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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).

YETLIN, n., adj. Also -line, yet(t)lin(g), -len, -an(d), -een, yitling; yatlen (Sh.). [′jɛtlɪn]

I. n. 1. An article made of cast-iron, esp. (1) a pot or kettle, gen. of the three-legged sort (Kcb. 1900; Bwk. 1958, yitling). Also in Eng. dial.; (2) a jug or vessel. The reference in quot. is to the Stirling jug. See Stirling, 1.; (3) a griddle or baking plate for oatcakes, scones, etc. (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc. 1974); (4) the hob of a cast-iron fireplace (Lnk. 1962); (5) an iron ball used in a New Year game at Wemyss in Fife (see quots.).(1) Sc. 1826 M. Dods Manual (1837) 308:
Put it into a yetling with button-onions, spices, and at least a quarter-pound of butter.
s.Sc. 1937 A. Hepple Heydays 80:
She plucked a couple of chickens, and hanging the yetling on the swee at the side of the fire, she put them into it.
(2) Slg. 1795 G. Galloway Poems 8:
When farmers their affairs are settlin', They straight repair to Stirling's yettlin, An' pour a routh o' auld Scots vittle in This ancient mug.
(3) Ork. 1868 D. Gorrie Orkneys 254:
Flat stones which served the purpose of yettlins, or girdles for firing cakes and scones.
Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 9:
A big yetlin (a large flat pan) is on the fire, for the rosy cheeked bare-armed daughter is baking sowan scones.
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 64:
I hid tae waal me wey among the bairns tae win tae the yettleen wae me bannocks.
(5) Fif. 1896 A. J. G. Mackay Hist. Fife & Kinross 231:
A game still, or not long ago, played at New Year with yetlings or balls of cast iron, on the sands near the skilleys of Wemyss, in which the player who drives the ball to the goal in the fewest number of strokes wins.
Fif. 1966 Scots Mag. (June) 198:
The game was named “Yetlins” and was played every New Year's Day on the rocks in front of the village [East Wemyss]. The game was played with an iron ball about the size of a cricket ball and each competitor had a wrist strap with a tape attached. The ball was wound up in the tape and bowled underarm, three times up and back on a measured course.

2. Cast-iron, pot-metal (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ayr. 1863 J. Manson Lyrics 322; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1974).Sc. 1769 Weekly Mag. (15 June) 352:
Arrived. At Leith . . . the James of Carron, Saunders, from ditto with yetline.
Sc. 1776 Kames Gentleman Farmer 21:
Rollers are of different kinds, stone, yetling, wood.
Ags. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XII. 178:
Scotch ploughs, very neatly made, and covered with yetling.
Rxb. 1826 A. Scott Poems 38:
Massy bars o' mouldit yetlin strang.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxix.:
Naething but whunstane and yettlin could withstand it.
Per. 1881 D. Macara Crieff 199:
When a foot got knocked out a man could easily be got to melt metal or yettlin and put in another.

II. adj. from n., 2., used attrib.: made of cast-iron (Ork. 1726 P. Ork. A.S. VI. 30; Sc. 1808 Jam.; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. XIII. 44, yetland). Hence fig. in comb. yetlen-hearted, hard-hearted, merciless.Sc. 1703 Household Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) 170:
A little yetlin kettle.
Sc. 1737 J. Dunbar Industrious Country-Man 32:
He must have a large Yettling Pot (no Brass or Copper Looms being fit for the Purpose).
Sc. 1755 Session Papers, Petition M. Cuthbertson (16 June) 3:
The Kitchen Chimney and Yettlen Back.
Sc. 1773 Caled. Mercury (11 Oct.):
Jack chains, trace, chains, rigwoodies, yetline plough shoes.
Slk. 1832 Hogg Queer Book 124:
To mend a kettle or a casque, Or clout a goodwife's yettlin pan.
Rxb. a.1860 J. Younger Autobiog. (1881) 331:
The yetlen-hearted ruffian seemed to have none of the softer sensibilities of the true manly character in his cast-metal nature.
Knr. 1886 H. Haliburton Horace 78:
Saturday comes, an' the triangle, An' then sae manfu' as he strides An' tingles on its yetlan' sides!

[O.Sc. ȝetling, a cast iron pot, 1374, a cast-iron cannon, 1566, yetlyne, made of cast-iron, 1507, Mid.Eng. yetling, an iron pot, cast (of iron), from †yet + -ling, suff. The first element is O.E. ȝēotan, to pour, mould. See Yat, v.]

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"Yetlin n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Oct 2022 <>



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