Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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. [1835]  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;
2 :
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;
1 :
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.

[Origin obscure. Earliest quot. in D.O.S.T. a.1500, earliest spellings bony, bonie.]

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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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