Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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NEARHAND, adv., prep., adj. Also -han, -haun(d), neer-. Compar. nearer han(d), superl. nearest —. [′nir′hn(d), ′-hɑn]

I. adv. 1. Close at hand, close by (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 205; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Obs. exc. dial. in Eng. Comb. neerhan' by, id. Sc. 1727  P. Walker Six Saints (Fleming) I. 214:
Hearing of no sermon near-hand upon Sabbath.
Abd. 1770  Session Papers, Gordon v. Gordon (7 March) 10:
Some of the poor folks, that cast [peats] behind the others, and where they can get them nearest hand.
Ayr. 1789  D. Sillar Poems 195:
A' the hirstle neerhan' by.
Sc. 1858  J. W. Carlyle Letters II. 373:
There is no other place nearer hand where I could get any good.
Sc. 1893  Stevenson Catriona xv.:
We keept the twa boats closs for company, and crap in nearer hand.
Per. 1899  C. M. Stuart Pitcoonans 21:
As he gets near-hand, says I to mysel', “I dinna ken ye.”

2. Nearly, almost (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Gen.Sc. Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 46:
Till baith the Haves were near hand done.
Ayr. 1786  Burns Death Poor Mailie 9:
He saw her days were near hand ended.
Sc. 1818  Scott Rob Roy xxix.:
His race is near-hand run.
Cai. 1829  J. Hay Poems 24:
That night she near han' fainted.
Abd. 1863  G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod viii.:
The minister, honest man, near-han' gart me disbelieve in't a'thegither.
Sc. 1887  Stevenson Merry Men (1925) ii.:
It was puir Sandy Gabart's deid skreigh, or near-hand, for he was deid in half an hour.
Uls. 1908  Traynor (1953):
I was near-han' starvin'. It's not nearhan' as good as the last.
Lth. 1928  S. A. Robertson With Double Tongue 20:
The hearst for me is nearhaun by.
Ags. 1944  Scots Mag. (May) 87:
There had been a Deuchars on the croft . . . near hand as far back as records go.

II. adj. 1. Close, near, neighbouring (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 205, 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Gen.Sc. Freq. attrib. as in near-han(d) cut (ne.Sc., em.Sc. (a), Lnk., Kcb., Uls. 1963), -gate, -road, -way, a short cut. Cf. near cut s.v. Near, adj. Hence near-hanness, nearness, proximity (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 117). Ayr. 1756  Session Papers, Montgomery v. Francis, Proof (21 May) 1:
He always observed People pass to and fro by this Road, as a near-hand Cut.
Lnk. 1816  G. Muir Minstrelsy 10:
Those wha took nearhan' roads across the green.
Sc. c.1825  Broom of Cowdenknows in
Child Ballads No. 217 E. v.:
Go ye doun to yon meadow, And they'll show you the near-hand way.
Lnk. 1827  J. Watt Poems 53:
The nearhaun' gate to hell.
Lnk. 1883  W. Thomson Leddy May 29:
Bairns frae the near-haun' streets.
e.Lth. 1908  J. Lumsden Th'Loudons 194:
Some near-haun' day!
Lnk. 1928  W. C. Fraser Yelpin' Stane 106:
The Glenbirnie shooters tak' a near-han' cut ayont the hill yonder.

2. Niggardly, close-fisted (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1963). Hence near-handness, stinginess (Cld. 1880 Jam.).

III. prep. Near, close to, beside (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Sc. 1792  New Year's Morning 13:
They fill'd it near han' the brim.
Abd. 1795  Session Papers, Leslie v. Fraser (29 March 1805) 118:
[He] told them not to go nearhand the planting.
Sc. 1829  E. Logan Restalrig xiv.:
I am happier in this muckle, clarty, reeky hole, now that I'm near hand yoursel.
Sc. 1849  M. Oliphant M. Maitland i.:
A sampler which had no equal in the parish, nor near hand it.
Gsw. 1879  A. G. Murdoch Rhymes 76:
Five fishermen of fame, Belangin' near haun' Inveraray.
Wgt. 1880  G. Fraser Lowland Lore ii.:
They . . . thocht when they were sae near-han' oor aul' royal burgh they would brak their journey for a day.
Edb. 1894  J. W. MacLaren Tibbie and Tam 39:
Near haun' nicht Tam managed to ease her a bit.
Rxb. 1915  Kelso Chron. (10 Dec.) 4:
The folk nearer han the place.
Fif. 1954  Fife Herald (27 Oct.) 2:
We were near haund the bottom o' Hill Street.

[O.Sc. neirhand, adv., prep., from 1375, Mid.Eng. ner hand. From Near + Hand. CF. Backhand, Efterhan, Forehand.]

Nearhand adv., prep., adj.

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"Nearhand adv., prep., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <>



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