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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

WITTIN, n. Also witting, witten, wittan (ne.Sc. 1832 A. Beattie Poems 138), wutten, freq. in plur.; also wittance ( < wittins), construed as sing. [′wɪtən(z)]

1. The fact of knowing or being aware of, knowledge, awareness, notion, conception (Sc. 1808 Jam., wittins; Abd. 1974); learning. Obs. in Eng. exc. dial. Phrs. gude one's witten, wise on one's part, a wise policy for, prudent of. Cf. Guid, I. 7. (32); to tak wittins o', to have cognisance of, take note of.Edb. 1787 Edb. Ev. Courant (23 June):
Nae thanks to your head an' wittin', Tho' you're nae fool.
Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 165:
To bide awa is gude their wutten.
Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers 152, 167:
Bearin' an' forbearin 'll be mair general than ony ane can hae wittens o' at this present. . . . “Blackfoot” had been “best maid” to Sarah many long years before, — a circumstance which “Jeems, honest man, had tint wittens o'.”
Fif. 1883 W. D. Latto Bodkin Papers 65, 88:
If sae be we could slip oor wa's without her wittens. . . . Rather prood to lat the warld tak' wittens that he has a creel on his back.
Ags. c.1900 Glen Anthol. (Michie) 10:
Methocht I had wittin' That the tane t' the tither said a wordie or twa.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. xxxi.:
Thar is a grit differ atween the wyssheid o' a lichten'd an' a gracie man, an' the witten o' a book-leared an' thochty clark.

2. Gen. in pl.: knowledge imparted, information, intelligence, news (Abd. 1925). Usu. in phrs. to get, gie witting(s), to obtain, give out, information (I., n.Sc. 1974).Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxii.:
What will come o' ye gin the baillies sud come to get witting?
Sc. 1836 Gsw. Journal (2 Jan.) 117:
Awaur o' this, now Hector's leuk Is keen for wittens o' the Duke.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin iv.:
Still there was neither word nor wittin's o' Simon.
Ork. 1894 W. R. Mackintosh Peat-fires 128:
Mansie, however, had his scouts, and these gave him “wittance” of the nice little scheme that had been laid to capture him.
Lth. 1914 C. P. Slater Marget Pow Comes Home vi.:
You never can be sure of guns no' goin' off without word or wittens, whether they're loaded or no'.
Sh. 1962 New Shetlander No. 63. 4:
Wan nicht he got wittings we were a yard.

[O.Sc. wittine, = 1., a.1400, witting, = 2., 1375, partly ad. O.N. vitand, consciousness, knowledge, from vita, to know, but later treated as the vbl.n. of Wit.]

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



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