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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

GARTEN, n., v. Also gairten, -in, gertan, -in, †gartan(e), †garton; ¶gartern; gairteen (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 142). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. garter. Also in n.Eng. dial. [Sc. ′gɑrtən, ′gertən, ′gɛrtən Rxb. + -in]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., a garter. Gen.Sc.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 22:
To her left shoulder too her keek was worn, Her gartens tint, her shoon clean out an' torn.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 49:
Sawny . . . sometimes had ae gartan, a lingle or rash-rape was good enough for Sawny.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween iii.:
The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs, Weel knotted on their garten.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Hunt of Eildon (1874) v.:
She . . . leuch at me — An' warst ava, gae the butcher her gairtens to bind me.
Ags. 1833 J. S. Sands Poems 107:
A large purse haill and complete As fou o' gowd tied wi' a garton As e'er o' meat ye saw a parton.
Edb. 1882 P. McNeill Preston 67:
I'll live an' I'll dee an auld maid, Sir; I'll wear yellow gairtins a' my days.
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 323:
Sheu spiers whit nam'll sheu gae, jeust is cauld like is gin ye waar collectan for a Yule gift o' gertans tae the Yacs.
Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 18:
The women land workers were the pioneers of the modern land workers' dress. They breeked their coats by tying them round the knee with their gairtens.
Bch. 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 5:
And strappin' Kate Bell fae Howe o' Blacksleed, In her holipied stockin's and gartens o' reid.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 109:
Shu got him gertans ta tie below da knee an' mak buggie breeks.

2. A leaf of ribbon-grass (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., gairten; Per.3, Rxb.4 1953); in pl.: the ribbon-grass (Ib.), see comb. s.v. Gairdener.

3. Phrs. & Combs.: †(1) garten berries, the fruit of the bramble, Rubus fruticosus (Rxb. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry, Gl.), also lady-garten-berries (Ib.; Teviotd. 1825 Jam.); (2) gartane-leem, “a small portable loom for weaving garters” (Mearns 1880 Jam.); †(3) garten-man, -pricker, one who operates the swindling game of prick-the-garter; (4) the cat's garter)ns, ? the game of cat's cradle; †(5) to cast one's gartens, of a woman: to secure a husband; (6) to get (gie, wear) the green gairten, used lit. or fig. of an older sister or brother when a younger member of the family marries first (Abd., Ags.19, Per.3, Fif.15 1954). See 1874 quot.(3) Dmf. 1831 R. Shennan Tales 31:
The garten prickers with their table, Were trying a' that they were able, To cheat the young anes o' their brass.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 36:
Thumble-men, garten-men, try an' behave ye.
(4) m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet iii. vi.:
Meantime Nicol, who cared for none of these things, was teaching the child how to play at the cat's garterns [sic].
(5) Sc. 1869 C. Gibbon Robin Gray xi.:
Ye micht hae cast your gartens a hantle waur, guidwife.
Kcb. 1880 Montrose Standard (4 Oct.1929):
Ye'll no cast sic a garten frae yer leg ilka day.
(6) Slg. 1788 G. Galloway Poems (1806) 24:
She shanna lang wear lone green gartens, She's be a bride e'er she pass her teens.
ne.Sc. 1874 W. Gregor Olden Time 114:
If it was a younger sister that was married, she had to give her elder sister green garters.

II. v. To bind or fasten with a garter.Sc. 1745 Jacobite Songs (1871) 60:
O leeze me on the philabeg, The hairy hough and garten'd leg.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xliii.:
For cruel love has gartan'd low my leg, And clad my hurdies in a philabeg.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 90:
The gartened hose, the weel-filled stays.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums xv.:
A pair of grey breeks and white shanks gartenit abune the knee.

[O.Sc. has gartan(e), garten, etc., from c.1500; the n for r is reg. throughout Sc. (cf. also Gael. gartan), phs. on the analogy of -in(g) endings; O.North. Fr. gartier, id.]

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"Garten n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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