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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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.

FIENT, n. Also f(e)int, fe(e)nt, feant, faint, fein(d), fien. Sc. forms of Eng. fiend. Specif., the Devil, used imprecatorily and esp. to express emphatic negation. Cf. Deil, II. 1. Gen.Sc. [fint, fɪnt]

1. As an imprecation. Phrs. fient nor, fient that = would to the devil that . . .!Sc. c.1714 Jacobite Minstr. (1829) 45:
Fient that she ride the aiver stiff, Sin' she has geck'd at me!
Sc. c.1765 in R. Chambers Hist. Rebellion (1869) 66 Note:
Fient nor they were up the lum!
Sc. 1781 Weekly Mag. (15 March) 306:
A' beggars wha are stout an' stark, But hate the very name o' wark, Fiend nor they lie without a sark.
Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 82:
Just bid her work, but na, fient hough her, Her head it dizzies.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
“Fiend hae me,” said Cuddie . . . “if I dinna think our mither preaches as weel as the minister.”

2. As a strong neg. in phrs.: (1) (the) fient a (Bnff. 2000s), fient the, fenta (Sh.), feintie (-y), feenty (Ork.), fientie  devil a, never a, not a blessed . . . Gen.Sc. fient a ); (2) fient a', nothing at all, not a thing (Ork., Cai.7, Abd.2, Kcb.1 1942); (3) fient belicket, see Belicket; (4) (the) fient (a) flee, not a thing; (5) fient (a, the) haet, id. See Haet; (6) fient may care, feints ma cares, an expression of absolute unconcern; (7) fient (a) perlicket, -ed, absolutely nothing (Cai. 1907 D. Nicolson in County of Cai. 71, -ed); (8) the fient, nothing at all, (the) fient o', no, none. Phr fient o' me, a very strong denial = assuredly not I.(1) ne.Sc. 1714 in R. Smith Poems 12:
Thou'll Drink, Carouse, both Swear and Curse, And fiend a Peny in thy purse.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 29:
The fient ane there but pays his score; Nane wins toll-free.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 15–16:
But tho' he was o' high degree, The fient a pride na pride had he.
Sc. 1802 Scott Minstrelsy I. 69:
And the fiend thing dought they do but listen him to, Untill that the day began to daw.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxv.:
“The fient a bit o' that,” exclaimed the Borderer, “I'll no part wi' ye at ony rate.”
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck iii.:
I gat collied amang the mist, sae dark, that fient a spark I could see.
Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 50:
But though it were to save my skin, The fient a ane o' me could win.
Ork. 1905 Dennison Ork. Weddings 27:
She rose from a “fit-washin'” “wi' feintie dry t' read on her body.”
Cai. 1929 John o' Groat Jnl. (13 Dec.):
'E maister is sittin' 'ere; feint a muckle differ on him til 'is oor an' day.
Kcd. 1932 “L. G. Gibbon” Sunset Song 130:
It seemed to her now that she'd had feint the minute at all to stand and think.
Ork. 1952 R. T. Johnston Stenwick Days (1984) 139:
"Thee feet's cowld, onywey," commented old Ritch.
"Not they," retorted Eustace, stung to the quick. "All right, a'll go, an' feenty ghost a'll see. Whar'll come wi' me?"
m.Sc. 1979 Donald Campbell in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 67:
Fient a bard'll scrieve a ballant
for a strumpet when she's deid.
Abd. 1993:
Fient a bit o ma piece did I gie im.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 9:
An fa can snib the door o Time wi feint a backwird teet
At sonsie simmer's reamin quaich wi barley bree replete ...
(4) Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 25:
But, reft of thee, fient flee we care For a' that life ahint can spare.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xii.:
The fient a flee hed he leern't but a lot o' ill tricks an' lees.
(6) Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems(1925) 44:
He took shanks-naig, but, fient may care, He arselins kiss'd the cawsey Wi' bir that night.
Ayr. 1792 Burns The Deuks dang o'er i.:
“The fien-ma-care”, quo' the feirrie auld wife.
Cai. 1934 John o' Groat Jnl. (19 Jan.):
Feints ma cares, hid's for lauchin' at 'e bane pairt o' them comes 'ere.
(7) Kcd. 1822 G. Menzies Poet. Trifles (1827) 73:
I'll just rhyme on, though fient-per-licket, Sud fill my wame.
Cai. 1940 John o' Groat Jnl. (26 March):
Feint a perlicked did 'e aald skray (skinflint) lave ahint him.
(8) Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf iv.:
Feind o' me will mistryst you for a' my mother says.
Sc. 1851 G. Outram Lyrics (1874) 70:
The feint he'll do but read the news.
Lnl. 1881 H. Shanks Musings 374:
She rigged hersel' frae tap to tae, . . . Left me the “little bill” to pay, But fient o' bawbees.
Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe 77:
Feint o' me's gaun to be a nicht nurse.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 191:
Feint o' his belangings are hingin' where they yist to hing.

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"Fient n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Apr 2024 <>



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