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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SAITHE, n.1 Also saith, se(a)th(e), seeth(e), seythe, scaithe, s(c)yth(e); sa(i)d(e), sade, saed, sed (Sh.); †s(e)ay, sey (Sth. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VI. 290; Arg. 1800 Edb. Weekly Jnl. (1 Oct.) 318), sye (Inv. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 149). The full-grown coalfish, Gadus virens, in its third or, in some places, its fourth year (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. [se:ð; Sh., ‡ne.Sc. se:d]Sh. 1701 J. Brand Zetland (1883) 197:
The Seths are a greater and older Silluks.
Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife 52:
The Cole-fish of the North of England; our Fishers call it, a Colman's-Seeth.
w.Sc. 1787 The Bee (23 May 1792) IX. 89:
Took some large sythe, called lord-fish, as big as salmon.
Ork. 1806 P. Neill Tour 39, 209:
When full grown, the same [coal-] fish is called a sethe . . . In different places, termed a sey.
Kcd. 1813 G. Robertson Agric. Kcd. 415:
There is a fish resembling a herring, but larger, that comes occasionally to the mouths of the rivers . . . it is called sed, or seath.
Bte. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 V. 110:
There is, besides, a regular fishing of haddocks, whitings, scaithes, and soles.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders iii.:
There was nothing except lythe and saithe in the nets.
Abd. 1917 Scotsman (9 Nov.) 7:
Cod, 6s. to 9s. each; saithe, 3s. 6d. to 7s. 9d. each.
Arg. 1949 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 334:
A fish for our tea, a saithe or a whiting.

Combs. and Phr.: 1. saide-an-gree, see quot.; †2. seathfish, a saithe; 3. said-fool, the lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus (Sh. 1861 Zoologist XIX. 7344, Sh. 1969); 4. saithe gull, id. (Sh. 1896 Trans. Edb. Naturalists'Club 158); 5. saide piltik, a saithe before its final year of growth. See also Piltock.1. Sh. 1914 Old-Lore Misc. VII. ii. 74:
Saide-an-gree was the saith boiled with its liver till the oil floated on the water. When the fish was dished the “gree” was skimmed off and poured over the fish.
2. Sh. 1774 G. Low Tour (1879) 187:
Seathfish, which are here caught in great plenty, and cured with the heads on, like Scotch cured Keeling.
5. Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 243:
It'll gaeng ill ta wark if we canna yaag twartree saide piltiks.

[O.Sc. seath, 1632, O.N. seiðr, Norw., Dan. seid, sei, id.]

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"Saithe n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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