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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WEATHER, n., v. Also wither (Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Yonderton xv.); Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) 76; Fif. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 273; Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 33; ne.Sc. 1973); wather (Ags. 1777 Dundee Weekly Mag. (2 May) 295; Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 683; Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xiv.; Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 130; Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 115; Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Cai. 1934 John o' Groat Jnl. (19 Jan.); Bwk. 1942 Wettstein, Rxb. 1942 Zai; Cai., m. and s.Sc. 1973), waather (e.Lth. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 33), wauther (e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 68; Slk. 1899 C. M. Thomson Drummeldale 95; Wgt. 1939 J. McNeillie Wgt. Ploughman xii.), wother (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); wedder (Abd. 1918 C. Murray Sough o' War 37), widder (Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 160, Abd. 1973), wadder (Abd. 1898 J. R. Imray Sandy Todd 15; Sh. 1900 Shetland News (15 Sept.), Sh. 1973), wa(a)dir (Sh.); †wadar (Sc. 1700 Seafield Corresp. (S.H.S.) 314). Sc. forms and usages. See P.L.D. §§ 76.1, 135, 165, and D, letter, 4. Hence wa(u)ther-gless, wither-, a weather-glass, barometer (Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Yonderton xv.; e.Lth. 1896 J. Lumsden Battles 130; Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Jooly 13)), wedderly, weatherly, of a boat, able to stand to the wind (Sh. 1963 New Shetlander No. 67. 25). [Now mostly ′wɛðər and allophonic variants ′wɪðər, etc. after English; m. and s.Sc. ′wɑðər, somewhat obsol.; ne.Sc. + ′wɪdər, Sh. ′wɑdər]

1. As in Eng.: Sc. forms of Eng. weather.   Abd. 1993:
Aafa widder we're haein enoo.
Sh. 1994 Laureen Johnson in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 164:
I wis just steppin back ta get me braeth, when I wis awaar o a car haalin in at da fit o wir rodd. Well, tinks I, isn' dat a seeknin? You sit your löf alane night ower night wi da ill wadder, but da meenit da sun shines an you want ta be furt, der sure ta be veesitors.

In Sc. comb. and phr. (1) (i) sea wadder, weather suitable for going to sea; (ii) to tak bad weather, to put to sea in bad weather, to take a chance in a storm.(i) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 239:
I tink he's gaein' ta be sea wadder.
(ii) Abd. 1962 Abd. Press & Jnl. (7 Feb.):
“Dinna tak' bad weather” — a fisherfolk's espression that means “Be careful and don't take any chances.”

(2) In fig. uses: the circumstances, state of affairs, atmosphere, conditions prevailing at any given moment or created by one. This wather, just now, at the moment (Arg.1 1929).Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 233:
Aye, man, that was black weather wi' me indeed. A dead mither, a fatherless infant.
Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
If he'll no du'd by fair weather, he'll no du'd by foul, if you cannot prevail with him by coaxing, you will not by severity.
Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 68:
Weel, Rob, what's gaun on this wather?

2. Specif.: (1) weather suitable for a particular purpose, propitious or seasonable weather (ne.Sc. 1973). Obs. in Eng. Comb. wedder-days, sheep-shearing time (Fif. 1825 Jam.), sc. a time of better weather. Cf. O.Sc. wedder dais, 1456.Ork. 1939 Orcadian (15 June):
Hid wiz mooted thit the hill wid be tae'n if hid wiz wather.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 19. 34:
He aye gued ta da haddocks whinever it wis wadder.
Abd. 1970:
I widna set my tatties yet, it's nae weather.

(2) wet stormy weather, a spell of rain or snow with blustery winds, rain in gen. (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Also in Eng. dial. Hence derivs. w(e)atherfu, wedder-, weatherie, -y, stormy, wet and windy (Rxb. 1825 Jam., ‡1923 Watson W.-B.). Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary viii.:
Skirling like an auld skart before a flaw o' weather.
Dmf. 1820 J. Johnstone Poems (1857) 114:
In weathery days, when near, I loot thee in; And for thy sake got mony a drouket skin.
Bwk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 210:
Still used as expressive of tempestuous weather; as, There will be weather.
Sc. 1842 Tait's Mag. (Oct.) 625:
A close drizzling rain . . . which the waiter assured me was “a fine saft drappin' wather.”
Ork. 1867 C. Clouston Explanation of Pop. Weather Prognostics 46:
What is called a “pet day” in the south of Scotland is called “a day between weathers” in Orkney, and the same wintry weather is expected to follow immediately, as we had before.
s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws xiv.:
It was a kind of a weatherfu' night.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 239:
Dis is only a slud atween wadders.

Phr. atween wadders, atween w'athers, between weathers, of a short spell of calm fine weather between storms. Ork. 1995 Orcadian 30 Mar 4:
On March 9, on a spring day as mild as milk, I heard a lark in full voice, carolling above the moorland. That was a day atween w'athers, of which we have experienced a few despite the backsliding into winter.

3. Combs.: (1) weather-banked, of a sailing-ship: having goods or passengers so stowed that the boat has a list to windward (Ork. 1929 Marw.); (2) wadder-biter, a mock sun or parhelion, a luminous spot near the sun (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), cf. Norw. dial. vederbyte, a change in weather, from bytta, to change, to mark a boundary or division; (3) wather-brack, a break or change in weather (Gall. 1905 E.D.D.); ¶(4) weather-dame, a woman skilled in prophesying the weather; (5) weather-fender, a protection from bad weather; ¶(6) weather-flouted, bedraggled, dishevelled by rain and storm; (7) weather-ga(w), ¶-gow, (i) = †Eng. weather-gall, an atmospheric appearance, usu. regarded as a portent of bad weather, such as a mock sun or the fragment of a rainbow (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 467; Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 159; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I. and ne.Sc., em.Sc. (a), Uls. 1973); (ii) a bright calm spell between two periods of bad weather, thought to presage snow (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 211; Dmf. 1899 County Schoolmaster (Wallace) 355; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; ne.Sc. 1973); (iii) fig., something wished for but unlikely to be attained, a forlorn hope (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (8) weather-gleam, wedder-glim, -glaim, -gloom (Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man (1972) xxviii.), (i) twilight, specif. a band of clear sky above the horizon often visible at that time (s.Sc. 1884 Chambers's Jnl. (12 July) 433; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (ii) a place much exposed to the elements (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 211, -glaim; Mry. 1925; Bnff. 1973); ¶(9) wather-hap, weather conditions; (10) wadder-head, a bank of clouds or cloud-pillars rising from the horizon (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl.); (11) weather-kind, quiet hazy weather (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), with the appearance of rain (Ork. 1929 Marw.); (12) wadder-mouth, a cloud-formation in which long trails of cloud appear to converge at either end (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw.); (13) weather-set, detained by bad weather, weather-bound (Ork. 1929 Marw.); ¶(14) weathershaker, of unknown meaning; (15) weather-stane, (i) a sloping stone designed to deflect water from any vulnerable surface on a building, esp. found at the foot of chimney stacks (Fif. 1953); (ii) stone which has good weathering qualities, esp. as lying in a flat horizontal plane in the quarry (Fif. 1956), also weather freestone (see Freestane); (16) wather-wear, the wear and tear of the elements, attrition and decay caused by weather.(3) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 159:
We're gaen to hae a wather-brack.
(4) Ork. 1884 R. M. Fergusson Rambles 71:
Longhope could also boast of a “weather dame.” This individual obtained a considerable reputation among the skippers.
(5) Sc. 1835 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) IV. 220:
Nae weather-fender for the Shepherd but the plaid!
(6) Abd. 1879 G. MacDonald Sir Gibbie xxxiii.:
With a more disreputable look than her weather-flouted condition would account for.
(7) (i) Sc. 1748 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) II. 182:
Four hours before the battle the same spectators observed (about two in the afternoon) in the sky three small globes of light, which they took for what we call (in the north) a weather gall.
Sc. 1814 J. Train Mountain Muse 45:
Did she not ride a ragweed to the weather gaw?
Slk. 1819 Blackwood's Mag. (April) 76:
He answered, that he had seen an ill-hued weather-gaw that morning, and was afraid it was going to be a drift.
Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate iv.:
These weather-gaws that streak the lead-coloured mass with partial gleams of faded red and purple.
Wgt. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IV. 24:
The “weather gaw” which resembles the rainbow in colour, but which is much shorter and hangs in a vertical line.
Peb. 1878 J. Veitch Hist. & Poetry Sc. Border 515:
The weather gaw or broken bit of rainbow above the horizon.
Fif. 1924 Rymour Club Misc. III. iii. 141:
Ower Gourlay's Hole the weather-gaw Gleams to warn the boats awa.
(ii) Ags. 1823 Scots Mag. (May) 574:
We've a bit blink the day, but you'll find it naething but a weather-ga'.
Kcd. 1925:
I doot it's jist a wither-ga. It'll be rain the morn again.
(8) (i) s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.:
Spoken of objects seen in the twilight or dusk; as ‘between him and the wedder-glim,' i.e. between him and the light of the sky.
Sh. 1823 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) VII. 338:
There is really at present a lightening in the weather-gleam.
Dmf. 1874 R. Reid Moorland Rhymes 80:
A dour black clud owre the wedderglim.
Slk. 1896 A. J. B. Paterson Mist from Yarrow viii.:
The dowfiest day has aye the sun ayont it, an' the wather-gleam is aye the bonnier for the mornin's rain.
Sc. 1927 H. McDiarmid Lucky Bag 3:
But wow! the restless shadow syne Athwart the weather-glim.
Peb. 1948 W. Grant Tweeddale 214:
The gloamin' and the mirk, and in between these two the “weather-gleam” (“wuther-glum”).
(ii) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 211:
Ye needna' stan' at the corner atween the twa hooses, fair i' the wither-glaim.
(9) Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 114:
At sax o' morn what wather-hap Wad be by sax at nicht?
(10) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 240:
He's a pooshin wadder-head, a dirty söal i' da sea.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 155:
A norwast an' sooth-east wadder head is fir mair weet.
(12) Cai. 1891 Trans. Bch. Field Club II. 56:
Long tails of .loud, wider overhead, and apparently nearing towards the horizon on each side — what Caithness fishermen [call] a “weather mouth,” is formed.
(14) Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man (1972) x.:
Her lang tythes o' sheep an' kye, wild deer, and weathershaker, barndoor an' blackhag fowls.
(15) (ii) Fif. 1858 St Andrews Univ. United College Minutes MS. (20 March):
The Factor further intimated that as authorised he had employed Hector Ross to open up a portion of the field where he thought Freestone existed and that he had been successful in discovering what Builders called “Weather Freestone”.
(16) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 191:
May Davie's famous dykes appear, Ne'er bilged out wi' wather-wear.

[O.Sc. weddir, a.1400, widder, c.1480, wodder, 1561, wather, weather, 1579.]

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



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