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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FEATHER, n., v. Also †fether. Sc. form and usages of Eng. feather. For I. and n.Sc. forms see Fedder.

I. n. 1. The projecting wing on the sock of a plough which cuts out the furrow. Gen.Sc. In Sh. also used for the vertical side blade of a Tuskar.Lth. 1765 A. Dickson Agriculture 212:
The feather of the sock is called by the English writers, the fin of the share.
Dmf. 1812 W. Singer Agric. Dmf. 127:
At a period not very remote there was hardly any plough in the county, except what is called the Scots plough, made of wood, and long pointed sock; to which a feather was occasionally welded. in order to open up old lay-ground.
Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Shet. 430:
A sharp iron-plate, styled a “feather” which projects from one place seven inches and from another a little more than an inch. Thus when the Shetlander in wielding his tuskar pushes down the feather into the moor in a perpendicular direction, a corresponding shape and size is given to the peat that is cut.
Lnk. 1888 R. Young Love at Plough 28:
You want yer sock an' coulter baith relaid, The feather raised, I think, a little shade.
Fif. 1939 St Andrews Cit. (11 Feb.) 4:
Look at the sock; the feather is no high enough for that land.
Abd. 1947 Abd. Press & Jnl. (16 .July):
Breast Cutter and Plate Lea Feather.

2. The lines and graining in polished wood (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Arg.3, Ayr.8 1951).

3. = Feathery. Short for feather-ball.Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 11:
We may remark here that gutta percha balls . . . fly quite as well as feathers through the air.

4. See quot. under v. 4.

5. = Gaefeather (Abd., Ags. 1955).

II. v. 1. Of a bird: to get its feathers, to fledge (Ayr. 1900 E.D.D.; ne.Sc., m.Lth.1, Bwk.3 1951).Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 190:
A' safe an' weel about our nest, An' them quiet feath'ring laid!
Per. 1900 E.D.D.:
That hen's featherin'.

2. To flit, dart about. Nonce.Abd. 1739 in Caled. Mag. (1788) 503:
He fether'd fierce like ony swallow.

3. To cut in the shape of a feather, to notch. See Fedder, 3.Sh. 1897 Shet. News (18 Dec.):
Cattle mark, viz., the right lugg half away before, and a bitt behind the left lugg, feathered on both sides.

4. To smoothe the top and sides of a rick by raking off loose straws and drawing the straw ends outwards at the eaves to carry rain water clear of the sheaves below (Per., Ayr.9, Uls.4 1951).Ayr.9 1951:
James Gilmour, Kilwinning, writes: “when a boy, I used to hear an old Farmer tell his sons, when they were thatching corn stacks, to Feather them well, by which he meant that part of the thatch at the eaves of a stack. If it had not enough Feather as he termed it, the drops ran down the side of the stack, instead of dripping clear of it.”

5. Fig.: to beat, chastise (Abd. 1900 E.D.D.; Bnff.2 1943; Abd.27 1951).

6. To lay out the drainage system in a field in such a way that subsidiary drains run in to the main drain in the same pattern as barbs attached to the shafts of a feather.Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 509:
If the field will admit of it, a main drain is carried diagonally from corner to corner of the field, with other drains, leading either through, or from every spouty part of the field, thus, which is called feathering.

III. Phrs. and combs.: 1. feather bonnet, the tall headdress made up with feathers worn on service by kilted regiments during most of the 19th cent.; †2. feather cling, a disease of black cattle (see quot.). See Cling, n.; 3. feathered sock, a sock with a feather. Gen.Sc.; †4. feather lock, a spring-lock, as in a musket (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); †5. feather stand, a tub or barrel for storing feathers in; †6. to lose a feather of her wing, of an unmarried woman, to lose her virginity; 7. to shak, steer one's feathers, to rise, get out of bed, bestir oneself (Abd.27 1950, shak).1. Sc. 1854 Hist. Rec. Cameron Highlanders (1909) II. 282:
1 feather bonnet, with oil-skin cover and leather chin-strap.
Ib. 255:
The 79th probably adopted the military feather bonnet . . . from the beginning [1793].
2. Sc. 1803 Trans. Highl. Soc. 218:
Feather Cling — This disorder is occasioned by want of water in very dry summers, or in the hard frosts of winters. The food parches the stomach and intestines, hardens and concretes in the fold of the second stomach or monnyplies, so that the dung of the animal is excreted in small quantities.
3. Sc. 1776 Kames Gentleman Farmer 68:
Plough it with a feathered sock, laying the grassy surface under.
Sc. 1784 J. Small Ploughs 24:
The defects of the common form of the land side of the plough . . . are very sensible . . . also when we use the more modern feathered sock.
Sc. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 17:
The powers of the several sorts of ploughs, the Scotch, the English, the feathered-sock . . . were known.
5. Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) II. 246:
[We] took all the most valuable things that were in the roome where he lay and went upe to the garrats and hide them in fether stands that was almost full of feathers.
6. Abd. 1888 in J. G. Frazer Golden Bough V. i. 159:
A woman who “has lost a feather of her wing”, as an old woman put it to me, may not touch it.
7. Dmf. 1846 W. Cross Disruption ii.:
It wad be a gay bonnie mornin' that wad bring me oot frae among the blankets at this hour if I hadna better reasons a hantle to gar me steer my feathers.
Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 296:
Get up, goodwife, and shake your feathers.

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"Feather n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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