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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SEAT, n. Also sate (Gsw. 1713 Records Trades Ho. (Lumsden 1934) 5; Sc. 1818 S. Ferrier Marriage II. xi.; m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 50, 146; Rxb. 1895 J. B. Webber Rambles 17; Gsw. 1902 J. J. Bell Wee Macgreegor xi.); sait (e.Lth. 1811 Foord Acct. Bk. MS. 101; Lnk. 1923 G. Rae Langsyne in Braefoot vi.); saet (Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 26); seet (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.), seit (Cai. 1925 John o' Groat Jnl. (13 Feb.)). Sc. usages. [sit; I. and em. Sc. (a). wm.Sc. set; Cai. seɪt]

1. As in Eng. Sc. combs. and phrs.: (1) seat-board, (i) the weaver's seat in a hand-loom, = (8); (ii) the seat-plate on which the needles descend in a jacquard loom (Ayr. 1951); (2) seat-breast, the front of a church pew; (3) seat-house, the dwelling-place or manor-house on a small estate (Lth. 1825 Jam). Cf. Sit, v., 5. (3); (4) seat-maill, -meall, the rent paid for the use of a seat in church, seat-rent. See Mail, n.1, and (6); (5) seat o' wark, a job as a cobbler, a post with a shoemaker; (6) seat-rent, = (4) above. Gen.Sc. but the practice is now obsol.; (7) seat-room, room to sit; (8) seat-tree, = (1) (i); (9) to tak a seat, fig., of part of a coal-face: to slip, subside, “sit down”. Cf. Sit.(1) (i) Ayr. 1891 H. Johnston Kilmallie I. i.:
He had grown almost sufficiently to warrant his elevation to the “seat-board”.
(2) Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 98:
Some their heads laid on their looff, On their seat breast, an' sleepit.
(3) m.Lth. 1728 Caled. Mercury (17 Sept.):
The Room and Lands of Easter-Hartburnhead, with a convenient Seat-house 2 Stories high of 6 Rooms.
(4) Ags. 1729 W. M. Inglis Angus Par. (1904) 107:
All who have taken new seats, should attend on Thursday next by 10 o' clock to pay the seat meall.
Fif. 18th c. Scots Mag. (Aug. 1932) 367:
Its “seat maills,” that is, its income from its own pew in Cellardyke Parish Kirk.
(5) Ags. 1896 Arbroath Herald (13 June) 3:
A stranger chappie cam' an' got a seat o' wark wi' the master I was wi'.
(6) Sc. 1700 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 300:
Wairned before the dean of gild court for there seat rents.
Sc. 1824 Scots Mag. (June) 691:
The claim for seat-rents is inconsistent with every notion we can form of an Established Church.
Sc. 1903 J. M. Duncan Parochial Eccles. Law Scot. 163:
The application of such seat-rents toward the repair and maintenance of the parish church.
(7) Ayr. 1868 J. K. Hunter Artist's Life 107:
Any place where I would get seatroom.
(8) Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 54:
Go, . . . live o'er a Seat-tree on nought.
Rnf. 1847 Rnf. Mag. (April) 285:
The visionary schemes, the air-built castles, constructed upon the seat-trees of Paisley.
Fif. 1894 A. S. Robertson Provost 127:
Tammas was sitting on his seat-tree, adjusting a new pirn in his shuttle.
(9) Fif. 1963 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 141:
It wis a noisy coal, ye see. Aye creakin' an' spittin', an' bits fleein' aff the face like bullets but that wis just its way o' lettin' ye ken it wis goin' tae tak' a seat.

2. A period of sitting, the sitting of a court or other deliberative body. Now only dial. in Eng.Sc. 1824 Lockhart Scott lx.:
One of my colleagues is laid up with the gout, and this gives me long seats in the Court.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie iii.:
We had had a long seat in the Boar's Head hearing reports frae the delegates.

3. An obs. name of the Court of Session. Hence Lord of Seat, a judge in the Court of Session. See Lord, 2. (23).Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian iv.:
“Is he a lord of state, or a lord of seat?” . . . “A lord of seat — a lord of session.”
Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Kincaid's Widow xx.:
Though the forest lairds were of long descent, lords of ‘sess' were commoner among them than lords of ‘seat'.

4. One of the boards over the bottom of a boat (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.).

5. The leather back-band of a draught-horse's harness, the part that goes round the horse's legs under the tail, the breeching (Abd., Ayr. 1969).

6. The fire-place of a whisky still.Sc. 1798 Report on Distilleries Scot. 447:
What is meant by the seat of the Still? The fireplace that the Still is built upon.

7. A setting or clutch of eggs. Also in Eng. dial.s.Sc. c.1830 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1916) 60:
Your hen's bringing out all their seat of eggs.

8. A fishing-ground (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1969). See also Seddick.Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.:
The fishermen in Shetland call a place in which they fish with hand-lines, a seat, a hand-line seat.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 130:
The fishing grounds were marked by cross meiths, so as to find the exact spot. These were called klakaskurrs, and sometimes seats, and were named chiefly from their landmarks.

9. A name for a high, gen. saddle-shaped and conspicuous hill esp. in place-names, as Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, King's Seat in the Sidlaws in Ags., Morven Seat in Cai. Cf. Gael. suidhe, seat, sim. used.

[O.Sc. the seyte, the (later) Court of Session, q.v., 1496, sete-hous, 1594. In 8. prob. a translation of Norw. dial. seta, fishing-ground.]

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"Seat n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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