Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

EE, n., v.1 Gen.Sc. form of Eng. eye, n., v. [i, pl. in Sc., Cai. + ei, em.Sc. (b) + æ, s.Sc. + ɛi.]

I. n.

1. Variant forms.

(1) Sing.: ee, e'e (Gen.Sc.); eie (Sc. 1887 Jam.6; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

(2) Pl.: een, e'en (Gen.Sc.); ein (Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 6; s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 158); †eien (Bnff. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 38); †eyen (n.Sc. 1714 R. Smith Poems 5); eyn(e); eens (Crm. 1911 M. A. Paterson W.-L.; Per. 1915 J. Wilson L. Strathearn 63); also rarely ees (Fif. 1814 W. Tennant Trottin Nanny xxxvi.).

(3) Dim. forms: eekie, (see 4 (8)); eenie (ne.Sc. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 59; Bnff. and Abd. correspondents 1942) and eenickie (Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 64), formed from the pl., are also found in ne.Sc. (1) and (2) Sc. 1721  Ramsay Poems 63:
Love 'midst her Locks did play, And wanton'd in her Een.
Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 22:
His full of looking, he could never get, For on sick looks his eyn he never set.
Edb. 1772  R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 5:
Blythness, I trow, maun lighten ilka eie, An' ilka canty callant sing like me.
Ayr. 1786  Burns To a Mouse viii.:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e, On prospects drear!
Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xii.:
I kenna muckle about women's een, Laird.
Sc. 1936  D. Rorie Lum Hat 20:
But ae ee on the smiddy door As the Auld Ane sidled in.
Sc. 1950  Proverbial Saying:
Yer ee's bigger nor yer wame — you have helped yourself to more than you can eat.

2. Sc. usages.

(1) Fig.: regard, liking, craving, covetousness, anxious expectation, used in phrs., e.g. to have one's ee(n) in something, to covet something, or with epithets (Sc. 1887 Jam.6; Uls.4 1949), e.g. clear (Sh.10 1949), hingin' (Kcb.10 1942), kindly (Bnff.2, Ags.17, Fif.10 1942), lang (Abd.15 1880–1950; Bnff.2, Fif.10 1942; wm.Sc.1 1949), lang-tailed (Ags.6 c.1880). Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb viii.:
She'll luik wi' clear een ere she see that again, I doot.
Kcb. 1909  S. R. Crockett Rose of the Wilderness xii.:
Maybe it ran through my head that ye had a kind o' hingin' e'e for the young lad Fitzger —!
Abd. 1944  C. Gavin Mountain of Light iii. ix.:
You wi' a lang e'e till anither lad.
Bwk.  2, Arg.3 1949:
That's a nice knife. Ay, is yer ee(n) in't?

(2) An opening in general: (a) The entrance to a valley. Gall. 1930  A. M'Cormick in Gallov. Annual 14:
An' there's a hoose, “Carlock”, sittin' richt in the e'e o' this bonnie glen lookin' oot on the peacefulness that broods o'er the bosky woods and purple heather.

(b) In mining: an opening into a shaft (see Ingaun). Hence border-ee (see second quot.). Sc. 1701  J. Brand Descr. Orkney (1883) 72:
There is a hole in the Hill above, like the Eye of a Coal-pit, which is terrible to look down into.
Lth. 1887  P. MacNeill Blawearie 186:
The water . . . not only had completely swamped the entire workings of that pit, but had risen up the shaft some feet above the “border-ees” — that is above the extreme height of the roof at the pit-bottom.

(c) The spaces between the upright posts of a hayshed (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

(d) An orifice through which water passes, the mouth of a culvert (Sh.10 1949); the archway of a bridge (Ork.5 1949). See also Wall-ee. Ags. 1794  Session Papers, Arbuthnott v. Scott (25 Feb.) 19:
The floodgate, at the eye of the intake of the mill of Murphy, was lowered down considerably.
Per. 1843–5  Trans. High. and Agric. Soc. 111:
An eye with iron gratings, fixed in stone, is also to be formed between every two doors, to carry off surface and waste water.
Ork. 1942 1 :
The eye o' the drain's clean chockit wi' gress.

(e) The hole in the centre of a mill-stone (Sh.10 1949; Abd.27 1950); see also mill-ee s.v. Mill. Sc. 1724–27  Lady G. Baillie in T. T. Misc. (1762) 337:
Nor dribles of drink rins throw the draff, Nor pickles of meal rins throw the mill-eye.
Ork. 1795  G. Low in Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 326:
Helping their poorer neighbours, both at the mills eye, and at their own houses.
Abd. 1877  W. Alexander Rural Life 147:
They got a long and stout stick which was called “the spar,” put through the eye of the millstone, and firmly wedged there.

†(f) A hole in a drinking vessel above which it could not be filled. Ayr. 1823  Galt R. Gilhaize III. 162:
Who again filled it to the flowing eye.

(g) The eye-shaped hole in the head of a pick or hammer into which the shaft is fitted (Kcb.1 1931; wm.Sc.1, Arg.3 1949). Hence phr. as fou's the e'e o' a pick, extremely intoxicated (Kcb.10 1942).   Id.:
In the modern pick the hole is tapered inwards and the shaft is hammered in from the outside and keeps itself tight. This is called a “slip-e'e”. In the old smithy-made picks the shaft was driven from the inside and wedged.

(h) A hole in cheese; also found in n.Eng. dial. but now obs. in St.Eng. Ayr. 1811  W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 455:
Whey-springs or eyes, are seldom met with in the cheeses of Ayrshire.

‡(i) One of the succession of loops in the straw rope forming the kishie (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Sh.11 1951). Cf. Hyog. Sh. 1923  Shetlander No. 3. 2:
I laid up da een, an' whin I wis dune I tied a shaef-baand aboot dem.

†(3) The surface of a puddle. Ags. 1776  C. Keith Farmer's Ha' (1794) xxv.:
The chapman lad wi' gab sae free, Comes in and mixes i' the glee, After he's trampet out the e'e O mony dub.
Lnk. 1818  A. Fordyce Country Wedding 133:
Thy mistress, snug on thee enthron'd, The e'en frae monie a dub has scon'd. And erst beneath M — M — he groaned The spail horse that's dead.

(4) pl. Globules of fat seen in soup, milk, etc. (Abd.15 1880–1949; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.). s.Sc. c.1830  T. Wilkie in Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club XXIII. 81:
If colewort that has been boiled have the appearance of eyes or round globules of fat or water glancing upon them, these are called e'en, and thought lucky.
Abd. 1942 9 :
Puir broth the day; the only een upon them is the pair lookin' on.

3. Phrs.: (1) a drap(pie) in the ee, just enough drink to make one mildly intoxicated; (2) ee in one's neck, power of foresight, prudent anticipation; †(3) ee o' simmer, midsummer; †(4) ee o' (the) day, noon, midday (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); (5) ee o' the morn, dawn; (6) to be one's ae ee, to be the apple of one's eye, one's chief delight (Abd. 1825 Jam.2; Abd.15 1880–1949); cf. tae ee, id., s.v. Tae, adj.; (7) to lick the white out of a person's eye, to obtain an advantage over, supplant (Lnk.11 1942); (8) to put out a person's eye, id.; Gen.(exc. I.)Sc.; †(9) to say black is (the white of) one's e'e, to speak ill of one; †(10) to see between the eyes, to meet; (11) to show ee, to begin to take notice, “used of a sheep-dog pup when he first gives signs of his nature and aptitude by crouching down and watching poultry or the like” (Knr. 1949 in Broadcast; Rxb. 1951). (1) Ayr. 1790  Burns Willie brew'd. . . . Chorus:
We are na fou, we're nae that fou, But just a drappie in our e'e!
m.Lth. 1816  J. Aikman Poems 221:
Gin I but taste the barley bree, An' get a drappie in my e'e, Beneath my feet I think I see, The universe.
Abd. 1873  P. Buchan Inglismill 44:
Though Inglis kent a bull's fit frae a B, He had mair than a wee drap in his ee.
Sh. 1877  G. Stewart Fireside Tales 83:
An' plink my strings mair slowly, Because da drappie in my ee Maks rims aboot da collie.
(2) Ayr. 1838  Galt in Tait's Mag. (Jan.) 40–41:
I have an ee in my neck, and can spae some fortunes. . . . I saw, by the ee in my neck, that it would be an unspeakable advantage to me to have a connection with Mr Thristles of the Moorlands' family.
(3) Sh. 1898  Shet. News (23 July):
Dark! Man, doo's doitin'. As fir dark i' da e'e o' simmer. . . .
(4) Sc. 1818  Ballad in Edb. Mag. (Oct.) 327:
An' the ee o' day gies power to me O' Mays to tak my will.
Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 75:
It was the vera ee o' the day, What time the carefu' kimmers keek Aneath the kail-pat's lid to sey The boilin' o' the beef.
(5) Abd. 1920  G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 18:
Ere the e'e o' the morn tak's a glint o' the day.
(6) Lnk. 1893  J. Crawford Sc. Verses 41:
But young Tam the wee birkie's his faither's ae ee.
(7) Sc. 1721  Ramsay Poems 253:
O'er lang, in Troth, have we By-standers been, And loot Fowk lick the White out of our Een.
(8) Lnk. 1882  A. L. Orr Laigh Flichts 30:
Wee Mungo' who cam' on the scene, Put oot the Sailor's e'e.
Fif. 1942 10 :
When a new baby arrives the kimmers will say to the older child: “Ye've hid yer ee pitten oot noo.”
(9) Sc. 1843  N. McLeod Crack aboot the Kirk (2nd ed.) 3:
The folk jist say they'll no ha'e him, wi'oot gien rhyme or reason, . . . wi'oot sayin' black's yer e'e or ought against him.
Dmb. 1846  W. Cross Disruption xix.:
Wad ye offer for to go to insinuate ony thing against my character? . . . I defy you to say black is the white o' my e'e.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxx.:
An' fa's a better jeedge, Dawvid, nor Mrs Birse — ye winna say that black's the fite o' her e'e.
Per. 1900  E.D.D.:
I'll no say black's yer e'e = I'll say nothing.
(10) Sc. 1819  Scott L. Montrose iv.:
I wish I had never seen them between the een, for they're come to harry us out o' house and ha'.
Slk. 1875  Border Treasury (6 March) 364:
It's nae easy job to undergang an examination by a man ye never saw atween the een afore.

4. Combs.: (1) blin' e'e, a dogfish, Scillium canicula (Abd. 1880–84 F. Day Fishes II. 310; ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna ofDee” 272); (2) ee-bree, eyebrow, phs. more correctly: eyelash (Fif.10, Kcb.10 1942); pl. form een-breen (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); see Bree, n.3; also used fig. in phrs. e.g. sky's eebree; (3) eebrier, eyelash (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Bnff.2, Abd.2, Abd.9 1942); also in pl. = eyebrows (Sh.10 1949); cf. Breers; (4) e'e-broo' = (2); Gen.Sc.; see Broo, n.2; (5) ee-feast, (a) “a rarity, anything that excites wonder” (Ayr. 1825 Jam.2); (b) “a satisfying glance, what gratifies one's curiosity” (Rnf., Ayr. Ib.); (6) eegrip, the rope handle on each side of a cassie [straw basket] to which the band is attached (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.); (7) eehole, an eyesocket (Ags.19, Fif.10, m.Lth.1, Bwk.2, wm.Sc.1 1945); (8) eekie peeker, eyelid; (9) eelight, light, radiance; (10) eenbright, adj., “shining, luminous” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); (11) eesicht, eyesight, sight, vision; Gen.Sc.; †at eesicht, to all appearances; (12) ee-stehn, a stone supposed to have the power of curing diseases of the eye; (13) eye-stern, a corrupt form of eestring (s.Sc. 1824 J. Telfer Border Ballads 79); (14) eestring, an eye muscle; obs. in Eng. since 1776; used in Sh. quot. to mean eyelid (Sh.10 1949, obsol.); (15) eyewharm, ee-, eyelash (Sh. 1825 Jam.2; 1866 Edm. Gl.); “the edge of the eyelid” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., ee-; Sh.10 1949); cf. Whaarm, id.; (16) eewink(er), eyelash (Sc. 1808 Jam., -winker; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., e(i)e-wink(er); Bwk.2 1949); eyelid (Watson); known to Fif.10, wm.Sc.1 1942; (17) ee winkie, (-ey), the eye; in children's rhyme (ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 14; Sh., Ags., Abd. correspondents 1949). (2) Sc. 1724–27  Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1762) 430:
And the sweat it dropt down Frae my very eye-brie.
Sc. 1808  J. Finlay Sc. Ballads I. xxxi.:
There's no a bird in a' this foreste Will do as meickle for me As dip its wing in the wan water An' straik it on my e'e-bree.
Slk. 1818  Hogg B. of Bodsbeck II. 134:
Down comes a great . . . eagle . . . frae about the e'e-bree o' the heavens.
Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxiv.:
His e'e-bree . . . became as green as a docken leaf.
Per. a.1837  R. Nicoll Poems (1842) 80:
They jewels seem o' meikle price Aneath the dark e'ebree.
Abd. 1847  W. Thom Rhymes 150:
Her ee-bree creepin' on my cheek Betrays her pawkie smile.
Ayr. 1847  J. Paterson (ed.) Ballads and Songs 94:
An darker far than Burchill taps, That touches the star's e'ebree.
Knr. 1917  J. L. Robertson Petition to the Deil 64:
But the far flung curve o' the Lang Whang Road, Wi' the mune on the sky's eebree.
(4) Ags. 1893  F. Mackenzie Cruisie Sk. (1894) v.:
She's but a young lass, an' a foolish forbye, that wad mak' an outcry ower a singit e'e-broo.
(7) Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 396:
I'll give you a Fluet on the Cheek blade, 'till the Fire flee from your Een Holes.
Rxb. c.1811  G. Ballantyne in Vagabond Songs (ed. R. Ford 1904) 313:
And as for Peggie Duncan, She is a bonnie lass, And I'll leave her my e'e-holes To mak' a keekin' glass.
Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxvi.:
In the nicht watches when sleep sealed up my eeholes an' steeped my senses in deep forgetfulness.
Dmf. 1908  J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1912) i.:
I had juist got it [a sheep's-head] balanced on the rim o' the pot to see doon the e'enholes.
(8) Kcd. 1899  W. F. McHardy Bonnie Montrose 71:
But their wee eekie peekers begin tae blink.
(9) Slk. 1818  Hogg B. of Bodsbeck II. 345:
Wha met wi' fair Lady Rosline By the ee light o' the moon!
(10) Slk. 1822  Hogg Perils of Man II. 190:
The bacon . . . was so juicy that even the brown bristly skin . . . was all standing thick o' eenbright beaming drops like morning dew.
(11) Abd. 1863  G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod i. xiii.:
But ye seem at eesicht to come o' a guid breed.
Lnk. 1873  A. G. Murdoch Lilts 11:
Nor mune nor star Blink't on the eesicht, near or far.
(12) ne.Sc. 1881  W. Gregor Folk-Lore 39:
A small perforated ball, made of Scotch pebble, which has been in the possession of the present family for at least six generations, has the virtue of curing diseases of the eye. It goes by the name of the “ee-stehn,” and is thought to contain all the colours of the eye. . . . When put into a mixture of milk and water, a lotion is formed capable of curing every kind of disease of the eye.
(14) Sc. 1825  Aberdeen Censor 155:
He held the stane till his een-strings crackit, when he was as blin' as a moudiwort.
Sh. 1901  Shet. News (10 Aug.):
A'm no firgat . . . in [and] niver will, as lang as me e'e strings is open.
(16) Ayr. 1817  D. McKillop Poems 120:
E'e-winkers black as ony brace.
Edb. ?1850  J. Smith Hum. Sc. Stories (14th ed.) 18:
Jenny had a thumpin' fat laddie, wi' the very e'e-winkers o' his mither.
(17) Sc. 1847  R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 181:
Brow, brow, brenty, Ee, ee, winkey, Nose, nose, nebbie.

II. v.

1. To open one's eyes after sleep. Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 69:
Their day time toil had wrought them sick a wrack, That or they ee'd the sun bet o' their back.

2. To ooze, well up — of liquids. Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 43:
The water's eein' out at that holie.

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Ee n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 Dec 2017 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down