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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SMOWT, n.1, v. Also smowte, smeowt, smout; smoat, smoot; smo(u)lt. [smʌut]

I. n. 1. A young salmon, or one of the other Salmonidae, esp. the sea trout, usu. in its second spring when it becomes covered with silvery scales and begins to descend its native river for the sea, i.e. between the Parr and Grilse stage (Sc. 1808 Jam., smout; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Of Sc. and n.Eng. orig., now St. Eng. in the form smolt.Rnf. 1706 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1876) 200:
That non kill smolts or trouts with any engine on dams or laves.
Ayr. 1710 Arch. & Hist. Coll. Ayr & Wgt. IV. 244:
Killing of salmond rid fish and smoats in forbidden season.
Sc. 1750 Session Papers, Robertson v. Mackenzie (27 Nov.) 7:
This Bulwark stops the Smouts or Fry from getting down the Water.
Sc. 1803 Prize Essays Highl. Soc. II. 351:
They are called samlets, but are generally known among our country people by the name of salmon smouts.
Sc. 1847 T. T. Stoddart Angler's Companion 208:
By far the greater portion of the smolts in question were what are termed orange-fins or sea-trout fry, still a considerable number were the true salmon or parr-smolts, having the pectoral fins tinged with black.
Sc. 1877 A. Young Salmon Fisheries 207:
The silver mail which marks the transition of the parr into the smolt.
Bnff. 1900 Banffshire Jnl. (5 June) 8:
The grilse of the sea-trout, which went down the previous year as smolts.
Sc. 1904 A. M. Anderson Crim. Law 142:
It is illegal to take any smolt or salmon fry, and any unclean or unseasonable salmon.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 68:
And there's smouts at every castin' And a big troot in atween.

2. A kind of trout (Fif. 1825 Jam.). Salmon and sea-trout were formerly not always clearly distinguished, esp. in their earlier stages, and it is not certain whether this meaning really applies to a species distinct from 1.Ags. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 IV. 5:
There is likewise plenty of smouts (as they are commonly called,) or smelts, which are a slender, clear skinned species of trout about eight or nine inches long.

3. A small insignificant person, a small child (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Gen. (exc. I.) Sc. Also used of animals and inanimate objects. Derivs. smoutrie, a crowd of small children or things; smootrikin, a puny person or animal (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 170), also used adj. = tiny and active; small, insignificant. Adj. smouty, trifling, of little moment.Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 211:
Our gentry now they're a' grown smouts Their banes so short and sma'.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
My little wee smootrikin mous.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch vi.:
When I was a wee smout of a callant.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. xii.:
A black smout of a thing; walks intaed and has a beard.
Fif. 1867 J. Morton C. Gray 38:
Whaure'er her smouts o' feet had been.
Rnf. 1879 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers 100:
I kenna hoo mony smouts o' bairns.
e.Lth. 1885 S. Mucklebackit Rural Rhymes 175:
Parents of a perfect smoutrie of little Truehearts.
Ags. 1894 A. Reid Heatherland 70:
I'd tint a day, an' for that smoot did spen' Ilk orra ‘bob.'
Ayr. 1896 Gl. to Galt Provost (Meldrum) II. 281:
An impertinent little weazened imp of a boy may be heard called in Ayrshire a “Smeowt.”
em.Sc. 1920 J. Black Airtin' Hame 52:
We taigle at anterin times ower lang Wi' smouty and little-worth things.
Gsw. a.1930 Neil Munro Erchie & Jimmy Swan (1993) 29:
I'm shair it must be a hard job for the auld man, her paw, to provide diversions for the puir wee smout.
Gsw. 1933 F. Niven Mrs. Barry viii.:
Neil — that smout of manhood.
Abd. 1934 M. Watt Visitors at Birkenbrae 11:
Yon loon, Sammy Walker, a cheeky smout.
Edb. 1956:
Ye canna play wi us. Ye're juist a smowt. Have ye no got a bigger aipple? This is an awfu wee smowt.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 5:
Don't tell me! It's Daphne next door
And that smouty wee man o' hers. They deplore
Loud and lang, their clarty-minds imagine
A'body but them's a bad yin.
Gsw. 1992 Jeff Torrington Swing Hammer Swing! (1993) 41:
'But it isn't night yet,' the saucy smout declared.
m.Sc. 1996 Christopher Brookmyre Quite Ugly One Morning (1997) 2:
'Postman must be built like the fuckin' Tardis,' McGregor muttered to himself, leaving vomity footprints on the floorboards as he trudged reluctantly down the hall. 'How could a skinny wee smout like that hold so much liquid?'
Ayr. 2000:
Jasper's a wee smowt.
Sc. 2001 Herald 2 Jun 8:
The vehicles are grand: oh, would that such kit had been available when dad was a smout. With electric motors and only one pedal to worry about, even the most timid novice should have no trouble getting the hang of this.
Sc. 2004 Sunday Herald 25 Apr 3:
Thus it was in the interest of research that I blagged an invitation last year to the Ultimo lingerie fashion show starring Penny Lancaster, the Amazonian girlfriend of wee smout Rod Stewart.
Edb. 2005:
Yer no gaun tae let a smouty wee thing like him bother ye, are ye?

II. v. To become a smolt, pass into the smolt stage of development.Sc. 1855 Memoirs C. North (Gordon 1859) 315:
The female parr ‘smolt' soon after the completion of the first year.

[O.Sc. smo(l)t, a young salmon, 1318 (Latin doc.), a.1469, E.M.E. (North.) smowt, id., of doubtful orig. There is prob. some connection with Eng. smelt, O.E. smelt, the spirling, Du. smelt, Ger. Schmelte, a sandeel, Norw. smelta, a small cod. But the phonological development is obscure.]

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"Smowt n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Feb 2024 <>



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