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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PET, n., int., v.1 Also pett; ¶pech in sense II.

I. n. 1. An animal which has been domesticated and made much of (Sc. 1808 Jam.); gen. a lamb or sheep which has been hand-reared and kept separate from the flock; also attrib. Of Sc. orig., now adopted in Eng.Rnf. 1768 Session Papers, Petition J. Bartholomew (22 Jan.) 24:
When she had it as a pet, she tethered it and it faultered itself about a tree, and broke one of its horns.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Death & Dr. Hornbook xxvii.:
The lad, for twa guid gimmer-pets, Was laird himsel.
Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 IX. 428:
Unlaid or pet wool, is from 15s. to £1, 1s. the stone.
Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Agric. Peb. 80:
These sheep pasture along with the cows, are often housed in Winter, and are called pets; a designation applied to every kind of sheep kept in this state of domestication.

2. By extension to human beings, also now in Eng.: a favourite, a pampered darling, freq. of children (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 124). Also fig. of a plant. Dim. pettie, id. Phr. in pet, with special treatment. Hence ‡pet-loll, a spoilt and pampered child (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); ‡pet-willed, -wilt, adj., headstrong, self-willed, obstinate (Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C., pitwult; ne.Sc. 1965).Sc. 1720 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 154:
How without thought these dawted Petts of Fate . . . By pure instinct sae leal the Mark have hit.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 153:
He has fault of a Wife, that marries Mam's Pet.
Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Poet. Wks. (S.T.S.) 176:
And so it fared, he grows a common pett, And a' the house is for his wellfare set.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 72, 184:
Ye mak my Muse a dautit pett . . . Wi' eistacks, grown as 'tware in pet In foreign land, or green-house het.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 380:
A pet is always a dangerous creature; thus a child, petted by its parents, plays the devil some day or other in the world; a sheep petted is apt to turn a duncher; and a friend dawted too much, is likely to become an adder.
Rnf. 1830 A. Picken Dominie's Legacy I. 104:
He was, at that time, as raw looking, overgrown, gawky a youth, as any mother's pet of a student.
Sc. 1856 J. Aiton Clerical Econ. 154:
The pet [cutting] having been brought to this its first state of existence, must be put in the window.
Edb. 1864 A. Logan Musings 53:
Cease a' your daffin' an' rest, for a wee My bonnie sweet pettie, upon Mither's knee!
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 62:
Aince I get oot o'this hell . . . I'll mak a pet o'mysel'.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Pet-loll, Mammy's doll.

3. A day of sunshine in the middle of a spell of bad weather. Also pet-day, id. (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 380; Uls. 1904 Uls. Jnl. Archaeol. 128; Lth., wm.Sc., Dmf., Kcb., s.Sc. 1965).Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize III. viii.:
But the lown of that time was as a pet day in winter.
Rnf. 1825 Jam.:
It is commonly said “I fear this day will be a pet”.
Sc. 1863 Edb. New Philosoph. Jnl. XVIII. 230:
An unseasonably fine day in winter or spring is called a pet day in Scotland. The fate of pets, they say, awaits it, and they look for bad weather on the morrow.
Sc. 1882 Standard (26 Dec.):
They are generally accompanied by weather “too fine to last”, or what in Scotland is known as a “pet-day”.
Arg. 1937:
I doot this must be a pet: we'll pey in for't the morn.
Arg. 1992:
A pet, it's far too good this weather.

II. int. A call-name for a sheep or lamb (Dmf. 1921 T.S.D.C. 24, pech, pech!, 1933–5 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 327: Cai., Ags., Kcb. 1965).Cai. 1956 Bulletin (7 Feb.) 3:
[He] stood at the cliff edge and shouted — “Pet, pet.” And the sheep — a ewe — got up and scrambled to the top.

III. v. 1. To make a pet of (a person or animal), to treat with special favour, pamper, make much of, cosset, fondle (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Of Sc. orig., now St. Eng. Also freq. form pettle, pettel, id. (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 193; Kcb. 1900; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Rxb., Slk. 1965). Hence pettitness, the state of being petted or pampered.Sc. 1724 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 49:
Petted things can nought but teez ye.
Rnf. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 207:
A wheel, a reel, an wabs enew Twa peted ewes, a brawny cow.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xviii.:
They . . . harle us to the Correction-house in Leith Wynd, and pettle us up wi' bread and water, and siclike sunkets.
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie v.:
Ilka young lassie he coaxes an' pettles.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 134:
He covered his mare wi'his cloak and his breeks, And pettled her up like a queen.
Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 181:
Auld Scotland's muse I've coax'd and pettled.
e.Lth. 1902 J. Lumsden Toorle 235:
I'd gar Dame Fortune pettle yet My pickle siller!
Abd.27 1949:
The cat's clean spoilt wi pettitness.

[O.Sc. pet, a spoilt child, 1500, pett, a domesticated animal, 1539, pet, v., 1629. Despite N.E.D., appar. of Celtic orig., O.Ir. peat(t)a, a domesticated animal, a fine day, Gael. peata, id.]

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"Pet n., interj., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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