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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LITTLIN, n. Also litlin, lit(t)lan, -en; littlean(e), littleen ( ne.Sc.), -in, littl'un; luttlin (Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lanwart Loon 9). A young child, gen. up to its early school years, an infant (n.Sc., em.Sc.(a) 1961). Also attrib. and fig. Rarely of animals. Dim. little(a)nie (Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 67; ne.Sc. 1961). [′lɪtlən]Abd. 1746 W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 29:
Neglecting for to watch and pray, And teach the little anes A, B, C.
Abd. 1778 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 12:
And fu soon as the jimp three raiths was gane, The daintiest littleane bonny Jean fuish hame.
Ags. 1783 V. Jacob Lairds of Dun (1931) 274:
What a proficient in history my eldest littlean is.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 268:
Littlin's afore their coaties be cuttit.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums xi.:
They found some queer things, too, but never nae sign o' a murdered litlin'.
Slg. 1898 J. M. Slimmon Dead Planet 109:
Thy helpless yaupin' littlins cry Their hunger to the wild and die.
Ags. 1918 J. Inglis The Laird 14:
Oh, John o' Frost, great frosty one! … . . . gar yer littlin' frosties gie's Upo' the rink a wee bit freeze.
Kcd. 1933 L. G. Gibbon Cloud Howe 181:
God pity the littl'un, the father it had.
Bnff. 1960 Banffshire Advert. (14 July) 8:
I dinna pey for the littlens surely — them aneth five.
ne.Sc. 1993 Ronald W. McDonald in A. L. Kennedy and Hamish Whyte New Writing Scotland 11: The Ghost of Liberace 70:
In the mornin Peter cairtet't oot an stood it oan the neep cutter. A muckle broon rottan wis birslin away in ae corner. Us littleens were nae suppost tae be thair but we wirna gaen tae miss onythin...
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web iv:
Like maist North-east bairns, I wis brocht up bilingual, hearin Inglis on the wireless fin I wis a littlin, an later, at schule or on TV.

[Orig. somewhat ambiguous. The word may be a survival of O.E. lytling, a little child, or, more prob., a later development from Little + Ane. Cf. Wean, n., Eng. little 'un. It occurs also in n.Eng. dial. O.Sc. littell ayne, 1587.]

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"Littlin n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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