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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BONNET, BUNNET, Bunnot, Bannet, Bonnad, Baanut, n. Also  bannys in phr. 3. (9). [′bɔnət, ′bonət, ′bɑnət Sc.; bɔnɑd Cai.; ′bʌnət em.Sc.(b), wm.Sc. For bannet see P.L.D. § 54; for bunnet see P.L.D. §§ 93.2, 94.]

1. A head covering for men or boys, including all kinds of caps, but not hats; esp. a cloth cap with a peak at the front. See Blue, Braid, Cockit, Feather, Hummel, etc. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs 163:
Put your hand twice to your bannet for ance to your pouch.
Sc. 1989 Scotsman (7 Jan) 12:
no matter the assignment Albert Morris is seldom seperated [sic] from his bunnet.
Sc. 1999 Herald (27 Aug) 21:
Then he takes his bunnet from his head and lets it fall to the floor. ... "I was trying to tell her I would sleep with her at the drop of a hat," explained the unsuccessful swain.
Cai. 1932 “Caithness Forum” in John o' Groat Jnl. (22 Jan.) 7:
Ma neeps is gaun weel . . . they're 'e heicht o' ma heid already, an' great flooers on tap o' them as broad as yir bonnad.
Ags. 1995 Courier (18 Mar):
"I remember the recipe [for a tattie-bogle] was also a good lesson in old Scots words." ... "First you need a neep for his head, a bannet for his pow, and a graavut for his thrapple. ... "
m.Sc. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxxv.:
Clap a bunnet on a tawtie-bogle, wi' a cock to the ae side that's kin' o' knowin', and ony woman 'll jump at his neck.
em.Sc.(a) 1991 Kate Armstrong in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 9: Scream If You Want to Go Faster 5:
Flat 'bunnet' on his head, old raincoat, wellington boots pretty mucky, obviously not well off.
em.Sc. 1997 Ian Rankin Black & Blue (1999) 378:
Most of the exterior pictures had been taken on a wet afternoon, women caught on the periphery with plastic rain-mates, men in bunnets and long coats.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 39:
He has niffer'd his sark wi' the bogle, His breeks, coat an' bunnet forby.
wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 20:
Robert Paterson drummed up the courage to throw showers of eggs and harmless turves at the auctioneer's tweed bunnet, and one reckless loon took advantage of the hullarackit to unhitch the cow and lead her lumbering out of the square where she ran amok along the street.
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 30:
OK, he slagged the food, but he waxed lyrical about the waiters in their galluses, collarless granpa simmets, big tweed bunnets and hobnail miners' boots, ...
Gsw. 1987 James Kelman Greyhound for Breakfast (1988) 28:
As the old man spoke he was scratching his head. There was no bunnet. The bunnet was not on his head.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 47:
Its hard tae believe ah'll no see ma Jamie come roon that coarner at the tap a the street again, whistlin, his hauns in his poackits an his bunnet shoved back oan his heid.
Gsw. 1991 John Burrowes Mother Glasgow 203:
' ... Try to give them another wee bit of gossip. Of course, by the time you're in the house, the bunnet's off and the kettle's on and they're asking you if you want a sandwich to go with the tea. ... '
Gsw. 1998 Alan Spence Way to Go (1999) 214:
He took off his bunnet, patted the strands of his thin white hair into place, flat on his skull.

2. Extended uses: (1) to a person, by metonymy; (2) to things, (a) “a portion of a seam left on for a roof” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 11; Fif., Lnk. 1975); (b) “square pieces of wood to wedge up ‘croons' in a mine” (Ayr.4 1928, bunnot); (c) “gas coal or shale overlying and worked along with a coal seam” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 11); (d) a stone, flat and cylindrical — i.e. shaped like a bonnet; (e) the flat head of a nail; (f) the lid of a beer-mug. Hence phr. the carlie wi' the braid bonnet (see quot.).(1) Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth xiii.:
There were some three hundred of their best bonnets, besides that of their chief, Donald Cormac, left on the moor of Thorn . . . and as many were gibbeted at Houghman Stairs.
(2) (a) Lnk. 1920 Econ. Geol. Cent. Coalfield VII. 111:
The "bonnets" were not in this case worked with the coal seam.
(d) Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm I. 154:
On the top of this is placed a flat rounded stone or bonnet, of at least 2 inches in thickness.
Ags. 1768 F. Cruickshank Navar (1899) 13:
Two stone stathels, consisting of nine pillars and nine bonnets.
(e) Inv. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIII. 133:
The nails appear all to have been made by a country-smith, according to the times; the bonnets being as broad as a small halfpenny.
(f) m.Sc. 1870 W. Buchanan Olden Days 180:
A custom in the South of having lids or covers to their gill-stoups, and, in common phrase, called a bannet; and, when a person is seen the worse for liquor, he is said to have "gotten his licks fae the carlie wi' the braid bannet."

3. In derisory phr. yer bunnet = nonsense!Lnk. 1929 G. Blake Path of Glory v.:
“Ach, yer bunnet!” said Deveney incredulously.

Phrases: (1) bonnets on the green, a quarrel. Cf. Eng. wigs on the green; (2) dad wi' the blue bonnet (see Blue Bonnet); (3) draw doon (doun) one's bannet, humble oneself. See second quot.; (4) fill the bonnet of another, to be equal to another in any respect; (5) lat the bonnets gae by wyting for the hats (see quot.); (6) no wordie a dad of a bonnet, worth nothing at all; (7) ower the bannets, in a stand-up fight or contest. See quot. and cf. (1); (8) to do one's bunnet, to fly into a rage; make a fuss (Edb., Gsw., Ayr. 2000s); (9)  to box over the bannys,  to punish, beat, utterly overcome, "do for"; (Origin obscure. Not known to correspondents); (10)  to rive one's father's bonnet, to excel one's father.(1) Rxb.2 c.1920 (also Bnff.2, Abd.9, Kcb.9 1935):
Ay, there'll be bonnets on the green or I'm cheatit.
(3) Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 3:
Sheu wus a awfu hauchty woman, an wad draw doon her bannet for neen.
Ork.1 1935:
Orcadians use the expression “I'll no draw doun my bannet for him,” meaning “I'm as good as he is and I'll let him know that.” But in the old days, “to draw down one's bonnet” meant to prepare for fighting, so that the present-day use of the phrase is the opposite of what it should be.
(4) Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 210:
May every Archer strive to fill His Bonnet, . . . And Praise like him deserve.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xvii.; Abd.19 1935:
He's but a daidling coward body. He'll never fill Rumbleberry's bonnet.
(5) ne.Sc. 1915 A. Maitland W.-L.:
Ye're lattin the bonnets gae by wyting for the hats, you are letting opportunities slip, always waiting for something better.
(6) Rxb. 1820 in Edin. Mag. (April) 345 /1 Note:
“It's no wordie a dad of a bonnet,” was a common phrase used when expressing contempt, or alluding to any thing not worth the trouble of repairing.
(7) Ayr. 1835 Tait's Mag. (Jan.) 130:
It must be a decent bout ower the bannets, as becomes twa respectable Scotchmen.
(8) Edb. 2005:
Whit is she daein her bunnet aboot noo?
Gsw. 1988 Michael Munro The Patter Another Blast 10:
bunnet As we all know, this means a man's cap, but you may not know that to do your bunnet means to go off your head with anger: 'He'll do his bunnet if he disny find that ticket.'
(9)Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxiii.:
I'll box any three of ye, over the bannys, for half-a-mutchkin.
(10) Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
It is said of a son, who is by no means viewed as superior to his parent, “He winna rive his father's bonnet”; and sometimes given as a toast, designed to express the warmest wishes for the success of a new-born or rising son, “May he rive his father's bonnet!”
Sc. 1902 Daily Chron. (3 Dec.) 5/1:
Lord Elgin, in proposing the health of the Prince of Wales as Duke of Rothesay . . . at the Scottish Corporation dinner the other night, said that his Royal Highness was “doing all he could to rive his father's bonnet.”
Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 192:
Hee'll riiv hiz faidhur'z baanut yet.

4. Combs.: (1) bonnet-ba', a boys' game played with caps and a ball. Same as Bonnetie, 2, q.v.; (2) bonnet case, a bulge in the roof of a coal seam, caused by squeezing; (3) bonnet-fecht, “a boys' fight with their caps as weapons” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.; Abd.22 1935); (4) bonnet fir, the common Sc. pine, Pinus sylvestris, L.; (5) bannet-fire, (a) a penalty inflicted on a boy who infringes the rules of a game; (b) a game (see quot.); (6) bonnet-fleuk, bonnet flook, “the brill, Pleuronectes rhombus” (Fif.1 1935); (7) bonnet-hill, a hill which overlooks or dominates the land, town, etc. below it. (8) bonnet-laird, bannet laird, (a) “a yeoman, one who farms his own property” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); (b) (see quot.); (9) bonnet-lug, “the ear which is more visible when the cap is worn on one side of the head” (Sc. 1898 E.D.D.); the part of a lady's bonnet covering the ear; (10) bonnetman, a ploughman; (11) bonnet Monday, (see quot.); (12) bonnet-piece, a gold coin of James V., on which the king is represented wearing a bonnet. Arch; (13) bonnet toon, a soubriquet of Stewarton in Ayrshire which was noted for its bonnet-making.(1) Kcb. 1896 S. R. Crockett Grey Man xviii.:
The game royal of Bonnet-Ba'.
(2) Lth. 1789 J. Williams Nat. Hist. Miner. Kingdom I. 64:
This protuberance sinks down into the upper side of the seam of coal, like the bottom of a great pot. These protuberances are called by Scotch colliers a bonnet case and a pot arse.
(4) Ags.(D) 1882 Brechin Advertiser (28 Nov.) 3/2:
Ay, there's twa-three o' the auld bonnet firs stan'in' yet. [Towards the Cortachy end of Glen Clova a few straggling old Scots pines still remain. They are very striking in appearance, the outline of these trees resembling that of a bonnet or cap or mutch. These particular trees have unusually short stems, so that the resemblance to a bonnet is even more pronounced than usual. It is not until the pines reach a great age — of over 200 years — that they achieve the typical outline (M.L.A.).]
Ags. 1859 Trans. Highl. Soc. 236:
The true Highland pine, or bonnet fir, as it is sometimes called.
  (5) (a) Fif. 1825 Jam.2:
Bannet-fire. Two files are formed by his companions standing face to face, the intervening space being merely sufficient for allowing him to pass. Through this narrow passage he is obliged to walk slowly, with his face bent down to his knees; and as he passes the boys beat him on the back with their bonnets.
(b) Fif.7 1933:
Bannet-fire, the game, originally a religious rite, and a survival from the Beltane Fire, is now extinct, I should imagine. Fires of whins were lit and the young men, after throwing their “bannets” over, themselves jumped through them. It was prevalent in this locality [Kennoway] about 90 or 100 years ago.
(6) Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Fife and Kinross 51:
Rhombus non aculeatus squamosus Willoughbei . . . which our Fishers call the Bonnet Flook.
Ib. (1803) 120 Note:
The Bonnet Flook, Pleuronectes Rhombus, the Pearl, very like, but inferior, to the turbot.
m.Lth. 1808 P. Neill List of Fishes in Wernerian Nat. Hist. Soc. Memoirs (1811) 537:
Pleuronectes rhombus. Brill, Pearl, Mouse-dab; Bonnet-fleuk.
(7)Sc. 1722 W. Macfarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) II. 31:
Dundie Law is at the back thereof ane exceeding high small hill the bonnet hill of Dundie a large toune.
(8) (a) Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary (1818) iv.:
It belonged to auld Johnnie Howie, a bonnet-laird here hard by.
Bnff. 1882 W. M. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars iv.:
Ane o' your bonnet lairdies, that strut aboot like a buntin' cock.
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 33:
" ... We'll fill the nyaff up wi whisky an waater
wyse up the wife intae takin a pairt,
syne whan he's dozent wi drink, it's nae maitter
tae skaigh back yer arle frae yon bunnet-laird."
Knr. 1891 “H. Haliburton” Ochil Idylls 147:
And, abune a', wi' bannet lairds, The cocks o' the creation.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge iii:
Dundonald was still formed by a "kirktoun", built round the church, and several "farmtouns" of eight or nine cots, each group built close to one of the main houses belonging to the bonnet lairds.
(b) Abd. [1851] W. Anderson Rhymes, etc. (1867) 210:
The bonnet lairds were men who generally got their forty or sixty acres in the natural state and at a nominal rent, their lease being two nineteens [of years], and in some instances ninety-nine years, but had to give the land proprietor what was called bonage (a corruption of bondage). [A bonnet was the headgear of the farmer class.]
(9) Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 282:
He cocks his bonnet-lug sae smart, And wears his claes sae neatly.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan III. viii.:
The bee that buzzes in our lady's bonnet-lug may one day remind her of bonnie Borgue.
(10) Sc. 1827 G. Kinloch Ballad Bk. 73:
And there cam bonnetmen following the pleugh.
(11) Gsw. a.1890 Scots Mag. (June) 59:
It was what used to be called in Glasgow "Bonnet Monday" - that day on which our wives and mothers. . . . used to sun themselves in the Spring sunshine in Buchanan Street, and show off their new bonnets.
(12) Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xxiii.:
Julian Avenel loves the glance of gold bonnet-pieces.
Sc. 1887 adapted from E. Burns Coinage Scot. II. 250–251:
Bonnet Piece. A gold coin of James V. also known as a ducat. These coins dated 1539 and 1540 are the earliest coins to bear a date in the Scottish series . . . the Hopetoun MS. states that they were to have course for forty shillings. The bonnet pieces were of native gold obtained from Crawford Muir and the lands of Corehead, and obtained their name from the bust of the king on the obverse wearing a broad bonnet.
(13) Ayr. 1951 Stat. Acc.3 484:
Stewarton is known as the 'Bonnet Toon'. Records show that the Bonnet Court of Corsehill dates back to 1549. Glasgow was originally the principal market and from it 'Stewarton bonnets' were distributed throughout Scotland and latterly to many parts of the world.

5. In pl.: a ball-game, = Bonnetie, n.1, 2. e.Lth. 1885 J. Strathesk More Bits 32:
Great was the variety of games played with the ball, both by boys and girls, from "Shintie" and "Hails" to "Stot-ba" and the bannets.

[O.Sc. bonet, bonat, bonnat, bannate, etc., as early as 1375 (Barbour). In the sense of cap it does not appear in Eng. until Caxton's time, 1483, and fell out before 1700, but was revived in mod. times through the influence of Sc. It is a contraction for O.Fr. chapel de bonet, a hat or cap of bonet, a kind of material mentioned in Med.Lat. documents (see N.E.D. s.v. bonnet).]

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"Bonnet n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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