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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SHETH, n. Also sheath, shethe, shath erron. seath; shade-. [ʃɛθ]

1. The slanting wooden bar or strut joining the share to the beam to which the mould board in the old Scots plough was attached, the corresponding part in the modern steel plough (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 196, 1923 Watson W.-B., shath; Arg. 1937). Obs. in Eng. Deriv. shadeing, id.Ork. 1747 P. Ork. A.S. XII. 51:
2 Iron Slings, 2 Iron Shadeings.
Lth. 1765 A. Dickson Agriculture 164:
This part of the Scots plough, which we call the sheath, has the same name given it by some of the English writers.
Bwk. 1794 A. Lowe Agric. Bwk. 39:
A plough with a mould board on each side, hung on the sheth with hinges, whereby the board can be set wider or narrower.
Rxb. 1798 R. Douglas Agric. Rxb. 49:
The shath too or sheath, including the head or peak, is sometimes one entire piece of cast metal.
Slg. 1818 W. Muir Poems 8:
The very pettle, riest an' seath [sic], Are pil'd up for a fiery death.
Sc. 1825 Jam., s.v. Sock-mandrill:
Since the introduction of metal heads to ploughs, in place of wooden ones commonly called sheths or sheaths.

2. A cross-bar in gen., one of the lighter cross-bars of a harrow (‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1970), a spar in the frame or sides of a cart or barrow (Per. 1970).Sc. 1776 Kames Gentleman Farmer 18:
The bulls are connected by four sheths, which go through each bull, and are fixed by timber nails driven through both.
Rxb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XI. 328:
The long cart with rung and sheth, for corn, peat and turf.
Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 101:
On the first bar or fore sheath, that keeps the shafts together.
e.Lth. 1807 Foord Acct. Bk. MS. 18:
To two earbroads and 14 side sheths for a long Cart.
Bwk. 1877 Joiner's Acct. Bk. MS. (10 Nov.):
To Reparing a Barrow with 2 Sheths, 2 New feet, etc.

3. A straik or scythe-sharpener (Dmf. 1825 Jam.).

4. Fig. Any coarse ugly object or person (Ib.).

[O.Sc. scheth, = 2., 1496, Mid.Eng. schethe, = 1.; ulterior orig. not clearly attested but cf. O. North. sceaþa, a nail. Cogn. words are Du. dial. schee, schet, a cross-bar, rail, scheeberd, = 1., Norw. dial. skeid, = 1., of which the form shade- above may be a partial scotticising.]

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"Sheth n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Jun 2023 <>



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