Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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TAFT, n. Also taff-. Sc. forms of Eng. toft, a homestead and the land attached to it (Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 206, Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 206; Sc. 1855 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 726; Knr. 1895 J. L. Robertson Dunbar 96; Bnff. 1904 Banffshire Jnl. (26 Jan.) 3; Ags. 1958 People's Jnl. (5 April); Ags., Slg., Fif. 1972); a small-holding (Fif. 1972). Common in place-names in Sh. and Ork. See P.L.D. § 54. [tɑft]

1. Sc. comb. and deriv.: ((1) taft-dyke, taff-, a wall, usu. of sods, surrounding a taft; hence a turf-wall in gen. (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 443); (2) taften, -an, tofting, a taft, with the house or land attached (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); the tenancy of a taft. (1) Ayr. 1759  Session Papers, Neil v. Hamilton, etc. (6 June) Proof 4:
The old March was a Taft-dyke.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 411:
O! hatefu' it's to hear the whut-throat chark, Frae oot the auld Taffdike.
(2) Sc. 1759  Atholl MSS.:
To uphold the Respective Houses and Toftings hereby sett to them and leave the same in a Habitable Condition at the Time of their Removall.
Per. 1800  Edb. Weekly Jnl. (16 July) 231:
Additional toftings will be set down in the course of next year.
Sc. a.1825  H. Blyd's Contract 5:
He scrapt upo' paper at the dissolments an' tanements o' the taftens.

2. A small patch of enclosed ground set apart for the rearing of cabbages, etc. (Cai. 1825 Jam., ‡Cai. 1972), esp. in comb. plant-taft, id. Cf. planti-crue s.v. Plant, n., 1. Cai. 1795  J. Sinclair Agric. Cai. 119:
They make these nurseries or plant-tofts of small extent, that the dykes might shelter the young plants from the severity of the winter.
Cai. 1916  John o' Groat Jnl. (31 March):
The greater part of our crofts had their origin in the “plant taft” and “lazy bed.”

3. Sod, turf, a meaning derived by a wrong inference from taft-dyke above. s.Sc. 1835  Wilson's Tales of the Borders II. 45:
To see the auld taff o' the kirk-yard cover the moil that keeps ye frae the sicht o' her ye hae ruined.

[O.Sc. toft, 1473, thoftyn, 1534, taft, 1611, Mid.Eng. toft, O.N. topt. a homestead, house-site.]

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"Taft n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Jan 2020 <>



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