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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.

GUIDMAN, n. Also gud(e)man; geudman (Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 56); geedman (Cai.); gweedman, gueed(e)ma(a)n (ne.Sc.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. goodman. Dim. gudemanny (Knr. 1895 J. L. Robertson Dunbar 24). Irreg. pl. gudemans (Sc. 1717 R.C. 2nd. Part Succession of Priesthood 128; Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 141, 1839 A. Walker De'il at Baldarroch 31). [For phonetics, see Guid. The stress falls on the second syll.: ′mɑn.]

1. Used vocatively as a form of address between people of equal rank who are not on familiar terms (Abd., Fif., ‡Lth. 1955), or to anyone in any of the categories listed below.Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.T.Misc. 14:
Goodman, quoth he, be ye within, I'm come your doghter's love to win.
Mearns 1796 J. Burness Thrummy Cap (1819) ll. 62–63:
An' sae guidman ye'll mak a shift To gie us quarters a' this night.
Sc. 1828 Scott F.M. Perth ii.:
He came on the right side of Catharine, who had hold of her father's arm, . . . “Good-even to you, goodman.”
Ork. c.1836 Old-Lore Misc. I. vii. 265:
Gudeman gae to your bacon vat, An' cut us out a daghan o' that.
ne.Sc. 1836 J. Grant Tales 57:
“I've heard”, said the packman, “that ye ance saw the deil. Is that true, gudeman?”
Gsw. 1838 A. Rodger Poems 188:
Quo' I, gudeman, I've ta'en your bairn.
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie i.:
Hoot, noo, gudeman, ye were ance young yersel', an' likit braws as weel's your neighbours.
wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 48:
That's a braw young quey you're leading, gudeman. Whar may you ha'e brought her frae?
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 15:
Then Death himsel, gay suddent, cam'; quo' he: “I'm here, guidman, what may ye want o' me?”

2. The master, head. Also in Eng. dial.

(1) The master or head of a household (I. and n.Sc., Ags., m.Lth., wm.Sc., Dmf., Uls. 1955).Sc. 1702 R. Blau Libamina 43:
Where ye are goodman, I will be good Wife.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 352:
When the good Man's away the Board Cloth is tint. Because the Commons will then be short.
Sc. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 4:
She round the ingle with her gimmers sits, Crammin their gabbies wi' her nicest bits, While the gudeman out-by maun fill his crap Frae the milk coggie, or the parritch cap.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Add. to Haggis iv.:
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive, “Bethanket!” hums.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Poems 11:
You a gudeman, an' canna' rule your house!
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xi.:
Do you see yonder . . . lone house? Go thither, inquire for one Jeanie Deans, the daughter of the goodman.
Ags. 1879 J. Guthrie Poems 45:
The guidman noo comes but the hoose, And wi' him brings his wife.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 158:
The Yeel kebback was cut by the gueedeman.
Bnff. 1890 Trans. Bnffsh. Field Club 56:
Crosses made of rowan tree, and sometimes tied with red thread, were placed over the doors. . . . In Strathdon this was done by the “Gueedmaan” on the “Reed-day” after sunset without the knowledge of anyone.
Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 71:
If there's ae thing on yirth our gudeman Jock would go through fire and water for — it's his porridge cog.
Abd. 1955 Abd. Press and Jnl. (3 Feb.):
In the guidman's special press was a greybeard pig of whisky.
Hebr 1995 Angus Duncan Hebridean Island: Memories of Scarp 48:
There was always a low chair for the guidwife, or mistress, at one end of the hearth, 'the upper side of the fire' as we called, and another for the guidman, or master, at the end next the door, 'the lower side of the fire'.

Comb.: †goodman's milk, the milk first skimmed from a milk-vessel after the cream has been taken off, this being of superior quality and apportioned to the guidman or head of the household (Sc. 1825 Jam.).

†(2) The head of an establishment, a manager, chief (Rnf., Ayr. 1880 Jam.), esp. the keeper of a jail.Sc. 1714 J. H. Thomson Cloud of Witnesses (1871) 123:
The goodman of the Tolbooth caused call us down, against our will.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 162:
He kens the guid o' mickle purse, His daddy ance was guid-man burse.
Gall. 1796 J. Lauderdale Poems 62:
They offer for to bell the cat Wi' our gude-man.
Gsw. 1838 A. Rodger Poems 52:
The soncy gudeman o' the Herald.

3. A husband. Gen.Sc. Since 17th c. only in arch. or dial. use in Eng. Also †young-guidman, a newly-married man: “this designation . . . is not considered as appropriate till the day after marriage. Before this he is only called the Bridegroom” (Sc. 1825 Jam.).Sc. 1706 in J. Watson Choice Coll. i. 8:
And there will be bow legged Robbie, and Thumbless Katie's Good man.
Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 82:
The young Good-man to Bed did clim, His Dear the Door did lock in.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 359:
When the good Man drinks to the good Wife ay wou'd be well.
Mry. 1739 Lord Elchies' Letters (MacWilliam) 105:
Not only is the honeymoon passt and gone, but also I'm told the young goodman has thought proper to take some relaxation.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Add. to Deil xi.:
Thence, mystic knots mak great abuse, On Young-Guidmen, fond, keen an' croose.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxvii.:
“It's my gudeman, sir,” said the young woman, with a smile of welcome.
ne.Sc. 1888 D. Grant Keckleton 115:
For once in her married life she obeyed her gweedman's order with alacrity.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo ix.:
Mairrage cam' my gate when I was a lass in my teens, and a bonnie trauchle the guidman and me had.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 16:
An' fowk like me an' my auld guidman Jist wearied, daein' the best we can!
Lnk. 1923 G. Rae 'Mang Lowland Hills 52:
'Twas Eve that tempted her guidman, An' garred him fa'.
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 11:
Ma guid man but, this mornin,
gied me fair warnin, ...

Hence ¶gudemanlike, adj., befitting a husband.Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xxxv.:
It's your wife, my lad, . . . ye'll surely never refuse to carry her head in a gudemanlike manner to the kirk-yard.

4. The proprietor or tenant of a small estate or farm, corresp. roughly to Eng. yeoman and in the Highlands to the Duniwassal. Also great guidman, see quots.Sc. 1707 W. Forbes Decisions (1714) 136:
Many great Heretors in old Time went under the Name of Goodman and Goodwife.
Sc. 1750 W. MacFarlane Geneal. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 86:
His eldest Daughter was First married with John Mackenzie appearand Laird of Gairloch and after his Death to the Good-Man of Tulloch.
Abd. 1760 A. Grant Dissertation 81:
The having 12 runts of oxen to pull a clumsy plough, is what, in this part of the world, raises one in vulgar estimation to the rank of a great Goodman.
Sc. 1773 Sc. Farmer I. 20:
The author mentions Farmers of £30 or £40 a-year as the lowest class in England. But in many parts of Scotland, these would be reckoned Great Goodmen.
Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 83:
We ca'd our master ay Gudeman, Nae ither name got tenants than.
Fif. 1808 Jam.:
In Fife, a small proprietor, who labours his own farm, is still called the Goodman of such a place.
Dmf. 1822 A. Cunningham Trad. Tales II. 302:
What can hinder him from slipping cannilie away up the brae to the gudeman of Warlsworm?
Sc. 1825 J. Mitchell Scotsman's Library 260:
The rest [of the land] was divided . . . among the second class of the clan, who are called tenants, tacksmen, or goodmen. These were the near relations of the chief, or were descended from those who bore such relation to some of his ancestors.
Sc. 1827 Scott Tales Grandfather xxvii.:
When James V. travelled in disguise, he used a name which was known only to some of his principal nobility and attendants. He was called the Goodman (the tenant, that is) of Ballengiech.
Mry. 1827 R. Chambers Picture Scot. II. 283:
We believe the most ancient title of the Duke of Gordon, and that by which the old Highlanders still know him, is the humble one of “the Gudeman o' the Bog.”
Sc. 1850 J. Grant Sc. Cavalier xxxiv.:
Such as hold their lands of the King direct are styled lairds; but such as held their tacks of a subject were styled gudemen.
Abd. 1913 J. Allardyce Byegone Days 67:
Under the guidman of a large farm were a number of sub-tenants. These were cottars, each with a small cottage and a patch of land.
Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Deeside Gleanings 5:
The great gudeman the great guse heid, The great gudewife the nibbach o't.

Hence (1) gudemanship, a holding of land conferring the rank of gudeman; (2) gudeman's acre, “the spot of ground, appropriated by a farmer for his own use, when he wishes to retire . . . and resigns the farm to his son” (Lnk. 1808 Jam.).(1) Sc. 1864 J. H. Burton Scot Abroad II. ii.:
When lands were held of any of the great families, they were but a gudemanship.

5. A name used euphemistically for the Devil. Also Auld Gudeman. Hist.Sc. 1817 Scott H. Midlothian xviii.:
She'll hae had some quarrel wi' her auld gudeman — that's Satan, ye ken, sirs.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) xv.:
After a' thochts of finding her were gi'en up, and it was fairly concluded that it was the auld gudeman that had come and chappit her out.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 111:
The Goodman will catch you in his net.
ne.Sc. 1929 J. M. McPherson Prim. Beliefs 135:
In the North-East of Scotland, so numerous were the fields dedicated to the “Auld Goodman” that the Church resolved to apply to Parliament for an Act to deal with the owners of these uncultivated lands.
sm.Sc. 1979 Alan Temperley Tales of Galloway (1986) 1:
E'en the auld gudeman (Satan) himsel' did sweat,
To look at Aiken-drum.

Hence (1) Guidman's craft, see first quot. and Craft, n.1; (2) Goodman's faul(d), -field, id. (Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 111, -field; ne.Sc. 1929 J. McPherson Prim. Beliefs 134, -fauld), see also Fauld, n.2; (3) Goodman's taft, id., see also Taft.(1) Edb. 1779 H. Arnot Hist. Edb. 80:
Farmers left a part of their lands perpetually untilled . . .; this spot was dedicated to the Devil, and called the Goodman's croft.
Bnff. c.1780 J. F. S. Gordon Chrons. Keith (1880) 53:
At Killiesmont . . . there was a Rig of uncultivated land called The Guidman's Craft, alias The Gi'en Rig . . . given to the Diel, to obtain his good will!
Lnl. 1872 J. Y. Simpson Archæol. Essays I. 41:
A relative of mine bought a farm in a district not very many years ago . . . Among his first acts . . . was the enclosing a small triangular corner of one of the fields within a stone wall. The corner cut off — and which still remains cut off, was “The Guidman's Craft,” an offering to the Spirit of Evil, in order that he might abstain from ever blighting or damaging the rest of the farm.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 118:
A howl gaed up frae the “gudeman's craft,” An' a wail frae the Witches' knowe.
n.Sc. 1919 M. Maclean From Croft and Clachan 11:
Fivescore witches sailing aloft Headed their steeds for the Goodman's Croft.
Sc. 1945 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 468:
Only a couple of centuries later [19th c.] was the last Guidman's Croft invaded by the plough, and then to the accompaniment of much heart-searching and a good deal of ritual designed to avert the wrath of its supernatural occupants.
Ib. 470:
In the Guidman's Croft at Earlsferry, in the parish of Kilconquhar, Fife, known as “the Dome,” or “Doom Park,” those were interred who had forfeited the right to Christian burial.
(2) Bch. c.1780 J. M. McPherson Prim. Beliefs (1929) 141:
In revenge he drove his twelve-oxen plough with all the earth it would hold off the farm and unyoked it on the neighbouring farm of West Affleck on a part called “the Goodman's Faul.”
(3) Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 111:
Bonny's the sod o' the Goodman's taft.

6. The groomsman at a wedding, the Best Man, q.v. (Abd. (coast) 1955).

7. A variety of autumn dessert pear (Sc. 1802 W. Forsyth Fruit Trees 91, 1826 J. C. Loudon Encycl. Gardening 704).

[O.Sc. has gudeman, guid-, good-, used as a form of address, from a.1400, as a name for the Devil, 1603 (gudman's croft, 1650); a husband, from c.1500; the head of a household, from c.1515; = 4. above, from 1552; a jailer, from 1672.]

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"Guidman n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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