Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SAINT, n. For other Sc. forms see Saunt.

Sc. usages in combs.: 1. St Andrew(†'s), the badge of the Order of the Thistle, which represents St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, and his cross; 2. St Bullion's Day, St Martin's Day, 15th July, which is also St Swithin's Day, and carries the same traditional associations with weather prognostication (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). See Martin Bullion; 3. St Causlan's flaw, a snowstorm in March. See Flaw, n.2, 2.; 4. St Columba's cake, see quot. and A. Carmichael Carmina Gadelica (1928) I. 162; †5. St Faith's cattle, drove, cattle collected, chiefly from Gall., into one large herd and driven by stages to St Faith's Market near Norwich for sale as beef animals in September (see A. R. B. Haldane Drove Roads (1968) 166). Hist.; 6. St John's nut, a double hazel nut, “two nuts growing together in one husk, the possession of which is supposed to secure against witchcraft” (Per., Dmf. 1825 Jam.; Fif. 1880 Jam., Gall. 1925). Also St John, id. (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Cf. 10.; 7. St Johnsto(u)n, a sobriquet for the town of Perth of which St John the Baptist is patron. Phrs. (1) St Johnston's cloth, a kind of dornick or linen cloth formerly made in Perth; (2) St Johnston('s) cravat, — ribbon, — tippet, the hangman's noose or rope (see 1845 quot.); 8. St Kilda, the fulmar petrel, Fulmarus glacialis, so called from its original habitat (Mry. c.1900); 9. St Mary's knot, see Mary, 1. (7); 10. St Mary's nut, a triple hazel nut growing from one husk. Also simply St Mary (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in n.Eng. dial. cf. 6.; 11. St Michael's bannock, — cake, a kind of cake baked in the Hebrides, esp. in the Roman Catholic areas, on Michaelmas Eve, the Struan (see M. M. Banks Cal. Customs III. 83); 12. Saint Mungo' a name for the city of Glasgow of which St Kentigern or Mungo is patron saint. Phr. ¶St Mungo's knot, appar. a kind of knot tied on the tails of cattle to avert witchcraft; 13. St Peter's Staff, the stars in the constellation Orion called Orion's sword (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. Elwand). See also Peter. 1. Sc. 1703  N. H. Nicolas Statutes Order of Thistle (1828):
That the medal of the Order be all of gold, being the St Andrew, bearing before him the Cross of his martyrdom.
Sc. 1732  Caled. Mercury (7 Feb.):
The Lyon marching before him, carrying a Red Velvet Cushion, upon which was the Green Ribbon with the St Andrew's that was sent down from the King.
4. Highl. 1929  F. M. McNeill Sc. Kitchen 175:
St Columba's Cake. A bere, rye, or oaten cake, baked on the eve of St Columba's day (June 9th). A small silver coin was put into the dough, and the cake was toasted before a fire of rowan, yew, oak, or other sacred wood. The child who got the coin got the crop of lambs for the year.
5. Dmf. 1798  Session Papers, Rae v. Campbell (7 Feb.) 6:
The cattle intended to be sold at this fair, are, in the language of drovers, termed the St Faith's drove.
Wgt. 1803  Farmer's Mag. IV. 483:
Those few farmers and graziers among us who hold St Faith's cattle, have set off to England at the head of their own droves.
7. Sc. a.1796  Burns Bonie Dundee i.:
Between Saint Johnston and bonie Dundee.
Abd. 1804  W. Tarras Poems 126:
Tho' Carse o' Gowrie was right gay, Its fertile plain, St Johnston's stay.
Sc. 1828  Scott F. M. Perth iii.:
Better than half his brethren of Saint Johnstoun put together.
(1) Sc. 1711  Acts 10 Anne c.21. § 1:
Each Piece of Linen Cloth, commonly called Saint Johnstons Cloth, when brown or green, . . . shall be made full Yard and Nail.
(2) Sc. 1704  Atholl MSS. (14 Feb.):
A St Johnston ribon had been much fitter for him.
Sc. 1729  Advertisement Town Clerk Perth 2–3:
A Gallows with Protestants hanging on it for Religion's Sake. “Thus our St Johnstoun Ribbons took their Name Whereof we have no reason to think Shame”.
Sc. 1745  Lovat in
Scott Tales of a Grandfather lxxvi.:
Times may change, and I may bring him to the Saint Johnstoun's tippet.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality vii.:
To be sent to heaven wi' a Saint Johnstone's tippit about my hause.
Fif. 1832  Fife Herald (6 Dec.):
A collar to his shirt which will grip him like a St Johnston's cravat.
Per. 1845  Stat. Acc. X. 32:
In 1559, the Earl of Argyle and James Stewart, Prior of St Andrews . . . resolved to prosecute the cause of the Reformation or perish in the attempt. They accordingly set out from Perth for Stirling, attended by three hundred citizens; and, that their determination might appear and influence others, they, instead of ribbons, put ropes about their necks, intimating thereby that whoever of their number should desert their colours should be hanged by the ropes. Hence arose the proverb of “St. Johnstoun's Ribbons”.
Sc. 1935  Sc. N. & Q. (June) 87:
His neck's youkin for the St Johnston ribbon.
10. Sc. 1703  R. Wodrow Early Letters (S.H.S.) 246:
I received yours of the 18 . . . from the bearer with the Saint Mary's nut and oyster stone.
11. Kcb. 1703  M. Martin Descr. W. Isles (1884) 89:
The Papists observe all the festivals of their Church, they have a general cavalcade on All-Saints Day, and then they bake St Michael's cake at night, and the family and strangers eat it at supper.
Heb. 1902  Folk-Lore XIII. 44:
A bannock specially prepared for his festival, “the size of a quern” in circumference, is called the St Michael's Cake.
Heb. 1911  G. Henderson Survivals 258:
The idea of do ut abeas, “I give that thou mayest be gone”, is manifest in the Uist ritual of the St Michael's cake.
12. Sc. 1794  G. Galloway Poems i. 32:
Then shall dead Ru'glen's gloomy vail shrink from St Mungo's door, And Glasgow's sun shall shine as noon on Britain's sea-girt shore.
Gsw. 1843  W. Harvey Chron. St Mungo 192:
The streets of St Mungo have often witnessed the contentions of opposing factions.
Sc. 1850  J. Grant Sc. Cavalier xxiii.:
She could bewitch cattle that were without St Mungo's knot on their tail.
Gsw. 1889  J. Houston Autobiography 149:
What's wrang wi' auld St. Mungo noo?

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"Saint n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Nov 2019 <>



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