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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.

WYTE, v., n. Also wyt(t), wite, wight. [wəit]

I. v. 1. (1) To blame, to impute blame or guilt to (a person or thing), to accuse (someone) of responsibility (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Ayr., Rxb. 1974). Also in n.Eng. dial. Hence witer, one who blames, an accuser (Lnk. 1825 Jam.), wytin, the blame or guilt.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 318:
They wite you, and they wite you no wrong.
Ayr. 1776 Session Papers, Fergusson v. Earl of Cassillis (16 Oct.) Proof 46:
Wyting said Goldie and Allan Macdougal as the persons who had stopped up that level.
Slk. 1807 Hogg Poems (1874) 63:
She wyted this an' she wyted that, But o' the real cause never dreamed.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
It wasna my faut; he canna wyte me.
Edb. 1845 T. C. Latto Minister's Kailyard 9:
I'll swear it was a startit cork, Or wyte the rusty lock.
Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Frae the Heather 40:
He kent she was kind, And faithless to wyte her ne'er entered his mind.
Abd. 1918 C. Murray Sough o' War 22:
But it blecks me to see fat it maitters to hiz, Gin Kaiser or Tsar hae the wytin' o't.
Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Sc. Sangs 10:
Oh, fat's come owre the Mitherlan'? I wyte the anti-Scots.
Sh. 1969 Sc. Poetry 4 57:
Neen cood wite 'ir ava.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 118:
Now he said to MacWard, in a gentle voice, 'Your insinuation is unwarranted, Maister Robert. Ye canne wyte a man for no bein martyred.'

Phrs.: (i) to wyte, to blame, at fault (ne.Sc. 1974); (ii) wyte me, used as an expletive, “blow me!”(i) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 145:
Naething to wyte but the spinning o't.
Rnf. 1815 W. Finlayson Rhymes 30:
I'll see that naething was to wyte But my ain failings.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
De'r a hantel ta wite whan onything misfares.
(ii) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (23 June):
Wyte me. Doo widna be right if doo didna dü dat.

(2) followed by for, o, wi of the charge brought (Sc. 1808 Jam.).Ayr. 1785 Burns Sc. Drink xiv.:
Alake! that e'er my muse has reason To wyte her countrymen wi' treason!
Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf viii.:
I wadna like to wyte an innocent neighbour wi' violence.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 120:
Joost wyte thysel' for fateing me the sphere O' rustic life.
Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers 101:
We hae forgotten God, an' we wyte him o' forgettin' us.
Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 209:
She wytes me for three barley scons And eats them a' hersel'.
Ags. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems (1920) 112:
Aft the fowk did wyte him For pawning that sad saul o' his.
Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Macdonald Lass x.:
How dare you wyte a man with the sins of his father and grandfather?
Abd. 1922 Weekly Free Press (14 Jan.) 1:
For mony times hairret frae pillar tae post, An' wytet for a'thing.

2. With (up)on: to impute (a fault) to, to put the blame for (a thing) on.Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of Lairds xxx.:
He wytted it a' on the liberty and equality speerit o' the times.
Lnk. a.1832 W. Watt Poems (1860) 194:
She wytes't upon the toothache.

II. n. 1. Blame, reproach, responsibility for some error or mischief, blameworthiness (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 132; Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 693; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. Phr. in the wyte, to blame, at fault.Arg. 1714 Arg. Justiciary Rec. (Stair Soc.) II. 310:
You have the wyte of all this.
Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 77:
Laying a' the wyte On you, if she kepp ony skaith.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 57:
I'll get a' the wyte, An' me my lane be made to bear the syte.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 227:
Gie him the wyte o' a' de ill it's done in the kintry.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality viii.:
Haud yere tongue, ye cowardly loon, and layna the wyte on me.
Dmf. a.1834 in Burns Works (1847) II. 68:
I wat the kirk was in the wyte.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xix.:
They're sure to lay on ye the wyte of this day's accident.
Ork. 1927 Peace's Ork. Almanac 135:
Dat's mean o' du tae set da wyte api me.
Ags. 1959 Forfar Dispatch (28 May):
I cudna lay the wite at onybody's door but my nane.
Edb. 1979 Albert D. Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 44:
I mynd hou Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Laid aa the wyte on the foggie dew o England
For garrin him jalooze there was conspiracie
m.Sc. 1987 Tom Scott in Joy Hendry Chapman 47-8 3:
Dear sauls, let ithers wyte ye as they will
And saviours dee to save us aa frae ye:
My wae's my ain: ye'se dree nae wyte for me.
Abd. 1993:
She wis a gaanaboot deem bit she gied me e wyte o e bairn.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 95:
'That auld bastart Andra Ramsay was feart that somebody would hae a crack at pistollin Sharp or cuttin his thrapple, and he would get the wyte for no lookin eftir him,' said Tammas. 'So ye michtna hae been the first tae try it, and ye'll no be the last,' he added, trying to catch Mitchel's eye.

Derivs.: (1) wyteless, blameless, innocent. Now only liter.; (2) wytesman, someone to bear the blame, a scapegoat; (3) witewordie, blameworthy (Lnk. 1825 Jam.).(1) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 202:
If all be well, I's be wyteless.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ i. i.:
It's wyteless leevin whilk maks a man precious tae God.
(2) Bnff. 1929:
Ay! ay! ye wad like me tae be your wytesman.
Mry. 1971:
It's fine tae hae a witesman, i.e. someone to blame.

2. With possess. n. or pron.: fault, one's being to blame. Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxvii.:
It is treason for what I ken, and a' your wyte Steenie.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 200:
Aiblins it's the miller's wyte, I ken he loe's a gill.
Slk. 1835 Hogg Tales (1874) 593:
That wasna my wyte, far we had a commander, a chief o' our ain, an' when he began the fray, what could we do but follow?
Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 95:
Gude kens hoo great their wyte!
Abd. 1920 C. Murray Country Places 1:
It wasna his wyte he was beddit sae late.
Lth. 1920 A. Dodds Songs of Fields 7:
Bit still an' on he wadna' hae 'er — Abody said 'twas her ain wyte.
Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song (1937) 292:
Blawearie's his land, it's not his wight that others fight wars!

3. The person or thing to blame, the source of blame for some ill.Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 339:
Yet aft the fause lown sat wi' me an' grat, For that same ill o' whilk he was the wyte.
Lth. 1797 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 689:
Come tell me Jamie, what's the wyte ye mourn? Why ha'e your thoughts tain sic' a doolsom' turn?
Gall. 1843 J. Nicholson Tales 88:
Should she fa' into ane o' their Yankie log-fires — and me in a manner a' the wyte o't.

4. Harm, mischief, wrong.Per. 1887 R. Cleland Inchbracken 49:
Ye hae na come naar her this three month come Saubith, for a' the wite ye hae wrocht her.

5. Penalty, punishment. Arch. Obs. in Eng.Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 42:
Wisdom's wite.

[O.Sc. wyte, blame, 1450, to blame, 1500, source of blame, 1513, Mid.Eng. wite, blame, offence, O.E. wīte, penalty, wītan, to blame.]

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"Wyte v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Apr 2024 <>



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