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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SWEETIE, n. Also sweety, †sweitie. [′switi]

1. A sweet, confection, sugar lozenge, caramel, etc. (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 151). Gen.Sc. Now occas. in Eng. usage. Used fig. in phrs. referring to low pay, esp. work for sweeties, to work for a pittance (Ags., Gsw. 1972; Sh., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s).Sc. 1705 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 380:
For sweities to m.b.'s oy . . . 8s.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 245:
To wrap up Snuff, or Sweeties, in a Shap.
Sc. 1794 Abd. Book-Lover IV. 64:
She parades thro' the Market and throws over sweeties to the Mob.
Edb. 1825 R. Chambers Traditions I. 235:
He had his pocket full of sweeties.
Ayr. 1838 J. Morrison M'Ilwham Papers 15:
The presents and sweeties for the bairns.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 43:
Here's dee a sweetie.
Fif. 1898 S. Tytler Mrs Carmichael's Goddesses xii.:
So long as there are brats of bairns, sweeties will be wanted.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 24:
He got three buttons an' a sweetie in's ladle the idder Sunday.
Ags. 1947 J. B. Salmond Toby Jug ii.:
Margit could not spend her shilling on the Misses Fergusson's sweeties.
Gsw. 1991 John Burrowes Mother Glasgow 140:
' ... If you're a hunter here you can get it all your own way. I learned that lesson away back in the days when I worked for Myer's. Know where I'd be now if I'd still been with them? I'd probably be in charge of a department ... a floorwalker, but still earning sweeties.'

Combs.: (1) Aberdeen sweetie, fig., a sharp tap on the head with a flick of the thumb (Sc. 1896 A. Cheviot Proverbs 37; Mry., Bnff. 1972); (2) readin sweetie, a conversation lozenge (I.Sc., Ayr., Kcb., Rxb. 1972). See also Read, v. 1. (ii); (3) sweetie-bench, a sweet-stall at a fair, etc.; (4) sweetie-bool(ie), a round sweet of the boiling variety (Abd. 1972). See Bool, n.1, 4; (5) sweetie-booth, = (3); (6) sweetie-bottle, a glass jar for holding sweets; (7) sweetie-bun, a bun baked with various sweetmeats or with raisins (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1972); (8) sweeticook, -kuk, a cake or bun coated with sugar (Sh. 1904 E.D.D.), representing Du. zoete koek, sweet cake or bun; (9) sweetie-fair, a fair where confectionery is sold; (10) sweetie-fole, a kind of parkin biscuit sprinkled over with sugar-coated carraway seeds (Ork. 1971); (11) sweetie-laif, -loaf, = (7) (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (12) sweetie-man, a confectioner, a sweet-vendor (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; (13) sweetie-merchant, id.; (14) sweetie-pock, a bag of sweets (I.Sc., Cai., m.Sc. 1972); (15) sweetie-scon(e), -skon, = (7); (16) sweetie-shop, a sweet-shop. Gen.Sc.; (17) sweetie-stance, a sweet-stall at a fair. See Stance; (18) sweetie-stan(d), id. (Abd., Per. 1972); (19) sweetie-vender, = (12); (20) sweetie-wife, a female sweet-seller (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Also transf. a garrulous gossipy person, freq. of a man (Cai., Inv., m. and s.Sc. 1972) (see 1963 quot.); †(21) sweety-wig(gy), = (7). See Wig, n.2(2) Slk. 1892 W. M. Adamson Betty Blether 33:
A big pock o' readin' sweeties.
(3) Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 18:
Rob tak's them to a sweety bench Where a' thing's fit for eatin'.
(4) Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxiv.:
'E stappit a sweetie bool in o' his mou'.
Abd. 1963 J. C. Milne Poems 77:
Faur's Maggie Mitchell? Tint her sweetie boolie?
(5) Fif. 1867 St Andrews Gaz. (20 July):
Great numbers of ‘sweetie booths,' stands, licensed beer stalls, &c.
(6) Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 134:
The lid o' a sweetie-bottle.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Bog-Myrtle 332:
The row of sweetie-bottles.
Abd. 1926 E. Duthie Three Short Plays 10:
Ma laddie will ha' teemed the sweetie bottles.
(7) Abd. 1801 Session Papers, Downie v. Calder (9 June 1810) 7:
I send you a small sweety bun.
Ags. 1822 Caled. Mag. I. 412:
The excellent tea-bread, commonly called sweety-bunn.
(8) Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 154:
I wiss I hed minded ta ax him for sweeti-cooks.
(9) Lnk. 1867 J. M. Peacock Reverie 179:
An' life itsel' was love, an' like A simmer sweetie-fair.
(11) Abd. 1760 W. Smith MS. Diary (24 Jan.):
A Sweety Loaf from R. Martin.
Abd. 1777 E. Bain Merchant Guilds (1887) 229:
Complimenting their customers with sweetie loaves at Christmas.
Sc. a.1825 Receipts in Cookery 4:
For a Fruit, or sweetyloaf. Take four pounds of fine flour, etc. Mix the rest of the dough with a pound and a half of currants, and as many raisins.
Abd. 1929 K. E. Trail Reminisc. Old Aberdeen (1952) 52:
The Christmas dainties — shortbread or “sweetie loaf.”
(12) Kcd. 1813 G. Robertson Agric. Kcd. 406:
The sweety-men, or confectioners.
Ags. 1892 A. Reid Howetoon 160:
Cheap Johns, photographers, and “sweetie-men.”
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 90:
Like a wheen bairns, stan'in afore the sweetyman's windy.
(13) Fif. 1898 S. Tytler Mrs Carmichael's Goddesses xii.:
No other merchant would have dreamt of receiving a sweetie-merchant.
(14) Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 81:
In's hauns twa crimson sweetie pocks.
(15) Sc. 1808 Jam. s.v. Yule:
A sweetie-skon, or a loaf enriched with raisins, currants, and spiceries.
Sc. 1841 R. T. Hampson Med. Aevi Kalend. I. 107:
The Scottish custom of presenting what the common people term a Sweetieskon (on Boxing Day).
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 66:
Gi'e them a sweetie scone.
(16) Edb. 1875 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie 9:
A dim and dingy sweety shop.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters v.:
His grannie keepit a sweetie-shop in Strathbungo.
Rxb. 1917 Southern Reporter (24 May):
Occupied as a sweetie shop by the Misses Adamson.
Sc. 1948 M. Lochhead Sc. Household in 18th c. 214:
The wee sweetie-shop was not yet part of the social scene.
Ags. 1990s:
"Thuh couldna rin a sweetie shop!": "Their business competence is in grave doubt."
wm.Sc. 1998 Alan Warner The Sopranos (1999) 14:
I know my mind was cast back to the first time I ever saw a sub. I was young, and left our house to walk to the sweetie shop.
(17) Per. 1897 C. R. Dunning Folk-Lore 8:
Saxpence fae ilka sweetie-stance in the toon-loan.
(18) Abd. 1860 Banffshire Jnl. (31 Jan.) 6:
I saw him on the Market day, Aside a sweetie stan.
Fif. 1873 J. Wood Ceres Races 9:
The sweety-stand wives lauch an' craw.
Lnk. 1876 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 71:
Sweetie stan's an' lang nit barrows.
Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Sketches 276:
The numerous sweetie-stands that adorned High Street.
(19) Lth. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 301:
Sweety venders, gingerbread huxters.
(20) Sc. 1793 Lockhart Scott vii.:
A “sweetie wife” (that is, an itinerant vendor of gingerbread, etc.).
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost xviii.:
Along rank of sweety-wives and their stands.
Abd. 1836 J. Grant Tales of Glens 103:
All the ballad singers, sweetie-wives, and cadgers of the district.
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 77:
Like bairns round sweetie-wives fleechin' for fairin'.
Gall. 1928 Gallov. Annual 88:
Ye are bletherin' like a sweety-wife!
Dmf. 1963 J. Littlejohn Westrigg 130:
A man who chatters is contemptuously called a “sweetiewife” by both sexes.
Ags. 1990s:
Sweetie-wife: n. purveyor of gossip.
Sc. 1994 Herald (18 Oct) 22:
"Jack McLean's enthusiasm for demotic speech, that adulterated urban language full of grammatical confusion" merely serves to convey an overwhelming impression of himself as a louche sweetie wife fresh from the urban kailyard.
Sc. 1995 Sunday Mail (24 Dec) 63:
Gough has 61 caps, is in the SFA Hall of Fame and scored a trophy-winning goal against England at Hampden in 85.
Stop behaving like an old sweetie wife Craig. You have a duty to select the best players.
Sc. 2000 Herald (28 Oct) 15:
I'm afraid that I rather upset her a month before the ceremony because I said that green was unlucky for wedding gowns. I told her it was traditionally the colour of the fairies. That's just the sort of sweetie-wife I am, but.
Edb. 2004:
There's an auld man doon oor street an he's a richt auld sweetie wife.
(21) Abd. 1781 W. Edwards Poems (1810) 56:
Here I hae buns, an' sweety wigs.
Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past and Present 128:
A sweety wiggy an' a mutton ham.

2. As a term of affection or endearment: darling, sweet one. Now also U.S.Gsw. 1886 A. Murdoch Readings i. 16:
Eh, ye sly auld sweetie; ye're tryin' to fish anither compliment frae me.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 50:
“Let me tak ye in my airms an' kiss that bonnie mou'.” “O do, Johnie, sweetie!”

3. Transf. A considerable sum of money, a stiff price, a pretty penny (ne.Sc. 1972).Abd. 1903 Weekly Free Press (8 Aug.):
Aw'm thinkin' it cost them a sweetie t' bide at the Strath.
Bnff. 1920 S. W. Mayer Margaret Macfarlane's Fortune 22:
They've cost a gey sweetie, I'm thinkin'.
Abd. 1966:
Ye'd had tae pey a sweetie for that, na?

[Dim. of Sweet, or poss. in 1. reduced from sweetmeat.]

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"Sweetie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Mar 2024 <>



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