DSL - SND1 ERSE, adj., n.2 Also Earse. Now, esp. since early 19th cent., practically superseded by [GAELIC], q.v.
1. adj. Applied by the people of the Lowlands to the people of the Highlands. their language, customs, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam.).
*Sc. 1725 W. MacFarlane Geog. Colls. (S.H.S.) I. 203:
Lived till they were 13 score of years between them which gave an occasion to an Earse roundell importing so much.
*Sc. 1768 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 445:
The building of a house for public worship in the Erse or Gaelic language in Edinburgh . . . was begun in the beginning of last May, and is now far advanced.
*Ayr. 1786 Burns Address to the Deil xix.:
But a' your doings to rehearse . . . Wad ding a' Lallan tongue, or Erse, In Prose or Rhyme.
*Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 159:
An' weel he pang'd the Mickle Purse Wi' geer frae lawlin' chiels an' erse.
2. n. The Gaelic language.
*Nai. 1765 J. Calder Diary (1875) 56:
I had the strength to go to the pulpit to preach an hour in Erse, and half an hour in English.
*Abd. after 1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shepherd (S.T.S. 1938) l. 141:
His leed black Earse, his carriage bald and free.
*Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary ix.:
Then Rab said he tried him wi' Erse, for he cam in his youth frae the braes of Glenlivat.
*Ayr. 1821 Galt Ayrshire Legatees vi.:
Mr John Gant, your friend, and some other flea-lugged fallows, have set up a Heelon congregation, and got a young man to preach Erse to the English.
*Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 9:
Wad gie their Highland beaks a snortie And ban in Earse.
[O.Sc. has erse, from 1535, reduced form of earlier erische, from 1375, the Sc. equivalent of Irish. Phs. the initial vowel is due to the influence of Gael. forms Eire, eireannach.]