Reading through one of my favourite books, the wonderful Yale collection Poems on Affairs of State: Augustan Satirical Verse 1660-1714. (Gods, how I wish I had the complete set, I only have 2 volumes). The volume from which my question arises is Vol. 3 1682-1685 and the particular poem is Thomas Thompson’s Midsummer Moon, or The Liveryman’s Complaint, 1682.
Here are the verses in which tite appears. (ll. 47-54)
Some muftis too you might have wafted o’er,
But that with bishops we were stock’d before:
High rampant, swearing bishops, tite and true,
Brisk bishops, who have their seraglios too;
Who’ll bid, ere ghostly codpiece find rebuke,
Two hundred pounds a year above a duke,
Who, if their piety were open set,
Are verier Turks than Bishop Mahomet’
Checking the footnote for tite I found that it was not a variant spelling of tight, as I’d initially thought, but a word I hadn’t come across before.
49 tite: Quick, swift. Though quite rare as an adjective, its meaning and presence seem justified by “brisk” in 50.
Intrigued, I looked it up in OED. (Two or three of the latest cites are given in each case.)
tite | tit, adv. (and adj.)
Etymology: < Scandinavian: compare Old Norse títt adv., ‘frequently, often’, neuter of tíðr adj., ‘frequent, eager’, Old Swedish tid ‘repeatedly, quickly’ (Södervall II. 627), Norwegian and Swedish dialect tidt ‘quickly’ (Aasen, Ross, Rietz), the development being ‘repeatedly, at short intervals, quickly’. The γ-forms are apparently erroneous spellings.
Obs. exc. dial.
a. Quickly, soon. Obs. exc. as in c.
1575 W. Stevenson Gammer Gurtons Nedle i. iv. sig. Aiiii, That chal gammer swythe and tyte, and sone be here agayne.
?16.. in F. Drake Eboracum (1736) i. vi. 192 The serjeants shall bring sufficient distress to the court, such as will most disease him and the tittest will gar him answer.
†b. as, als, also tit, als tid , etc.: as soon, as quickly, immediately. (Cf. French aussitôt; also ON. semtíðast with all speed, at once, immediately.)
c1540 (1400) Gest Historiale Destr. Troy (2002) f. 177, Antenor alstite amet to speike.
1674 J. Ray N. Countrey Words in Coll. Eng. Words 2 Astite, Anon, shortly, or as soon.
c. as tite..as, as soon..as, as readily, willingly, or well..as. dial.
1587 in J. Raine Depos. Courts Durham (1845) 322, I may as tite be a ladye as thou a lord.
1876 F. K. Robinson Gloss. Words Whitby, ‘I had as tite go as stay’.
1878 W. Dickinson Gloss. Words Cumberland, ‘I’d as tite dea’t as nut’.
†d. as adj. Quick, swift. (rare and doubtful.)
1535 W. Stewart tr. H. Boethius Bk. Cron. Scotl. (Rolls) II. 258 Tytest that tyme he wes of ony vther Agane Modred.
1535 W. Stewart tr. H. Boethius Bk. Cron. Scotl. (Rolls) II. 305 Oswald, that tyme tytest of other.
c1540 (1400) Destr. Troy 6738 Menelaus, And Thelamon the tore kyng with theire tite batels.
1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shepherdess i. 32 Wi’ weet an wind sae tyte into my teeth, That it was like to cut my very breath.
Clearly it’s the adjectival use that interests me, which OED terms rare and doubtful. (The Yale editor left out that latter term). I assume that means that, in the opinion of OED, it’s possible that tite in the adjectival cites given may in fact be versions of tight? Am I interpreting this correctly?
Whatever be the case it’s pleasant to come across a word I have never encountered before.