Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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TWENTY, adj., n. Also twentie, twintie (Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems II. 13), twinty (Sc. 1722 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 174; Sh. 1928 Manson's Almanac 186), †tuinty (Wgt. 1794 G. Fraser Lowland Lore (1880) 69); †tuantie (Bnff. 1715 W. Cramond Annals Bnff. (S.C.) I. 115), †twantie (Mry. 1716 A. & H. Tayler 1715 (1936) 286), twontie (Sc. a.1830 Lord Thomas and Fair Annet in Child Ballads (1956) IV. 470), twonty (s.Sc. 1962 Southern Annual 29), twunty (Sc. 1776 Lord Ingram and Chiel Wyet in Child Ballads No. 66. C. xxii., 1824 S. Ferrier Inheritance II. xxx.; Abd. 1861 J. Davidson Poems 18; Kcb. 1893 Crockett Stickit Minister 77; Slk. 1914 Southern Reporter (17 Dec.) 9; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 74; Rs., em.Sc., Uls. 1973); twoonty (Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Yonderton (1928) 42; s.Sc. 1928 Border Mag. (July) 107); toontie (s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 161), toonty (Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Yonderton (1928) 63; Rxb. 1923 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 11, 1966 Hawick Express (26 Jan.) 4). Sc. forms and usages. The ordinal twentieth is occas. used where Eng. uses the cardinal, e.g. twentieth and second, twenty-second (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 227). Among older speakers the rest of the numbers in the decade are expressed as ane and twenty, twa and twenty, etc. [n. and wm.Sc. ′twɪnti; ne.Sc. + ‡′tunti; em., sm. and s.Sc. ′twʌnte, s.Sc. + ′tunti]

1. Phrs.: (1) the fower and twenty, the twenty-four successive hours of the day; (2) twenty-a-lespie, a phrase in the counting procedure at hide-and-seek (see quot.). For the second element see Hi-spy; (3) twenty days, three weeks; †(4) twenty merk man, a probationary minister who was paid twenty merks for each sermon preached. (1) Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy vi.:
Frae the tae end of the four-and-twenty till the other.
Rnf. 1972:
I may have a' the sins o' the four an' twenty but they'll a' leave me when I dee.
(2) Edb. 1965 J. T. R. Ritchie Golden City 59:
The person that's het shuts their eyes and counts down from “twenty-a-lespie”, and everybody else runs away and hides. Everybody hidden has to be caught. If nobody's caught the same person counts from “nineteen-a-lespie”. And so on.
(3) Wgt. 1720 Session Bk. Wgt. (1934) 267:
This day twenty days, being the thirteenth of November next.
Wgt. 1723 Session Bk. Glasserton MS. (7 July):
To meet on Sabbath come a twentie days.
Rxb. 1736 Melrose Par. Rec. (S.R.S.) 217:
He is summoned to the session against this day twenty days.
(4) Kcd. 1704 C. Wright G. Guthrie (1900) 52:
Their probationers whom they called twenty merk men, because by act of Parliament they were to get twenty marks for every sermon they preached benorth Tay in a vacant Congregation.

2. Used as an ordinal: twentieth. Phr. †the twenty day of Yuill, a fair held on the 13th of January, the twentieth day after Christmas. Gsw. 1744 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1911) 161:
Two of the touns fairs, the one upon the 13th day of January called the twenty day of Yuill, and the other upon the seventh of July called the fair of Glasgow.
Sc. 1755 Nairne Peerage Evid. (1873) 36:
Dated the twenty day of January 1742 years.

3. By extension: plentiful, numerous. Sh. 1897 Shetland News (4 Sept.):
Mam bids me gie dee an' your folk her twinty blessins.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (13 May):
Gie dem wir twinty tanks.

[O.Sc. twonty, 1424, townty, 1539, twantie, 1549.]

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"Twenty adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Jun 2021 <>



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