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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MART, n.2 Also mairt, mert, maert (Sh. 1898 Shetland News (2 July)). Dim. marty (Abd. 1868 G. Gall MS. Diary (21 Oct.)). [mɑrt, ‡mert]

1. An ox or cow fattened for slaughter, usually one killed at the end of the year to provide salted meat for a family (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Sh., Cai., Bnff. 1962). Used transf. in 1801 quot. of a bee's winter store. Sometimes attrib.Sc. 1748 Caled. Mercury (21 April):
Payment yearly of . . . 14 Poultry, half a Mart, and a Wedder and a half, with a Leat of Peats.
Abd. 1763 Aberdeen Jnl. (7 Feb.):
There are to be sold at the Barn-yards of Udny, several well-fatted Marts fit for Slaughter.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 83:
Our rucks fu' thick are stackit i' the yard, For the Yule-feast a sautit mart's prepar'd.
Ork. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 V. 411:
In the year 1762, a good mart cow was purchased at 15s. sterling, and the whole carcase did not exceed 1d the lb.
Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems xxiii.: 
To gather sweets frae ilka part; Fu' fair she earns her winter mart.
Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery i.:
Each family killed a mart, or fat bullock in November which was salted up for winter use.
Rxb. 1820 Scots Mag. (April) 343:
There have been from time immemorial at Hawick, during the two or three last weeks of the year, markets once a week, for the disposal of sheep for slaughter, at which the greater number of people, both in the middle and poorer classes of life, have been accustomed to provide themselves with their marts.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xii.:
After we had salted our mart, it occasioned us to have a double crop of puddings.
Sc. 1864 J. C. Shairp Kilmahoe 20:
When the mairt cow was killed.
Abd. a.1880 W. Robbie Yonderton xxxiii.:
The “mairt” that used to be killed at Mains of Yonderton could be sent from here on the Saturday and placed on the stall of the Smithfield butcher on Monday morning, in as prime condition as if it had only been sent to Peterhead.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man xxxv.:
Ye wad mak' braw pickin' for the teeth o' Sawny Bean's bairns . . . the like o' you wad be as guid as a Christmas mart to them.
Ork. 1912 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 10:
About Hallowmass several small families united their savings and bought at the market or mart . . . a mert — a cow or ox — costing 30s. or £2, which was killed and salted for winter use.
Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Trad. Lore 172:
“The breakin' doon o' do mert” was a most important event.

2. Any other animal or bird which is to be salted or dried for winter meat. Also attrib.Rxb. c.1800 Mem. S. Sibbald (Hett 1926) 203:
Then after we ha' oure Mart, than we ha' stove tatas. That's when they're pet in the pot wi'out water, wi' a bit shuet, some sibies, an' a pickle saut.
Highl. a.1814 J. Ramsay Scot. and Scotsmen (1888) II. 535:
Goats' flesh was in some measure appropriated, being called the poor man's mart.
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 157:
At a certain season, he takes a voyage to the Craig of Ailsa, bringing home a precious load of sea fowls . . . the most of which he plucks and pickles by as a mart for Winter use.
Rxb. a.1860 J. Younger Autobiog. (1881) 99:
Jean . . . gat on the mickle pat, wi' the mart sheep-head an' pluck.
Slk. 1899 C. M. Thomson Drummeldale 72:
A “mairt” being a live sheep, which they converted into mutton, salting it for use throughout the winter.
Kcd. 1954:
A country housewife looking over a litter of pigs might point to one and say “That's my mert”, meaning that she had singled it out for rearing and afterwards for home curing for the use of her household.

3. A fat, well-fed cow (Sh. a.1914 J. M. Hutcheon W.-L., Sh. 1962). Used opprobriously of a fat idle person, esp. a woman (ne.Sc. 1962); one living in prosperity and ease.Sc. 1722 Ramsay Three Bonnets iii. 41:
Get up, get up, ye lazy mart.
Lnk. 1883 in D. Graham Writings II. 72:
The word “mairt”, or “mart”, ultimately came to denote a person who lived in ease and prosperity.
Bnff. 1954 Banffshire Jnl. (24 Aug.):
Siccan a mairt o' an 'uman it has never been my luck tae see.

4. Combs. and phrs.: (1) eel mairt, see Eel, n.3, 3.; (2) mart barrel, a barrel full of brine in which the flesh of the mart was pickled; (3) Martinmas mart, the fat animal destined for slaughter at the end of the year for winter use. The slaughtering usually took place about Martinmas and popular derivation established a connection; (4) mart puddin', a pudding made from a mart. Used attrib. in mart puddin' yockin, an occasion on the killing of the mart when neighbours came to help in the work of dismembering the carcase and making puddings from the blood and offal; (5) mart-silver, money paid as feu duty in lieu of an earlier payment in kind of a mart.(2) wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 543:
But, as soon as they got a glimpse o' him at Peter's, the wife jumped head-foremost into the mart barrel, while the tailor himsel' made a claught at the sweys and ran up through the reek, and out at the hole in the roof.
(3) Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan III. 148:
The kye of Starkstarvit . . . were Martinmas marts compared to them.
(4) Sc. 1835 Sc. Songs (Whitelaw 1843) 202:
Nae trystin' at Meg's noo — nae Hallowe'en rockins! Nae howtowdie guttlens — nae mart-puddin' yockins!
(5) Sc. 1706 Atholl MSS.:
I . . . Grant me to have receaved. . . . The soume of One hundered fyftie four pound Scotts money and that as the Martinmas Martsilver . . . and Whitsondayes fue mealls . . . [for 3 years] payable . . . to Her Majestie furth of . . . Glenalmond att ffyftie ane pound six shilling eight pennies yearly.

[O.Sc. mart (in Lat. MS.), 1326, Gael. mart, E.Ir. mart, a cow for killing.]

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"Mart n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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