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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

RUNT, n.1, v.1 Also dim. form runtle (Ags. 1896 Barrie M. Ogilvy vii.), and erron. rant (Abd. 1929 J. Milne Dreams o' Buchan 20). [rʌnt]

I. n. 1. (1) An old or decayed tree-stump (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 264; Sh., n., em.Sc.(a), wm., sm.Sc., Slk. 1968). Also in Eng. dial.m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 50:
As we socht oor shauchlin' way Atween the runts o' Bernafay.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 14:
He'd rax his wey, Whaur birny runts wad gie a grup.
Sc. 1934 Scotsman (21 July) 15:
Taking up a glowing pine runt, he lights his pipe.

(2) transf. A short thick stick (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 415).

2. (1) The stem of a cabbage or kail plant, esp. when hard, withered and stripped of its leaves at the end of the season, a Castock, (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. and n.Eng. dial. See also Kail, 5. (24).Gall. 1728 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) II. 101:
While she forbad him he did cast kail runts at her.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Halloween iv. note:
The stems, or, to give them their proper appellation, the “runts”, are placed somewhere above the head of the door; and the Christian names of people whom chance brings into the house are, according to the priority of placing the “runts”, the names in question.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 200:
They gat naethin for crowdie but runts boiled tae sowdie.
s.Sc. 1838 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 65:
The imps of devilry, who passed along with their smoking horns, often made of the stem or “runt” of a winter cabbage.
Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs 297:
The time ye're pu'in' runts ye're no setting kail.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 258:
Wis dere no a kail runt, or a air o' girs?
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 8:
There's bairns wi' guizards at their tail Clourin' the doors wi' runts o' kail.
Mry. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 78:
Bauld Jamie Blunt wi's reekin runt Ben cot an' ha'-house blaws.

(2) In fig. or allusive uses:Ayr. 1786 Burns Ordination vi.:
For lapfu's large o' gospel kail Shall fill thy crib in plenty, An' runts o' grace the pick an' wale.
Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 101:
We're a' stawed hearin o't. For ony favour, let that runt stick in the grund.
Ags. 1944 Scots Mag. (May) 91:
For sixteen years more Daavid Deuchars hung on to life, a withered auld runt in the same garden in which the flower that was Mary's Maggie blossomed.

(3) The core of an apple (Slg., Ayr. 1968). m.Lth. 1987:
Gie's yer runt.

3. (1) A short thick-set person (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 415); an undersized or dwarfish human being or animal (Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh., n., em.Sc.(a), wm. and sm.Sc. 1968). Hence runtie, a nickname for a short stocky person (Sh. 1968).Bnff. 1935 I. Bennet Fishermen ii.:
That'll settle ye, ye shacklin' little runt!
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xx.:
Twa stoot runts o' chiels tae row's oot tae yon bit shippie.

(2) the smallest pig in a litter (Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ork., m. and s.Sc. 1968).Ayr. 1953 Ayrshire Post (28 Aug.):
Many of these runts simply do not get enough to eat in the struggle for existence that takes place dozens of times every day as the sow lies down to suckle.

4. (1) The tail of an animal; the rump, the upper part of the tail (Gall. 1825 Jam.; Kcb. 1968).Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 50:
She [a cow] cock'd her gaucy runt.

(2) transf. That part of the blade of a scythe which is fastened to the handle.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 429:
The runt must be siccard in the den, so that the [scythe] blade may have a snanging sound.

5. A coarse, gnarled, ill-favoured or unamiable person (Uls. 1953 Traynor), freq. of an old woman, a hag; also as a gen. term of contempt (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1968). Also attrib. and occas. applied to animals.Sc. 1706 Short Survey Married Life 10:
If she be an old Rotten Runt Widow.
Sc. a.1750 Herd's MSS. (Hecht 1904) 159:
I think the auld runt be gane mad.
Bwk. 1821 W. Sutherland Poems 36:
To leave yon winsome lassie gay, And wed a runt, wha's locks are grey?
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 157:
E'en let the runt [Poverty], and a' her train, Gae stamp and rage.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxix.:
Why ye donnered auld runt, how else would I ken?
Ayr. 1896 Gl. to Galt Provost (Meldrum) II. 280:
A big-boned, coarse-minded woman would be called in Ayrshire a runt, “jist a he-bitch”.
Abd. 1920 C. Murray Country Places 33:
There's runts syne o' fifty, o' saxty an' mair, Would hooie their sauls for a kiss an' a clap.
Sh. 1934 W. Moffatt Shetland 20:
A storm of protests from the female members of his household, who see their beloved cows' fodder being wasted on “dem useless runts ov hoorses.”
Bwk. 1947 W. L. Ferguson Makar's Medley 14:
Yon auld runt that ferms “the Lea.”

II. v. Only in ppl.adjs. 1. runtit, -ed, (1) stunted in growth (Ayr., Kcb. 1968); (2) completely deprived of one's possessions, cleared out of cash, made bankrupt. In a game of marbles: having lost all one's marbles to one's opponent (Abd. 1904 E.D.D.; Kcb. 1910; Ayr. c.1930; ne.Sc. 1968); 2. runtin, = 1.(1).1. (1) Ayr. 1786 Burns Poems (Cent. ed.) I. 346:
She was nae get o' runted rams, Wi' woo like gaits, an' legs like trams.
(2) Abd. 1888 Bon-Accord (22 Dept.) 12:
An' noo, afore I'd want it I wad let my pipe be runtit.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 124:
Ill-cled, fair runtit, yappy, sair.
Abd. 1958 Huntly Express (15 Aug.):
He declared they'd a' be runtit wi' the losses 'mon the lambs.
2. Gall. 1881 L. B. Walford Dick Netherby xi.:
Fiend a hait wad he hae o' a puir bit runtin' thing.

[O.Sc. runt, a tree-stump, 1501, of uncertain orig. The v. usages are appar. semantic extensions of the n. but there may be influence from the synonymous Rump, Runk, v.3 In n., 5. there may have been some fusion of sense with Runt, n.2]

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"Runt n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Jun 2022 <>



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