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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WHITRAT, n. Also whitrit, whitrick, -ret, -red (Sc. 1818 Scots Mag. (May) 426), white-rat (Arg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XXI. 426); whittret, -rit, whit(t)eret, whitterit; whut(t)(e)ret, -rit, ¶whut(t)-throat (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 275, 411); quitterat (Sh.), see Q, letter, 1.; and, with alternative ending in most m. and s.Sc. areas, whit(t)erick, -ack, -ock, -uck; whut(t)(e)rick, -orock; ¶whatrick (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); wittrock, wutterick. For n.Sc. forms see Futrat. [′ʍɪt(ə)rət, ′ʍʌt-, -(ə)rɪk]

1. An animal of the genus Mustela, applied most freq. to the weasel, Mustela nivalis (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Arg. 1936 L. McInnes S. Kintyre 10, wittrock; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Sh., Rs., m. and s.Sc. 1974), also to the stoat, Mustela erminea (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Sh. 1974), and to the ferret or polecat, Mustela furo (Arg. 1882 Argyllshire Herald (3 June)) or putorius. Combs. whutterick-faced, whiteret-like; whitrack-skin, a purse made of a weasel's skin.Sc. 1775 L. Shaw Hist. Moray 159:
The Wesel, a kind of polecat, and the Whitred are well known.
Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 188:
Has ony Whitret's direfu' jaws, Made thy wee lord a feast?
Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 294:
Her minnie had hain'd the warl, And the whitrack-skin had routh.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie x.:
He whisket like a whitteret out o' the door.
Sc. 1825 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) IX. 31:
A marten, five weasels, three whittrets.
Ags. 1856 W. Grant Poet. Pieces 68:
Black rag! fu' whiteret-like ye jinket.
Fif. 1862 St Andrews Gaz. (10 Oct).:
The gleg-ee'd, whutterick-faced, cool, an' cunnin' auld man.
Kcd. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 267:
His wife wus a skinny whutterick-fac't ribe.
Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell People & Lang. 50:
The name of “whiteret” is that usually applied in Ulster to the animal more politely, yet erroneously called a “weasel.”
Ags. 1932 Barrie Farewell Miss J. Logan 38:
The glen is so still that I am thinking you could hear a whit-rit on the move.
Sc. 1964 Weekly Scotsman (9 July) 16:
The whittrock was brown, with a white waistcoat and white gloves.

2. Transf.: a small, brisk, agile, restless, somewhat furtive person (Sh., em.Sc.(a), wm.Sc., Dmf. 1974); also, playfully, of a small child.Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie xliv.:
It's that whittret Wylie!
Rs. 1877 Trans. Highl. Soc. 165:
It was quite amusing to see the little whitterets [children] looking down over the wall at what was going on below.
Per. 1896 D. Macara Crieff 257:
Ye insignificant-like whitterick.
Ags. 1899 W. L. Watson Sir Sergeant ii.:
A deep man, an' a whittret for rebels.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days iv.:
My poor wee whitterick! Were ye no' frightened on the sea?
m.Sc. 1933 J. Ressich Thir Braw Days 124:
This wee whitrick o' a man that couldna cross the street withoot breakin' intil a sweet.
Edb. 1979 Albert D. Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 45:
It's a guid brain I hae
And yet I could be catcht by aa the whitricks,
Like Hutcheson and Leechman
That fair begowkt me out that college chair
wm.Sc. 1983 Christine Marion Fraser Children of Rhanna (1989) 74:
'You've grown, you wee wittrock,' she laughed, holding him at arm's length to look at him.

3. A rope-twister (Ayr. 1961 Gwerin III. 213), appar. partly a pun on Weezle, partly a corruption of the synonymous thraw-cruik.

[O.Sc. quhytred, c.1440, whitterick, 1633, Mid.Eng. whitratt, whytrate, orig. a compound of white and rat. The -et ending may later have been taken as a dim. suffix and altered with -ock, -ick. See -Ock, suffix, II.]

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"Whitrat n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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