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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

HAIVER, v., n.1 Also haver; haever; hyver (Sh.). [′he:vər]

I. v. 1. tr. and intr. To talk in a foolish or trivial manner, speak nonsense, to babble, gossip. Gen.Sc.Cai. 1776 Weekly Mag. (25 Jan.) 145:
Troth, Branky, man, I hinna faul't my een Since here I left you havrin' late the streen.
Edb. 1811 H. Macneill Bygane Times 51:
A' the claver O' fashion'd fools wha senseless haver.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xliv.:
He just havered on about it to make the mair o' Sir Arthur.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Lairds xxi.:
But I have nae time the night to haever wi' you.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) II. 276:
Will you stand clattering and clattering, and haver-havering this hale blessed day, and never think of setting away to your work?
Dmf. 1835 Carlyle Letters (Bliss 1953) 106:
The only creature I have near of the friend sort that has given me the smallest pleasure was poor Aird of Dumfries, with whom I havered a night.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Stickit Minister 120:
The twa first Maister Slees wraite their sermons, for they were . . . nae ranters haiverin' oot o' their heids.
Fif. 1901 G. Setoun Barncraig xxiv.:
I mind o' ye haverin' some sic'-like nonsense.
Lnk. 1902 A. Wardrop Hamely Sk. 84:
Gae 'wa, woman; ye're haiverin'.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 2:
Aside ye, I hech an' I haver, I'm het an' I'm cauld.
Kcd. 1934 L. G. Gibbon Grey Granite 15:
A braw-like life in a pulpit, maybe, nothing to do but habber and haver and glower over a collar on back to front.
w.Sc. 1943 Scots Mag. (May) 129:
Yin o' Scotland's great race o' engineers that the writers write aboot an' the orators haver aboot.
Abd. 1980 David Toulmin Travels Without a Donkey 116:
The doctor, John Gaddie, was sympathetic and tried to explain the cause of Granny's death; of how the lungs were damaged and were not oxygenising the blood, which laboured the heart and starved the brain, causing Granny to haver a lot of nonsense in her conscious moments, ...
ne.Sc. 1986 Peter Mowatt in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 156:
"Muckle need o't. Jimmy Tarves, dicht yer beets on the gerss afore ye gin in. Dinna haiver, jist dee't."
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 51:
As fou's a puggie maist o the week,
that snochert whiles he could barelies speak
but sat, heid doon a' haverin
aye tae himsel, mumpin, slaverin,
reid i the neb, cramasie i the cheek.
wm.Sc. 1995 Robin Jenkins Leila 84:
'What are you havering about, Nancy? I know who Mrs Azaharri is. ...'
Edb. 1998 Gordon Legge Near Neighbours (1999) 83:
'I just had this crazy dream about you pair,' he said. 'Going on and on. Havering the biggest pile of nonsense I've ever heard.'
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 143:
He'd catch her talking to herself once in a while, and he didn't like it. It was all right if she just haivered, but sometimes she'd slip in other things among the haivers, and a terrible anger would break on his face.

Hence haverer, one who talks foolishly; havering, hav'ren, ppl.adj., nonsensical, gossiping, babbling, garrulous; vbl.n., chatter, gossip, nonsense.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 208:
Yet Gleg-eyed Friends throw the Disguise Receiv'd it as a dainty Prize For a' it [a poem] was sae hav'ren.
Peb. 1793 R. Brown Carlop Green (1817) 125:
Meikle kyte, braws, and consequence, And haveran' wheety-whats.
Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (Rogers 1905) 175:
The Lucky maun now hae done wi' her claverin', For I'll no pit up wi' her, nor her haverin'.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 333:
By ill luck, havering Jean Jinkens came in about nine o'clock to see the mistress.
Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 11:
They should stand abeigh frae the lave o' the characters, — by way o' contrast, . . . as that haverer Wordsworth is sae fond o' talking and writing about.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 338:
Haud there, wi' yer jeerin' an' haverin'.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 80:
Ye'll ken auld Mrs Blaw-a-bit, the haverin' auld fule, Whase tongue about her furniture rins like a flooded rill.
Arg. 1896 N. Munro Lost Pibroch 185:
Go inbye, haverer, and — oh, my heart!
Dmf. 1921 J. L. Waugh Heroes. 48:
She was the most havering, garrulous bletherskate it had ever been my misfortune to meet.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 23:
I'll lat him see gin my tack's oot, the haiv'rin' eeseless body!
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 18:
Don't listen tae this damp haiverin' bellum
Trust your daddy, he kens whit's guid for ye!
Sc. 1988 Scotsman 16 Dec 13:
But now it seems those moves may have been designed to force Arafat to end his havering and meet the three demands Washington was making.
Gsw. 1991 John Burrowes Mother Glasgow 318:
'Oh, tuts now, Wullie, what kind of talk is that you're giving Star? You make an awfy lot o' things up. Don't you listen to him, Star. He's just a havering auld thing at times.'

2. To make a fuss about nothing, to make a pretence of being busy (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 74; Ayr., Uls. 1956); to dawdle, to potter about (Id.); to saunter, lounge (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., hyver).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 73:
The hail height o' the day he did nothing but haiver at's wark.
Ags. 1915 V. Jacob Songs of Ags. 25:
He'll haver roond the schulehoose wa's, And ring the schulehoose bell.

II. n. 1. Gen. in pl. Nonsense, foolish talk, gossip, chatter (Sc. 1808 Jam., ha(i)vers; Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 97, haevers). Gen.Sc.Ayr. 1787 Burns Guidwife of Wauchope i.:
Wi' clavers an' havers Wearing the day awa.
Fif. 1798 R. Flockhart Sketch of the Times 12:
None was so ready as the weavers, To take up with these senseless havers.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Letter x.:
Whisht, woman! whisht! . . . dinna deave the gentleman wi' your havers.
Slk. 1824 Hogg Justified Sinner 300:
It is the crownhead o' absurdity to tak in the havers o' auld wives for gospel.
Abd. 1863 G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod I. iv.:
What for are ye knittin' yer broos ower a leein' ballant — a' havers as weel as lees?
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 37:
Ta tak up da half o' da time wi' ma ain clash an' havers.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 99:
Noo, lass, I'll tell thee Johnnie Wa's May blaw thee up wi' sleek an' haever.
Uls. 1898 A. McIlroy Meetin'-Hoose Green x.:
Vera likely ye'r no' tae blame for mair'n the half o' a' the havers 'at ir' gan' aboot roon' the country.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days vii.:
I don't know what you're talking about, my poor wee whitterick; but it's all haivers.
Gsw. 1949 C. Strathern Love at the Helm 93:
Lorne would hear him, “all haver and clash,” with Susan at the door.
m.Sc. 1982 Matt Marshall in Hamish Brown Poems of the Scottish Hills 10:
Gin ye think ma havers daft,
Ach, I'd liefer blaw ma breath upon the breeze!
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 6:
These havers are what you wish was true!
I can't stand here all day listening to you
You neither ken nor care whit you're talking aboot
m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 48:
"Ach, you men! You make me sick so you do, you muckle bairns! For all the use of you, you should be put out to play in the woods. And you with your havers," she pointed a crooked finger at Manus who had opened an indignant mouth, "You're as bad as the worst, even if you're no the worst!"
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 16:
Listenan tae the uncoguid an aa their havers
wi'oot a vision loupan up o puttan stots.

Hence used exclam. ha(i)vers! Nonsense! Rubbish! Gen.Sc.Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 58:
Havers. Either you or Mr Tickler would be an awfu' sight in a poupit.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums iii.:
“Havers!” retorted Hendry. “A man canna be aye washin' at 'imsel.”
Abd. 1894 G. Greig Mains's Wooin' (1909) 52:
Peter — Haivers, min! Ye never saw a lassie wi' her heid on a ghost's shouther.
Gsw. 1933 F. Niven Mrs Barry 229:
“You are very kind, Mrs Murdoch.” “Havers!”
wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 21:
Havers! What did she say?
m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 88:
"Havers," said Mungo "Everybody kens that it is because a spider wove his thread across the cave where the Holy Family was hiding in Egypt, and that saved them from they Egyptian heathens who searched no further, seeing the web intact."

2. A piece of nonsense; a foolish whim or notion (Abd.6 1913, haiver; Ork., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Rxb. 1956).Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 37:
What use is Hebrew to a weaver? 'Twill no ae plack avail you ever; A' men o' sense will ca't a haver.
Rxb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 III. 65:
The draining cost them 10s. a-head and was at first pronounced “a haver.”
Ags. 1888 Barrie Auld Licht Idylls 211:
Dinna fash yoursels. It's juist a haver o' the grieve's.
m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet iv. ii.:
If I micht choose the place I wad like best to dee in, it would be in the lee side o' a muckle hill, wi' nae death-bed or sic like havers.
Sc. 1923 R. Macrailt Hoolachan 18:
Douglas — Was't no something aboot dancin'? Carpenter — Hoots! Some haiver o' the Session!
Bnff. 1931 Banffshire Jnl. (21 April) 5:
Hoot, fat a haiver's this we hear!

3. A gossip, a desultory chat (Rnf.1 c.1920; Ags., Fif., m.Lth., wm.Sc., Rxb., Slk. 1956).Fif. 1842 Quarterly Jnl. Agric. XIII. 387:
Doctor, it is not every day I see you; we must go in and have a haver.
Edb. 1851 A. Maclagan Sk. from Nature 315:
To show his wares an' town-bred airs, An' ha'e a haver wi' the lasses.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 45:
Jeanie and me had a haver about the Miss Marjoribanks and the Edinburgh folk.

4. A person who talks nonsense. Gen. (exc. I.)Sc.Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie v.:
“Ye auld haver!” Jinnet will then cry, smiling. “It's you that's lost yer sicht, I'm thinkin'.”
Abd. 1909 R. J. McLennan Yon Toon 63:
“Ye're an awfu' haver, Sam,” said Mrs Simpson.

5. A state of fussy indecision (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 73; Ayr. 1956). Gen. in pl. Also applied to a person in this state, an idler who makes a pretence of work (Ib.).

6. Sh. usage: manner, way of behaving. Found in phr. to ha'e ill (a puir) haivers, to be awkward, clumsy (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)) and deriv. h(a)everless, ill-mannered (Sh. a.1873 in Jak. (1928)). See also Ill-hyverd.

[Not in O.Sc. Orig. very doubtful. The word may be simply imit. of quick or rambling speech (cf. Habber), or phs. (as Sh. usage seems to attest, if it is the same word), from obs. Eng. hav(i)our, O.Fr. avoir, deportment, behaviour, in pl., manners, extended to mean specif. foolish or trivial behaviour, fuss, “carry-on,” and mainly restricted to talk. The v. usage would then be derived from the n. Cf. haivins, s.v. Havin(g)s.]

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"Haiver v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2022 <>



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