Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GRAYBEARD, n. Also grey-, -baird, dim. -beardie. A large jug or pitcher of varying capacity for holding liquor, made of stoneware or earthenware with a handle at one or both sides and a spout at the other (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 240). Gen.Sc., now arch. Also attrib, with jar, jug, pig. Also in Eng. dial. Cf. Beardie, n.3 Rnf. 1769  Weekly Mag. (25 May) 242:
Ay, wi' my three pint graybeard o' whisky.
Sc. 1815  Scots Mag. (May) 394:
After searching the house for some time, they fell upon a large earthenware jar, or grey-beard, containing about five gallons of whisky, concealed in a meal chest.
Sc. 1819  Scott Bride of Lamm. xxvi.:
Never had there been such a tapping of barrels, and such uncorking of grey-beards, in the village of Wolf's-hope.
Ayr. 1823  Galt R. Gilhaize I. iii.:
A Rotterdam greybeard jug standing by.
Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxiv.:
Mrs Swingletree . . . filled three or four greybeards wi' boilin' water, an' bestowed them roond my body.
Abd. 1867  A. Allardyce Goodwife 9:
It's sittin o the aamry skelf, Aside the gray-beard pig.
Kcb. 1894  Crockett Raiders xvii.:
There was not a farmer's greybeard between the Lothians and the Solway filled with spirit that had done obeisance to King George.
Ags. 1907  D. Tasker Readings 79:
Gudewife, bring the greybeard and “nappy,” An' rax doon the kebbuck an' cake.
Knr. 1925  “H. Haliburton” Horace 102:
Hoo cam' this bonnie greybeard here, Sae trimly to the time o' year.
Sc. 1954  Scotsman (27 Nov.) 6:
These greybeards, originally made in Holland, were later made in other parts of Europe, including England and Scotland. In Scotland most of them were made in the Prestonpans district in the early eighteenth century. (And in Scotland, by the way, they were used mainly for ale.)

[So named from the representation of an old man's face with long beard which, in the more artistic examples, formed the spout. The jug is a form of the Continental Bellarmine jar.]

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



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