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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

WITTER, v.1, n.1 Also wutter; ¶whitter.

I. v. To inform, guide, direct (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928)). Vbl.n. witterin(g), information, indication; a report, hint, sign, token. Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1802 The Broomfield Hill in Child Ballads No. 43 A. viii.:
That was to be wittering true That maiden she had gane.
s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws xi.:
What it is you done or how they got wittering o't, the Lord only kens.
Gall. 1905 E.D.D.:
I heard a wutterin' o't, but naething for certain.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.:
He got a witterin' that a burglary wad take place.

II. n. 1. A sign, mark, token.Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan II. ii.:
A sign and witter from the people that they'll be humbugged no longer.

Combs.: (1) witter-hole, a mark or depression made in a witter-stone (a stone marking a boundary); (2) witter-wife, a female soothsayer or fortune-teller.(1) Abd. 1840 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. III. 63:
They [the boundary stones] were generally distinguished from “orra” stones by having scooped out, on the top, small round cavities called “saucers”,while some were remarkable besides from exhibiting four “witter-holes”.
(2) Cai. 1891 D. Stephen Gleanings 23:
He was strongly advised to consult one or other of the “witter wives” — a class of dames professing to read fortunes and to discover thieves and depredators of whatsoever sort.

2. The tail- or marker-buoy in a fleet of herring nets (Sh. 1974).

3. A tree left standing when cutting timber.Cld. 1794 J. Naismith Agric. Cld. 41:
It has long been the custom to leave 20 or 25 select trees, called reserves or witters, in an acre, at each cutting.

4. In Curling: the mark aimed at, the tee (Sc. 1811 J. Ramsay Curling 4; Ayr. 1930).Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 166:
Next Robin o' Mains, a leader good, Close to the witter drew.
Rnf. 1805 G. MacIndoe Poems 57:
Then down the port like a king's cutter, Your stane'll slide into the whitter.
Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Works 111:
Wha now will hin' han' clear the witter?

Combs.: (1) wutter length, used adv., as far as the tee; (2) witter-shot, a shot that sends the curling stone exactly to the tee (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 184, 1905 E.D.D.).(1) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 65:
Old wary curlers won't waste stones on the guards. They sail them past the sentinels, nigh witter length.
(2) Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 29:
Their outer and their inner wicks, And witter shot.

[O.Sc. wittering, information, witter, to inform, 1420, a mark, 1513, witter-holl, -stane, 1615, O.N. vitra, to reveal, make to know, Norw. vitr(ing), a warning, sign.]

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"Witter v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2023 <>



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