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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Dittay, Ditta, n. Also: dyttay, ditay, dittae, dettay; ditté, dittie, ditty. [OF. ditté, dité, with normal Sc. -a, -ay for original .]

1. A statement of the charge or charges against an accused person; an indictment.(a) 14.. Acts I. 341/1.
It is speidfull that the dittays be cryit on xxti days warnyng or mar
1487 Reg. Paisley 272.
We charge oure Iustice Clerk that he ressave na dittay of the personis foresaid for the said actionis
1512 Justiciary Rec. (Reg. H.) III. 303.
The lordis forsaid findis … that the said allegit crimes be na dittay and that lettrez be writtin of discharge
1521 Fife Sheriff Ct. 215.
The … assise herand the said accusacione and dittay maid tharupone … pronuncit [etc.]
Ib. 222.
He coutht noucht qwyt the said Robert Lyddale of the poyntis contenit in the said dyttay
c1550 Rolland C. Venus iii. 314.
This dittay is geuin in sinisterlie
Ib. 316.
To the nixt point of that dittay
1575 Prestwick B. Rec. 74.
Jonnet Cwnighame gaiff in ane dittay of thift vpon James Vylȝe
1592 Digest Justiciary Proc. P. 24.
It is nocht … in the dittay that this kist was taine fra the depositer
1602 Shetland Sheriff Ct. 24 b.
William Fischer is accuseit for the giffing of ane prewie dittay aganis the … honest nychtbouris
1622-6 Bisset I. 176/15.
In criminall cases na exceptionis contrare the lybell or dittay may be objected
1646 Elgin Kirk S. 253.
Who soever had any ditayes against Ianet Kowie … sould declar the same befor Thursday nixt
1662 Peebles B. Rec. II. 55.
Iames Byres to be put on the publict joiges, and to stand there … with ane paper upon his head bearing his dittay
1669 Misc. Abbotsf. C. 92.
He ought to be punished … as at length is conteyned in the said letters and dittay
(b) 1483 Acta Dom. Conc. II. Introd. 132.
To underly the law for the felone refe … and for uther actionis to be contenit in the ditta quhilk salbe made thairapone
a1578 Pitsc. I. 134/27.
I sall … gif him ane fair syse … to cleng him of all the ditta … ȝe haue put to him
Ib. 223/10.
To thoill ane syse conforme to thair ditta
1595 Misc. Spald. C. II. 130.
Quhilk dittae being red, the persones pannellit … denyit and offerit thame to the tryell of ane Condigne assyse
1619 Misc. Bann. C. I. 204.
The Bischop having a lang scroll in his hand, quhilk was my ditta
(c) a1578 Pitsc. I. 390/15.
The saidis lordis, heirand this dittie gevin in be the said Schir James … , gaif nocht the more credence
c1610 Melville Mem. 153.
For those who were compelled to take remissions, would take it as their ditty
1649 Guthrie Mem. 47.
The Scottish Bishops … did accuse the Earl of Traquair … and gave in great ditties against him
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. i. x. § 11.
Consulting with witches is a relevant ditty with us

b. In figurative use. 1598 Misc. Spald. C. I. 122.
Thow affermis that at the day of judgement … ilk man will hawe his awin dittay, wretin in his awin buik to accuse him self
1606 Birnie Kirk-b. xix. 33.
Vpon the dittay of making prayers house a caue of knaues, their doome was to be scourged away
1630 Rutherford Lett. (1862) I. 62.
The wicked … are … doing nothing all their life but gathering dittayes against themselves

2. A body or list of indictments coming before a court for trial. 1431 Acts II. 20/2.
The iustice sal mak a ditta within thar iustris & punis thaim that ar falty
1473 Treas. Acc. I. 43.
Item, gevin to Schetho … passande with lettres on Southalue for the ditte and the garde vij s.
c1475 Wall. i. 274.
A gret dittay for Scottis thai ordand than; Be the lawdayis in Dunde set ane ayr
1490 Treas. Acc. I. 173.
Item, to Dave Strathawching, Justis Clerk, to pass [to the Northland] to rasave the dittay thare
1502 Treas. Acc. II. 133.
To Richard Wallas, messingeir, passand with the portuus of the new dittay to the cronaris of Fiff and Angus
1533 Boece ix. i. 286.
The namys togiddir with the crymez of trespassouris suld be ȝerelie insert in the kingis rollis. … This sorte of writin in the rollis (callit now the dittay) … to thir oure dayis enduris
1535 Stewart 25900.
The King he wes the first that maid that act, Befoir the air ane dittay for to tak In euerilk schyre
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 349.
The magistratis … to tak vp ane dittay of the inhabitouris … for ditting of thame to ane air
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Iter.
The Scheriffe sulde reporte … in the place, quhair the dittay suld be taken vp to the justice clerke

3. Without article: Formal accusation or indictment; information forming a basis of indictment. Freq. in phrases to tak (up) dittay and points of dittay.(1) 1457 Acts II. 50/1.
Gif ony personis eftir the saide termis vsys vther mesouris than thir and thair may be taynt gottin therof be dittay or vthir wayis [etc.]
1473 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 406.
We charge yow … that ye deliuer the portews of dittay to our said cousing … of sa mony personis [etc.]
1494 Acta Conc. 325/2.
For the … wrangwis pleying & persewing of thaim … for ane annuale of iniure becaus of dittay & dampnage thairthrow
1509 Reg. Privy S. I. 278/1.
That nane of thaim ressave in dittay, arrest, accuse or truble the said persouns
1516 Ib. 435/2.
Exemand and dischargeand him … without ony hurt, caus of dittay or persute in the justice-ares
1549 Treas. Acc. IX. 341.
To put in dittay the names of all thame that remanyit fra the raid
1553 Ib. X. 199.
With preceptis to proclame the Aires, and to summond ane assis to gif up dittay
1596 Misc. Spald. C. I. 83.
[Giving power] in the same courte or courtis, the saidis personis, to call be dittay, to accuis [etc.]
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. 6.
Thift and man-slauchter taken vp be dittay, sould be determined … be an assise of neighbours
1664 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. I. 513.
The saids mostroupers … and their associatts … to call be dittay, to accuse, and put them to the knowledge of ane assyse
1684 Erskine Diary 76.
They refused to answer questions which might be a ground of dittay against them
(2) 1489 Acts II. 221/2.
That dittay be takyn of thaim that has crowis incontrare the said act
1498 Montgomery Mem. 55.
We … ordanis and chargis our justice clerkis to inquer hereof and tak dittay thairuppoun
1513 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 140.
That ye caus clengeing to be maid … vnder the pane of dittay to be takin of yow for youre necligence
1567 Acts III. 34/1.
My Lord Regent to gif power to tak vp dittay of the personis contrauenaris of the saidis actis
1589 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 190.
[They have been] in use to be present with the iustice clerkis to tak up dittay, and in thair absence to tak up the same dittay
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. 15.
Vptaking of dittay and pvnissing of malefactours
(3) a1578 Pitsc. I. 82/5.
The king … caussit … speir at him quhat excuse he had to repell his pointis of dettay
Ib. I. 219/27.
With wther poyntis of ditta quhilk I neid nocht to rehearse
1596 Misc. Spald. C. I. 84.
Scho is convick of xviii poyntis of dittay
1597 Ib. 139.
The hail assise … clengis Jonet Leysk of the haill poyntis of dittay laid to hir charge
1631 Bk. Carlaverock II. 46.
Thair being some 15 or 16 great pointis of dittay against them
1650 Lanark Presb. 79.
For finding out points of dittie against any of the persones incarcerat in Lanarke
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. i. xix. § 15.
This is ordained to be a point of dittay, and the unlaw to be ten pound
1692 Urie Baron Ct. 101.
Which poyntis of dittay the said balze haueing advysed … finds thair heall moveablis to become escheat

b. A ground of indictment. 1509 Justiciary Rec. (Reg. H.) II. 143.
That na lugeing … be sett … of derrer price na thai war sett at uther iustice airis obefor, and quhasa dois it salbe dittay to iustice air

4. Dittay man, one included in a dittay. 1602 Shetland Sheriff Ct. 24 b.
William Fischer is accuseit for the giffing of ane prewie dittay aganis the haill dittay men and honest nychtbouris

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"Dittay n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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