Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PETER, prop. n. Sc. usages in combs. and phr.: 1. oily Peter, an old-fashioned hanging oil-lamp with a rush wick, a Cruisie; 2. Peter-bowie, a piece of bone or boxwood in the form of a thin wedge, used by shoe-makers for rubbing up the seams of shoes (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) P. 27). See Patie, prop. n., 3., and Petrie Ball; 3. Peter Cammel, a jocular name for a pig (Cai. 1965). Cf. Sandy Campbell s.v. Sandie; 4. Peter(ie)(-a)-Dick, a phr. to represent onomat. a rhythmic pattern consisting of two or three short beats followed by one long, freq. beaten out by the feet as a dance-step or with the knuckles on a board (I. and n.Sc., Rnf., Uls. 1965); a child's play-thing which can be made so as to reproduce this rhythm (see quots.). Also in extended form Peter-a-dick's peat stack, and adv., = pit-a-pat; 5. Peter Fair, Peter's Fair, a fair held, usu. in July, in various parts of the North of Scot. See Suppl. Also ‡Petermass Fair, -Market, in Cai.; 6. Peter (-lang)-shanks, a daddy-long-legs, a cranefly (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) P. 29); 7. Petermass Fair, see 5.; 8. Peter redlegs, the redshank, Tringa totanus (Cai. 1972 D. Omand Cai. Bk. 95); 9. Peter's bird, -cock, Petricock, the stormy petrel, Hydrobates pelagicus (Ayr. 1930). Cf. Norw. Pedersfugl, Ger. Petersvogel, Eng. petret, said to derive from St. Peter's walking on the waves (Matthew xiv. 29); 10. (St.) Peter's mark, one of the black marks behind the gills of a haddock, popularly thought to be the fingerprint of St. Peter when he caught the fish for the tribute money (Matthew xvii. 27) (Cai., ne. and wm.Sc. 1965). Cf. 12. and 14.; 11. Peter's pleugh, the constellation Ursa Major, the Plough (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 380); 12. Peter's spots, = 10.; 13. Peter's staff, the constellation Orion, esp. that part of it called “the sword” (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, s.v. Elwand); 14. Peter's thoom, -thumb, = 10. (I. and n.Sc., wm.Sc. 1965).1. Abd. 1910 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. III. 98:
Regarding the crusie — known . . . in Buchan as oily Peter — it belonged no doubt to very early days.
4. Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 379:
A favourite dancing step with the peasantry, performed by three flegs with the feet, and two stamps with the heel alternately. The movement of the feet correspond[s] to these words when said at the same time: indeed the noise the feet make seems to speak them — “Peter a Dick, Peter a Dick, Peter a Dick's peastack.”
Bnff. 1829 J. Dunbar Poems 116:
My heart bet Peter-Dick for fear.
Sc. 1875 Stevenson Letters (1899) I. 110:
The rain upo' the roof abune Played Peter Dick.
Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
A child's toy made of a half walnut shell, a small piece of stiek and some thread. When played upon by the fingers in a particular way, it makes a ticking noise.
Abd. 1911:
A peterie-dick was a contrivance made from a hollowed-out wooden block tied round with a taut string through which a thin strip of wood was inserted in such a way as to strike the edge of the block when tapped rhythmically by the finger. A half-open empty matchbox and a matchstick twisted in an elastic band might be similarly used.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 129:
He'll gar us up an' at it — Dance, Peter-Dick!
ne.Sc. 1954 Mearns Leader (4 June):
He gart his fingers play “petery-dick” on her windae peens.
Bnff. 1963 Bnff. Advertiser (4 July):
The petery-dick is held in the left hand . . . and the fingers of the right hand are brought down one by one upon the outer end of the small piece of wood retained by the elastic. The other end of the small piece of wood thus intermittently strikes the sloping surface of the instrument, producing a sound like “Petery-dick, petery-dick”. 1980 James Fowler Fraser Doctor Jimmy 27:
There were three great horse Fairs in the area which the tinkers all attended. There was Peter's Fair in Fyvie, there was St. Sair's Fair in Culsalmond and Lowrin Fair at Old Rayne.
6. Ayr. 1841 T. Paton Songs 5:
Spiders that night, made nae attacks, On moths or petershanks.
9. Uls. 1844 R. Huddleston Poems 64:
The petricocks roun' Galloa brae, Wi' skirlin' note did chime.
10. Sc. 1800 A. Carlyle Autobiog. (1860) 58:
As he had been very peremptory against haddocks, and she had no other, she had made her cook carefully scrape out St. Peter's mark on the shoulders.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of Lairds iv.:
He flew on me like a mad dog, and nippit my twa lugs till he left the stedt o' his fingers as plainly upon them as the mark o' Peter's finger and thumb can be seen on the haddock's back.
11. Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 53:
They conjured Pleiades, implored Peter's plough.
Ags. 1901 W. J. Milne Reminisc. 21:
On clear nights could be seen the pole star and Peter's plough.
12. Bnff. 1886 Folk-Lore Journal IV. 16:
The black spots on the shoulders of the haddock are called Peter's spots.
13. Ayr. a.1825 Carrick Anthol. (Finlayson 1925) 133:
There's bless'd St. Peter's staff o' strength, And there's the starns seven.

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Peter prop. n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: