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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FECHTER, n. Sc. form of Eng. fighter.

1. As in Eng., one who fights, a champion. Phr. a bonnie fechter, a bonny fighter, an intrepid fighter, often applied to a zealot, a disputatious person. The phr. seems to have originated in the Stevenson quot. below.Lth. 1768 W. Wilkie Fables 120:
A Hare's nae fechter ye maun mind.
Ayr. 1848 J. Ramsay Woodnotes 46:
Newmilns' dog-fechters hae come down.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped x.:
“O, man,” he cried in a kind of ecstasy, “am I no a bonny fighter?”
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xvii.:
Ye are a braw lad an' a bonny bit fechter, but ye want the judgment.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 43:
He was a left-haunded fechter.
Bnff. 1917 E. S. Rae Pte. J. M'Pherson 1:
He wis famous as a fechter Fin the skweel wan oot at nicht.
Sc. 1946 Scots Mag. (May) 137:
Sir James Douglas — man, he's a bonny fechter. He is to take the King's heart to the Holy Land.
Sc. 1976 Roderick Watson True History on the Walls 23:
Whaur are aa the skeelie singers
That I drank wi in my time,
Drouthie talkers, bonnie fechters,
Sae free wi love an breid an wine?
m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 46:
"Will you just look at us now. Aye, what a row of bonny fighters! Fight, is it? ... "
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 43:
They called her a 'bonny fechter'. I know it off by heart because everybody's been stuffing that blinking cutting down my throat till I'm fed up looking at it ...
m.Sc. 1992 Scotsman 22 Sep 12:
Janey Buchan, the retiring Labour MEP for Glasgow, is nothing if not a bonny fechter. Grown men have been reduced to tears under her lacerating wit and barbed humour.
Abd. 2000 Herald 23 Oct 20:
It sounds like she's one of those bonnie fechters who have battered down the doors of male priviledge.

2. In pl.: the flower stems of the ribgrass, Plantago lanceolata, struck against one another by children in a contest to knock the flower-heads off (sw.Sc. 1896 Garden Wk. No. cxiv. iii.; Ags. 1950). Cf. Eng. dial. fighting-cocks, id., and Fechtie.

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"Fechter n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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