Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WHITRAT, n. Also whitrit, -ret, -red (Sc. 1818 Scots Mag. (May) 426), white-rat (Arg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XXI. 426); whittret, -rit, whit(t)eret, whitterit; whut(t)(e)ret, -rit, ¶whut(t)-throat (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 275, 411); quitterat (Sh.), see Q, letter, 1.; and, with alternative ending in most m. and s.Sc. areas, whit(t)erick, -ack, -ock, -uck; whut(t)(e)rick, -orock; ¶whatrick (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); wittrock, wutterick. For n.Sc. forms see Futrat. [′ʍɪt(ə)rət, ′ʍʌt-, -(ə)rɪk]

1. An animal of the genus Mustela, applied most freq. to the weasel, Mustela nivalis (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Arg. 1936 L. McInnes S. Kintyre 10, wittrock; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Sh., Rs., m. and s.Sc. 1974), also to the stoat, Mustela erminea (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Sh. 1974), and to the ferret or polecat, Mustela furo (Arg. 1882 Argyllshire Herald (3 June)) or putorius. Combs. whutterick-faced, whiteret-like; whitrack-skin, a purse made of a weasel's skin. Sc. 1775 L. Shaw Hist. Moray 159:
The Wesel, a kind of polecat, and the Whitred are well known.
Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 188:
Has ony Whitret's direfu' jaws, Made thy wee lord a feast?
Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 294:
Her minnie had hain'd the warl, And the whitrack-skin had routh.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie x.:
He whisket like a whitteret out o' the door.
Sc. 1825 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) IX. 31:
A marten, five weasels, three whittrets.
Ags. 1856 W. Grant Poet. Pieces 68:
Black rag! fu' whiteret-like ye jinket.
Fif. 1862 St Andrews Gaz. (10 Oct).:
The gleg-ee'd, whutterick-faced, cool, an' cunnin' auld man.
Kcd. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 267:
His wife wus a skinny whutterick-fac't ribe.
Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell People & Lang. 50:
The name of “whiteret” is that usually applied in Ulster to the animal more politely, yet erroneously called a “weasel.”
Ags. 1932 Barrie Farewell Miss J. Logan 38:
The glen is so still that I am thinking you could hear a whit-rit on the move.
Sc. 1964 Weekly Scotsman (9 July) 16:
The whittrock was brown, with a white waistcoat and white gloves.

2. Transf.: a small, brisk, agile, restless, somewhat furtive person (Sh., em.Sc.(a), wm.Sc., Dmf. 1974); also, playfully, of a small child. Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie xliv.:
It's that whittret Wylie!
Rs. 1877 Trans. Highl. Soc. 165:
It was quite amusing to see the little whitterets [children] looking down over the wall at what was going on below.
Per. 1896 D. Macara Crieff 257:
Ye insignificant-like whitterick.
Ags. 1899 W. L. Watson Sir Sergeant ii.:
A deep man, an' a whittret for rebels.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days iv.:
My poor wee whitterick! Were ye no' frightened on the sea?
m.Sc. 1933 J. Ressich Thir Braw Days 124:
This wee whitrick o' a man that couldna cross the street withoot breakin' intil a sweet.

3. A rope-twister (Ayr. 1961 Gwerin III. 213), appar. partly a pun on Weezle, partly a corruption of the synonymous thraw-cruik.

[O.Sc. quhytred, c.1440, whitterick, 1633, Mid.Eng. whitratt, whytrate, orig. a compound of white and rat. The -et ending may later have been taken as a dim. suffix and altered with -ock, -ick. See -Ock, suffix, II.]

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"Whitrat n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2021 <>



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