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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ILL-GATE, -GAIT, n.comb., adv. Also ull-(Abd.).

I. n. 1. The road to Hell, esp. in phr. to gae (run) an (the) itl gate, to go to the bad, live an immoral life (Abd.7 1925; Sh., n.Sc., Fif., Lnk. 1958).Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. xx.:
Robin Goodfellow did no good afterwards, “gaid an ill gait” and took on with a party of strolling players.
Sc. 1827 Scott Two Drovers ii.:
Waes me, it will be sair news in the braes of Balquidder, that Robin Oig M'Combich should have run an ill gate, and ta'en on [enlisted].
Abd. 1893 G. Macdonald Heather and Snow viii.:
Whan I'm feart at you, father, I'll be a gey bit on i' the ill-gait!

2. A bad habit (Sc. 1880 Jam.; Ags., Fif., m.Lth. 1958). Freq. in pl., dissolute behaviour; mischievousness (Ags. 1958).Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 38:
I was unco busy that mornin' wi' a skep o' bees that was cummin' aff; . . . they had ane ill-gate o' fleein' awa oot amo' the whuns at Ellot Brig.
Lnk. 1865 J. Hamilton Poems 262:
He's brocht curses enow on the hoose wi' his ain ill-gates.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 87:
That bairn hiz an ill-gait o' throwin' stehns. . . . A thocht he wiz gain t' dee weel, bit he's back till a's ill-gaits.

Hence (1) ill-ga(i)ted, -et, -it, -getted, -it, -gaeted, -gitt-, superl. warst gettet, ppl.adj., of persons: badly behaved, having bad habits, perverse (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 279; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 46; Ags., Fif., m.Lth. 1958); also of behaviour; (2) itl-gettedly, adv., maliciously, with ill intent; (3) itl-gaitedness, -gettit-, n., perverseness (ne.Sc. 1808 Jam.).(1) Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 29:
I should conclude that some ill-gaited power Were set ance-errand o'er my schemes, to wrack them.
Gall. 1881 L. B. Walford Dick Netherby v.:
I'd no' be ill-gated at ony ane, but to see yon woman come wauchlin' ben, wi' her upset chin an' yammerin' tongue, an' me in a kauch o' wark.
Ags. 1893 F. Mackenzie Cruisie Sk. xii.:
An', John, it was gey illgettit o' ye to rake in my name.
Kcd. 1900 W. MacGillivray Glengoyne I. ii.:
Fouk were claverin' about it and ca'in' ye the warst getet loons i' the squeel.
Sc. 1929 Scots Mag. (March) 408:
He broke yer bit fiddle, did he? . . . An ill-gettit trick.
Bch. 1930 Abd. Univ. Rev. (March) 109:
A never saw sic an ullgaitit vratch. He's aye in some mischeef or idder.
Fif. 1935 St Andrews Cit. (28 Sept.) 3:
The worthy landlady sufficiently burdened . . . with looking after some four or five “illgitted deevils” of students.
(2) Ags. 1947 J. B. Salmond Toby Jug i.:
“Wha ca'ed ye ower?” “O, he didna dae'd ill-gettedly,” said Margit.
(3) ne.Sc. 1910 D. G. Mitchell Sermons 103:
The thief maun leave his stealin the ne'er-do-weel his illgaitedness.
Ags. 1945 S. A. Duncan Chron. Mary Ann 30:
Catchin' a glint o' the tear-drap that blindit my e'e, an' shelvin' her ill-gettitness for the time bein'.

II. adv. Badly, unluckily, contrariwise.Ork.5 1958:
Everything's geen ill-gate.

[Ill, adj. + Gate, n., 3. (2).]

Ill-gate n. comb., adv.

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"Ill-gate n. comb., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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