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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SWIPPER, adj., n., adv. Also swupper; swippert, -art, swyppert, -irt, swuppert, -art; erron. snippert. [′swɪpər(t)]

I. adj. 1. Quick in movement, active, nimble, agile (ne.Sc. 1972). Now only dial. in Eng. Adv. swippertly.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 94:
But o' my claiths he took a swippert claught.
ne.Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 303:
Then swippertly started up a carl.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 179:
Sae swift and swipper was the deed.
Abd. 1861 J. Davidson Poems 85:
Swupperter than the bow arm O' him wha plays a fiddle.
Ags. 1894 F. Mackenzie Cruisie Sk. ii.:
Gin ye dinna deliver that letter, an' swuppertly too.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 69:
It's time 'at the stair kent swyppirter feet.
Bnff. 1920 S. W. Mayer Margaret Macfarlane's Fortune 10:
Ye'll need to be snippert, Donal, or she'll be awa' afore ye get speech o' her.
Abd. 1963 J. C. Milne Poems 132:
Awa to the Hielan's ye swuppert young jauds!
ne.Sc. 1991 Lilianne Grant Rich in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 23:
Syne, gin its creep micht catch their swippert feet,
They loup and rin.
Dundee 1994 Matthew Fitt in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 176:
The grocer skeughit oot an roon the frunt o the coontir. He wus swippert an sma boukit, a nae nonsense man.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 14:
Reachin the hedge, Curra, wi ae breenge, spite o the thick stobs an branches, forced his wee swippert body inno the open air.

2. Brusque, snappish, curt, in manner.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
One is said to speak swippert-like, when one speaks hastily, as if in ill-humour.

II. n. A lithe, agile person (ne.Sc. 1972).Abd. 1930 N. Shepherd Weatherhouse 26:
A gey-like swippert o' a queyne.

III. adv. Agilely, nimbly, quickly, abruptly (ne.Sc. 1972).Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xlix.:
He turn't, rael swyppirt, an' said he wud awa' to the back faul's.
Abd. 1923 J. R. Imray Village Roupie 32:
Fin freed frae leash he swuppart flew Across the fields.
Bnff. 1954 Banffshire Jnl. (29 June):
A tongue that waggit as swippert an' easy as the aul' kirk bell.

[O.Sc. swepyr, nimble, a.1400, O.E. swipor, crafty, cunning. For the change of meaning cf. Clever, adj., 1.]

Swipper adj., n., adv.

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"Swipper adj., n., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2023 <>



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