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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 2005 (SND, online supplement).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CALEDONIAN, adj. liter. of or belonging to Scotland.

Comb.: Caledonian antisyzigy, See 1919 quot. See also antisyzygy.Sc. 1919 G. Gregory Smith Scottish Literature: Character and Influence 4:
The antithesis need not, however, disconcert us. Perhaps in the very combination of opposites — what either of the two Sir Thomases, of Norwich and Cromarty, might have been willing to call 'the Caledonian antisyzygy' — we have a reflection of the contrasts which the Scot shows at every turn, in his political and ecclesiastical history, in his polemical restlessness, in his adaptability, which is another way of saying he has made allowance for new conditions, in his practical judgement, which is the admission that two sides of the matter have been considered.
Sc. 1984 Roderick Watson The Literature of Scotland 3:
Hugh MacDiarmid ... incorporated many of these ideas in his own poetry ... Following Gregory Smith, he proposed that the Scottish sensibility was characteristically extreme, containing a combination of opposite tendencies — a 'Caledonian antisyzygy' — which manifests itself in a delight in domestic realism and the accumulation of many small details on the one hand, and a love of excess and wild and uncontrolled flights of fancy on the other.
Sc. 1987 Hector MacMillan Royal Lyceum Theatre programme Feb :
We do seem to share a very European enjoyment of abrupt transitions of mood in our writing — transitions from high tragedy to low comedy — the Caledonian Antisyzigy — and this does not seem to be something that occurs so frequently in Anglo-Saxon writing.
Sc. 1993 Herald 7 Oct 15:
Maybe the enlightened expats, and my own husband was once one of them, merely acquired a surface sophistication and learned not to bore us all to death by practising the theory of the Caledonian Antisyzygy.
Sc. 1994 Scotland on Sunday 1 May :
MacDiarmid's pertinent analysis of what Professor Gregory Smith called the Caledonian Antisyzygy — the capacity for genius within the whiplashed Scottish psyche,...
Sc. 1999 Sunday Herald 26 Sep 1:
MacDiarmid's promotion of the Caledonian Antisyzygy, that hypothetical balancing of opposites which he believed ran through Scottish life.
Sc. 1999 Sunday Herald 19 Dec 4:
Forget Caledonian antisyzygy, Jekyll and Hyde, and all those other manifestations of our national brand of cultural schizophrenia.
Sc. 2003 Press and Journal 21 Oct 14:
It is insecurity, not arrogance, which breeds aggressive "Wha's like us?" braggadocio. It's lack of confidence which produces the Scottish cringe, as we alternate between national glory and national paranoia. Our fragile football team bears the brunt of inflated expectations and morbid pessimism. This is Hugh MacDiarmid's "Caledonian antisyzygy", or Scottish dualism, in a dark blue jersey.

Comb.: Caledonian cream, A dessert of whipped cream with marmalade, sugar, brandy and lemon juice.Sc. 1829 Mrs Dalgairns The Practice of Cookery 303:
Caledonian Cream.
Mince a table-spoonful of orange marmalade; add it, with a glass of brandy, some pounded loaf sugar, and the juice of a lemon, to a quart of cream; whisk it for half an hour, and pour it into a shape with holes in it, or put it into a small hair sieve, with a bit of thin muslin laid into it.
Sc. 1985 Catherine Brown Scottish Cookery 168:
CALEDONIAN CREAM The following recipe is simple and quick. Using cream cheese with a bitter Seville marmalade gives a sharp flavour to the cream mixture which goes on top of sweet oranges. Fresh cream may be used instead of the cheese, and with a less bitter marmalade makes a sweeter result.
Sc. 2004 Scotland for visitors website :
This is a recipe for a sweet pudding recipe. I have heard it called by a few different names, but most commonly simply "Caledonian Cream". It is a refreshing dessert which uses marmalade to give it a slight "tart" taste.

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"Caledonian adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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