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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.

SKITE, v.1, adv., adj., n.1 Also skyt(e), skeit-; squite (Arg., Bte.); skeet (I.Sc.). Dims. skytie, ¶skeetlich. [skəit; I.Sc. skit]

I. v. 1. intr. To dart, to shoot, fly through the air suddenly and forcibly, and freq. in an oblique direction, to fly off at a tangent (Sc. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems Gl. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), “to fall or be driven forcibly in a slanting direction, as rain by wind” (Cld. 1880 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Also fig. Sc. 1720 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 180:
Like a shot Starn, that thro' the Air Skyts East or West with unko Glare.
Gall. a.1830 Bards Gall. (Harper 1889) 98:
Let flashy blades gae skytin' by An' silky hizzies braw.
Abd. 1836 J. Grant Tales 68:
Strikin' the Deil o' the croon, till the fire skytit oot through the nichtcap.
Bnff. 1862 Fraser's Mag. (Feb.) 156:
They [Eskimos] mak' their bit boaties skite thro' the water.
Rnf. 1876 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 30:
In his throat some spark had skytit.
Ags. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems 98:
Ne'er ahint the hog-score droopin' — Ne'er gaed skitin past the tee.
Abd. 1913 D. Scott Hum. Sc. Stories 74:
The hoch gaed skytin' oot o' his plate.
Cai. 1932 John o' Groat Jnl. (28 Oct.):
We may skite cross 'en [the Atlantic Ocean].
wm.Sc. 1949 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 369:
The ba' skites past his nose-end.
Sh. 1951 New Shetlander No. 29. 8:
He swang ower da aer, sae at we göd skeetin past dem.
wm.Sc. 1954 Robin Jenkins The Thistle and the Grail (1994) 52:
"... What's his speed like? Don't tell me he's bald, for I don't trust centre-forwards wi' slippery heids, though, mind you, the goalie can never be sure what way the ball's going to skite."
Peb. 1960 Peb. News (28 Oct.) 5:
He skites through the racin' page like a rid hot knife through a quarter o' margarine.
Gsw. 1984 James Kelman The Busconductor Hines 164:
Imagine being too lazy to wash your feet when you've gone and prepared everything, when you've sat for quarter of an hour with the cunts suspended above the bastarn basin, only to towel at the bottom portions, and see how the poor auld fucking skin goes skiting off into the basin because you havent washed them right.
m.Sc. 1986 John McKenzie City Whitelight 20:
Clouds skited over the moon while Jackie carefully replaced the candlestick and shivered a little at the unsuspected coldness of standing still.
em.Sc. 1989 Joy Hendry in Joy Hendry Chapman 55-6 188:
Quickly skiting through the titles: I'm glad to see folk music publishing developing at last.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 27:
Carlin's first task was to pull the large rubber rat, which was secured to the fishing-line through a hole in its mouth, across the ground and round the corner, causing alarms and excursions among the tourists as it skited over their feet.

2. To glance off in the opposite direction after colliding with something, to rebound, ricochet (Lnk. 1825 Jam.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 266; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1842 D. Vedder Poems 311:
Hail may skyte an' rain may pour.
Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 112:
The show'ring rain, the snow, the skyting hail.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 93:
It only skited off 'im like a shoor o' hailstanes.
Gall. 1930:
My stane skytit aff an' struck wee Jimmie on the fit.
Abd. 1951 Buchan Observer (28 Aug.):
Frost so keen as to make the scythe blades “skyte”, when they came in contact with the flattened and whitened corn.

3. (1) To slip, to slither or slide on a slippery surface (wm.Sc. 1910; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Lth. 1950). Gen.Sc. Hence adj. skitey, skytie, slippery. Gen.Sc.Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 1:
Our feet skyted back on the road freezing hard.
Cld. 1880 Jam.:
My feet skitit on the plainstane.
Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 66:
The steps wis that skytie wi' the deow.
s.Sc. 1927 Scots Mag. (April) 7:
They gied Tam an' the lassie a shove that sent them skitin' richt into the ditch.
Gsw. 1950 H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 130:
Are ye no' feart yer coalman 'll skite some day an' skail 'is bag?
Ags. 1953 Forfar Dispatch (22 Jan.):
Walkin delicately, like Agag, on thae skitey plainies.
m.Sc. 1986 John McKenzie City Whitelight 43:
Nobody told Harry Two-Tone the floor of the banqueting hall was slippery in order to make people feel insecure, to worry them. After one or two puzzled and slightly hesitant steps, he started skiting all over the place, sliding here and there, bumping into Jackie then trying to knock him over.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 33:
Ae nicht he'll skite
on crackt bitter causey
and freeze in his bluid,
his body huddert
like fremmit land.
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 33:
Man i the muin he's staunan an chauvan
wi a graipfu o breers he's warslan awa.
sic a wunner it is he disnae gang skitan
wi joukan an trummlan sae feart gin he'll faa.
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 30:
... my heart's been roasted wi' the eejits I get working on the next station to me. Skitin' about the flair scalin' gazpacho down the back of some poor guy's new Matinique shirt, can't carry more than three plates at one time - pathetic.
wm.Sc. 1995 Alan Warner Morvern Callar 175:
I used the shortcut up to the circular folly trying not to go skiteing in the runny mud.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 47:
Dug-pish at the foun o the auld gas lichts in the streets froze yalla ower the skytie cassies. Mochie keekin-glaisses o ice teetit up frae blaik rinks of sliddery frost.
wm.Sc. 1998 Alan Warner The Sopranos (1999) 86:
Chell hides or retrieves the tiny flags of mini-skirts, the flaps of fabric that are mid-rift-revealing tops concealed within a selection of plastic bags she has in the bushes, uphill of the boys' swing and the skitey smear of heel-scuff earth under the rope end.
Gsw. 1998 Alan Spence Way to Go (1999) 28:
Padma's two wee sisters played peever on the pavement, hop and skip, skite a puck - the lid off a tin of shoe polish.
ne.Sc. 2004 Press and Journal (5 Jan) 12:
Dasht, the best TV o the hale festive season for me an it laistit twinty meenits! Fit? Laurel an Hardy! Efter aa these eers, there's nae a marra till them tho Del Boy cam close, for the umteenth time gyan skyte throwe the door o the bar coonter!

(2) to skate (on ice), poss. rather an altered form of Skeet, v.1 Hence skiter, a skater (Cld. 1880 Jam.).Sc. 1828 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 174:
I've skited frae St Mary's Loch to the Canawl Basin within the three hours.
Knr. 1925 H. Haliburton Horace 229:
Tell them that kestrels are but kites, An' that the wee kingfisher skites.

4. tr. To throw suddenly and forcibly, to pitch, send (something) flying, make (something) to shoot off at an angle (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 165). Gen.Sc.; to cause (a stone) to skip over the surface of water (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.B.; Bnff. 1930); to make (a ball) bounce (Mry. 1949). Also fig. Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller i.:
He wad hae been skyted awa an' broken to flinders on the mill wheel.
Ayr. 1873 A. Aitken Poems 103:
My hat wad skyte the drap nae mair.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man xxxvi.:
Pooin' gowans and skytin' slate stanes.
Kcb. 1907 Gallovidian No. 33. 31:
She laddered the cheese, ay, an' she skyted oot scones.
wm.Sc. 1928 J. Corrie Last Day 66:
Idle time an' wee peys sune skite the beauty aff us.
wm.Sc. 1932 A. H. Charteris When the Scot Smiles 299:
Skytin' oot hauf a croon here and hauf a croon therr till their pey's through.
wm.Sc. 1954 Robin Jenkins The Thistle and the Grail (1994) 204:
"I don't want to find oot who shouted that," cried Saunders, "for I'd think it necessary to skite the words doon his throat." He showed a flash of anger. "Is there anybody here says I couldn't do it?"
Abd. 1959 People's Jnl. (12 Sept.):
In throu the door comes a muckle chuckie (skitit fae anaith a wheel).
wm.Sc. 1998 Alan Warner The Sopranos (1999) 277:
Her left knee-length boot skite-ed away an hit the sanny bin as she went over, slammed the cubicle door appallingly loud so's the whole frame vibrated, ...

Phrs. (1) skyte the bob, a children's game; (2) to skite the hunger aff (see quot.).(1) Bnff. 1884 Trans. Inv. Scientif. Soc. III. 45:
Amongst the games common in his early days at Keith, and which he found to be played in other countries of Europe, though under different names, were “Catch brod”, “Skyte the Bob”, “Buffet the Bear”, “Buck”, &c.
(2) Lnk. 1969:
To skite the hunger aff — (a) to take away the edge of hunger with a temporary bite or snack; (b) to knock one's block off, to “do for”.

5. tr. or absol. (1) To cause a spray or splash of liquid, to squirt, spit, splash, bespatter (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1904 Uls. Jnl. Archaeol. 129; I. and n.Sc., Ags., sm.Sc. 1970); to inject, lit. and fig.; to rain slightly (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 165). Hence skite the gutter, a harum-scarum person (Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (2 Dec.) 5). Deriv. skyter, one who splashes about, “a low term for a sea bather” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 166); a bleeding at the nose (Ags. 1954).Sc. 1846 W. Tennant Muckomachy 36:
[He] from his tongue, Skytes on the man poison and bale.
Ags. 1884 Arbroath Guide (30 Aug.) 4:
[He] skited Tobacco juice across the floor.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 93:
Dey wir pullin' wi' awfil warps, plumpin' an' skeetin' an' kerryin' on.
Sh. 1906 T. P. Ollason Spindrift 10:
Ta skeet her frae haed ta fit wi' dirty water?
Ayr. 1912 G. Cunningham Verse 111:
There's toastit laif and scone and butter, Wad mak' your very teeth skyte water.
Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Scots Sangs 46:
His licht skytes a stoor o' life an' gledness faurever it sheens.
Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 241:
Dat dey might aesier skeet dir pooshen Apo da sifferin sowls inside.

Deriv. skyter, a squirt, syringe, an instrument for squirting or spraying; a boy's pea-or water shooter, esp. one made from the stem of elder or one of the umbelliferae, cow-parsnip or angelica (Sh. (skeeter), ne.Sc., Ags. 1970). See also ait skeiter s.v. Ait, n.2; the plant cow-parsnip, Heracleum sphondylium, itself (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 166). Also fig.Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 91:
Wi' pipes an' skiters, three or four, Were tied to bladders in the aumrie.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 58:
Skyters o' boartree, an' stout humlock shaws.
Mry. 1883 F. Sutherland Memories 2:
There whaur we aince bravely focht wi oor skiters.
Abd. 1889 Bon Accord (1 June) 17:
Whilst the “skyter” did its best to droon the blaze.
Bnff. 1926 Banffshire Jnl. (19 Oct.) 3:
The cynics then were oot in force wi' pessimistic skyters.
Bnff. 1955 Banffshire Jnl. (27 Sept.):
Cowparsnip stems provided that useful weapon of war a “skiter”.

(2) Fig. To conduct oneself in a wild, boisterous or madcap manner, to spree; to carouse (Bwk. 1970). Cf. IV. 3.Ayr. 1927 J. Carruthers A Man Beset i. vii.:
Dissolute in the light hearted manner characteristic of students. Their “skiting” revolted him at first . . . after all, he found, it seldom amounted to more than drink and song.
Ags. 1946 Forfar Dispatch (4 April):
Fat kind o' skitin cud folk like her dae?

6. To strike, hit (one) a blow (Cai., m.Sc. 1970).Per.4 1950:
Can ye no skite him and be done wi'd?

7. To take a trick with trumps at cards, to trump (Bnff., Abd. 1970).

II. adv. With a sharp rap or blow, forcibly and with a rebound (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 165; ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1970). Phr. to play skite, to bounce off, to strike and rebound.Rxb. 1826 A. Scott Poems 165:
Quick — quick as ere electric fire Darts skyte alang the leading wire.
Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays 89:
Skyte doun the lum the hailstanes come.
Ags. 1887 A. Willock Rosetty Ends 56:
Heels owre head into his ain drum, through the upper end o' which he gaed skyte.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 64:
A' at ance, his spade played skyte aff something hard.
Lnk. 1899 W. Wingate Poems (1919) 57:
When the blirts o' the rain played skite on the pane.
Abd. 1963 J. C. Milne Poems 42:
Gart gang skite amang the midden-bree.

III. adj. Off one's head, daft (Bnff., Abd. 1970).Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song (1937) 18:
In the time before Lord Kinraddie, the daft one, had gone clean skite.
Sc. 1938 M. Innes Lament for a Maker 33:
An unchancy chiel, whiles almost sensible-like and whiles clean skite.

IV. n. 1. (1) A sudden, sharp, glancing blow, “so as to make what strikes rebound in a slanting direction from that which is struck” (Abd., Lnk., Ayr. 1825 Jam.; Gall. 1904 E.D.D.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 209; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Uls. 1924 Northern Whig (1 Jan.)). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc.; a stroke with the tawse or teacher's strap (Arg. 1936 L. McInnes S. Kintyre 13, squite); a fight, an exchange of blows.Rnf. 1754 Session Papers, Cumming v. Cross (8 Dec.) 4:
He saw him put his Hand on his Eye sometimes, and said to the Deponent he had got a Skite from Robert Cross.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Jolly Beggars i.:
When hailstanes drive wi' bitter skyte.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 326:
Why shrink frae the skyte o' a cannie bit show'r?
Ayr. 1848 Edb. Ev. Courant (7 Oct.):
He had “a skite” with another fellow in the reels about a lass.
Ayr. 1870 J. K. Hunter Life Studies 278:
A sly skyte at him wi' my fit.
Lnk. 1895 W. C. Fraser Whaups of Durley xv.:
I gied him a skite on the lug wi' my bundle.
Uls. 1924 Northern Whig (Feb.):
A had tae ge yin or twa o' the wains a skite on the hand.
wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 27:
The rain raps down wi' reekin' skyte.
Gsw. 1949 Evening News (21 Oct.):
I jouked my Maw's skite an' hit my heid agin' the dresser.
Sc. 1992 Sunday Times (17 May):
Thus, if these daft proposals ever see the light of day as legislation, the casual process of a skite on the lug will be invested with procedural intricacies more suited to capital punishment.
Sc. 1998 Edinburgh Evening News (3 Oct) 8:
In Scotland we need no such nonsense, Capital scholars are safe from such buffoonery. Why? Helen Liddell is Scottish Education Minister. Would you risk a skite on the lug?
Ayr. 2000:
A skyte on the lug.
Sc. 2003 Herald (11 Dec) 15:
There's pedigree fun with a fairy dog mother putting the baddie's gas on a peep, while the Uglies - hurrah! men in frocks - are drop-dead gallus. Whether it's a skite at reality TV, or a sly reworking of panto traditions, this show never misses a trick.
Edb. 2004:
Ah'll gie ye a skite oan the jaw.

(2) A sudden start, bound or spring (Per. 1970).Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 67:
Something hin' her, wi' a skyte Gat up, an' gied a fuff!

(3) Fig., poss. influenced by Skit, n., 3.: (i) a mischief, a set-back, a piece of unfair dealing or deceit, in phrs. to gie or play one a skite.Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 151:
You and the Lawyers gi'ed him a skyte, Sold a' his corn.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 60:
He's play'd my dochter Meg a skyte.
Kcd. 1929 J. B. Philip Weelum o' the Manse 33:
What a fine skyte Samson played when he brocht doon the hoose on the Philistines!

(ii) a piece of satire or raillery, a hit or jibe, a skit, a taunt (Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) S.89).e.Lth. 1899 J. Lumsden Poems 89:
This Club — a band of Jacobites, Enjoy'd thy witty “Tory” skites.

2. (1) The act of shooting out or squirting liquid (Sc. 1825 Jam.; n.Sc. 1970); a squirt or syringe (Id.); the plant hemlock, the stalks of which are used as pea-shooters by boys, hemlock being a gen. term for an umbelliferous plant, in this case specif. Angelica sylvestris or Heracleum sphondylium (Abd., Kcd. 1825 Jam.; Sc. 1886 Britten and Holland Plant Names 434). Cf. I. 5. (1); (2) the act of squirting or spitting saliva forcibly through the teeth (Sc. 1825 Jam.), esp. of tobacco spittle; hence fig. in pl., a nickname for a tobacco factory (Abd. 1890); (3) a small amount of water (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 166; ne.Sc. 1970); a short sharp shower of rain (n.Sc., Rnf. 1825 Jam.; Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Lnk., Wgt. 1970); a splash, splutter, spray; (4) a small amount of liquor, a drop of spirits, a dram (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 166, skyt(i)e; ne.Sc., Ags. 1970).(3) Abd. 1829 A. Cruickshank Poems 56:
On their [sic] came a wee skite o' a show'r.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxviii.:
They sent up an eruption o' dirty skite frae ilka pool.
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 124:
There wisna a skyte o' watter aboot the toon hardly.
Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 23:
Hoordin' up siller winna lat ye sideways intae heaven, nor buy ye sae muckle as a skeetlich o' cauld water in the ither place.
(4) Mry. 1865 W. H. Tester Poems 152:
I'se hae a skyte for dry's my throttle.
Bnff. 1895 Banffshire Jnl. (11 June) 3:
The fisher folk maun get a skite in Findochty.
Abd. 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 6:
The stage of intoxication variously described as “haein' a gey skyte”, “half-on”, or “a bittie chippit”.
Abd. 1969 Huntly Express (21 Feb.) 2:
He wisna fou' but he'd a bit skitie.

3. A jollification, spree, “blow-out”, esp. in phr. on the skite (wm.Sc. 1869 St Andrews Gaz. (27 Nov.); Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (2 Dec.) 5; Sc. 1937 E. Partridge Slang Dict.). Gen.Sc.Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 65:
When ye went on the “skite” an' sent railway things glee'd.
Gsw. 1909 J. J. Bell Oh! Christina xiv.:
You an' me's gaun to ha'e an' awfu' skite, eh, auntie?
Ags. 1946 Forfar Dispatch (4 April):
We wantit tae gae on the skite, but fat kind o' skitin cud folk like her dae?
Ork. 1949 Anth. Ork. Verse (Marwick) 138:
Vikings on the skite find Valhalla for wan night.
Fif. 1954 The Times (16 Nov.):
The Bejant skite (the party of the first-year students).
Cai. 1961 “Castlegreen” Tatties an' Herreen' 41:
A print o' some toffs on 'e skite.
Sc. 1993 Herald (15 Mar) 6:
She's been on the skite since Friday and if anyone sees her in the Thistle Bar next week I'll be grateful if you would take her by the scruff of the neck and put her on the No. 18 bus so I've got a chance of getting the rent at the end of the month.
Sc. 1996 Daily Mirror (18 May) 39:
As Gough prepared for another double on Saturday in the Tennents Scottish Cup Final against Hearts, he told how their nights on the skite have given Gers the closest dressing-room in football.
Sc. 1998 Scotland on Sunday (4 Jan) T14:
As if to prove its middle classness, no matter how many are seriously injured playing rugby, we don't hear the medical profession demanding it be banned. Boxing, in contrast, is a nasty working-class sport, so doctors are happy to see it outlawed. Heaven help the bloke who would deprive medics of their two days a year on the skite by banning this pointless sport.
Sc. 2001 Daily Record (23 Jun) 59:
Standing in a puddle listening to him sing is a fate terrible enough to match up to a night on the skite with Pete Sampras.

4. (1) a slip, a slither, a skid (Lth. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., n. and m.Sc. 1970); (2) the act of skating on ice, a spell of skating (Cld. 1880 Jam.); a skate, ice-shoe. Cf. Sketch.(2) Sc. 1829 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 174:
“What the deuce have you got on your feet, James?” “Skites.”

5. The yellow-hammer, Emberiza citrinella (Sc. 1837 W. MacGillivray Brit. Birds I. 445; Bnff. 1876 S. Smiles Naturalist 401; ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna ofDee” 101), phs. so called from the practice of boys in shooting the young birds from catapults.Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 171:
The cushies and corbies frae Drum we wad bring, Wi' piots, an' birrits, an' skites, on a string.

[O.N. skȳt-, the stem of skjóta, to shoot, propel, dart, Norw. skyte, Dan. skyde, to shoot.]

Skite v.1, adv., adj., n.1

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