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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

MUITH, n.1, adj., v. Also meuth; muth; mooth; meith, meeth; mui(f)f, muph, møf, muff, meef (I.Sc., Cai.). Cf. Moch. [møθ, ne.Sc. miθ; I.Sc., Cai. møf, mif (see P.L.D. § 158)]

I. n. A warm, moist atmosphere, oppressive humid weather, a close oppressive heat (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 149, 1908 Jak. (1928); I.Sc. 1963); a disagreeable smell (Id.).Ork. 1929 Marw.:
What a muif o' heat's in here.

Derivs.: 1. muithy, moothy, meichie, meighie, muify, meefy, of the atmosphere: oppressively hot and moist, sultry and humid (Ayr. 1919 T.S.D.C.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Ork., Edb., Ayr. 1963); 2. meichness, meethness, an oppressively hot and moist atmosphere (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).1. Ork. 1951 R. Rendall Ork. Variants 30:
The ulie-lamp reeks in the muify byre.
Rxb. 1961 W. Landles Penny Numbers 10:
Oot i' the muify stable She socht a place to lie.
2. Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 28:
She to fag began; Wi' wae, an' faut, an' meethness o' the day.
Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables 137:
There cam a heavy rain and a meighness of the air.

II. adj. 1. Of the atmosphere: oppressively close and humid (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; †Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; e.Rs.1 1929); of persons: oppressed or exhausted by heat (Jam.).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 78, 93:
An' they are posting on whate'er they may. Baith het an' meeth, till they are haleing down . . . But meith, meith was the day; The summer cauts were dancing brae frae brae.
Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads II. 363:
The day is meeth, and weary he.
Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
A muith morning, a close, dull, warm, foggy morning.
Slk. 1830 Hogg Tales (1874) 211:
The night is that muth an' breathless, I'm maist like to swairf.
Cai. 1961 “Castlegreen” Tatties an' Herreen 16:
Fan ye're feelan' clean beit an' ye're meef wi' e' heit.

2. Soft, calm, comfortable (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Hence deriv. ¶moothlie, -lye, in a soft, smooth manner.Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 110:
I harde ane chylde unhaspe thilke sneck, as moothlye as ane snail quhan scho gaungs snowking owir thilk droukyt swaird.
Sc. 1927 H. McDiarmid Lucky Bag 3:
Moothlie as snails when they come snowkin' Oot owre the drookit swaird.

3. Cheerful, genial, jovial (Lnk., Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Also 1782 Caled. Mercury (4 Sept.):
Weil fell her o' yo'r mainsome nater, Sae mieth ti' awn a poer auld creater.

4. Mild, gentle (s.Sc. 1825 Jam., meeth). This form is irreg. and may be a different word. ? Cf. Mid.Eng. methe, gentle, courteous.

III. v. To oppress with heat (Sh. 1903 E.D.D.); to find difficulty in breathing in close, sultry weather (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). Ppl.adj. müffin, close and sultry (Sh. a.1914 J. M. Hutcheson W.-L.).

[O.N. móða, condensed vapour, mist on a warm day, cf. Norw. dial. mo, warm, close. The variants show substitution of f for th. See F, 1.]

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"Muith n.1, adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2023 <>



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