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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

KNOT, n., v. Also Sc. forms kn(y)ott, knout, kenot (Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 61); tnot (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 25, Ags. 1944 Forfar Dispatch (30 Nov.)), not(t) (Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 152); dim. forms kn(y)ottie (Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 52), knottik(ie) (Gregor). [(k)not; ‡Sh., Abd. + kn(j)ɔt, Ags., Per. + tnot]

Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. A lump, a broken-off chunk or hunk (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); ne.Sc. 1960); a substantial amount; specif. a lump of partially-cooked oatmeal in porridge (Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 77; n.Sc., Ags., Ayr. 1960), used attrib. in comb. knot-porridge, porridge containing such lumps (Sc. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.). Also fig. a strong, sturdy, thick-set person or animal (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 98; Cai., Abd. 1902 E.D.D.; Sh. 1960); jocularly, the head. Cf. (1) below. Hence knottie, full of lumps (n.Sc., Ags., Ayr., Rxb. 1960).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 98:
He's a stoot knot o' cheelie.
Ags. 1892 Arbroath Guide (31 Dec.):
Put on a knottie o' coal or twa.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (4 Nov.):
Wi' a knot o' sma' twist inunder his yakle.
Bnff. 1922 Banffshire Jnl. (12 Dec.) 2:
Twa-three weel bile't hens, wi' plenty o' oatmeal stappin', an' a k-nott o' bile't beef . . . made a gran' supper.
Gsw. 1933 F. Niven Mrs Barry 9:
Mr Stewart . . . liked his porridge “knotty” . . . the other lodger . . . liked it without knots.
ne.Sc. 1956 Mearns Leader (24 Feb):
It still wid hae been a fel knot o' a price supposin' ye hid got it for three bob less.
Abd. 1958 Huntly Express (17 Jan.):
The escort was described as “a thick knot o' a mannie wi' a picky-say hat.”

Phrs. and Combs.: (1) aff (at) the knot, affen the knot, off one's head, crazed, distraught (Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Gl.; Abd., Kcd., Uls. 1960); (2) a knot in the puddin', a strangulated hernia (Gsw. c.1880; Fif., Dmf. 1960); (3) a knot o' uimor, a suppurative swelling (Rxb. 1923 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 13); (4) knot e'en, -end, the point, the knobby end (Abd. 1960); (5) the knot o' one's craig or thrapple, the thyroid cartilage, the Adam's apple (Bch. 1920; Kcd. 1960).(1) Abd. 1931 D. Campbell Uncle Andie 10:
A aye said yon reid-heidit dochter wad drive him affen the knot.
(4) Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 41, 51:
But ance his birse was rais'd, than wae to him That came 'aneath the knot e'en o' his thum'. . . . Success attend him; may his arm be strong, An' weighty wag the knot-end o' his rung.
(5) Bnff. 1847 A. Cumming Tales (1896) 38:
Sarah . . . told her simple narrative of the loss of . . . her favourite cow, which she had kept “this dizzen o' years, and would sooner part wi' the knot o' her ain craig.”
Ags. 1857 A. Douglas Ferryden 65:
For less than that they'll no gae out o' my creel — I'll rather part wi' the knot o' my thrapple.

2. The ball or a bit of wood used as a substitute in the game of shinty (Fif. 1825 Jam., knout). Cf. Knoit, n.1, 2., Knottie, n.Sc. 1932 J. N. Macdonald Shinty 57–59:
A rounded piece of wood, a ball of twisted hair, a cork . . . carefully fashioned into a globular shape (and later termed a “nag, not, cad . . .”) was substituted.

3. A node or joint in the stem of a plant, esp. in straw, a nodule in a rootstock (Cai., Per., Fif., Lth, sm.Sc. 1960). Now mostly dial. in 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 49:
Cut as many nodes, or “knots,” from strawstalks as there are warts, roll them up in a packet, and bury them in the ground, “atween the sin an the sky.” As the nodes decay, the warts waste, till they disappear.

Comb. and Phrs.: (1) knot(ty)-grass, -girse, nut-grass (Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. II. 557), a name given to various grasses characterised by spherical nodes on the rhizome, Avena tuberosum, Triticum repens, Arrhenatherum elatius (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Mry. 1839 G. Gordon Flora 10; Arg.1 1931; Mry. 1935 J. Burgess Flora 36; Abd. 1956 W. M. Findlay Oats 162; Ork., n. and m.Sc. 1960); (2) to draw knots, “to draw lots by straws, one of which has a knot” (Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 77, Cai.7 1942); (3) to try knottie, id. (Ork. 1960).(1) Abd. 1794 J. Anderson Agric. Abd. 26:
It is extremely favourable to the growth of knot-grass.
Cai. 1829 J. Hay Poems 74:
With storax, knot-grass, sarcocol, An' rare bay berries.
Abd. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (10 April):
We were gathering weeds . . . not the trailing kind . . . but that little irritating fellow known as “knot girse”.

4. A flower-bed or border, a garden plot (Cai., Wgt., Kcb. 1960). Now mainly dial. in Eng. Hence knotted, of a garden: having the flower-beds grouped in a complicated design.Sc. 1896 Edb. Review (July) 169:
A portion of this garden was evidently laid out as an elaborately “knotted” parterre. The term “knots” or “knotted garden” came to be used for any grouping of flower beds of other than simple shape.
Tyr. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Rhymes 55:
Behind the house, a nice wee plot, Is planted in a neat kale knot.

Combs.: (1) flower-knot, id. (Fif., sm.Sc. 1960); (2) King's Knot, the name given to a grassy mound orig. laid out as an ornamental garden below Stirling Castle (Slg. 1960).(1) Sc. 1824 S. E. Ferrier Inheritance lxx.:
I must see . . . if my flower-knots are arranging according to rule — apropos, mama, what a lack of shrubs and flowers are here.
(2) Slg. 1776 T. Pennant Tour 1772 225:
Beneath, on the flat, are to be seen the vestiges of the gardens belonging to the palace, called the King's knot; where, according to the taste of the times, the flowers had been disposed in beds and curious knots, at this time very easily to be traced in the fantastic form of the turf.
Slg. 1796 in Local N. & Q. (1883) 12:
These gay parterres, (a name not yet forgot) Were 'clept in antique phrase the Kingis Knot.
Slg. 1888–9 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. and Arch. Soc. 32:
The King's Knot is the name popularly given to a remarkable earthwork construction situated in a field on the south side of Stirling Castle.

5. The cloudberry, Rubus chamaemorus (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 194). Comb. kno(u)tberry, id. (Sc. 1776 W. Withering Bot. Arrangement I. 303; Dmf. 1886 B. & H. 292; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 194). Cf. Noup. Also in Eng. dial.Peb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 III. 40:
The knout or clowd-berry is said to be the only plant at all rare.
Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 71:
The fruit ripens in autumn and is called Noops, Knot or Knout-berry.

6. An epaulette.Sc. 1826 The Moss-Troopers I. v.:
Wat's clapped the plume o' green feathers the page gae him in his not.

7. The disease clubroot in brassicas. Hence knotty, affected with club-root. Cf. II. 1Ags. 1858 People's Journal (14 Aug., 21 Aug.): 
Turnips are not altogether encouraging, the knot having again shown itself. . . . They are beginning to turn what is commonly called knotty at the roots.

II. v. 1. intr. (1) To form or grow into lumps, as of porridge or Sowens, to swell, to gnarl, of arthritic joints (I. and n.Sc., Ags., Fif., Lth., Bwk., Gall. 1960); specif. of turnips: to suffer from finger and toe disease (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add.; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Lth. 1960); of onions: to fill out, swell.Sc. 1831 J. Logan Sc. Gael (1876) II. 124:
Sughan is the suans or sowens of the Low Country, being the juice of “sids”, or the siftings of oatmeal, after having been steeped in water until it has acquired a slight acidity . . . many prefer it “knotted” or half boiled, with the addition of butter, a little sugar, or treacle.
Ags. 1894 J. F. Mills Jamie Donaldson 3:
I hev fine breer, but they [onions] 're no tnottin' ava the year.
ne.Sc. 1935 D. Rorie Lum Hat 52:
Thae knottit j'ints a' shot wi' pains, That fobbin' as we breist the brae.

Combs.: (a) knottin(g) sowens, knottit-, Sowens made thick and only half-boiled so as to form lumps (ne.Sc. 1960); (b) knottit ream, clotted cream (ne.Sc. 1960). See Ream.(a) Abd. 1811 G. S. Keith Agric. Abd. 516:
The oat hulls are passed through a sieve, and the raw-sowens is then a thick liquor, and is either half-boiled, and drunk by the name of knotting sowens, or completely boiled, and eaten with sweet milk.
Bch. 1832 W. Scott Poems 56:
Her mornin' lunch wis butter'd toast an' te', But can tak' knotten sowns twice ilka day.
Mry. 1887 A. G. Wilken Peter Laing 17:
We got what they ca' knottit sowens in the mornin's; they war a lot thicker than drinkin' sowens.
(b) Abd. 1952 Buchan Observer (19 Feb.):
A dash of clotted cream, pronounced “knottit ream.”

(2) Of fruit or berries: to form out of the flower. Now only dial. in Eng.Sc. 1772 Edb. Ev. Courant (18 Nov.):
An apple-tree in full blossom, and some of the blossoms are knotted for apples.

2. Refl. Of people: to gather together in a knot or group, to congregate, cluster. Obs. in Eng. from 17th c.Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost xxviii.:
Under the sense of this alarm they knotted themselves together, and actually drew out proposals and resolutions.

3. Vbl.n. knotting, = n., 3.Sc. 1858 H. Stephens Farm Implements 390:
On passing from the hopper o o, the corn is carried past the slide m along the coarse riddle p, which carries off all stones, cavings, &c.; it next falls through this on to the second riddle q, which carries off knottings.

[O.Sc. knot, a flower-bed of elaborate design, 1501, a node on a plant-stem, 1580.]

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"Knot n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jun 2024 <>



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