Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
BONNY, BONNIE, Bonie, Bony, Boannie, adj., adv., n. [′bɔnɪ, ′bon, ′bɔn Sc.; ′buni s.Sc.]
I. adj. Gen.Sc.
1. Beautiful, pretty, fair.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs 3:
A bonnie bride's soon buskit. Ayr. 1792 Burns Banks and Braes o' Bonie Doon (Cent. ed.) ii.:
Aft hae I rov'd by bonie Doon.
2. Handsome, attractive.
Sc. 1910 L. MacLean Watt In Poets' Corner 124:
I've tint a bonnie laddie, A lissom, lichtsome loon. Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne in Mod. Sc. Minstrel (ed. C. Rogers 1855) I. 218:
Bonnie Charlie's now awa'.
3. A term of eulogy or appreciation or endearment.
Sc. 1886 R. L. Stevenson Kidnapped x.:
Am I no a bonny fighter? Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 9:
The ship cam' fest afore a bonnie sooth wind. Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past and Pres. Abdsh. 111:
The country people here used to call a healthy wound, a “bonny sair.” Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne in Mod. Sc. Minstrel (ed. C. Rogers 1855) I. 195:
Wha'll buy my caller herrin'? They're bonnie fish and halesome farin'. wm.Sc.  Laird of Logan (1868) 390:
Hush, hushie, bonnie doo.
4. Great, considerable.
Abd. 1920 M. Argo The Makkin o' John (4th ed.) 6:
Bit we wad ha'e kent a bonnie differ wi' frem't fowk. Rxb. 1897 J. C. Dibdin Sc. Border Life 60:
A bonny fricht they got when they waukened.
5. Used ironically: fine.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xxiii.:
Weel, my bonnie man, I see ye are thinking shame o' yoursell, and nae great wonder. Bnff. 1882 W. M. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars vi.:
She was a feel, and he was a knave, and a bonnie barg'in they've made o' ane anither. Abd. 1910 13 :
I'll lat ye see the bonny side o' the door. Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 10:
At length out o' the pool I wan, A bonnie, draigl't droukit man.
6. Used with an(d) with adv. force = “jolly” (colloq.), very.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Chron. of Glenbuckie 58:
The elders are bonny and angry about it. Rxb. 1918 Kelso Chron. (11 Jan.) 3/3:
Dauvit wad be bonnie an' mad if I let it away wi' a useless whalp like you.
Hence: (1) bonniness, bonyness, n., beauty, handsomeness; (2) bonnily, bonnilie, adv., beautifully, finely.
(1) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 6:
For bonyness an' other good outthrow, They were as right as ever trade the dew. Ags. 1928 A. Gray Gossip 30:
O' a' the bonniness that's here Nae jot I'll miss. (2) Hdg. 1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 19:
There let your charms blink bonnilie. Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe i.:
“Ah! they're [potatoes] lauchin' bonnily,cc. she continued, lifting the lid from the pot.
II. adv. Corresponding to the adj.
Sc. 1822 A. Cunningham My Ain Countree in Sir Marmaduke Maxwell, etc. 177:
My hamely hearth burn'd bonnie. Bch.(D) 1930 P. Giles in Abd. Univ. Rev. (March) 106–107:
Knowie: He'd eest t' play fyles at waddin's. Ye'll min on' him. Betty: Eh bonnie that. He played at ma ain waddin' nae less. Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle xxiv.:
Impelled . . . by his own bitterness, . . . he continued: “Ye've brocht up a' your children bonnie, bonnie.”
III. n. A small quantity of anything.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 72;
But bonny o't, like Boles good mother.
IV. Phr.: to make a' the bonnie things o', to make much of, to fuss over.
Ags. 1893 Arbroath Guide (11 Feb.) 4/3;
She drove Francie frae the fireside, ca'd him an ill-daein' useless foongil, an' made a' the bonnie things o' Tam, the cat.
V. Combs.: (1) bonny-die, bonnie-, a trinket, toy, pretty thing; (2) bonny penny, boannie-, “a big price” (Cai.7, Bnff.2, Lnk.3, Kcb.9 1935); (3) bonnie wallie, bonny —, a trinket, toy. Usually in pl.
(1) Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate (1822) vi.:
Gie the ladie back her bonnie die there, and be blithe to be sae rid on't. Fif. 1912–1919 Rym. Club Misc. II. 155:
Truth to tell, no one would dream of looking for that pincushion in the strange place where it is to be found; for, naturally enough, you would look to find it on my lady's mirror among the rest of her bonnie-dies. Edb. 1881 (6th ed.) J. Smith J. Blair's Maunderings 79:
Expensive bonny-dies that there's no the least occasion for. [See Die.] (2) Sh. 1926–1928 J.G. Lowrie buys a Ford in Sh. Times:
Ye'll be wantin' a boannie penny fur dis een. Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood vii.:
A bonny penny she'll be for books. (3) Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate (1822) xviii.:
For she has silks and sattins, and tobacco . . . and bonnie wallies baith of silver and gowd. Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 120:
Whenever I gat ought, I min' it brawly, I spent it ay on some bit bonny wallie.
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"Bonny adj., adv., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Nov 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/bonny>
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