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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.

SAUT, n., adj., v. Also sa(a)t, sawt; saht-. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. salt. See P.L.D. § 78. [sǫ:t, sɑ:t]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., freq, in proverbial sayings, similes, etc.: like saut in a plate, motionless; saltless luck, see 1838 quot.; to carry sawt to Dysart, to carry coals to Newcastle, perform some useless act of supererogation. See 2. (3). Also attrib. Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 65:
That's carrying sawt to Dysart, and puddings to Tranent.
Sc. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (May) 159:
I have had saltless luck — the hare nae langer loves to browze on the green dewy blade o' the clover.
Gall. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 273:
The phrase saltless tuck, bad luck, is supposed to refer to a very odd supersitition, which still prevails in Galloway, of putting salt clandestinely into the pocket of a person going on any important business, as when a bridegroom sets off to bring home his bride. This is meant to ensure good luck. If this be neglected, when anything happens untowardly, it is ascribed to the want of so powerful a charm. Salt is thrown into the milk-pail as a good omen for procuring butter in consequence of churning. It is also cast upon a cow when going to a new master or farm.
w.Sc. 1855 N. and Q. XII. 200:
Help me to saut! Help me to sorrow!
Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore 155:
“I wush to peace we could get saut” was a saying at one time pretty often heard about Whithorn, — employed to signify that the speaker was not financially in a position to indulge in luxuries.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden (1922) 93:
We a' sat like saut in a plate.
Gsw. 1930 Neil Munro Erchie & Jimmy Swan (1993) 112:
'Tak' a watter biscuit,' Jinnet pressed me as we sat at the table; 'they're awfu' nice wi' saut butter.'
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 4:
My son kens Tartuffe is worth his saut!
He'd raither you were in God's Good Grace
Than daunerin' doon your ain paths tae the Other Place.
ne.Sc. 2003 Press and Journal 27 Oct 12:
... a three tablespeens o oatmeal, a pickie o saut, a steer up wi caul waater fae aneth the tap tae haud awa fae the lumps, poor in the bilin waater, on tae the haet ring an steer like hell!
ne.Sc. 2004 Press and Journal 4 Oct 12:
The saut tears were tricklin doon ma chicks a feow times, ...

2. Combs.: (1) saut-backet, a salt-box, now usu. one with a flat back and a curved front made to hang on the wall near the fire-place (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 147; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 265; ne.Sc., em.Sc. (a) 1969). Also fig. of a house of this shape with a bow front; (2) saut basher, a workman in the metal industry who scrapes or breaks away the oxidised metal from the insides of boilers (Lnk. 1948); (3) salt burned, see quot.; (4) salt cadger, an itinerant seller of salt; (5) saat cuddie, a receptacle for salt made from plaited straw, see Cuddie, n.2 (Sh. 1969); (6) saut-dish, a salt-cellar (Ork., Cai., ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1969); (7) saut-fat, -f(a)ut, -fit, -foot, -¶vat, id. (Sc. 1798 Monthly Mag. II. 437, 1882 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; I.Sc., Cai., Ags., Per., Fif. 1969). See Fat, n.1 Phr. in saultfat, in pickle, preserved, disposed of; (8) salt-girnel, (i) a store-house for salt; (ii) a salt-box, = (1) (Per. 1969). See Girnel, 1. and 2.; †(9) salt-grieve, a manager or supervisor of salt-pans and salt manufacture; (10) sawt kist, = (8) (ii); (11) sautman, = (4) (Cai. 1969, obs.); (12) saut meg, a soubriquet for a female salt-seller; (13) saut-poke, a leather bag for holding salt in a kitchen; (14) salt-wife, a female salthawker (m.Lth. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 23). Cf. (4) and (11); (15) saut-willie, a jar for holding salt (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 263; Fif. 1969); (16) the saut burgh, a nickname for the town of Dysart in Fife, once a centre of the salt trade in Scotland (see quot. and 1736 quot. under 1.).(1) Sc. 1727 A. Pennecuik Coll. Songs (1750) 16:
I spake nae mair than our Salt-backit.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Grose's Peregrin. vi.:
Parritch-pats and auld saut-backets.
Gall. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 273:
In flitting, the cat and the saut-backet, or salt-box, as the luckiest representatives of the goods and gear belonging to the family are put upon the first cart in which the furniture is carried away, and first taken in to the new habitation.
Ags. 1866 D. Mitchell Hist. Montrose 80:
It is to be hoped that all the old saut backets in Castle Street will give place to more substantial buildings.
ne.Sc. 1874 W. Gregor Olden Time 17:
In the other was a wooden box in the shape of a house, with a round hole in the exposed end. It was the saat backet.
Ags. 1932 Barrie Farewell Miss J. Logan 2:
Folk who are used to the travail of out of doors and take ill with having to squat by the saut-backet.
Abd. 1955 Abd. Press & Jnl. (5 March):
I had to sit on the saut backet in the neuk. It was a wooden box about the size of a log box.
(3) Sc. 1775 J. Fea Method of Fishing (1884) 152:
If too much salt is put on the fish, it will shew, by their being what is called Salt burned, and the salt appearing candied upon them.
(4) wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 89:
The “Sauter” or Salt-cadger, as he is called in some districts.
(5) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 187:
Strae is for mony a guid öse, particularly ta mak' saat cuddies o'.
(6) Ayr. 1836 J. Ramsay Woodnotes (1848) 244:
Her wants will be set to a very heigh tune, Maybe for a saut-dish she'll seek the auld moon.
(7) Rnf. 1760 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1876) I. 155:
Nine Trenchers. Ane Timber Saltfat.
Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery ix.:
The sooner the skin is off, and he is in saultfat, the less like you are to have trouble.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man I. ii.:
Mak that bowiefu'o' cauld plovers change places wi' yon saut-faut instantly.
Sc. 1863 R. Chambers Bk. Days I. 647:
One of the customs of great houses, in former times, was to place a large ornamental salt-vat (commonly but erroneously called salt-foot) upon the table, about the centre, to mark the part below which it was proper for tenants and dependents to sit.
Ags. 1948 J. C. Rodger Mary Ann 32:
Fancy onybody settin' doon a tummler for a saut-fut!
(8) (i) Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife (1803) 346:
For this herring trade they have provided themselves with cellars, salt-girnels, and other ware-houses proper.
(ii) Fif. 1899 Proc. Philosoph. Soc. Gsw. xxx. 55:
The saut-girnel in the jambs.
wm.Sc. 1988 Christine Marion Fraser Storm over Rhanna (1990) 204:
'Ay, like you wi' your innocent wee cough bottles hidin' in the salt girnel!'
(9) Sc. 1747 Caled. Mercury (16 July):
John Walker Salt-Grieve at Leven in Fife.
(10) Bnff. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 59:
A guid sawt kist ayont the fire.
(11) Dmf. 1822 A. Cunningham Tales I. 304:
Lang Sandie Frizel the Sautman.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 60:
Sandy Pae, the mautman, Is drinkin' wi' the sautman.
(12) Ayr. 1909 P. C. Carragher Saltcoats 2:
The cottar and his ‘saut meg'.
(13) Sc. 1825 Lockhart Scott lxii.:
As impossible that there should not be a good library in every decent house in Britain as that the shepherd's ingle-nook should want the saut poke.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. v.:
Wad ye hae him to sit like a sautpowk, ay, at the ingle side?
(14) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xl.:
Ye wad hae kend nae odds on her frae ony other saut-wife.
(16) Fif. 1912 A. S. Cunningham Dysart 6:
The red-roofed houses which existed when Dysart was called “The Saut Burgh”.
Sc. 1953 Bulletin (17 Nov.) 6:
As long ago as 1450 Dysart's “canty carles” were making salt and shipping it to many parts of Scotland and England, and abroad as well. This trade earned Dysart the name of the Saut Burgh.

3. Phrs.: (1) nae sma saut, = Eng. “no small beer”, of some importance or worth (Ags., Per., Fif. 1969); (2) saut to or for one's kail or (rarely) brose, parritch, pottage, the bare necessaries of life, a mere existence, just enough to live on, gen. proverbially with verbs to buy, earn, get, hae, mak (Sc. 1882 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; (3) saut's sel, excessively salt. See Sel, I. 1. (4); (4) the thing that makes the kail salt, the ground of the quarrel, the essence of the grievance (n.Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis); (5) to eat a peck o saut, fig., to acquire strength or energy (for some task) (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 230); (6) to lay (a thing) in saut, to pickle; to lay something by for future use, keep in reserve; freq. in threats of something unpleasant, with till: “to have a rod in pickle” for. The intr. form is to lie in saut.(2) Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 65:
He can nae buy sa't for's parritch.
Lth. 1864 M. Oliphant Katie Stewart xiii.:
If you canna be done wi'that pickle tatties the day, ye'll ne'er make saut to your kail.
Lth. 1888 D. Carmichael Cosietattle 137:
Nae sau't-for-kail wabs for auld Tonal' M'Phee!
wm.Sc. 1888 Anon. Archie MacNab 43:
The salary he received didna keep him in saut for his kail.
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong Robbie Rankine 40:
Newly hame frae New Zealan' where he wasna able to mak saut to his kail.
Per. 1904 R. Ford Hum. Sc. Stories 38:
I ha'ena made sawt to my kail this past winter.
Abd. 1952 Buchan Observer (2 Sept.):
The chiels in question just “winda hae made saut tae their pottage, far less shear a stint.”
(5) Abd. 1904 E.D.D.:
Ye'll need to eat a few pecks o' saut afore ye're able to do this.
(6) Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 225:
I hae layen three herring a' sa't.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 48:
The Blair Cove and Glesco will baith o' them keep — I've laid them in saut.
Sh. 1898 W. F. Clark Northern Gleams 154:
When they got outside they vowed vengeance. “We'll lay yon in saut till him”, said Alec.
Sh. 1969:
He's lyin in saat fur dee = You'll catch it.

4. The sea.Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 315:
Gie me the jaup o' the dear auld saut.

5. Fig. Bitter consequences, retribution, smart; sharp, stinging words, sarcasm.Mry. 1806 J. Cock Simple Strains 14, 137:
Next, a wee bit luckless sa't Breeds a' her scorn . . . Whilk gars his nipour aften rue, And dree the sa't.

II. adj. 1. As in Eng., made of or impregnated with salt. Combs.: (1) saatbrakk, surf, broken water on the shore (Sh. 1969). See Brak, n., 3.; (2) saut-bree, salt water, water in which salt has been mixed or boiled (Sh., ne.Sc. 1969); (3) salt cake, a kind of pancake baked on Shrove Tuesday. See Sautie; †(4) saut collop, any small costly article (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in Nhb. dial.; †(5) salt-faill, -feal, turf growing by the sea-side and freq. wetted by salt-water or spume. See Fail, n.1; (6) salt-grass, id. Also in n.Eng. dial.; ¶(7) saut-mou'd, salt-mouthed; (8) saut-water, the sea-side, esp. as a place for holidaying or recuperation. Hence saut-waterers, saut-water-folks, seaside holidaymakers, specif. on the Clyde coast. Comb. salt-water-fleuk, the dab, Limanda limanda (Lth. 1811 Wernerian Soc. Mem. I. 536).(1) Sh. 1956 New Shetlander No. 43. 22:
The saatbrakk is white on the Skerries and humms and baa's.
(2) Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 263:
Upon the ocean's angry tide . . . Wi' her saut-bree.
(3) Ayr. 1780 Maybole Session Rec. MS. (3 Dec.):
He and McKail came in to get some salt kakes bak'd it being fastens even.
(5) Abd. 1709 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VII. 112:
For a load of salt-faill at kitchen.
Slg. 1783 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. (1921) 186:
To cause William Dawson, gardener and keeper of the said [bowling-] green, to lay the same with salt faill.
Abd. 1795 Session Papers, Leslie v. Fraser (29 March 1805) 58:
The fish or corf house above mentioned, was repaired by salt-feal and divot, whereever they could be had along the water-side.
(6) Clc. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 612 note:
To secure the old saltgrass, as well as to make a new acquisition of 50 acres, Mr. Erskine of Mar began a new bank or wall.
(7) Abd. 1924 M. Angus Tinkers'Road 31:
Syne saft wad she maen, Yon saut-mou'd sea.
(8) Rnf. 1832 Fraser's Mag. (July) 692:
The “gaussey saut-waterers” — meaning those decent families that go to Gourocke, Hellensburgh, etc., at the sea-side for ten days or a fortnight, and dook five times a day.
Fif. c.1850 Peattie MS.:
She's awa' takkin' a raith at the saut watter.
Bnff. 1887 G. G. Green Gordonhaven iv.:
‘Saut watter' folks from the landward region of Peatmoor.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie xii.:
For the complete healing of the disease, we had to remove to the salt water at Irvine.

2. Fig. Harsh, biting, sarcastic, unkind, of speech or manner (ne.Sc., Ags., Per., wm.Sc., Kcb. 1969); of prices, costs, etc.: dear, extortionate, stinging (Sc. 1808 Jam.; n., m. and s.Sc. 1969); hard, unfair. Also adv. Adv. sautly, dearly, to one's cost.n.Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
I shall make it salt to you, i.e. I shall make you pay dear for it.
Bnff. 1856 J. Collie Poems 139:
Faith I thought you rather saut On my last letter.
Gsw. 1868 J. Young Poems 32:
But oh! I sautly paid indeed Ere mornin', for my thievish greed.
Lnk. 1880 Clydesdale Readings 79:
It wuz a maist reprehensible oversicht, an' sautly did I pay for't.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden (1922) 23:
If we've peyed gey saut for the tnock, I got a capital bargain o' the sofa at ony rate.
Abd.1 1920:
He thocht it fell saat tae paey idder folk's debts wi' his hard won bawbees.
ne.Sc. 1957 Mearns Leader (31 May):
He [a policeman] dis rael weel, ye ken; bit fyles gey saut wi' tramps.
ne.Sc. 1979 Alastair Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 63:
that I was boddomed on the saut rigours o your law -
to be vast and various
and yet fixed to the foonds.

3. Sore, painful, severe, bitter. In other versions of the ballad in the first quot. below the reading is sair or sharp. Phr. a saut scone, fig., a cause of grief or regret.Sc. 1825 Queen's Marie in Jam.:
It's naething but a saut sickness That's like to gar me die.
Lnk. 1886 A. G. Murdoch Readings (1889) iii. 108:
I can speak o't frae a saut personal experience.
Kcb. 1968:
He was a saut scone tae his auld folk.
m.Sc. 1991 Robert Calder in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 139:
Weel kennt it is Eck bous for nane:
folk wee as he is nane. The faut
is Eck's that aye in snaw, wund, rain,
he bou'd til nobs: the price gey saut
wes that his back set stiff frae end til end
straucht as a pincil, canna bend!

III. v. 1. As in Eng.; to preserve in salt, pickle, to sprinkle with salt. Also fig. to season, give a marked flavour or character to, to intensify in some way. Phrs.: sautit an' set by, preserved in a certain state and laid aside, fig. said of a spinster unlikely to be married; to saut one's brose, -kail, to make things unpleasant for, take revenge on.Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 83:
For the Yule-feast a sautit mart's prepar'd.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. viii.:
They were no just common herring neither, being every ane melters, and sauted with uncommon care by the house keeper.
Ayr. a.1855 Carrick Anthol. (Finlayson) 109:
She seasoned and sautit The wife to her min'.
Mry. 1865 W. Tester Poems 129:
Weel wat I he'd saut her kail, For deil ane daur gang nigh him.
Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 333:
This new Paurleement's sae peppered and sauted with lawyers.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 135:
If we hae thirty cran, ye'll git as mony as ye'll saat fir da winter.
Abd. 1933 N. Shepherd Pass in Grampians i.:
Ay, that'll salt his brose.
Abd. 1954 Buchan Observer (2 Nov.):
She mith be regairdit as bein saatit an' set by as far as gettin a man.

Derivs.: sauter, salter, a worker at salt-pans, a salt-maker (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 263); a hawker of salt. Comb. †salter-kate, see 1838 quot.; †saltery, a salt-works.Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife (1803) 92:
The neighbouring fishing-men and salters.
Ayr. 1763 Burgh Rec. Prestwick (1834) 95:
Erecting a salt pan one or more on the sea coast, . . . with some grounds for building houses on and yeards for the salters.
Sc. 1799 Acts 39 Geo. III. c.56:
Before the passing of an Act of the fifteenth Year of his present Majesty [1775], many Colliers, Coal Bearers, and Salters, were bound for Life to, and transferrable with, the Collieries and Salt Works where they worked.
Sc. 1805 R. Forsyth Beauties Scot. III. 511:
The small coal used to heat the salt-pans is universally called wood by the salters on the eastern coast of Scotland.
Fif. 1830 A. Stewart Dunfermline (1889) 171:
Come awa' in bye, sauter, we're glad to see ye; we hav'na haen a lick o' saut for twa three days.
wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 89:
Previous to the reduction of the duty on salt, those who prosecuted the sale of it as an exclusive business, required to be possessed of considerable capital, and the Sauter was a man of some consequence.
Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 156:
Salter-kate. A small hole in the sack or bag in which salt was carried through the country for sale, from which the quantity required was taken for the purchaser; the kate, or hole, being fastened by a hob-nail.
e.Lth. 1899 H. G. Graham Social Life I. 228:
The salteries of Prestonpans, where the salters were bondsmen for life.
w.Lth. 1925 H. M. Cadell Rocks W. Lth. 321:
The old race of salters is now extinct in this county.

2. To punish, take revenge; to snub, repress, treat severely (Abd. 1825 Jam.); in money matters: to overcharge, “sting”. Gen.Sc. Deriv. sauter, sahter, a shrew, termagant, scold; harsh or severe punishment, a “stinger” (Ags. 1964 D. Phillips Hud Yer Tongue 57; Abd., Kcd., Ags., Per. 1969), as of misfortune, criticism, etc.Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 163:
Tho' they should dearly pay the kane, An' get their tails weel sautit.
Gsw. 1793 R. Gray Poems 32:
On ilka face nought smilt but joy, Although with wark fair sautit.
Dmf. 1863 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 188:
Though mony a box ye'd sent tae Knox, Ane micht be dearly sauted.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb iii.:
Ye'll maybe fin't she's a sauter.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 13:
A paid ma laween (it was naething owre-the-maitter — A wasna saateet).
Slg. 1952:
There's little encouragement tae save nooadays, whan fowk are sae sautit wi Income Tax.

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