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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.

WINTER, n.1, v. Also †wynter; wunter (Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 334, Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 11). See P.L.D. § 59. Sc. usages [′wɪntər, ′wʌn-]

I. n. 1. In Combs.: (1) winter-ba(a)nd, in phr. to stand on da winterband, of cattle: to be tied up in the stall throughout the winter (Sh. 1974); (2) winter-beef, a store of beef, preserved for winter use. See Mart, n.2; (3) winter-dyke, gen. in pl., as being in two sections: a clothes-horse (wm.Sc. 1825 Jam.; em.Sc., wm.Sc., Kcb. 1974), sc. covered with white (clothes) like a snow-filled wall; “a draught-screen; a heavy quilt placed on a bed in winter” (Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 43). See also Dyke, I. 1. Phrs. (16); (4) winter-fish, fish, esp. ling, kept in pickle during the winter (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., Sh. 1974); (5) winter-green, = (3) (wm.Sc. 1974); (6) winter-hain, v., to preserve a piece of pasture ungrazed during the winter months to ensure a supply of grass in spring. Vbl.n. winter-haining, ppl.adj. winter-hained. See Hain, v., 1.; (7) winter peeak, = 3.(3). See Peek, n.1, 2.; †(8) winter Saturday, the last Saturday in October when the winter half of the year is considered to begin (Sh. 1900 Manson's Almanac 26). See (12); †(9) winter-slap, a gap made in the toun-dyke of the farm to allow the animals to roam freely between the cleared arable land and the skattald in winter; (10) winter sour, soft curds and butter mixed together and eaten with bread (Lnk., Rxb. 1825 Jam.); †(11) winter-steen, a standing-stone or large boulder visited during the first winter moon by an unmarried person wishing to divine his or her future spouse by walking round it several times with and against the sun and reciting the names of desirable candidates; †(12) winter-Sunday, the last Sunday in October. Cf. (8); (13) winter-town, see Toun, n., 2.(5) (xvii) (Ayr. 1974).(1) Sh. 1959 New Shetlander No. 51. 8:
They'd seven acres with five kye staandin on da winter-baand.
(2) Sc. 1769 Weekly Mag. (23 Nov.) 255:
Recollecting that she had not laid in her winter-beef.
(3) Rnf. 1748 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1878) 285:
2 Leafs of Wyter [sic] Dycks . . 1s.
Ayr. 1830 Galt Lawrie Todd iii x.:
I made a screen with my clothes, on a winter dykes.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 21:
Noo, gif thae winter-dykes ye touch, Ye'll sure bring doon my guid clean mutch.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 114:
Come awa ben, man. Can ye win bye the winter-dykes?
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 16:
That pulley's broke. Git the winter dykes oot. The drying rail has broken. Bring out the clothes horse.
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 55:
jammed against the bars of my cot
with one mended featherstitch jumper drying
among the nappies on the winterdykes,
the puffed and married maroon counterpane
(4) Sh. 1809 A. Edmondston Zetland I. 240:
The ling caught at this season [August] are split, and laid in salt, and they remain in the brine until the end of spring, when they are taken out, washed, and dried for exportation. They are known by the name of winter-fish.
(5) Ayr. 1935:
My daughter's maid, who comes from Muirkirk, Ayrshire, said “It's coming on rain. I think I'll put the clo'es on the winter green.”
(6) Sc. 1743 R. Maxwell Select Trans. 37:
The dung of these [sheep] in Summer, with Winter-haining, will keep the Ground in good Heart.
s.Sc. 1886 C. Scott Sheep-farming 86:
To have in reserve a winter-hained old pasture, which the ewes and lambs can fall back on.
(7) ne.Sc. c.1890 in M. M. Banks Cal. Customs I. 84:
Those (unfortunates) who took home the last load or sheaf and thus got ‘winter' were called ‘winter Pee-ak'.
(9) Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Description 463:
It was ordered that all dikes should be in sufficient repair by the 1st of March . . . every winter-slap left open, every neglect of closing a grind or wilful act of breaking down, or even scaling, a dike, was liable to a fine of 40s. Scots.
(11) Sh. 1900 Manson's Almanac 26:
Winter Saturday. Boys go in ‘skakling', lasses go on the ‘winter-steen'.
(12) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 113:
Flocks of snaa fowl seen before Winter Sunday foretell the approach of a severe winter.

2. In proverbial phr. never to die o winter, to survive, pull through all difficulties or hardships (Ork., Ags., Per., Ayr. 1974).Ayr. 1895 J. Walker Old Kilmarnock 47:
Well, I never died a winter yet, and what's the good o' complainin'?
wm.Sc. 1947 H. W. Pryde 1st Bk. McFlannels 78:
Ach, cheer up. Ye never died a winter yet!
Cai. 1956 Neil M. Gunn The Atom of Delight (1986) 95:
At least the normal basic picture gave rise to the joke: "We never died a winter yet!"
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 69:
But as the shoals moved eastwards along the shore, eveyone knew that the winter herring was coming to an end. Old George, standing at his window in the old house, watched the fleet coming home in the last days of March.
'Here come the Ishmaelites,' he said. 'They never died a winter yet. God be praised.'
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 56:
Good day to you and yours, maister, your servant I'm sure.
Herm to those that'd herm ye, and may Heaven secure
Every blessin' on yir house and hame, and don't forget,
We never died o' winter yet.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 49:
Coory in noo. There's nane a us died a winter yet. Ther ther. Nightie night.
Edb. 1994 Gordon Legge I Love Me (Who Do You Love?) 10:
'Aye, aye - well, he's getting about, anyway. "Never died a winter yet" he says, Aye, never died a winter yet.'
Edb. 2004:
Ach well, ye just hae tae get oan wi it - nane o us has died a winter yet.

3. With reference to the end of the harvest, as the precursor of winter: (1) the last load of grain to be brought to the stackyard in harvest (n.Sc., Lth. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1974), freq. in phrs. to get, hae, mak, tak, etc. winter, to have reached the end of harvest, to have brought the crops in.m.Lth. 1786 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) cxxxvi.:
Now the Maiden has been win, And Winter is at last brought in.
Lnk. 1818 A. Fordyce Country Wedding 138:
Leading in the last cart of corn is called “Bringing in winter” and the person driving the cart is frequently saluted with a paleful of water thrown about his ears.
Abd. 1821 Buchan Observer (8 May 1951):
Got winter, except 2 rigs wheat.
Abd. 1868 G. Gall MS. Diary (1 Sept.):
We managed to make winter before night came.
Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 122:
Owing to early rising or working late, many a farmer “took winter” sooner than it could have been possible for them otherwise . . . “Gin we hidna risen yon nicht an' vrocht like Hollanders, we widna hae gotten winter yet.”
Mry. 1958 Bulletin (1 Nov.):
Down the road, where our neighbours had “winter” a week or two earlier, the potato gathering is proceeding in the cheerfullest fashion possible.

(2) the feast held to celebrate the end of the harvest, the harvest-home (Abd. 1825 Jam.). Comb. winter-supper, id.Hdg. 1848 A. Somerville Autobiog. 8:
The annual “winter suppers,” or the “kirnes,” — harvest homes — which our master gave to his workpeople.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 183:
When all was safe and snug for the winter season, there was the “meel an ale” — that is, a feast in which a dish made of ale, oatmeal, sugar, with whisky, formed the characteristic dish. In some districts this feast was called “the winter.”
Bnff. 1887 G. Hutcheson Days of Yore 38:
At a “winter” or ball at the farm.

(3) the person who removes the last of the grain from the field to the stackyard; the last person to turn up for work on Hogmanay (wm.Sc. 1974). See Skitter, n., 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 182:
The one who took the last of the grain from the field to the stackyard was called the “winter.”
Wgt. 1897 66th Report Brit. Ass. 623:
The ‘Winter', i.e. the one that took the last load of grain to the stackyard, was treated in a somewhat rough manner. Someone of his fellow-servants watched for him to dash over him a quantity of dirty water, and the dirtier so much the better.

II. v. As in Eng., to pass the winter, to provision (cattle, etc.) throughout the winter. Hence 1. ppl.adj. in combs. weel-wintert, ill-, of an animal's physical condition: well- or ill-fed, hale and hearty or the opposite (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 208, Ork., n., em.Sc. (a), wm.Sc., Wgt. 1974, weel-), also jocularly applied to persons (Bnff. 1964); 2. winterer, a farm animal kept for fattening over winter (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen. (exc. s.) Sc.; 3. winterin(g), -en, (1) a winter pasture, winter keep for animals. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc.; (2) an animal which is kept over the winter (Cai., Mry. 1974); also coll. winter-fed stock; (3) comb. wintering-money, money paid for the winter keep of animals (Per. 1974); 4. For phr. to summer and winter, see Simmer, v., 2.1. Sc. 1874 A. Hislop Anecdotes 146:
He's weel-faured, and I maist think he'll be weel liket here; but, waes me, he's been ill-wintered where he cam frae!
2. Sc. 1783 A. Wight Present State Husbandry IV. 660:
Their horses, cows, and winterers are starved.
Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VI. 94:
A few black cattle are sold for winterers.
Gall. 1875 Trans. Highl. Soc. 38:
The stockmaster must not be satisfied with seeing his “winterers” remaining stationary.
Arg. 1898 N. Munro J. Splendid x.:
Light-coloured yeld hinds and hornless ‘heaviers' (or winterers) the size of oxen.
Slk. 1956 Southern Reporter (7 June) 6:
The winterers will have fared quite well.
3. (1) Sth. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 177, 181:
Cattle are put in there some time in November, (as into all other winterings), are thence gradually taken out to be housed the beginning of spring, as they may appear to need provender. . . . Little Assint is a wintering.
Lnk. 1918 Scotsman (6 April) 12:
3500 Blackface Ewe Hoggs of the Best Class, all direct from their Winterings.
(2) Per. 1743 J. E. Handley Agric. Revolution (1963) 28:
3 young swine, 87 capons, 93 hens, 6 winterings and 37 shearing dargs.
Arg. 1768 Caled. Mercury (10 Feb.):
Whoever takes it in tack, may have the buying of the winterings, on the ground, being about thirteen score, three years olds and upwards next May.
Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 494:
It has been a practice here with many farmers to take in black-cattle from the higher lands, about the end of the year, i.e. after Martinmas, and put them in their strawyard, where they continued, and got nothing but straw through the winter, these were called winterens.
w.Lth. 1831 Fife Herald (10 Nov.):
Pastures are still green, and afford a fresh picking for the winterings.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 33:
I sel't my winterin's afore the price began to fa'.
Abd. 1882 Jam.:
Gin he gets the cauf e'now, he cud pit it in amo' his ain winterin'.
(3) Bte. 1701 Rothesay T.C. Rec. (1935) II. 539:
John M'Ewne hes undertaken the common herding . . . to have a merk of fiall and ordinar winting [sic] money for each kow.
Cai. 1772 J. E. Donaldson Cai. in 18th Century (1938) 107:
“Wintering money”, i.e. a payment in lieu of wintering one or more of the laird's cattle.

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"Winter n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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