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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

SPITTER, n., v. Also spither. [′spɪtər]

I. n. 1. A slight shower of rain or snow (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1904 E.D.D.; n. and m.Sc. 1971). Also in Eng. dial.Ags. 1954 Forfar Dispatch (11 March):
A wee spitter o rain begood tae ding on noo.

2. In pl., small drops or flakes of wind-driven rain or snow (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc., Ags., Dmf. 1971).s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 323:
Snaw in spitters aft was dreen Amang the air.
Rxb. 1808 A. Scott Poems 96:
Thro' winter snell the spitters strew In angry blast.

3. Fig. Empty, frothy talk.Rxb. 1807 J. Ruickbie Wayside Cottager 189:
Wha valu'd not your college spither.

4. Deriv. spitterie, -y, adj., denoting what spurts or springs out irregularly, without connection of parts (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.); specif. (1) of snow: consisting of small, driving particles; (2) of a fire: fitful, intermittent.(1) Rxb. 1805 A. Scott Poems 109:
The blatchy rains, or chilling spitt'ry snaws.
(2) Rxb. 1805 A. Scott Poems 146:
To raise your ingle's friendly rage, And cheer the spitterie low.

II. v. intr. or impers. Of rain or snow: to drizzle, fall in small drops or flakes (n.Sc., Ags., Fif., wm.Sc. 1971). Also in Eng. dial.Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ii.:
The snaw that had been spitterin' on back an' fore the haill day lang.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 76:
It's spitterin' on o' rain an' like tae be a gey shoower.
Sc. 1935 D. Rorie Lum Hat 15:
Ae winter's nicht when flecks o' snaw Cam spitterin' doon the lum.

[Dim. or freq. form of spit.]

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"Spitter n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2024 <>



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