Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BURSEN, BURSTEN, Burs'n, v., pa.p. A strong pa.p. of burst, gen. used attrib. Now obs. in St.Eng. [′bʌrs(t)ən]

1. (1) Filled to bursting (Bnff.2, Ags.2, w.Lth. (per Edb.1), Lnk.3 1937). Sc. 1737  Ramsay Proverbs 32:
Hungry dogs are blyth of bursten Puddings.
Abd. 1826  D. Anderson Poems 19:
After thy feasts I've been sae fu', As sick's a tyke, an' like to spue; An' wearied as a burs'n sow I've laid me down.
Gall.(D) 1901  Trotter Gall. Gossip 69:
Folk said the folk aboot the manse wusna bursen wi' meat aither, in thae days.

(2) “Breathless, panting from over-exertion” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., bursn); exhausted. Also known to Bnff.2, Fif.10 1937. Cf. Burst, n., 3. Abd. 1929 4 :
Blyaavin like a burs'n horse, breathing heavily after a race, etc.
Fif. 1812  W. Tennant Anster Fair iv. xxx.:
Wearied, half-bursten with their hot turmoil, Their lungs like Vulcan's bellows panting strong.

(3) Fat and pursy (Bnff.2 1937). Also fig. Hence bursen belch, see Belch, n., 1. Edb. 1788  J. Macaulay Poems 161:
No like the bursten lazy spark, That wastes his prime.
Dmf. 1843  T. Carlyle Past and Present II. iii.:
An enormous superannuated ash-tree now grown quite corpulent, bursten, superfluous.

2. Combs.: (1) bursen churn, applied to the contents of a churn when the butter breaks through over-churning (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1937); cf. Burst, v., II. 1; (2) bursen grease, in machinery, grease which has become thin through friction (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1937). Used fig. in quot.; (3) bursen kirn, “harvesting accomplished with great labour and difficulty” (Sc. 1887 Jam.6). The “kirn” is the last handful of grain to be cut down on the harvest field. Cf. Burst, v., II. 2 (1). (2) Bch. 1928  (per Abd.15):
“That takes the bursen grease oot o' ye!” (said to a person sweating profusely from over-exertion).
(3) Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 104:
If the last of the crop cannot be got cut by the shearers for all they can work until night be set in — then they say they have had a bursen kirn.

[For loss of t by assimilation, cf. Beest, n.2, 3.]

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"Bursen v., p.p.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jan 2019 <>



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