RANTER v. to darn, mend, sew n. a method of stitching
Ranter is from the older French ‘rentraire’ meaning ‘to seam’. It is defined in the Dictionary of the Scots Language as follows: ‘to join two pieces of material by laying them edge to edge’, ‘to darn’, ‘to mend hastily’ and, by extension, ‘to work in a careless and hurried manner’. It makes its first appearance in the DSL in the Master of Works Accounts of 1626:
“To Thomas Johnestoune saidler for covering of four lang furmes … , to Androw Blaikie that helpit him and that mendit and ranterit uther thrie furmes …”
‘Furmes’ here are forms to sit on which would have been covered with leather, which would then be stitched in place.
In more modern times stockings were ‘randered’ to reinforce the heels as shown in this 1916 example from Caithness:
“Stockings were always “randered” in those days, and a great deal of the guidman’s underclothing was made of scourings. [a kind of coarse cloth]”.
Stitching hurriedly and without care is illustrated by this East Lothian example of 1931:
““ranter that thegither” — sew up that seam roughly.”
Staying with the theme of hasty sewing the next quotation comes Aberdeen in 1910:
“We speak of giving any garment that is much worn a ranter up, meaning a hasty sew.”
It was still current in the late twentieth century as shown by this 1989 advertisment from Whites of Liberton:
“We also do a first class ranter patching service.”
Whites of Liberton is a long-established Edinburgh cleaning and laundry service.
This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel of Dictionaries of the Scots Language.
First published 18th September 2016.