Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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ELSE, adv. Sc. usages. The obs. or arch. spellings ells, els, ilse, ¶elze are occas. found. See also Alse, adv.3

1. Otherwise (Ayr.3, Uls.4 1950). Also found in Eng. dial. Abd. 1879  G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie II. xi.:
I wad pit the best o' the kye an' the nowt intil the parlour. . . . I'm thinkin we'll lowse them a' else; for the byre wa's 'ill gang afore the hoose.
Gall. 1901  Trotter Gall. Gossip 312:
An Wullie made shoon noo an than whun he wusna verra thrang else, an put them in the wunda amang the black saip an bonnets.

Phr.: or else no, used ironically to express neg. emphasis = Eng. slang “I don't think!” (Ags.2 1943; Bwk.2 1949). Cf. or ens no, id., s.v. Ense. Sc. 1846  Edb. Tales (Johnstone) II. 333:
You must not be sae mim wi' my prottyjee — a very protty jee he is, or else no!

2. Already, ere now, on a previous occasion (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 153; Bch. c.1890 (per Abd.15); Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd.19 1930). Obs. except dial. in Eng. Lnk. c.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 15:
Whar are ye my bairn says his mither, ye're beddet, and I'll bring the bride to you. Beddet, and is my brithel done ells?
Edb. 1798  D. Crawford Poems 13:
I tell'd you else, on black an' white.
Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xv.:
“Ou, Tam, ye're up els — are ye?” was the first salutation I got.
Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr Duguid 199:
Dod! John, are ye there 'is mornin' else?
Lnk. 1910  C. Fraser Glengonnar 54:
Easie had twae words she used often, “elze” and “efterhin.” If a baker or cadger had come suner than she expected she wad say “Is that you, elze, I didna think it was that time o' day,” or . . . “Are you back, elze? Juist rin like a whittret.”
Sh. 1922  J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 24:
A'm haed dem [pair of spectacles] on else da night, an deil stime can I see wi' dem.

[O.Sc. ellis, else, etc. = otherwise, from a.1400; = already, from 1513: O.E. elles, else.]

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"Else adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Mar 2019 <>



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