Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BRIEF, BRIEVE, BREEF, Briefe, n.1 and adj. [brif, bri:v]

1. n.

(1) A term in Sc. law. A legal writ, an official document. Obs. now in this sense in Eng., last quot. 1641 (N.E.D.). “Formerly in extensive use, but now mostly supplanted by other forms of process” (Abd.16 1935). Sc. 1752  A. McDouall Inst. Laws Scot. II. 333:
There is no mention in the brieve or service of the Valued rent.
Sc. 1890  Bell Dict. Law Scot. 134:
A brieve is a writ issuing from Chancery, in the name of the king, addressed to a judge, ordering trial to be made by a jury of certain points stated in the brieve.
Gsw. 1713  Records Burgh Glasgow (ed. Marwick 1908) 503:
Relative to a briefe or wryte for the election of members.
Lnk. 1710  Descr. Sheriffdom Lnk. and Rnf. (Maitland Club 1831) 92:
To the Director of the chancellary for granting of ther brieves.

(2) A spell or charm of any kind. Ayr. 1786  Burns To J. Smith i.:
Ye surely hae some warlock-breef Owre human hearts.

(3) Writing or gift of writing. Only Eng. quot. in N.E.D. dated c.1450. Ayr. publ. 1801  Burns Reply to Trimming Ep. (Cent. ed.) iii.:
King David, o' poetic brief, Wrocht 'mang the lasses sic mischief.

2. adj.

(1) “Energetic, forcible” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.). Ork. 1929  Marw.:
A b[rief] body.

(2) Clever, apt or keen. Not known to our correspondents. Abd. 1898  E.D.D.:
A brief joke or saying.
Ags. 1825  Jam.2:
He gae us a very brief sermon.

[O.Sc. brefe, breif, n., brevis,, which may have given rise to O.Sc. breve, a letter or document of an official nature, from Lat. breve, short.]

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"Brief ". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 11 Dec 2018 <>



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