Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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A, prep.2 O.E. an, on reduced to a through lack of stress. Gen.Sc.

1. Before the vbl. form in ing, (1) either active, after the verbs to be, to set, to go, etc. Sc. 1815  Scott Guy Mannering II. xv.:
They hae ta'en Yule before it comes, and are gaun a-guisarding.
ne.Sc.(D) 1921  Swatches o' Hamespun 13:
An' the wintry win's asouchin' an' asighin' thro' the trees.
Lnk. 1904  I. F. Darling Songs from Silence 114:
Thae trashy foreign sangs ye're skirlin', Whene'er ye meet wi' ane anither, Hae set my very teeth a-dirlin'.
Rxb. 1916  Kelso Chronicle 31 March 4/1:
An' the wee lark keeps a singin' far abune the wintry gale.
Uls.(D) 1879  W. G. Lyttle Readings by Robin 77:
Peggy tuk haud o' the tangs, an' begood a biggin up the peats roon a pot that wuz on the fire.

(2) or forming a continuous passive with the verb to be. Sc. 1727  Wodrow Corresp. (1843) III. 296:
To-morrow, all day, papers will be a-reading.
m.Sc. 1870  Jas. Nicholson Idylls o' Hame 77:
Her braw bridal dress is a-makin'.

2. Before a noun. Sc. 1829  J. Wilson in Blackwood's Mag. XXV. 527:
It's necessary to kill heaps o' yearocks, or the haill kintra wad be a-cackle frae John o' Groat's House to St Michael's Mount.
Sh.(D) 1928  Stap, Lowrie in Hospital 14 July 3/5:
Him it kens your inside hantle better as doo kens da inside o da moorit hog it doo slachtered a Foersday?
n.Sc. 1743  Unpublished Letters of Simon 12th Lord Lovat, Gael. Soc. of Inv. (1886) 378:
But he . . . carried the poor infant away in a credill a horseback.
Rxb.(D) 1927  E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 9:
The waeter's no been on the feier abuin a meenit, so it canna be a-heat yet.

[The preposition is generally treated as a prefix now and the two words originally a phrase are regarded as a single word — e.g. agrufe, agate, a-landward, q.v. See A, pref.1]

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"A prep.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Dec 2017 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/a_prep2>

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