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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.


1. A man's flat-topped, round cap, without a snout. Cf. braid bonnet s.v. Braid, combs. (1).Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter l. 83:
Whiles holding fast his guid blue bonnet.

Phr.: dad wi' the blue bonnet (see quot.).Rxb. 1820 Edin. Mag. (April) 344/2:
When a cow happened to be seized with any sudden disease, (the cause of which was usually ascribed to the malignant machinations of the fairies), she was said to be elf-shot, and it was reckoned as much as her life was worth not to “dad her wi' the blue bonnet.”

2. Hence applied (1) to the wearer of such a cap — i.e. a Scotsman — and esp. (2) to the Covenanters and Presbyterians; (3) to marauders.(1) Sc. 1819 Hogg (ed.) Jacobite Relics 5:
March! March! dogs of redemption, Ere the blue bonnets come over the border.
(2) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality iv.:
I'll begin with that sulky blue-bonnet in the ingle-nook.
(3) Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
Rob soon gathered an unco band o' blue-bonnets at his back, for he comes o' a rough name when he's kent by his ain.

3. Name of a flower. See Blue, IV. 2.

4. Name of a bird. See Blue, V. 1.

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"Blue Bonnet n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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