Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COUNTRA, Coontra, Contra, Kuntra, n. Sc. forms of Eng. country. The endings -y, -ie, -ey, -ee (poet.) are also found. The Eng. form country is illustrated only in special Sc. usages and combs. For the Bnff. form contra (marked also for Ags. by Ags.17 1940), see W. M. Philip Covedale (1887) xi., and for the Abd. coontra, see W. Alexander Johnny Gibb (1871) xii. Abd.4 1929 gives kuntra. Cf. Cuintrie, Cwintry and Kintra. [′kʌntrə Sc., but L.Bnff., Ags. + ′kɔntrə and Abd., s.Sc. + ′kuntrə, ′kuntri]

1. A district of a country or the people inhabiting it; the territory of a clan. Formerly in use in St.Eng., but now only dial., Sc. and Irish (N.E.D. s.v. country, n., 2 and 6). Known to Fif.13 (for Abd.), Slg.3, Lnk.11, Kcb.10 1941. Sc. 1746  D. Warrand More Culloden Papers (1930) V. 81:
The Country of Glengarry is ready upon call (I mean the Common).
Sc. 1830  Scott Tales of a Grandfather (3rd Series) II. vi.:
The estates, or countries, as they are called, of the great [Highland] chiefs.
Inv. 1728  Letter-Bk. Bailie J. Steuart (S.H.S. 1915) 280:
The Countreys about Lochaber and Apin was glutted with wine and brandy by little Summerwale of Runfrugh [Renfrew] in the month of April last.
Bnff. 1882  W. M. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars iii.:
A the countra noo dependit on her nursery and cam' for a kitlin when they wantit ane.
Slk. 1835  Hogg Tales Wars of Montrose III. 99:
I'll speak wi' you now here in my ain coontry.
Uls. 1880  W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
“My country” is the common way of saying “the part of the country where I live,” so that if two farmers from districts three or four miles apart meet at market, one asks the other, “what's the news in your country?”

2. An inhabited region. Sc. 1746  R. Forbes Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S. 1895–96) III. 44:
He being at a sufficient distance from any country, did spend the day . . . with throwing up of bonnets in the air, and shuting at them.

3. Combs.: †(1) country acts, “a code of bye-laws or municipal regulations enacted from time to time in the Foud[q.v.]'s head-court” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.); (2) country clash, countra —, gossip of the district; known to Bnff.2, Abd. correspondents, Ags.2, Fif.10, Arg.1, Lnk.11 and Kcb. correspondents, 1940; (3) country coortin = Bundling, q.v. (Arg.1 1937); (4) country Joan, “an uncouth country person” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.); (5) country Jock, “an opprobrious title given to farm servants” (Abd.4 1931; Abd.9, Fif.10 1940); †(6) country keeper, “one employed in a particular district to apprehend delinquents” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); (7) country sale, “hill sale; sale by cart, as distinguished from disposal by rail or sea” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 20). (2) Sc. 1874  A. Hislop Sc. Anecdotes 296:
His soul would give way to the foolish scandal and “country clash” afloat.
Abd. [1920]  M. Argo Makkin' o' John (4th ed.) 29:
Apeerently no, gin a body wis to believe the countra clash.
(6) Sc. 1816  Scott B. Dwarf vi.:
I staid away from the Ba'-spiel . . . only for fear of the Country Keeper, for there was a warrant against me.
(7) Fif. 1942 10 :
It was never onything but a sma' pit and the feck o' the coal wrocht gaed for country sale.

[O.Sc. has countré, -rey, -rie (also with cown- as first syllable), from c.1420, a country, and contré, contrie, contree, a land, region or district; the inhabitants of this (usu. with def. art.), from 1398 (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Countra n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Mar 2018 <>



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