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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.

RIGWIDDIE, n., adj. Also -y, -woodie, -y, -wudy; -buddy, -buddie, -body (Fif. 1875; Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 262; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). [′rɪgwɪdi; em.Sc. + -bʌde]

I. n. 1. The band passing over the saddle of a carthorse and supporting the shafts by its two ends (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; ne. and m.Sc. 1968), orig. made of twisted twigs, esp. of willow or heather, fir-roots, hair or straw, now an iron-chain. See Widdie. Also attrib.Mry. 1709 Rec. Elgin (S.C.) I. 381:
Ilk dozen rigwoodies . . . . 2d.
Per. 1734 Atholl MSS.:
John Clerk Smith in Dunkeld for making rigwiddies.
Sc. 1750 Caled. Mercury (13 Sept.):
Iron Back bands or Rigwoodies.
Arran 1770 Bk. of Arran (1914) II. 200:
The verry tops of the growing trees . . . for rigwoodys to their carrs.
Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 100:
The contents can be discharged, without lifting the shafts or rig-widdy.
Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. I. 590–1:
Even the ridge chain, which supports the weight of a cart over the back of the shaft horse in a cart, was then termed a rig-woody, being composed of a withy, or twisted branch of a tree.
Bwk. 1869 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club VI. 18:
The rig-widdy or chain of a cart-harness.
Ayr. 1879 R. Adamson Lays 108:
Fancy, fine rigwiddie chain.
Fif. 1894 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ix.:
A cadger bodie gettin's rigwoodie mendit.
Kcd. 1899 A. C. Cameron Fettercairn 263:
The back chain of a cart is still called the rigwoody.
Arg.1 1935:
Ye'll hae tae let oot the rigbody a link or two: the cairt's ower licht on the back.
Per.4 1950:
Let oot the rigbuddy another link on that side.
e.Lth. 1993:
Anent your 'rig widdie': what we in East Lothian cried the rig body/buddie was the metal channel fitted across the saddle which received the chain that supported the trams o the cairt.
Lnk. 1997 Duncan Glen From Upland Man 8:
It's progress being prepared for
and haims and traces
and brechams and rigwiddies
aw noo in his past.

2. Fig. “One of durable frame, one that can bear a great deal of fatigue or hard usage” (Fif. 1825 Jam.).

3. An antic, caper, feat of agility. Really an adaptation of usage from Rig, n.2Sc. 1892 J. K. Lawson Vain Sacrifice v.:
There she is at the tap o' that summer-seat showin' aff some o' her rigwuddies.

II. adj. from the n. used attrib.: 1. Of a person, esp. an old hag: wizened and gnarled, tough and rugged-looking, ill-shaped.e.Lth. 1698 Stat. Acc.1 V. 454:
The case of Marion Lillie, for imprecations and supposed witchcraft. . . . Said Marion generally called the Rigwoody Witch.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 159–160:
But wither'd beldams, auld and droll, Rigwoodie hags wad spean a foal.
ne.Sc. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 241:
O faer ye gaun, ye carlin, carlin? Faer ye gaun, ye rigwoodie carlin?
Abd. 1861 J. Davidson Poems 67:
Ilk' rigwudy quean frae the farlin!

2. Stubborn, obstinate (Fif. 1825 Jam.), wilful, perverse.Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 126:
Wi' his thum' at his nose, street or lane he ran doun — A rigwoodie deil was Jean Finlater's loun.
Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Scots Sangs 23:
Noo, this bit darg will dee the day, We maunna be rig-widdie.

3. “Deserving the widdie or gallows” (Abd. 1825 Jam., a rigwiddie carlin), good-for-nothing, rascally. This seems to be an attempt to gloss the 1828 quot. under 1. on the analogy of cheat-the-wuddy s.v. Cheat, v., 3., which has also produced the form in 1901 quot.Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 100:
The rig-the-wuddy nevey wore the coat at the burial.

4. In comb. rigwiddie-nag, a horse that has had one of his testicles removed (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). This usage is very doubtful and seems to be due to some confused association with Rig, n. Riglin, and the quot. from Tam o' Shanter (see 1. above).

[O.Sc. rigwidde, 1513, ringwoodie witch, 1664, Mid.Eng. rigwith, rygwithi, = I. 1. from Rig, n.1, + Widdie, a withy. Some of the more recent examples seem to be nonce usages, based on misunderstanding of Burns's use in Tam o' Shanter.]

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"Rigwiddie n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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