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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

GABBART, n., v. Also gab(b)ert, gabart, gaabert, ¶gabbard.

I n. A lighter, a barge, mostly one used for inland navigation, esp. on the Clyde; “a small one-masted sailing coasting-vessel” (Arg.1 1929, gabart, obsol.). Now hist. Found in Eng. 16th-17th cent. in forms gaber, gaboard.Gsw. 1714 Records Burgh Gsw. (ed. Marwick 1908) 525:
That no barks, gabarts or boats shall moar or lye at the cran.
Sc. 1728 Records Conv. Burghs (1885) 477:
If the gaberts or lighters lye in any other part of the river . . . the magistrats of Dubline may cause them to be brought to the keys and the walls to be sold.
Arg. 1795 Stat.Acc.1 XIV. 256:
The freight [of coal] from Glasgow is generally between 2s. and 2s. 6d. the single cart; but those who take a great cargo, and employ gaberts, get them a little cheaper.
Sc. 1828 Scott F.M. Perth xvi.:
And I know for certainty . . . that she sailed in a gabbart for Dundee. [Rob Roy (1817) xxxvi. has the spelling gabbard.]
Dmb. 1877 Proc. Nat. Hist. Soc. Gsw. 190:
Gabbarts: boats of from 30 to 40 tons, which, before the railway was opened to Balloch, carried coals, etc., from the Clyde, up the Leven, to various places on the banks of the Loch, taking back cargoes of slates or timber.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle (1923) viii.:
My father used . . . to wallk round the point of Strone where you were to-day and look at the skiffs and gabberts in the port down-by. [The Vital Spark (1906) 68, gaabert.]
Lnk. 1928 G. Blake Paper Money v. iii.:
He had reminiscences of the gabbart, Harmonious Brothers of Ardrossan, in which he had for years plied with coal between that port and the peninsula of Kintyre.
m.Sc. 1933 J. Buchan Glencoe 100:
The herring gabbarts from the Clyde brought them Lowland manufactured goods.

Combs.: 1. coal-gabbart. a coal-barge (Arg.1 c.1890); 2. gabartman, the master of a barge.1. Sc. 1865 A. Smith Summer in Skye II. 272:
The stream [Clyde], which a century ago hardly allowed the passage of a herring-boat or a coal-gabbert, bears on its bosom to-day ships from every clime.
Cld. 1936 Abd. Ev. Express (11 July) 4:
He was as proud of his coal-gabbart as Sir Henry Britten is of the Queen Mary.
2. Gsw. 1721 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 115–6:
To appoynt such other regulations as shall be thought proper to put merchants and gabartman upon a just and equal footing.

II v. To transport in such a vessel. NonceGsw. 1797 A. Brown Hist. Glasgow II. 158: 
After this mode of package is performed, the goods are gabarted down the Clyde.

[O.Sc. has gabert, a sailing barge, 1689, late form of gabar, 1589–90; ad. Fr. gabare, lighter, borrowed from Prov. gabarra, of unknown origin, but also found in It. and Sp. gabarra.]

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"Gabbart n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2023 <>



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