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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SEED, n., v. Sc. usages. For other forms see Sid.

I. n. 1. As in Eng. Combs. and derivs.: (1) seedack, the hedge-sparrow, Accentor modularis, seeds being its chief food (Mry. 1948); (2) seed-bake, a biscuit or bun flavoured with caraway seeds (Slg., Ayr. 1969); (3) seed-bed, see quot.; (4) seed-bird, (i) the wagtail, Motacilla, applied both to the pied (white) or grey (yellow) varieties (Bwk. 1881 Proc. Nat. Hist. Soc. Gsw. 136; Slk. 1969), from their appearance about the time of seed-sowing; (ii) any sea-bird which appears inland at this time (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). This may have originated in a misunderstanding of (i); (5) seed-faerdy, of grain: fit for use as seed, sowable (Sh. 1969); (6) Seed Fair, a fair formerly held at Fortingall in Perthshire (see quot.); (7) seed-fiddler, see quot.; (8) seed-foullie, = (4) (i) (Sc. 1808 Jam.). See Fool; (9) seed-fur, the furrow into which grain is to be sown and harrowed (n.Sc. 1969); specif. a special furrow, as in 1955 quot. (Ork. 1969). Also as a v. to make a seed-furrow; (10) seed-lady, the pied wagtail, Motacilla flava rayi (Peb. 1881 Proc. Nat. Hist. Soc. Gsw. 136; Ayr. 1929 Paton and Pike Birds Ayr. 41, Ayr. 1969). Cf. (4) (i); (11) seed-laverock, id. (Lnk. 1825 Jam.); (12) seed-like, of soil: appearing fit to receive seed, ready for sowing (Cai., Bnff. 1969); (13) seedsman, a sower of seed. Now only dial. in Eng. Chiefly in poet. usage.(3) Kcd. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XI. 273:
Beds of red clay, with and without nodules of concretionary limestone, called by the lime-workers the seed-bed.
(4) (i) Rxb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 76:
The birds of passage are, the King's-fisher, water crow, white and yellow seed birds.
Lnk. 1865 Zoologist XXIII. 9680:
This species [grey wagtail] is here a summer migrant, leaving late in autumn and returning about the sowing time, whence probably its local name of “seed-bird”.
(ii) Rxb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 I. 67:
Sea fowls appear here in great numbers in the spring, about seed time; they follow the plough, and are thence called seed-birds.
(5) Sh. 1898 Shetland News (9 April):
I haena a shaef parteenin' tu me 'at's seed faerdy.
(6) Per. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 X. 557:
There is another fair held at Kirkton, about the end of April, called the “Seed Fair,” because the tenants and others resort to it for their lintseed, clover-seed, &c.
(7) Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 160:
Seed-fiddler. The designation given to a sort of minstrel, who, in the spring-season, used to migrate from one farm to another, supplying the family with mirth and music for which they expected in return a supply of grain; continuing their circuit, they obtained as much as would sow their small portion of land.
(9) e.Lth. 1699 Countrey-man's Rudiments 18:
Harrow it [clay ground] well after the first Frost, seedfur and sow it some time in February.
Sc. 1743 R. Maxwell Select. Trans. 83:
In the Spring give a Steering-fur, as it is called; then the seed-fur; then sow Barley or Bear, with Grass-seeds.
Gall. 1955:
In the days of hand-sowing the ploughman made every 15th fur a seed-fur — a shallow scratch only, which served as a marker to the sower to prevent overlapping. 15 furs was what he sowed at one time.
(12) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 230:
The laan's growin' real seed-like within the last ook.
(13) Ayr. 1787 Burns Again rejoicing Nature iii.:
Wi' joy the tentie seedsman stalks.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 152:
The seedsman's slow hum as he scatters his oats.
Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 24:
The seedsman had scatterer'd the handfu's abroad.

2. The time of sowing, seed-time, spring, gen. prefixed by the name of the particular grain to be sown (see Ait, 3., Bear, 2., Oat, 7.).Sc. 1746 D. Warrand More Culloden Papers V. 77:
Should my Son's Company be called out till Bear seed is over.
Sc. 1760 Faculty Decisions II. 484:
As soon as the bear-seed is over, which is scarce before the end of June.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 87, 128:
Before the seed I sell'd my ferra cow. . . . Whistle to the plough and harrows At barley seed.

3. An ancestor, progenitor, forebear (Cai. 1969). Also in Ir. dial.Cai. 1932 John o' Groat Jnl. (18 Nov.):
Hid's me 'at kens every seed o' ye on yir faither's side.

4. Gen. in pl.: the husks of grain, esp. oats, separated by grinding, a bran particle (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ork., Ags., em.Sc. (b), Gall. 1969), gen. used to make Sowans. For n. Sc. form see Sid. Also in n.Eng. dial. Phr. a seed in one's teeth, or throat, something that irritates or annoys one, “a flea in one's ear” (Sc. 1799 H. Mitchell Scotticisms 73, -throat). Combs. seed-fire, a fire made with oat-husks in a corn-kiln; seed-hill, a rising piece of ground on which corn was formerly threshed and winnowed, a sheelin hill s.v. Sheel. Found in place-names, cf. Seedhill in Paisley.Gsw. 1754 Glasgow Past & Present (1884) II. 533:
A peck of good bran, or new sowan seeds.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 36:
Your groat meal, and gray meal, sand dust and seeds.
Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XII. 288 note:
The circular redoubt on the S.E. acclivity of the seed-hill of Auchaber.
Kcd. 1813 G. Robertson Agric. Kcd. 431:
Sowens or sweens, or flummery. . . . Here it is made from the seeds or husks that are sifted from the oat meal at the mill.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 87:
An hollow tube made of Boretree used by kill-men to blow through, and rouse their seed fires, or fires fed by the husks of corn.
Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 160:
“He gaed hame wi' a seed in his teeth,” i.e. He went off or left the company under a painful feeling or in an irritated state of mind, like one who, after eating, cannot rest till he free his teeth from a vexatious seed that has made a lodgement between two of them.
Hdg. 1848 A. Somerville Autobiog. Working Man 44:
The duty being to sift the fragments of inner skin or “seeds” from the meal as it passed through the mill.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 148:
Even the seeds sifted from the bannock are sometimes paid.
Dmf. 1937 T. Henderson Lockerbie 61:
That's a seed in their teeth.

Hence seedie, -y, seda-, sedi-, full of oat-husks. Combs. seedy-broo, (i) Sowens in their first state of preparation while the husks are still floating on the top of the liquid (wm. Sc. 1880 Jam.); (ii) the second brewing of home-made ale (Sc. 1904 E.D.D.); seda-soop, sedi-, = (i) above (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 195), also the sediment of buttermilk (Sh. c.1825 Jak. (1928)).Gall. 1735 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) II. 244:
The said Margaret had got a plateful of seedy meal from the said Christian.
Sc. 1759 Session Papers, Coutts Bros. v. Wilson (28 July) 47:
He bought two Bolls of the Pursuers Meal and it was very seedy.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 298:
His seedie ingle finely warms, Whanere he steers't.
Dmb. 1844 W. Cross Disruption xviii.:
The meal ye sent me wasna according to sample — seedy, auld-tasted dirt!
Rxb. 1845 T. Aird Old Bachelor 243:
[To] lie half an hour in the seedy killogie with the fire-feeding kilnman.

5. A small particle or grain of anything (Ags. 1969).Ags. 1897 F. Mackenzie North. Pine 34, 47:
No' a seed o' tobacco within the door . . . Here am I left withoot the seed o' siller.
Per. 1979 Betsy Whyte The Yellow on the Broom 2:
You two lassies go down to that farm and see if you can get a drop of milk, and if you see the old keeper ask him for a seed of tobacco for me.

6. In pl. in Mining: see quot.Slg. 1937 Econ. Geol. Central Coalfield I. 136:
The bituminous blaes immediately above the roof stone of the Cooking Coal is finely sheared and crushed, producing a loose, slippery material locally called ‘seeds'.

7. Fig. a hot-tempered person (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 152).

II. v. 1. Of a cow or mare: to swell in the udder as an indication of advanced pregnancy (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
She'll no be lang o' caavin now, for I see she's seedin'.

2. To weave a pattern of spots, resembling seeds, in a piece of muslin or linen. Hence seeding-frame, an arrangement of the loom by which this is done. Vbl.n. seedin, a fault in weaving which unintentionally produces this effect (Ayr. 1951).Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. App. II. 319:
Spidered, seeded, and numerous species of drawloom and other work.
Rnf. 1872 M. Blair Paisley Shawl (1904) 19:
The lappet wheel, the seeding frame, the sewing frame.

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"Seed n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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