Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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DIVOT, n., v. Also div(v)et, div(v)it, divad, diffet, and obs. forms divat, devot, dyvot, diviot, dovat. [′dɪvət Sc., but Cai. + ′dɪvəd, e.Rs. ′dɪfət]

I. n.

1. A turf, sod. Gen.Sc. Sometimes applied to a peat (Ags.17 1940), or to a tuft of grass tied to the tail of a kite (Edb.1 1940). Also heather divot, “a tuft of heather; frequently placed on a straw beehive” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Sc. 1771 T. Pennant Tour 1769 (1790) 132:
The houses . . . are formed with loose stones, and covered with clods which they call devots.
Ork. 1774 P. Fea MS. Diary (28 March):
Had 7 men att Inglea brakeing the Diffets and smoothing the ley land for soweing.
Sth. 1731 in Old-Lore Misc. (1914) VII. ii. 63:
At an examination of the manse it is described as having a “Highland roof thatched with divats.”
ne.Sc. 1874 W. Gregor Echo Olden Time 15:
Over all were placed the dyvots. The whole was covered with thatch either of straw, heather, or broom.
Bnff.12 1931:
Turning the ninth divot to ascertain one's future spouse was an old Hallowe'en ceremony.
Ags. 1891 J. M. Barrie Little Minister vi.:
Less on account of the shower of stones than because of the flight of one divit in it.
Clc. 1702 Masterton Papers (S.H.S. 1893) 490:
They must lead home your coals, and help to lead dovats when need is to the town houses.
Lth. 1928 S. A. Robertson With Double Tongue 46:
And when Sandie got a draigon, it wad dance, but wadna flee, And the divot cam clean aff the tail and clashed in Sandie's e'e.
Slk. 1797 in T. Craig-Brown Hist. Slksh. (1886) II. 391:
Liberty . . . to carry off diviots from lands of Boghall.

Combs.: †(1) divot-cast, as much (land) as one divot can be cast from; (2) divot-fecht, a fight with pieces of turf — a boys' sport (Ags.17 1940); (3) divvit-hole, a place from which sods have been dug (Id.); (4) divot-seat, “a bench, at the door of a cottage, formed of divots” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); (5) divet-spade, a spade for cutting sods (Sc. 1887 Jam.6, divet-; Cai.7, divad-, Abd.9, Ags.17 1940). (1) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xii.:
He hasna a divot-cast of land.
(2) Fif. 1909 Colville 125:
Some of the old herd-boys' sports were kept alive, however, such as the flauchter-spade and the divot-fecht. We still find boys in springtime cutting out bits of turf to throw at one another.
(3) Lnk. 1902 A. Wardrop Hamely Sk. 61:
Tho' oor public park be like a divvit-hole for ither seventy years.
(4) Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd Act II. Sc. i. in Poems (1728):
. . . there you may see him lean, And to his Divot-Seat invite his Frien'.
Hdg. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 207:
Auld Red had gotten a divot sate for his ain individual use.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Brownie of Bodsbeck, etc. II. 153:
The old shepherd was sitting on his divot-seat, without the door.

2. Turf or peat regarded as a material. Sc. 1702 Acc. Bk. Sir J. Foulis (S.H.S. 1894):
Feby. 24: He is likewise to theick the hous on his oune charges, I laying timber, thack and divot and wattles to his hand.
Sc. 1861 S. Smiles Engineers II. 102:
To fetch a load of “divot” from Gladsmuir, or of coal from the nearest colliery.
Kcd. 1730 Baron Court Bk. Urie (S.H.S. 1892) 133:
The said turf or divot so cast . . . to be forfeit.

Phr.: feal and divot, see Fail, n.1

3. Fig. uses: (1) A thick clumsy piece or slice of anything, such as bread or meat (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., divet, 1914 Angus Gl., divvet; Bnff.2, Abd.19, Ags.2, Fif.10, Arg.1 1940; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); a lump. Sc. 1880 R. L. Stevenson Deacon Brodie (1924) Act I. Tab. I. Sc. ii.:
'Od, man, he has a nice bit divot o' Fife corn-land.
Cai. 1929 Caithness Forum in John o' Groat Jnl. (22 Nov.):
If . . . her great divad o' a feet struck a Orkney man ower 'e loog, he wid say: “Thou's the most uncouth hillock o' a lass ever called at me hoose.”
Abd. 1860 H. Allan in Bnffsh. Jnl. (21 Feb.) 2:
He up an' he cuist sic a divet o' snaw That the chiel was half-smor'd.
Edb. 1866 J. Smith Poems 2:
In divots lay the frozen snaw.

Hence divotty, felted, matted (of woollens after washing) (Abd.29, Fif.14 1948; Ayr.4 1928). Also divotit, id. (Ayr.9 1949).

(2) “A short, thick, compactly made person” (Slk. 1825 Jam.2); “a dolt or dullard” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

(3) “A broad, flat necktie” (Cai. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.).

II. v.

1. To thatch with turf (Abd. 1825 Jam.2). Bnff. 1745–46 Ann. Bnff. (S.C.) I. 130:
For divoting the soldiers hospitall.
Abd. 1749 Abd. Estate (S.C.) 106:
To 2 men 1/3 of the day divoting at the house at East Mains . . . . . 0. 2. 8.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 259:
They haurled her to a divoted bothy half buried in the sand.

2. To cast or cut divots (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Abd. 1825 Jam.2). Sc. 1777 Weekly Mag. (17 July) 62:
“Pray, country man, am I deviating?” “Yes,” replied the other, “I am divotting,” more mindful of his work than attentive to the querist.
Sc. 1891 R. Ford Thistledown 239:
Tired wi' divoting twa hours.

[O.Sc. has devat, -ot, (piece of) turf, turf as a material, from 1503, also diffet, divot, etc. Origin uncertain.]

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"Divot n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Jul 2020 <>



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