Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GREET, v., n.1 Also †greit (Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie II. xi.).

I. v. Pa.t.: strong grat (Gen.Sc.); gret (Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 97; Sh. 1952 Robertson & Graham Sh. Dial. 33; Arg., Rnf., Dmf. 1955), grett; graet (Sh.); weak grettit, -ed; pa.p. grutten, †-in (Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 343); ¶gritten (Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) ix.), †gratten (Dmf. 1877 R. W. Thom Poems 12), -in, ¶greetten (Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xxvii.), grat. [Sc. grit; pa.t. grɑt, grɛt; pa.p. ′grʌtən]

1. intr. To weep, cry, whimper, lament; to complain, grumble in a helpless trifling manner. Ppl.adj. grutten, tear-stained. Cf. Begrutten; vbl.n. greetin, weeping, whimpering. Sc. 1698 Culloden Papers (Warrand 1923) I. 249:
As the proverb is they are weil doing bairns who may not greit, or complain.
Sc. 1713 Munimenta Univ. Gsw. (M.C.) II. 410:
He had uttered very reviling language against the principal by calling him a greeting hypocrite.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 123:
Dar'st thou of a' thy Betters slighting speak, That have na grutten sae meikle learning Greek.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Bruar Water iii.:
Last day I grat wi' spite and teen, As Poet Burns came by.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxvii.:
Mattie had ill-will to see me set awa' on this ride, and grat awee the sillie tawpie.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) v.:
When I had greeted myself mostly blind, and cried till I was as hoarse as a corbie.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 278:
Dinna fa' to the greetin' about it, Mary!
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin iv.:
The puir innocent thing . . . had grutten itsel' as hearse as a crowpie.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 226:
An' mony days an' nichts I gret, An' nane could comfort me.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days (1925) xxii.:
Lend me your hanky, — mine's all wet with greeting.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo iv.:
I grat — grat as I had never grat before.
Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 9:
Wi' apron neuks the lasses dicht Their weary grutten een.
Gsw. 1937 F. Niven Staff at Simson's xxv.:
The wife — she's no' a greetin' kind, I can assure you — grat in the train coming home.

Hence (1) greeter, n., one who weeps: (2) greetie, adj., (a) inclined to weep, lachrymose (Sh., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Ayr., Dmf. 1955); comb. greetie-face (Fif. 1955), -gowlie (Sh. 1955), a child who is always crying; (b) fig. inclined to rain, showery (Abd.13 1914; Mry., Ags. 1955). (1) Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 285:
For I've heard greeters at your school-house, Near thirty in a day.

2. quasi-tr. with cognate obj. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 109:
Hing down ye'r Heads ye Hills, greet out ye'r Springs.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Elegy on 1788 29–30:
Nay, even the yirth itsel does cry, For Embro, wells are grutten dry!
Hdg. 1885 J. Lumsden Rhymes 145:
When Rab an' me atweel, . . . Grat our lang, last fareweel.
Sc. 1907 D. Macalister Echoes (1923) 39:
The saut tear blins her bonnie een, She's grat them sair.
Ags. 1920 A. Gray Songs 16:
Hoo bitter are the tears I greet!

3. Fig. To ooze, to be waterlogged, of wet ground. Rnf. 1887 Trans. Highl. Soc. 44:
In what is known as the “Greeting” land of Inverkip, for example, it is almost impossible to secure adequate drainage.

4. Combs. (with greetin'): †(1) greetin'-cheese, “a cheese from which oily matter oozes” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); (2) greetin ee, a watering eye (Sh., Abd., m.Lth., Kcb. 1955). Phr. to be at one's greetin een, to blubber (Sh. 1955); (3) greetin'-face, “a ludicrous appellation for one whose face betrays a childish inclination to weep” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Hence greetin'-fac'd, adj., looking as if about to cry (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Bnff., Abd., 1955); (4) greetin' f(o)u, — fow, adj., at the tearful stage of intoxication (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; (5) greetin laid, enough drink to produce the above condition (Slk. 1955); (6) greetin' meetin, a farewell meeting, specif. the last meeting of a town-council before an election (Sc. 1880 Bon-Accord (6 Nov.) 6). Gen.Sc.; (7) greetin' saugh, see Saugh; (8) greetin' Teenie, a name given to a cry-baby, or to one who is always complaining. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc.; †(9) greetin'-washin, “the last washing that a servant puts through her hands before leaving a family; from the circumstances of tears being often shed at the idea of parting” (Sc. 1825 Jam.). (1) Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 105:
Or sinn'd ye wi' yon greetin' cheese, Frae which the tears profusely weeze.
(2) Sh. 1886 G. Temple Britta 43:
She had an unfortunate affection of the lachrymal gland — “a greetin' eye” she called it — which heightened the peculiarity of her appearance.
Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. I. 201:
Betty wants ta go, an of coorse da lass an da boy . . . wid be at dir greetin een if dey wirna dere.
(4) Nai. 1828 W. Gordon Poems 28:
Auld wives it's true were greeting fu'.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 63:
[For] gettin' greetin' fou, an' stoitin' Ye're brawly kent.
Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Inglismill 44:
Anither, an' anither yet, 'til a' war' glorious, Some greetin'-fow, an' ithers clean uproarious.
Sc. 1874 A. Hislop Sc. Anecdotes 22:
Neither was he exactly half-fou, nor yet dead drunk; . . . he was in short, “greetin' fou.”
Wgt. 1904 J. F. Cannon Whithorn 107:
Everyone . . . must be familiar with the emotional or “greetin' fou'” variety.
Gsw. 1933 F. Niven Mrs Barry xii.:
The man on the kerb again burst into tears. “I know what he is — he's greetin' fou.”
(5) Fif. 1903 St Andrews Cit. (24 Oct.):
Cupar Town Council. The greetin' meeting. Cupar Town Council, as at present constituted, held its last meeting on Friday evening.
Abd. 1956 Buchan Observer (17 April):
The April meeting of Peterhead Town Council . . . was the traditional “greetin' meetin'” of the Council.

II. n. 1. A sob; a fit of weeping. Often to hae (tak) a (one's) greet, to have a good cry. Gen.Sc. Dim. greetie, -y, a child's whimper (Kcb.4 1900; Bnff., Abd. 1955). Sc. 18th c. in Burns Poems (Cent. ed.) III. 422:
This is no my ain wean, I ken by the greetie o't.
Hdg. a.1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 76:
The widow's greet, the baby's cry.
Rxb. 1828 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1922) 37:
A little, wee creaturie, . . . coming straight for him, whyles gie'in a whink o' a greet.
Edb. 1864 W. Fergusson Poems 184:
Frae the laughter to the greetie, Changing still the hale day lang.
Rnf. 1873 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 35:
They “lay owre the hedge and took a gude greet thegither, and had won'erfu' comfort.”
Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 67:
Ye wudna aiven hear't gi'e a cheep o' a greet in a month's time.
Ags. 1890 Brechin Advertiser (10 June):
There's unco little atween their greet and their laugh.
Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer xxxviii.:
Never a whinge or a greet did ye gae.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days (1925) vi.:
A body's the better of a bit greet, whiles.
Rnf. 1935 L. Kerr Woman of Glenshiels x.:
He sat me on a chair and let me hae my greet.

Phrs.: (1) the greet in one's craig or throat, a sob in one's throat (Sh., Abd. 1955); (2) to be on the greety, to be blubbering, to be having a fit of sobbing; (3) to get one's greet out, to relieve one's feelings by a good cry (Sh., Abd., Ags., m.Lth., Bwk., Kcb. 1955). (1) Sc. 1835 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. 293:
Willie cam' hame wi' his chafts a' swelled an' bluidy, and the greet, puir chield, in his throat, for he was as muckle vexed as hurt.
Ork. 1894 W. R. Mackintosh Peat-fires 162:
As she told the story a suspicious moisture could be detected in the eyes of the good old woman, and it might truly be said of her that “the greet was i' her craig.”
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 45:
Aff Sibbie set wi da greet in her craig.
Mry. a.1931 J. Geddie Mry. Characters 153:
“Why all this haste; the poor old man was only buried yesterday?” “Oh, I ken that, but thae kine o' folk aye pay best when the greet's in their throat.”
(2) Kcb. 1890 A. J. Armstrong Musings 140:
He naps his taes an' peels his heels — He's ever on the greety.
(3) Sc. 1867 N. Macleod Starling ii.:
She kept all her boy's clothes in a press, and it was her wont . . . to open it . . . every night, and to “get her greet out.”

2. The convulsive sob of the cough in croup (Ags.19 1955). Sc. 1949 People's Journal (5 Nov.):
The child holds its breath, and goes bluish and the mother is afraid it will “gae awa' i' the greet.”

[O.Sc. has grete, greit, greet, etc. (pa.t. grat(t), grate, gret) v., from 1375, n., from a.1400; North. Mid.Eng. grete(n), O.E. grētan.]

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"Greet v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Jul 2020 <>



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