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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FAT, adj.2 In Marbles: applied to marbles in a ring game which disqualify by coming to rest inside the ring (Kcb.6 c.1910, Fif.17 c.1920; Arg.3 1950). Also in n.Eng. and U.S.A. dials. Deriv. forms fattie, fatum (Ags., Per.).Per. 1922 W. Gow in Scotsman (14 Nov.):
In playing marbles, two or more boys put down an equal number of marbles on the circumference of a circle marked on the ground or pavement, then compete in an attempt to dislodge them from the circle by means of another marble. . . . If, in making his “shot,” the player inadvertently allows the marble to slip from his knuckles, a competitor may prevent him from repeating the “shot” by shouting “fatum”. In more recent years a method has been invented of anticipating this dread penalty by shouting out “nae fatum” as soon as one has made such a slip.
Ib. (25 Nov.):
I find that the word “fatum” is used in Fordoun; the word “fattie” (used as in Stanley) is, or was, used in the neighbourhood of Dumfries; a correspondent informs me that fifty years ago the word “fat” was used in Montrose, with the significance of resting in or on the circle.

[Of doubtful origin. Some of the usages suggest derivation from Faut, e.g. fatum as a corruption of fautin, vbl.n.]

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"Fat adj.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Feb 2023 <>



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