sports of the Highlanders, such as archery, hunting, fowling and fishing, are now disused: those retained are, throwing the putting-stone, or stone of strength (cloch neart), as they call it, which occasions an emulation who can throw a weighty one the farthest.
Sc. 1802 Scott Minstrelsy II. 64:
O it fell anes, upon a time, They putted at the stane.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxix.:
[He] kens the rules of a' country games better than ony man that ever drave a bowl, or threw an axle-tree, or putted a stane.
Bnff. 1818 Gentleman's Mag. (March) 257:
Danced wi' lightsome heart. or pat the stane.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales I. 265:
“Thou's naething of a putter,” said Meg, “I see by the way thou raises the stane; an thou saw my billy Rwob putt, he wad send it till here.”
Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Shet. 586:
It was formerly the custom of the inhabitants after divine service, to repair to the church-yard for the sake of a competition in strength — who should throw to the greatest distance a large stone, named a “putting-stone”.
Edb. 1826 M. & M. Corbett Odd Volume 167:
James lost at the puttin-stane, by about an inch just.
Sc. 1850 Queen Victoria Leaves (1868) 123:
There were the usual games of “putting the stone”, “throwing the hammer” and “caber”, and racing up the hill.
Ags. 1891 Brechin Advertiser (2 June) 3:
There was wont to be a game ca'd the puttin' stane.
Abd. 1893 G. G. Green Kidnappers viii.:
On the top of the plateau [hill of Barra, Dyce] is a large-sized boulder called “Wallace's Putting-Stone.”
Sc. 1909 N.E.D.:
Let's try who can putt farthest.
Ayr. 1928 J. Gall Muses 25:
Noo throwin' the hammer an' puttin' the ba. Tae ane they ca'ed Cameron was nae faucht at a'.
Sc. 1961 I. F. Grant Folk Ways 347:
The contest of putting the stone as carried out at modern Highland Games consists of putting (not throwing, the competitor's hand may not be put farther back than his elbow) a stone of 16–23 lb. as far as the competitor can. He may not pass a bound or other mark and may not take a run of more than 7½ ft.

(4) in Golf: to impel the ball towards the hole with a (series of) gentle tap(s), “to play the delicate game close to the hole” (Sc. 1887 Golfing (Chambers) 95). Gen. used absol. Comb. putting-green, the area of close-cut turf surrounding the hole; a green containing a series of short holes used for putting practice or for recreational putting competitions.Sc. 1783 in C. Smith Abd. Golfers (1909) 20:
No Stones, loose Sand, or other Impediments shall be removed when putting at the Hole.
m.Lth. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 29 note:
The angle, which the head makes with the shaft, is nearly the same with that of the putting clubs used at golf.
Sc. 1812 J. B. Salmond Hist. R. & A. (1956) 78:
All loose impediments of whatever kind may be removed upon the putting green.
Sc. 1883 M. Oliphant Ladies Lindores xvii.:
The ladies' golf is very nice; it is only Putting.
Sc. 1887 Session Cases 708:
The putting or short game of golf.
Sc. 1891 J. Kerr Golf-Bk. E. Lth. (1896) App. xx.:
The term “putting-green” shall mean the ground within 20 yards of the hole, excepting hazards.
Ags. 1964 Arbroath Guide (25 July) 3:
Only 200 competitors took part in a Wednesday putting competition.

Deriv. putter, n., a person who putts; the flat-faced club used for this type of stroke. Also green-putter, id. Combs. driving-putter, the flat-faced club used for pitching shots on to the green; putting-cleek, id.Sc. 1743 Poems on Golf (1867) 59:
Let each social soul Drink to the putter, the balls, and the hole.
Sc. 1783 C. Smith Abd. Golfers (1909) 19:
If any of the Players or their Club-bearers, by standing at or near the hole, stop a Ball, whether from a Putter or any other Club, the Hole shall be lost to the Party so stopping.
Fif. 1807 J. Grierson St. Andrews 234:
The common club is used when the ball lies fair on the ground, the spoon, when in a hollow, the iron when among sand or gravel, and the putter when near the hole.
Sc. 1833 G. F. Carnegie Golfiana 14:
There, to the left, I see Mount-Melville stand Erect, his driving putter in his hand.
Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Poet. Remains (1883) 62:
The timid putter never yet did win.
Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 20:
Putters . . . are two in number; the green-putter, and the driving-putter. The first is used on the putting-green, when the player is near enough to calculate with some certainty on the resistance of the grass, the length of the stroke, and the lie of the ground he intends his ball to pass over . . . Driving-putters are most frequently used in the place of short or baffing spoons, to drive the ball up to the putting-green, when no hazards or awkward unequality of ground intervenes to prevent the roll of the ball. They are also used occasionally in very boisterous weather to drive the ball in the wind's eye over safe ground, and often answer this somewhat illegitimate use, even better than a play club.
Sc. 1862 Golfing (Chambers 1887) 16:
The Putter. This is a short-shafted, stiff club, with a large flattish head, and square face; it is used when the ball arrives in close proximity to the hole, generally within twenty yards, with no intervening hazards. and is usually considered the best club for “holing out” the ball, though many golfers now use the cleek or the putting-cleek instead . . . The Driving-Putter is shorter in the shaft and rather larger in the head than the play-club. It is principally used in driving balls against a strong head-wind.
Sc. 1887 J. Balfour Reminisc. Golf 22:
The driving putter is never now played with.
Fif. 1897 R. Forgan Golfer's Manual 15:
The “Putting Cleek” has a head almost perpendicular in the face, a shorter shaft, and a more “upright” lie; but in all other respects it resembles the Driving Cleek.
Sc. 1931 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 404:
He had a passion for golf (though never much of a player except as a putter).

2. intr. (1) To make a nudging, poking or thrusting movement, to nudge or knock at or (up)on (Ork., Cai. 1967).Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 371:
You putt at the Cart that's ay ganging.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 45:
Says Bess, “Tis true your fump'ring wakn'd me; I putted o' you for to set you free.”
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 318:
I hoop wir Chairman 'ill putt api' me an' I'se stow withoot takan the trileya.

(2) to pulsate, throb (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., put; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Slk. 1967). Also in n.Eng. dial.Abd. 1869 St. Andrews Gazette (17 April):
My heart gaed puttin' like to brak', Till greetin' gladness thirled me through.
Kcb. 1896 A. J. Armstrong Kirkiebrae xxiii.:
My puir wee lamb, your heid is sair. It's puttin' like a mill.
Rxb. 1958 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 24:
Beelin' fingers and skurls and breed pultices; a sair bit that was fair puttin'.

II. n. 1. A gentle touch or push, a soft prod, nudge (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; I. and n.Sc., Kcb. 1967); a prod or blow from the horns or head of an animal, a butt (Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 145); “a stealthy touch with hand or foot in company” (Abd.3 1931); the rebound from a gun, a “kick”.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 197:
If ever I get his Cart whemling, I'll give it a Putt.
Gall. 1796 J. Lauderdale Poems 36:
Just leuk at Tam, gie Will a put.
Dmb. 1827 W. Taylor Poems 29:
O for a put to Friendship's shore.
Ags. 1833 J. S. Sands Poems 93:
The awfu' put o' Samson's gun.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 180:
Probably the possibility of an unusually ugly “putt” from his piece helped to excite his nervous feeling a little, but shoot he would at all risks.
Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past & Present 37:
What was your business, Tammas to stop before ye got the putt?
Ags. 1895 Arbroath Guide (5 Jan.) 3:
I gae Marget a putt.
Abd.1 1925:
To dun one for the payment of a debt is called “giein' him a putt”, or a reminder.
Cai. 1929 John o' Groat Jnl. (20 Dec.):
Willag guid me a putt an said . . .

2. Specif. (1) in the game of Golf: the gentle tapping stroke used to impel the ball across the green and into the hole. See also I. 1. (2).Sc. 1743 Poems on Golf (1867) 58:
With putt well directed plunge into the hole.
Per. 1830 Perthshire Advertiser (14 Jan.):
Mr Grant drove a ball from the Shore hole to the hole at the Depot, by a single stroke and a put.
Sc. 1863 in R. Clark Golf (1875) 137:
The first hole hame was halved . . . Drumwhalloch holin' a lang putt.
Sc. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar viii.:
Next to losing a hole at the gowf by missing a short put.
Sc. 1901 Scotsman (9 Sept.):
On the next green he got down his putt from a distance of . . . twenty yards.
Fif. 1928 St. Andrews Citizen (28 Sept.):
Major Barry who sank a ten-yard putt for a 5.

(2) in Sc. Athletics: the thrusting movement by which a putting-stone or weight is propelled (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc. See I. 1. (4).Sc. 1889 Boy's Own Paper (7 Sept.) 780:
After each put has been marked the ground is smoothed over . . . I noticed the puts on several occasions knocked out the pegs of previous marks.

2. In a more general sense: an effort or attempt to do something, a venture, try, “shot”.Sc. c.1700 A. Pennecuik Coll. Sc. Poems (1762) 3:
We fear that prove a kittle Putt.

3. Phrs.: (1) putt an row, lit. (with) a push and roll, used as a n. or adv. phr. = with the utmost endeavour, using every means at one's disposal, one way or another (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1967); (2) to mak(e) or keep one's putt guid, to succeed in a venture, gain one's object, carry one's point (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; wm. and sm.Sc. 1967).(1) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 27:
Yet putt an' row, wi' mony a weary twine, She wins at last, to where the pools did shine.
Mry. 1806 J. Cock Simple Strains 105:
Wi' put and row, he took the gate, I gat him in wi' priggin'.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxi.:
Mony was the “put an' row” wi' him ere he gat muckle audiscence, I can tell ye.
Kcb.1 1900:
Atween putt and row I'm no' ill aff ava.
Abd. 1920 R. Calder Gleanings I. 14:
Wi ae putt an' row or anither.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 26:
Weel, we made oot da supper, Magnus. atween put an' row.
(2) Ayr. 1822 Galt Steamboat ix.:
The mistress, however, made her putt good, and the satin dress was obligated to be sent to her.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 91:
These hams sometimes adorn the saddle-bow of a moorland lover, when he starts a horseback to seek a wife, and are considered to aid him much in making with any girl he takes a fancy for, his putt-gude.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxi.:
Being by all laws, divine and human, the head of the house, I aye made a rule of keeping my putt good.
s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws xix.:
An you would mak' your put guid, dinna let on that ye think him ailing.

[The form and usage are reg. developments of Mid.Eng. putten, O.E. putian, orig. to push, thrust, later to put, place. For [pʌt] cf. but. The mod. senses of Eng. put are represented in Sc. by Pit, v.1, q.v., Mid.Eng. pytten, O.E. pytan. O.Sc. put(t), to push, drive, a.1438, to butt, 1513, to nudge, 1583, put the stane, a.1570, putting club, 1690, put, a push, thrust, c.1500.]

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"Putt v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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