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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BRAT, Bratt, n. and v.1 Also brattie, bratty, dims. Now only dial. in Eng. See also Brot, n.1

I. n.

1. Clothing in general.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 36:
They'll rive ye'r Brats and kick your Doup And play the Deel.
Hdg. 1902 J. Lumsden Toorle, etc. 281:
This “Stan'in Water” a' was drawn, . . . Yet naething fund worth hauling out Mair than tree-ruits, bauchles an' bratts.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Ayrsh. Legatees 59; Kcb.1 1935:
Her bits of brats are sairly worn, though she keeps out an apparition of gentility.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 45:
Little girls and boys, Whilk to clead, and eke to feed, Maun hae brats, and brose, and bread.

Phrases: (1) bit and brat (see Bit, n., 1 (2) (c)), bite an(d) brat (brattie), food and clothing; (2) brats o' claise, — duddies, clothing, used contemptuously.(1) Lnl. 1880 T. Orrock in Poets and Poetry of Lnlshire (ed. Bisset 1896) 157:
He sent us lots o' weans, guidwife, Wi' bite an' brattie tae.
Bwk. 1863 A. Steel Poems 224:
Though we hae little wardly gear, Our bite and brat, and a' that.
(2) Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 68:
It's a great matter, now-a-days, To get some meat an' brats o' claise.
Ayr. 1789 Burns To Dr Blacklock (Cent. ed.) vi.:
I hae a wife and twa wee laddies; They maun hae brose and brats o' duddies.

2. “A bib, or pin-afore” (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.2; Bnff.2, Slg.3, Lnl.1 (obsol.), Lnk.3 1935).Arg.1 1929:
What wez ye doin' that ye soiled yer bratty?
Gall. 1890 P. Dudgeon in Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 56–57:
“Brat,” now signifying a child's pinafore.

3. “A coarse kind of apron” (Arg.1, Lnk.3, Ayr.8, Kcb.9 1935; Cai., Edb., Ayr. 2000s).Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 128; Cai.7 1935:
Her brat apo' her e'en.
Fif. a.1839 G. Gourlay Our Old Neighbours (1887) 71; Fif.10 1935:
“Cast your brat the noo, David,” referring to his shoemaker's apron.
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie's Wallet viii.:
Your sooty, singet, brunt bit brattie, Strung round your buik, ye waichlin fattie.
Bwk. 1997:
brat - a heavy hessian over-apron worn by women manual workers when doing particularly rough or clarty work.
Arg. 1992:
I last heard brattie used in natural speech in 1982.
Gsw. 1931 H. S. Roberton Curdies 67:
I thocht I was entitled to a rise. So I dichts my face wi' my bratt, an' I sails up to the boss.
Wgt., Kcb. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
brat a sacking apron.

4. “A plaid, such as shepherds use” (wm.Sc. 1835–1837 Laird of Logan II. 296; Kcb.3 1929).wm.Sc. 1835–1837 Laird of Logan II. 296:
“Ye see,” said he, “. . . I sat as near the organ as I could get, and as they were turnin' round the wheel, the teeth o't grippit my plaid, and ere I could say ‘stop your bumming,' my braw brattie was out o' sicht.”

5. “A rag” (Cai.8 1934).

Hence bratty, adj., ragged (Cai. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.).

6. “A cloth put on a tup hogg to prevent its covering a ewe” (Lth. 1935 (per Lnk.3)).Sc. [1844] H. Stephens Bk. Farm (1851) II. 384:
Tup-hoggs are never allowed to serve ewes or gimmers, not having attained maturity. . . . To prevent him effectually from serving a ewe, a piece of cloth named a brat, or apron, is sewed to the wool below his belly.

7. “The scum of any fluid” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 89, bratt); found also as a pl.n.; “the tough skin which forms on porridge, etc., in cooling” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); transf. the crust that forms on the top of harrowed land (Ayr. 1928).Sc. 1692 A. Pitcairne Assembly (Maitland Club 1830) 10:
When from the milk they take the fatt, They call it scum, or cream, or bratt.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Brat. Scum. It does not necessarily signify refuse; but is also applied to the cream which rises from milk, especially of what is called a sour cogue, or the floatings of boiled whey.
Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm III. 907:
The point is ascertained by the formation of a strong thick brat or scum on the surface.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. Ork. Par. (1922) 101:
When making a cheese, . . . the whey was re-heated to boiling point, when a scum called “brats” rose to the top.
Per. 1766 H. Robertson School of Arts 107:
Take the brat or cream off the top of it, and lay it on a plate.
Edb. [1845] F. W. Bedford Hist. G. Heriot's Hospital (1859) 347:
Some of the callants dinna like either the brat on their pot. [This meaning is not given in D.O.S.T.]

II. v.

1. To cover a ewe or ram to prevent copulation.Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems on Different Occasions 34:
Or ye may gar me ride the stang, And p—l brat me like a ram, But awa we'er geldin' iron.

2. “To cover sheep with a cloth to protect them from bad weather” (Lth. 1935 (per Lnk.3)).Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm III. 1118:
As a protection to wool it is as effective as any salve, as has been satisfactorily proved by Mr M'Turk, who bratted one side of 8 sheep, and salved the other side.

3. To 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Thunner brats the milk.

4. To cake or harden, as by heat.w.Rxb. Ib.:
The sun brattit the grund.

[O.Sc. brat, a poor or ragged garment; an apron, earliest quot. c.1470–1480 (D.O.S.T.); E.M.E. bratte, rag, Mid.Eng. brat (rare), O.North. bratt, cloak. Gael. brat, a mantle, Irish brat, O.I. bratt, Welsh brethyn, woollen cloth, Breton broz, petticoat; O.E. bratt, pallium, is borrowed from the Celtic (MacBain).]

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"Brat n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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