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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.

YATTER, v.1, n.1 Also yater, yetter; jatter (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); and with variant freq. ending †yattle (Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) 16), †yeattle. [′jɑtər]

I. v. 1. To speak in a constant peevish, querulous manner, to nag, chide, carp, scold (Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 693, yeattle; Fif., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I.Sc., Cai., em., wm., s.Sc. 1974), to harp on about something (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Vbl.n. yatterin, continual scolding (Watson).s.Sc. 1859 Bards Border (Watson) 193:
I winna get up, sae yer yatterin's vain.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Tales 24:
I just begin ta sing whin shü begins to yatter.
Slk. 1889 T. Kennedy Poems 38:
[She] yattered o' priests an' public houses.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 82:
They've been yatterin an' craikin for guid kens hoo lang to hae this parliament o' their's.
Ags. 1933 W. Muir Mrs Ritchie xxxix.:
You follow me about from morning till night yattering at me.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 6:
Plenty reputations ruint, have nae doot!
Muck'll stick, when there's sae muckle fleein aboot.
And some folk are never happy till they're causing trouble,
Yatterin' fit tae fill the vera tower o' Babel.

Hence yatterin, yattery, adjs., captious, fretful, querulous, scolding (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 221; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 213; Sh. 1974).Per. 1878 R. Ford Hamespun Days 105:
A thrawart, yatterin', blatterin' mither.
Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables 134:
Women are like weans, — weel enough for a wee when they're guid, but droon them when they get yattery.
Sc. 1935 D. Rorie Lum Hat 58:
Ta'en in By a yatterin' lump o' original sin.

2. To chatter, ramble on in a confused or foolish manner, prattle, talk interminably (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ayr. 1910; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc., also in reduplic. form yatter-yatter; used fig. of the purling of a stream. Hence yatterin, vbl.n., a noisy chattering (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); ppl.adj., endlessly talking, garrulous.Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
She's ay yatter-yatterin, and never devaulds.
Fif. 1831 Gasometer 457:
She yattered about an ugly man that cam' in a fiddle case.
Edb. 1866 J. Smith Merry Bridal 3:
Wi' yatterin', an' clatterin, They made an unco din.
Fif. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 117:
Yatter, yatter, yatter aboot the rabbit she wad, in spite o' Tam's entreaties.
Ags. 1898 A. H. Rea Divot Dyke 23:
The yatt'rin burn doon hill-side merrily speeds.
Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie vi.:
They're yatterin' awa' in the papers there like sweetie-wives.
Abd. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (8 May) 10:
The yatterin' click-clack of the wife usually portrayed in a Scots reading.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xxi.:
Dinna yatter like pyots, or I winna get it telled.
Rxb. 1972 Hawick News (7 Jan.):
Their yatterin', like the stream goes on forever.

3. Of incoherent or unintelligible speech, as in a foreign language or of the sounds made by an animal: to gabble, yelp, etc. (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc.Peb. 1832 R. D. C. Brown Hist. Dramas V. 31:
Goblin Girn-again, . . . That barks and yatters frae his knowe.
Sc. 1876 A. Hislop Bk. Sc. Anecdote 214:
It [French] was sic a daft like language, whan ane heard it yattered awa' at that gate.
Fif. 1894 J. Menzies Our Town 182:
Jubal, — that was the puggie's name — was yatterin' awa' as fast as he could get the words oot o' his lips.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 21:
A Yatt'rin'-Daw syne fan' the claes.
m.Sc. 1919 J. Buchan Mr Standfast vi.:
A wheen ignorant Hielanders that yatter Gawlic.

4. Of the jaws or teeth: to rattle against one another, to chatter, under the influence of cold or fear, or when one is talking volubly (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., in vbl.n. yatterin; Ags. 1974); fig. of the nerves: to jar.Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 63:
A better gift deserves Than thae wheen yatterin' nerves!
Ags. 1945 S. A. Duncan Chronicles Mary Ann 7:
“But, Mary Ann, it's bombs,” I cries, as shune as I cud keep my teeth fae yatterin.

II. n. 1. Scolding, grumbling, continual railing or carping (Ork., Ags. 1974).Lnk. 1827 J. Watt Poems 72:
Gin ane hae walth to keep him lievin', Nae cravin' body's yater deevin'.
Rxb. 1871 R. Allan Poems 118:
Her shrill and yelpin' yatter.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 74:
Da yatter an' da yowl o' a auld auld wife.
Abd. 1903 Weekly Free Press (17 Jan.):
He'll winner fat's the maitter wi' 'im fin he disna hear th' conteenual yatter in's lug.

2. Continuous chatter, rambling and persistent talk. Gen.Sc. Also yatter yatter.s.Sc. 1832 Border Mag. 267:
Ne'er mind a lang-tongued beldame's yatter.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xiv.:
He was evidently bent on detainin' me wi' his yatters.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags xxix.:
The woman's yatter, yatter easily vexed me.
m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet ii. ix.:
The shrill yatter of the fishwives.
Sc. c.1925 R. Thomas Sandie McWhustler's Waddin' 45:
Haud yer wheesht, lassie! It's no a time for idle yatter!
Sc. 1935 F. Niven Flying Years i.:
Any yatter of human follies and failings.

3. The confused noise caused by many people talking loudly and together, a babel of tongues, a clamour, unintelligible speech (Fif. 1825 Jam.; I., ne.Sc. Ags., Per. 1974); ¶the sound of a cascade. Deriv. yatterach, id., also of the noise of birds (Arg. 1930).Sc. 1878 J. H. Stirling Burns in Drama 6:
What a yatter, and a blatter, and a stir.
Sc. 1901 Chambers's Jnl. (Dec.) 35:
The Jacobite army would fill the ale-houses with the yatter of their Northern tongues.
Sc. 1948 M. Lindsay Hurlygush 39:
The hurlygush an hallyoch of the watter Harles aff the scaurie mountain wi a yatter.

4. An incessant talker, a gossip (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1954 Hawick News (18 June) 7). Gen.Sc.

[Freq. formation of imit. orig. Cf. chatter, Natter, and Norw. dial. jaddre, to jabber.]

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"Yatter v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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