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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.

MERCAT, n. Also mercatt, mercate, mercet, mercket, merkat, -et, -it (Sc. 1712 J. Arbuthnot John Bull ii. iv.; Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 35; Rxb. 1926 Kelso Chron. (18 June) 4); mairket; marcat (Ork. 1766 P. Fea MS. Diary (18 June)); markeet. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. market (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Vbl.n. mercating, marketing (Lnk. 1710 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 97). [m. and s.Sc. ′mɛrkət]

Sc. forms:Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 21:
"Naebody frae Mensweir's gettin a brak in July," quo Francie Selby, the store manager. "We're bringin in a new sports line tae catch the simmer mairket."

1. Sc. combs.: (1) market bear, the part of the barley crop sent to market as opposed to that paid as rent. Cf. (7); (2) market beuld, the flattened patch in a field of oats where a courting couple have lain together on the way home from a market (Ork.5 1962). See Boold; (3) market brither, a girl's partner at the festivities accompanying a market (Ib.). See Lammas, 2.; (4) mercat cross, a market cross; (5) market custom, a due payable on all goods, livestock, etc. brought for sale at a market; (6) market-fair, -fare, money given to spend at a market (Fif. c.1930); a present brought home from a market. See Fair, n.2; (7) market meal, oatmeal to be sent to market as opposed to that used for paying rent (Abd. 1783 Caled. Mag. (21 March) 64). Cf. (1); (8) market mixtures, an assortment of small hard sweets, commonly sold at markets (Ags., Fif. 1962); (9) market-rife, of a young woman: in demand for marriage, readily sought after by many suitors. See Rife but cf. (10) also; (10) market-ripe, in prime condition and ready for sale, used fig. in quot. of a young girl ready for marriage (Uls. 1962); (11) market set, a rented site at a market where a booth licensed for the sale of spirits can be erected; (12) market-stance, the site where a market or fair is held (I. and ne.Sc., Ags. 1962). See Stance; (13) mercat-stead, a market-town; (14) mercat-sweet, ironically: unsaleable; blown upon (Sc. a.1873 E.D.D.).(1) Abd. 1783 Caled. Mag. (21 March) 64:
Ware Bear with fodder, 1 1 0 Farm or market bear, without fodder 1 1 0
(4) Ayr. 1705 Arch. and Hist. Coll. Ayr. and Wgt. IV. 208:
Wee charge . . . be open proclamatione att the mercat Croce of Irvine, head Brough of the Bailliarie of Cuninghame.
e.Lth. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 249:
He'll show as gross An' public as at noonday's seen Our Mercat Cross!
(5) Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 89:
The . . . dues incidental to the road and markets, such as tolls, forage, ferries, and market-custom.
Abd. 1882 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 103:
Custodier of the “market customs” at An'ersmas Fair.
(6) Sc. 1821 Blackwood's Mag. (Jan.) 433:
The rogues escaped from task, Here take their stand, the “market fair” to ask.
s.Sc. 1838 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 51:
I'm gaun wi ye to the market, an' ye maun gie me my market-fare.
(7) Abd. 1783 Caled. Mag. (21 March) 64:
Farm meal 8 stone, — 0. 19. 0 Market meal — 0. 17. 0
(8) m.Sc. 1924 O. Douglas Pink Sugar xv.:
1 was allowed to buy sweets called Market Mixtures, and there were fragments of the pink hearts among the curly-doddies and round white bools, and delicious they tasted.
(9) Ayr. 1868 J. K. Hunter Artist's Life 49:
Ralston, when young, married a sister of his master, in whose service he had been accounted worthy; although some said that Mary wasna market-rife.
Sc. 1869 St. Andrews Gazette (4 Sept.):
She is married to nobody, nor is she likely to be, for she is an old maid and not market rife.
(10) Ayr. 1891 H. Johnston Kilmallie I. vii.:
Dinna be in a hurry yoursel', Peggie, lass; ye are no' just market ripe.
(11) Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XI. 420:
There is only one licensed public house in the parish, but there are several persons, who, by getting market sets from the excise officers, contrive to retail ale and spirituous liquors during a great part of the year.
(12) Ork. 1841 Trans. Highl. Soc. 128:
It was then the cattle-market stance, and quite open.
Fif. 1864 St. Andrews Gazette (13 Feb.):
A farmer from Fifeshire had gone into a public-house in Lower Bridge Street, not far from the market stance, for the purpose of writing a receipt.
Sc. 1899 Blackwood's Mag. (Jan.) 46:
The market-stance in the wilderness was free to all comers.
Abd. 1913 C. Murray Hamewith 43:
On the market stance there's a tinker clan, An' the guidwife's hens are clockin'.
Abd. 1935 Press & Jnl. (30 Aug.) 8:
All day long yesterday and well into the evening the new market stance at Aberdeen was a hive of activity on the occasion of the annual Timmer Market.
(13) Sc. c.1700 Descr. of the Kingdome of Scotland (Jam.):
At the mouth of the water, stands the toune of Air, a notable mercat-stead.

2. Sc. Phr.: the judge o the market, a person appointed to act as arbiter in any dispute arising from a business transaction at a market. Cf. judge of the roup s.v. Roup.Abd. 1882 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 102:
“Get the joodge o' the market”, cried the onlookers, who by this time had got keenly interested in the squabble.

3. The business of buying and selling at a market (Kcb. 1962); one's shopping or purchases, a market transaction. Obs. in Eng.Abd. 1797 Aberdeen Mag. 463:
On Friday last, a young woman called at a shop, and asked the loan of 2s. to make out her market, saying, she would return the money by the kitchen-boy.

4. Specif. in regard to matrimony: the marriage market; the chances, esp. for a woman, of being married. Phrs. to make one's market, to find a husband or wife, to become engaged to be married; to lose one's market, to throw away one's chance of matrimony (Sc. 1903 E.D.D.); to sit one's market, see Sit, v., 6. (5).Sc. 1699 J. Kirkton Ch. Hist. 373:
She hade two daughters, . . . and for these she thought she might make a better mercat in Scotland than in England.
Sc. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 66:
Whan Tib an' I 'ad made markeet, An' to the scuil in haste we gaed, An' gar'd John Dominie clark it.
Sc. 1812 Faculty Decisions 657:
Expressed as it is in a very homely style, still it was law, that a person injured in this way was entitled to damages “for the loss of the market,” as Lord Fountainhall says. How does she lose market? Why, she loses it because she is not disposed herself to fall soon in love again.
Rnf. 1861 J. Barr Poems 130:
It's time ye were makin' yer market, There's nae use in waitin' ower lang.
Abd. 1882 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 102, 180:
He canna be alloo't to brak the man's market that gate. . . . Ta'en up to the joodges, for braking 's dother's market.
Slk. 1899 C. M. Thomson Drummeldale 131:
Jess had drawn the blinders ower his een, and made her ain merkit.

5. A gift given at a fair or market; a fairing (Cai., Bnff., Ags. 1962).Ags. 1894 “Vathek” Brechin 12:
The fair sex, who, as a rule, are not partial to 'Prentice Neuk conclaves, are seen on such occasions in full force wheedling their “market” or fairing out of grinning ploughmen.

[O.Sc. merkat, mercatt, a market, from a.1400.]

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



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