Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LIT, v., n. Also litt.

I. v. ‡1. tr. To dye, colour, give a hue to, tinge (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); specif. to dye indigo blue (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Sh., Cai. 1961). Also fig. to stain, disgrace. Pa.p. litt(ed), dyed. Sc. 1703 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 334:
To my good daughter for serge waking and litting 2 duc[adoons].
Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Shop Bill 33:
Wi' hose that's either wove or knitted, An' gin he likes, he's get them litted.
Sc. 1778 Weekly Mag. (21 Jan.) 88:
While honest Janet spins her litted woo', To busk the weans in claith o' bonny blue.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 137:
Can ye tell me what way the blackamoors is made; … I'm aye thinking the litster doucks them in amang the broe that they lit the black claith wi'.
Slk. 1813 Hogg Poems (1874) 33:
Women are freed of the littand scorn O, blessed be the day Kilmeny was born.
Per. 1835 J. Monteath Dunblane Trad. (1887) 84:
Coarse home-made plaiding, litted blue by themselves.
Bnff. 1844 T. Anderson Poems 33:
'Twas said that she littit ram's woo in't, an' made quytes to the dames o' it.
Abd. 1876 R. Dinnie Songs 104:
He may be litt as black as you in crime.

2. Fig. to take on a hue, to turn a deep colour. Abd. 1884 D. Grant Keckleton 30:
Mary guessed wha my remark referred till, an' her face littit scarlet.

II. n. 1. A dye, tint, dye-stuff, specif. indigo blue (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Sh., Cai. 1961). Also fig. Abd. 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 145:
A pair of grey hoggers well clinked benew, Of nae other lit but the hue of the ew.
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce I. vi.:
And this i' the bit paper is a pennyworth o' arinetty litt, … to dye the young Laird's breeks 'ankeen.
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 592:
A bliu kot an weskit oot o' da litt, an a pere o' skrottee breeks.
Rxb. 1876 W. Brockie Confessional 186:
She was dyin some woo, but she spilt the lit.
Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 207:
Dyester Care wi' his darkest litt Keeps dipping awa.
Sh. 1900 Chambers's Jnl. (22 Sept.) 718:
The blue is got from lit or indigo — the lit-pot in which the lye is prepared is to be seen in almost every house.
Cai.9 1939:
“As blue as lit” — said of one who looks very cold.

2. Combs.: (1) blind litt, see Blin, adj., 4. (20); (2) blue litt, indigo dye (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.); †(3) corcur-lit, = Corkir, 3., q.v.; (4) lit-fat(t), ¶-falt, a vat for dye-stuff, a dyer's vat (Sc. 1880 Jam.); (5) lit-house, a dye-works (Ib.); (6) lit-kettle, a pot in which cloth is dyed (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1961); (7) lit-pat, -pot, id. (Ib.); †(8) lit-pig, a jar or stoneware vessel in which dye liquor was stored for periodical use; (9) litt-vat, = (6). (2) Sh. 1956 U. Venables Life in Shet. ix.:
“Lit” is the old word for dye and “blue-lit” for indigo. At Noss, if you have cold hands, folk say they are “litted blue”.
(3) Ib.:
Corcur-lit appears in the chemistry laboratory as litmus and comes from one of the hardiest of rock-lichens, Lecanora tartarea. Foula folk used to prepare the dye for export and sell it in dry hard balls which would keep for years.
(6) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 179:
In the corner in past the fire … on the lit-kettle, sits an old grandmother or a “quarter wife” rocking the cradle.
(7) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 97:
She flung aside her litt pots, and left aff the colouring of matter for the colouring of mind.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 54:
Beside the fire stood another pot covered with a slab of stone. It was the Lit-pot, i.e. a pot used for the dyeing of wool.
(8) Abd. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XII. 200:
About forty years ago, a lit pig was a necessary utensil in almost every family — but there is not a house in the parish where such an article is now to be seen in use.
Sc. 1856 W. L. Lindsay Brit. Lichens 90:
In Scotland, not many years ago, particularly in certain districts, almost every farm and cotter-house had its tank or barrel of “graith”, or putrid urine (the form of ammoniacal liquid employed) and its “lit-pig”, wherein the mistress of the household macerated some familiar “crottle” (the Scotch vernacular term for the dye-lichens in general) such as Lecanora tartarea or Parmelia saxatilis, and prepared therefrom a reddish or purplish dye.
Kcd. 1900 W. Gairdner Glengoyne I. viii.:
The handloom weaver, after [the wool] had been dyed in the “litpig”, made it into a dark-blue cloth.
(9) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 98:
Keeping still the litt vats of the Gorbals of Glasgow out of sight.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 366:
Elspet Chisholm, in the shape o' a cat, destroyed the lit-vat o' an Alexander Cumming.

[O.Sc. lyt(t), to dye, a.1400, dye, c.1420, Mid.Eng. lit, O.N. litr, colour, lita, to dye.]

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



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