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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

MELDER, n., v. Also meldar; meldher, -re (Uls.); meller, mailer, mealer (ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 5), miller-; mail(l)yer (ne.Sc., Ags.). [′mɛl(d)ər, ′mɛljər]

I. n. 1. The quantity of corn taken to a mill by a customer to be ground at one time (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor; ne.Sc., Ags. 1962), specif. in Ork. of corn which has been dried in the kiln preparatory to grinding; the meal thus obtained. Also fig. Combs. melder-bannock, -brose (see 1896 quot.), -corn, -oats. For dusty-melder see Dusty, adj., 1. (2).Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 110:
When bear an' ate the earth had fill'd Our simmer meldar niest was mil'd.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 68:
An' three gude dams ran down the trows, Before was grun' the meller.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf Intro.:
Those who were carrying home a melder of meal, seldom failed to add a gowpen to the almsbag of the deformed cripple.
Kcd. 1844 W. Jamie Muse 145:
They gather to him far and near, Wi' mailers o' their corn.
Ork. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XV. 182:
The kind of grain called bear or big is sold, when raw, by the wey, . . . and when dried, then called “melder-corn”, by the “meil”.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 83:
Afore a godly, gospel melder O' young first-time communicants.
Per. 1881 D. MacAra Crieff 103:
She [spaewife] considered herself well paid by receiving a sample of butter or a small cheese at Hallow-e'en, or a goupin or two of groats when the melder came from the mill.
Wgt. 1896 66th Report Brit. Ass. 619:
The quantity of oats taken to the mill to be ground into meal at one time for household use was commonly four bolls. This quantity was called a “kilncast”, and the meal made from it a “melder”. . . . A small cake with a hole in the centre, called the “melder-bannock,” was baked from the “melder” for each member of the family . . . At the evening meal a dish of “brose”, called the “melder-brose”, was served to the whole household.
em.Sc. 1909 J. Black Melodies 133:
Sowens, as an article of food, was a good deal used, being made from the coarser particles of oatmeal, which were returned to farmers by millers, along with their “melder” or milling of meal.
Ork. 1912 Old-Lore Misc. V. i. 34:
Melder oats was the name given to the grain when the drying process had been completed.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 32:
Aw thocht it wis a gweed ait — heavy, an' gid a gweed maillyer fin ye pat it to the mill.
ne.Sc. 1992 Sheila Douglas ed. The Sang's the Thing: Voices from Lowland Scotland 242:
'The fairmers took in their own grain tae be milled - maybe ten quarters o' grain tae be milled an they got back their oatmeal. Sma fairms jist put in a quarter or a quarter and a half o' grain, and we milled it an that wis called a 'melder'.

2. The grinding of one customer's load of corn at a mill (Bnff. 1962).Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 23–4:
That ilka melder, wi' the miller, Thou sat as lang as thou had siller.
Mry. 1828 J. Ruddiman Tales 273:
They came flocking frae the towns like mice to a melder.

3. The meal ground from the corn which formed part of a farm servant's wages in kind.Hdg. 1848 [A. Somerville] Autobiog. Working Man 44:
The hinds were paid part of their wages in oats, and their custom was, to have the oats made into a “melder” at the mill, and to sell as much of the meal as they could spare to village tradesmen and others, who had no melders of their own.
Rxb. c.1885 W. Laidlaw Poetry (1901) 37:
Her mairt and melder aye she got, And was contentit wi' her lot.
Bwk. 1905 R. Gibson Old Bwksh. Town 219:
At the beginning of winter, hinds and shepherds had so many bolls of oats ground, which served them for porridge and oatmeal during the greater part of the year. This supply was termed a “melder”.

4. Jocularly applied to snuff or other material.Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches xcvi.:
I learned from him . . . that his snuff-girnal became empty on Saturday morning and that his wife had forgotten to bring home a new melder.
Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 16:
I Shouldna wundir much to Hear that from yer [spider's] Silky melder You were begun In Tryin' to Spin out Ropes lyke Mr. Elder.

5. Fig. A large amount, in 1822 quot. of good food.Slk. 1822 Hogg Siege Rxb. (1874) 618:
“Twa wanton glaikit gillies, I'll uphaud,” said Pate . . . “o'er muckle marth i' the back, an' meldar i' the brusket. Gin I had the heffing o' them, I sude tak a staup out o' their bickers”.

II. v. 1. To put a given quantity of corn at one time through the processes of milling. Gen. in vbl.n. meldering, meldren, mellering, miller-, meal ring, the meal produced in a melder of corn. Also attrib.Sc. a.1800 Sc. N. & Q. (June 1923) 93:
In an eighteenth century farmer's account book, entries of payment of “Moss mail” and “Meal rings” appear regularly every year.
Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 88:
She would meal you with millering That she gathers at the mill.
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 70:
And biggit mills and grun' the meldrens.
Abd. 1925 Abd. Book-Lover V. i. 6:
In Buchan frae Ugie to Ythan there's nane But's heard o' his melderin' skill, O! —

2. Specif. in Ork.: to prepare a quantity of grain for grinding by drying it on the kiln. See n., 1.Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 22:
Meldered bere (bere dried on the kiln) was used, and after knocking, it was winnowed and sifted.

[O.Sc. meldir, a kind of mealy cake, 1513, melder, corn ground, 1667, Mid.Eng. meltyre, id., cf. Norw. dial. melder, the act of milling, what has been ground, all from O.N. meldr, flour or corn in the mill.]

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"Melder n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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