Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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ERSE, n.1, v. Additional meanings of Arse, q.v.

1. n.

(1) In phr. aa erse an' pooches, used to describe the back view of a stout dumpy man (Abd.15 1880; Abd.16, Abd.27 1950).

(2) Fig.: the hinterland of a coastline, the interior (Ork.1, Bnff.2, Abd.2 1944). Cai. 1870  (per Cai.9):
“Deed, I come fae 'e erse o' 'e country” . . . related to me by the Free Church minister of Latheron as an instance of the ordinary and innocent use of the word at that time — say 1870 — by a respectable Christian woman.

(3) Derivs.: (a) erselins, adv., backwards, back to front; cf. Arselins; (b) ersie, adj., hinder (Sh.10, Ork.5 1950), fig., perverse (Dmf. 1943 (per Fif.13)); cf. Ersit, id.: also comb. ersie-growing, of a potato, sprouting at the lower end (Ork.5 1950). (a) Ork. 1943 1 :
Gaun erselins wi'd, as, for instance, in making an Irish bull or a spoonerism or something of that kind.

2. v. In phrs. (1) to erse along, esp. of children: to move oneself along the ground while in a sitting position; (2) to erse on, to propel forward from behind. (1) Ork. 1929  Marw.:
He was no able tae walk, but he could erse himsel' along at a great rate.
(2) Edb. 1928  A. D. Mackie Poems 34:
That shog him and cummer Or erse him richt on.

[O.Sc. has ers(e), the buttocks. from c.1420, the utmost or hinder part. a.1578. ]

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"Erse n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 10 Dec 2018 <>



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