Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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FORENENT, prep. Also for(e)nen(s)t; foreanent (Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 26; Bnff. 1895 “N. Roy” Horseman's Word ii.), forninst (Dmf. 1910 R. Quinn Borderland (1933) 37), fornist (Uls. 1948 D. G. Waring Not Quite so Black 40). [fər′nɛn(s)t]

1. Opposite (to), in front of, over against, facing. Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. and Ir. dial. Phr. to come forenent, to occur to, enter one's head (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.). Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 368:
Within a hut, a shake down on a floor Held Isabella cauld, forenenst the door.
Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xxvii.:
Like the great King Ahasuerus when he sate upon his royal throne fornent the gate of his house.
Ayr. 1821  Galt Ann. Parish xliv.:
When Bonaparte gathered his host fornent the English coast.
Ags. 1860  A. Whamond James Tacket xii.:
He saw me howkin' taties fornent our back shop window.
Bnff. 1872  W. Philip It 'ill a' Come Richt xii.:
Nae langer nor a fornicht gane, he steed up forenent me on this verra road.
Edb. 1895  J. Tweeddale Moff xvi.:
Lots o' folk . . . took peety on the chap McCosh, and chalked their crosses forenent him.
Kcb. 1896  Crockett Grey Man xliii.:
Beiking forever fornent the hottest fires of Satan.
s.Sc. 1897  E. Hamilton Outlaws ii.:
When just forenenst where I stood, she left the shelter of the trees.
Ayr. 1901  “G. Douglas” Green Shutters xxi.:
I would rather an ill deil sat forenenst me at the table than parratch in a poke.
Sh. 1914  Angus Gl. 46:
Gerdi lies ower fornenst Leruk.
Ork. 1929  Peace's Ork. Almanac 138:
Whan I tou't lang, I eused tae tak' dem oot an' hing dem ap forenent da bed.
Tyr. 1929  “M. Mulcaghey” Ballymulcaghey 31:
When I come forenenst the gap, there was a big white man comin' up the togher.
Gsw. 1950  H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 98:
Jist a meenit, then, tae Ah shift the steps f'ae forenent the door.

2. As a set-off or counterpoise to, to make up for; in return for, in exchange or payment for (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Rnf. 1788  E. Picken Poems 51:
Though mony blessins, sic as thae, Auld Reekie disna want them, Yet less they're wordy gin she hae As mony ills fornent them.
Rnf. 1861  J. Barr Poems 69:
A deal of work must stand fornent The sugar and the tea.
Lnk. 1885  F. Gordon Pyotshaw 25:
“I cannot advance you so much” . . . “But there's plenty wark fornenst it.”
Uls. 1904  Victoria Coll. Mag. 58:
With the aid of the clergyman, the country man at length got his load on his back, . . . and said, by way of thanks: “I'll have to give ye a day's hearing forenenst this.”
Edb. 1917  T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's iv.19:
But, fornent that, the wey o' the wicked Sklents doon, an' doon to the mirk.
Sc. 1939  Sc. Educ. Jnl. (27 Oct.) 1105:
Gie me, forenent this croun, A cockit-bonnet like oor laird.

3. In opposition to, in face of, against (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh.10 1953). Sh. 1891  J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 57:
Strong an ticht we bigg wir hooses, Taek dem weel fornenst da blast.
Sh. 1898  Shet. News (25 June):
Takkin' your aer — a saxern aer, i' your haand, an' kjaempin' fornenst a ranksman.

4. Concerning, in regard to. Cf. Anent. Sc. 1709  in J. Watson Choice Coll. ii. iv.:
But we will do you understand What we declare fornent Scotland.
Sc.(E) 1871  P. H. Waddell Psalms vii.:
Shiggaioun o' David: whilk he sang till the Lord, fornenst the ill tongue o' Cush the Benjamite.

5. In regard to marriage: to, with (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).   Ib.:
“Such a one is to be married.” “Ay! wha fornent?”

[Fore-, 1. + (A)nent. O.Sc. for(e)nent, from 1429, for(e)anent, from 1562, opposite, fornent, concerning, from 1463. The -st form corresponds to O.Sc. fornentis, 1416, fornens, 1530, forenenst, 1656. Cf. against.]

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"Forenent prep.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Oct 2018 <>



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