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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LENTH, n., v. Also lainth (ne.Sc. 1791 Caled. Mercury (17 Sept.)); lent (I.Sc.); leingth (Per. 1732 W. Fraser Red Bk. Grandtully ii. 338); len(t)gh; linth. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. length (Arg. 1701 Analecta Scot. (Maidment 1834) 115; Abd. 1865 G. MacDonald Alec Forbes xiv., Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 12; Sh. 1919 T. Manson Peat Comm. 3; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein, Rxb. 1942 Zai). For the form, which is due to assimilation, cf. P.L.D. § 79 and Strenth. Hence lenthie, lengthy, long (Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 108). [Gen.Sc. lɛnθ; s.Sc. lænθ; I.Sc. lɛnt]

Sc. forms:ne.Sc. 1994 Alastair Mackie in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 93:
A granite Chinese waa that road was, the haill linth o't, that the bourgeoisie raised wi siller oot o siller.
Abd. 1996 Norman Harper and Robbie Shepherd Anither Dash O' Doric 45:
'... Is it [the dress] the wrang colour? The wrang style? The wrang linth? Fit is't?'

Sc. usages: I. n. 1. With a demonstrative, possess. adj. or n., Gen. in adv. phrs. the lenth of, my lenth, this lenth, etc. = as far as.

(1) of distance (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 49; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gall. 1700 Session Bk. Minnigaff (1939) 23:
It is reported Jean Dowglas cannot come this lenth, being near the time of child birth.
Mry. 1716 A. & H. Tayler 1715 (1936) 287:
To goe the length of Elgine to propose this.
Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) iii. 383:
They threew none overboard of them till they came the lenth of the point of Ardmurchan.
m.Lth. 1819 J. Thomson Poems 136:
Ye maun be thrang That ye could never spare As muckle time my length to gang.
Slk. 1835 Hogg Life of an Edinburgh Baillie (1874) 567:
When we came the length of the Dee, Argyle was at a stand, not having heard aught of Huntly's motions or strength.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister xxxiii.:
Mr Dishart never got the length of the pulpit.
Abd. 1924 J. Hunter MS. Diary (31 May):
Mr Merson was down forenoon and I went up his length with him.
Sh. 1930 Shet. Almanac 195:
If he sood ever come oot wir lent he s'all get a belly fu' o' burstin'.
Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 46, 57:
“Ye canna walk mill length, Tammas,” said Willie … “We're takin' a big box the length o' Cormiston.”
Abd. 1993:
Ye've gotten this linth.
Edb. 2005:
A linth o Harris Tweed.
Edb. 2005:
She went the linth o Musselburgh.
Dmb. 2005:
We went the lenth o the station wi him.

Phr. A widna gang the length o masel, I wouldn't trouble myself. Gen.Sc. Ags. 1990s:
Uh widna geing the length o masel tuh see um: I wouldn't cross the street to see him.

(2) Of amount, extent, degree: as much as (to), to the amount or extent of. Also fig. Gen.Sc., also in Eng. dial. Phr. the length o one's tongue, the full volume of one's wrath or vituperation.Sc. 1700 Seasonable Precautions in Electing the Magistrates 8:
A good Accomptant who kept all his Accompts upon Nick-sticks, and was sure to Balance his Accompts with Profit, when they came the length of a Score of Ale.
Sc. 1702 T. Morer Acct. Scot. 44:
Yet it never amounted to the force (the Scots say the length) of a Constitution.
Ags. 1730 Arbroath T.C. Rec. MS. (28 May):
Above fifty bolls and not the Lentgh of seventy five bolls.
Mry. 1735 Lord Elchies' Letters (MacWilliam 1927) 215:
I wad have accquented yow or goan your lengh as I promist you … but that I have not your money.
Ags. 1824 Literary Olio (24 Jan.) 28:
Them that's born to a fardin' will never win the length o' a bawbee.
Abd. 1878 J. C. Hutchieson Village Voices 106:
But I micht manage tae contrive Tae gather in the len'th o' five.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 26:
Bit pleg on de dogs! gin his nose began no' tae rin afore they waur the lent' o' the second verse o' the psalm.
Abd. 1887 E. Bain Merchant Guilds 183:
Fortunately the “renewing” [of a portrait] did not go the length of any interference with the face.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 22:
A bit bairnie aucht days auld, an' it never gettin' even the lenth o' bein' doakit, lat aleen growin' up.
Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 154:
Has your mother brocht ye up woman length, an' you sae han'less?
Dmf. 1925 W. S. Lockhart Guidhearts 57:
A'm no blamin' the woman for giein' the chiel the length o' her tongue.
Cai. 1931 N. Gunn Morning Tide i. iii.:
He had got the length of washing his face.

2. Stature, height (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Lth., Rnf., Uls. 1960).Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 247:
Girzie wis a winderfil lent o' a woman.
Abd.27 1959:
He's a byordinar lenth o' a chiel, that.

3. Phrs. and Combs.: (1 ) at (the) lenth an lang, at de lang an' de lent, at last, in the end (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1960). See Lang, III. 1.; (2) breadth an lenth, adv., one's full length, flat on one's face, prone (Fif., m.Lth., Kcb., Dmf. 1960); (3) far a-lenth, far ahead, forward in progress (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1960). See Alenth; (4) for a(ny) or some lenth o time, for very long. Gen.Sc.; (5) lang lenth, the whole length, gen. in adv. phrs. (a) at lang lenth, i' the lang lenth, at long last. Gen.Sc. See also Lang, I. 7. (1) and III. 1.; (b) for lang lenth, for a very long time, as long as possible (Sc. 1887 Jam.);  (c) one's lang lenth, one's full length, prone (Sc. 1887 Jam.; Cai., ne. and em.Sc. 1960). Cf. Ger. langelang; (6) ta or til da or ane's lent, lengthwise, to one's full length (Sh. 1960); (7) to gae (gang) a bonnie ((aa) one's) length, to let oneself go, to follow one's inclinations or feelings as far as one can or dares, to “go the pace” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. s.v. gae). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc.; (8) to get (gie one) one's lent, to (cause to) fall flat on one's face (Sh. 1960); (9) up da lent, at length, at last.(1) ne.Sc. 1791 Caled. Mercury (17 Sept.):
At lainth an' lang I've thought a wie, an' syne hae writ'n A merry sang.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin v.:
At length an' lang a hole in her chackit apron claught hauds o' the temper-pin.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 53:
At de lang an' de lent' they wan up under de lee o' the craigs.
(2) Dmf. 1822 A. Cunningham Tales (1874) 304:
Ye'll fall belly-flaught, breadth and length, on the lily-white linen.
Dmf. 1956:
Chrissie cam rinnin doon the steps an fell breedth an lenth on the cassy.
(3) Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxviii.:
Hairry Muggart gaed a hantle forder a-lenth nor ever I did.
Abd. 1890 Bon-Accord (4 Jan.) 20:
Afore I cud get farer alenth, says the voice, “All right, I'll be just now.”
(4) Sc. 1938 St. Andrews Cit. (26 March) 2:
He had not known Mr R — for any length of time.
(5) (a) Sc. 1897 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 371:
At lang-length comes my ain love Frae far atowre the sea.
Bnff. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 25:
Mairry a dochter o' the deil, an' she'll bring ye te hell at lang len'th.
(c) Bwk. 1831 Border Mag. 9:
What sud I dae but fa' a' my lang length out owre a tub.
(6) Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 10:
It lies on da flür for a meenit an smoks, Dan spoots ta da lent laek da jeck-i-da-box.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 120:
Da first 'at we kent wis he lyin till his lent i' da gutter.
(7) Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xv.:
Juist when they were gaen their lengths aboot it, in comes Saunders Broganawl.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 11:
Hei's gaun a bonnie length.
(8) Sh. 1898 Shetland News (17 Dec.):
I gae him his lent apo' da tattie müld.
Ib. (1 April 1899):
A'm gotten me lent at da neuk o' da hoos.
(9) Sh. 1933 J. Nicolson Hentilagets 20:
An it was her 'at sent dem on der coorse, An up da lent dey caesed fae aa der waanders.

II. v. To take long strides, to cover a distance quickly (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Sh. 1894 Williamson MSS. (26 Jan.):
Yon's shuirly Johnnie Andrew at's awa lentin doun da road.

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"Lenth n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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