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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

NIT, n.1 Also nitt; nüt; net (Kcd. 1905 A. N. Simpson Bobbie Guthrie 179). Gen.Sc. form of Eng. nut. See P.L.D. § 60.1. [nɪt]

1. As in Eng. (Bnff. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 18; Sc. 1825 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–26 Wilson) and fig. Also in Eng. dials. Combs. as in deaf nit, see Deaf, 2., nit-barrow, a nutseller's barrow, -broon, -fresh (Sh., Cai. 1964), -grit, of the size of a nut (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.), -shall, nut-shell, -wud, a hazel wood (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 364). Phrs. to burn nits, see Burn, v. 5. (11); to come to the hert o' the nit, to come to the point, the root of the matter.Lnl. 1719 Binns Papers (S.R.S.) II. 105:
For two naills fouer inches longe and two nits . . 8s. 0d.
Mry. 1749 Pitcalnie MSS. Acct.:
For 4 pints nites at 3s. … … 12s. 0d. For half pund butter and 3 chapines nits … … … … 8s. 0d.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween vii.:
The auld Guidwife's weel-hoorded nits Are round an' round divided.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 40:
Twa azle fangs — but clean unfit The nits o' sense to crack.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxvi.:
Parliaments, and quality, brown and white, and snaps well peppered, and gingerbread nits.
wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 121:
As muckle harns as will be contained in the doup of a nit.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 264:
The nit maun be withert ere sickerly sweet.
Lnk. 1876 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 71:
Sweetie stan's an' lang nit barrows.
Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe 12:
Geordie Glen needna hesitate to burn nits wi' you.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (19 May, 25 Aug.):
If we got ony [eggs] aboot dat time, dey wid be nit fresh . . . Der no mony i' da sooth, I tink, 'at's iver tastid fish nit fresh.
Gall. 1900 R. J. Muir Mystery Muncraig iii.:
I'm coming to the heart o' the nit now.
Abd. 1913 D. Scott Hum. Sc. Stories 12:
I've eneuch ta dee without swipin' up nit shalls.
Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 56:
Fan she birzed back the bord o' the sinbonnet a wee, caller fuff o' the wastlin' win' ravelt her nit-broon hair.

2. The nave of a cart wheel (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) N. 15). Also in Eng. dial.

3. A grooved, conical piece of wood, used in ropemaking to lay the strands evenly (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), nitt).

4. A notable person, a genius, prob. an extension of colloq. Eng. nut, the head, sc. a brainy person, an intellectual.Fif. 1865 St. Andrews Gaz. (11 March):
The lecturer gave a fine essay on the genius of Ben Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, W. Thackeray, and Charles Dickens; and spoke at length on the writings and sayings of these clever “nits.”

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"Nit n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Feb 2024 <>



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