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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ABOOT, adv., prep[ə′but]

1. adv.

(1) On the outside; on every side (like about in St.Eng.). Gen.Sc. Also, out of the way.Abd.(D) 1867 Mrs Allardyce The Goodwife at Home liv:
Haud by the luncart, at the strype; It's nae a bit aboot.

(2) In all directions round, through, or over a place; here and there (like about in St.Eng.). Gen.Sc.Lth. 1915 J. Fergus The Sodger, etc. (1916) 5:
He throve on parritch . . . An' ran aboot bare-leggit in a wee bit tartan kilt.

(3) On the move, going about (a sign of recovery from illness). Gen.Sc.Lnl.1 1930:
Ay! Tam's aboot again.
m.Sc. 1987 Andrew Cowan in Iain Crichton Smith Scottish Short Stories 1987 101:
'Aye. Ah did.'
'Havenae seen her aboot these days. She all right?'
Pringle took a breath. 'Aye,' he said.

(4) Turned.Sc. 1881 Alex. Mackie Scotticisms 27:
When my back was about — when my back was turned, or behind my back.

(5) Approximately, in respect of number, quantity or degree (as in St.Eng.). Gen.Sc.Mry.(D) 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sketches 10:
It [barrel of oil] was inwiced forty gallons, an' hoo muckle think ye did it measure oot? Jeist exac'ly forty gallons, a bottle, an' aboot half a tea cuppiefu'.
Rxb. 1924 Hawick Express 1 Feb. 3/7:
Now they're away aboot half-a-croon, an' mair, an' often mair stanes than coals.

2. prep. Meanings as for St.Eng. about.

(1) On every side of; round. Gen.Sc.Lnk. 1881 D. Thomson Musings Among the Heather 45:
I hae a guid wheen braw silk goons, A hat wi' flow'rs aboot it.

(2) All over, here and there in. Gen.Sc.Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes I. ii.:
Supperstitious quean! . . . What business hae ye to gang greetin aboot the hoose?

(3) In the neighbourhood of (a place or person). Gen.Sc.Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 18:
Billy [Marshall] leev't tae be 120 year aul', an there's some o' his descendants aboot Stranraer yet.

(4) Relating to, concerning. Gen.Sc.Sh. 1886 G. Temple Britta 33:
I dinna ken onythin' aboot the rich.
Rxb.(D) 1923 Hawick Express 19 Jan. 3/7:
There used tae bei a great oot-cry aboot maist o' th' Cooncil business bein' cairried throwe in private.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 6:
I can't stand here all day listening to you
You neither ken nor care whit you're talking aboot
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 123:
' ... D'ye no read aboot that things at the school?'
m.Sc. 1996 Christopher Brookmyre Quite Ugly One Morning (1997) 123:
'And absolutely everything runs off the central server?'
'Aye. Management policy. Means nobody can be farting aboot playing games on their PC or loading up dodgy or even illegal software. ... '

3. Phrases: (1) Aboot ane, much the same. (2) Aboot it, much about the same. Gen.Sc. (3) Aboot one's han', in one's house or charge. (4) to be about wi, to be even with, avenged on.  (5) to hae mair about (anesel) nor . . ., to have more sense than . . . (ne.Sc. 1975).  (6) In aboot, (a) close to a person, into the house; (b) close together; (c) in control or strict discipline; (d) (get) round. (7) Oot aboot, (a) out of doors; (b) away near.(1) Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy vi. 51:
“Muckle aboot ane, Bawbie, as the deil said to the cobbler,” says Mysie.
(2) Abd.4 1928:
Back an' fore aboot it.
Ags. 1889 J. M. Barrie A Window in Thrums vii. 60:
“Ay, hoo are ye, Jess?” Tibbie said. “Muckle aboot it,” answered Jess.
(3) Abd.(D) 1928 W. Robbie Mains of Yonderton 56:
Fat for sudna a'body 'at's aboot's han' be weel aneuch deen till as lang's he's t' the fore.
(4)Lnk. 1817 Minutes J.P.s. (S.H.S.) 232:
He heard the defenders threaten to be about with them if it were seven years afterwards.
Rnf. 1733 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1876) I. 140:
Swearing by her maker that she should have her will of me and be about with me another time.
Slk. 1828 Hogg Tales (1865) 372:
I'll be about wi' you for this insult.
Lnk. 1864 St Andrews Gazette (4 June):
[She] overheard the murderer saying that he would do for him, or be about with him.
I thocht he'd mair about him nor be savin the like o that.
(6) (a) Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxiv. 243:
Ye'll maybe adverteese 'im to luik in aboot upo' me at's convainience.
Abd. 1874 Neil N. Maclean Life at a Northern Univ. ii.:
Come in aboot . . an' lat me say a fyou words to ye afore ye start.
(b) Abd.(D) 1914 A. McS. The Bishop 15–16:
Yer taes are nae made to be gripped in aboot, an' fin yer hose hinna taes, ye hiv a fine roomy feelin' i' yer beets.
(c) Abd.(D) 1929 Jas. Alexander Mains and Hilly 189:
Nae neen the waur o' bein' hauden in aboot a bit.
(d) Ayr. 1821 Galt Ann. Parish xix. 183:
He had a coothy way of getting in about folk.
(7) (a) Ags.1 1930:
He hasna been weel, an' he's no gaein' muckle oot aboot yet.
(b) Ags.1 1930:
He bides oot aboot Marykirk.

[O.E. abūtan, on-būtan for on-be-utan (“on-by-out”); Older Sc. abut(e), about(e), abowt(e).]

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"Aboot ". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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