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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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.

CAST, Kast, Kest, n. A throw. From the basic meaning of “throw” have been evolved a large number of other meanings in Eng. and Sc. The following are either peculiar to Sc. or not now used in Eng. [kɑst, kɛst]

1. (1) (a) A turn or twist, from the action of the hand in throwing, lit. and fig. Known to Bnff.2, Abd., Ags. and Fif. correspondents, Lnk.3 1938.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
His neck has gotten a cast, or a wrang cast.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 80:
For Nory's heart began to cool right fast, Fan she saw things had taken sick a cast.

(b) Hence fortune, luck, from the throwing of the dice; a casting of lots, a selection by some form of chance; what is alloted or apportioned in this way. Comb. cast-up, a turn of fortune or events, an incident, (strange) happening. CfCast, v., II. 8. Often in phr. kittle cast, a piece of bad fortune. Known to Abd.22, Lnk.3 1938.Sc. 1724 P. Walker Six Saints (Fleming 1901) I. 31: 
If these backslidden, upsitten, lukewarm ministers, elders, and professors get not a cast by common, their sun will not set so clear.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd Act II. Sc. iii. in Poems (1728):
. . . but let na on what's past 'Tween you and me, else fear a kittle Cast.
Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery iv.:
And she is aye seen to yammer and wail before ony o' them dies, as was weel kenn'd by twenty folk before the death of Walter Avenel, haly be his cast!
Sc. 1822 A. Cunningham Trad. Tales I. 266:
I wish I were a real witch for his sake, he should dree a kittle cast.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 56:
Twa mile frae this, I left them on a know, . . . Gueed be your speed, an' dowie be their cast.
Fif. 1713 D. Beveridge Culross (1885) II. 62: 
The magistrates and councill remits the makeing of the cast and nameing the Captain to Baillie Coustoun.
m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 257: 
The seeven-month wean had nae chance wi' this cast-up at a'!
Kcd. 1766 Session PapersPetition M. Lumsden (5 March) Proof 3: 
The Deponent means whatever is laboured and sown with Corn above five of the ten Casts into which the Outfields should be casten.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 135:
For on his rear a dreadfu' blast He saw begin to lour, . . . Frae whilk, he dread some kittle cast.

†(2) Direction, from the turn of the eye or head, or the path of the projectile; “that particular course in which one travels” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); a course, turn, route. Combs. cast about, -round, a detour. Cf. also 2. (1).Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf iii.: 
I redd ye let us take a cast about, as if to draw the wind on a buck.
Sc. 1931 J. Lorimer Red Sergeant xxiii.: 
I rede ye to take a long cast round ere you return to your people.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 51:
But as she kent na, she mistook the cast, An' mair an' mair fell frae the road they past.

(3) Opportunity, chance (of getting something); “an opportunity of having a drive or ‘lift.' A turn of the scales advantageous to a customer” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Known to Abd.19, Abd.22 1938.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
It is said that one has got a cast of any thing when one has had an unexpected opportunity of purchasing it, especially if at a low price.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw.:
To get or wait a k[ast].

(4) Skill of hand and hence skill in gen., “a term applied to artificers or tradesmen” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); “skilful manner of working” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
He has nae k[ast] to do it.
Sh.3 1939:
She hes a fine cast aboot work.

(5) A turn, in a moral sense, i.e. a habit (gen. bad).Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xv.:
[He] will be as obstinate as a pig possessed with a devil, for it's the cast of his family.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
De grice is [has] gotten a k[ast] o' gaun i' de corn-rigs.

2. Associated with the throw is the distance covered by it, hence, extent of ground.

(1) The circle made by a sheep-dog to get behind the sheep. Cf. similar use of cast in St.Eng. as applied to hunting.Rxb. 1821 Kelso Chron. (12 Aug.) 2/6:
This dog went well to his sheep, but seemed inclined to stop short in his cast before going clear around.

(2) The width of the strip covered by a sower in scattering the seed with the two hands. Also found in Eng. dialect.Bnff.2 1938:
Ye're nae shauvin verra weel; ye're takin' on ower braid a cast.
Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recollections 210: 
The sower in going up one side and down the other, finishes a ridge at two casts.

3. (1) A certain quantity or measure (see quots.). Known to Arg.1 1938.Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 121: 
The Scots call three herrings, or like triplet, a cast.
Sc. 1808 Jam.
A cast of herrings, haddocks, oysters, etc.; four in number. . . . Herring-fishers . . . count casts or warps, till they come to thirty-two of these, which make their lang hunder, i.e. long hundred. Both terms literally signify, as many as in counting are thrown into a vessel, at a time.
Sc. 1811 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 646: 
It was then common for the inhabitants of Edinburgh to purchase five cast for 4d. or 6d.; that is twenty haddocks, a cast generally consisting of two large fish and two small ones.
Ork. c.1912 J. Omond Orkney 80 Years Ago 20:
All the houses of Stenso in Evie put the ware in four kests or heaps, putting a load on each kest in succession, and the kests were then balloted for.
Ags. 1872 Kirriemuir Observer (2 Aug.) 3/1:
A cast of Bervies consisted of three, fastened together with a rush.
Ags.17 1938:
A cast of flower-pots varies in number with the size of the pot.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 125:
Cast o' corn. As much oats as a kill will dry at once. Over all Galloway, this quantity is about six bolls.

(2) A certain degree, an amount (Abd.19, Fif.10 1938); distance, reach.Sc. 1931 J. Lorimer Red Sergeant ix., xviii.: 
The villagers of Ettrick-bridgend live a good cast beyond the place. . . . Within easy cast of Edinburgh.
Knr. [1886] “H. Haliburton” Horace in Homespun (1925) 136:
But common-sense and a sma' cast O' country wit are mine.
Ayr. 1898 E.D.D.:
A cast o' decent pride about him.

4. A friendly turn; help, assistance (Abd.22, Ags.1, Fif.1 1938); “a ‘lift' (in a vehicle)” (Fif.1 1938); also in Eng. dial.Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality viii.: 
We hae gude plenishing o' our ain, if we had the cast o' a cart to bring it down.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxvii.:
If you owe me any love for the cast I have given you.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928): 
I will gi'e dee a k[ast] o' it, I will lend it you.
m.Lth. 1709 J. Monro Religious Letters (1722) 2: 
An absolute Necessity of getting a Cast of Infinite Power, not only to plant Faith but likewise to keep it up in Exercise.
Ayr. 1891 H. Johnston Kilmallie 57: 
She would give her 'a cast to the loan en'' [in a gig].
Gall. a.1897 R. Ringan's Plewman Cracks 46: 
Whiles a cairrier wad gie him a cast in a cairt.

5. Aspect, demeanour; appearance.Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
Shu hes da very kast o'r midder.
Mry. 1806 J. Cock Simple Strains 21:
Swankies, lang bred at the squeel, Mith gi'e't a cast o' learn'd skeel, Wi' fat they ca' their grammar.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 27:
He was sae conjur'd by her modest eyn, That tho' they wad a warm'd a heart of stane, Had yet a cast sick freedoms to restrain.

6. “Disagreeable flavour, sour or stale taste . . . esp. with reference to fish and meat” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). Cf. Cast, v., I. 24.Sh.3 1939:
Lass, I tink dir been a cast ipo da mylk it do pat i dis tae.

7. An attack, a stroke of illness, esp. in cattle.Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
De coo is [has] gotten a k[ast].
Arg.1 1929:
He had an easy cast o' the measles.

8. (1) “A trench, ditch, cutting, or other channel for the passage of water” (Sc.1887 Jam.6). Also in Nhb. dial. (E.D.D.). Not known to our correspondents. Cf. Cast, v., I. 15.Lnl. 1766 Session PapersProvost of Linlithgow v. Elphinston (27 Sept.) 9: 
A cast made betwixt the two lochs for conveying the water from the Wester to the Easter loch.
Ayr. 1820 G. Robertson Topograph. Descr. Ayrshire 180:
In 1691, he purchased, from Walter Scott of Clonbeith, the lands of Scots-Loch . . . which he improved so effectually by a large drain, still called The Minister's Cast, that . . . it has become among the most valuable land in the parish.

(2) Applied to a sunken road.Edb.5 1938:
Near Polton, Midlothian, there is a rough road known as “The Cast.”

Phrases: (1) cast (kast) of one's hand, “a helping hand” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Fif.1 1938); (2) cast of the bauk, the turn of the scales, i.e. good weight, see Bauk,1 3; †(3) cast o' grace, “in the vocabulary of cant means conversion” (Gall. 1827 Curriehill); (4) kast o(f) wind, (i) “a squall, gust of wind” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); (ii) “a suitable wind” (Ork. 1929 Marw.); (5) to hae a cast upo one, to put on airs; cf. Cast, v., I. 2; †(6) to want a cast, to be mentally defective (Sc. 1825 Jam.2).(1) Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
A cast of one's hand, occasional aid; such as is given to another by one passing by, in performing a work that exceeds one's own strength.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
A kast a dy hand wid sjun du it.
(5) Sh.3 1939:
Du hes a cast upo de de day.

[O.Sc. has cast, caste, kast, from 1375, with meanings 1 (1) and (3), 2, 3 (1), 5, 8 above (D.O.S.T.). Cf. O.N. kast, n., throw of a net, or of dice (Zoëga).]

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"Cast n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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