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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.

MAITTER, n., v. Also metter; maiter; mayter (Bnff. 1883 W. Philip Kirsty MacIntosh's Scholars vii.); (maitter Sh., Cai., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Edb., Ayr., Dmf.; metter Ork., Arg. 2000s). Gen.Sc. forms of Eng. matter (Sc. 1764 Scots Mag. (April) 187). Ork. 1952 R. T. Johnston Stenwick Days (1984) 85:
"Weel boy," he demanded brusquely, "whit's the metter?"
"This is the metter," snapped Geordie, and he flung down the anonymous letter on the table.
wm.Sc. 1954 Robin Jenkins The Thistle and the Grail (1994) 196:
"Was that all he said, Jock? What the hell's the maitter wi' Turk that he let them score? Has Alec Elrigmuir done nothing? ..."
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 33:
Right enough, but about this Other Metter ...
They say my husband's going to break his word and you
And my stepdaughter are to marry ... Is this true?
Lnk. 1991 Duncan Glen Selected Poems 28:
... juist Mrs Smith's
and different frae oor hoose
or ony that I kent
for that maitter.

Hence maitter-o'-fack(ness), matter-of-fact(ness) (Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert ii.; ne.Sc. 1962). [′metər]

Sc. phrs.: 1. a maitter, = no matter. Prob. short for a matter of no consequence; 2. owre-the-maitter, excessive; 3. there is no (muckle) matter, it doesn't (much) matter (Sc. 1798 Monthly Mag. VI. 436). Gen.Sc.; 4. to little matter, to little purpose, with small advantage (Sh., Ags. 1962); 5. to make (a) matter, to make a to-do, to fuss (Sh., Ags., w.Lth., Kcb. 1962). Phr. deil mak matter, used as an expletive in expressions of contradiction or protest, = nevertheless, all the same, for all that. Somewhat like Eng. “dash it all”. See also Deil, n., VII. C. 3. (2).1. Sc. 1799 H. Mitchell Scoticisms 56:
Many, in the south of Scotland, say, “it is a matter”, when they mean quite the contrary. “I promised to see you last Thursday”, says James to John, “but was prevented”. “It is a matter”, replies John.
Lth. 1912 W. Cuthbertson Dykeside Folk 183:
He'll share yer bed, it's a maitter whether it's feathers or bracken, it's a' the same til him.
2. Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 13:
A paid ma laween (it was naething owre-the-maitter — A wasna saateet).
3. Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 57:
Well, there is no matter.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 227:
There's nae muckle maitter for I ken ilka fit an' fur o' the hill.
4. Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 214:
Wad tak' o'er mukle time e'enow, To little matter.
5. Gsw. 1819 A. Rodger Poems & Songs (1838) 29:
But he lost it, poor gowk (deil mak' matter), And how — I will try to explain.
Per. 1836 G. Penny Traditions 54:
“Devil mak matter,” says Rob, “this must not be”.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona vii.:
Because you said a word too much in a friend's ear . . . to make such a matter!

II. v. Sc. forms of Eng. maitter.m.Sc. 1994 Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay Forever Yours, Marie-Lou 11:
Disnae maitter supposin ye whisper, they fund a wey tae hear whit yir saying!
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 6:
There's muckle big holes in baith ma shoes,
wi attendin interviews,
but it disnae maitter whaur ye gaan,
or wha ye ken, ...

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"Maitter n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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