Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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FIRE, n., v. Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. A kindling, a light-up (of tobacco), esp. in phr. fire in (till) (one's) face. Sh. 1897  Shet. News (10 July):
“Weel, Tammy,” I says, whin I wis gotten fire i' my face.
Sh. 1898  Shet. News (29 Jan.):
I raise ta mak fir ben wi' fire i' me pipe.
Sh. 1949  J. Gray Lowrie 70:
So whin he wis gotten fire atill his face, says he. . . .

2. Fuel (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Dmb., Bwk. 1952). Rare in Eng. and obs. c.1800. Bnff. 1753  Trans. Bnff. Field Club (1932) 11:
The dearest thing here is fire. . . . The fire burnt here is all fine large oaks.
Ags. 1794  W. Anderson Piper of Peebles 5:
Barefoot horse, like pedlars' packs Boot — carry fire to rich an' poor, Baith peats an' truffs.
Sc. 1816  Scott Antiquary xi.:
Yon gentlefolks . . . that hae stouth and routh, and fire and fending, and meat and claith.
Cai. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 XV. 54:
Farm-servants' wages are, for men ¥8 yearly, 6½ bolls oatmeal, 2 bolls potatoes, one chopin of milk daily, with house and fire.
Abd. 1929  J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 3:
It mak's a gey odds fin we hae to buy a' wir fire.
Abd. 1949 29 :
Pit on some mair fire, it's gettin' awfa caul.
Per. 1951  Abd. Press and Jnl. (14 Aug.):
Gamekeeper (single) for Central Perthshire; must be first-class rabbit and vermin killer; bothy, fire and light.

3. Any foreign body (usually metallic) in the eye (Cai., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Arg., Gsw., Ayr. 1952), such as “a smithy spark or the like” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Abd. 1867  W. Anderson Rhymes 26:
For pickin stobs frae laddies' feet, or fires an' mots frae een.
Gall. 1900  E.D.D.:
A red hot spark from the anvil is called a fire, if it strikes the eyeball of the smith, and has to be carefully taken off. A blacksmith told me that he had once got a “fire” in his eye.

4. A ring opposite the sun indicating a change of weather (Mry.11928).

5. The phosphorescence of the sea (Abd. 1885 Folk-Lore Jnl. III. 53; Nai. 1900 E.D.D.). Sc. 1884  R. Hogarth Herring Fishery 20:
It is in the evening that herrings generally “mesh,” before the “fire,” as the fishermen term it, comes into the water. The reason of this is that herrings notice the nets by the phosphorescent light and avoid them.

6. Excessive fermentation which causes scorching and incineration. See 7. (12). Sc. 1950  Scotsman (22 April):
Lawn mowing . . . tend to heat too rapidly and much of their value is lost through “fire.”

7. Combs.: (1) fire-ball, see quot.; (2) fire-bit, sea phosphorescence (Nai. 1900 E.D.D.); †(3) fire-brod, see Firebord; (4) fire-burn, = (2) (Abd. 1885 Folk-Lore Jnl. III. 53; Nai. 1900 E.D.D.; Fif., Kcb. 1951); (5) fire-cheek, the stone side of the fireplace (Ork., Ags., Edb., Ayr. 1952). See Cheek; (6) fire-coal, (a) soft, bright-burning coal; (b) see quot.; (7) fire-dairt, lightning, a thunderbolt. Poet.; (8) fire-devil, an iron basket holding a fire used by plumbers for melting solder (wm.Sc.11930); †(9) fire-drum, a drum formerly beaten as a fire alarm; (10) fire-edge, the sharp edge of a new tool (ne.Sc., Fif., Arg. 1951); also fig. the first flush of ardour or enthusiasm (Bnff.2, Abd.15 Kcb.10 1945); also in Eng. dial.; (11) fire-en(d), (Fif., m.Lth., Lnk., Ayr., Dmf. 1951), -ein, -eym (Abd.15 1928), the fireside, the end of a house or room where the fireplace is; (12) fire-fang, n., over-fermentation, causing excessive heat and scorching, esp. in manure (Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Nai., Gl.) or cheese; v., to ferment and heat up in this way. Hence ppl.adj. firefangit (-ed), scorched, spoilt by excessive fermentation (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork.5 1951), vbl.n. firefangin (w.Sc. 1825 Jam.), deriv. firefangitness (Ib.). Also in Eng. dial.; (13) fire-fla(u)cht, -flaught, -fucht, (a) a flash of lightning, lit. and fig. (Kcb.3 1929; Fif.10 1942). Also attrib.; (b) sheet lightning, wildfre (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1951); (c) a shooting star (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 204; wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan App. 502; Kcb.3 1929); (d) a will-o'-the-wisp (Kcb.3 1929); (e) “a vapoury, ill-tempered, empty person” (wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan App. 502; Abd.27 1951). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (14) fire-glud, the glow of the fire (Sh.10 1951); ‡(15) fire-house, a house or apartment with a fireplace, i.e. a dwelling-house as opposed to a building for animals, etc. (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Bnff.2, Abd.16 1946), the kitchen (Ork.5 1951); †(16) fire-kettle, a three-legged pot for holding fire in an open fishing-boat (Sh. 1900 E.D.D.); (17) fire-kinlin, a house-warming party (Abd. 1825 Jam.; Bnff.2, Abd.2 1942); (18) fire-levin, lightning (Teviotdale 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); wildfire (Ib.); †(19) fire-lug (en'), the chimney-corner; †(20) fire-match, a burning stick thrust between the fingers as an instrument of torture. Hist.; (21) fire-neuk, = (19), the fireside, hearth (Abd.9 1942); (22) fire new, adj., as new as (metal) from the fire, brand new (ne.Sc., Fif. 1950): common in Eng. dial.; (23) fire-raiser, Sc. law: one who criminally sets fire to property. Vbl.n. fire-raising, arson (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 36); (24) fire-room; a room with a fireplace (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 169). Now only hist.; (25) fire-shuil, -shool; -sheel (ne.Sc.), a fire-shovel. Gen.Sc. Also attrib. of a kind of hat worn by some clergymen; †(26) fire-siller, a rent paid for the right of casting peats in a moss for fuel; †(27) fire-slacht, -slaught, lightning. Arch. and only in Tennant. See Slaught; †(28) fire-spang, a quick-tempered person (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 204); (29) fire-stane, -stone, (a) a kind of sandstone. Also in Eng. dial.; (b) a hearth-stone (Ork.5, Abd.27 1951); (30) fire-stife (Fif. 1952), -styth (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 28), the burning smell of spontaneous combustion of coal. See Stife. Also fire-stink (Barrowman); (31) fire-tail Bob, the redstart, Phoenicurus phoenicurus. Cf. Eng. dial. fire-tail, id.; †(32) fire-toll, the ringing of a church bell as a fire-alarm; †(33) fire-wall, a wall heated artificially on which to train tender plants; †(34) firewood in phr. to wish (one) firewood of (a boat), see quot. (1) Kcd. 1929  J. M. McPherson Prim. Beliefs ne.Scot. 23:
At Stonehaven, the last night of the year still witnesses the ceremonial of the “Fire-balls.” The balls are circular in shape and about the size of a bees' skep. They are made of combustibles and well inoculated with tar. To each ball a piece of wire is attached, by which it may be swung by the celebrants. . . . The burning fragments are thrown to the sides of the streets, disinfecting the air, and scaring away all evil spirits.
(5) Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) ix.:
Our stuffed chintz elbow-chair by the fire cheek.
(6) (a) Ayr. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 II. 93:
The fire, or seeing-coal (so called from the light it gives), is of a rich and caking quality, resembling the English coal.
Ayr. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 V. 538:
Strata of both fire and blind coal have been wrought to considerable advantage for nearly a century.
(b) Sc. 1886  J. Barrowman Mining Terms 28:
Fire-coal, coal supplied to workmen connected with a colliery, and which is usually free of lordship.
(7) Kcb. 1890  A. J. Armstrong Ingleside Musings 104:
O where will ye gang When the fire-dairt lurks in the murky cloud?
(9) Sc. 1814  Scott Waverley xxxiv.:
A kind of rub-a-dub-dub like that with which the fire-drum startles the slumbering artizans of a Scotch burgh.
(10) Kcb. 1814  W. Nicholson Tales 34:
He, contentit, slippet hame, For, 'las! his fire edge was gane.
(11) Edb. 1787  W. Taylor Poems 64:
I' the fire-en' sat man and wife, An' Tib an' I sat i' the neuk.
Gsw. 1827  A. Rodger Peter Cornclips 58:
But when he cam' to our fire-end, An' fand us baith thegither.
Cai. 1869  M. Maclennan Peasant Life 118:
There, at the window, in “the fire-end” of the house, was the paternal board, on which the tailor sat and stitched the village moleskins.
w.Sc. 1934  “Uncle Tom” Mrs Goudie's Tea-Pairty 28:
The wife and me's the prood wuman tae gie ye a' a herty welcome tae oor fire-en'.
Abd. 1950  Buchan Observer (19 Dec.):
There was generally a good singer in the company seated by the “fire-eyn.”
(12) Lth. 1765  A. Dickson Agriculture 383:
Dung, in this situation [burnt or over-heated] is dry and white; the plowmen call it fire-fanged. When thus burnt, it is found, from experience, to have lost almost all its virtues.
Kcb. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XIII. 53:
As much of the rain as may keep it from being too much heated, or, as we call it, fire-fanged, which would render it almost useless.
Sc. 1807  Farmer's Mag. VIII. 318:
Great care is to be used in frequent turning and rubbing, both to keep the cheese dry and clean and to preserve it from swelling and bursting with the heat, vulgarly, fire-fanging.
m.Lth. 1808  Farmer's Mag. IX. 205:
It also corrects the quality of dung when threatening to fire-fang.
Sc. 1889  H. Stephens Bk. of Farm I. 231:
To prevent the dung from becoming hot, and dry, and damaged, from what is commonly known as “fire-fang.”
(13) (a) Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 67:
A' in a clap the fireflaught blinds their eyn.
Edb. 1773  R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 65:
Fire-flaught and hail, wi' tenfald fury's fires, Shall lay yird-laigh Edina's airy spires.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality xxxviii.:
He passed by me like a fire-flaught when I was in the garden.
Sc. 1839  Wilson's Tales of the Borders (1888) VII. 23:
I wad hae gien a' the bodles the prelates threw me — the mair by token that the puir callant was writhing in the fire-flaughts o' their anger.
Gsw. 1872  J. Young Lochlomond Side 17:
A fire-flaucht, panoramic view O' grandeur maun content us noo.
Fif. 1886  “S. Tytler” St Mungo's City v.:
The horse will be awa' again like a fire-flaucht in a couple o' minutes.
Ayr. 1913  J. Service Memorables 90:
His twa-edged sword flashed oot like the fire-flaucht's gleam.
(b) ne.Sc. 1893  W. Gregor Notes to Dunbar's Wks. (S.T.S.) III. 242:
[Fyrflacht.] In Banff and Aberdeen shires it is commonly applied to lightning at night without thunder.
Abd. 1928  N. Shepherd Quarry Wood 26:
They ca' them the Northern Lichts. Fire-flaughts.
(d) wm.Sc. 1868  Laird of Logan App. 502:
Now I ride on a gliff o' the fyreflaucht o' nicht.
(14) Sh. 1947  New Shetlander (Aug.-Sept.) 19:
Be da fire-glud hoo aft, haes da sam auld sweet story Bune tauld i' da airms o' da auld restin' chair.
(15) Gall. 1729  Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) II. 118:
It was begot about the last of March 1728 in the fire house of Glenvernock.
Crm. 1748  Sc. N. & Q. (1892) VI. 85:
[Valuation of farm houses] To his fire-house and pantrie . ¥ 1119
Mry. 1830  T. D. Lauder Moray Floods 196:
The gable o' the firehoose partly fell, an' the water began to come in on us.
Ork. 1905  Dennison Ork. Weddings 28:
It must be remembered that the only bedroom in the house was the apartment in which the whole family lived, commonly called the “fire-house.”
Abd. 1920  C. Murray Country Places 32:
Syne when the milkin's by, an' the fire-hoose clean, An' ye daunder oot for a breath o' the gloamin' air.
(16) Sh. 1898  Shet. News (27 Sept.):
Clap dem i' da firekettle, an' prepare dysell for da shot, an' da kavlin' tree.
Sh. 1950  A. Halcrow Sail Fishermen 71:
The sixearn being fuller across the fore room, most of the ballast was put here. Here the fire kettle and pot were kept, also the peat fuel.
(17) ne.Sc. 1874  W. Gregor Olden Time 15:
When the house was taken possession of, there was a feast — the hoose-heatin or fire-kinlin.
(19) wm.Sc. 1827  T. Hamilton Cyril Thornton (1848) xlvi.:
It's no great matter about the cocky-leeky, for that will keep het by the fire-lug as lang as ye like.
Ayr. 1894  A. Laing Poems 99:
Clink ye at the fire-lug en', Wi' ink an' paper.
(20) Sc. 1727  P. Walker Six Saints (1901) I. 287:
The swearing ministers have heartily and without either boots, thumbikins or fire-matches, or any hazard to the neck by the bloody rope, shooled on the grave-moulds.
(21) Edb. 1843  J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie's Wallet ii.:
But for the gude steeve stuff she's made o', . . . my fire-neuk wad hae been toomer the night.
(22) Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 28:
A pair of kissing strings, an' gloovs fire new.
(23) Sc. 1748  Scots Mag. (Oct.) 498:
At the circuit-court at Jedburgh, which sat down on the 20th, James Young late tenant in Home, was tried for wilful fire-raising.
Cai. 1774  Weekly Mag. (13 Oct.) 79:
We poor fouks hae nae mair to do but turn robber, thief or fire-raiser.
Sc. 1883  Justiciary Reports 287:
If a person intentionally, and not in pursuit of any lawful object, sets fire to premises he commits the crime of wilful fire-raising.
Sc. 1952  Abd. Press and Jnl. (12 Sept.):
Arbroath Man admits Fire-Raising. Two Years' Sentence.
(24) Sc. 1700  Edb. Gazette (12–14 Feb.):
A Lodging in Milnsquare, at the bowhead, consisting of 7 fire Rooms.
Sc. 1756  M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 213:
Lady Fanny . . . wanted a house with two fire rooms with beds.
Edb. 1869  R. Chambers Trad. Edb. 362:
With fifty-eight fire-rooms, and a gallery seventy feet long besides a garden, it [Queensberry House] was offered at the surprisingly low upset price of ¥900 [in 1801].
Arg. 1914  N. Munro New Road viii.:
The voice of Barisdale grew louder; he would have the fire room or none.
(25) Ayr. 1789  Burns Capt. Grose's Peregrinations vii.:
Auld Tubalcain's fire-shool and fender.
Dmb. 1846  W. Cross Disruption xxxvii.:
Div' ye mean us to tak' the pats and pans, and tangs, pokers, fireshools, and knives and forks and spunes?
  Ib. x.:
This servant o' Satan wi' the fireshool hat.
(26) Abd. c.1830  in A. F. Murison Memoirs (1935) 212:
She had 8/- of what was called firesiller to pay the Laird for Moss.
(27) Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry 24:
As thunder on the fire-slacht's back.
Sc. 1846  Anon. Muckomachy 44:
Like fire-slaught fliskin' hither-thither.
(29) (a) Slg. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 VIII. 40:
Whinstone, freestone, and redstone (locally called fire-stone).
(b) Abd. 1920  A. Robb MS.:
Only some grates to set and fire stanes to lay.
(31) Slg. 1894  Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. and Archaeol. Soc. XVI. 151:
The vulgar name of Firetail Bob gives a pretty good definition of its [redstart's] most distinctive character. When on the wing, the fiery chestnut rump of this bird is very conspicuous.
(32) wm.Sc. 1837  Laird of Logan 225:
The witty wag . . . with all speed repaired to the church-bell, and rang a fire-toll, which speedily brought a multitude to the kirk-yard.
(33) Sc. 1746  Caled. Mercury (25 Dec.):
John Guthry Gardener, lately from England, undertakes to erect Stoves and Fire-Walls, after the newest and best Methods.
(34) Kcd. 1898  Abd. Wkly. Free Press (28 Oct.):
In Cove the favourite day for launching a boat was Saturday. The toast was — “Here's yer health, and I wis ye firewood o' her”, the meaning of which was, of course, that the wellwishers hoped she would never be lost at sea, but serve her owner till she was worn out, or till he was prosperous enough to get a better.

II. v. 1. As in Eng., to kindle, set fire to, esp. in vbl.n. firing. Hence firing-stick, candle-fir (see Cannle); “wood which, being easily kindled, is used as touchwood” (Abd. 1825 Jam.). Phr. like to fire Fittie, see quot. Abd. 1923  H. Beaton Benachie 234:
He's like to fire Fittie [a part of Aberdeen] an' burn the dykes — [He is] very angry.

2. To bake pastry or bread, esp. oatcakes or scones, by browning in an oven or at a red fire. Gen.Sc. Vbl.n. firing. Sc. 1736  Mrs McLintock Receipts 8:
Put on the Lid, and send it to the Oven; when 'tis near fired, pour in a Mutchkin of white Wine at the Lumb.
Sc. 1746  Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) III. 42:
One becking and another firing bread and cooking.
Peb. 1805  J. Nicol Poems I. 28:
The dough is then rolled thin, and cut into small scones, which, when fired, are handed round the company.
Dmb. 1846  W. Cross Disruption xv.:
It was not probable that there would be either a “kneading rower,” or a “firing girdle” in Edinburgh.
Abd. 1893  G. Macdonald Sc. Songs 27:
That's no the gait to fire the breid, Nor yet to brew the yill.
Ork. 1920  H. Campbell Folk Songs 19:
There's a prize for cakes, an' floory scones a' right, . . . Dad, I fired them, an' thoo didna leave a bite.
Sc. 1946  F. M. McNeill Recipes from Scot. 71:
Prick all over with a fork, cut into rounds, and fire on the girdle or in the oven.

3. Of the sea: to glow with phosphorescence. Nai. 1886  Folk-Lore Journal II. 7:
When it [phosphorescence] begins to appear on the sea, a Nairn fisherman would say: “The sea's firin”; and when at the herring-fishing, before casting the nets, “Wait till the wattir fires.”

4. Of grain or grass: to be scorched “by hot winds or lightning” (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Abd.27 1949).

5. Of milk, meat, etc.: in ppl.adj. fired, tainted or soured by hot sultry weather (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 20; m.Lth., Kcb. 1952). Fif. 1937  St Andrews Cit. (31 July):
No complaints of “fired” meat were lodged [from a report of the municipal M.O.H.].

6. To inflame (a part of the body) by chafing, irritation or the like. Ppl.adj. firet, -ed (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 204). Gen.Sc. Also fig. Edb. 1773  R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 25:
His amry had nae liquor laid in To fire his mou'.
Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr Duguid 113:
[She] did much by her tinkler tongue to foment the thing and fire the sair.
Abd. 1928 15 :
Aw wis rubbin ma firet heel wi' zincan saw.

7. To heat by means of a fire, to warm (a house, etc.) (Ags.18 1900). Ags. 1953  Scotsman (4 Feb.) 9:
He decided to return to Brechin . . . to air and fire the house in readiness for the family.

III. Phrs.: †1. a fire of stanes, a stone fire, see quots.; 2. (like) fire and tow, rash, impetuous, irascible; with great haste (Bnff.2, Ags.2 1942); 3. fire at the first, adj., prompt, precipitate, impulsive (Abd.4 1929); †4. letters of fire and sword, Sc. law: a warrant from the Sc. Privy Council to eject a tenant by force. See Letters; †5. th efire is faaen upo (a statement), see quot.; 6. to pit fire in the nest, to create trouble, to raise a row (Ork.5 1951); †7. to read out of the fire, to read fortunes in the way the fire burns; 8. to redd fire, see Redd. 1. Ags. 1825  Jam.:
To big a fire of stanes is to make a pile of stones on the hearth, in form resembling a fire . . . when [tenants] reluctantly left a habitation of possession, for the purpose of insuring ill-luck to the family that succeeded them; especially if the new comers had taken the house or farm o'er their heads.
Kcb. 1896–7  Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 31:
Within living memory “a stone fire” had been placed in a farmhouse by a tenant who was leaving. . . . [He laid] on his successor a curse which should never be lifted until the fires burned. . . . The doors were locked and the tenant made his way out by the window, the curse alighting on the first person who entered thereafter.
2. Rxb. 1821  A. Scott Poems 22:
Now, too they gang like fire and tow, Behind them swall the sheaves.
Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr Duguid 15:
“Lord!” quo' Robin, who was fire and tow, “byde till I get my breeks, and —.”
5. Sh. 1896  J. Burgess Lowra Biglan 21:
“Da fire is faaen upo mi words” she said, “an' weel I wat braand never fell on truer tale, aald fröty sayin' t'o it be.” The falling of the fire when words are said attests their truth according to an old belief.
7. Sh. 1877  G. Stewart Fireside Tales 75:
“Reading out of the fire,” as it was called, as well as cup reading.

[O.Sc. fire-bitt, a beacon brazier, 1627, fyrefangit, burned, 1513, -flaucht, lightning, c.1400, -hows, c.1420, -rasing, 1554, -slacht, a.1400.]

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



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