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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TIFT, n.2, v.2 Also tiff, tyiff and in freq. forms tiffle ( < tiftle), tifter, tiffer. [tɪf(t), ′tɪf(t)ər, tɪfl]

I. n. 1. A sudden breeze, a gust of wind (Sc. 1808 Jam.); a burst of laughter; fig. an inspiration, afflatus; a short spell of stormy weather, exposure to bad weather (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 193, tifter).Sc. 1765 Lord Thomas in Child Ballads No. 73. A. xvii.:
Four and twanty siller bells Wer a' tyed till his mane, And yae tift o the norland wind, They tinkled ane by ane.
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 198:
We had run owre wie a fine tiffle o' win' frae the west.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 208:
Friends and flatterers . . . Says I hae, Lord bless their souls, O' nature's fire a tift.
Sc. 1858 Carlyle Frederick VII. i. 149:
Wilhelmina answered him with tiffs of laughter, in a prettily fleering manner.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 66:
The shochles wad likely tingle on the rone
but no a tift blaws, sae caller, sae lown,
the warl's noo, wi ice alunt
alow unclooded sun

2. A whiff, puff.Lth. 1813 G. Bruce Poems 101:
As the Auld Granies took a Tift O' guid brown-twist tobacco.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 55:
He dauners oot tae view the corn, An' snuff a tift o' cauler air.

3. (1) A quarrel, altercation, dispute, the act of quarrelling (Lth. 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 193, tifter; Sh., ne.Sc., Fif., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 1972), also in Eng. dial.; also of a mock quarrel, a tousle, “the act of struggling in a wanton or dallying way” (Lth. 1808 Jam.). Adj. tifty, quarrelsome, touchy (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk., wm.Sc., Rxb. 1972).Sc. 1751 Smollett Peregrine Pickle xc.:
Now chequered with many occasional tifts, owing to the sarcastic remonstrances of the misanthrope.
Rxb. 1808 A. Scott Poems 121:
Then up spake ane, a maid forlorn, Wi' souple tongue and tifty.
Lnk. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 97:
We've had oor bits o' trials, wife, Oor bits o' tifts as weel.
Slk. 1892 W. M. Adamson Betty Blether 101:
Nae doot we've had mony a bit tift in oor day.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 235:
But gin jealous tifts and quarrels Part ye only for a wee.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ i. xiv., iii. lviii.:
Differ o' feelins an' opingyons aften saw tiffers atweesh freens . . . Yisless tifters an' bickerin.
Ayr. 1927 J. Carruthers A Man Beset i. i.:
Andrew was “a tifty speug” — and fought hard.
Sc. 1929 Scots Mag. (March) 455:
Whiles in a tift and gettin' mony thuds.

(2) A quandary.Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
He's in an unco tifter the day.

4. A fit of ill-humour, a surly mood, sulks (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 193, tifter; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Lth., wm.Sc. 1972). Also in Eng. dial. Hence tifty, adj., moody, changeable in temper, given to sulks or tantrums (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).s.Sc. 1809 T. Donaldson Poems 135:
Next in comes Bettie i' a tift.
s.Sc. 1835 Wilson's Tales of the Borders I. 210:
There is nae cause for you fleeing into a tift upon the matter.
Edb. 1876 J. Smith Archie and Bess 19:
I wish ye had seen the tift she got into when I telt her.

II. v. 1. To reject from the lips, to spit out or blow away (Abd. 1825 Jam., t(y)iff). Cf. Chiff, v., id.

2. To scold, berate (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 193; Cld. 1880 Jam.). Vbl.n. tiftan, a scolding (Gregor).

3. To hinder, delay, struggle against (Cld. 1880 Jam.).

[Sc. variant of Eng. tiff, a tantrum, quarrel. Orig. prob. imit. of a puff of wind. The word is found in O.Sc. = I. 3. (1), c.1689.]

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"Tift n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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