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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DUNT, n., v. Also daunt.

I. n.

1. A heavy, dull-sounding blow or stroke, a knock. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 340:
Words go with the Wind, but dunts are the Devil.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxxvii.:
If she comes to dunts, I have a hand to paik her with.
Cai. 1950 Proverbial Saying (per Cai.3):
Gi'e 'e boy a peece an had him rinnin', Gi'e 'e girl a dunt an had her spinnin'.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 187:
The bells ring and echo as Dougie gies a dunt to the maa's neb. And the door swings open.
Bnff. 1927 E. S. Rae Hansel Fae Hame 44:
The dice o' fate will nae een spare, O' dunts and dauts they've had their share.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall in Neil R. MacCallum Lallans 51 15:
There wes a dunt, a shuggle, an a rickle o flames teirin out o the rocket's dowp, ...
em.Sc. 1997 Ian Rankin Black & Blue (1999) 287:
'I see your face took a dunt.'
Rebus touched his temple. The swelling was going down.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 49:
Like thee, do I not bide the brunt Of Highland chairman's heavy dunt?
Edb. 1994:
Just gie the table the wee'est dunt tae get it in place.
wm.Sc. 1988 Robin Jenkins Just Duffy 112:
Some dunts had loosened the catch. Though the window was narrow it was close enough to the ground for them to be able to squeeze through easily.
wm.Sc. 1989 Scotsman 1 Jul 1:
And he winced as he recalled having brought the then-mystery object on board and having lowered it none-too-gently on the Ha'bern's deck. "It did go down with a bit of a dunt." he said.
Arg. 1992:
A gie him wile dunts, tae, an he still does it. [snores]
Ayr. 1788 Burns I hae a Wife iii.:
I hae a guid braid sword, I'll tak dunts frae naebody.
Gall. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 52:
She had just to raeck oot her hand and gie him a bit dunt on the noddle wi' the beettle noo an' then.

Hence adj. duntie used adv. in comb. duntie-wauket, of cloth, fulled by beating with a stick. See Waulk.Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 21:
Breeks made o' Duntie Wauket Plyden.

Phrs.: †(1) at a dunt, unexpectedly (Slg. 1825 Jam.2); (2) in a dunt, in a flash (Fif.10 1941); (3) the (ver(r)a) dunt, -clean-, the very thing (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Kcb.10 1941, -vera-); (4) to get the dunt, to be knocked out, crushed (Bnff.2 1941); to be dismissed (Abd.27 1950).(2) Fif. 1893 “G. Setoun” Barncraig ii.:
He said to me himsel' that it cam' upon him a' in a dunt.
(3) Abd. 1912 J. Stephen Donside Lilts 13:
[He] saw a hare's skin on the wa', He said — “Losh noo, that's just the dunt Gin it were hard-stuffed fu' o' straw.”
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood iii.:
Ay, ay, that's the very dunt.
Kcb. 1930 (per Wgt.1):
“That's the clean dunt”, meaning “That's the very thing.”
(4) Fif. 1929 St Andrew's Cit. (9 Feb.) 9/3:
Their inspiration's got the dunt, Twa dune auld footers.

2. The wound caused by such a blow (Cai.7, Bnff.2, Ags.2 1941). Also fig.Sc. 1886 R. L. Stevenson Kidnapped vii.:
My visitor . . . set himself to wash and dress the wound upon my scalp “Ay,” said he, “a sore dunt”.
Cai.4 c.1920:
'E bairn fell an' got a terrible dunt on 'e heid.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders xxxiii.:
Ridin' croose and canty — him wi' a three-cornered dunt on his broo, and her wi' a scart on her airm.

3. A dent (Abd.27 1950). Also fig.Ork.1 1929:
There's a dunt in the side o the tin box.
Arg. 1993:
Big dunts on the wa wi the chuck-key [hitting it]
Rxb. 1916 Jedburgh Gazette (26 May) 2:
She brings still, dings still A dunt into our heart.

4. The wooden disc dunted down on top of the herrings in a barrel before the final sealing.Sc. 1864 J. M. Mitchell The Herring 113:
A dunt is a round solid piece of wood of nearly the size of the head. Dunting is the placing of this on the top of the herrings in the barrel after being repacked, and by jumping, or standing on it the herrings are pressed down.
Bnff. 1950 N. Paterson Behold Thy Daughter 186:
One of the younger girls in the yard was lifted on to the dunt, and, by stamping on it, pressed down the excess of salt so that the head of the barrel could be replaced.

5. A heavy fall, a thud, a bump; “the sound caused by the fall of a hard body that in some degree rebounds” (Jam.2). Gen.Sc. Also used adv.Mry. 1865 W. H. L. Tester Poems 134:
An' baith o' ye notice it be carefully done, An' no lat me doon wi' a dunt to the grun.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood xiii.:
Only it wasn't things that go dunt in the dark that you wanted protection from.
Ags. 1915 V. Jacob Songs of Angus 17:
Fegs! he cam' hurlin' owre the front, An' struck the road wi' sic a dunt.
Fif. 1901 “G. Setoun” Barncraig vii.:
He came “doun with a dunt,” as he would have phrased it himself.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxv.:
I went a dunt on the causey that made the gun go off.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days xxvi.:
When you drop off, Miss Dyce, there'll be an awful dunt, I'm telling you!

6. A throb, thump, quickened beat of the heart (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10 1941). Also adv. in such phrs. as to gae dunt, to play —.Sc. 1887 R. L. Stevenson Underwoods (1888) 85:
The heart plays dunt wi' main an' micht; The lasses' een are a' sae bricht.
Sc. 1920 D. Rorie Auld Doctor 32:
But my he'rt gae a dunt at the story that runt O' a hoose-keeper body'd to tell.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 7:
An', mindin', wi' a hertsome dunt, This was the mornin' o' the Hunt.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 58:
For fear she curr'd like makine i' the seat, An dunt for dunt her heart began to beat.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 102:
My hert gaed dunt, my han's did shak', My e'en war like to greet.
m.Sc. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 34:
My Whittle's fand, hurra! hurra! . . . Losh! what a dunt my bosom gied.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 59:
My heart it gaed dunt upon dunt, Od! I thought ilka dunt it would crack it.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 52:
Ilk rowt the twa gave thwart the burn Cam o'er her heart a dunt.

7. A blow to one's fortunes or feelings; a shock, disappointment (Cai.7, Abd.27, Ags., m.Lth.1 1950).Sc. 1948 The Bulletin (3 Sept.):
The “dunt” of hard facts will doubtless modify them in time.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 1:
Twis a sair dunt tae ony fairmer, giein up his grun tae incomers.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 26:
My nieves are sair wi chappin
but nocht as sair as my dunched hairt;
I canna aye joke the dunts awa.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 186:
'If it was me, it would be because me ain faith had taen a dunt. Ye'd been sure o Weir, as ye were sure o yersel. He had been sure o himsel. ... '
Edb. 1811 H. Macneill Bygane Times 38:
A good round sum wi' interest on't For mony a year, was sic a dunt, That in a blink this scoundrel brack.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Ann. Parish xxxvi.:
Never shall I forget the dunt that the first tap of the drum gied to my heart.

Hence ¶dunty, rough, giving dunts.em.Sc. 1920 J. Black Airtin' Hame 94:
The jaggy, dunty bits o' life, Though no' what ane would hae, Can mak' us cautious wisdom learn.

Phr.: to tak a dunt, to get a setback in one's hopes, business, etc. (Sh., n.Sc. 1975).

8. A dig, “a gibe, an insult; also a slanderous falsehood” (Ayr. 1825 Jam.2).Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 46:
At Johnnie Dow's wi' furious splore, And nae licht dunt at mony a bore, He set the table in a roar.
Kcb. 1898 A. J. Armstrong Levellers 205:
Those at the minister's board . . . did not seem touched with the frolicsome, but Howford took “dunts” out of Forgie and anyone he got his tongue over.

9. A chance, opportunity, occasion (Sh.12 1950). Cf. Dint, n.2, (1).Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 91:
Stown dunts are sweetest.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
He cam upo me in a stowen dunt.

10. A lump, a large piece. gen. of food (Sh.10 1950; Ags.2, Kcb.1 1941; Per. 1915 Wilson; m.Lth.1 1951); a good distance (Ags.4 1916; Ags. 1950). Cf. Dad, n.2, 3, Dunch, n., 3.Sc. 1818 Scott Poems (1833) XI. 320:
Donald Caird finds orra things . . . Dunts of kebbuck, taits of woo.
Ork. 1930 Orcadian (13 Feb.):
I mind once a schoolboy who complained of another who took his twal-piece, and gave him instead a filty dunt o' corn-bread.
Per. 1835 J. Monteath Dunblane Trad. 72:
Dunts o' cheese and clatches o' butter.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 68:
Thou dauds him up, a movin' fright, Wi' dunts o' glaur.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems, etc. I. 66:
Wae worth't! a dunt o' scowthert cheese Stuck on a prong, he quaukin' sees.

II. v.

1. (1) To beat, strike, thump, bump, knock, so as to produce a dull sound. Gen.Sc. Also ppl.adjs. duntit, duntin.Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate xxiv.:
Na, na! — nae sic divot had dunted at their door.
Sh. 1930 T. P. Ollason in Sh. Almanac 193:
Shü rumbled da tatties i' da pot an dunted da peerie tub apo da flüir.
ne.Sc. 1714 R. Smith Poems 60:
Upon the Duke of Atholes Hunting, Where Men with Swords the Deer were dunting.
ne.Sc. 1991 Ken Morrice in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 59:
Sae dabbit wi floor and stew,
wi guff o yeast, a duntin nieve
and sweaty broo,
I wroch and wrastle
wi the hail stramash - hands and heid -
wark my wark for you.
Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 4:
I'll get ye pitten faur ye'll get time to dunt yer heels at leasure.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 51:
Ae auld bodach, twa pews ben, dovered ower like a hen on a reest an snored. His wife dunted him in the ribs tae wakken him.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 25:
A duntin breeze that shook the leaves
Gart aa the birds gae wingin.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 51:
Syne he'd stap, tuim 'is rum,
an' staigger intae the nicht,
dunt 'gainst waas, skite, a fearsome sicht.
m.Sc. 1986 John McKenzie City Whitelight 22:
Jackie was still looking rather stupidly in that direction when the old man dunted him on the shoulder.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 53:
Syne straucht I duntit doun on my bit airse
an no a saicont later on my heid;
ma skraichs an yells an black-begrutten face
shuin tellt the ithers that I wesna deid.
m.Sc. 1993 Douglas Lipton in A. L. Kennedy and Hamish Whyte New Writing Scotland 11: The Ghost of Liberace 42:
Every morning I crawled on dunted knees
with the crampons of my finger-nails
hauling me up the hill.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxv.:
They grippit hauds o' me by the legs an' shoothers, an' fell a-duntin' my body on a stane wi' micht an' main.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxv.:
On the door dunting to again, it being soople in the hinges, they both plainly heard a fistling within.
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 24:
Rabbie Burns turned in his grave and dunted Hugh MacDiarmid.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Elder Stookie 31:
There was a crane with one of those huge metal blocks on it that you dunted against the walls to bring them down.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize xxii.:
Fearing the wrathful ram might dunt out the bowels or the brains, if he had any, of the poor young cavalier.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 59:
The pliant foot Of early passenger athwart the vale, Dunting, oppressive, on the verdant path.
Kcb. 1895 S. R. Crockett Moss-hags iv.:
Only the sound of my mother's roller being heard, “dunt-dunting” on the dough.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 210:
And he duntit and knockit to waken the lass.
Uls. 1879 W. G. Lyttle Readings 10:
Whun I come tae the place I did exac'ly as the carman tell't me, an' dunted the daur that hard that my knee dinneled.

Phr. and Combs.: (a) dune (dead) and duntit on, “a proverbial phrase, sometimes applied to an object that is completely done, i.e. has ceased to exist; at other times to a person greatly worn out by fatigue” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); (b) dunt-aboot, †(i) “a bit of wood driven about at Shinty or similar games” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2); (ii) an old or valueless article, e.g. a garment that receives hard usage (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B.); (iii) “a servant who is roughly treated, and dunted about from one piece of work to another” (Ib., 1942 Zai.; Kcb.10 1941); also in Nhb. dial.; (c) dunting-brod, (i) = Dunt, n., 4., q.v.; (ii) the batten for holding the reed which beat the weft-threads into position as they were woven in the old Angus handlooms, or the combination of the two (Ags.17 1940); †(d) dunting-case, a prostitute (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); (e) never let dunt, don't let on (Bnff., Ayr. 2000s).(a) Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
The same idea is often expressed, in a very unfeeling manner, in reply perhaps to the question, “Is such a person dead?” “Dead! aye, he's dead and dunted on.” . . . It seems to refer to the nailing down of a coffin . . . or to the noise made by the shovelling of the moulds on it in the grave.
(b) (iii) Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 188:
Better an auld man's dautie nor a young man's dunt-aboot.
(c) (i) Abd. 1863 in Bnffsh. Jnl. (3 Feb.) 7:
Scotch curers all with one accord, Shall now compelled be To use the Dunting-Brod upon All herrings of the Sea.
(e) Ags. 1990s:
Niver lat dunt: don't let on.

(2) Specif.: to press down the herrings in a barrel by stamping. See Dunt, n., 4.Sc. 1727 Plan for Improving Fisheries, etc. 13:
Neither shall it be lawful to remove them [herrings] from the Place, where they shall first have been landed, until they shall be repacked and daunted in the Manner after mentioned.
Sc. 1864 T. D. Lauder Directions for Taking Herrings 19:
The fish are then dunted, that is, the head is jumped upon by the Packer.
Bnff. 1950 N. Paterson Behold Thy Daughter 186:
The dunting or final pressing down of the herrings, which took place when the barrels were opened for the last time.

(3) To shake together by knocking the contents of e.g. a sack on the ground (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10, Kcb.9 1941).Sc. 1887 Jam.6:
To dunt a sack of grain.

2. Of the heart: to throb, to beat rapidly, to palpitate (Sh.10 1950; Cai.7 1951; ne.Sc., Ags., m.Lth.1, Bwk.2 1951; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 190); also sometimes of a sore (Cai.7, Abd.27, Ags. 1950). Also in w.Yks. dial. Used adv. in phr. to play dunt (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1941).Sc. 1724–27 Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1733) I. 100:
Ne'er dunt again within my breast, Ne'er let her slights thy courage spill.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales (1908) 100:
I thought my vera heart wid loup out, it was duntan' at sica rate.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 123:
O' for a heart that would dunt wi' my ain!
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin v.:
The appointed oor arrived, an' faund us prepared, but wi' oor hearts duntin' sair forgainst oor ribs.
Ayr. 1795 Burns To Mitchell ii.:
And while my heart wi' life-blood dunted, I'd bear 't in mind!
Dmf. 1863 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 59:
Although yer hearts afore ne'er dunted, Wi' fear ye'll shake.

3. To crush, or indent by striking (Abd., Ags., Slg., m.Lth., Kcb. 1950).Sc. 1887 Jam.6:
Ye've duntit the lid o' the tin can.

4. With oot (out): to settle a quarrel or misunderstanding by talking things over, to “thresh out” an argument (Abd.4 1933).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 111:
But there is ae thing I'd hae dunted out.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xiii.:
Johnny's principle of action, as regarded differences between himself and others, was always to “dunt it oot” as he went along.
Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters I. v.:
Lat Mary an' me dunt out our dispute atweest ourselves.

5. To take by surprise (Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. (1922) 150).

[O.Sc. has dunt, dont, a heavy blow, from a.1522, v., to deal heavy blows; to stamp heavily, from a.1500; of the heart: to beat violently, c.1540. Prob. imit. in origin: cf. dent, dint, and Norw. dial. dunt, a blow, bump, thump.]

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"Dunt n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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