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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FLAT, n., adj. Also †flatt. Sc. usages. For Sc. forms see Flet, adj., n.1, v.

I. n. 1. A piece of level ground, esp. one beside a river. Freq. in s.Sc. place-names from c.1220.Bwk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 II. 105:
On the side of the stream which drains the hills are flats or haughs of considerable fertility.

2. A stair landing.Sc. 1730 A. Gordon Maffei's Amphitheatre 290:
A Stair of 20 steps, interrupted by a Flat.
Ags. 1765 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 520:
She immediately turned back without speaking to them, and run down to the first flat of the stair.

3. A floor or storey of a house. Hence, from c.1750, a set of apartments on one floor of a house of two or more storeys occupied by one family. Gen.Sc. and now adopted in Eng.Sc. a.1737 Major Fraser's MS. (ed. Fergusson 1889) I. 215:
The Swade and the clergyman went into one room, and the Major and Lord Simon into another upon the same flatt.
Abd. 1759 Abd. Journal (14 Aug.):
Large Tenement of Land, . . . well finished and fitted up for setting in different Flats, with a Kitchen to each.
Bnff. 1768 Trans. Bnff. Fleld Club (1930) 31:
Those near the bulwarks came out at the windows of the second flats of their houses.
Sc. 1772 Edb. Ev. Courant (25 Jan.):
These houses are capable of being set in flats, or to different families on a flat.
Sc. 1777 Caled. Mercury (4 Jan.):
All and whole, three flats or storeys, with two top flats or storeys, and garret storeys, of these two new tenements . . . each flat consisting of a dining-room, two bed-rooms, two bed-closets, kitchen, and other conveniences.
Sc. 1794 Scots Mag. (June) 370:
A fire . . . which . . . would have inevitably destroyed the whole land, there being but one family in the lower flat.
Ags. 1827 A. Laing Misc. Pieces 23:
My friend came frae the under flat.
Kcd. 1900 Crockett Stickit Minister's Wooing 322:
In thae rickles o' stane an' lime that they rin up noo a days, ye can hear a cat sneeze ower a hale “flat.”

4. A saucer (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 48; Mry. 1951). Dim. flattie (Mry.1, Bnff.9, Abd.7 1925). Also a tea-pot stand; a plate (Ags.18 1949).Sc. 1747 Nairne Peerage Evidence (1873) 81:
Silver tea pott and flatt for it three pounds.
Ork. 1747 P. Ork. A.S. XII. 52:
2 white Iron flatts, with speuts for the oil press.
Sc. 1782 Caled. Mercury (5 Jan.):
Vase Tea-pots and Flats; Vase Sugar-bowls and Cream-pots.
Cai. 1806 Old-Lore Misc. IX. iv. 232:
Several dozen cups and “flatts” one penny each.
Abd. 1835 Sc. N. & Q. (Jan. 1935) 6:
Tea cups and flats . . . 050.
Mry. 1882 in L. Shaw Hist. Mry. (ed. Gordon) III. 356:
Playing the fool is a game which even wise men have joined in, coming out grotesque Flats of smashed crockery.
Dmf. a.1896 J. Shaw Country Schoolmaster (ed. Wallace 1899) 196:
China cup's got a flat o' earth-ware.

5. A cake of cow-dung (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Phs. an altered or erroneous form of plat.

6. A golf-club “of which the head is at a very obtuse angle to the shaft” (Sc. 1887 Jam.).

7. In dim. form flattie, a small bottle of whisky, of the Cutter type (Ork.5 1952).

8. = Flet, n.2, 2.Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 77:
We were a' sitting on the flat by the fire.

II. adj. Phr. and comb.: 1. flat i' the fore, thin in the belly; see Fore, n.; 2. flat-soled, flat-footed (Bnff.2 1943).2. Sc. 1825 Jam.:
It is reckoned unlucky, if the first foot one meets in the morning be a flat-soled person.

[N.E.D. suggests that n. 3. is an altered form of Flet, n.2, but the evidence does not bear this out. It appears to be an extension of n. 2. Cf. esp. 1777 quot.]

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"Flat n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2023 <>



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