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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.

MEAT, n., v. Also meate, mate, mait, meit, maet, met(t); (mait Sh., Ork., Abd., Fif., Ayr.; meat Cai., Ags., Edb., Ayr., Rxb. 2000s). [n. and em.Sc.(a) met, em.Sc.(b), w. and s.Sc. mit. See P.L.D. § 88.]

I. n. 1. Food in general, sustenance for men or animals; solid food as opposed to drink. Gen.Sc. Now arch. and dial. in Eng.Bwk. 1714 R. G. Johnston Duns (1953) 64:
Non of the said Trade of Hammermen take anie prentis for shorter space than four years and the ffyth yeare for meate and fee.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 117:
God never sends the Mouth, but the Meat with it.
Gsw. 1748 Records Trades Ho. (Lumsden 1934) 355:
They have no more time allowed them thro the day than the time they take their meat.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Address of Beelzebub 27–8:
What right hae they To meat or sleep or light o' day?
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxix.:
“What the deevil are ye in sic a hurry for?” said Garschattachin; “meat and mass never hindered wark”.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Tales (1874) 422:
Let them get some meat to fit them for the road.
Fif. 1864 St. Andrews Gazette (27 Feb.):
The children during the evening were each served with a “pock” containing a gift from the “auld folk” in fruits and other children's “meat”.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 46:
Scores o' them [deer] perished for want o' meat.
Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe 41:
Ye wrocht for yer meat, if ye got yer claes for nocht.
Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell Ulster 23:
Ate yer mate an' ye'll nivir be bate, but quet (quit) yer mate an' yer done for.
Sh. 1932 J. Saxby Trad. Lore 67:
Da best mate 'at ever we get Is Kail and Knockit Corn.
Ags. 1944 Scots Mag. (May) 89:
As lang as he gets his bed an' his mate, he disna bother.
Ork. 1952 R. T. Johnston Stenwick Days (1984) 38:
" ... I like tae see lasses whar kin tak' thir maet. Tam'll likely be here the morn as yeusual, feelin' sorry for the wey he's behaved."
Gsw. 1973 Molly Weir A Toe on the Ladder (1975) 159:
..she had a sister who went to the bother of telephoning all the way to London just to make sure I would be looked after. 'Aye, she'll see ye get yer meat,' she said happily,...
sm.Sc. 1979 Alan Temperley Tales of Galloway (1986) 21:
"Ye lazy good-for-naethin's; ye're no worth yer meat!"
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 140:
'Ye wouldna have some eggs to spare, would ye? I'll tell ye why. Donnie's coming home and Kathie wants to make sure there's plenty o meit in the hoose for him. The shop's shut.'
Sh. 1993 New Shetlander Sep 22:
"I hae need of a roof ower my head and maet set afore me" he said "and a bed on the laft to lay me doon wid suit me fine and I hae money enyoch for any idder needs. You'll fin me no ill vyndid an no geen tae sweerta."
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 27:
He'd missed the braid Doric spikk and the plain maet.

2. Combs. and derivs.: (1) meat able, having a hearty appetite, eager for one's food. Also in n.Eng. dial.; (2) meat butter, the best quality butter used for food; (3) meat goose, a table goose; (4) meat-hale, having a healthy, unimpaired appetite (Sh., ne.Sc., Fif. 1962). See Hail, adj.; (5) meat-house, a house where there is always good and plentiful food to be had. Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. (Dmf. 2000s); (6) meatie, bread and milk (Dmb. 1958); (7) meat-like, having a well-fed appearance, well-nourished, esp. in phr. meat-like and claith-like, well-fed and -dressed (Sh., Ags. 1962); (8) meat-lum, -löm, a utensil used for preparing or serving food (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; I.Sc. 1903 E.D.D.; Sh. 1962). See Lume; (9) maetly, of a well-nourished appearance, well-fed looking (Sh. 1962); (10) meat-midder, the mistress of a household who provides the food and serves at meals; the housewife, hostess (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., Sh. 1962); (11) meat mussel, a mussel used for food as opposed to those used for bait; (12) meatrif(e), meitryfe, with a plentiful food supply; abounding with food (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poet. Gl.; w.Sc., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; ‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (13) meit seiker, see quot.; (14) meat-tea, a high tea, tea with a cooked dish (wm.Sc. 1975); (15)meat-time, meal-time; (16) maet-year, a year in respect of the food crops it produces (Sh. 1962); (17) milkness mett, dairy produce, milk food. See Milk; (18) spune meat, liquid or soft food which is eaten with a spoon, spoon-food (Ork., Abd., Kcb. 1962).(1) Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Frae the Heather 128:
We are meat able, heartie, and thrivin' a' fine.
(2) Ags. 1722 Private MS.:
To pay to his lord “three stone of meat Butter”.
Ork. a.1795 G. Low Fauna Orcad. (1813) 3:
Cows are kept in large numbers, on account of the rents of the land, part of which is paid in butter, which is distinguished into what is here called meat and grease-butter.
(3) Cai. 1773 Session Papers, State of Process, Sinclair v. Sinclair 9:
He pays nothing else to the pursuer, out of his possession, excepting a meat goose, when he rears geese.
(4) Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 53:
Hey laddie my dow, how's your mither honest Mary? I thank you, co' Sawny, she's meat-heal.
Kcd. 1844 W. Jamie Muse 159:
I'm glad to hear ye're a' meat hale.
Lth. 1851 M. Oliphant Merkland III. ii.:
Hout, Tammie, ye're aye meat-hale.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 36:
They're a' maet-haill an' workin'some.
(5) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 323:
This is a good Meat House. Spoken when we want Drink at Dinner.
Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 200:
Thon'z a graund mait-hoos.
Lnk. 1997 Duncan Glen From Upland Man 7:
It was kent as a guid mait hoose. Here
plump goose is no confined to onie special season.
(7) Sc. 1762 R. Forbes Journals (Craven 1886) 216:
You see I am Meat-like and Cloath-like, as we say in Scotland; and we even do the best we can under God.
Fif. 1831 Fife Herald (2 June):
The school children, a corps of young reformers, whose meat-like and claith-like appearance did honour both to their parents and the masters of the establishment.
Ags. 1873 T. Watson Poems 123:
The puir laddie is neither fed, clad, nor schuled. He is neither meat-like, nor claith-like.
Slk. 1912 H. J. C. Clippings from Clayboddie (1921) 56:
So there he is, meatlike and claithlike, riding in his first class carriage.
(8) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 166:
A similar vessel, said to have been obtained from the trows, was long preserved in the North Isles as a maet-löm for any animal supposed to be suffering from the evil eye.
(9) Sh. 1951 New Shetlander No. 29. 17:
“Shö's joost a rikkle a banes”, she went on. “I toucht a skaar a gruel micht mak her mair maetly fur dee.”
(10) Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Shet. 470:
Here's first to da Glory o' God an da guid o' wir ain puir sauls, wir wordy land-maister, an wir lovin meat-mither, helt ta man, death to fish, and guid growth i' da grund.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 208:
The mistress of the house was looked upon as the maet-midder, and hungry bairns did not consider her exhausted larder.
(11) Fif. 1868 St. Andrews Gazette (4 July):
I have heard the crofters state that they got the mussels, and all got the meat mussels. I have given some mussels to pilots.
(12) Abd. c.1830 Robin Hood and the Beggar in Child Ballads No. 134 lxxxvii.:
The mill it is a meatrif place.
(13) Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) M 37:
Meit-seikers. Before the manufacturers came into our parishes, the poor folk's wanes were obliged to seek their food from their neighbours. They were well known in their parishes, and not classed with the randy beggars. They were servit tenderly and humanely.
(14)wm.Sc. 1911 N. Munro Para Handy i.:
Giving a pleasant surprise to his shipmates in the shape of a meat-tea later in the afternoon.
(15) Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 24:
Never far fae hame at mait-time.
(16) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 228:
A guid paet year wis never a ill maet year.
(17) Abd. 1895 J. Davidson Old Abdsh. Ministers 55:
Bawtie, Bawtie, is there ony flesh mett i' the house? There's a lad here fae Lunnin; he mebbe canna ett oor milkness mett.
(18) Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 36:
All food, with the exception of oat and bere bannocks, being speun mate.
Abd. 1959 Scottish Studies III. 60:
Snap up the speen mait, the breid'll keep.

3. Phrs.: (1) a coo's maet, enough land to grow food for one cow (I. and n.Sc., Fif. 1962); (2) a mooth o' maet, a mouthful of food (Sh., Cai. 1962); (3) diet o' maet, died o' meit, see Diet, n.1; (4) to be or look like one's meat, to have a plump, well-nourished appearance. Gen.Sc.; (5) to fa frae one's meat, to lose one's good appetite, to develop an indifferent appetite; (6) to hae baith one's meat and one's mense, — manners (Uls. 1962), used when hospitality has been refused and the person offering it is consoled by the consideration that his food has not been consumed and he has not violated the code of hospitable good manners. See Mense. Also fig.(1) Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 20:
We've taen a craft wi' ae coo's maet — It's handy that it wis to let.
(2) Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Fife Laird iii.:
I hae na' had a mouth o' meat, nor yet had aff my claes.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 144:
Shü's still able ta clair wis a mooth o' maet.
(4) Dmf. 1834 H. Johnston Poems 14:
They're bonny and sleek, and they look like their meat.
Abd. 1879 J. Taylor 11 Years at Farm Wk. 37:
The mistress was of middle stature, thick, fat, and heavy, with a reddish and full face — “like her meat”.
Fif. 1926 I. Farquhar Pickletillie 9:
It shows that we're like oor meat, an' thrivin' on't.
Slg. 1929 W. D. Cocker Dandie 10:
A wise-like chiel, That aye looked like his meat, an' weel.
(5) Lnk. 1895 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 155:
I'm gettin' auld an' frail, An' fa'in frae my meat.
(6) Sc. 1704 Atholl MSS. (8 Feb.):
If they send others and not me I hope your grace will not want me and I will hafe both my meat and mense.
Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
Ye shud still ax a frien' t' take a bit o' whativver's goin', if he diz, why A wish him his health, an' much good may it do him; if not ye hae yer meat and mense both.

II. v. 1. tr. and intr. To provide food (for), to feed (I. and ne.Sc., em.Sc.(a) 1962); to eat a meal (Sh., Abd. 1962). Vbl. n. meatin(g), metin, maitin, maetin, feeding; feeding arrangements.Abd. 1777 R. Forbes Ulysses 31:
He lives, an' sall be seen well clad, An' meated well enough.
Kcd. 1819 J. Burness Plays 283:
The hireman John the horse does meat.
Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xiii.:
Here was as muckle wark about meating an auld miller, as if they had been to banquet the blood of Bruce.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 360:
Toil we maun to co'er our fuds, And toil to meat us too.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 189:
For want o' eggs we couldna meat a stranger.
Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 97:
Toiled late and ear' to meat himself and me.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb vii.:
Ou yea, I thocht ye wud 'a maetit a' throu ither.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister xxvi.:
What richt hae I to keep kye when I canna meat them?
Sh. 1937 J. Nicolson Restin' Chair Yarns 83:
Belief in witchcraft was fairly prevalent, and almost every district had within its borders some female who, in local parlance, “could do mair as meat hersel'”.
Abd. 1951 Buchan Observer (13 March):
The way of the kitchie deem, and others of the domestic staff, for the “maitin'” at a farm toon was a matter of some moment.

2. Combs. and phrs.: (1) deily (= deil a) me'tin', see Deil, n. II. 1. (11); (2) ill-meated, badly fed, under-nourished (ne.Sc. 1962); (3) maitin' pin, a pin on the hopper of a mill which regulates the supply of grain to the eye of the millstone.(2) Ayr. 1873 A. Aitken Poems 8:
He was ill meated, poor rigget still.
(3) Ork. 1909 Old-Lore Misc. II. iii. 130:
The maitin' pin, which worked a string fastened to the shoe, which was lowered or raised to regulate the feed.

3. To swell (ears of corn), to fill with grain (I.Sc. 1962). Hence weel-maeted, of a corn crop: having the ears well filled (Id.).Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 104:
Da comin' müne is only da ane at maets da corn, da auld folk said, an' dey wir seldom wrang wi' der [f]retts, ony wye.

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



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