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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TEA, n. Also tae (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xix.; Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. I. 155), tay (Abd. 1863 G. MacDonald D. Elginbrod lxxi.; Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 97; Uls. 1953 Traynor), tey (Cai. 1703 J. B. Craven Hist. Episc. Ch. Cai. (1908) 156; Sc. 1824 Scots Mag. (April) 403). [te:, now chiefly Sh., n.Sc., obsol. (the orig. pronunciation in Eng. but now only dial.); s.Sc. təi. See P.L.D. § 103.1.]

Sc. form of Eng. 1996 W. Gordon McPherson in Sandy Stronach New Wirds: An Anthology of Winning Poems and Stories from the Doric Writing Competitions of 1994 and 1995 19:
The deemie bade ahin a meenit an whispert, "She's fair desprit for a cup o tay - getten nae mows for wint o't - d'ye think?"

Sc. usages in combs. and phrs.: (1) tea and eating, tea accompanied by a cooked dish, high tea; (2) tea and till't, id. (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 271; em.Sc.(a), wm.Sc., Dmf. 1972); (3) tea-blade, -blaed, a tea-leaf (em.Sc.(a) 1972); (4) tea-bread, fancy bread of the scone or bun variety, eaten with tea. Gen.Sc.; (5) tea-broe, tea-juice, tea as a drink. See Broo, n.1; (6) tea-chaffer, a tea urn. Cf. Eng. †chafer; (7) tea-chit-chat, teacakes, used with disparaging force. Cf. Chit, n.1, Chat, n.2; (8) tea-dinner, a meal, usu. lunch, consisting of a main course and tea with scones, etc.; (9) tea-doin, a tea-party, a tea-‘do'; ‡(10) tae-drinker, a light or dress shoe, such as might be worn at a tea-party (n.Sc. 1972); (11) tae flour, sneezewort, Achillea ptarmica (Sh. 1972); ‡(12) tae-girse, the wild thyme, Thymus serpyllum, which may be infused as a drink, also occas. the bog asphodel, Narthecium ossifragum (Sh. 1947 Shetland Folk Bk. I. 87); (13) tea-hand, one who is addicted to drinking tea. Gen.Sc.; (14) tea-jenny, id., applied to men as well as women (n. and m.Sc. 1972); (15) tea-kitchen, a tea-urn. See Kitchen, n., 4.; (16) tea-man, = (13) (Gall. 1905 E.D.D.); (17) tae-plate, a saucer (Sh. 1972); (18) tea-rocking, a tea party. See Rock, n.2, 1.(2); (19) tea-shine, id.; (20) tea-skiddle, -skittle, id., used somewhat derisorily (Sc. 1905 E.D.D.; Slg., wm.Sc. 1972); (21) tae-twine, the string with which packets of tea were tied; (22) tea-water, water for making tea, the water in which tea is made, tea itself; (23) tae well, a well of water supposed to be good for making tea (Sh. 1972); (24) towsie tea, see Tousie; (25) Phr. you'll have had your tea, expression of Edinburgh's supposed lack of hospitality.(1) Lth. 1882 J. Strathesk Blinkbonny 272:
A “towsie tea”, or “tea and eating”, followed the ceremony.
(2) Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 204:
Sittin' doon to their tea and till't every nicht o' the week as regular as the clock chaps five.
(3) Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 69:
A tea-pat withoot the nose, an' a pucklie o' wat tea-blaeds intill't.
Ags. 1950 Forfar Dispatch (12 May):
He lookit a fel raggit bundle o' tea-blades.
(4) Edb. 1827 M. & M. Corbett Busy-Bodies II. iv.:
Neither more nor less than tea-bread, for I saw both seed-cake and Naples biscuit on the plate.
Ayr. 1895 H. Ochiltree Redburn v.:
Twa dizzen and a half o' tea-bread.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 216:
Tea-bread for the afternoon.
Abd. 1947 Press & Journal (5 April) 3:
Aberdeen Master Bakers' Association will increase the price of all Tea Bread on and after Monday to 1d each.
Gsw. 1957 Bulletin (25 Feb.):
Loaves and tea-bread by the dozen.
Edb. 1990 James Allan Ford in Joy Hendry Chapman 59 43:
"He is not a boy for you to be copying - always up to devilment and always with a bit of shop tea-bread in his hand. ... "
Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 30:
We used to go for sixpenny fries and sixpenny stews' and cutting tea bread and the likes.
(5) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 29:
The folk are a drownin themsells in track-pots and teabroe.
(6) Abd. 1718 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VIII. 9:
For a tea chaper [MS. chaffer] . . 4⅕ libs.
(7) Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 50:
Waes-zucks! that ever tea-chit-chat, Soud ever fill your halesome plate.
(8) Fif. c.1900 Readings and Dialogues 35:
That's an ootrageous oor [5 p.m.] for denner, excep' it be a tea-denner.
Wgt. 1956 C. McNeil Auld Lang Syne 59:
A comfortable tea-dinner at Cairnweil of a boiled hen, scones in great variety, butter and honey.
(9) Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 47:
A wheen o' yer doun-leukin dominie sinners, Wha flatter the lairds for tea-doin's an dinners.
(13) Ayr. 1896 H. Johnston Dr. Congalton 168:
The doctor was no tea-hand, he was fond o' a glass o' toddy wi' the guidman.
Abd. 1920:
Ye'd better pit on the kettle for she's a great tea-hand.
(14) Gsw. 1953 J. J. Lavin Compass of Youth ii. iii.:
“I am a tea Jenny,” he said.
m.Sc. 1956 Bulletin (17 Sept.) 5:
T. T's letter about Tea-Jennies.
Sc. 1992 Herald 9 Jul 15:
Scots are not, however, the nation's tea jennies. That honour falls to the Welsh, who drink 1.8 ounces of tea per person.
Sc. 1996 Scotsman 15 Nov 19:
Now, admittedly tea jennies don't batter their husbands. Alcohol as the great liberator of the Scottish psyche does allow all the repressed violence of a macho culture to come ripping out when taken to excess.
Sc. 1998 Edinburgh Evening News 2 Jun 31:
Not so much a tea jenny, more a tea Jock, that's me - and every time I have a cuppa, I think of Sam Twining. I feel I owe it to him. We all do.
Sc. 1999 Scotland on Sunday 14 Mar 7:
Modern society has often scoffed at the old-fashioned notion that a "hot cuppa" is good for you.
But now tea jennies have cause to feel justifiably smug.
Edb. 2004:
Ah'm a richt tea jenny.
(18) Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 20:
There's scarce a tea-rocking tak's place i' the toon.
(19) Sc. 1838 J. W. Carlyle Letters (Froude) I. 98:
Two tea-shines went off with éclat.
Lnk. 1858 G. Roy Generalship 15:
A sixpence-worth o' London-buns, for an extempore tea-shine.
(21) Sh. 1901 T. P. Ollason Mareel 60:
Ae peerie barefitted urchin, da prood possessor o' a' buisim haandle, wi' twa yaerds o' tae-twine an' a haddock hook attached.
(22) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxvi.:
Breakfast wi' us yoursell — ye ken how to manage the porringers of tea-water.
Abd. 1901 Weekly Free Press (15 June):
1 gaed doon tae the stripe for a pan o' tea water.
(25)Sc. 1991 Scotsman 23 Mar 14:
So she has designed some new Edinburgh arms, shown here, drawn by professional illustrator Val McAdam. It brings together those legendary Edinburgh items, the fur coats and the cancelled drawers. The Latin motto is as near as Edinburgh University classics can come to "You'll have had your tea?"
Edb. 1992:
In Glasgow they ask you if you would like your tea [evening meal] - in Edinburgh they say, 'You'll have had your tea.'

[Tea appears to be first mentioned in Scotland c.1679 (see R. Chambers Domest. Annals II. 405.]

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"Tea n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 Apr 2024 <>



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