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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

LINT, n.1 Also ¶lent (Abd. 1886 P. Morgan Ann. Woodside 134).

1. The flax plant, Linum usitatissimum (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 45; Abd., Uls. 1886 B. and H.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc., somewhat obsol. Freq. in farm-names Linthaugh, Linthill, Lintalee, etc. Adjs. ¶linten, linty, flaxen (cf. Combs.).Sc. 1724 W. Macintosh Fallowing 62:
The Mark to know when your Lint is ripe and ready to be pull'd, is by observing when the Stalks and Heads grow yellow.
Bwk. 1756 G. Ridpath Diary (S.H.S.) 67:
Got our lint sowed in the morning.
Sc. 1776 Kames Gentleman Farmer 235:
Lint pulled green requires more watering than when fully ripe.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Cotter's Sat. Night xi.:
The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell How 'twas a towmond auld, sin' lint was i' the bell.
Ags. 1848 W. Gardiner Flora Frf. 34:
It was formerly much cultivated in this country, and scarcely a farmer or cottar was without his field or patch of Lint.
Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Inglismill 32:
The lint was fernyear grown beside the shaw.
Tyr. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Rhymes 14:
Expecting soon to make a mint From pork and milk and spuds and lint.

2. Flax in process of manufacture for spinning (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 186). Gen.Sc. Adjs. ¶linten, linty, flaxen (cf. Combs.).Fif. 1703 L. Macbean Kirkcaldy Burgh Rec. (1908) 222:
That no persons light or dress lint in rooms where is either fire or candle light.
Fif. 1741 D. Beveridge Culross (1885) II. 132:
The Session has agreed to cause purchase an hundredweight of lint, in order to be distributed to such of the poor of the parish as are able to spin.
Abd. 1766 Aberdeen Jnl. (10 March):
During the conflagration seven girls were above stairs; one of whom, with a bunch of lint in her arms, run through the fire and got safe from danger.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Weary Pund o' Tow i.:
I bought my wife a stane o' lint, As gude as e'er did grow.
Ags. 1824 J. Bowick Montrose Characters 17:
Like hasp of lint when through the heckle wrung.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) xxvi.:
A wean with linty locks.
Sc. 1834 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. (1874) 61:
The web she carried on this occasion was composed of stolen lint.
Sc. 1859 C. S. Graham Mystifications 4:
Ye widna hinder Willy to dry the lint upon the kiln, and the lint took a low and kindled the cupples.
Rnf. 1878 C. Fleming Poems 256:
Her hair is like the linten tap.
Bwk. 1905 R. Gibson Old Bwk. Town 217:
Having undergone these different processes, the lint was sent to the “heckler” … by whom it was heckled — the fibres drawn straight and smoothed for spinning.

3. Linen thread, esp. that used by shoemakers to make their Lingel (Sh., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Ayr. 1961).

4. Combs.: (1) lint-beet, a bundle of flax cut and ready for processing (Rnf., Uls. 1961). See Beet, n.1; (2) lint-beetle, a kind of mallet used for beating and loosening the flax-straw (Uls. 1961). See Bittle, n.1 and W. Macintosh Fallowing (1724) 62 sqq.; (3) lint-bell, the flower of the flax-plant (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1961). Cf. 1786 quot. under 1.; (4) lint-bennels, pl., the seeds of flax (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). See Bennel, n.; (5) lint-boor, one who buys flax from the grower in order to process it. Cf. Du. lint-boer, id.; (6) lint-bow, the pod or round capsule containing the seeds of the flax (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). See Bow, n.3; (7) lint-brake, an instrument of varying construction for braking or pounding the flax to break the straw “in place of the fluted rollers of the flax-mill, previous to the operations of rubbing and swingling” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor); (8) lint-coble, a pond in which flax is steeped to help in separating the fibres in the stalk from the woody tissue (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 106). See Coble, n.3, 2.; (9) lint-dresser, a flax-dresser (Rnf. 1961); (10) lint-dub, = (8) (Kcb. 1961 ). See Dub; (11) lint-hackle, a Heckle, n.1, q.v. (Rnf. 1961). Hence lint-heckler, one who heckles flax; (12) lint-hole, = (8) (Uls. 1949 H. Shearman Ulster 245; Bnff., Fif., Ayr., Dmf. 1961); (13) lint-locks, pl., flaxen curls; (14) lint-mill, a flax factory or its machinery. See (7) above. Found freq. as a farm-name (Bnff., Fif., Lth., Rnf., Lnk., Kcb. 1961); (15) lint money, money paid to a farm-worker in lieu of ground formerly allowed on which to grow flax for family use, esp. in e.Lth.; (16) lint-pond, = (8) (Fif. 1961); (17) lint-pot, id. (Fif. 1961); (18) lint-ripple, a comb used for separating the coarse seed-heads from the stalks of flax (Rnf. 1961). Also lint-rippling tree. See Ripple, n.; (19) lint-seed, flax-seed for sowing. Also attrib.; (20) lint-sheaf, a sheaf of flax; (21) lint-steep, = (8) (Abd. 1961); (22) lint-straik, a bundle of newly-dressed flax (Rnf. 1961). See Straik; (23) lint-stripper, one who dresses lint; (24) lint-swingling, the act of flax-beating, a social evening spent at this task; (25) lint-tap, the bundle of dressed flax put on a distaff at one time for spinning (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Freq. in similes of very fair or grey hair. Hence ppl.adj. lint-tappit; (26) lint-threed, linen-thread (I., n., em.Sc.(a), wm. and sm.Sc. 1961); (27) lint-wheel, a flax-spinning wheel (Uls. 1953 Traynor); (28) lint-white, white as flax, very flaxen, of hair. Gen.Sc., somewhat poet.; (29) lint-work, a flax factory; (30) lint-yarn, linen thread.(1) Sc. 1826 A. Cunningham Paul Jones II. iv.:
We'll pitch them into the dyke like as many lint-beets.
(2) Sc. 1834 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) IV. 91:
You micht as weel … hae bate the kitchen-dresser wi' the lint-beetle.
(3) Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 145:
The lint-bell, blue, shone bonnilie.
Abd. 1868 G. MacDonald R. Falconer I. v.:
Short fushionless dirt, that canna grow straucht oot o' the halesome yird, like the bonnie lint-bells.
(5) Sc. 1747 Caled. Mercury (5 Oct.):
The Trustees having resolved … to set up Lint Boors, not only for purchasing the Flax while growing on the Ground, but also for bruising and swingling at Lint-Mills to be built by them, the Flax raised in their Neighbourhood at reasonable Rates, ordered a description of such Lint Boors to be printed and delivered out gratis at the Office.
Sc. 1766 Progress Flax-Husbandry 12:
Lint-boors come next in play, by a hint taken from Holland and Flanders. The lint-boors there purchase all the green lint in the neighbourhood, water and grase it, and in a word, prepare it for the spinner.
(8) Bnff. 1906 J. Pirie Cairnie 76:
Most people had an excavated place called a “Lint Coble,” where running water could be let in or out at pleasure.
(9)Edb. 1749 Edb. Marriage Reg. (S.R.S.) 508: 
Somerville, Patrick, merchant, lint dresser.
Rxb. 1826 A. Scott Poems 119:
My friend the lint-dresser, my kind respects gie him.
(11) Inv. 1718 Steuart Letter Bk. (S.H.S.) 63:
Mind to send the fine Lint hackle my wife has been seeking this Long time.
Sc. c.1800 Three Banks Review (Dec. 1960) 37:
Tallow chandlers, hocksters, glew-makers, qualifiers of tobacco, lint-hecklers, change-keepers.
(12) Sc. 1864 Jnl. Agric. 330:
As soon as the flax is rippled, it must be firmly bound up in small sheaves, and carried at once to the steeping-pool, or “lint-hole.”
Rnf. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 218:
It [flax] was next tied into little bundles called “beets,” which were placed in the “lint-hole” and covered with divots or stones to keep them under water, and were allowed to ret till the woody core became brittle.
Fif. 1887 G. Gourlay Old Neighbours 99:
Tan-pits once as manifold as lint holes in every parish.
Kcd. 1900 W. Gairdner Glengoyne I. viii.:
Lint was still cultivated, steeped in the “lint hole” and manufactured into a somewhat coarse but strong linen cloth.
Ags. 1959 C. Gibson Folk-Lore Tayside 35:
When the plant had ripened there was the pulling, and laying in lint-holes.
(13) Dmf. 1820 J. Johnstone Poems 125:
Wi' thy lint locks and slae-black e'en.
Gall. 1894 Crockett Raiders xliv.:
No a mark on him that the yellow lint locks canna cover.
(14) Sc. 1763 Caled. Mercury (18 June) 292:
There is to be sold, by roup, a Tack of a Lint or Flax Mill.
Peb. 1815 in A. Pennecuik Tweeddale 157:
Above the Bridge, in 1804, was erected a Lint Mill for bruising and switching flax.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 151:
King-Edward parish boasted of ten corn mills, with two lint mills and two waulk mills.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 63:
He gaed doon ae day … to a hole called Glengottrick, a wee bit abune the Lugton Lint Mill.
Bnff. 1902 J. Grant Agric. in Bnff. 24:
The many lint mills upon the Seafield estates bear testimony to this.
Ags. 1959 C. Gibson Folk-Lore Tayside 35:
If you look at an old map of Tayside, you will see these lint-mills dotted here and there along the valleys of the streams.
(15) Hdg. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 II. 35:
£1 for lint money.
(16) Sc. 1927 J. Mothersole Roman Scot. 67:
A lint-pond occupies the Ditch [of the Antonine Wall].
(17) Ags. 1887 J. McBain Arbroath 116:
After this, the lint was bound up in small bundles and carted to the most accessible water for being steeped into what was called lint pots for rolling the straw, in order to the separation of the flax from the straw or woody fibre. After being sufficiently steeped in the lint pot, it was spread upon the grass a sufficient time to dry, after which it was ready for the scutching mills. Of these there were five in the district.
Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 39:
Folk wad swear he chate the wuddy In the lint-pot gin he droon't.
(18) Rs. 1727 W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 133:
Crooksadles … mucking creels … lint-riping [sic] tree with two gang of irones.
Rxb. 1805 A. Scott Poems 22:
Ye didna ken but syle o' kipple Or stock to some auld wife's lint-ripple Might be your fate.
(19) Lnk. 1708 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 20:
Sowing of corns, bear, lintseed or of any other thing which formerly hath been given to servants or craftsmen.
Sc. 1724 W. Macintosh Fallowing 59:
Lint-Seed degenerates notably, if often used in the same Soil.
Sc. 1749 Records Conv. Burghs (B.R.S.) 305:
Such as shall be guilty of selling damnifyed mixt and bad lintseed.
Fif. 1812 W. Tennant Anster Fair ii. xli.:
Come Glasgow merchants, each with money bag, To purchase Dutch lintseed at Anster Fair.
Sc. 1823 C. K. Sharpe Ballad Bk. 84:
Ilka louse aninder it Was like a lintseed bow.
Dmb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VIII. 210:
The lintseed Saturdays were formerly great marts for the sale of the commodity, from whence they derived their names; but … these markets have accordingly declined with the cause which produced them.
Sc. 1903 N.E.D. s.v. Linseed:
The form lint-seed, which is strictly to be regarded as a distinct word, from Lint, is in Scotland used of seed intended to be sown.
Sc. 1928 A. Stewart Highland Parish 172:
At the beginning of the [eighteenth] century very little lintseed was sown in Fortingall.
(20) Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 7:
How naked wad we a' be obliged to skelp without your lint-sheaf an' woo-pack?
Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 168:
Some persons … recommend to set up the lint sheaves … in stooks like grain.
(22) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 45:
His hair hung down his back as white as a lint-straik.
(23) wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 552:
Ken ye, sir, whaur I could fa' in wi' a guid Heckler hereabouts? 'Deed it's no every lint-stripper hereabouts ye can lippen to.
(24) s.Sc. 1831 Quarterly Jnl. Agric. III. 257:
We had again our kirns at the end of harvest, and our lint-swinglings in almost every farm-house and cottage, which proved as a weekly bout for the greater part of the winter.
(25) Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 54:
Now Bessy's hair's like a lint-tap.
Sc. 1831 S. E. Ferrier Destiny I. iv.:
Betty M'Ivor says her skin is just like cream cheese, and her hair like a lint tap.
Sc. 1844 Sc. Songs (Whitelaw) 347:
As my wheel it gaes round, and my lint tap I spread.
Edb. 1850 J. Smith Humorous Stories 9:
Wad mak my hair, yince black as the corbie's wing, turn as white as a lint-tap.
Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 85:
Come when he likit, he aye gat a bite, That lint tappit beggar.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 212:
Yacob's head widna been sae muckle laek a lint tap as it is ta day.
(26) Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 105:
A roset haun' upon the lint-threed fell.
(27) Dmb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 II. 283:
In turning her lint-wheel, the person who spins commonly employs but one foot.
(28) Ayr. 1794 Burns Lassie, etc. i.:
Lassie wi' the lint-white locks.
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 95:
Lizie frae 'mang her lint white hair.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 295:
Wi' lint-white locks hingin' doon owre her broo.
Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer x.:
Her hair, which had been lint-white, … was now darkening into a golden brown.
(29) Arg. 1912 N. Munro Ayrshire Idylls (1935) 297:
John Galt had come to Ayrshire on a jaunt to call … upon a cousin's man who had a lint-work in the Vennel here.
(30) Rs. 1777 W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 210:
All lint-yarn or tow-yarn only — no mixed.
Sc. 1812 J. Sinclair Systems Husb. Scot. II. 147:
The farmer's children, are employed in spinning lint yarn, to be manufactured into linen, for the use of the family.
Sc. 1876 Bk. of Sc. Story 577:
The ignorance of the bride, who scarce knew lint-yarn from tow.

[O.Sc. lynt, flax, from 1375, Mid.Eng. linnet, lint, also s.Eng. dial. linet, dressed flax. The earlier history is rather obscure. Cf. O.Fr. linette, flax-seed, Med.Lat. linta, Lat. linteum, linen cloth, also ultimately derived from Lat. linum, flax. See Lin, n.1]

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"Lint n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Feb 2024 <>



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