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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FEET-WASHIN(G), n. comb. Also fit-. The ceremony of washing the feet of a bridegroom (or bride) performed by his (or her) friends on the eve of the wedding (ne., em.Sc., Arg., Ayr., sm.Sc. 1951). Also attrib.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 7:
Not soft Fifeteen on her Feet-washing Night.
n.Sc. c.1730 E. Burt Letters N. Scot. (1754) I. 261:
The evening before a Wedding there is a Ceremony called the Feet Washing, when the Bride-Maids attend the future Bride, and wash her Feet.
Ags. 1818 Edb. Mag. (Nov.) 411:
The eve of the wedding-day is termed the feet-washing, when a party of the neighbours of the bride and bridegroom assemble at their respective homes.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxvii.:
After the Beukin' comes the Feetwashin'.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 89:
On the evening before the marriage there was the “feet-washing”. A few of the bridegroom's most intimate friends assembled at his house, when a large tub was brought forward and nearly filled with water. The bridegroom was stripped of shoes and stockings, and his feet and legs were plunged in the water. One seized a besom, and began to rub them lustily, while another was busy besmearing them with soot or shoe-blacking, and a third was practising some other vagary.
Ork. 1905 Dennison Ork. Weddings 27:
She rose from a “fit-washin'” “wi' feintie dry t'read on her body.”
Abd. 1992 Sheila Douglas ed. The Sang's the Thing: Voices from Lowland Scotland 206:
Feet-washin wis really a common thing when somebody was gettin mairrit. In fact, I got it deen twice. It wis a tradition ye'd tae cairry on.
ne.Sc. 1999 Herald 14 Oct 17:
There were fiddles and mouth-organs, cornkisters, and stories, even a feet-washing - to confirm that the traditional talents of the land have by no means disappeared.
Edb. 2000:
When I was young ca. 1970, my mother was invited to a 'feet-washin'; I had no idea what they were talking about and was told that it was sort of like a showing of presents but the bride got her feet washed because she was changing homes.
ne.Sc. 2000 Aberdeen Evening Express 4 Mar 17:
Did you nae eence tell me that Matt Duncan's feet-washin' finished up in a pub in The Green?
Ye're richt. I did tell ye that. But it maybe wisna true. I mean, I wid never deliberately hiv telt ye a lee. Wid I dae that tae you, Bunty? But there is some doot aboot which pub that feet-washin' finishing up in.

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"Feet-washin n. comb.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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