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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FLEET, v., n.1 Also †fleit.

I. v. 1. To float, to rise to the surface of a liquid (Lth., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., Sh.11 1951). Obs. exc. dial. in Eng.Ork. 1904 Dennison Sketches 6:
Hid wus droll tae see the wives rin in' i' the sea ap tae the oxters, wi' . . . deir coats fleetan' aboot dem i' the water.
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 14:
Hingin thro the sinnons
O its hin haughs
Harrigals fleitin in watter
The swine swayed.

Vbl.n. fleeting, (1) an illegal method of salmon-net fishing (see quot.); (2) in pl. or attrib.; the thick curds formed on the top of boiling whey (Abd.15 1951); scum (Sh.10 1952). Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 95. Also in Eng. dial. Cf. Float.(1) Dmf. 1919 Session Cases 584:
The method known as “fleeting,” that is, by making the shot across the river, securing the remainder of the net in the boat, and while the shot portion of the net is stretched across the river [Nith], propelling the boat or allowing the boat to float down the stream dragging the net along with it, and so causing it to form an obstruction to the passage of fish for a period longer than is required to row round the shot as in proper sweep-net fishing with net and coble.
(2) Abd. 1906 Banffshire Jnl. (10 July):
[They] relished weel fye brose wi' “fleetins.”
Abd. 1923 Swatches o' Hamespun 7:
Did ye never taste fleeten brose? Meal wis pitten intill sweet fye, an' the scum 'at raise wis skimmed aff, an' that wis aften oor supper.
Ags. 1929 F. M. McNeill Sc. Kitchen 211:
Flot-whey (Clydesdale), Fleetings (Angus), Scadded Whey (Roxburghshire). A dish used in farm houses, made by boiling whey on a slow fire, by which a great part of it coagulates into a curdy substance.

2. intr. To flow (Lth., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.). Obs. in Eng. With owre, to overflow (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); †tr. To flood, inundate. Hence comb. water-fleeted.Slk. 1807 Hogg Shepherd's Guide 127–8:
Such [lands] as are sandy and have been fleeted with water. . . . They delight in nothing else than such garbage as grows about middins, kail-yard dikes, and water-fleeted meadows.
s.Sc. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. I. 202:
Where the weet comes frae the flowe, And fleets, ye mind, on yon bit lea.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
The waiter's fleetin' owre the haugh.

3. tr. Of ground: to fail to absorb, to be awash with (water), to retain (water) in suspension. Rxb. 1738 G. Tancred Rulewater (1907) 281:
Boggy ground which fleets water all the winter.

II. n. †1. An overflowing of water (Lth. 1825 Jam., fleit).

2. Fishing: a set of nets or lines carried by a single boat. Gen.Sc. and also in e.Eng. fishing areas. Also of crab or lobster pots (Bwk.3 1952).Bwk. 1785 J. Anderson Acct. Hebrides 344:
In this fishing are used two small anchors for each five nets, which are called a Fleet.
Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Shet. 510:
It is usual to call twenty bughts a packie, and the whole of the packies that a boat carries is a fleet of tows.
Sc. 1864 J. M. Mitchell The Herring 93:
The whole of the nets united are termed a fleet of nets.
Bwk. 1906 D. McIver Old-time Fishing Town 233:
It takes 200 nets, or three fleets to constitute the number needed by a crew to successfully fish all the year round.
Fif. 1911 P. Smith The Herrin' (1951) 16:
A score o' nets was a' their fleet.
Sc. 1950 P. F. Anson Sc. Fisherfolk 77:
A drifter may let out a fleet of nets more than a mile in length.

3. In dim. form fleetie, a paper kite, from its floating motion, poss. as an extension of 2. (Bwk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 77).

III. Combs.: 1. fleet-dyke, a wall or dike built to prevent flooding (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); a breakwater (s.Ayr. 1951); 2. fleet-line, “a line used in a particular kind of sea-fishing; the hook floats mid-way between the surface and bottom, and is carried away clear off the boat, which remains at anchor, by the current” (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Also fleet-fly(line), a line with 12–20 hooks used for mackerel or young saithe (Sh.10 1952); 3. fleet-water, water overflowing ground (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Sc. 1953).1. Sc. 1807 Trans. Highl. Soc. III. 484:
Where a flood is sure to overflow the banks, what are called fleet dykes ought to be raised. These dykes may be made of turf, two and a half or three feet high, and a few yards back from the banks of the stream, for the purpose of more effectually preventing the waters from overflowing the adjacent flats.
Dmf. 1812 W. Singer Agric. Dmf. 344:
But these fleet-dykes, as they are called, are often too steep and repulsive against a superior power.

[O.Sc. flete, to float, from 1375, to flow, from 1438, a fleet of nets, 1665; O.E. flēotan, to float, flēot, a fleet. Fleetins may come immediately from Eng. dial. fleet, to skim, which however is also derived directly, or indirectly (via O.E. flēt, cream), from flēotan. Cf. Fleeter, n.1]

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"Fleet v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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