Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LIKE, adj., adv., n., v. Also leike, leyke, lyke; loike (Abd. 1924 Trans. Bch. Field Club XIII 25); leak (Sc. c.1805 Queen Eleanor's Confession in Child Ballads No. 156 B. i.), lek (Sh. 1898 “Junda” Klingrahool 10, Cai. 1916 J. Mowat Proverbs 8), laek (Sc. 1919 T. Manson Peat. Comm. 119), leck (Cai. 1891 D. Stephen Gleanings 30), lake (Uls. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Batlymulcaghey 33); and shortened or unstressed forms lik (Gen.Sc.), lick. Inflected pl. †lykes (Lnk. 1708 Minutes J.P.s. (S.H.S.) 17). Comp. liker (Wgt. 1710 Session Bk. Wgt. (1934) 157; ne.Sc. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 3, Lth. 1849 M. Oliphant M. Maitland xxii., Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxvi.; Kcd. 1933 L. G. Gibbon Cloud Howe 43); mair liker (Fif. 1894 J. W. McLaren Tibbie and Tam 108) and in comb. likker-like; superl. likest, maist like. Gen.Sc. [ləik, unstressed lɪk, lɛk]

I. adj. 1. As in Eng. Sc. Phrs.: (1) like one's meat, looking well-fed, well-nourished Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. Used ironically in 1812 quot.; (2) like wha but him, her, etc., quite the thing, in a grand or self-assured manner (Abd., Ags. 1960, -fa-). (1) Sc. 1812  Scots Mag. (Oct.) 784:
The subject of this epigram was a perfect walking skeleton. One day he was eating a split dried haddock, or, as it is called in Scotland, a spelding, when the reputed author of the above piece of wit came in. “You see”, says Arnot, “I am not starving.” “I must own,” observed Mr Erskine, “that you are very like your meat.”
Dmf. 1830  J. McDiarmid Sketches 381:
She was as clear in the complexion, and looked as like her meat and work, as the best of them.
(2) Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality xxiv.:
Armed wi' swords and pistols, like wha but him.

Hence likeness. Phr. no to teave a body (in) the likeness o a dog, to call one everything that is bad, to vilify one's character. Gen.Sc. Slk. 1818  Hogg B. of Bodsbeck xii.:
He turned again on Brownie and … “didna leave him the likeness of a dog.”

2. Apt, befitting, appropriate, to the purpose (Sh., n. and m.Sc., Uls. 1960). Obs. in Eng. Sth. 1881  C. Macdonald Stratheden 188:
It wud look more liker her, the hussy, to work wi' a spade on the lawnd nor a shop.
Knr. 1886  H. Haliburton Horace 54:
A worset goon's the liker you.
Per. 1904  R. Ford Hum. Sc. Stories 104:
It'll be liker yer ain tongue, gudeman.
Uls. 1953  Traynor:
It would be more like if you did it yourself.
Cai. 1960  Edb. John o' Groat Lit. Soc. 9:
Anither raffle! Fat's 'iss for now? A bottle o' whusky! 'At's more leker id!

3. (1) Likely, probable (Abd., Ags., Fif., m.Lth., Ayr., Gall. 1960). Now only dial. in Eng. Cf. II. 3. (1 ). Sc. 1709  R. Wodrow Corresp. (1842) I. 12:
It may be Thursday before I may come off, and it's like not ride through in one day.
Inv. 1745  Trans. Gael. Soc. Inv. XXVI. 178:
It's lick they'll leave non in the country that can cary a gun.
Abd. 1778  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 36:
He's either by the kairds or gypsies ta'en, Or what look'd likest, to the army gane.
Bwk. 1875  J. A. H. Murray Thomas of Erceldoune (E.E.T.S.) l.:
That's likker-like than the Fairy story.
Abd. a.1880  W. Robbie Yonderton xxxiii.:
It's like them 'at lives langest 'ill see maist ferlies.
Fif. 1895  S. Tytler Kincaid's Widow i.:
Mair-like I'm to share with the Leddy Melins.
m.Sc. 1927  J. Buchan Witch Wood viii.:
It's like I'll lay my banes here.

(2) With to and inf.: likely to, looking as if to, apparently on the point of. Gen.Sc. Now colloq. or dial. in Eng. Sc. 1705  R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 62:
When he was grouen worse, and liker to dye then live.
Bwk. 1761  G. Ridpath Diary (S.H.S.) 389:
Attended the bees, which for a while were very like to cast.
Ayr. 1786  Burns To a Haggis iv.:
Auld Guidman, maist like to rive, “Bethankit!” hums.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality iv.:
They'll begin to speak about government in kirk and state, and then, Jenny, they are like to quarrel.
Slk. 1818  Hogg B. of Bodsbeck i.:
I'm like to fa' atwae wi' sheer hunger.
Sh. 1886  J. Burgess Sketches 68:
A' body gaffed till dey wir laek ta spleet.
Abd. 1912  G. Greig Mains's Wooin' 48:
There's like to be some big cheenges at Mains o' Bungry.

II. adv. 1. (1) Used parenthetically with a modifying, depreciatory or apologetic force = so to speak, as it were, to let you understand, to be more precise, like being inserted either before or after the words so qualified. Gen.Sc. Only dial. or colloq. in Eng. The form likein [ < likena] sometimes appears in interrog. sentences. See -Na. Sc. 1815  Scott Guy M. vi.:
Twelve siller pennies to ilka puir body about, in honour of the twelve apostles like.
Sc. 1827  C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. x.:
“If I could get like a down-bed, or a claught o' a silver tea-pot,” thought Mrs Haliburton, whose sensible mind ran more on plunder than fire.
w.Sc. 1837  Laird of Logan (1868) 545:
[He] is nae father o' mine, he's only my stappy; my mither's gudeman like.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxiii.:
“An' filk o' them wud be warst likein'?” inquired Mains.
Sc. 1885  Stevenson Letters to Baxter (1956) 157:
Tak off what I'll like be owin' you.
Rxb. 1918  Kelso Chron. (18 Jan.) 3:
He lent it tae me — juist for the day, like.
Edb. 1931  E. Albert Herrin' Jennie i. iii., iii. iii.:
I thocht I heard ye cryin', like. … We'll get a wuman in for to clean it, like.
Sc. 1951  Scots Mag. (Nov.) 114:
The lad's daein' verra weel — conseederin' his age, like.

(2) Hence in such expressions as what a like, sic a like, what's like wrang, — the matter, etc., by conflation with Siclike, Whatlike, q.v. Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. Sc. 1846  Edb. Tales (Johnstone) II. 85:
But I am wae to hear ye need country quarters for health, sir. What is like the matter?
Sc. 1876  S. R. Whitehead Daft Davie:
Can you tell me … what kind o' like bairn wee Kirsty, my ain name dochter is?
Sc. 1886  Stevenson Kidnapped xxix.:
What's like wrong with ye? … Just tell me what like ye'll be wanting.
Sc. 1928  J. Bridie Sunlight Sonata (1932) 103:
What's like the matter wi' you?
Sc. 1960  :
What a like thing to say! What a like noise to mak!

2. About, around, approximately (a certain number or amount), an extended usage of 1. (1 ) above, corresp. to Eng. “say”. Sc. 1756  M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 213:
The room-rents are cheaper than at Moffat, like about seven shillings a week for the bedrooms, and less for the smaller rooms.
Sc. 1825  Jam.:
Like sax fouk. Like three ouks.
Sh. 1960  :
He comes dere pretty aft, lek or lek say every fortnight.

3. (1) Likely, probably. Gen.Sc. Colloq. or dial. in Eng. Cf. I. 3. (1). Mry. 1865  W. Tester Poems 133:
We'll ken, very like, in the course o' a week.
Sc. 1923  M. M. Gibb Hetherington's Affinity iv.:
Maistlike Geordie Banks wad see which wye the caur went.
Sc. 1929  Scots Mag. (Nov.) 136:
“Are those their voices I hear?” “As like as no'.”

(2) As if about to. Gen.Sc. Cf. I. 3. (2). Lth. 1895  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 201:
Greetin like to break her heart.
Abd. 1960  :
Fleein like to brak his neck.

III. n. 1. As in Eng., an instance of similarity, something very like, if not the same as, something else, in (1 ) proverbial phr. like's an ill mark, see quot. (Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 50); (2) the like, that very thing, indeed so, freq. in neg. sentences merely with emphatic force (Sh., Bnff., Ags., Fif., Lth., Ayr., Dmf. 1960), = Eng. “nothing of the sort.” (1) Sc. 1818  S. E. Ferrier Marriage xxxvii.:
“There's no accounting for the varieties of the human species,” said Jacky. “And like's an ill mark,” observed Nicky.
Sc. 1832  A. Henderson Proverbs 132:
Like is an ill mark 'mang ither folk's sheep.
(2) Ags. 1853  Brechin Advert. (15 Nov.) 2:
“Ye're sleepin', Bush.” “I'm no the like, Sir.”
Ags. 1929  Scots Mag. (April) 68:
“He maun be a bad man.” “He is the like.”

2. In Golf: an equal number of strokes on both sides, any stroke which makes the opponents' scores even. Gen.Sc. Hence phr. (the) like as we, they, etc. lie, with the same score (Fif. 1881 R. Forgan Golfer's Handbook 34). Fif. 1807  J. Grierson St. Andrews 236:
If the ball be struck into the hole at the like, or an equal number of strokes on both sides, the hole is said to be halved, and goes for nothing.
Edb. 1858  Chambers's Jnl. (4 Sept.) 158:
Seventeen holes were played when the game stood all even, and one to play! They arrive within a few yards of the last hole “the like as they lie.”
Sc. 1891  J. G. McPherson Golf & Golfers 10:
Your opponent has always to play the “odds”; and you see the result of his stroke before you play the “like.”
Sc. 1955  R. Browning Hist. Golf 178:
In so doing, he would play the odd — one shot more than his opponent. When he in his turn came to play his second shot he would be playing the like — the same number of strokes as his opponent. … At every point at which the opponents had played an equal number of strokes for any hole, they would describe the position as being like as we lie.

IV. v. To be likely or about to, to look like doing or being … , gen. in continuative tenses (Uls. 1953 Traynor; I.Sc., Abd., m.Lth. 1960), where it is freq. spelt liken. Sc. 1726  Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) II. 113:
My heart, alake, is liken to break.
Sc. c.1800  in Child Ballads (1956) IV. 511:
But it was a fit o sair sickness, And I was lyken to dee.
Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xv.:
Liking to be at my wits end.
Sc. 1879  P. H. Waddell Isaiah xxxviii. 1:
Aff an' on intil thae days, was Hezekiah ill, likan till die.
Lnk. 1923  G. Rae Langsyne viii.:
I've warselled lang in the moss-hag o' evil, an' I'm liken to sink.
Bnff. 1934  Abd. Univ. Review (July) 219:
Gin we kent fat was liken tae come.
Sh. 1958  New Shetlander No. 48. 11:
A gale cam roarin ower da Wastern Ocean Laekin ta rive da riggin fae da hoose.

[The short vowel forms are due both to unstressed position and to shortenings in orig. trisyllabic forms, as in oblique cases of the comp., and phs. also to analogy with shortened forms in derivs. before another consonant, as lickly s.v. Likely. See P.L.D. § 29.1.]

Like adj., adv., n., v.

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"Like adj., adv., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Dec 2017 <>



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