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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WHIDDER, v., n. Also whudder, hwider (Jak.), whither, whuther, whother; ¶whutter-; arch. †quhidder, †quhithir; and, with alternative freq. ending whiddle. [′ʍɪdər, ′ʍɪðər, ′ʍʌd-, ′ʍʌð-]

I. v. 1. Of the wind: to bluster, blow fiercely in gusts (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., whuther; Sh. 1974, whidder).Gall. c.1820 Bards Gall. (Harper 1889) 207:
Then whudder awa', thou bitter biting blast, And sough through the scrunty tree.
Abd. a.1835 in Bards Bon-Accord (Walker 1887) 608:
Lat winter rave alang the lea Or whidder ower the hallan wa'.
Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 86:
Just to puff wi' a' his might; An' whidder roun' his chimney can.

2. To hum or whizz through the air, “to whirl rapidly with a booming sound” (Rxb. 1825 Jam., whither), “with a vibrating or whistling sound” (Rxb. 1932 Watson W.-B., whither).Sc. 1795 Outlaw Murray in Child Ballads No. 305 Aa. xvi.:
He heard the bows that bauldly ring, And arrows whidderand near him by.
Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 75:
Ae short ane made a whidd'rin' din As loud's the roarin' o' a linn.
s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws xxviii.:
The sword-blades whiddered about his ears.
Per. 1933 W. Souter Poems (1961) 104:
Like a clap o' thunder That whudders in a crack.

Comb. whitherspale, whuther-spale, wither-spale, -spail; (1) a child's toy, consisting of a thin notched slat of wood 7–12 inches long, attached to a piece of cord, by which it is whirled round, producing a booming sound (Rxb. 1825 Jam.), later, a tin or zinc disk with two holes bored in the centre, through which a loop of string is threaded. The ends of the string are held in either hand and the disk rotated to twist the string. By pulling each end the disk can be made to spin at a high velocity, causing a humming or whizzing sound (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); used fig. to typify something very light, as straw or down (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); †specif. goose-grass, Galium aparine (Ib.); †(2) transf. “a thin lathy person” (Ib.); an easily influenced person, one of inconstant opinions (Ib.).(1) Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
He would steal it if it were as light as a whitherspale.
Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (24 April) 443:
He was a little wee bit auld mannie, as licht as a whutheaspail [sic] — no abune sax stane.

3. To run nimbly (wm., s.Sc. 1887 Jam.); of a bird, to dart, flutter.Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poetry I. 242:
I've seen thee whith'ring in the bush, And heard thee on the thorn.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 247:
They whiddled aboot, they niddled aboot, They chirm'd, they kiss'd, an' caress'd.

4. tr. To beat, belabour (Rxb. 1825 Jam., whither). Also fig., to floor. Vbl.n. whutterin, a hiding or trouncing (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Cai. 1829 J. Hay Poems 129:
At Jocky's wedding good green kail, An' pease, an' pork thegither, Were stoutly mix'd wi' oaten meal (Eneugh the loons to whither).

II. n. 1. A sudden gust of wind; a whirlwind (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 228, 1908 Jak. (1928), hwider, Sh. 1974, whidder).Slk. 1847 W. Crozier Cottage Muse 17:
Winter's winds wi' fearfu' whother.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 11:
An aw aroun the thunners thudder,
Rairin oot-throu the universe,
Teirin the cloods wi whap an whudder.

2. A whizzing or rushing noise (Sc. 1825 Jam., whudder); “a curious kind of noise” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 473, whudder).

3. A quick darting movement, a scurry, implying sound as well as movement.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 473:
A hare starts from her den wi' a whudder.
Dmf. 1803 W. Wilson Poems I. 22:
Straught to the nest, I wi' a whidder, Did fetch it hame.

4. A slight indisposition (Sc. 1808 Jam., quhidder, quhither), e.g. in phr. a quhither of the cauld, a slight cold.

5. A blow, smart stroke (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); †a drubbing.Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 82:
An' few can tent, until his dart Hits ane a whuther.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 166:
Auld Britain's sons are yet fu' yauld, We trow they weel could bide a whuther.

[Freq. forms of Whid, v.1 O.Sc. quheddir, to whizz, 1375. Also in n.Eng. dial.]

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"Whidder v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2023 <>



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