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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FORTY, num.adj., n. Also fowertie; †fourty; †foorty (Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 2).

Sc. forms:m.Sc. 1996 John Murray Aspen 11:
Syne suddent wis dumstrucken
bi a fowertie oonse bottle
wheechin throu the air.

Sc. combs. and phrs.: 1. forty-fittit Janet, a centipede. Also forty-fittit Meg (Abd.27 1953), -fitter (Sh. 1953). Cf. Eng. dial. forty-foot; 2. the Forty, a group of ministers in the Synod of Glasgow who had supported the Evangelical and Disestablishment party in the Church of Scotland but who drew back from the Disruption as it became imminent and tried to find a compromise. They were called the Forty Thieves by their opponents. Hist; 3. the Forty-five, (1) the Jacobite rising of 1745. See The; (2) the forty-five members representing Scotland in the British Parliament from 1707–1832. Cf. Burns Earnest Cry xxiv.; 4. the Forty-three, the Disruption of 1843. See The; 5. the Forty-twa, ‡(1) the Black Watch, orig. the 42nd Highland Regiment of Foot (ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Slg., m.Lth., Lnk., Kcb., Dmf. 1953). Also attrib.; †(2) a public lavatory in Edinburgh with 42 cubicles.1. Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood v.:
Ye micht a' chosen ane wi' mair beef on him fan ye were at it. Like a forty-fittit Janet up on end.
2. Sc. 1849 R. Buchanan Ten Years' Conflict II. 608:
The section already noticed by their self-invented name of the Forty.
Per. 1910 D. Campbell Reminisc. Highl. Octogenarian 142:
I thought well of the people ridiculed as the "Forty Thieves" who made a last futile effort to prevent the Disruption catastrophe, and wished to go to Parliament for the abolition of patronage.
Sc. 1934 J. Barr U.F. Church 92:
In the Synod of Glasgow, in May, 1842, a band of waverers came forward, saying unashamedly: "We are forty." They were known as the "Forty thieves".
3. (2) Sc. 1708 Rights and Liberties Commons Gt. Britain (Pamphlet) 6:
There being so many able Lawyers among the Forty five.
5. (1) Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxvii.:
Edie Ochiltree o' Carrick's company in the Forty-twa.
Ib. xliii.:
Here comes an old forty-two man.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller 45:
To shew how they had backed the Greys, When in the Forty-twa, man.
Lth. 1916 J. Fergus Sodger 6:
An' so he gaed an' 'listed in the gallant Forty-twa.
Sc. 1950 B. Fergusson Black Watch 31:
Along the quay at Dunkirk . . . with every man singing the old song which the Regiment has sung for generations. . . . “Gae bring tae me the tartan o' the Gallant Forty-Twa.”
(2) Edb. 1822 A. Rodger Poems (1897) 152:
Shaw him a' your biggings braw, Your castle, college, brigs, an' a', Your jail, an' royal forty-twa.

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"Forty num. adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Feb 2023 <>



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