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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

LINTIE, n. Also linty, and alternative dim. forms lintic (Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 69), -ick, lintock (Ork. 1877 Sc. Naturalist (Jan.) 9). [′lɪnti]

1. The linnet, Acanthis cannabina (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ork. 1891 Buckley and Harvie-Brown Fauna Ork. 118). Gen.Sc., exc. Sh. Also transf.: a singer. Freq. in similes in reference to singing in a cheerful carefree manner. Phr. to beat bushes for linties, to be employed on some useless or unprofitable task.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (1877) II. 358:
Larks, gowdspinks, mavises and linties.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 4:
As o'er the birny brae mayhap he wheels, The linties cour wi' fear.
Sc. 1826 Blackwood's Mag. (Oct.) 503:
I'll be paid for my trouble. I dinna gang about beating bushes for linties.
Ags. 1834 A. Smart Rhymes 109:
The lintie whids amang the whins.
wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 271:
Miss Jean … could sing like a linty, loup like a maukin, and play on the piano to the bargain.
s.Sc. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 47:
The hawk that built upon the rock, And the lintie in the shaw.
Bnff. 1876 S. Smiles Sc. Naturalist 402:
It is the rose lintie so long as it retains its red breast; but when that is gone or wanting, it is then the gray lintie, the whin lintie, the brown lintie, and so on.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders xliv.:
He was sittin' by his lane in a bit bouroch … whistlin' like a lintie.
ne.Sc. 1929 M. W. Simpson Day's End 35:
When the lintie sings, an' the roadside's sweet Wi' the sicht an' scent o' the whin.
m.Sc. 1939 James Barke The Land of the Leal (1987) 100:
He might curse and complain in the early hours of a wet morning but long before midday he would be singing like a thrush or whistling like a lintie.
Cai. 1952 Edb. John o' Groat Lit. Soc.:
So Mrs Mac. came strolling back And issued out a skintie, And in a twinkling everyone Was singing like a lintie.
Gsw. 1973 Molly Weir A Toe on the Ladder (1975) 61:
I sang out the numbers like a lintie and enjoyed it from beginning to end.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 57:
I'm gleg as a flech, spinnin like a peerie,
singin like a lintie an' oh, I canna weary.
Gsw. 1988 George MacDonald Fraser The Sheikh and the Dustbin (1989) 117:
"He minds me a bit o' Jackie O'Connell that used tae be in C Company, ye mind him? Irish boy, sang like a lintie,..."
Ork. 1999 Orcadian 7 Oct 15:
"A long term benefit from this group will be to enhance Orkney's farmland biodiversity," said Rachel. "Laverock, Lintie and Heather Lintie are just a few species which will potentially benefit from this work."
Sc. 1999 Herald 31 Aug 19:
Following a customary flawless song-overture from Lewis lintie Ishbel MacAskill,
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 238:
Jean was not sure if that minister had been one of the many who had crowded in to look at her in the days around her arrest and trial. She had felt like a lintie in a cage, surrounded by a cloud of crows.

Combs. (see also 1876 quot. above): (1) brown lintie, the linnet (Mry. 1889 J. Watson Wild Birds 33; Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 374; Cai., Ayr., Wgt., Dmf. 1961); (2) dwarf lintie, the lesser redpole, Acanthis flammea (Slg. 1867 Zoologist (2nd Ser.) II. 893); (3) gray lintie, the linnet (Ib.; Cld. 1880 Jam.; s.Sc. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 64; Bwk. 1889 G. Muirhead Birds Bwk. I. 168; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Per., Fif., m.Lth., Arg., Ayr., sm.Sc. 1961). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (4) green lintie, the greenfinch, Chloris chloris (Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 373; Ayr. 1929 Paton and Pike Birds Ayr. 14). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. Also fig. a street urchin; (5) heather lintie, = 2. (Ork. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 66; Ayr. 1929 Paton and Pike Birds Ayr. 18; Cai., Abd., Fif. 1961); (6) hedge lintie, = 1. (Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 374, Cai. 1961); (7) hill-lintie, = 2. (Ork. 1877 Sc. Naturalist (Jan.) 9; Cai. 1961); (8) rose lintie, = 1. (Ork. 1877; Mry. 1889 J. Watson Wild Birds 33; Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Lth. 1961). Also rosy lintie; (9) tree lintie, the chaffinch, Fringilla caelebs (Mry. 1955 Northern Scot (24 Sept.)); (10) whin lintie, fin —, fun — (ne.Sc.), = 1. (Mry. 1889 J. Watson Wild Birds 33; Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 374; ne. and sm.Sc. 1.961); also given as = the whinchat, Saxicola rubetra but? (Mry. 1955 Northern Scot (24 Sept.)); (11) yella lintie, the yellow-hammer, Emberiza citrinella (Abd., Ags., Ayr. 1961); (12) yellow-nebbed lintie, = 2. (Ayr. 1929 Paton and Pike Birds Ayr. 18).(3) Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) vii.:
Peacocks, and magpies, and parrots, and cockytoos, and yorlins, and grey linties.
Sc. 1831 S. E. Ferrier Destiny III. vii.:
There, at a window over the way, is a grey-lintie, singing as blithely.
Lnk. 1872 R. Tennant Musings 19:
The fairest spot to me, Is where the wee grey-lintie sings.
(4) Abd. c.1810 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 2) VII. 55:
They enjoyed themselves at their own bonfire as much as the barest-legged “midden boy” or “Green Lintie,” a clan of city arabs who were never known to be absent from such stirring scenes as these.
(5)Ork. 1999 Orcadian 7 Oct 15:
"A long term benefit from this group will be to enhance Orkney's farmland biodiversity," said Rachel. "Laverock, Lintie and Heather Lintie are just a few species which will potentially benefit from this work."
(8) Ags. 1897 A. Reid Bards Ags. 61:
A birdie fluttered oot an' in, A little rosy lintie.

2. In Sh.: the twite, Acanthis flavirostris (Sh. 1899 Evans and Buckley Fauna Sh. 89, 1955 L. Venables Birds, etc. 113).Sh. 1898 J. Burgess Tang ii.:
Du's aboot as muckle laek her as a deuk is laek a lintie.

3. Fig.: a sprightly, gay girl (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Lth., Rxb., Uls. 1961); also in a bad sense, a malevolent or depraved woman.Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 107:
Shü's yokkit some ane else wi pooer; Yea, yon ane is a lintie o it … Shü'll better watch her lawless tongue.

4. A song, ditty, phs. by confusion with liltie, Lilt (ne.Sc. 1961).Abd. 1950 Buchan Observer (28 Nov.):
Every encouragement was given towards the establishment of sessions of song and story; and … some of these illiterates had a fine opportunity to score if they could “come aff wi' a wee bit lintie.”

[From lint in Lintwhite + -Ie, dim. ending. The bird feeds on flax seeds (see Lint, n.1 and cf. Eng. linnet, O.Fr. linette, from lin, flax).]

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"Lintie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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