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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SKELTER, v., adv. Also skilter. [′skɛltər]

I. v. 1. To scurry, scamper, rush headlong (Mry., Bnff., m. and s.Sc. 1970). Also in Eng. dial. Ppl.adj. skeltered, of uncertain meaning, ? headlong, precipitous. Phs. a different word.Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 194:
Ye winds that Pentland's summits sweep, Now howling fierce round skelter'd steep.
Gsw. 1878 W. Penman Echoes 77:
Drest himself, and hameward skeltered.
Per. 1904 E.D.D.:
He skeltered away whenever I threatened to gie him his scults.

2. To flash jaggedly, of lightning (Ork. 1929 Marw.), though this is phs. a different word.

II. adv. At full speed, headlong, precipitately.Lnk. 1886 J. Stewart Twa Elders 9:
A'll roose ma man Wha'll send ye skelter ower the lan'.
Rxb. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws v.:
Whisgills . . . letting the spurs into his gelding plunged full skelter up the burn.

[Appar. from skelter in helter-skelter.]

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"Skelter v., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Feb 2023 <>



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