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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.

RANT, v., n.

I. v. 1. intr. To romp, to roister, make merry, revel, to indulge in boisterous fun (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Sh., ne.Sc., Slg., m.Lth., Ayr. 1967); to behave in a wild dissolute manner. In 1910 quot. in nonce usage in comb. rant aff, to set off on a career of dissipation. ¶Rarely tr., to revel on. Also fig. Hence rantin(g), vbl.n., a revel, a party, romping, lively fun; ppl.adj., roistering, merry, uproarious. Reduplic. form rantin-tantin, id., and adv. rantinlie, -y, in a hilarious, excited or roistering manner (Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 32; Ayr. a.1796 Burns MacPherson's Farewell chorus). Combs. ranting day, the day after an Orkney wedding when, after further merrymaking, the couple went to church for the kirking ceremony; rantin fu', uproarious or obstreperous with drink.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 160:
The rantin Germans, Russians, and the Poles, Shall feast with Pleasure on our gusty Sholes.
Rxb. 1732 J. Wilson Hawick (1858) 70:
Payd that night the lickor was got to Ranting.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 132:
All forward now in merry mood they went, An' a' the day in mirth and ranting spent.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 111:
Till some daft Birky, ranting fu', Has Matters somewhere else to do.
Ayr. 1785 Burns There was a Lad chorus:
Robin was a rovin boy, Rantin, rovin Robin!
Sh. 1788 Diary J. Mill (S.H.S.) 85:
But the people were publickly warned to beware of abusing it to God's dishonour, as they had done in 1781, by fidling and Ranting, Gluttony, Drunkeness, and all unclean abominations.
Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 41:
On that great night o' Halloween, Whan reed-cap't faries rant the green.
Sc. 1832 Scott Redgauntlet Letter x.:
If ye expect to be ranting among the queans o' lasses where ye are gaun, ye will come by the waur.
Dmb. 1844 W. Cross Disruption xxxix.:
Rant awa' — laugh awa' and see hoo mony sticks o' your hoose will be standing when ye're dune.
m.Lth. 1882 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) IV. 54:
Blythely he cam' an' rantinlie.
Ork. 1883 J. R. Tudor Ork. and Sh. 334:
The following day [after a wedding] (Friday) known as “ranting day,” after more eating and drinking, the company assembled at the kirk.
Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Frae the Heather 58:
They set oot to rant at the Holm o' Dalquhairn . . . And mony a stout browst did the company drain While young men and maidens kept dancin' and cleekin'.
Uls. 1897 A. M'Ilroy Lint in the Bell iv.:
It's little short o' popery, expeckin' sober folk tae join in the rantin' o' sic whurlygigs.
Sc. 1910 D. G. Mitchell Sermons 75:
A' this may be thrown to the winds in rantin aff to the far country.
Ayr. 1927 J. Carruthers Man Beset 60:
Ructions, rantin'-tantin' ructions.

Deriv. ranter, a wild, devil-may-care, dissipated person. Obs. in Eng.; a lively, spirited horse.Kcd. 1858 J. & W. Clark Leisure Musings (1894) 40:
While ither swankies tak' the road, An' drive a mighty ranter, If I perchance should gang abroad On shank's naig I maun canter.

2. tr. and intr. with at, o'er. To play or sing a lively tune, esp. to accompany a dance. Ppl.adj. ranting, of a song, tune or dance: in quick measure, lively, gay. Deriv. ranter, one who plays for dancers, esp. of a strolling minstrel: also fig., of a poet or rhymer (Ayr. 1786 Burns 3rd Ep. to J. Lapraik ix.). Comb. rantin kirn, a Kirn or harvest home celebrated with music and dancing.Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 72:
I'm a piper to my trade, My name is Rob the Ranter.
Dmb. 1777 Weekly Mag. (20 Feb.) 273:
Ilk ane a whistle had, an' weel cou'd they Rant o'er a moorlan' reel or roundelay.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Halloween xv.:
Ay a rantin kirn we gat An' just on Halloween It fell that night.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 64:
He'd rant till he was like to choke At “Jenny dang”.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xxx.:
Is this a time, or is this a day, to be singing your ranting fule sangs in?
Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth xii.:
It was never your mother's custom, and it shall never be mine, to take up with ranters, and jugglers, and singing women.
Arg. c.1850 in L. MacInnes Dial. S. Kintyre (1936) 30:
Come raise your meesanach every one And rant this song wi' glee.
Sc. 1864 St. Andrews Gazette (20 Feb.):
He condemned all ranting and repeating tunes, and urged the return to the fine old tunes of which we have so many, such as French, Coleshill, York, the Old Hundred, Dundee, &c.

3. To make a great voluble fuss, to “carry on”, rampage; to complain, harp (Cai., Kcb., Uls. 1967). Deriv. ranter, a noisy, scolding person.Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 214:
She was a terr'le ranter, Mrs. Gaut.
Uls. 1898 S. MacManus Bend of Road 203:
The mother, sure enough, raived an' ranted all over the house about it.

4. Fig. of a fire: to burn strongly with leaping flames, to blaze, only in ppl.adj. rantin.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. iv. i.:
I'll mak a rantin' fire, and merry sall we be.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 88:
To get a rantin blaze To fley the frost awa' an' toast my taes.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxiii.:
Standing beside a ranting, roaring, parrot-coal fire.
Cai. 1829 J. Hay Poems 17:
Bring hither, lad, some guid black peats, An' some o' yon dry aspen reits, To make a rantin fire.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 75:
A red, rantin' fire o' dried peat or whin cowe.

II. n. 1. A romp or boisterous frolic (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Bnff., Abd. 1967).Ayr. 1786 Burns Ep. J. Rankine ii.:
And in your wicked drucken rants, Ye mak a devil o' the saunts.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf ii.:
I hae a good conscience, and little to answer for, unless it be about a rant amang the lasses, or a splore at a fair.
Abd. 1853 W. Cadenhead Flights 192:
To think upon the joyous games and rants o' our Gate-en'.
Ags. 1897 A. Reid Bards Ags. 2:
What rants whan lasses met to spin.
Kcb. 1912 A. Anderson Later Poems 225:
In place o' a' sic rant an' noise He noo had calm domestic joys.
Bnff. 1917 E. S. Rae Private J. McPherson 53:
The rants wi' the quines 'mo' the stooks 'neath the moon.

Deriv. rantie, -y, frolicsome, full of boisterous fun, in sportive mood (Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 222).Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 15:
Whoe'er did slight him gat a daud, Whenever he was ranty.
Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 115:
I us'd to be right ranty, An' mak' the youngsters spring like bucks.
Slk. 1807 Hogg Mountain Bard 172:
Sae gay, sae easy, an' sae ranty, Sae cappernaity an' sae canty.
Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Works 88:
They tak a smack when'er they meet, Wi' drink they're grown sae ranty.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 164:
We've rowthie baith o' brose an' kail, Whilk mak's us chuffie, sleek, and rantie.

2. A festive gathering, with music and dancing (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; I.Sc., Bnff., Abd. 1967).Sc. 1786 Burns Sc. Drink viii.:
Thou art the life o' public haunts: But thee, what were our fairs and rants?
Lnk. 1816 G. Muir Minstrelsy 2:
At annual rants they're keen to try their stakes.
Sh. 1879 Shetland Times (22 March):
Nae doot he'll be biddin' her t' da Bixter rant.
Sc. 1896 A. Cheviot Proverbs 316:
The bigger the rant, the better the fun.
Abd. 1900 G. Williams Farmer's Twa Tint Laddies 85:
An' sae the rant gied on ding dang, Wi' dance an' sang, an' jest.
Sh. 1937 J. Nicolson Yarns 4:
Tirval o' Stivva was on his way to Klusta to provide music at a “Yule rant”.
Sh. 1955 New Shetlander No. 41. 14:
Magnie goes aroond an sees da neebor boys and lasses an dey agreed ta hae a farewell rant at Magnie's hoose on da Friday night.

3. A lively tune or song, esp. one with a rhythm suitable for an energetic dance (w.Sc. 1880 Jam.; Sh., ne., em.Sc., Lnk. 1967), used freq. in the titles of dance tunes.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. i.:
To hear the birds chirm o'er their pleasing rants.
Sc. 1749 H. A. Thurston Scotland's Dances (1954) 93:
The Menzies' rant or Reel don ne Marachan. The Montgomeries' rant — a strathspey reele. Conteraller's rant — a strathspey reele.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 229:
Bang up your pipes auld John McLean, Play the Scots rant.
Fif. 1812 W. Tennant Anster Fair 36:
And th' upland hamlet, where, as told in song, Tam Lutar play'd of yore his lively rants.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Letter x.:
A rant, man — an auld rant; naething like the music ye hae in your ball-houses and your play-houses in Edinbro'.
Ags. 1846 A. Laing Wayside Flowers (1878) 113:
Hey! the reel o' Delvinside, Hey! the rant o' Tullibardine.
Arg. 1892 N. Munro John Splendid xi.:
Played a tune they call “The Galley of the Waves”, a Stewart rant.
m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet iii. i.:
The sun poured in at the open window; a girl in the street was singing the “Fishwives' Rant”; and all the world seemed in gay spirits.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 57:
The auld caird first, then piper Jock, Whase rants an' reels wad gar ye bock.
Bnff. 1957 Banffshire Jnl. (8 Oct.):
The Dog i' the Midden he lay, he lay or some sic-like aul'farrant rant o' that kine.

4. A din, tumult, great noise.Rnf. 1877 J. M. Neilson Poems 42:
A rant o' thun'er reelin' Sent me startl't on my face.

5. A severe scolding, a row, a tirade. Obs. in Eng.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. ii.:
If canker'd Madge, our aunt, Come up the burn, she'll gie's a wicked rant.

[O.Sc. rant, 1660, obs. Du. randten, ranten, to talk foolishly, to rave. Cf. Ger. ranzen, to frolic, spring about.]

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"Rant v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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