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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ARNIT, AR(R)NUT, ARNOT, Earnut, Ea'rnit, Ernit, n.1 [′ɑrnɪt + ′ɑrnʌt Sc. but Ayr. + ′ǫrnɪt; ′ɛrnɪt Rxb.]

1. An edible plant-root. Bunium Flexuosum. Linnæus.Sc. 1743 Maxwell Sel. Trans. Socy. of Improvers in Knowledge of Agric. in Scotl. 226:
Had this Husbandry been general in the dear Years, the Poor had not been reduced to the Necessity of living on Arnots, Myles, or the like.
Ags. 1848 W. Gardiner Flora of Forfarshire 81:
B[unium] flexuosum . . . Common Earth-nut. . . . The tuberous roots have a flavour much akin to that of the hazel-nut, and are well known to school-boys and country urchins, being extensively dug up and eaten under the name of “Luci-earnuts.”
m.Sc. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls o' Hame 38:
There aften the yawkie sang “Jingle the Key,” . . . 'Twas fou as a girnel wi' arnuts forbye.
Fif. 1894 W. D. Latto Tammas Bodkin, Swatches o' Hodden-grey 23:
[We] set aff to the Whunny Muir to seek youts' nests an' howk lousy arnuts.
Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Indigenous Plants of Lnk. (1832) 135–136:
Common Earth-nut . . . Root a roundish nut or tuber of a sweetish taste, lying deep in the earth — here called Arnuts.
Arg.1 1928:
I'm feelin' hungry; let's hae a go at thae arnuts.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid vii.:
Fugieing the schule to herry nests . . . or gather ea'rnits or rasps in the Craw-Wood.
Rxb. 1901 W. Laidlaw Poetry and Prose (1904) 53:
We gathered flowers on Toddlie Brae, And ernits there we often howkit.
Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn. 3:
Arr-nut, the pig nut, Bunium flexuosum.

2. The bulbous roots of the plant called in Sc. “knott(it) girss” are known by the name of swine-arnits. (See quots.)Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Scotica I. 105:
Avena elatior . . . Tall Oat-Grass. Anglis. Swines Ar-Nuts, or Earth-Nuts. Scotis.
Sc. 1886 Britten and Holland Eng. Plant Names 16:
Arnit, or Arnut . . . Arrhenatherum avenaceum, Beauv. — Scotl. Jamieson. Also Swine-arnut.
Mry. 1839 G. Gordon Flora of Moray 4:
Arrhenatherum avenaceum, “Knot Grass.”
Abd.9 1932:
The term “swine-arnit” for Sc. “knotgrass” was used in my boyhood in Buchan.

[O.E. eorð-hnutu. Erd, yerd, yird common in Mod.Sc. for earth. For change of vowel cf. hard for heard. Cf. also Mid.Du. aerde-, erde-noot. For nit see P.L.D. § 60.1. The word is found in place-names at an early period — e.g. 1541 “Arnothil” in Liddesdale, “Earth-nut hill.” See Place-Names of Scotland. J. B. Johnston.]

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"Arnit n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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