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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.

GIRTH, n.1 Sc. usages. Also girt. Cf. Gird, n.1

1. One of the rods or poles from which barrel-hoops are made (Sc. 1887 Jam., Add.); a hoop (Sc. 1769 D. Herd Sc. Songs, Gl.; Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems, Gl.). a child's hoop (Bwk.3 1954, girth). Girth = a hoop of wood or iron, esp. for a barrel, has been obs. in liter. Eng. since 15th c., but survives in n.Yks. dial.Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 153:
They pleat the boughs over to meet, and arches the roof with stick, like girths, to which they tye the tender shoots, till it is closs above.

Phr.: to hurl one's girth, lit. to bowl one's hoop, fig. to carry on with one's work, do one's “stuff” (Bwk.2 1948). Cf. Ca', v.1, IV. 17.

2. A halter.Dmf. 1915 J. M. Corrie Droving Days 115:
The operation of shoeing required some skill. A rope “girt” (or “girth”) was placed round the neck of the animal.

3. Saddle-girth (Sc. 1818 Sawers, girt; m.Lth.1, Arg.3 1954). For phr. to slip the girths, see Slip.

4. Phr. and Combs.: †(1) girtle [girt-tail], the metal plating at the end of a girth which is passed through the buckle; †(2) girt line, one of the lines on the fixed part of a slide rule; †(3) girt of the leg, “the calf of the leg” (Sc. 1818 Sawers); †(4) shoe girth, ? canvas webbing used in the making of shoes; ¶(5) thrapple girth, a neck-cloth.(1) Ags. 1762 W. Hay Charters, etc. Dundee (1880) 156:
That all old iron, such as Keys of doors or girtles of Buckles offered to be sold be first presented to the Deacon of the Hammermen.
(2) Sc. 1776 Weaver's Index 110:
Set 3 on the slide to 19 on the girt line and opposite to 2 on the slide is 15½ on the girt line, answer.
(4) Abd. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XII. 80:
The kinds of work in which the prisoners are employed are, weaving linen and shoe girth, picking oakum, making door-mats.
(5) Sc. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 106:
Brave Bull, neist in a gizzy big, An' thrapple girth drest up fu' trig, The pulpit mounts.

5. A (man's) belt, a rope used as such. Cai. 1869 M. McLennan Peasant Life I. 297: 
The men are stripped to their shirt-sleeves, and are tightening their loins with girth or cravat.

[O.Sc. has girth in senses 1. and 3. above, from 1438, girth tail, 1623.]

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"Girth n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Feb 2023 <>



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