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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SMIDDIE, n., v. Also smiddy, smidy; smithoo, smethow (Ork.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. smithy (Edb. 1702 Burgh Rec. Edb. (1967) 7; Gsw. 1722 Records Trades Ho. (Lumsden 1934) 72; Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 19; Rxb. 1828 A. Scott Poems 37; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Lnl. 1908 J. White Pen Sketches 7). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. See D, 4. [′smɪdi]

I. n.

Sc. form of Eng. smithy.Gsw. 1911 Neil Munro Erchie & Jimmy Swan (1993) 158:
There ye hae their wee bit hooses; there's the smiddy, and I'll bate ye whit ye like the blacksmith's no' in, for there's the Inns quite handy to him.
Kcd. 1933 Lewis Grassic Gibbon Cloud Howe (1995) 24:
His pen swopped [sic] down the Wynd to the Segget Square. Then it wheeled about and went up The Close to the post-office-grocery-shop combined, dotted the Segget smiddy beyond, and syne lost itself in the Segget slums.
Sc. 1993 Herald 20 May 10:
The company evolved from a modest jobbing smiddy by way of local agricultural and distillery services and building to the present specialist steel construction for a variety of industries with increasing emphasis recently on elevated project design and management.
Dmf. 2000 Betty Tindal Old Mortality 11:
Mind on, Jess, said Jaunty, yer huives are yer founds, sae ye maun aye luik aifter them. Ye'll hae tae mak Robert aware every noo an then, that ye're needin shod. Nearly a' the villages hae a smiddy, so it's no much o' a trauchle.
Sc. 2003 Scots Magazine Feb 137:
We were delighted in 1998 to receive a Lottery Commission grant to extend into the adjacent stables, coachhouse and smiddy where the building's original owner kept his horse-drawn vehicles.

Sc. usages:

1. Sc. combs. and phrs.: (1) smiddie-bow, a charge levied on the tenants of an estate for the upkeep of the smithy, and usually paid in kind, as a boll of meal. See Boll; (2) smithy-chat, the gossip discussed at a smithy, as a common local meeting-place. Cf. 2.; (3) smiddie-coal, a small smokeless type of coal suitable for smiths' work (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 62), one which forms a coke of small pieces. Gen.Sc.; (4) smiddie coom, = (3) (Uls. 1904 Victoria Colt. Mag. 16; Kcb. 1970). See Coom, n.1; (5) smithoo-cramps, smethow-, the slag from a forge (Ork. 1915 Old-Lore Misc. VIII. ii. 89). See Cramp, n.1 and (6); (6) smiddie-dander, a cinder from the furnace of a smithy. See Dander, n.3 and cf. (5); (7) smiddie-end, the gable wall of a smithy, used freq. as a storingplace for scrap-iron; (8) smiddie-leaves, the plant Mercury goosefoot, Chenopodium Bonus Henricus, frequently found at the door of smithies (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 171); (9) smiddie-sparks, the hot sparks of iron which fly off a smith's anvil (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 428; ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1970).(1) Sc. 1873 Trans. Highl. Soc. 300:
Smithy bow or rent was charged by some proprietors, and even yet the tenants upon some estates are bound to drive the smithy coals.
(2) Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' 18:
They were on the tenter-hook, For smithy-chat.
(3) Ags. 1731 Arbroath T.C. Rec. MS. (14 April):
The English Coals not mentioned on the Shedule shall pay to the Tax Man of the Shoar dues as Scots smidy Coalls uses to pay.
Lnk. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 55:
Another seam of coal upon the glebe, of the smiddy or dross kind.
Fif. 1868 St Andrews Gazette (18 April):
The smiddy coal, which was fifteen fathoms nearer the surface.
m.Sc. 1937 Econ. Geol. Cent. Coalfield I. 70:
The Smithy Coal of Bathgate which has a shell-bed over it.
(4) Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 79:
While lums like me maun still consume Gas cinders, sclates, or smiddy coom.
(5) Ork. 1924 P. Ork. A.S. II. 80:
In some of their burial mounds, where the dead bodies appear to have been cremated and then the ashes covered over with earth and stones, there are pieces of slag sometimes called “smethow cramps”, to be found indicating that fierce fires and plenty of fuel were used.
(6) Sc. 1828 Scott F.M. Perth iii.:
You cannot suppose that Harry Gow cares the value of a smithy-dander for such a cub.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 104:
Birslin', like a smiddy dander, 'Neath Afric's Sun.
(7) Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) 107:
The smith's auld iron at the smiddy-end.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 10:
Amang the auld byres an smiddie-ends.

2. By metonymy, a group of cronies who habitually meet in a smithy for gossip and discussion, a local “parliament”.Rnf. 1878 C. Fleming Poems 243:
The smiddie deems him quite a wit.
sm.Sc. 1923 R. W. Mackenna Bracken and Thistledown ix:
The smiddy at once took his case to avizandum.

3. Used fig. in phrs. (1) a bonnie smiddie, ironically, a confusion, a mix-up, muddle (Bnff. 1970); (2) to come past the smiddie, to be in a bad temper (Bnff. 1970).(1) Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxi.:
A bonny smiddy they wud mak' o' 't.
(2) Abd. 1904 E.D.D.:
Did ye come past the smithy?

II. v. 1. To practise as a blacksmith (ne.Sc. 1970). Rare in Eng.

2. To turn a coal seam into smiddy coal, by crushing and fragmenting.Lnk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VI. 724:
The smithy coal is supposed to be the splint coal smithied.

[O.Sc. smedye, a smithy, 1420, smyddy, id., 1497, smethy colis, smithy coals, 1468.]

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"Smiddie n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2023 <>



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