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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.

KITH, n. Also kyth(e). [kɪθ]

1. An acquaintance, a friend, one's group of acquaintances (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 306; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Lth., Bwk., Ayr. 1960). Gen. in phr. kith and kin, friends and relations. Obs. or dial. in Eng.Sc. 1740 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1874) II. 427:
For if kith and kin, and a' had sworn, I'll follow the gypsie laddie.
Ayr. 1792 Burns O, For Ane-and-Twenty ii.:
At kith or kin 1 needna spier, An I saw ane-and-twenty, Tam.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
It is said, that one is not near either to kith or kin, when removed to a distance from both friends and relations.
Rnf. 1836 R. Allan Evening Hours 26:
Whate'er be your kith, whate'er be your kin, Frae this ye mauna gae.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 127:
A' thy kith an' kin Fell fast around thee.

2. Kindred, relation(s). Gen.Sc., and also in mod. Eng. use. This usage derives from the expression kith and kin (see 1808 quot. above) which came to be treated as a hendiadys for kinsfolk, relatives. Hence kithless, having no relatives, sc. as a means of influence. Cf. kinless s.v. Kin, n.1Ayr. 1794 Burns My Lady's Gown ii.:
My lady's white, my lady's red, And kith and kin o' Cassilis' blude.
Mry. 1804 R. Couper Poetry II. 59:
Wi' ilka seed ripe on its ribs O' a' kail's kyth and kin.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 119:
A brig that there's nae four Gordons o' a' yer kith will be able to throw down.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 69:
Just as truly as der hill folk, tangies, and brownies upo' da land, sae hae dey der kith and kin in richt guid plenty i' da sea.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 146:
[He] tell't me I was lackin' in love and affection for my ain bluid — my ain kith and kin.
Abd. 1956 J. Murray Rural Rhymes 68:
Siller that's gaun abeggin' Whaur there's neither kith or kin.

Combs.: ¶kith-end, -gettin, a generation.Sc.(E) 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms x. 6, lxxix. 13:
Frae ae kithgettin till anither, sicklike's mysel are ne'er the waur. . . . Frae ae kith-end till anither, thy praises owre-tell sal we.

[In O.Sc. from a.1400, and coupled with kin from c.1420, Mid.Eng. kyth, O.E. cȳððu, kindred, acquaintance.]

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"Kith n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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