Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
WHATTEN, adj., pron. Also what(e)n, quhaten, whitten, whuten; palatalised form whatsin [ < -kyin]; and with enclitic indef. art. what(e)na, whitna, watna, sometimes followed by pl.n. For n. Sc. forms see Fat, pron., 11., and for Rs. forms see Atna. [ʍɑtn(ə), ʍtn(ə)]
I. adj. 1. Used interrog.: what kind of, what sort of (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Ork. 1929 Marw., whatsin; Rxb. 1942 Zai; I., m. and s.Sc. 1974). Also in n.Eng. dial.
Sc. 1755 Scots Mag. (March) 136:
His master asks him, “What'n a morning is it?” He answers, “It's a fair morning.” Ags. 1793 “Tam Thrum” Look before ye Loup 10:
Whaten a hilly-ballow's this amang ye? Sc. 1826 in Child Ballads (1956) V. 164:
O whaten a man is Hazelgreen? I pray thee tell to me. Edb. 1887 R. F. Hardy T. Telfer's Shadow 84:
What do you think it matters in the sight of Heaven what'n a tune ye sing? Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
Bairns, whatn a wark is dis at ye're makkin? Arg. 1914 J. M. Hay Gillespie i. v.:
“Can you an' me no' mak' a bargain? it's a chance.” “Whatna bargain?” Gillespie asked softly. m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood ix.:
Whatna gifts will we bring to the altar in he coming day of sacrifice? Uls. 1953 Traynor:
What'n cap's it ye're wearin' the day?
2. More gen. = Eng. what, relat. and interrog. (wm.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., Cai., m. and s.Sc. 1974). Phr. whatna way, how (Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders xxiii.). Cf. What, V. 14.
Sc. 1769 D. Herd Sc. Songs 242:
O quhaten a voyce is that? quoth the King. Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxxix.:
I wish I had whaten books ye wanted. Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 175:
Whatten a gate o' riding is that? Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin viii.:
“Whaten an intimation?” quoth my faither. Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
“Whatten kind of a thing?” says grandfaither. Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 25:
Whaten a shed? We have nae cairt-shed here. Arg. 1917 A. W. Blue Quay Head Tryst 32:
“Whatna canoe, my dear?” axes Jean. Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 189:
Whitten kindo labscouse is this, Jesso?
3. = what, used exclam. (I.Sc., Cai., Slg., Bwk., Lnk. 1974).
Sc. 1769 D. Herd Sc. Songs 242:
Quhen he cam to the Queen's window, Quhaten a joyfou shute gae he. Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xvi.:
Whaten an unearthly sight! Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 82:
Whatna lovely world we lost When boyhood's hour was o'er. Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 39:
But efter they gat the siller, whuten beauties they turn't! m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 54:
Wi' whatna joy we'll haud the ploo. wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 31:
O watna a cantrip for gaugers to thole. Gsw. 1951 H. W. Pryde M. McFlannel's Romance 17:
Whitna pant we had one night imitatin' the sergeant-major. Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 70:
“Whitten queer folk,” t'owt Herrid.
4. = Eng. which, of two or more (s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 193; Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I.Sc., Cai., Per., Fif., Peb., Rxb. 1974).
Ayr. 1785 Burns There was a Lad i.:
But what na day o' what na style, I doubt it's hardly worth the while To be sae nice wi' Robin. Ayr. 1821 Galt Legatees ii.:
We should have told him what'na Norfolk Street we wanted. Sc. 1834 G. R. Gleig Allan Breck II. xv.:
Whaten army, friend? There's mair nor ae army rampaging through the kintra now. Edb. 1886 R. F. Hardy Katie iv.:
Whatten an hoor is't the meetin' gangs in the morn's nicht? Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 15:
A'm no sure whuten yin o' the twa's the original wey o't. Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 79:
Whatna countryman are ye? What part of the country do you belong to? Sc. 1925 H. McDiarmid Sangschaw 33:
Wha kens on whatna Bethlehems Earth twinkles like a star the nicht. Rxb. 1942 Zai 144:
Whatna buke hae ee bought?
II. pron. What, what thing, used interrog. Rare. Whaten for, why. Cf. What, V. 5.
Sc. 1869 Chambers's Jnl. (27 Feb.) 134:
“Wisht! Wisht!” says he, “Whatna's yon?” Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 266:
But whaten for, gif ony daur'd to speir, He drave them aff wi' little waste o' wind.
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"Whatten adj., pron.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 May 2021 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/whatten>
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