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Scots, in common with other languages, has many words for supernatural beings. The Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) gives the following definition of Whippitie-Stourie:


“a kind of fairy or brownie, roughly the equivalent of Rumpelstiltskin; hence a light-footed nimble person”.



Sir Walter Scott, in a letter to a friend in 1823, tells us that this being is female:


“She is quite the fairy of our Nursery-tale the Whippity Stourie, if you remember such a sprite who came flying in through the window to work all sorts of marvels”.



Into the twentieth century, Anna Buchan, writing as O Douglas in her Farewell to Priorsford (published in 1950), even mentions her dwelling place:


“I’ve never seen a fairy, though I’ve one of my own at home. Her name's Whuppetie Stourie, and she lives in the nursery chimney”.



Did Whippitie-Stourie make it into the twenty-first century? Well, the Southern Reporter of May 2016 gives it in a list which includes other supernatural beings resident in the Borders:


“Some of the characters - such as Tam Linn and Thomas the Rhymer - have appeared in many a Borders ballad, while others such as Whuppity Stoorie (definitely a Rumplestiltskin-esque tale) and the Ootlandish Knight are perhaps less well documented”.



Another review, published in the Herald of July 2018, implies that the term may still be known:


“For older readers, or perhaps sharing with all the family, is Wee Folk Tales in Scots by Donald Smith (Luath), a collection of classic stories about the wee folk selkies, the cailleach and Whuppity Storrie”.



In my memory of childhood tales Rumpelstiltskin was always male.


This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel, Dictionaries of the Scots Language