Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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HERSEL, pron. Also hersell; hursel (pseudo-Highl.). Gen.Sc. forms and usages of Eng. herself. See P.L.D. § 70.3. [hər′sɛl]

1. Phrs.: (1) at hersel, see At, prep., A. 8.; (2) by hersell, out of her mind (I. and ne.Sc., em.Sc.(a), Kcb. 1957). For later exs. see By; (3) out of herself, id. (Ork., Ayr., Slk. 1957). (2) Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 29:
Some skair he judg'd the beauty fair had got — An' thought that she e'en by her sell meith be.
(3) Gall. 1728  Session Bk. Minnigaff (1939) 516:
She was out of herself and so not sensible what she said at that time.

2. Used as a liter. convention to represent a Highlander's way of referring to himself: myself, I. Cf. sim. use of She = I, and see also Nainsel. Lnk. c.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 90:
You need not fash to say no thing, Hersel brings you a bra' new King.
Sc. 1800  Monthly Mag. (1 May) 323:
The Lowlanders often jocularly call a Highlander “her sel.”
Sc. 1827  Scott Two Drovers ii.:
Ye maun come to some Highland body like Robin Oig hersell for the like of these.
Sc. 1886  Stevenson Kidnapped xv.:
“Five shillings mair,” said he, “and hersel' will bring ye there.”
Kcb. 1894  Crockett Raiders xl.:
“Hursel' be a puir Gregor lad, an' no doin' ony harm!” was his statement.

3. The mistress of the house (n.Sc., Ags., wm.Sc., Kcb., Uls. 1957); the proprietress (of an estate, etc.). Cf. He, B. I. 2. Sh. 1884  Crofters' Comm. Evid. II. 1238:
There is no factor over the property; every tenant pays the rent to herself.
Arg. 1914  N. Munro New Road ii.:
Not a word of this to herself in-by.
wm.Sc. 1923  H. Foulis Hurricane Jack 94:
“What way's hersel, — the mustress keepin'?” Para Handy asked.
Fif. 1926  I. Farquhar Pickletillie 13:
It'll be Hersel, that's dune it .
Uls. 1948  D. G. Waring Not quite so Black 189:
I had my mouth open to give Herself notice the day he come.

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"Hersel pron.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <>



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