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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GREET, v., n.1 Also †greit (Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie II. xi.).

I. v. Pa.t.: strong grat (Gen.Sc.); gret (Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 97; Sh. 1952 Robertson & Graham Sh. Dial. 33; Arg., Rnf., Dmf. 1955), grett; graet (Sh.); weak grettit, -ed; pa.p. grutten, †-in (Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 343); ¶gritten (Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) ix.), †gratten (Dmf. 1877 R. W. Thom Poems 12), -in, ¶greetten (Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xxvii.), grat, gret (Dmf. 1915 D. J. Beattie Oor Gate-en' 113). [Sc. grit; pa.t. grɑt, grɛt; pa.p. ′grʌtən]

1. intr. To weep, cry, whimper, lament; to complain, grumble in a helpless trifling manner. Ppl.adj. grutten, tear-stained. Cf. Begrutten; vbl.n. greetin, weeping, whimpering.Sc. 1698 Culloden Papers (Warrand 1923) I. 249:
As the proverb is they are weil doing bairns who may not greit, or complain.
Sc. 1713 Munimenta Univ. Gsw. (M.C.) II. 410:
He had uttered very reviling language against the principal by calling him a greeting hypocrite.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 123:
Dar'st thou of a' thy Betters slighting speak, That have na grutten sae meikle learning Greek.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Bruar Water iii.:
Last day I grat wi' spite and teen, As Poet Burns came by.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxvii.:
Mattie had ill-will to see me set awa' on this ride, and grat awee the sillie tawpie.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) v.:
When I had greeted myself mostly blind, and cried till I was as hoarse as a corbie.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 278:
Dinna fa' to the greetin' about it, Mary!
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin iv.:
The puir innocent thing . . . had grutten itsel' as hearse as a crowpie.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 226:
An' mony days an' nichts I gret, An' nane could comfort me.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days (1925) xxii.:
Lend me your hanky, — mine's all wet with greeting.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo iv.:
I grat — grat as I had never grat before.
Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 9:
Wi' apron neuks the lasses dicht Their weary grutten een.
Gsw. 1937 F. Niven Staff at Simson's xxv.:
The wife — she's no' a greetin' kind, I can assure you — grat in the train coming home.
Gsw. 1966 Archie Hind The Dear Green Place (1984) 100:
'... If you took any property from anybody you'd give them it back if they gret too loud. ...'
Gsw. 1970 George MacDonald Fraser The General Danced at Dawn (1988) 34:
"Peg the baith o' ye," said Forbes. "Ye're ay greetin' at each other."
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 102:
'Even us old ones had to steep our hands in hot water to help the blisters. And as for the young men, I've seen them just cry with the pain, just greet like any bairn.'
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 103:
That snod faith's gane,
but the steeple aye thrists frae the hairt o the toon,
the Auld Kirkyaird aside it, whaur the deid were lain
and grutten for lang syne.
wm.Sc. 1989 Janice Galloway The Trick is to Keep Breathing (1990) 67:
What about your mother you callous bitch? Never gret for your mother.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 18:
Look who's talking! Greetin fur his mammy!
Sh. 1991 Rhoda Bulter in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 70:
Veeve can I mind dat lang traik trowe da hill,
Whin me feet felt laek lead, bit left hardly a mett
Idda boannie green moss at lay tick idda gyill.
An I grett.
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 42:
I the blue an siller mornan licht,
wi white rime skinklan
bricht i the stibbly field,
I taen a roch an stany brae
tae the hill whaur
the twice-owre teuchat gret.
em.Sc. 1991 James Robertson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 173:
' ... Dinna haud your heid sae laich.'
But Kirsty hings her heid an greits
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 5:
Then I wid simper, look sweet, an
I'd burst oot greetin
Gasp 'Who me'
m.Sc. 1992 Alison Kermack in Elizabeth Burns et al. Original Prints Four 33:
When his wife goat back fi hur wurk, she foond the boady lyin it the table. She gret a wee bit but theyd bin expectin it.
Arg. 1993:
A sat on the stairs an gret.
Abd. 1994 David Toulmin in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 82:
She grat mony a day and priggit sair wi' the loon tae bide when the term cam roon.
Fif. 1994 William Hershaw in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 48:
He had been fu and at the greetan stage, faur mair addled than he was even noo.
Edb. 1995 Irvine Welsh Marabou Stork Nightmares (1996) 23:
Kim just gret and gret like fuck. She wouldnae stop. It was only clipshers as well. Just clipshers. It's no as if it was bees.
wm.Sc. 1995 Alan Warner Morvern Callar 2:
I needed to boil the kettle to get the mess offof my face, what with the greeting and that.
wm.Sc. 1998 Alan Warner The Sopranos (1999) 153:
Crazy ah've grat an here's you, here's you wi your real daddy away lost an yur big sister married to yon looney ...
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 9:
An tae the awfu tryst will cum
Frae Hell itsel their greitin sowels.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 106:
'Ilk yin o yese. Ye hae grat for a broken Covenant and the saut is frozen on aw yer faces. But wha'll greet for me, eh? Wha'll greet for me?'
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 22:
Big Danny Main's still greetin sair,
he'll no' be heard o ony mair, ...

Hence (1) greeter, n., one who weeps; a complaining person (Ags., Edb., Ayr. 2000s); (2) greetiegreety adj., (a) inclined to weep, lachrymose (Sh., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Ayr., Dmf. 1955; Sh., Bnff., Ags., Edb., Ayr. 2000s); comb. greetie-face (Fif. 1955), -gowlie (Sh. 1955), a child who is always crying; (b) fig. inclined to rain, showery (Abd.13 1914; Mry., Ags. 1955).(1) Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 285:
For I've heard greeters at your school-house, Near thirty in a day.
Sc. 1990 Scotsman 13 Mar 7:
Losers may indeed be greeters, but finders are not supposed to be keepers.
(2) (a) Ayr. 1998:
She wiz a wee bit greety the nicht.
Edb. 2003:
She's been awfy greety since her man's dee'd.

2. quasi-tr. with cognate obj.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 109:
Hing down ye'r Heads ye Hills, greet out ye'r Springs.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Elegy on 1788 29–30:
Nay, even the yirth itsel does cry, For Embro, wells are grutten dry!
Hdg. 1885 J. Lumsden Rhymes 145:
When Rab an' me atweel, . . . Grat our lang, last fareweel.
Sc. 1907 D. Macalister Echoes (1923) 39:
The saut tear blins her bonnie een, She's grat them sair.
Ags. 1920 A. Gray Songs 16:
Hoo bitter are the tears I greet!
Ayr. 1998:
She gret the face aff me fur it [she howled until she got it].

3. Fig. To ooze, to be waterlogged, of wet ground, also of resin in a tree.Rnf. 1887 Trans. Highl. Soc. 44:
In what is known as the “Greeting” land of Inverkip, for example, it is almost impossible to secure adequate drainage.
m.Sc. 1996 John Murray Aspen 9:
atween leifs o shale
an the draigonflea's wheech's
cleikt in amber the first trees grat,
the first trees greetin yet.

4. Combs. (with greetin'): †(1) greetin'-cheese, “a cheese from which oily matter oozes” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); (2) greetin ee, a watering eye (Sh., Abd., m.Lth., Kcb. 1955). Phr. to be at one's greetin een, to blubber (Sh. 1955); (3) greetin'-face, “a ludicrous appellation for one whose face betrays a childish inclination to weep” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); a miserable, complaining person (Bnff., Ags., Fif., Edb., Arg., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s). Hence greetin'-fac'd, adj., looking as if about to cry (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Bnff., Abd., 1955); miserable, complaining (Sh., Ork., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Edb., Arg., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s); (4) greeting fit, a bout of weeping (Sh., Bnff., Ags., Edb., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s); (5) greetin' f(o)u, — fow, adj., at the tearful stage of intoxication (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; (6) greetin laid, enough drink to produce the above condition (Slk. 1955); (7) greetin match, = greeting fit  (Ork., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s); (8) greetin' meetin, a farewell meeting, specif. the last meeting of a town-council before an election (Sc. 1880 Bon-Accord (6 Nov.) 6). Gen.Sc.; (9) greetin' saugh, see Saugh; (10) greetin' Teenie, a name given to a cry-baby, or to one who is always complaining. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc.; †(11) greetin'-washin, “the last washing that a servant puts through her hands before leaving a family; from the circumstances of tears being often shed at the idea of parting” (Sc. 1825 Jam.).(1) Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 105:
Or sinn'd ye wi' yon greetin' cheese, Frae which the tears profusely weeze.
(2) Sh. 1886 G. Temple Britta 43:
She had an unfortunate affection of the lachrymal gland — “a greetin' eye” she called it — which heightened the peculiarity of her appearance.
Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. I. 201:
Betty wants ta go, an of coorse da lass an da boy . . . wid be at dir greetin een if dey wirna dere.
(3) Gsw. 1974 Roddy McMillan The Bevellers 58:
Moanin already. Instant greetin face. Wan load o saun, an' he's knackered.
wm.Sc. 1979 Robin Jenkins Fergus Lamont 174:
I remembered his sister Annie as a greeting-faced little girl who was always catching colds:
 Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 30:
greet ... Someone who perpetually looks miserable or displeased may be described as greetin-faced.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 2:
Wan toot and yer oot, wee man. Shut up, greetin face.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 24:
Yer lik a couple a greetin faced weans.
Gsw. 1990 Ian McGinness Bannock 152:
'Oh, shut up, you greeting faced old bastard.'
Edb. 1991:
What a greetin-faced bitch he's mairried tae!
wm.Sc. 1992 Linda McCann in Elizabeth Burns et al. Original Prints Four 41:
Mr Greeting-Face, Mr Testy, Mr World's-Weight-on-Shoulders, Unanimous hands lift and push, submerge him into a black taxi,
Sc. 1996 Big Issue 1-14 Mar 39:
Now, far be it for an Embra boy to accuse Glaswegians of being greeting faced, but methinks Saint Thomas and Wally bear the hallmark of the big P. No, not papist or proddie, but paranoia.
Edb. 1997:
Ma man's a right greetin face.
(4) Gsw. 1984 James Kelman The Busconductor Hines 56:
A moment's shock before the greeting fit. Hines got off the settee then Sandra sat down on it.
(5) Nai. 1828 W. Gordon Poems 28:
Auld wives it's true were greeting fu'.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 63:
[For] gettin' greetin' fou, an' stoitin' Ye're brawly kent.
Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Inglismill 44:
Anither, an' anither yet, 'til a' war' glorious, Some greetin'-fow, an' ithers clean uproarious.
Sc. 1874 A. Hislop Sc. Anecdotes 22:
Neither was he exactly half-fou, nor yet dead drunk; . . . he was in short, “greetin' fou.”
Wgt. 1904 J. F. Cannon Whithorn 107:
Everyone . . . must be familiar with the emotional or “greetin' fou'” variety.
Gsw. 1933 F. Niven Mrs Barry xii.:
The man on the kerb again burst into tears. “I know what he is — he's greetin' fou.”
(7) Edb. 1938 Fred Urquhart Time Will Knit (1988) 152:
Occasionally they defied Mother and then, of course, all their laughing and fooling ended in a greeting match.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 30:
greet ... When two children have a dispute that ends in tears for one or both of them, this is called a greetin-match: 'If you pair don't stop your argy-bargy there'll be a greetin-match in a minute.'
(8) Fif. 1903 St Andrews Cit. (24 Oct.):
Cupar Town Council. The greetin' meeting. Cupar Town Council, as at present constituted, held its last meeting on Friday evening.
Abd. 1956 Buchan Observer (17 April):
The April meeting of Peterhead Town Council . . . was the traditional “greetin' meetin'” of the Council.

II. n. 1. A sob; a fit of weeping. Often to hae (tak) a (one's) greet, to have a good cry. Gen.Sc. Dim. greetie, -y, a child's whimper (Kcb.4 1900; Bnff., Abd. 1955).Sc. 18th c. in Burns Poems (Cent. ed.) III. 422:
This is no my ain wean, I ken by the greetie o't.
Hdg. a.1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 76:
The widow's greet, the baby's cry.
Rxb. 1828 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1922) 37:
A little, wee creaturie, . . . coming straight for him, whyles gie'in a whink o' a greet.
Edb. 1864 W. Fergusson Poems 184:
Frae the laughter to the greetie, Changing still the hale day lang.
Rnf. 1873 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 35:
They “lay owre the hedge and took a gude greet thegither, and had won'erfu' comfort.”
Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 67:
Ye wudna aiven hear't gi'e a cheep o' a greet in a month's time.
Ags. 1890 Brechin Advertiser (10 June):
There's unco little atween their greet and their laugh.
Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer xxxviii.:
Never a whinge or a greet did ye gae.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days (1925) vi.:
A body's the better of a bit greet, whiles.
Rnf. 1935 L. Kerr Woman of Glenshiels x.:
He sat me on a chair and let me hae my greet.
Edb. 1976 Joan Lingard Maggie: The Pilgrimage (1981) 13:
A good greet - Scots for cry - does you the world of good, my granny says.
wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 33:
Sit doun, Janet, and hae a guid greit.
Sc. 1994 Daily Record 27 Jul 14:
... - baby Abbie safe in her mother's arms. I haven't had such a good greet since Jill Morrell and John McCarthy were re-united.
Edb. 1998 Gordon Legge Near Neighbours (1999) 154:
For the first time in three years, Catherine had a good greet.
Sc. 2000 Herald 14 Aug 15:
If I hadn't had to run to a deadline, I'd have stayed on for a greet after the final catharsis.

Phrs.: (1) the greet in one's craig or throat, a sob in one's throat (Sh., Abd. 1955); (2) to be on the greety, to be blubbering, to be having a fit of sobbing; (3) to get one's greet out, to relieve one's feelings by a good cry (Sh., Abd., Ags., m.Lth., Bwk., Kcb. 1955).(1) Sc. 1835 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. 293:
Willie cam' hame wi' his chafts a' swelled an' bluidy, and the greet, puir chield, in his throat, for he was as muckle vexed as hurt.
Ork. 1894 W. R. Mackintosh Peat-fires 162:
As she told the story a suspicious moisture could be detected in the eyes of the good old woman, and it might truly be said of her that “the greet was i' her craig.”
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 45:
Aff Sibbie set wi da greet in her craig.
Mry. a.1931 J. Geddie Mry. Characters 153:
“Why all this haste; the poor old man was only buried yesterday?” “Oh, I ken that, but thae kine o' folk aye pay best when the greet's in their throat.”
(2) Kcb. 1890 A. J. Armstrong Musings 140:
He naps his taes an' peels his heels — He's ever on the greety.
(3) Sc. 1867 N. Macleod Starling ii.:
She kept all her boy's clothes in a press, and it was her wont . . . to open it . . . every night, and to “get her greet out.”

2. The convulsive sob of the cough in croup (Ags.19 1955).Sc. 1949 People's Journal (5 Nov.):
The child holds its breath, and goes bluish and the mother is afraid it will “gae awa' i' the greet.”

[O.Sc. has grete, greit, greet, etc. (pa.t. grat(t), grate, gret) v., from 1375, n., from a.1400; North. Mid.Eng. grete(n), O.E. grētan.]

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"Greet v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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