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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

WIDDIE, n., v. Also widdy, widdi (Sh.), widi-wuddie, -y, wudy (Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 11); weddy (Uls.); wood(d)ie, woody, woodee (Dmf. 1822 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 303), woddie; ¶waddie (Cai. 1812 J. Henderson Agric. Cai. 199). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. withy. See D, letter, 4. [′wɪdi, ′wʌdɪ]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., a willow. Specif. used in Sh. of the dwarf willow, Salix repens (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1947 Sh. Folk Bk. I. 87, Sh. 1974); a branch of this used as in 1896 quot. Also fig. Cf. Wand, n., 1. Comb. widdy-wand, a willow branch or shoot (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 210; Lth. 1882 Jam.; Abd. 1974).Arg. 1896 N. Munro Lost Pibroch 233:
Such people as passed her way would have gone in, but the withie was aye across the door, and that's the sign that business is doing within no one dare disturb.
Bnff. 1899 Banffshire Jnl. (19 Sept.) 8:
Wi' dead-cauld sowens, as teuch's a widdy-wand.
Sc. 1911 Rymour Club Misc. I. 174:
Thraw the widdie when it's green, Atween three and thirteen [in the training of a child].
Sh. 1947 Sh. Folk Bk. I. 87:
Also applied to tall-growing cabbage stalks; whence the phrase “growin' laek a widdie.”
Sc. 1951 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 410:
In hir wizzent han that mindit me on a hoolet's cla, she clatched a widdy-wan.

2. A twig or wand of willow or other tough but flexible wood, or several of these twisted or interlaced to make a cord or rope and used for various purposes: (1) in gen. Combs. widdie-raip.Rs. 1727 W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 133:
Fatt stings: 100 widdies.
Sc. 1737 J. Drummond Memoirs Locheill (1842) 135:
These hutts are nothing but a few sticks, with the lower end fixt in the earth, and bound together, at the tops, with small rops or woodies, and slightly coverred over with turff.
Dmf. 1822 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 303:
Syne bound her wi' woodees o' sapling aik.
Per. 1825 Jam.:
The rope, called a widdie, is in Perthshire and other places often made of birchen twigs.
Ags. 1833 J. S. Sands Poems 71:
His face as black as ony woody, Wi' reek and turmoil o' the smiddy.
Bnff. 1930:
His theets wir made o' widdie-raips. Very freq. in similes of someone who or something which is hard, tough or unyielding, e.g. as cross (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), dour, dry, stiff, teuch, thrawn as a or the widdie (ne.Sc., Slg., wm.Sc., Kcb. 1974), poss. in some cases with allusion to sense 3.
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce I. iii.:
The mutton-ham will be brandered black, and my souple scones as teugh as the widdie.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 193:
His wife's just as thrawn as a wuddy.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie i.:
Dry fuzzionless trash [cheese], as tough's the woodie, an' as lean's a deal board.
Rnf. 1878 Good Words 244:
Ae hauf is like a Christian; the ither hauf is as dour's a wuddy.
Gall. 1881 J. K. Scott Gall. Gleanings 88:
Wi' face like a wadge an' grey glow'rin een, An' wrinkled skin dry as a wuddie.
Ags. 1887 A. D. Willock Rosetty Ends 74:
I never fa' but I'm as stiff as a wuddie for twa or three days after it.
Mry. c.1920:
A tough piece of meat is declared to be “as tough as the Beneuch Wuddies.”

†(2) in halters and horse- and plough-harness (Sc. 1808 Jam.; ‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), the word being later applied to iron chains used for the same purpose (Per. 1974). See Cutwiddie, Rigwiddie, Sauch, 2.(10).n.Sc. c.1730 E. Burt Letters (1815) I. 72:
Instead of ropes for halters and harness they generally make use of sticks of birch twisted and knotted together; these are called woodies.
Arg. 1776 Session Papers, Petition J. Mackellar (28 June) 2:
House-timber, plough-timber, harrow-timber, scobs, cars, spades, and ax-shafts and widdies.
Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 133:
Weel yoket in a twa horse tree By links or stout airn woodies.
Uls. 1801 C. Coote Stat. Survey Monaghan I. 62:
The usual iron hooks and rings, here called cut weddys, are fixed to each end of single trees.

(3) made into a kind of net or pack in which to carry articles over the shoulder. The comb. widdy-bag used in the nonsense rhyme in the game of hornie-holes (see Hornie, I. 1.(4)), poss. belongs here (see 1825 quot.).Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
With a nig-nag, widdy-bag, And an e'endoun trail trail; Quoth he.
Inv. 1843 R. Carruthers Highl. Notebook 86:
A cask, slung over their shoulders in a woodie (a twisted bundle of birch twigs).
Sc. 1867 N. Macleod Starling II. i.:
It kilt mair salmon than I could carry hame on a heather wuddie.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xxx.:
They [guns] come up the Road in creels, like haddocks, and a widdie of them's dropped off here and there in the slyest glens to wait for market.

(4) as a loop or latch to fasten a door or gate to the post.Sc. 1887 Jam.:
In some parts of the Highlands and islands of Scotland doors fastened with widdies or wand-ropes may still be seen; and such fastenings were not uncommon in the Lowlands at the beginning of this century.
Gall. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 43:
Weel! yae day the wuddy o' the yaird ligget gat lowse.

(5) as a binding or whipping for the twigs of a sweeping-broom (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).

†(6) “a twig having several small shoots branching out from it; which being plaited together, it is used as a whip, the single grain serving for a handle” (Cai. 1808 Jam.).

(7) fig. of the marriage-bond.Rnf. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 212:
Tent the luive that's laith to tyne, Jealous Girzie, gybin Girzie; Nor sair the sakeless woodie twine.

(8) fig. of a very perverse or obstinate person. Cf. 1. above.Ayr. 1886 J. Meikle Lintie 100:
Do you no see, you thrawn wuddy o' a body, that you spoiled it?

3. (1) The rope used by a hangman, the gallows rope (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson); transf. the gallows itself, poss. by erroneous association with Wuid, n. Now only liter. or in proverbial or imprecatory expressions.Abd. 1714 R. Smith Poems 29:
Thou'll hing shortly in the Widdy.
Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 212:
I hope we'll see them at the last Strung a' up in a woody.
Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 54:
Like scar-craws new ta'en down frae woodies.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 52:
Till on a woodie, black an' blue, They pay the kain!
Sc. 1818 Scott Bride of Lamm. xvi.:
The loon has woodie written on his very visnomy.
Dmf. 1822 Scots Mag. (May) 634:
“O woodie to the wiesand o' him!” said I to myself.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 280:
Grippin' yer teeth as gin ye waur i' the wuddie.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 65:
Their craigs she wad rax in teuch hempen widdies.
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong R. Rankine at Exhibition 43:
If a' the Leezie Rankine's in the Northern Hemisphere were danglin' frae a tim'er wuddy.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 114:
But fa did swing on the wuddy's rape Let the ancient story tell.
Sc. 1929 Scots Mag. (August) 386:
Then will the truth . . . Grip thy craig like the wuddie's cord?

(2) in phrs. (i) I'll gie ye the wuddie in a windy day, a threat “addressed by a mother to a child who, greedy for something on the table, annoys her by saying ‘Gie's this or that'” (Ags. 1921); (ii) to be at the craig or knag and the widdie, to be at loggerheads. See Craig, n.2, 3.(7), Knag, n.1, 2. Phrs.; (iii) to blin' a wuddy, to fill the noose of a gallows, to be hanged. See Blin, v.2; (iv) to cheat the widdie, to escape hanging, to save one(self) from the gallows (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per. 1974). For n. usage see Cheat, v., 3.; (v) to dance in or on the woodie, = (iii); (vi) to get someone in the wuddy, to have (one) at one's mercy; (vii) to jouk the wuddie, = (iv) to cheat the widdie; (viii) to rin to the woody, to go to ruin or perdition, to go to the devil; (ix) to wag at a widdie, to be hanged, to “swing”; (x) to wintle in a woodie, id. See Wintle.(iii) Gall. c.1870 Bards Gall. (Harper 1889) 238:
If he should think she's fairly gane, His craig might blin' a wuddy.
(iv) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xvii.:
It was a great pity, puir man, he couldna cheat the woodie.
s.Sc. 1836 Wilson's Tales of the Borders III. 69:
He had nae mair [honour] than ony auld jevel wha ever cheated the wuddy.
Wgt. 1878 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 255:
His wife thus contrived to cheat the wuddy o' him.
s.Sc. 1898 E. Hamilton Mawkin xiii.:
I'd as lief cheat the woodie for a wee whilie yet.
Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 39:
Folk wad swear he chate the wuddy.
(v) Ayr. 1785 Burns Twa Herds xvi.:
Learning [may] in a woody dance.
Mry. 1830 Lintie o' Moray (1887) 40:
Wha for this ought to dance on the woodie.
(vi) Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost xlv.:
I had thus got the thief in the wuddy, and he had no choice.
(vii) m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 90:
He canna sing, thare's nane wad say he's braw,
kens tae an inch hou faur yir neive kin thraw.
He'll no aye jouk the wuddie, orra tyke ...
but tholes the rouch assize o kintra law
tae hing, neb-doun upon a barb-wire dyke.
(viii) Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail lxxii.:
Let your father rin to the woody as he will.
(ix) Abd. 1898 J. M. Cobban Angel viii.:
To be a tassel at the end of a rope, and to wag at a widdie.
(x) Ayr. 1785 Burns A. Armour's Prayer vii.:
May she wintle in a woody, If she whore mair!

(3) in combs.: (i) widieneck, the gallows noose, fig. in phr. in the widienecks, at loggerheads, in a quarrel or dispute. Cf. (2)(ii) above; (ii) widdie-raip, the gallows rope; (iii) withie-tree, gallows-tree, with a play on sense 1.(4); (iv) wuddy worthy, one deserving to be hanged, a gallows-bird.(i) Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS. iii., v.:
I mind o' seein' twa fishermen and a wumman in the widienecks wi' a chiel fae Scavie. . . . Syne oor second man at Kelpie's got into the widienecks wi' a red hairt chiel.
(ii) Ags. 1834 J. Nevay The Peasant 106:
He hangit your father on that tree, Wi this same widdie-raip.
(iii) Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 140:
The auld withie-tree should hae a new yett hung on't.
(iv) Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize I. ix.:
The wuddy worthies that paid half price for leave to sleep on the widow's hearth.

4. Transf. The Devil, in similes and imprecations.Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 162:
'Tis Eith to Guess my Meaning here, and woodyfa' them's Joaking.
Fif. 1864 St Andrews Gaz. (16 Jan.):
She flew like the woodie whene'er she was oot.

II. v. To hang on a gallows.Dmf. 1805 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 701:
Ere she girns like a wooddied witch, An' gaes the gate we a' maun gang.

[O.Sc. widdy, the gallows rope, 1450, wede, a rope, bond, 1475, widdie, = I. 2.(4), 1513, = (3), 1667, widdienek, a gallows-bird, c.1480.]

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"Widdie n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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