Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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RATTON, n. Also ratten, -an; rottan, -on, -en, -in (Bnff. 1887 G. G. Green Gordonhaven 129); ¶wratten (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; dim. rottany. [′rɑtən; ne., em.Sc.(a) ′rotən.]

1. A rat (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai.). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. Also attrib. Deriv. ¶rottanly, pertaining to a rat. Sc. 1702 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 12:
In the midle of the sermon, a ratton came and sat doun on his Bible.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 43:
As Badrans can with cheeping Rottans play.
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 130:
The poor dancer creept out of bed like a posioned rottan.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 231:
The candle wicks came ay into their cutties like sutter's lingles in the dish but some . . . stripped them thro' their teeth like ratton tails.
Ayr. 1796 Burns To Col. de Peyster iv.:
Then that curst carmagnole, Auld Satan, Watches, like baudrons by a rattan, Our sinfu' saul to get a claut on.
Sc. 1827 Scott Croftangry iv.:
But this unhappy lad . . . kenned that he was living like a ratten in a Dunlap cheese . . . I canna bide to think on't.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 189:
Her bonnet's a bamboozl'd, As flat as ony rattan trap.
Abd. 1891 T. Mair Arn and his Wife 10:
“It wes a rottany”, she said, “It wes a moose”, said John. She stirred hersel' an' set aboot Her usual mornin' wark, But never missed throughout it a' Her rottanly remark.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders v.:
A ratton's bite is poisonous!
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 325:
A footh o' rattans playan digeedoo aboot da couplelegs i' the aisins.
Fif. 1939 St. Andrews Cit. (25 Jan.) 5:
Rattans scramblin' ower the ruif.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxv.:
That's the rale Cyarndronach noo. . . . That taks a clacht o' yer tongue like a rottan trap.

Sc. Combs.: (1) ratten fa', a rat-trap (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 404). See Fa, n.; (2) rattan-flitting, a moving of rats in a body from one place to another (w.Sc. 1825 Jam.); ¶(3) rattan-houkit, dug by a rat. See Howk, v.1; (4) ratton's-rest, a state of perpetual unrest and bustle (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.); (5) ratton-stamp = (1) (Cld. 1880 Jam.); †(6) Red Rotten, in allusion to a custom in Montrose in the 18th c. in which stalls at a fair were allotted by a kind of jostling competition (see quot.). (1) Lth. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 6:
Two gude new carts as ane could drive Likewise a ratten fa'.
Edb. 1839 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxvii.:
Div ye keep rotten-fa's about your premises?
(2) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 404:
Ratton-flitting, a flitting of rats. Sometimes these animals, for causes known to themselves, leave one haunt where they have fed well a long time, and go to another. . . . People do not like the rats to disappear thus on a sudden, as the thing is thought to portend nothing good.
(3) Dmf. 1820 J. Johnstone Poems (1857) 25:
Till through some, rattan-houkit hole The sooty waters 'swaging roll.
(4) Cai.9 1939:
A soon' sleep an' a rottan's rest!
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 18:
It's duist ratten's rest i this hoose, onyway, wui yeh mael efter another.
Abd.4 1929:
Rottin's rist an' futtrit's fykin (Off-hand saying when bidding goodnight).
(6) Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 12:
And on the causeway pushin' sair To birze out the Red Rotten. . . . Nae mair the Rotton's press'd.

2. Fig. Applied contemptuously to a person or as a playful term of endearment (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 145); used as an alternative for the (Town) Rat(t)s, see Ratt. Sc. 18th c. H. G. Graham Social Life (1899) I. 123:
The charge of order and the preservation of the lieges was committed to a small and effete band of city guards, consisting of 120 men all told. . . . They were sources of mirth rather than of safety. . . . nicknamed the “town rottens” (or “rats”).
Abd. 1786 Aberdeen Jnl. (18 Dec.):
John Sangster, commonly called the Rotten.
Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 194:
A gae wily rotton was our Aunty Meg.
Mry. 1865 J. Horne Poems 62:
When ye declare ye canna gang To school, my rotton.
Sc. 1931 J. Lorimer Red Sergeant xviii.:
Dod, it's a gran' baar tae get a rise oot o' the sodgers, an' a better ane tae hae a batter at that naisty rottans frae the To'booth.

3. A small person “often with the idea of dark complexion and a profusion of hair” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 145); an undergrown, dwarfish animal (Ib.).

[O.Sc. ratone, rat, a.1400, ratton, fig. of a child, a.1585; O.Fr. raton, Lat. rato, a little rat. For 2. cf. Fr. raton, also as a term of affectionate address to a child.]

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"Ratton n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2020 <>



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