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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DAFT, Dauft, adj. Now chiefly Sc. and Eng. dial. (N.E.D.). [dɑft Sc., but em.Sc. + dǫft]

1. Foolish, stupid, wanting in intelligence, silly. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf i.:
A' the warld tells tales about him, but it's but daft nonsense after a' — I dinna believe a word o't frae beginning to end.
Sh.(D) 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 13:
“Dünna be daft, man,” Sibbie said.
Fif. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 15:
I was dauft eneuch to mak' a grab at him as he disappeared ower the side.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 12:
Oh quite the philosopher! Well that's me told.
A solomon! A dominie! you're no' saft -
A peety that a' body but yirsel' is daft.
Dmf. [1777] J. Mayne Siller Gun (1808) 13:
And, what was dafter, Their pawky mithers and their dads Cam trotting after.

2. Crazy, demented, mad; “wild” (Abd.6 1913). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.19, Fif.1, Arg.1, Lnk.3, Kcb.10 1939.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 207:
The Issachars of State Frae haly Drums first dang us daft, Then drown'd us in Debate.
Sh.(D) 1891 J. J. H. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 36:
He loupit da Ocean, sae daft wis his hurry, An cled her in white bridal garmints o snaa.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 36:
Dear keep's, ye're surely daft or fou. That I sud ban!
Ayr. 1796 Burns To Colonel de Peyster (Cent. ed.) v.:
Bright wines and bonie lasses rare, To put us daft.
Ayr. 1901 “G. Douglas” Green Shutters v.:
A braw lass she was . . . as daft as a yett in a windy day. [The expression was current in Lnk. 1880 (Edb.3).]
Uls. c.1920 J. Logan Ulster in the X-rays (2nd ed.) vii.:
Whun yin got frichtened they a' went daft.

3. Frivolous, giddy, thoughtless (Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.1, Arg.1, Lnk.3, Kcb.9 1939).Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd Act I. Sc. ii. in Poems (1728):
Daft Lassie, when we're naked, what'll ye say, Gif our twa Herds come brattling down the Brae, And see us sae?
Abd. a.1807 J. Skinner Amusements (1809) 97:
Whan I was young and daft like you It might hae dane, But near threescore wad best I trow, Lat that alane.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 209:
A wow na John, the daft louns will laugh at you, and she'll think shame.
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1912) iii.:
I was sairly tempted at times, oot o' sheer joy and lichtness o' hert, to leeve the hard, dry road and rin . . . wi' the daft scamperin' wee bit lammies.

4. Extremely fond, “crazy” (about); very eager. Often followed by preps. aboot, for, on. Known to Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.1, Lnk.3, Kcb.9 1939.Abd. 1759 F. Douglas Rural Love 17:
O ho, quo Peter, greet nae mair! Troth lass I'm nae sae daft about ye, But I can live fell well without ye.
Abd.26 1946:
My Jeannie's daft aboot dancin'.
Edb. [1893] W. G. Stevenson Wee Johnnie Paterson, etc. (1914) 126:
They dowgs is just daft to get oot.
Edb. 2000:
She wis aye man-daft. Ah kent she'd hae 5 bairns - she's bairn-daft.
Hdg. 1902 J. Lumsden Toorle, etc. 274:
And, like a' laddies thereabouts, Our twa were daft on “catching trouts.”
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 66:
which is what the hell the girl who did that picture
and was as far as I can remember
has to do with me.
Lnk. 1922 G. Blake Clyde-Built 15:
Och, it's this Merson laddie. She's daft for Jean to marry him and be one of the gentry.

5. Phrs. and Combs.: (1) daft-berries, the berries of the deadly nightshade, Atropa belladonna; (2) daft days, (a) a time of frivolity and merriment (Abd.2, Edb.1 1939); hence extended to mean one's youth (Bnff.2 1939); †(b) in phr. the daft days, used specifically of the period of festivity at Christmas and the New Year (Sc. 1818 Sawers Dict. Sc. Lang.; Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 9); (3) Daft Erchie, a gullible person (Bnff., Edb.); (4) daft laddie or lassie, a person who pretends to be stupid, naïve or ignorant when in fact well aware of a situation; (5) daft man's shovel, a ribbed shovel used by miners for sifting coal; (6) to give someone the daft een, “to give someone a blow” (Fif. 1916 (per Ags.3)).(1) Ags. 1848 W. Gardiner Flora Frfsh. 133:
Common Dwale, or Deadly Nightshade. . . . Thefruit are here termed “daft-berries,” as the mere tasting of them produces delirium.
(2) (a) Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc. 201:
“And when,” said the Jingler . . . “did ye see ony body frae the lan' o' your daft days, Saunders?”
(b) Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
Fu' o' venturesome deeds and escapes, sic as folk tell ower at a winter-ingle in the daft days.
Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters I. vii.:
At the period of which we are writing, a custom generally prevailed, which appears now in danger of becoming obsolete — “The Daft Days,” as they were appropriately termed, of Yule, New Year, and Handsel Monday, were set apart for the meeting of friends and intimate neighbours, to dine or sup (often both) together, when good cheer, home-brewed, and hearty welcome, promoted the conviviality and rustic mirth of the company.
m.Sc. 1990 A. L. Kennedy Night Geometry and the Garscadden Trains 5:
It happened in the daft days. The New Year was over and the holiday nearly done, a yellow oil lamplight over the rainy streets.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days vii.:
The daft days (as we call New Year time) passed — the days of careless merriment, that were but the start of Bud's daft days, that last with all of us for years if we are lucky.
(3) Gsw. 1989:
Aye, Daft Erchie - staunin lettin the other weans tak his sweeties.
(4) Edb. 1994:
A: Ye cannae take a shirt back tae Marks and Spencer's efter ye've opened it.
B: Och Ah'll try - Ah'll just act the daft lassie, they can only say no.
wm.Sc. 1995:
Just act the daft laddie and see what happens.
(5) Fif. 1952 B. Holman Behind the Diamond Panes 58:
This harp or "daft man's shovel" as it was often called, was intensely hated by the miners as it meant that the small coal had to be shovelled twice and payment for it was very much less than round coal.

6. Hence (1) daftie, an imbecile; one who is slightly deranged mentally; a fool; Gen.Sc.; also attrib.; (2) daftish, “in some degree deranged” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2; Abd.9, Fif.10 1939); (3) daft-like, silly, simple; not right in one's mind about something; (4) daftly, foolishly, stupidly (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1939); (5) daftness, foolishness (Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10, Kcb.9 1939); †(6) daftrie, “fun and frolic” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 36).(1) Sc. [1870] C. Gibbon For the King (1872) I. i.:
The Daftie still maintained his position.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 6:
Luve cud ca ye aff her stot, makkin ye as big a gype as Jock, the daftie loon frae the heid o the Clash.
Bch. 1898 J. R. Imray Sandy Todd iii.:
Naebody at hame bit Meggie an' yon daftie Tam.
Fif.1 1939:
The town-idiot of St Andrews was generally known as Jocky P —, the daftie.
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 197:
But God answered Job out of the storm-wind.
Who's this darkening my door with debate, blethering like a daftie?
Fif. 1991 Tom Hubbard in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 142:
The ink fae a pen faas bluid upon an aix,
Dings doun some grippy carline (then forby
Her daftie sister, there at the wrang time).
Gsw. 1994 Alasdair Gray A History Maker 56:
" ... And I'll be one of your stories, the first warrior who fucked you - a daftie who wanted to run away and live alone with ye forever!"
(3)Sc. 1728 Allan Ramsay The Works of Allan Ramsay Vol. II (1953) 255:
I wadna wish this Tulzie had been seen;
'Tis sae daftlike.
Sc. 1816 Walter Scott The Antiquary iv:
Never think you...that his honour...would hae done sic a daft-like thing.
wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 19:
The Insurance plan with its wee stamps that farmers with orra-loons and milking-quines, had to stick on daft-like squares on a card, was more quickly understood by Buchan folk.
(4) Sc. 1724–27 Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1733) 34:
We daftly thought to row in rowth, But for our daffine paid right dear.
(5) Abd.4 1929:
The folly o' youth's naething tae the daftness o' auld age. (Said about late marriages.)

[O.E. gedaefte, gentle, meek; Mid.Eng. daft, gentle, mild, stupid. The sense of “stupid” occurs in O.Sc. c.1420; that of “crazy, insane” 1456; that of “marked by, proceeding from, want of sense” c.1490, and that of “thoughtless, giddy” 1573; daftly, foolishly, occurs c.1626 and daftnes, folly, wantonness, from 1552 (D.O.S.T.). For sense-development, cf. Eng. silly and innocent. The Eng. adj. deft derives from the same root as daft.]

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"Daft adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2023 <>



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