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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

SAFT, adj., adv., n. Also sauft. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. soft. See P.L.D. § 54. Hence derivs. saftly, saftness. [sɑft]

I. adj.

Sc. form:wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 12:
Oh quite the philosopher! Well that's me told.
A solomon! A dominie! you're no' saft -
A peety that a' body but yirsel' is daft.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 18:
Fyles ye myurr-myurr to me ma leen,
Yer quaverin myowies thin an smaa,
Sae saft they're scarce a soun' avaa.
Ye're couthy in yer fraisin teen.
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 11:
Seein the saft white wool
She'd pickt up the needles
An stertit tae knit
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 7:
An happit fast wi ye, as weel, yer lug's first sang,
The plash o' Esk an Ewes - saft watry tongues tae lip
The crannies o yer mind, baain lambs in bairnie-clouts
Trummlin at their ain bleat or a cushat's cry.
Arg. 1998 Angus Martin The Song of the Quern 55:
A bleezard oot aff Bennan,
lan nae langer seen;
the Firth a swirl o saftness
lik blossom o the gean.

Sc. usages:

1. In regard to weather: mild, not frosty, in a state of thaw (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc.wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 181:
Should it happen to be saft weather at the time, it'll be impossible for me to leave my garden.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 147:
We've hid a lang sair time o't, bit it's a gueedeness, it's saft the day.
sm.Sc. 1923 R. W. MacKenna Bracken and Thistledown 89:
If the ice still held, Ezra would put a gingerly toe upon it by ejaculating “She's a wee saft”.

2. Wet, rainy, damp (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Edb. 1880 Trans. Philological Soc. 112; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1812 J. Sinclair Systems Husb. Scot. i. Add. 11:
If they [slugs] be attacked when on the surface of the ground, where they are every soft morning in search of food.
Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. xv.:
“A drizzling morning, good madam.” “A fine saft morning for the crap, sir.”
Slg. 1862 D. Taylor Poems 73:
[We] arrived just in time for escapin' saft weather.
Ags. 1888 Barrie Auld Licht Idylls 18:
No one will admit the Scotch mist. It “looks saft”.
Fif. 1896 G. Setoun R. Urquhart ii.:
She has a sair fecht wi' thae broun-keddies i' saft weather.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days xix.:
A nesty saft day, wi' a smirr o' rain.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 150:
“Saft a wee!” says I; “I'm draiglet an' I'm drookit.”
s.Sc. 1937 Border Mag. (Sept.) 141:
We said, “It's soft like”, meaning that it was actually raining.

3. Of cloth: of a loose, soft and pliable texture. Cf. Hard, I. 6.Edb. 1819 Edb. Ev. Courant (11 Oct.) 3:
Hard and soft Tartans, of the various Clans, by the yard or in Cloaks, Mantles, Plaids, &c.

4. Combs.: (1) soft air, stagnant air, a badly-ventilated atmosphere in a coal-mine (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 62); (2) saft biscuit, a kind of plain floury bun or roll with an indentation in the centre (Sc. 1929 F. M. McNeill Sc. Kitchen 182; Ork., n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1969). Freq. in reduced dim. form Saftie, q.v.; (3) soft cake, oatcake baked but not roasted and hence soft in texture, prepared as a specialty for Christmas and New Year; (4) saft dud, a inept, slow-witted, sheepish sort of person. Also in n.Eng. dial. See Dud; (5) saft-eened, sentimental, easily moved to tears. Cf. Eng. soft-eyed; (6) saft-fisted, of an occupation: refined, unmanly, effeminate; (7) saft-hand, a feeble or inexpert person; (8) saft-horn, a novice, inexperienced person, a green-horn (Cai. 1946); (9) soft mark, saft mark, a person easily imposed upon, a soft touch; (10) saft side, in phrs. on or up one's saft side, into one's good graces or favour, to hae a saft side tae, to have a special liking for, to be well disposed to (Sc. 1904 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.; (11) saft-skinned, easily offended, touchy, thin-skinned (Cld. 1882 Jam.). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (12) soft soles, used as an epithet of a soft effeminate man, sc. a “tenderfoot”; (13) saft tabaka, cut tobacco. Cf. III. 3.; (14) saft-veal, a simple-minded person, a ninny, mooncalf; (15) saft win', flattery.(2) Abd. 1868 Bk. Glenbuchat (S.C.) 163:
1 doz. Soft biscuits . . . . . . . . 6d.
(3) ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 157:
Bread of various kinds, “bannocks”, “soor cakes”, “cream cakes”, “facet cakes”, “soft cakes”, was stored up.
(4) m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 171:
He's a saft dud, yon; he has nae grup o' the politics ava.
(5) Dmf. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (July) 384:
Take this saft e'ened young stripling with you, to cheer your loneliness.
(6) Edb. 1900 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-net 6:
It [painting]'s weel eneuch for a diversion, though a wee lassie-like an' saft-fisted.
(7) Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-Gatherer (1874) 63:
His master was a real saft hand at the fishing.
(8) Ayr. 1836 Galt in Tait's Mag. (June) 391:
Ye may think that to say so is rather more like a saft-horn than ye believe I am.
(9)ne.Sc. 1958 Jessie Kesson The White Bird Passes (1987) 10:
"O.K." Gertie became resigned to the inevitable. "Be a soft mark if you like. I'm away for my supper. ..."
Ags. 1990s:
Saft Mark: n. person easily imposed upon.
Edb. 1991:
You're a right soft mark when it comes to that wee boy.
Sc. 1998 Edinburgh Evening News (16 May) 11:
So how on earth, with more than a little warning, has the city council managed to get itself stuck between a rock and a hard-faced, go-getting group of contractors out for a fast buck and well able to spot a soft mark when they see one?
Sc. 1999 Herald (26 Jan) 18:
The period of Peter's headship was very much a time of change. He was one of the first in residential care to ban corporal punishment, yet he was no "soft mark".
Sc. 2000 Herald (26 Jun) 19:
"What use is a sooker coo wi nae milk? Get her down to the cull and collect your £300," he would say and wonder how his daughter would finance her old age with such a soft mark for a husband.
Sc. 2004 Evening Times (10 Apr) 28:
When the draw was made for the quarter-finals, every other team wanted Caley, thinking they were the soft mark. But Motherwell found otherwise to their cost.
(10) Abd. 1922 Wkly. Free Press (7 Jan.) 1:
Aw aye thocht ye hid a saft side t' me, Jeanie.
Abd.1 1929:
He wis a mealy-mou't customer an' aye lookit tae get up a body's saft side.
(12) Slk. 1824 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) xii.:
“What was the bridegroom like?” “A soft-soles — milk-and-water”.
(13) Sh. 1897 Shetland News (18 Dec.):
A pritty colour'd cash, spleetin' fou o' saft tabaka.
(14) Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 201:
Clever ye, lassock, an' no staun an' gape there in my face like a muckle saft-veal!
(15) Rnf. 1895 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 131:
In our lugs saft win' they blaw.

II. adv. In a peaceable quiet state. Phr. to sit soft, to live on peaceful terms (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 20:
Thay canna sit soft; they're aye natterin an fechtin.

III. n. 1. A thaw; rain, moisture (Ags., Per., Lnk., Ayr. 1969). See I. 1. and 2.Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 33, 83:
Oho, boys, oho, for a day at the ice, When auld, snell Daddy Frost hauds a' saft in his vice . . . As slateless laft lets in the saft.

2. Ale, as opposed to whisky (Sc. 1904 E.D.D.). Cf. Hard, II. 4.Lnk. 1890 J. Coghill Poems 128:
Ne'er a sup o' saft or hard to drink But ginger, lemonade, an' sic-like trash.

3. Cut tobacco. Cf. I. 4. (12).Sh. 1900 Shetland News (14 April):
Will you take a fill of soft, Magnus? You always smoke twist, I think.

[O.Sc. saft, soft, 1596.]

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"Saft adj., adv., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Jun 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/saft>

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