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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CANTY, Cantie, Kanty, adj. and adv. [′kɑnti, ′kɑntĕ]

1. adj.

(1) Lively, cheerful; pleasant. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 58:
Which made surviving Kindred canty, Wha scarcely for him pat on Black, And only in his Loof a Plack.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. (1817) i.:
Clecking time's aye canty time.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 9:
Now Lindy is as canty as a midge, An' Nory at it did for blythness fidge.
Ags. 1915 V. Jacob Songs of Angus 36:
And, nicht by nicht, we will a' convene And we'll be a cantie three.
Edb. 1720 A. Pennecuik Streams from Helicon (1721) 83:
As he lodg'd on the Road, where they sauld Brandy and Ale, And the King was turn'd kanty with the other Gill.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders xlv.:
And smell the canty smell of the oatmeal fried among it [bacon].
Uls. 1931 “M.A.” in North. Whig (15 Dec.) 10/3:
She's a canty wee body.

Hence, †(a) cantie-smatchet, “a cant term for a louse; apparently from the liveliness of its motion” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B., obs.); (b) cantily, cantilly, adv., cheerfully, joyfully.(b) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 376:
Of Lang-kail I can make a Feast, And cantily had up my Crest, And laugh at Dishes rare.
Abd.(D) 1920 G. P. Dunbar Guff o' Peat Reek 18:
There the peertrick an' feesant, the meercock an' a' We cantily bag.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 1:
Yence I cou'd whistle cantilly as they.

(2) Small and neat (Bnff.2, Abd.19, Ags.1, Fif.1 1938).n.Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
A canty creature!
ne.Sc. 1883–1886 D. Grant Chron. of Keckleton (1888) 29:
The dwelling hoose . . . [was] a canty, stob-thack but-an'-ben.
Tyr. 1929 “M. Mulcaghey” Rhymes of a Besom Man 28:
My missus has purchased A canty wee hat.

(3) “Comfortable” (m.Dmf.3 c.1920). Known to Ags.17 1938.Abd.9 1938:
“She got a gey canty doonsit,” she made a fortunate marriage.

2. adv. Contentedly, merrily.Edb. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 129:
The cottar carle an' a' his wanes Are canty louping.
Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 74:
The nest they had toiled at baith early an' late, An' biggit fu' canty thegither.

[Deriv. of cant, brisk, lively, smart, found in O.Sc. (14th–16th cent.) and in mod. n.Eng. dial. Origin doubtful. Bense points out that the Sc. and Eng. dial. senses correspond to those of Low Ger. kant, kantig, lively, cheery, spirited. He considers that the word prob. came in about the time of the Hanseatic trade of the 13th century. Cf. also Mod.Du. kant, neat, clever.]

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"Canty adj., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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