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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.

WHISHT, int., v., n., adj. Also wheesht, wheisht; weesht, weisht, wisht, woosht; wheest, wh(e)ist, whust, wiest; wheesh, whish, whush, whoosh, wish; quish (Sc. 1887 Jam.). Also wishtie, whistie ( < wheesht ye). [ʍɪʃt, ʍiʃt; ʍist, ʍɪst; wiʃt, wɪʃt; ʍiʃ]

I. int. 1. As a call for silence: hush!, be quiet!, keep silent!, shut up! (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., wheist; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., whoosh; Per. (weesht), Fif. (weesht, woosht), Lth. (whees(h)t), Ayr. (wheesht) 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai, wheesh(t); Uls. 1953 Traynor, whish). Gen.Sc., now only dial. in Eng.Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 79:
Whisht Ladren, for gin ye say ought Mair, I'se wind ye a Pirn.
Abd. 1759 F. Douglas Rural Love 19:
Wiest Megg, I didna mean to vex ye.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxviii.:
Whisht, haud your tongue, and sup your sowens.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 76:
Wish, wisht, for see my lady's come alist.
Fif. a.1843 W. McCombie Memoirs of A. Bethune 377:
Hoot, Doctor; wusht! mak nae profession.
Gsw. 1889 J. Houston Autobiography 184:
Whist you, Janet, whist ye.
Ags. 1891 Arbroath Guide (18 April) 3:
Come awa', whishtie noo, whishtie.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxxvii.:
Wheesh! man, wheesh!
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 44:
Wheesht! I hear the tramp o' war-worn feet.
Abd. 1932 J. Leatham Fisherfolk 12:
The mother sought to hush it with the promise: “Wishtie, wishtie, lambsie!”
Bnff. 1967 Banffshire Adv. (27 July) 10:
Ay bit weesht or I tell ye.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 15:
"Wheesht, Jamie," said his wife. "You maun sleep noo."
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 42:
'Some day soon, we'll all be seeing him, in God's own time.'
'But when?'
'Wheesht, go to sleep now.'
And in my dreams my father telegraphed the post office that he was coming home.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 58:
Wheesht, you'll make things worse -
wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 21:
Wheesht, ye fule! It's mysell!
Gsw. 1987 Maureen Monaghan in Iain Crichton Smith Scottish Short Stories 1987 76:
She bent over and wiped his wet mouth. 'Wheesht, Dad! Don't you worry about the storm. I'll look after you.'
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 69:
Ach, wheesht, said Tassie wi a grin;
juist bide yir time, ye'll shuin see hou
a sair heid's aw will bother him ...
he's naething but a wee thing fou.
Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 112:
Both the Katies were talking together, so Mother said, 'Wheesht, and let Jimmie tell us.'
m.Sc. 1991 Ronald Stevenson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 69:
Och, wheesht, ma hert, an wheesht yet mair, ma mou:
Wi angels spaks her speerit, ilka oor an nou.
Edb. 1993:
Wheesht! Ah cannae think for yer bletherin!
Sc. 1999 Aberdeen Evening Express 3 Dec 16:
... every Friday would see them in the Queen's Cinema, oblivious to the film, passing on the titillating gems they'd gleaned that week about neighbourhood hatchings, matchings and bidie-ins, while constantly getting torch-flashed by the usherette commanding them to wheesht.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 106:
'But why would he - ' Mitchel began, but Weir stood up and led him towards the door. 'Wheesht, wheesht, James, we'll no rake ower auld ashes when the fire's weill oot. ... '
Sc. 2004 Mirror 16 Oct 69:
First off young laddie, I'll have you know I played for Leeds United as a younger chap, so wheesht.

2. Also as expression of disapproval (Cai., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Edb. 2000s). Arg. 1992:
'Ah hear the poll tax is goin up again' - 'Wheesht!'
Sc. 1997 Scotsman 18 Dec 21:
Wheesht now, Dr Frankennormal. What's done is done. Why not try a nice hot bowl of soup?
Sc. 1999 Daily Mail 20 May 84:
'Wheesht, you're forcing me to remember what age I am,' the Lisbon Lion, 68, quipped yesterday.
Sc. 2004 Times 10 Aug 19:
Pity. Twenty years ago she would have gone: "You what? Are ye crazy? Whisht, mon, ye should be on the child abuse register" or some such.

II. v. 1. To utter the int. wheesht!, to call for silence (Sh., Cai., e. and wm.Sc. 1974).Bnff. 1933 M. Symon Deveron Days 9:
As the aul' days come back; the lad at the door, An' the “weeshtin',” till owre the stairhead comes a snore.

2. tr. To silence, to cause to be quiet, to hush, quieten (Sh., Cai., e. and wm.Sc. 1974). Also in n.Eng. dial. To wheesh up, to hush up, conceal by silence.Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poetry II. 11:
A weel claw'd luif whishts the harangue.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 58:
As dream-fleyed bairnies, left their lanes, At mither's hame-come whisht their greet.
Sc. 1897 C. M. Campbell Deilie Jock iv.:
Wheesht your gab, if ye donna want me to throttle ye!
Slk. 1915 H. J. C. Clippings from Clayboddie (1921) 124:
The third morning it [alarm clock] merely wheeshes them to a little more sleep.
Gall. 1932 A. McCormick Galloway 171:
He offert me a sovran to wheesh it up.
wm.Sc. 1952 Gsw. Ballad Club V. 19:
The gloaming wheeshts the yowes to sleep.
Sh. 1955 New Shetlander No. 41. 14:
At lang last Magnie got him wheestit doon.

3. intr. To be quiet, to remain silent (Sc. 1808 Jam., whish). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 18:
They'd better whisht, for fear I sud raise a fry.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xviii.:
Thomas Burlings bade me whisht till I heard him out.
Kcd. a.1847 G. Menzies Poems (1854) 150:
But I've a wee bit preface till't Gin ye will wheesht to hear it.
e.Lth. 1876 J. Teenan Song 14:
She mak's me whisht an' drink it up.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 63:
Bit heth! aald “Cerby” widna wheesht His tail frae side ta side he leeshed.
Per. 1896 D. Macara Crieff 108:
Winna ye wisht, gentlemen; winna ye wisht? Wisht they would not.
Dmf. 1915 D. J. Beattie Oor Gate-en' 49:
A look was enough to make them wheesht.
Arg.1 1931:
Wull ye no wheesht? Dae ye no see yer faither's sleepin?

III. n. 1. Silence. Rare and liter. exc. in phr. below.Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. iii.:
My wirds arena tae be thrawn for an ydil pensieness, bot are tae be heard i' whust.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 131:
Then comes a wheesht an' a' is still.

Phr. to haud or keep one's wheesht, to be quiet, keep silent, hold one's tongue (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 473; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.Ayr. 1786 Burns Vision i. viii.:
Ye need na doubt, I held my whisht; The infant aith, half-form'd, was crusht.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxv.:
I just heard them speak, and kept my wheisht.
Fif. 1862 St Andrews Gazette (8 Aug.):
T' haud yoor wheesht an' no stop the pirn till the threed rins dune.
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong Robbie Rankine 23:
Gaur that body haud his whisht.
Sh. 1901 T. P. Ollason Mareel 80:
I toucht hit best fir ta howld my wheest.
Ags. 1905 A. N. Simpson Bobbie Guthrie 113:
“Haud yer weisht, deacon,” remarked the minister.
Abd. 1927 G. R. Harvey The Shepherds 7:
Hud yer wisht, min; ye'd speir a body's heid aff.
Slg. 1949 W. D. Cocker New Poems 4:
Auld haverin', claverin', clashin' wives Maun haud their wheisht an' be at rest.
m.Sc. 1979 Donald Campbell in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 68:
It wasna favour, wasna fear
that gart me haud my wheesht sae lang,
but just the homage that I bear
til ye, the heichest o us aa amang.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 71:
Bryce, rather than lose face by making an abortive issue of the matter, held his wheesht, ...
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 5:
Haud yir wheesht, he's no the only yin
To be annoyed by a' the gauns-oot-and-in
Sc. 1989 Scotsman 10 Jul 9:
So haud your wheest, man, and wait and see!
Abd. 1990 Stanley Robertson Fish-Hooses 1992 (p10) :
He said that if I annoyed this Polly then he wid batter mi, so I hid tae hud mi wheesht.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 9:
Ah wish tae Christ you two wid haud yer wheesht ur talk sense.
Edb. 1991 J. K. Annand in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 20:
Gif I had ae short simmer o sang
Wi hauf the beauty o thon flouer
In the snaw o eild I'd hap my tongue
And haud my wheest for evermair.
wm.Sc. 1998 Alan Warner The Sopranos (1999) 124:
I'm going to take these, Orla started hurrying to get her purse out of her schoolbag and Manda almost told her to haud her wheesht, cause you paid at the till.
Sc. 2004 Daily Record 13 Sep 11:
But although I like a tattily made coaster with 'Haud yer wheesht' written on it as much as the next person, the tartan and shortbread image of Scotland is pretty misleading, you've got to admit.

2. Also in dim. forms w(h)ishie: the slighest sound, the least whisper (n.Sc. (whish, whush), Lth. (whisht) 1825 Jam.; ¶Sc. 1877 Jam., quish(ie); Per., Cld. 1882 Jam., whishie; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Ayr. 1928, whishie; Sh., Cai., Slg., Lth. 1974); the faintest rumour or report. Reg. in neg. sentences.Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 87:
Be you as calm's a mouse, Nor lat your whisht be heard.
Sc. 1831 S. Ferrier Destiny II. vii.:
It would not do for me to give a whish of that.
Bwk. 1859 P. Landreth J. Spindle (1911) 65:
He wad ne'er hae had a cross whisht.
Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 61:
I'll never hear Ae whush about my beast or gear.
Gall. 1881 L. B. Walford Dick Netherby v.:
There is na a wheesht against him that e'er cam' my way.
Fif. 1883 W. D. Latto Bodkin Papers 97:
Takin' care to mak' neither hishie nor wishie.
Sc. 1924 J. Innes Till a' the Seas xv.:
I had posted her weekly letter at Keswick, but never played wheesh that I was comin'.
Sh. 1926 Shetland Times (4 Dec.):
Dey never said wheest aboot what he drank.
Cai. 1932 John o' Groat Jnl. (28 Oct.) 3:
Na boy, A noor he'rd a wheesht.
Rnf. 1935 L. Kerr Woman of Glenshiels x.:
If onybody lets oot a wheesh when I'm singing, God help them.
Sh. 1962 E. O. H. Milne Wi' Lowin' Fin 23:
Niver wis wheest o soond.

IV. adj. Quiet, silent, hushed. Gen.Sc. Now only arch. or dial. in Eng. Forms in -t, -d conform to ppl.adjs. from II. 2.Inv. 1741 Steuart Letter Bk. (S.H.S.) 429:
Tell no mortal of your design, and Ill keep all whist for my part.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xix.:
When the voice of man was wheisht, and all was sunk in the sound sleep of midnight.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms iv. 4:
Threep wi' your hearts on yer beds, an' be whush.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
Nights of it when he was here on sentry, the place a' wheesht.
Sc. 1928 T. T. Alexander Psalms lxv. 1:
Whush'd a' the sangs in Zion sung.

[The forms whish, whisht, whist, are found in most of the above senses in liter. Eng. till the 17th c.]

Whisht interj., v., n., adj.

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"Whisht interj., v., n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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