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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DUSTY, adj. Sc. usages. Also ne.Sc. disty (Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents 1940).

1. In combs.: (1) dusty foot, an itinerant pedlar [found in O.Sc. from early 15th cent.]; (2) dusty(-ie)-melder (me(i)ller), disty-, the last milling of a season's crop (Sc. 1825 Jam.2, dustie-melder; Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems, Gl., distymeiller; Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS. i.); also used fig. (a) in phr. †to make one's —, to be all over with one; (b) = the last child born in a family (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); (3) dusty miller, (a) a name given to the primula, P. auricula, from the white powdery appearance of the flowers and leaves (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Abd.7 1925, disty mullert; Lth., Rnf. 1825 Jam.2); in general Sc. usage; also in n.Eng. dial.; (b) a species of bumble-bee, which, when seized, deposits on the hand a light dust (Abd.9, Kcb.1 1941; Ags.17 1950; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Rxb.5 1941); also in Nhb. dial.; (c) a species of large night-moth (Rnf. 1948).(1) Sc. 1890 Bell Dict. Law Scot. 348:
According to Lord Kames, courts of Pie-Powder are so called, because fairs are generally composed of pedlars or wayfaring persons, who in France bear the name of Pied-Poudreux, and in Scotland of Dusty-Foot.
Sc. 1939 F. Drake-Carnell It's an old Sc. Custom 206:
Old Aikey, as the story goes, was a pedlar, or Dusty Foot as these gentlemen of the road are still called in places in Scotland.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 47:
There stood a weary dusy-foot, with a pale douce-like face, and he begged for a bit of bread.
(2) (a) Abd. c.1750 R. Forbes Jnl. From London (1755) 30:
I began to think be this time that my disty-meiller wis near made, an' wad hae gien twice forty pennies to had the gowan oner my feet again.
(b) Abd. 1901 Sc. N. & Q. (2nd Series) II. 142:
Dusty-melder . . . is also used to denote the [youngest] member of a large family, facetiously called “the poke-shakings.”
(3) (a) Ayr. 1870 J. K. Hunter Life Studies 155:
Sweetmary, tanzy, the dusty miller, mint, daisies, and roses.

2. Used substantivally as a familiar name for a miller (Lnk.11 1941; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 190).Abd. 1933 J. H. Smythe Blethers 43:
Fan “Disty” set oot for his hame in Torphins, . . . He mappit his coorse throu' the heather an' whins.

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"Dusty adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jun 2024 <>



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