Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LADY, n. Also ladie; leddie, -y; lathie, -y, lethy (Ork.). Sc. usages. [Sc. ′ledi, ′lɛdɪ, Ork. ′lɛðe]

1. (1) As in Eng. Dims. leddykie (Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 42), leddykin (Mry.1 1930); derivs. ladyness, the quality or character of a lady (Ork., Ags., Uls. 1960), leddyship; combs. leddy body, a ladylike person (Ork., Abd., Ags. 1960), leddie-dochter (Fif. 1886 S. Tytler St Mungo's City I. vii.), leddy mither (Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 354; Abd. 1875 G. Macdonald Malcolm III. vi.; Fif. 1882 S. Tytler Sc. Marriages I. 98). Ayr. 1823  Galt R. Gilhaize III. xxiii.:
An ancient matron, with something of the remnant of ladyness about her.
Bnff. 1930  E. S. Rae Waff o' Win' 39:
His wife was a real leddy body, an' sae couthy an' kind an' hameowre. ‡(2) When prefixed to the name of a landed estate, a title given to the proprietress or to the wife of the proprietor, who is not necessarily, as in Eng., of the rank of knighthood or higher (see quots.). Nearly obs.
Mry. 1702  W. Cramond Synod Rec. (1906) 178:
Helen M'ferson, spous to Archibald Innes of Auchluncart . . . the said Lady Auchluncart.
n.Sc. c.1730  E. Burt Letters (1815) I. 63:
On this side the Tweed many things are aggrandized, in imitation of their ancient allies . . . the French . . . The wife of a laird of fifteen pounds a year is a lady, and treated with — your ladyship.
Abd. 1764  Aberdeen Jnl. (2 May):
Mrs Harriot Stuart lady Leithhall.
Sc. 1773  Boswell Tour (6 Sept.):
The wives of all of them [Highland chiefs and landed gentlemen] have the title of ladies.
Sc. 1815  Scott Guy M. xxxviii.:
A grand lady like Lady Singleside.
Slk. 1828  Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) viii.:
People did not just openly assert that Lady Wheelhope (for every landward laird's wife was then styled Lady) was a witch.
Sc. 1860  in A. Carlyle Autobiog. 8 Note:
The custom of Scotland, which gives “Lord” to a judge, and used to give “Lady” to the wife of a landed proprietor.
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.:
“Saa A niver sic a helm o' skyallachin vratches,” cried Leddy Eynriggs.

(3) When prefixed to Provost, the word has recently been used as a title for the wife of a Lord Provost, see Lord. Sc. 1950  Scotsman (28 March):
A sub-committee of the General Finance Committee of Glasgow Corporation agreed yesterday, by a majority, to recommend that the courtesy title of Lady Provost be conferred upon the Lord Provost's wife. At the present time the title is recognised in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Dundee.
Edb. 1957  Edb. Ev. News (9 March):
The title of Lady Provost is purely honorary. In March 1925, the Town Council decided to confer the courtesy title on the wife of the Lord Provost, or, in the case of a bachelor or widower, the person who acted as hostess for him.

2. Combs., in which the first element is lady('s) or ladies', in some cases in reference to the Virgin, and phrs.: †(1) Lady Anst'er wind, a north-east wind, so called by the fisher-folk of Anstruther and the coast of Fife; (2) lady-bairn, a female child of social rank, one born to be a lady; (3) lady's beds, lady's bedstraw, Galium verum (Abd. 1886 B. & H. 294; Ork., Cai., Ags., Per. 1960); (4) lady bracken, -breckan, the female fern, Athyrium filix-femina (Dmf., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1960); (5) lady's clover, wood sorrel, Oxalis acetosella, from its trifoliate leaf (Per. 1871 Sc. Naturalist I. 54; Uls. 1960); (6) lady's dip, see quot.; (7) Lady Ellison, the ladybird, Coccinella (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (8) lady's el(l)wand, see Ellwan(d); (9) lady-fern, = (4) (Dmf., Uls. 1960). Also in Eng. dial.; (10) lady's fingers, ladies' —, (a) honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (b) the cowslip, Primula veris (Fif. 1886 B. & H. 924; Fif., Lth. 1960); (11) lady-fish, ladies' —, (a) a kind of shell-fish (Arg. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VII. 483); (b) the whiting, Gadus merlangus, so called because delicate in flesh and easily digested (Fif. 1950). Applied to other varieties of fish in Eng.; (12) lady fluke, the halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus (Sc. 1836 W. Yarrell Fishes II. 323, 1930 Fishery Board Gl.); (13) ladies' food, = (24) (b) (Dmf. 1960); (14) lady('s) or ladies' ga(i)rtens, — garter(s), (a) the striped ribbon grass, Phalaris arundinacea picta (Rxb. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 208, 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., Slg., Fif., Lth., Lnk., Kcb., Dmf., Uls. 1960); (b) the bramble or blackberry, Rubus fruticosus (Rxb. 1842 Dumfries Herald (Oct.)). Comb. lady-garten-berries, the fruit of the bramble (Tvd. 1825 Jam.). See Garten; †(15) lady's gown, a gift made by the buyer to the seller's wife, ostensibly for the purchase of a new dress, on her renouncing her liferent in the seller's estate (see 1709 quot.) (Sc. 1773 Erskine Institute i. vi. § 15, 1838 W. Bell Dict. Sc. Law 572); ‡(16) lady-hen, (our) lady (o heaven)'s hen, the skylark, Alauda arvensis (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 132, 1899 Evans & Buckley Fauna Sh. 100; I.Sc. 1960). See Heaven, Phrs.; (17) leddy's hood, the omentum of a pig. Cf. king's hood s.v. King; (18) ladies in their carriages, monkshood, Aconitum napellus (Ags., Uls. 1960); (19) lady-lander(s), -la(u)nners, the ladybird [our Lady's bird], Coccinella (Ags., m.Lth., Lnk., Ayr., Rxb. 1960). For second element cf. Launer, O.Sc. landar, laundress, sc. our Lady's landar; (20) leddy-lass(ie), = (2); (21) lady limpet, the pellucid limpet, Patina pellucida (Ork. 1954 Ork. Miscellany II. 56); (22) lady-linty-white, the whitethroat, Sylvia communis (Bwk. 1889 G. Muirhead Birds Bwk. I. 57). Also in Nhb. dial.; (23) lady-lorne, = (19) (Slg., Clc. 1960); (24) lady's meat, (a) wood sorrel, Oxalis acetosella (Clc. 1886 B. & H. 295). Cf. gowk's meat s.v. Gowk and (33); (b) the young leaves (and buds) of the hawthorn (Sc. Ib.; Cai., Kcb. 1960); (26) lady-nit, the larger plantain, Plantago major (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1960); ¶(25) lady of May, the Queen of the May; (27) lady o' the meadow, meadow-sweet, Spiraea ulmaria (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 307; Cai., Wgt. 1960); (28) lady's plate, yarrow, Achillea millefolium (Abd. 1960); (29) lady's pouches, = (31) (a) (Abd. 1886 B. & H. 296); (30) lady prien, a variety of small pin, “evidently as being of no use but for ladies in the nicer parts of dress” (Lth. 1825 Jam.); (31) lady's purse, (a) shepherd's purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris (Rxb. 1915 Jedburgh Gazette (10 Sept.); Ayr.4 1928; Cai., Wgt., Uls. 1960); (b) in pl.: the flowers of the calceolaria (Rxb. 1915 Ib.; Ags. 1960); (32) lady shell, = (21) (Ork. 1954 Ork. Miscellany II. 56); (33) ladies' sourock(s) = (24) (a) (Rnf. 1837 Crawfurd MSS. XI. 62); (34) ladies' thimbles, (a) the harebell, Campanula rotundifolia (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 134; Uls. 1960), sometimes called witches' thimbles in England; (b) the foxglove, Digitalis purpurea (Cai., Abd., Fif., Rnf., Gall., Rxb., Uls. 1960); (35) ladies' twist, a kind of thinly-twisted chewing tobacco, made up in long oval balls (m.Lth. 1928 H. Lauder Roamin' in the Gloamin' 34); (36) lady whin, rest-harrow, Ononis arvensis (Sc. 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 1119); (37) lady-white, a variety of potato (Arg. 1798 J. Smith Agric. Arg. 88); (38) lady-wrack, a variety of sea-weed (Arg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 181); (39) leddie wylk, a species of top-shaped sea-shell, Gibbula cineraria (Sh. 1954 Ork. Miscellany II. 57). (1) Fif. 1863  G. Gourlay Fisher Life (1879) 110:
The pioneer of the fleet, with the same gladsome north-easter, the welcome “Lady Anst'er wind.”
(2) Abd. 1863  G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod xv.:
Janet could not bear the idea of her lady-bairn leaving them, to encounter the world alone.
(4) Dmf. 1820  Blackwood's Mag. (June) 278:
The heather and decayed leafs of lady-bracken which covered the inscription.
Abd. 1924  M. Angus Tinker's Road 8:
Far ben in a nameless glen Wi' lady breckan spread.
(6) Dmf. 1915  D. J. Beattie Oor Gate-En' 8:
A guid display o' a' the feats o' dookin' sic as “shoot-the-craw,” “fell-the-bull”, “lady's dip”, “deid soum”.
(9) Sc. 1825  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 73:
Groves o' the lady-fern embowering the sleeping roe.
Bwk. 1880  T. Watts Woodland Echoes 131:
Hie to the glade where the lady-ferns grow.
(14) (b) Slk. 1784  A. Wight Present State Husbandry III. 12:
He excuses himself from the vast quantity of a sort of bramble, called the Lady's Garter, that over-runs the ground with strong roots as soon as laid in grass.
(15) Sc. 1709  W. Forbes Decisions (1714) 350:
The customary Gratification to a Wife for her Consent to the Alienation ofher Husband's Lands commonly called, The Ladie's Gown, falls under the Parapharnalia, and excludes the Jus Mariti.
(16) Ork. 1701  J. Brand Descr. Orkney 61:
The Lark some call our Ladys Hen.
Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 62:
Hid wus . . . still waur tae sware bae the lavro', for sheu's wur Lady's hen.
s.Sc. 1895  F. A. Steel Red Rowans xv.:
The bit thing . . . that . . . chirrups awa like the ladys' o' heaven's hen.
(17) Sc. 1826  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 133:
What black puddins! — and oh! what tripe! Only think o' the leddy's hood and monyplies!
(19) Sc. 1808  Jam.:
When children get hold of this insect, they generally release it, calling out; Lady Lady Landers! Flee away to Flanders!
Ayr. 1823  Galt Spaewife II. i.:
The red mantle o' the leddy-launners?
Sc. 1884  C. Rogers Social Life III. 223:
The lady bird, or Lady Lanners, was among the lowland peasantry, used to discover future partners.
Edb. 1940  R. Garioch 17 Poems for 6d. 19:
Whiles a ladylander may tak a dander thrice roon ma airm an come ti nae hairm.
(20) Abd. 1879  G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie lii.:
The sangs ye likit sae weel to hear whan ye was but a leddy-lassie.
Fif. 1882  S. Tytler Sc. Marriages I. 153:
The leddy-lass kens as muckle about craws and doos and laverocks as I do.
(24) (b) Sc. 1827  C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. iv.:
Those tender leaflets of the hawthorn, which, in their own pretty language, they call Ladyes Meat.
Dmf. 1842  Dumfries Herald (Oct.):
When the flower, chivalrously called “ladies' meat”, covers the long line of hedges as with a snowy sheet.
(25) Rxb. 1915  Jedburgh Gazette (10 Sept.):
Lady-nit, a Jedburgh name for the plantain. When “dollies” were more expensive than now, the girls used to dig up the tuber, wash or comb out the strands, and dress the plant with rags as a doll: whence perhaps our local name.
(26) Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xxxi.:
I am Queen of the Wake, and I'm Lady of May, And I lead the blithe ring round the May-pole to-day.
(34) (b) Bwk. 1858  G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 158:
Little girls glove their fingers with them [foxgloves], putting them on the top of each other in a pyramid to overflowing, and they call them ladies'-thimbles. Boys inflate them by blowing into the bell, and then they crack them by a smart stroke.

[O.Sc. lady, from 1375; the shortened vowel form leddy appears, mostly as a colloq. usage, from 1540.]

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



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