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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.

PETH, n., v. Also peath (n.Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis), paith; peethe; pey; pead; as a verb, gen. spelt path. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. path. [n. peθ; v. + pɑθ]

I. n.

Sc. form of Eng. path.Lnk. 1991 Duncan Glen Selected Poems 28:
We gaed up the peth
ticht in a group
wee boys and wee girls
Sc. 1991 William Wolfe in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 65:
Glower o sun an snell wund drocht thaim sair an
Bluid an watter crine on peths wi nae devaul.

Sc. usages:

A steep track or road, gen. leading down into a ravine (and up the other side), “a footpath on an acclivity” which follows the contour of the slope (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 259; ne.Sc., Lth., Ayr., s.Sc. 1965). Common in placenames in Scot. and n.Eng., as Cockburnspath, Pathhead, Redpath, the Reed Pey, Peethe o Minnonie (Aberdeenshire). Adv. pathlins, downwards, on a downward track, an editorial emendation for MS. pitlens in A. Ross Helenore (1868 ed.) 197.Per. 1723 W. McFarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 127:
The Peth of Drone which peth is a highway through that chain of hills.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 28:
For her gueed luck, a wie bit aff the pead Grew there a tree wi' branches thick an' bred.
Slg. 1770 Session Papers, Petition M. Haldane (31 July) 15:
The old roads . . . were full of wet holes, steep ascents and descents, paths and short turns.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
A peth is a road up a steep brae, but is not necessarily to be understood to be a narrow or foot-path. On the contrary, that the most of peths are on public roads, as Kirkliston peth, on the highway between Edinburgh and Linlithgow; Path-head near Kirkcaldy.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 165:
And ere he got far down the peth, The storm was like to stop his breath.
Ags. 1881 J. S. Neish Byways 158:
Doon the Paith he ran as if there were a hunder at his tail.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 51:
The Peth's the richer for your towl, An' nane the puirer for your verses.
Rxb. 1924 Kelso Chron. (8 Feb.):
He [a dog] got over dyke and hedge and was immediately weerin' the run-away sheep in the “Peth.”
Fif. 1938 St. Andrews Citizen (8 Oct.):
In 1826 . . . what was then a croft at “Windmill Paith” [is now called] City Road.
Bnff. 1957 People's Jnl. (31 Aug.):
A new handrail at the Strait Path, the steep stair leading from the shore to the higher part of the village.

Deriv.: pethless, Without a path.Lnk. 1997 Duncan Glen Seventeen Poems 16:
The gress bends to my step
and I tak a wey through there
as if a landscape made for me
though pethless and boggy in pairts.

II. v. To pave (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 196). Ppl.adj. pathit, paved (Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs Gl.), also used fig. Deriv. peathment (Ags. 1714 Arbroath Documents (Finlayson 1923)) paidmint, a pavement, paving (Ags. 1965).Sc. 1709 W. Steuart Collections ii. i. § 26:
It were to be wished that masters of families would path the way for the more easy introducing of our former practice, by reviving and observing the same in their family worship.
Sc. 1743 W. McFarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 282:
Not only therby delivered Montrose's advanced guard . . . but also pathed the way for the glorious victory.
Ags. 1899 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy xvi.:
The middle o' the road cudna haud the can'le to the paidmints for glaur lest Sabbath.

[O.Sc. peth, = I., from 1375, pathit, paved, from 1507, O.E. pæþ, used in sense I. in O.North. Some of the Sc. forms are phonologically irregular. Path as a v. in sense II. is found in Mid.Eng. and is phs. due to confusion with pave; conversely, peathment, O.Sc. paythment, a.1400, is an assimilation to path of pavement.]

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"Peth n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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