Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GAN, v., n. Also gaun, gann. [m.Sc. gɑ(:)n, but sm., s.Sc. + gɒn]

I. v. 1. To go (Slg.3, Fif.14, Ayr.8, Kcb.10, Dmf., s.Sc. 1954). A variant of Gae, v., found only in inf. and pr.t. Not in n.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. Sc. 1712  J. Arbuthnot John Bull II. iv.:
Tell him he may e'en gan his get, I'll have nothing to do with him.
Ayr. 1870  J. K. Hunter Life Studies 19:
To gaun barefit till they could earn their ain shoon.
Ags. 1892  A. Reid Howetoon 70:
Mister, afore I gan awa, wad ye be sae kind as try ane o' the matches?
Dmf. 1915  D. J. Beattie Oor Gate-en' 29:
At that period o' the Langholm history oor local police “force” didna gan' on beat till eicht o'clock.
Gall. 1917  Sc. Field (March) 145:
The man's no richt that gans oot the nicht.
wm.Sc. 1928  J. Corrie Last Day 6:
“Hoo can he gaun in a sledge and nae snaw?” argued Jamie.
Fif. 1952  B. Holman Diamond Panes 70:
What's wrang wi' giein' us a song afore you gann up the hill. [p. 106, gaun.]

Phrs.: (1) to gan by [= beyond] oneself, to go off one's head (Fif.17 1954); (2) gan-fae-me-come-tae-me, n., a trombone (Fif. 1940); (3) to gan in, to shrink (Fif., Dmf. 1954); (4) to gan in wi', to agree with (Fif.17 1954); (5) to gan on aboot (something), to make a fuss about (something) (Fif., Dmf., Kcb. 1954). For (1), (3), (4), (5) cf. also Gae, v.

2. To walk, in comb. †gannin-gait, “the foot-path of a public road; also, the foot-path through fields to a farm house: so called to distinguish them from the cart or carriage way or gait” (w.Sc. 1887 Jam.).

II. n. In combs.: †1. foot gan, a passage, gangway; see also Fit, n.1, v.1, III. 14.; †2. gan-way, a foot-path (Sc. 1887 Jam.). 1. Sc. 1707  Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) App. 667:
Mending a foot gan in the Laigh Kirk, ½day . . . . . 0. 6. 8.

[O.Sc. has gane, pr.p. gan(n)and, from a.1400, as well as ga; O.E. gān. The mod. forms in -n are due either to the influence of Gang or of the pr.p. gain, gaun, etc. of Gae, q.v.]

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"Gan v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Feb 2019 <>



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