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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

BALLANT, BALLAN', n. Mod.Sc. form of Eng. ballad. A popular tale, gen. founded on some old tradition, couched in simple metre and often accompanied by music or sung. Gen.Sc. Also attrib.Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xlv.:
They [the smugglers] stick to it that they'll . . . hae an auld wife when they're dying to rhyme ower prayers, and ballants, and charms, . . . rather than . . . a minister to come and pray.
Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
Ballant, a ballad; the general pronunciation among the vulgar throughout S[cotland].
Mry.(D) 1924 J. C. Austin in Swatches o' Hamespun 79:
There's Mergit Fyfe, the browster wife, Wha deals in booze an' ballants.
Ags. 1848 J. Myles (ed.) A Feast of Literary Crumbs (1891) 34:
A bunch o' spunks or bawbee ballan', Or hank o' stringin'.
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 43:
Bottom: Damned affeir o't. Lippen tae me. Scrieve me a blad fornenst the play tae say we're no daein ony hairm wi our dirks, an Pyramus isnae killt ava, an forby that I Pyramus am nae Pyramus but Bottom the Wabster. Syne they'll no be feartit.
Quince: We'll dae that than, screivit in strict ballant form.
m.Sc. 1979 Donald Campbell in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 67:
Fient a bard'll scrieve a ballant
for a strumpet when she's deid.
Fif. 1998 Tom Hubbard Isolde's Luve-Daith 5:
We set ti the darg wi the anerlie gear we brocht,
Wi Tristan's ballants an Isolde's balsam;
You sang ti heeze the dauntit fae defeat.
Gall. c.1870 M. Harper in Bards of Gall. (ed. Harper 1889) 161:
To weave in its praise a bit ballant or sang, Hoo the visions o' young days come croodin' sae thrang.

Phrase: A hole in the ballant, orig. the ballad-singer's excuse when his broadside was torn, the phrase was extended to mean “a blank or omission of any kind” (Ags.2).Sc. 1892 R. L. Stevenson The Wrecker v.:
Alexander Loudon, Born Seventeen Ninety-Twa, Died — and then a hole in the ballant.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xx.:
“A hole in the ballant,” commented the Provost. “Have another skelp at it, Factor.”

[The more familiar ant termination has been substituted for the older at and ad. Cf. Immediately, immedantly. See Ballat.]

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"Ballant n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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