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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SWATCH, n., v.1 Also †swatcht (Sc. 1702 Records Cloth Manuf. (S.H.S.) 300), swaatch. [swatʃ]

I. n. 1. A pattern or sample, esp. of a piece of cloth, a specimen (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 161, 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Gen.Sc. Also fig. Orig. from n.Eng. dial. and now in gen. clothing trade usage.Sc. 1701 Records Sc. Cloth Manuf. (S.H.S.) 242:
The unequallness of the collours of the heriotts work cloath not being exactly conforme to the suatch sent out to him.
Sc. 1715 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 537:
To send to her Highness a swatch of plaids as the manufactory peculiar only to this place for keeping the place in her Highness remembrance.
Sc. 1743 Laing MSS. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 1925) II. 273:
I beg you may choose the camlet as near the swatch as possible.
Kcd. 1820 E. Tevendale Poems 23:
For Joseph's coat he wore langsyne, Was only but a swatch o't.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxviii.:
I rowed up aboot a score o' clippins in a cloot for swatches.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick vii.:
I ken the stuff by the swatch.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 328:
The Packmen disna cairry packs noo, only swatches.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xi.:
Why shouldn't they carry swatches of cloth as well as groceries?
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Jooly 1):
Da peerier da swaatch, da mair risk wi da waelin.
Abd. 1928 P. Grey Making of a King 6:
Ye'll mind an' bring a swatch o' yer wallpaper wi' ye.
Bnff. 1935 Abd. Press & Jnl. (17 Jan.):
Naebody kens o' fat wab he's a swatch.

2. In extended uses: a typical piece, example, selection, group, etc.Sc. 1705 Stone upon Grave of Prelacy 8:
Now I shall give a swatch of his Self-contradictions.
Sc. 1730 T. Boston Memoirs (1855) 435:
I record this for a swatch of the hospitality of the parish.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Holy Fair x.:
On this hand sits a chosen swatch, Wi screw'd up grace-proud faces.
m.Lth. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller 243:
Gie me a swatch o' what's wrang.
Ags. 1847 Montrose Standard (13 Aug.) 3:
I ken'd a swatch o' sinfu' clay Wha halflins gap'd to curse the day That e'er his honest mither bore 'im.
Dmf. 1874 R. Reid Moorland Rhymes 11:
That's but a swatch o' the plaiks that they play.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 103:
Thee evil hert is bit a swatch An' clippin' o' the Trow.
Abd. 1921 Swatches o' Hamespun 8:
As a swatch o' some o' the jobbies they socht him tae dee.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xvii.:
She's had mony a swatch o' the Gospel frae honest Mr. James.
wm.Sc. 1948 Scots Mag. (June) 212:
Suppling his fingers with a swatch of marching airs.
Mry. 1960 E. Gilbert Ae Forenicht 3:
We'd an antrin swatch o' singing.

3. The extent to which one person or thing resembles another, a point of similarity, a feature in common (Sh., Per. 1972).m.Lth. 1715 J. Monro Letters (1722) 104:
A Swatch of the exact Likeness between the Two.
Per. 1950:
I thocht there was a guid swatch o his faither aboot him.

4. An example or pattern to be followed, a model. Phr. to tak a swatch frae, to follow the example of, to imitate.Ags. 1879 G. W. Donald Poems 15:
Oh! wad they tak a swatch frae me, An' craig a social cup o' tea.

5. Kind, sort; stock, progeny.Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 186:
Wild geese and swan, ye'll see them pair And show their swatch.
Rnf. 1827 W. Taylor Poems 107:
On Sabbath last, twa chaps rode by, They ware o' the dandy swatch.

6. A feature or trait of character.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
An ill swatch of him, a bad mark of one's character.

7. A glimpse, partial view or vista, a half-look (Per., Slg., Lnk., Ayr. 1972). Also dim. swatchy.Fif. 1862 St Andrews Gaz. (25 July):
A' the neebor wives keekin' oot to hae a swatch ana'.
Arg. 1896 N. Munro Lost Pibroch (1935) 32:
The road opened before him in short swatches — the sort of road a wanderer likes, with not too much of it to be seen at one look.
Per.4 1950:
A juist got a swatch o him as he gaed by the end o the close.
Lnk. 1958 J. G. Wilson Trial of P. Manuel 65:
He was unable to give a fuller description of them [finger-rings], as he “only got a brief swatch at them.”
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 65:
Gauny geeza swatchy at yer paper, pal? May I have a look at your newspaper?
Edb. 1991:
I want to get a swatch at Jonathon's new childminder.
Gsw. 1992 Jeff Torrington Swing Hammer Swing! (1993) 67:
Sitting by the cheery fire in my rent-free slum, eating a piece'n jam and slurping down a mug of coffee, I'd a wee swatch at The Beano, just to see how my old chums were faring in their timeless world of chortles, japes and tee-hees.
Gsw. 1995 Alan Spence Stone Garden (1997) 132:
I passed it over to Doug. 'Have a swatch at that,' I said. 'It's great stuff.'
m.Sc. 1998 Alex Laird in Donny O'Rourke and Kathleen Jamie New Writing Scotland 16: The Glory Signs 73:
Hiv a swatch it this batch:
He flicked a wheen sheets o paper
Doon on the table top.
Gsw. 1999 Jimmy Boyle Hero of the Underworld 42:
'When are you seeing her again, so I can get a swatch at her?'

8. A short spell, a turn, a “shot,” a temporary loan or use (of an object) (Slg., Gsw. 1972).Gsw. 1968:
See's a swatch wi the leerie, i.e. shine the light (of a torch, etc.) over here.

9. Phr.: to hae or tak (a or the) swatch o or at, (1) to take an appraising critical look at, scrutinise (Per. 1972); (2) to take the measure of, to size up, to be a match for, and hence to thwart or frustrate (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 187, Bnff. 1972); (3) to express strong negation or refusal in quasi-imprecative use (see quot.) (Ib.).(1) Per. 1881 R. Ford Hum. Sc. Readings 42:
After takin' a guid swatch o' a' the windows.
Ags. 1892 A. Reid Howetoon vi.:
Takin' a swatch o' a'-thing as he gaed alang.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 191:
I made tracks for the lobby tae tak' swatch o' the nags.
Inv. 1969 E. K. Macnicol Hallowe'en Hero 10:
We are just taking a swatch at An Craggoch's barley.
(2) Abd. 1949:
I hid the swatch o 'im, as the deil hid o the nags.
(3) Abd. 1930:
I'll tak a swatch o ye — I'll see you damned first.

II. v. 1. To match, to select, make, copy, or supply after a pattern, to imitate.Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 50:
Barney Wudd, the Irish Chapman, fa swatcht watches, an' a' kin-kind o' things.
Lnk. 1859 J. Parker Poems 37:
The workman, too, whose ready ken Does the embossment ply To swatch and match at every stem.
Sc. 1880 Jam.:
To swatch worsted, to select or supply worsted of a given shade and quality.
Lnk. 1893 J. Crawford Verses 48:
Dinna swatch the sheep-shankit, purse-prood, han'less loon.

2. To look appraisingly at, to size up (Per., Fif. 1972).Edb. 1866 J. Inglis Poems 75:
Are ye no swatching Jamie for a son-in-law?
wm.Sc. 1974 Roddy McMillan The Bevellers 16:
Ther' a hole in the gless, an' if ye judge it right ye can see the Greek clock. NORRIE: Gaun tae let us swatch it? JOE: Sure. Just pit your eye up there.
Gsw. 1999 Jimmy Boyle Hero of the Underworld 26:
Both of them swatched down at my soiled pants shaking their heads in disbelief.

[O.Sc. swach, a pattern of cloth, 1647, E.M.E. swache, the counter-stock of a tally. Of obscure orig.]

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"Swatch n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Jun 2024 <>



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