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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SAUNT, n., v. Also sant (Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 683; Ork. 1882 Jam., Sh., Ork., Bnff., Abd., Ags. 1969); saant (Sh.); arch. sanct, saunct. Sc. forms of Eng. saint. See also Saint. [sǫnt, sɑnt]

I. n. As in Eng., a saint, a holy person; one of the elect in the Calvinistic sense, often in allusion to the Covenanters (in this meaning derived from 17th-c. Eng. puritan usage). Derivs. sancthood, sauntlin, a little saint, sauntly, sanctly, saintly (Ags. 1879 J. Y. Geddes New Jerusalem 111), sancty, holy, sanctified. Also sauntlik.Sc. 1724 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 83:
With Baird thre Quarters skant, . . . He seemt to be a Sanct.
Ayr. 1784 Burns Ep. to J. Rankine ii.:
Ye mak a devil o' the Saunts, An' fill them fou.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xix.:
To take a' the idolatrous statues of sants out o' their neuks.
Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 15:
As gif there wasna nae paper sancty eneuch to licht pipes wi' forby the minister's sermon beuks.
Lth. 1854 M. Oliphant M. Hepburn xxix.:
They're scrimpit with their sancthood, the holy grey freers.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
The perishin' cauld chalmers [dungeons] were all occupied wi' sants and martyrs.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 36:
Like mony a man wi mair pretension tae bein a saunt.
Ags. 1903 W. Allan Love & Labour 21:
Like sauntlin's sma' we took our seats, an' thocht, wi' reverent air, The minister a fearfu' man, gaun up the poopit stair.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 134:
I'm gled I'm sic a santly chiel.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 151:
If dat widna vex da sowl o' a saant.
ne.Sc. 1979 Alexander Scott in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 70:
Our Scottish saunt
had a sair want
- got crucifeed,
he stuid on's heid.
Sc. 1983 John McDonald in Joy Hendry Chapman 37 44:
Sit doun,
pit doun yer heidy wecht
o sanctly whigmaleeries
Fif. 1998 Tom Hubbard Isolde's Luve-Daith 4:
We twa cuid ken nae saucht whaur a sauntlik king
Warkt guid ti ilka body baur himsel;
Whaur aa collogued fir cheatrie baur himsel

Phrs. a saunt of Sandy Lyalls, — Sawney Lyons, a worthless person, a reprobate, a sanctimonious hypocrite (ne.Sc. 1888 Sc. N. and Q. (1st Ser.) II. 91). Various explanations are offered in Sc. N. and Q. (1st Ser.) III. 158, 191.Abd.7 1930:
A saunt o Sannie Lyons, for they were deevils wi gweedness — said of one who never pleaded guilty to a fault.

II. v. 1. intr. To disappear, to vanish, esp. in a sudden or mysterious manner, to be silently swallowed up; “it is applied to spectres as well as to material objects” (Slk. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W. -B., 1954 Hawick News (18 June) 7; ‡Sh., Bwk. (saint), s.Sc. 1969).Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 56:
Neither sae sinfu' as to sink, nor so haly as to saunt.
Sc. 1802 The Wee Wee Man in Child Ballads No. 38. C.viii.:
In the twinkling o an eye, They sainted clean awa.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-Gatherer (1874) 70:
What's come o' my hare now? Is she santit? or yirdit? or flown awa?
Dmf. 1894 J. Cunningham Broomieburn 118:
Wi' that the de'il an' the uncanny things saunted.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W. -B.:
The ramper-eel made a drummle an' santit.
Rxb. 1947 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 34:
Gray also encountered a spectre near the manse whom he addressed in the doric: “Ye'll no fash mei”. And then, says Gray, “she santed”.
Fif. 1992 Simon Taylor Mortimer's Deep 252:
'...He comes owr tae us, talkin on the water he wis, an raxes owr an taks the deid-kist wi ane hand, an aa the rapes brak, and he coosts it owr the side, jaist like Donald said, like it was a dod o sharn. An syne he jaist saintit like sea-bree.

2. tr. To cause to vanish or disappear in a quick or inexplicable manner, to spirit away (Sh. 1969).s.Sc. 1840 Tait's Mag. (Dec.) 783:
They [fairies] wad think naething o' santin' him i' the middle o' the road.
Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (15 May) 476:
It's as queer a case as auld Sandy Lamb's, that was sauntit away to the tap o' Tintock, i' the swuff o' a hawk's wing.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
Na, I'll never fin 'm; he's been santet.
Sh. 1964 Norden Lichts 15:
Till my lang-santet hert wins back Whaar winds sall never blaa.

[The form has been influenced in phonology and spelling by Lat. sanctus. The verbal usage may poss. be a different word of unknown orig. but the first and second quots. support association with Saunt, n., on the assumption, as suggested by Jamieson, of the orig. in the sudden mysterious appearance and disappearance of saints in visions, as it were ghosts or spirits.]

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"Saunt n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Apr 2024 <>



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