Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GRAFF, n. Also graffe, grauff, graafe; grafe, graif, gref(f), graef(f), greaf, greif; grof (Sh.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. grave. [Sc. grɑf, but Sh. græf, grɔf, Abd. gref, grɛf]

1. As in Eng. = a place of burial. Gen.Sc., obs. Also in n.Eng. dial. Dmb. 1730  in G. E. Todd Byeways (1900) 183:
All . . . should pay in to the kirk session a shilling for each graff or lair possest or claim'd by them.
Abd. 1759  F. Douglas Rural Love 15:
And Megg, fan I'm laid i' the grafe, To leave you single were not safe.
Ayr. 1786  Burns Epigram ii.:
Ev'n as he is, cauld in his graff.
Ags. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XII. 299:
One [cairn] . . . known by the name of Crian's Gref, said to have been erected upon the grave of a noted robber.
Gall. 1820  Blackwood's Mag. (May) 166:
I'll howk it [a dead ass] a graff wi' my ain two hands rather than it should feast the corbies.
Sc. 1822  Scott F. Nigel iii.:
There are dainty green graffs in St Cuthbert's kirk-yard, whare any may sleep as if they were in a down-bed.
Edb. 1851  A. Maclagan Sketches 258:
Wi' pick an' spade His grauff I made.
Ags. 1880  G. W. Donald Poems 45:
The graff below hauds John McNab in Fam'd for his stitchin' an' blind stabbin'.
Hdg. 1903  J. Lumsden Toorle 15:
Your secret's safe wi' me As it is wi' yer Grandam in her graff.
Abd. 1916  G. Abel Wylins 138:
Oontill they cam' up till the greff whaur Lazarus' corpse did lie.

Comb.: graff-stane, a grave-stone. Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 215:
Ane College-regent bangin', stood Heigh on a graff-stane up.
Abd. 1847  W. Thom Rhymes 81:
As we lay in the lythe o' yon bare graifstane.

2. A ditch, a trench. Also in Eng. dial. Sc. 1701  R. Wodrow Early Letters (S.H.S.) 151:
I still fancied they had channels and graafes cut to receive it.

3. The lowest part of the pit or trench in a peat-lair from which the peats have been dug, the bottom of a peat-bank (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), gref, grof, Sh. 1955). Sh. 1898  Shetland News (26 March):
Yirdit hit i' da graeff o' ane o' Robbie Scollay's paet-banks.
Sh. 1918  T. Manson Peat. Comm. 168:
Ye maun keep da pones hale . . . Dey hae ta be laid doon agen i da graef o da bank.
Sh. 1937  J. Nicolson Yarns 54:
The cutting was what is termed “a three-peat bank,” which meant that it was between five and six feet from the “greff” or bottom to the “broo” or top.

Comb.: gref-peat, “the first peat cut from the ledge in a peat-pit” (Sh. 1908 Jak (1928)).

4. A fisherman's tabu-name for the sea-bottom (Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 120, graef, 1908 Jak. (1928)).

[OSc. has graf(fe), graif(fe), greaf, a grave or tomb, from a.1400; O.E. græf, græf- (from grafan, to dig). The Sh. form grof is from Norw. dial. grov. O.N. grf, a pit.]

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"Graff n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



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