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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

BUTTER, n. Sc. usages in phrases and combs.

I. Phrases: (1) butter and bear-caff (see quot.); (2) butter an(d) bread, -breid = Eng. bread and butter (Sc. 1779 J. Beattie Scoticisms 3, — and bread); known to Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.19, Fif.1, Lnk.3, Kcb.1 1937; (3) butter in the black dog's hause. See Black Dog.(1) n.Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
It's a' butter and bear-caff, a phrase very commonly used to denote what is considered as gross flattery.
(2) Abd.(D) 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert x.:
He sat doon an' spread some butter-an'-breid, an' eet awa' a fylie wi' his een in's cup.

II. Combs.: (1) butter-ark, a wooden receptacle for holding butter (Lnk.3 1937); (2) butter baik, a butter biscuit, see Bake, n.1, Combs. (1); (3) butter-ball, (1) = (7)(i) (Abd.2 1937); (2) = (7)(ii) (Lnk.3 1937); (4) butter bannock, a Bannock, q.v., spread with butter (Abd.9, Fif.10, Lnk.3 1937); (5) butter bap, (i) “a scone made with butter” (Abd.9, Fif.1 1937; Ayr.4 1928); see Bap; (ii) a morning roll (see Butterie, n.1) (Abd.2 1937); (iii) an oatcake (Cai.7 1937); (6) butter-bells, “froth in churn after butter is removed, lifted in the old days by hand into a bowl for a drink” (Arg.1 1929); (7) butter blob, (i) “the globeflower” (Abd.2, Lnk.3, Kcb.1 1937; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), Trollius europæus; (ii) the marsh-marigold (Kcb.6 1914), Caltha palustris; (8) butter boyne, “milk boyne” (Arg.1 1933); see Boyne; (9) butter-brods, — kyards, a pair of small wooden boards used for working butter either after taking out of the churn or in preparing for the table (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Lnk.3 1937); (10) butter clappers, = (9) (Lnk.3, Kcb.9 1937; Ayr.4 1928); ‡(11) butter-clock, “small piece of butter on the top of milk” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2): “a clot of cream on the surface of new milk” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.); (12) butter-crowdie, a kind of porridge made of oatmeal and butter (Lnk.3 1937), see Crowdie; †(13) butterday, the day on which a tenant had to present a certain quantity of butter to his landlord (see quot.); (14) butter-docken, the butterbur, Petasites officinalis (Ags. 1957). In Eng. however butter-dock is the broad-leaved dock. See Docken; (15) butter-kit, a vessel for carrying or holding butter (Cai.7 (“used by fishermen”), Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.1, Lnk.3 (for Lth.) 1937). Given in N.E.D. as obs.; (16) butter kyards, see Comb. (9); (17) butter-luck, an exclamation used as a charm in butter-making; (18) butterlug, a kind of seaweed, Alaria esculenta, a corruption of Badderlock, q.v.; (19) butter-nap, same as (15); (20) butter plant, “Pinguicula vulgaris, L.” (Slk. 1886 B. and H., App. 518); (21) butter-pat = (9) (Abd. 1975); (22) butter-plate, the lesser spearwort, Ranunculus flammula, 'a name expressive of the comparative flatness of the corolla' (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 26); (23) butter pound, a measure of weight for butter containing 22 ounces to the pound (Lnk. 1880 W. Grossart Shots 130); †(24) buttersaps, “oatcake or wheaten bread soaked or fried in melted butter and sugar, gen. provided at a child's birth or christening” (Fif. 1898 E.D.D.). Also in Cum. and Wm. dial.; †(25) butter sod,?; (26) butter spail, gen. in pl., a pair of butter pats or spades (Per. 1975). See Spail; (27) butter-spoon, = (9). (Ork. 1975).(1) Ork. 1883 R. M. Fergusson Rambling Sketches 97:
Gudewife, gae to your butter-ark . . . An' fetch us here ten bismar mark.
(4) Uls. 1901 J. W. Byers in North. Whig, Lecture iv.:
It used to be customary . . . on both Christmas and on New Year's Day . . . when the mistress of the house appeared in the morning in the kitchen, for one of the servants to meet her, and while saying “My new year's gift,” to throw gently at her a small wisp of hay or straw. In case the missile hit the mistress, the gift — like a forfeit — was earned, and it consisted of what was called a “butter bannock,” that was an oaten cake very thickly covered with butter.
(7)(i) Dmf. 1894 J. Shaw in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 143:
Butterblobs, what James Hogg calls Lucken-gowans, the plant Trollius Europæus.
(9) Bnff.2 1930:
Pit th' butter-brods in th' baisin t' qweel till a'm reddy.
Abd.15 1928:
Aw'd think naething o' hoalin a stem o' tawties or bleddin a lapfu o' kail, or sic-like things as is necessar; but that workin' o' the butter kyards on the Lord's Day, I sall not alloo, wife!
(12) Sc. 1929 F. M. MacNeill Scots Kitchen 201:
Butter-crowdie. Oatmeal, butter fresh from the churn, salt or sugar to taste.
(13) Sh. 1908 J. M. E. Saxby in Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc., I. vi. 227:
“Gude grant 'at da sun be upo his butterday” . . . On a certain day each summer the tenants had to carry to their laird a fixed quantity of butter — so many pounds weight for each merk of land. It was a tax particularly distasteful to the housewives. Sunshine has the effect of making butter taste badly, so that if the sun shone hotly on the laird's butterday the value of his butter was seriously diminished.
(15) Mearns 1899 A. C. Cameron Hist. of Fettercairn xxxvi.:
Near the cross itself were exposed for sale a few tubs, butter-kits and milk-cogues.
(17) Sh. 1898 Shet. News (7 May):
Geordie cries, Witcha! Butter-luck! Witcha! . . . Da folk 'ill no loss der butter noo.
 (18)Abd. 1966 Fraserburgh Herald (14 Oct.) 6: 
There wis dulse, butterlug, a' kind o' seaweed.
(19) Gall. 1877 “Saxon” (ed.) Gall. Gossip 8:
A hooped dish like a butter-nap, full of potatoes coarsely bruised with a three-toed thing like a graip.
(24) Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto Tammas Bodkin ii.:
She laid her lugs in the caudle cup, an' tane a hearty slabber o' the buttersaps.
(25) Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems, etc. 63:
I'd rather hae, an', gin ye please A butter sod Than a' their fine blaw-flums o' Teas That grow abroad.

[O.Sc. has but(t)er, from 1398 (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Butter n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 7 Dec 2023 <>



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