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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.

SNEESHIN, n. Also sneeshing, sneeshan, -en, -un, snishin(g), snishan, -en, -on, sneishin, -en, snishion (Ags. 1823 L. Watt Poems 6), snitian (Edb. 1720 A. Pennecuik Helicon 65), snichen, snuishin; ¶snooshin metri causa. [′sniʃən, ′snɪʃ-]

1. Snuff (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson). Gen.Sc., mostly liter., esp. in Highland contexts. Also in n.Eng. dial. Nonce usage in 1714 quot., the taking of snuff. Deriv. sneesh(i)nie, snuffy, given to taking snuff. Comb. sneeshnie draps, drops of snuff and moisture expelled from the nose after taking snuff. Cf. sneeshin draps, see below 2. (2).ne.Sc. 1714 R. Smith Poems (1869) 12, 90:
Thy vile snichen, and thy brose . . . We chanc'd to take a glass, And in its rear a snichen soon took place.
Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 103:
The auld wife aboon the fire, She died for lack of snishing.
Sc. 1761 in R. Southey Commonplace Book (1851) IV. 595:
A little provision “of the best Preston Pans snuff, both toasted and untoasted, in four bottles; with one bottle of Highland snishon.”
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 212:
Meal and salt, bread and snishen.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxvi.:
It does not signification a pinch of sneeshing.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb ix.:
His “sneeshinie” habits were a sort of pulpit novelty.
Ags. 1890 Brechin Advertiser (1 April) 3:
I mind o' auld Charlie Belford [a weaver] bein' fined a shillin' for twa sneeshnie draps.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet xxxvii.:
A boxfu' o' Maister Cotton's Dutch sneeshin'.
Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 50:
A constellation's jist a pinch o' sneeshin.

2. Combs.: (1) sneeshin box, a snuff-box (Sc. 1808 Jam.); (2) sneeshin draps, drops of snuff-laden nasal mucus; (3) sneeshin horn, a snuff-box shaped from a horn (Per. 1971); (4) sneeshin mull, — milli(e), a snuff-box, orig. one which ground the snuff (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson; Per. 1971). See Mill, n., 6. Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. For phr. deil's sneeshin mills, see Deil, n., VII. A. 22.; (5) sneeshin pen, a small quill or spoon used in taking snuff (Sc. 1880 Jam.). See Pen, n.1, 2. (3).(1) Abd. 1733 W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 5:
His fishing-wand, his sneeshing-box.
Ayr. 1858 M. Porteous Souter Johnny 28:
I'm Souter Johnny's sneeshin'-box.
(2) Bnff. 1900 Banffshire Jnl. (27 Nov.) 6:
The impending shower of “sneeshin draps” were too much for the old man.
Bnff. 1933 M. Symon Deveron Days 38:
The Bellman 'll be dichtin' mair than sneeshan draps frae's nose.
(3) Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 86:
I never show'd sic scorn, Towards my empty snishen-horn.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 36:
Hand about the sneeshin horn.
Abd. 1837 J. Leslie Willie & Meggie 7:
With his sneeshin'-horn in his hand.
m.Sc. 1891 R. Ford Thistledown 177:
When wi' Eve he'll had a crack, He'll teuk his sneeshin' horn.
(4) Sc. 1717 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 20:
To the sma' Hours we aft sat still, Nick'd round our Toasts and Snishing Mill.
Kcd. c.1800 Fraser Papers (S.H.S.) 51:
His father's sneishen mill.
Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Poems 211:
Tam lugged out the snishing mill.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxiii.:
I could take my aith to that sneeshing-mull amang a thousand.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 181:
The sneeshin' mill or sootie-throotit pipe.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ix.:
Tappin' on sneeshin'-mull lids.
Abd. 1882 T. Mair John o' Arnha' 23:
He whuppit oot his sneeshin-mull And gae his nose a special full.
Ork. 1930:
I must buy the fill o me sneeshan mill.
(5) Nai. 1828 W. Gordon Poems 194:
My sneeshan pen and sneeshan mill.
Ags. 1880 Brechin Advertiser (27 April) 3:
Sneeshin' pens to prime stuff noses.
Bnff. 1933 M. Symon Deveron Days 35:
Her specs an' sneeshan pen.

3. A pinch of snuff (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Bnff., Ags., Per. 1971); fig., something of little value, a 1764 R. Smith Poems (1853) 91:
A Snichen good ye may have out of it.
Sc. 1747 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) I. 183:
Will you tak a sneeshin out o' my box?
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 175:
But Donald says, No not a snishing.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 40:
Nor cared a snishin' for yon auld man's biddin'.
Kcd. 1856 W. Jamie Jacobite's Son xiv.:
As muckle sillar left me as buy mysel' a sneeshen.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 26:
He got a geud sneeshin' fae some neebor.
Ags. 1894 F. Mackenzie Cruisie Sk. viii.:
Haudin' the brute till Whinny shuld get a sneeshin'.
Peb. 1899 J. Grosart Chronicles 137:
He tried hard and sair to entice wi' a snooshin' Frae a box — he had named it the Farmers' Delusion.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 32:
[We] got a sneeshin' fae his box.

4. Transf. Powder, dust.Ags. 1882 Brechin Advertiser (28 Nov.) 3:
Theirs [their bones] 'ill be a' sneeshin in ten years' time.

[O.Sc. sneising, snuff, 1637, Gael. snaoisean, snuff, appar. from Highland speakers' corruption of sneezing (tobacco). See Sneeze.]

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"Sneeshin n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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