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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

BUTT, BUT, n.1

1. “A piece of ground, which in ploughing does not form a proper ridge, but is excluded as an angle” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). See also quot. Known to Ags.1 1937.Abd.16 1935:
When a ploughman finds his rig is losing shape, say, becoming too narrow at one end, he will put in a short fur or two to make it straight. These short furs are called butts.

Comb.: butt-rig, a ridge (Sc. 1825 Jam.2).

2.†(1) “A small piece of ground disjoined, in whatever manner, from the adjacent lands. In this sense, a small parcel of land is often called, the butts” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Also in Eng. dial.Mry.(D) 1806 J. Cock Simple Strains 136:
His Goucher liv'd a thrivin' man, And till'd some scanty Buts o' Lan', In hodden Grey.
Ags. 1830 A. Balfour Weeds and Wildflowers 127:
Ay, there was some heat in the sun in thae days, when a man, after sawing a butt o' bear, wad hae lien down to take a sleep at the rig-end.
Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife and Kinross 131–132:
I have seen a Charter . . . granting Johanni dicto Strang and the Heirs begot betwixt him and his spouse Cecilia . . . seven Akers and two buts of Arable Land.
Arran 1807 J. Headrick View of Arran 309: 
The cultivated land is occupied in run-rig, or in narrow stripes, called butts, with intervals betwixt them, whose possessors are changed every second or third year.

(2) A small freehold.Rxb. 1917 Kelso Chron. (14 Sept.) 2/6:
The Tweed forms the northern boundary, while to the south are “the butts.” The “butts” are small freeholds said to have been bestowed originally on men who fought or served in the castle, and through centuries descended from generation to generation.

[O.Sc. but, butt, etc., a ridge or strip of ploughed land, 13th cent. (D.O.S.T.); Mid.Eng. butt, c.1450, E.M.E. butte, Anglo-Latin butta, of uncertain origin.]

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"Butt n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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