J. De Lancey Ferguson and G. Ross Roy (eds), The Letters of Robert Burns, Vol. 1: 1780–1789 (Second Edition)

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pg 467GLOSSARY

OF DIALECT AND OBSOLETE WORDS USED IN THELETTERS

The definitions of Scottish words given below are taken from the Scottish National Dictionary. Only words which might puzzle readers are included; no account is taken of words which are variants of pronunciation unlikely to be mistaken for another word (a' for all, for example) unless the spelling is so altered as to be unrecognizable. The spelling retained has been that used by Burns, even when the S.N.D. treats that spelling as a variant, since the dictionary usually places a reference to the received spelling under the variant (thus acqueesh as used by Burns refers the user to atweesh). Where there is no cross-reference in the S.N.D. the spelling under which the entry will be found in the dictionary is given in parentheses (e.g. brucket (brockit)). The parts of speech are indicated only as Burns used the words.

  • Acqueesh, prep., between.

  • Airn, n., iron; fig., horse-shoe.

  • Allenarly, adv., solely, exclusively, only.

  • Assoilzie, v., Scottish form of Standard English assoil; in Scottish law: to decide in favour of the defender in an action, or to find an accused not guilty.

  • Aught, adj., eight.

  • Auld lang syne, bygone times; especially used in recalling old experiences shared with friends.

  • Ayont, prep., beyond.

  • Bailie, n., a municipal officer or magistrate next in rank to the Provost.

  • Bairn, n., child.

  • Beet to, phr., to keep increasing the speed.

  • Beff, n., a stroke or blow.

  • Ben, adv., inside, within; prep., through (a house) to the inner room; n., an inner room leading from that entered by the main door (the 'but', q.v.).

  • Beuk, pa. p., baked; n., book.

  • Bicker, n., a rapid and noisy movement, a short run; a wooden cup; a drinking-vessel.

  • Bield, n., shelter.

  • Bill, n., bull.

  • Billie, n., a brother in blood or craft, friend, comrade.

  • Birk, n., birch tree.

  • Birnie, adj., (figuratively) rough in temper.

  • Bitchify'd, pa. p., intoxicated.

  • Blink, v., to glance kindly; n., a bright and cheerful glance.

  • Bobbit, pa. p., curtsied.

  • Bode, v., to offer with insistence, press upon; to expect, aim at.

  • Bogle, n., a ghost, spectre, phantom.

  • Bombaz'd, Bumbaz'd, pa. p., perplexed, bewildered.

  • Bonie, Bony, adj., beautiful, pretty, fair.

  • Bowe, n., bowl.

  • Brae, n., hill or hillside.

  • Branks, n., a kind of halter, or bridle, for horses or cows. Almost invariably used in the plural, so that the plural form has come to be regarded as a singular.

  • Braw, Bra', adj., of things: fine, splendid; of persons: handsome, of fine physique, well or gaily dressed.

  • Breekless, adj., without breeches.

  • Broo, n., soup, gravy, the liquid in which any kind of food has been boiled, liquid of any kind.

  • Brose, n., a dish made by mixing boiling water or milk with oatmeal or peasemeal, and adding salt and butter.

  • Brucket (Brockit), adj., streaked with dirt, filthy, disfigured.

  • Brugh, n., variant of burgh, borough.

  • Brunstane, n., brimstone.

  • Bughts, n., a sheep-fold; more strictly a small pen, usually put up in the corner of the fold, into which it was customary to drive the ewes, when they were to be milked.

  • pg 468Bumbaz'd, v., see Bombaz'd.

  • Burn, n., stream.

  • But, prep., out or away from; n., the kitchen or outer room of a two-roomed cottage.

  • Caff, n., chaff.

  • Callan, n., a stripling, a young man.

  • Caller, adj., applied to air, water, etc.: cool, fresh, refreshing.

  • Cannie, adj., knowing, wise, shrewd, careful.

  • Cantraips, n. (usually used in the plural), charm, spell, incantation, magic.

  • Canty, Cantie, adj., lively, cheerful, pleasant.

  • Carlin, n., a woman, generally an old woman and in a disparaging sense.

  • Carse, n., low and fertile land, generally that which is adjacent to a river.

  • Castock, n., the stem of kail, cabbage, etc., which in former times was cooked for eating and considered a great delicacy.

  • Caup, n., a wooden bowl, for containing food, whether solid or fluid; Take Caup-Out, v., drain glass for glass.

  • Chappit, pa. p., accepted, agreed to as binding.

  • Chiel, Chield, n., a child, boy or girl; a man, a young man. Familiarly, a 'fellow'. May be used contemptuously or affectionately.

  • Claut, n., handful.

  • Clishmaclaiver, n., idle talk, gossip.

  • Cloot, n., one of the divisions in the hoof of cloven-footed animals; improperly, but commonly, used for the whole hoof; a snuff-box made from a sheep's hoof.

  • Clout, v., to mend, patch.

  • Cockernony, n., the gathering of a young woman's hair, when it is wrapped up in a band or fillet, called a snood; the line quoted from Ramsay apparently refers to the untying of a maiden's snood when she marries.

  • Cog, Coggie, n., a vessel, made of wooden staves and girded with metal bands, used in milking cows, carrying water, or in drinking or eating.

  • Coof, n., a fool, simpleton, dull-witted fellow.

  • Coost, v., cast; Coost Out, to disagree, quarrel, fall out.

  • Cowe, v., intimidate, daunt; crop, shear.

  • Cowp-Carl, adj., strong enough to knock a man over.

  • Crack, n., talk, gossip.

  • Cracker, n., talker, gossip.

  • Crinkum-Crankum, adj., full of twists and turns.

  • Crowdie, n., mixture of oatmeal and cold water eaten raw. Also used by Burns as a verb.

  • Cruck, n., halt, limp.

  • Cutty, adj., short, stumpy, diminutive.

  • Daft, adj., crazy.

  • Dander, v., stroll, saunter, walk aimlessly.

  • Daunton, v., subdue, tame.

  • Deil-Stickit, see Stickit.

  • Descriving, v., describing.

  • Dine, n., dinner.

  • Dink, adj., trim, neat.

  • Docht, v. (pret. of Dow), could.

  • Dock, n., buttocks.

  • Doit, n., a small coin of low value; fig., symbol of worthlessness.

  • Dow, v., can, is able; Downa, cannot.

  • Drap, n., drop, small quantity of intoxicating liquor.

  • Dunt, n., stroke.

  • Eller, n., Elder.

  • Factor, n., steward or manager of an estate.

  • Faith, n., Make Faith, take oath.

  • Fash, v., trouble, annoy, bother, inconvenience, vex; Fash Her Thumb, refl., vex, bother, disturb.

  • Faught, n., fight, struggle.

  • Fecht, n., fight.

  • Fegs, int., indeed! faith!

  • Fient, n., fiend, the Devil; Fient Hae't, damn all, also used as an exclamation of impatience, annoyance, or disgust.

  • Fiere (Feire), n., companion.

  • Fleg, n., a severe blow, a kick, especially from a horse.

  • Fley, v., frighten, scare, terrify.

  • Flytin, v., scold, chide, rail.

  • Fock, n., folk, people.

  • Fodgel, adj., plump, buxom, well-built.

  • pg 469Forfoughten, participial adj., exhausted, worn out.

  • Forjeskit, participial adj., exhausted, worn out, broken down.

  • Forniaw'd, participial adj. (Fornyaw), fatigued, tired, worn out.

  • Fou', Fu', adj., full, drunk.

  • Ga'd, adj., galled.

  • Gairs, n., a strip or triangular piece of cloth, a gore, gusset in a garment.

  • Gang, v., go.

  • Gapit (Gaup), pa. p., gaped.

  • Gate, n., way, road, path; way, manner, method. Tak' the Gate, v., set out.

  • Gie, v., give.

  • Gif, conj., if.

  • Gin, conj., if, should, whether.

  • Girdle, n., griddle.

  • Girran, n., garron, a small and inferior kind of Irish or Scottish horse.

  • Girt, pa. p., fastened.

  • Giz, n., face, countenance.

  • Gizzen, v., to shrink, warp, become leaky owing to dryness.

  • Gled, Gleyde, n., common kite, used also for other members of the hawk family.

  • Gowan, n., mountain daisy.

  • Gowk, n., cuckoo.

  • Grannum, n., grandmother.

  • Gude, n., God.

  • Gudeman, n., master or head of a household.

  • Gudewilly, adj., kindly, hearty, cordial.

  • Guidwife, n., female head of a household, mistress.

  • Had awa (Haud awa), v., come away.

  • Hairst, n., harvest.

  • Hallachores (Halalcor, O.E.D.), n., one of the lowest and vilest class in Persia, India, etc., to whom everything is lawful food; fig., scavengers.

  • Hand-Wal'd, adj., hand-picked, particular, choice.

  • Hantle, n., considerable quantity, large number.

  • Hap, n., covering of any kind, especially serving as a shield against the weather.

  • Harigals, n., viscera of an animal, entrails of a fowl.

  • Hemp-Heckle, n., comb for carding hemp.

  • Heuk, n., reaping hook, sickle.

  • Hiney, n., a term of endearment, sweetheart, darling.

  • Hizzie, n., hussy, used with jocular or slightly disparaging force for a woman, esp. a young frivolous woman, servant girl, woman of bad character.

  • Hollin, n., holly.

  • Hooly, adv., slowly, gently; Hooly and Fairly, slowly and gently but steadily.

  • Houghmagandie, n., fornication.

  • Howff, n., a place of resort, a favourite haunt, a meeting place frequently of a public house.

  • Huchyall, v., walk with a slow, awkward, hobbling, or tottering gait.

  • Hurchin, n., mischievous child.

  • Hurdies, n., buttocks, hips, haunches.

  • Ilka, adj., each, every.

  • Ill-Deedie, adj., mischievous, unruly, wicked.

  • Ingle-neuk, n., chimney corner.

  • Jad, n., hussy, perverse female.

  • Jaw, n., wave, billow, breaker; sudden rush, spurt, outpouring of water, a cascade, a quantity of liquid splashed or thrown out.

  • Jimp, adj., slender, small.

  • Jink, v., move quickly or suddenly, turn quickly or move nimbly so as to elude or dodge someone.

  • Jo, n., sweetheart.

  • Jouk, n., an evasive motion of the head or body, duck, dodge, swerve.

  • Kail, n., borecole, cabbage; broth, soup made with vegetables, with or without the addition of meat.

  • Kail-Whittle, n., knife for cutting kail.

  • Kame, n., comb.

  • Keek, v., peep, peer, glance or look sharply, inquisitively, or in a sly fashion, pry.

  • Kelpie, n., a water demon haunting rivers and fords, generally in the form of a black (or white) horse, which lured unwary human beings to death by drowning, but which might also be harnessed to drive a mill or perform other work.

  • pg 470Kenspeckle, adj., easily recognizable, conspicuous, of familiar appearance.

  • Kimmer, n., wife.

  • Kimmerland, Cumberland.

  • Kintra, n. and adj., country.

  • Kitchen, n., anything eaten or drunk along with plain food such as bread or potatoes to give a relish or savour, such as drippings or seasoning.

  • Knowe, n., knoll, hillock, mound.

  • Kye, n., cows, cattle.

  • Laigh, adj., low.

  • Landlowper, n., one who roams about the country idly or to escape the law, roving vagabond.

  • Lane, n., used with a possessive pronoun as her lane, alone, by herself.

  • Lave, n., rest, remainder.

  • Lea-Rig, n., ridge of unploughed grass between two ridges of arable land.

  • Lee-lang, adj., lifelong.

  • Lintwhite, n., linnet; adj., flax-coloured.

  • Loan, n., lane.

  • Loof, n., the palm of the hand.

  • Loot, v., allow, permit.

  • Loup, v. and n., leap, spring, jump.

  • Lowe, n., flame.

  • Lug, n., ear.

  • Luppen, v., pa. p. of Loup, q.v.

  • Maukin, n., hare.

  • Maun, v., must.

  • Mawn, pa. p., mown.

  • Meere, n., mare.

  • Meikle, see Muckle.

  • Mint, v., intend, purpose, attempt, aim; insinuate, hint, suggest.

  • Minuwae, n., minuet.

  • Mottie, adj., dusty.

  • Moudiewort, n., mole.

  • Mowe, v., to copulate.

  • Muckle, adj., large, big, great.

  • Nolt, Nowte, n., cattle.

  • Owre, prep., over.

  • Paidl't, pa. p., paddled.

  • Pawkie, adj., wily, sly, cunning.

  • Pickle, n., an indefinite amount of any substance or collection, generally consisting of discrete components, a little, a few.

  • Pint-stoup, n., a drinking vessel containing one pint (the Scots pint was 3 Imperial pints); in Auld lang Syne, you will pay for your own drink.

  • Plumrose, n., primrose.

  • Pock, n., a bag, pouch, small sack.

  • Poke, n., bag, small sack.

  • Poortith, n., poverty.

  • Pou't, pa. p., pulled.

  • Poutherie, adj., powdery, dusty.

  • Pownie, n., pony.

  • Premunire, n., a legal writ for prosecuting offences punishable by forfeiture of property and imprisonment; as used by Burns it seems to mean merely a scrape or difficulty.

  • Procutar, n., procurator, solicitor.

  • Pu', v., pull.

  • Pystle, n., epistle, letter.

  • Quey, n., heifer.

  • Quine, n., a quean, lass, girl.

  • Rashes, n., rushes.

  • Ream, v., skim the cream from the top of the milk; form a froth or foam.

  • Red-Wud (Reid-Wud), adj., stark staring mad, furious, beside oneself with rage.

  • Reekie, adj., smoky; Auld Reekie, Edinburgh.

  • Rig, Rigg, n., ridge of land, furrow.

  • Rock, n., distaff or spindle.

  • Roup, n., public auction.

  • Rowe, v., roll.

  • Rowte, v., to low, to bellow.

  • Rowth, n., plenty, abundance.

  • Rumble-Gairie (Rummle-Gairie), adj. wild, disorderly, unruly; having a forward, devil-may-care attitude.

  • Rumblegumtion (Rummle-Gumption), n., understanding, common sense.

  • Sair't, pa. p., served.

  • Sark, n., shirt, shift. Sarkie, little shirt.

  • Scroll, v., scrawl; make a copy or rough draft.

  • Shavie, n., trick, practical joke, prank.

  • Shore, v., threaten; offer.

  • Shote (Shot), followed by of, participial adj., free of, rid of.

  • Shouther, n., shoulder.

  • pg 471Shure (Shear), v., sheared, reaped.

  • Sic, Siccan, adv., such, such a.

  • Sin, prep., since, from the time of.

  • Skelly (Skellie), v., squint, be cross-eyed; fig., look askance.

  • Sleest, adj., slyest.

  • Smeddum, n., fig., spirit, mettle, energy, drive, spunk, vigorous common sense and resourcefulness.

  • Soger, n., soldier.

  • Sonsie, adj., engaging and friendly in appearance or manner, hearty, jolly; of women, comely, attractive, good-looking in respect of the figure, buxom, plump.

  • Sorning, v. and adj., wheedling, sponging.

  • Soup, n., sup, mouthful.

  • Souple, v., to be compliant or submissive to.

  • Spavies, n., spavins.

  • Spence, n., inner apartment of a house, a parlour variously used as a sitting-room, small bedroom, breakfast-room, larder, or store-room for provisions.

  • Spunkie, n., will-o'-the-wisp; spirited, game, dashing fellow.

  • Staw, pa. p., stole.

  • Steekit, v., close, shut, close the door of or entry to.

  • Steer, v., disturb, trouble, molest, pester.

  • Stickit, adj., botched, bungled, left spoilt or incomplete; Deil-Stickit, bungled by the devil.

  • Stimpart, n., fourth part of a peck, in dry measure.

  • Stotter, v., stagger.

  • Stoup (Stowp), n., smaller-sized vessel for holding liquor, mug, flagon, tankard, decanter.

  • Stravaguin (Stravaig), v., roam, wander idly.

  • Strunt, n., spirits, especially whisky, toddy.

  • Sturt, n., strife, contention, trouble, bother.

  • Subset, v., sublet.

  • Sud, v., should.

  • Sutor (Souter), n., cobbler.

  • Swats, n., newly-brewed weak beer.

  • Sweer, adj., unwilling, reluctant; Dead-Sweer, extremely reluctant.

  • Syne, adv., used retrospectively from the time of the statement: ago, since; construed as n., that time, then (i.e. long ago).

  • Tack, n., lease.

  • Tacksman, n. tenant.

  • Teugh, adj., tough.

  • Theekit, pa. p., thatched.

  • Thir, pron., these.

  • Thretty, adj., thirty.

  • Thripplin, v., carding or cleaning hemp or flax with a thrippling-kame.

  • Throng (Thrang), adj., busy.

  • Tipper-Taiper, v., walk on tip-toe or in an affected or unsteady manner, trip, teeter.

  • Tirryfyke, n., bustle, stir, stress and excitement.

  • Tocher, n., dowry.

  • Toon (Toun), n., town; farmstead.

  • Tow, n., rope.

  • Tumbler-wheels, n., cart-wheels.

  • Ulzie, n., oil.

  • Unco, adv., extremely, excessively.

  • Wame, n., belly; Wame-Fou, bellyful.

  • Ware, n., weir.

  • Warp, v., weave.

  • Wat, v., know; adj., wet.

  • Waught (Waucht), n., draught.

  • Wean, n. child.

  • Weelfar'd, adj., well-favoured; good-looking.

  • Whigmeleerie, adj., fancifully ornamented; fantastic.

  • Wimpling, participial adj., winding, rippling, meandering.

  • Wyse, v. (tr. or refl.), work, manœuvre edge; contrive.

  • Wyte, n., blame, reproach, responsibility for error.

  • Yauld, adj., active, sprightly, alert, vigorous.

  • Yell, adj., dry, barren.

  • Yestreen, n., yesterday evening.

  • Yet, n., gate.

  • Yisk (Yex, O.E.D.), v., hiccup, belch.

  • Yowes, n., ewes.pg 472

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