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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BLETHER, BLEDDER, BLATHER, n.2 Also bleather (Ayr. 1790 D. Morison Poems 26). [′blɛðər Sc., but m.Sc. + ′blɑ:ðər, ′blɑdər, s.Sc. + ′blæðər; ′ble:ðər, Bnff.2, e.Abd., Ags.2 and Arg.1 + ′bledɪr]

1. A bladder.Sc. 1725 Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1762) 167:
A teugh purse made of a swine's blather, To had your tocher, Jenny, quo' Jock.
Ork.(D) 1909 A. L. Work in Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc., II. i. 29:
He wis wint tae kill swine fur aa' the hooses ih Costaside, Swannaside, Abuin-de-hill, an Beuquayside, an feintie ting wad he taak fur duan hid bit de blethers.
Abd.(D) 1909 C. Murray Hamewith 22:
He kent wha got the bledder when the sooter killed his soo.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 51:
The blather, swalled to unco size, Bursts wi' a rummle.
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 14:
Efter, bledder taen oot an
Raised tae mooth,
It swelt gin till
They tethered it wae its thairm
An let it dry fur days.
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 18:
In excitement, the laddies wad skail fae the schuil,
Ti bi doun jist in time for the last o the kill, -
Mebbe beg a coo's blether or, - (whit wad be worse),
Huntit hame tuim-haundit, wi a whack oan the erse.
Rnf. 1846 W. Finlay Poems 167:
The savoury scent crap roun' my blether — But O! the Taste!

2. “When accompanied by leather, the word blether denotes a football which is composed of a bladder and a leather case” (Ayr.8 1934). Also attrib.Sc. 1994 Scotland on Sunday 2 Jan :
He can just about be forgiven for getting it wrong, as he was writing at a time when men kicked heads around for sport (okay, they still do) rather than the inflated bladder.
Sc. 2004 Daily Record 31 Jan 5:
Until now, not many people knew about this BAFTA award-winning actor's momentous footballing achievement, in the 1955 Dennistoun Back Green World Cup. Played with an old bladder football between the clothes-poles and middens of the Glasgow tenements in the middle of last century, Paterson was an integral part of the competition.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 11:
bladder A leather football as opposed to a plastic one: 'Away an see if yer big brother'll gie us a len a his bladder.'
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 25:
Go'n git yer bladder an' ah'll gie ye a gemme at heiders. Fetch your leather football and we'll play at the heading it to each other.
Rxb. 1908 Hawick Arch. Soc. Trans. 76/2:
The [school] master presented a football, designated a “leather and blether.”
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Blether an' leather, a football. Also leather and blether.

3. A bagpipe; the wind-bag of a bagpipe.Sc.(E) 1926 “H. McDiarmid” Penny Wheep 61:
For the bubblyjock swallowed the bagpipes And the blether stuck in its throat.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 143:
A queer, short, crookit son o' wind, As piper brang his blether.

4. Used by fishermen to indicate a buoy.Crm. 1911 (per Mry.2):
Blether, a small line buoy.
Fif. 1893 “G. Setoun” Barncraig i.:
Eben's a fine command o' language, no doubt, an' a nacky way o' sayin' things; but it's just like the blethers that keep up the net in a calm sea, awfu' easy burstit.

5. A blister.Bnff.2 1934:
There wiz a big blether on the liv o' his han', and twa aneth his een.

[O.Sc. bledder, bleddir, blether, a bladder. E.M.E. and Mid.Eng. bledder, Mid.Eng. bleddere, bleddre (with variant bladdre), O.E. blēdre (Anglian), blæ̂dre, blæddre (W.S.), from blǣ-, root of blāwan, to blow.]

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"Blether n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 Apr 2024 <>



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