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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PUIRTITH, n. Also pourtith (Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs (1881) 1), poortith, pairtith; peertith (ne.Sc.); puirta, poortha, pörta, purta. [′pørtəθ]

1. Poverty, destitution, want (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc., obs. exc. in liter. usage.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 95:
Eild and Poortha is a sore Burthen on one Back.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1777) 18:
Bear wealth weil, poortith will bear it sell.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 137:
Sair wark and poortith douna weel be join'd.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 103:
They're no sae wretched's ane wad think; Tho' constantly on poortith's brink.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxxv.:
I ken weel, by sad experience, that poortith takes away pith.
Slk. 1827 Hogg Tales (1874) 352:
Sair pressed down wi' poortith although she be.
Mry. 1852 A. Christie Mountain Strains 49:
Mony a time they shipwreck'd me On purta's coast.
Kcb. 1882 G. Murray Poems 53:
Jeanie was a bauld wee wife Wi' poortith waged successfu' strife.
Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Kincaid's Widow i.:
A hantle better puirtith, however griping, than wickedness rampant.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 143:
In sorrow may dey live an' dee, In pörta may dey pine.
e.Lth. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 58:
Poortith is the mither o' a' airts!
Abd. 1925 R. L. Cassie Gangrel Muse 15:
A sang we'll sing o' peertith caul', Fan we cam throwe the hard.
Ags. 1985 Raymond Vettese in Joy Hendry Chapman 40 13:
Yet does it no survive
in despite o puirtith?
And want o licht?
m.Sc. 1987 Ian Bowman in Joy Hendry Chapman 50-1 78:
Baith kent somethin o poortith an wir eident in the cause o the puir an the oppressed.
Ayr. 1994 Billy Kay in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 145:
He had seen it aw in his day, but it still scunnert him, the pity an waste o it aw. Gin it wesnae juist pairtith, it wes rickets for the weans, sillicosis for the men, or an accident that left a faimily wiout a faither or a faither wiout a leg an nae hope o getting ocht o a stairt onywhaur.

2. Weakness or lack of condition in an animal, esp. due to scarcity of food, a poor physical state.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 20:
Their ae beast cow I saw them lately flea, That for plain poortith lairt intill a bogg.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (15 May):
As I cam trow shü [a ewe] made upon her ta rise, an' . . . shü hed twise ta tak till her afore shü wan till her feet, an' dat wi' solid purta.

[O.Sc. powerte, 1375, purte, a.1400, O.Fr. poverte, purteth, c.1500, from O.Fr. pouretet, Lat. paupertas, -tat-, poverty. For -ith cf. Daintith.]

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



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