Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations & symbols Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

SERVITOR, n. Also -er, -our. Fem. form servitrix, servetrix, servatrix. [′servɪtər] 1. A servant, attendant, domestic, obs. or arch.; in mod. usage: an assistant janitor or attendant in Edinburgh University.  Also adj. servitorial. Mry. 1700 Boharm Parish Mag. (Nov. 1896):
Jean Yunie, servetrix to Alexander Loban.
Rxb. 1716 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1914) 25:
John Roucastle, servitour to Walter Roucastel, carier.
Edb. 1755 Caled. Mercury (18 Feb.):
Janet Robertson, Servetrix to Mrs Herdman residing in Canongate.
Dmf. 1771 W. McDowall Hist. Dmf. (1867) 680:
One Janet Watson, “a servitrix” at the very farm.
Sc. 1896 A. Cheviot Proverbs 1:
A bad servitor ne'er made a gude maister.
Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xii. 9:
Nane but a bit orra servitor aboot him.
Edb. 1970 Univ. Edb. Bulletin (21 April):
Mr. Charles Hibbard, a part-time servitor, who joined the uniformed staff in 1938.
Edb. 1998:
You would need to pay for servitorial time [when booking an Edinburgh University room for a Saturday].
 em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 3:
He would wake sweating in the night from a dream of himself crushed into a coffin, unable to move, while some demonic servitor, having transported him thus like a living dead man, chapped nine dirling blows at the gates of Hell.
Sc. 2001 Scotsman (6 Jan) 9:
David Shepherd, a Canadian studying for his doctorate at New College, set out to chronicle the six-month process of preparing the faculty of divinity for an invasion of secular Scots politicians. His idea was to portray the build-up from the viewpoint of joiners and electricians, servitors and security guards, all under the eye of John Knox, whose censorious statute stands in the quandrangle.
Sc. 2001 Herald (26 Nov) 14:
Across from the Lawnmarket, the MSPs and a considerable entourage of researchers, servitors, and journalists bustle about the old regional council offices and take the breeze on Victoria Terrace.
 Sc. 2002 Scotsman (15 Nov) 16:
"A lot of male visitors," our woman on the spot tells us, "are getting very hands-on with Lara. It's not supposed to be interactive. That's just the games." Installing cold showers is one option. Either that or get the servitors to sling them in the goldfish pond.

2. In deferential usage, by the speaker or writer of himself, = Eng. “your humble servant”.Sc. 1761 Session Papers, Drummond v. Ferrier (26 June) 1:
My Lords, &c. Unto your Lordships humbly means and shows your Servitors, Mrs Barbara Drummond of Hawthornden, &c. that . . .

3. An apprentice, esp. to a lawyer, a lawyer's clerk.Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley lxvi.:
The Bailie was in search ofhis apprentice (a Servitor, as he was called Sixty Years since).

4. One who serves refreshments at a funeral. Cf. Serve, v.1, 1. (1)(ii).Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xlvi.:
At the very next draigie, after I partook of one service, I made a bow to the servitors.

5. A table-napkin; a hand-towel (Sc. 1870 E. B. Ramsay Reminiscences 246; Lnk. 1970), by conflation with Servit.Abd. 1719 Cushnie MSS. (Abd. Univ. Lib.):
Two dozen of course serviters with two table clothes.
Sc. 1829 G. Robertson Recollections 96:
The napery for the table and for servitors, . . . and the finer linens for shirting, and for mutches.
Sc. 1868 St Andrews Gazette (18 July):
He will wash his dinner down with a glass of water out of a caraff . . . wiping his mouth when done with a serviter.

[O.Sc. servitor, apprentice, 1486, servitor, servatour, table-napkin, 1530, servetrice, 1477, servetrix, 1566.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Servitor n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Aug 2022 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: