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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.

SWEET, adj., n.2 Also ¶suit (Sc. 1805 Mother's Malison in Child Ballads No. 216 A. xix.). Sc. usages:

I. adj. 1. Combs.: (1) sweet bent, the field wood-rush, Luzula campestris (Ayr. 1886 B. & H. Plant-names 459); (2) sweet-blooded, amiable, gentle-natured (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 108). Also in Eng. dial.; (3) sweet-bread, fancy cakes, pastries (I.Sc. 1972); (4) sweet butter, fresh, unsalted butter (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 153; Ork., ne., em.Sc. (a) 1972). Cf. 2.; (5) sweet-grass, (i) woodruff, Asperula odorata (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 99); (ii) the sea-weed, Zostera marina (see quot.). Also in Ir. dial.; (6) sweet knot, the tuber of the earth-nut, Bunium flexuosum (Crm. 1834 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. (1874) 458); (7) sweet-lippit, fond of sweet food, sweet-toothed; (8) sweet-mary, rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis (Dmf. 1891 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 62). Also in Eng. dial.; (9) sweet-meg, some kind of sweet cake or fancy bread,? gingerbread; (10) sweet milk, see 2.; (11) sweet-william, the smooth-hound or dogfish, Mustelus mustelus (Sc. 1930 Fishery Board Gl.), the tope, Eugaleus galeus (Bwk. 1904 E.D.D.), or the lesser spotted dogfish, Scyliorhinus caniculus (ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna of “Dee” 272); (12) sweet-willie, (i) the flower sweet-william, Dianthus barbatus (Sc. 1904 E.D.D.). Also in Eng. dial.; (ii) the red campion, Lychnis dioica (Sh. 1947 Sh. Folk-Bk. (Tait) I. 86; I.Sc. 1972).(3) Ags. 1777 Caled. Mercury (19 July):
Mrs. Watson, at the back of the Grammar School, Dundee, begs leave to inform the Public, That she continues to make grave clothes and sweet breads, in room of Mrs. Key, deceased.
(4) Rxb. 1789 J. Swinton Weights 119:
Sweet butter is sold by the pound of 24 oz. Avoirdupois.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 144:
Sweet butter now on mony a plate.
(5) (ii) w.Sc. 1785 J. Anderson Acct. Hebrides 152:
The sea grass (sweet-grass as it is sometimes called) yields kelp of a quality much superior to any other.
(7) Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 52:
He niffered his shoon For rock — sae sweet-lippit was Jonathan Broon.
(8) Ayr. 1870 J. Hunter Life Studies 155:
The piona rose, sutherwood, thyme. sweetmary.
(9) Ayr. 1841 J. Paton Songs 19:
At markets . . . I'll buy sweetmegs and snap.
(12) (i) s.Sc. 1845 E. Aitchison Poems 83:
Pinks, sweet-willies, prides-o'-may.
(ii) Sh. 1959 New Shetlander No. 51. 24:
A well-known member is the Red Campion, or “Sweet William,” reddening many a sea-cliff in May and June with its large crimson flowers.

2. Of milk: fresh, untreated, not skimmed or sour as butter-milk (Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 51). Gen.Sc. Rare or obs. in Eng. Cf. 1. (4).Sc. 1736 Mrs McLintock Receipts 6:
Let the rest of your Liquor be warm sweet milk.
Sc. 1812 J. Sinclair Systems Husb. Scot. i. 105:
The milk can be sold sweet, as taken from the cow.
Sc. 1837 M. Dods Manual 424:
Two parts fresh sweet-milk curd and one of fresh butter.
Lnk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VI. 385:
A certain quantity of sweet milk is put into a wooden vessel or vat.
Rnf. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 85:
Drinks o' milk yer only meat, — Ae half skim, the ither sweet.
Sh. 1898 Shet. News (30 July):
Folk canna fa ta be geein' him sweet mylk noo.
Abd. 1935 Abd. Cookery Bk. 152:
1 lb. flour. 2 teaspoonfuls baking powder. Sweet milk to mix.

Freq. as a comb. used attrib. as in sweet-milk cheese, cheese made from unskimmed milk, specif. Dunlop cheese (Sc. 1825 Jam.; n.Sc. 1972). Hence sweet-milker, the day on which this cheese was made on the farm (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 443).Ayr. 1785 Burns Holy Fair vii.:
Sweet-milk cheese in monie a whang.
Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Agric. Peb. 83:
Sweet-milk cheese, i.e. cheese made of the whole milk, without abstracting the cream, is not made for sale in this country; but only for private family use.

II. n. Shortened form of sweet Lord, used exclam. in phrs. sweet be here or wi' us, = goodness gracious, for Heaven's sake, sweet saf' us, id.Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 26, 102:
Sweet be wi' us, we sudna speak o' the ill thief in the kirk. . . . A sweet be here, mither, do you think that I'm a witch?
Rnf. 1829 New Sc. Haggis 141:
Sweet saf' us. O man, but ye're like your Uncle.

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"Sweet adj., n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Mar 2024 <>



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