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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SMIT, v., n. Also smitt. Pa.t. smit; pa.p. weak smit, smittit, -ed; and strong pa.t. smet, smat (Sh.), pa.p. smat, smitten from Smite, v. [smɪt]

I. v. 1. To affect with, alter by the agency of, assail, smite, freq. in fig. expressions bordering on sense 2. Obs. in Eng. exc. n. dial.Ayr. 1786 Burns Farewell J. Kennedy 3:
If e'er Detraction shore to smit you.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 17:
O deeply runkled was his brow, His cheeks too smit wi' years.
Sh. 1888 B. R. Anderson Broken Lights 87:
I smit a' da bairns wi' madram an' glee.
Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 212:
The weirdly spell that smittit me.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 254:
A sleekie, weel-penn'd billet-doux, Wi' love's burnin' ardour, wad smit them.
Abd. 1961 P. Buchan Mount Pleasant 13:
There's cures for ills that smit the hert.
Sc. 1995 Herald 15 May 19:
It's hard to agree unless you've seen the rest, but standing at the old Greek theatre, it does seem like that, so spectacular is this view of the Italian landscape at sunrise and sunset.
DH Lawrence was smitted and stayed there from 1920 to 1923, further encouraging the British.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web iii:
I didna draw jist onythin an aathin bit raither ferlies I wis smittit wi, ferlies that catchit ma thocht in their bonnieness or their feyness.

2. Specif. of infectious or contagious disease or patient: to affect by contagion, infect, taint (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 93; Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), smitt; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 267; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc. and n.Eng. dial. Freq. used fig. and jocularly. Ppl.adj. smittin, infectious, “catching” (Abd. 1825 Jam.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 267).Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1777) 10:
Ae scabbed sheep will smit the hale hirdsell.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 210:
Is't smittin', like sma' pox?
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister xlv.:
He said “I'm smitted” and went home to die.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (4 June):
If doos slipped dem [sick lambs] ta da hill ta smit da caa.
Edb. 1900 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 35:
A byre at Kelso that had been smitten.
e.Lth. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 59:
A hundred pound cash doun! — besides, gif a' The cattle smat were kill'd, anither ane!
Fif. 1912 D. Rorie Mining Folk 405:
“Wha smittit the first ane?” is often said contemptuously as an argument against instructions to isolate an infectious case.
Gsw. 1915 H. W. Pryde M. McFlannel's Romance 127:
You French people must be awful polite. I wish you'd smit Mr McFlannel.
Abd. 1956 J. Murray Rural Rhymes 10:
I was vera nearly smitted Wi' Mains' disease masel.
Ayr. 2000:
Ye can get smittit frae someone wi sair lips takin a cup o coffee. Ye've smit me wi the cauld.

Derivs.: (1) smitsome, smitsom, adj., contagious, infectious (Ork. 1970); (2) smittal(l), smittle also rarely smittable, smittl(e)ish, adj., id. (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1887 Jam., smit(t)lish; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc. and n.Eng. dial. Also fig. and (rarely) as n., infection. Hence smittleness. infectiousness; †(3) smittral, infectious (Fif. 1825 Jam.).(1) Per. 1878 R. Ford Hame-spun Lays 120:
I' the pulpit, smitsome fair, I saw her face, an' no' the preacher's.
Kcd. 1929 Montrose Standard (20 Sept.):
Ye're no that smitsom.
Ork. 1994 George Mackay Brown Beside the Ocean of Time 147:
'... The consumption is very smitsom, I wouldn't wish an early grave on my lass too. ...'
Ork. 1995 Orcadian 19 Oct 14:
... and if one is consistently afraid of everything that is 'smitsome', then it would be advisable to treat yourself to a dose of potent disinfectant inside and out and go and live in a plastic bottle ...
(2) Sc. 1705 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 60:
It will not only be dark and sharp, but very smittle.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 177:
The covetous Infatuation Was smittle out o'er a' the nation.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xii.:
Our trouble seemed a smittal one; the infection spread around.
Sc. 1867 N. Macleod Starling xxvii.:
Is't true that Sergeant Mercer has got a smittal fivver?
Lnk. 1880 Clydesdale Readings 92:
I was laughin' tae mysel' on the smittleness o' slidin'.
Kcb. 1895 Pall-Mall Mag. (Aug.) 599:
Whatna trouble did ye say the laddie had on him? Is't smittable, think ye?
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xii.:
Fearfu' lest ye have got a smittal o' the pestilence.
Slg. 1935 W. D. Cocker Further Poems 79:
A smittle thing the mawk, Yae flee contaminates a flock.
Gsw. 1951 H. W. Pryde M. McFlannel's Romance 103:
Mumps! That's smittle, is it no'?

3. To hit, strike. Phr. to smit thumbs, “to form a contract by each person wetting the fore-part of his thumb with the point of his tongue, and then smiting or pressing their thumbs together, which confirms the bargain” (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Hence n. comb. smit-thumbs, this method of sealing a bargain or pledging one's good faith (Ib.). See Thoum, n., 2.

II. n. 1. A smiting together, a clash, clap.Sc. 1803 Scott Minstrelsy III. 265:
She heard a smit o' bridle reins, She wished might be for good.

2. Infection, contagion (Sc. 1887 Jam.; m.Sc. 1970), gen. with def. art. in phr. to gie or get the smit, to infect or be infected by a disease. Gen.Sc. Also fig., esp. of falling in love. Combs. smit-feerie, an infectious disease, smitt-sickness, id. (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). See Feerie, n.1Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 275:
Ower uncivileez't tae tak the smit [of gentility].
Rxb. 1912 Kelso Chron. (22 Nov.) 4:
They tell me that ye've got the “smit”.
Ags. 1927 Brechin Advert. (25 Oct.) 3:
They spread like the smit ben Clooty Wynd.
Lth. 1934 A. P. Wilson Till 'Bus Comes 22:
If I had measles I'd sit on your doorstep till I gied ye the smit!
Edb. 1955 Edb. Evening News (23 May):
Awe-stricken children kept a respectful distance away, for fear they “got the smit”.
Sh. 1967 New Shetlander No. 83. 24:
Yun smit feerie 'at wis gyaain i'da toon.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 93:
"Ellie and Sandy best come here, for fear the baby gets the smit," she said with consternation in her voice.
Dundee 2000 Matthew Fitt But n Ben A-Go-Go 7:
Nadia MacIntyre wis in Omega Kist 624 because she had liggit wi anither man. She had had auld-fashioned sex wi a stranger an alloued the Sangue de Verde smit, kent locally as Senga, intae her bluid.
Ayr. 2000:
Ye've gien me the smit.

3. A smut, smudge, black spot (Sc. 1904 E.D.D.). Also in Eng. dial. Adj. smitty, smudged, smutted, phs. rather a mistake for smutty. Poss. a different word. See note to Smite, n.1Edb. 1869 J. Ballantine Miller 44:
Would you daur put your sooty smitty blut in comparison wi' the pure blut o' a Ross?

[O.Sc. smyt(t), to taint, stain, a stain, a blemish, a.1400, smitten, infected, 1575, O.E. smittian, ablaut derivative of smītan, to smite. For II. 1. cf. Mid.Eng. smytt, M.L.Ger. smit, a blow, stroke, cogn. with smītan. For smittle, cf. O.Sc. smittell, 1583, and Mid. Sw. smittol, id.]

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"Smit v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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