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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).

SERVIT, n. Also -ite, -et, -at, servad (Cai.). [′sɛrvɪt]

1. A table napkin, a serviette (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 163, 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Cai., Fif., Lnk. 1970).Sc. 1704 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 350:
To Mrs. Purves ane account ffor sheits, servits, table cloathes.
Bwk. 1716 Proc.Bwk. Nat. Club (1914) 299:
Seven and twenty servets and tools.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 149:
[He] saw the Wife, as fast as able, Spread a clean Servite on the Table.
Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 71:
My mither she came trudgen by hersel', Wi' twa fite servets an' a stoup an' ale.

2. A hand-towel, esp. one of linen.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 123:
Then with clean servits dry'd her up an' doun.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 31:
An auld servet, or an auld sark to keep the hips o't warm.

3. Glossed as a small tray, but this is doubtful. No doubt there has been confusion with server s.v. Serve, v.1, 1. (1)(iii).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 384:
He looked for the largest piece of shortbread or plumb-cake on the servet.
Ags. 1873 T. Watson Poems 114:
A glass of wine on a servit.
Wgt. 1878 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 12:
He . . . bought two grand japanned servets.

[O.Sc. serviot, 1489, serviett, 1513, servitt, 1581, = 1., ad. Fr. serviette. The word is recorded first in Sc. It was borrowed into Eng. direct from Fr. in the 19th c.]

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"Servit n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Sep 2022 <>



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