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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STILT, n., v. Also stult (Sc. 1823 Blackwood's Mag. (March) 371). Sc. usages. [stɪlt, stʌlt]

I. n. 1. One of the handles of a plough (Sc.1808 Jam., 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. 276; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc. Obs. in Eng. exc. dial. Ppl.adj. stilted, furnished with handles, of a plough.Ork. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Ork. (1883) 28:
Their Ploughs are little and light, having only one stilt.
Lth. 1765 A. Dickson Agriculture 235:
In making this plough, care must be taken that the big stilt and the sheath be fixed in such a manner.
Ork. 1779 P. Fea MS. Diary (22 Oct.):
Tried the 2 stilted Plowghs in the Park.
Dmf. 1812 W. Singer Agric. Dmf. 131:
A triangular bull harrow, with stilts.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Let. xi.:
My father fell down betwixt the stilts of his pleugh.
Arran 1837 Trans. Highl. Soc. 147:
The plough short in the stilts, with an unshapely beam.
Ags. 1886 Brechin Advert. (2 March) 3:
Ten oors atween the stilts.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 76:
Quit your haud o' stilts an' rein.

2. A crutch (Sc. 1880 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 269; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Slg., Fif., em.Sc.(b), wm.Sc., Wgt. 1971). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial. Hence deriv. stiltie, a nickname for a lame person who uses a crutch.Edb. 1720 A. Pennecuik Helicon 68:
Slover Chops to your Stilts, lay open your sores.
Sc. 1732 T. Boston Memoirs (1852) 496:
The leg is now almost useless; so that I know not if I get down stairs again, till I be provided with two stilts.
Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) II. 80:
Maron MacLeod, who walks upon stilts.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Letters (Ferguson) No. 162:
It would do your heart good to see my bardship, not on my poetic, but on my oaken stilts.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xiii.:
A lameter woman, who went round among the houses of the heritors of the parish with a stilt.
Kcb. 1857 J. Patterson Memoir J. Train 160:
Hobbling after them with all his might, so that the fellow could not help bawling out, “Weel dune, Cripple Stiltie.”
Edb. 1882 J. Smith Canty Jock 79:
He generally went upon stults.
Fif. 1896 G. Setoun R. Urquhart 193:
Gettin' haud o' his stult he gaed rampagin, up an' down.

3. With def. art.: the name of a metrical psalm tune popular in the 17th and 18th cs. in Sc. psalmody (see quots.). It is now known as York.Sc. 19th c. M. Patrick Sc. Psalmody (1949) 174:
Come, let us a' tak' up the Stilt.
Sc. 1960 Scotsman (22 Oct.):
The curious name of “The Stilt” is thought to have been given to the melody because the intervals of the tune stalk alternately up and down in the wide steps of a man walking on stilts.

4. In dim. form stiltie, a name applied to one of the wading birds, the redshank, Tringa totanus, or the greenshank, Tringa nebularia (Cai. 1911 John o' Groat Jnl. (26 May), Cai. 1971). Cf. Eng. stilter, applied to a wader.

II. v. 1. intr. To go on stilts or crutches (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. V: Slg., Fif., Lnk., Rxb. 1971).Fif. 1896 G. Setoun R. Urquhart 193:
A man that had never been out ower the door for years cam' stultin' a' the way frae Ba'bingry.

2. To walk in a stiff-legged, haltingmanner, to lift the legs high in walking; to walk on high heels (Rxb. 1971).Ayr. 1785 Burns Ep. to Davie xi.:
Then he'll hilch, and stilt, an' jimp.
Peb. 1793 R. Brown Comic Poems (1817) 119:
Wi, his stiff shank, Stiltan' out o'er the Green.
Dmf. 1805 Scots Mag. (May) 357:
Stilten' high wi' stalwart step.

3. tr. To cross (a river) on stilts (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B., to stilt the water; Lnk., Wgt., s.Sc. 1971).Clc. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 157:
The top or small end of the stilt in each hand, they stalked through the river at the fords. This they called stilting.
Sc. 1834 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) IV. 181:
I stilted the streams in spate, James, as a heron.

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"Stilt n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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