Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
SPREATH, n. Also spraith, spreeth, spreith(e), sprith, erron. sprooth; spraich, spraigh, spreach, spreagh, spreich, sprach-, sprech-. [spreθ, ne.Sc. spriθ; spre]
1. Cattle, specif. a herd of cattle stolen and driven off in a raid, esp. by Highlanders from the Lowlands. Liter. or hist. Phr. to drive a spreath, to steal a herd of cattle.
Arg. 1710 Arg. Justiciary Rec. (Stair Soc.) II. 251:
Their respective proportions of the forsaid spraith and spoyll. Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
They take pride in it, and reckon driving a spreagh (whilk is, in plain Scotch, stealing a herd of nowte) a gallant, manly action. Mry. 1821 New Monthly Mag. I. 142:
Pursuing a hostile clan, to recover a spraith of cattle taken from Badenoch. Sc. 1874 A. Hislop Bk. Sc. Anecdote 273:
Taking “spreaths” or herds of cattle from their hereditary enemies. Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 63:
The unceremonious Celts were wont to come down in force upon the Lowlands, and carry off “spreaths” of cattle and other goods. Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xi.:
A man kens little till he's driven a spreagh of neat cattle (say) ten miles through a throng lowland country . Sc. 1928 J. Buchan Montrose 220:
Cumbered no doubt with spreaghs of cattle, the army passed to the north end of Loch Awe.
Deriv. spreacherie, spreagh-, spraigh-, spreich-, spraichrie, sprechery, sprachry, (1) cattle-raiding; (2) booty, plunder, loot; odds and ends furtively acquired (Sc. 1825 Jam.); pickings, perquisites, advantages to be got on the sly; (3) trash, junk.
(1) Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
They lay by quiet eneugh, saving some spreagherie on the Lowlands. (2) Sc. 1785 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 504:
For whan there's sprachry gaun about it, Ilk hungry b- - -h maun hae a tout o't. Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xli.:
It is unspeakable the quantity of useless sprechery which they have collected on their march. Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate vii.:
He has comed between me and as mickle spreacherie as wad hae made a man of me for the rest of my life. (3) Fif. 1825 Jam. s.v. Maighrie:
He had a gude deal of spraichrie; the latter being used to signify what is of less value, a collection of trifling articles. Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch vi.:
Second-hand bargains of sprachery, amongst the old-furniture warehousemen of the Cowgate.
2. A foray to steal cattle, a cattle-raid. Hist.
Sc. 1771 T. Pennant Tour 1769 176:
The Highlanders at that time esteemed the open theft of cattle, or the making of a spreith (as they called it) by no means dishonorable. Sc. 1809 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) II. 235:
An old follower of Rob Roy who had been at many a spreagh. Inv. 1879 Trans. Inv. Scientific Soc. I. 270:
The last Captain, who made a “spreath” into Lochaber for arrears of rent left.
3. Booty, plunder in gen., prey (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis). Also fig. a source of profit.
Kcd. 1889 Stonehaven Jnl. (14 March) 3:
That ship was thocht tae be a great spreach tae the brave salvage crew. Per. 1899 J. A. R. Macdonald Blairgowrie 12:
We gaze upon the spreath unshorn In Autumn garb of tree and corn.
4. Driftwood, wreckage from ships, flotsam and jetsam (Abd. (sprith), Kcd. (spreeth, spreich) 1911; Abd., Ags. 1971).
5. A great many, a crowd, collection, large number (Ags. 1808 Jam., spraich; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 179, spraith; Abd. 1913, spreith).
Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) II. 218:
To stope our great deliverer's breath And leave us sick a sighing spreath Of whigs to groan. Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 91:
Fat a queer taed he was, an' a great curren little sprooth at's tail aye. Ags. 1891 Brechin Advert. (6 Jan.):
By-and-by they got a spreath O' lads an' lovesome lasses. Bch. 1929:
Gey spreeth o' fowk at the mart the day noo that hairst's owre.
You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.
"Spreath n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 Apr 2021 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/spreath>
Try an Advanced Search