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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.

TITLIN, n. Also titlene, tit(t)ling; teetlan, -in, teitlan (Cai.); also reduced dim. form titlie (Fif. 1882 J. Simpson Inverkeithing 59) and with alternative dim. ending teetlag (Cai.). [′tɪtlɪn; Cai. ′titlɪn, -lɑg]

1. The meadow pipit, Anthus pratensis, freq. seen in company with the cuckoo or Gowk (Sc. 1741 A. McDonald Galick Vocab. 75, 1808 Jam.; Slg. 1885 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. 61; Cai. 1887 Harvie-Brown and Buckley Fauna Cai. 118; Mry. 1925; Ork., Cai. 1972) erron. defined by Jam. as the hedge-sparrow. Also in Uls. and n.Eng. dial. Comb. and phrs.: earth titling, the meadow pipit (e.Lth. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 45); gowk and titling storm, = gowk's storm s.v. Gowk, n.1, 6. (19); (the) gowk and (the) titling, see Gowk, n.1, 5. (1); rock teitlan, the rock-pipit, Anthus obscurus (Cai. 1887 Harvey-Brown and Buckley Fauna Cai. 119).Sc. 1774 Weekly Mag. (Feb. 24) 270:
Is this small bird what is vulgarly called the Titling, which so punctually attends upon the cuckow?
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
When two persons are so intimate that the one obsequiously follows the other, it is said, “They are as grit as the gowk and the titlene.”
Dmb. 1846 W. Cross Disruption xxxviii.:
The tittling it follows the laigh-fleein' gowk.
Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 189:
Lav'rocks' legs and titlins' taes.
Mry. 1914 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 25:
The corby storm came in May, followed by the gowk and titlin storm later.
Cai. 1957 Edb. John o' Groat Liter. Soc.:
Ownly sheep an' shoohads, whaaps an' teetlags meet ye 'ere.

2. The smallest and weakest in a brood, esp. of pigs in a litter (Kcd., Ags., Uls. 1972), poss. because this one acted somewhat in the manner of the meadow pipit and the cuckoo, but some connect the word rather with Tit, n.3, teat.Ags. 1952:
The names of the pigs in a litter were the Breist, Creel, and Titling corresponding to the position of the teats on the sow.

[O.Sc. titlene, = 1., 1549, of Scand. orig. Cf. Faer. titlingur, the pipit, Icel. id., the sparrow, deriv. of tita, Icel. = dunlin, Norw. dial. = any small bird or fish, a small shoot of a tree, etc., orig. imit. of smallness. Cf. Teetick, Teetin.]

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"Titlin n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Apr 2024 <>



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