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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

SHINTY, n. Also -ie, shenty; shinnie, -y, shiney; shinnock. [′ʃɪnti, †′ʃɪne]

1. A game very much like hockey in which a ball is driven by opposing sides, each of eleven players, with curved sticks (see Cammock, Cammon) towards goal posts called Hails, formerly universal in Scot. and North England but now almost entirely restricted to the Highlands (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Lnk. 1825 Jam., shinnock; Gall. 1822 Scots Mag. (June) 798; Sth., Gall. 1825 Jam., shinnie). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 97:
A crooked stick with which Boys play at Cammon, Shinny, or Side ye.
Slg. 1769 Scots Mag. (June) 332:
Killing his comrade with a club, when playing at shinty.
Gsw. 1781 Glasgow Past & Present (1884) III. 194:
All boys shall be discharged by their parents and Masters from playing tops, shinty, or using any diversion whatever upon the flags that may be incommodious to the inhabitants.
Per., Arg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 V. 72, 305:
On holidays, all the males of a district, young and old, met to play at football, but oftener at shinty . . . . Provost Brown, late of Inveraray, when 100 years old, headed one of the contending parties at a shinty match.
Slk. 1827 R. Chambers Picture Scot. I. 137:
That most spirit-stirring and delightful of all games — the shintie.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie vii.:
The hard shinty peltings, an' bruised bluidy pows.
Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 73:
At playin' the shinnie, or game at the ba'.
Sc. 1876 J. Grant Burgh Schools 180:
The rough but manly old game of “shinty” has not yet quite fallen into desuetude: it is played at Forfar academy, Inverness academy, Moffat grammar school.
Uls. 1920 J. Logan Uls. in X-Rays 86:
Of old-time sports, there were many. One of the most popular, for boys at any rate, was “shinney.”
Sc. 1933 E. S. Haldane Scot. of Our Fathers 354:
There was a sort of shinty played in the village schools with bent sticks: the sticks were home-made and had to be very carefully chosen in the woods. The ball was made by taking yarn unravelled from an old stocking and winding it tightly round and round a bit of cork.
Inv. 1952 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 345:
Newtonmore, as all the world knows, is the stronghold of shinty.

Combs.: (1) shinny-ball, the ball or lump of wood, etc. used in the game. See 3.; (2) shinty-club, shinny-, the stick used to strike the ball (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (3) shinty-hail, the goal in shinty. See Hail, n.3; (4) shinty-stick, = (2).(1) Sc. 1825 R. Chambers Trad. Edb. II. 78:
A group of little pensioners, who regularly annoyed him for a shinny ball, or some such article.
Sc. 1860 J. F. Campbell Pop. Tales W. Highl. I. 58–9:
There sons of the king of Erin were on a day playing shinny on a strand. . . . A giant, who as usual threatened to make a shinny ball of his head, and eat him.
(3) Abd. 1923 A. Shewan Spirat Adhuc Amor 15:
The twin hawthorns that made the shinty hail.
(4) Lth. 1853 W. Wilson Ailieford I. i.:
Short shinty sticks with the indispensable curve at the end.

2. The club or stick used in the game, a Cammock or caman (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Also in n.Eng. dial. Comb. shinty-fitted, having legs like shinty-sticks, i.e. with turned-out toes (Slk. 1921 T.S.D.C.).Highl. 1773 Boswell Tour (1936) 263:
There is a ball thrown down in the middle of a space above the house, or on a strand near it; and each party strives to beat it to one end of the ground with clubs or crooked sticks. The club is called the shinny. It is used in the low-country of Scotland. We corrupt it to shinty.
Sc. 1815 C. I. Johnstone Clan-Albin I. vi.:
A very generous distributor of toy-boats, bows and arrows, shinnys, and alder-tree guns.
Slg. 1847 G. Wyse Pictures 27:
With shinties, chosen from the wood.
Rnf. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 36:
Shinties to fung the fleeing bool.
Kcb. 1882 G. Murray Sarah Rae 13:
My shinny plied, my peerie span.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 134:
Should flourish and deleever fair His souple shintie.
Uls. 1900 J. Logan Uls. in X-Rays 145:
Aft there hae I searched for the shinny o' hazel.

3. The ball or knot of wood or the like used in the game (Sth. (shinnie), Slk. (shinty) 1825 Jam.).Cai. 1829 J. Hay Poems 131:
Although her head was aching sair, Like ony half smash'd shinty!
n.Sc. 1840 D. Sage Mem. Domest. (1889) 158:
The shinty or shinny, a ball of wood, was then inserted into the ground, and the leaders with their clubs struck at it till they got it out again.
Sth. 1897 E. W. B. Nicholson Golspie 116:
Shinty . . . more commonly called Clubs, the ball is termed a ‘shiney'.

4. A street shaped like a shinty-stick, a curve, crescent.Rnf. 1881 F. Gilmour Gordon's Loan 54:
The former portion lived here and there through the whole length of the “shinty”.

[O.Sc. shinnie, 1672, of obscure orig. N.E.D. cites the cry shin ye, shin t(o) ye, used in the game, as a possible orig. See car-sham-ye, s.v. Car, adj., (4) (c).]

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"Shinty n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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