Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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NEED, v., n.1 Also neid (Sc. 1724 Ramsay Ever Green (1875) I. 212). In ne.Sc. the pa.t. and pa.p. are gen. supplied by the v. Note, q.v. Sc. usages, freq. connoting moral obligation rather than necessity.

I. v. 1. In expressions of warning or caution: one (or it) will (or winna) need to, = one (or it) had better (not). Gen.Sc. m.Lth. 1857  Misty Morning 156:
A sow o' ours dee'd this mornin' and the like o' that wadna need tae be happenin' every day.
Mry. 1873  J. Brown Round Table Club 153:
Ye winna need tae disparage the handiwark o' the Moray fairmers.
Abd. 1890  Trans. Bnff. Field Club 57:
When the servant brought home the animal [a horse], the master asked him where he had put it. “I' the shed,” was the answer. “He winna need t' be there a' nicht,” said the owner.
Ags. 1896  A. Blair Rantin Robin 63:
It's no aften that I ging frae hame, an' it wouldna need either.
Cai. 1903  E.D.D.:
He'll no need to dae'd.
Abd. 1960  Huntly Express (28 Oct.) 2:
Ye'll need tae haud that stanes farrer into the side o' the road.

2. Used (1) absol. in conditional constructions: to have to, to be, etc., of necessity (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Kcb., Uls. 1963). Abd. 1875  G. Macdonald Malcolm xxxii.:
“Do you know how to manage a sail boat?” “I wad need, my lord.”
Uls. 1953  Traynor:
Are you a good driver? I would need.

(2) As equivalent to English must. Rare. Cai. 1872  M. MacLennan Peasant Life II. 195:
Ye need fetch the seek widow wi' a cairt tae the town.

3. Used intr. and impers.: it is necessary for (one to . . .). Now most freq. in interrog. what needs, what need is there for, why must . . .? (ne. and em.Sc. 1963). Obs. in Eng. since 17th c. Later also used in the form needs with a pers. subject. Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 74:
What needs me heal't? Na, na, it winna dee.
Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 35:
What needs ye speak so loud?
Abd. 1787  J. Skinner Amusements (1809) 25:
But what needs this or that to name?
Sc. 1803  Scott Minstrelsy III. 15:
“In north of England I was born:” (It needed him to lie.)
Ags. 1826  A. Balfour Highland Mary I. 211:
What needs I tell you what you ken?
m.Lth. 1884  R. F. Hardy Glenairlie 85:
What needs ye hae put yersel' in sic a kippage?
Abd. 1929  J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 86:
We needsna mak' a din aboot it.
Abd. 1962  :
Fat needs ye aye leave the door open?

4. Used with pa.p. instead of vbl.n. as in Eng. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1923  :
This lock needs sortit. The hail house needs guttit.
Fif. 1964  R. Bonnar Stewartie ii. iv.:
The first driver on the list really did not need wakened.

II. n. 1. As in Eng. Sc. Phrs. and Combs.: (1) it was the need o' there was a need for, a translation of Gael. bha feum air; (2) need-made-up, adj., hastily prepared to meet an emergency (Abd. 1825 Jam.). Also used as a n. (Ib.); (3) to be out o (the) need o, not to require or need. Gen.Sc.; (4) to hae mair need to do something, to be under an obligation or require to pursue a course other than that adopted, used with the implication of censure, = Eng. “ought rather to . . .” (Sc. 1902 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc.; (5) to hae need, used ironically in Sh. when one is found doing something unnecessary or superfluous (Sh. 1963). (1) Arg. 1930 2 :
That wuz a fine shoor last nicht: it wuz the need o't enywey.
(3) Mry. 1873  J. Brown Round Table Club 222:
I'm nae oot o' the need o' a moofu'.
Ags. 1897  F. Mackenzie Sprays v.:
Ye'll hear the Gospel gin ye bide, an' ye're nane oot o' the need o't.
Kcb. 1901  R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 442:
They had men o' their ain at hame yt michtna be oot o' need o' a lesson.
Abd. 1929  J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 139:
Aw houp ye'll be better o' yer meetin', for ye're nae oot o' the need o't.
(4) Kcd. 1932  L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song (1937) 62:
You've more need to be down in the house helping your mother wash out the hippens.

Derivs.: (1) need be, (a) necessity. Rare and obs. in Eng.; (2) needfu(ll), -fil, -fow, (i) adj.: (a) as in Eng. Phr. needful body, a woman employed in such emergencies as births or deaths, a skeelie wife; (b) absol. or with o' having a need or want (of), needy in gen.; in straitened circumstances, indigent (Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 152, -fow; Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers 43; Sh., n., em. and s.Sc. 1963). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial.; (ii) necessaries, requirements; (3) needment, in pl., id. Rare and obs. in Eng. (1) Sc. 1728  P. Walker Life Peden (1827) 118:
He afterwards saw a remarkable Providence in it, and a Need-be for it.
s.Sc. 1897  E. Hamilton Outlaws ii.:
There's nae need-be to miscall Agnes.
Fif. 1963  :
If it's needbe: if it's necessary.
(2) (i) (a) Ork. 1956  C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 25:
Becky was the “needful body” and it made no difference whether it was life or death, Becky was equally handy at both.
(b) Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 54:
Twa Herds between them coft a Cow: Driving her hame, the needfu' Hacky But Ceremony chance'd to k —.
Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 34:
There's ay somebody wandering to scar poor needfu' persons, at their job of journaywark.
Ayr. 1822  Galt Provost xxx.:
We should say nothing of the gift of twenty pounds, but distribute it in the winter to needful families.
Ayr. 1833  J. Kennedy Geordie Chalmers 180:
Unco needfu' o' a pair o' dry stockings.
Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie iii.:
Needfu' folk are seldom nice.
Sh. 1900  Shetland News (7 July):
Shu . . . laid aff ta Girzzie foo needfil shu wis . . . fir a laag o' 'oo'.
Dmf. 1920  J. L. Waugh Heroes II:
Mindfu' o' the needfu' fouk he was reared amang.
(ii) Abd. p.1768  A. Ross Fortunate Shep. MS. 127:
A' that life needs, ye's hae at your command And a' your needfulls laid into your hand.
Dmf. 1863  R. Quinn Heather Lintie 84:
Nelly may't [siller] on needfus wair, For back or wame.
Gall. 1891  R. Kerr Maggie o' the Moss 32:
Scanty needfu's vex'd his noddle.
(3) Rnf. 1817  D. Gilmour Pen' Folk (1871) 30:
The law is broad enough to include all our needments.
Sc. 1831  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) III. 176:
What Heaven has been pleased to give me o' this life's needments.

2. In pl.: one's errand or business, in phr. to do one's needs, to do what is necessary or requisite. Obs. in Eng. from 15th c. Ayr. 1822  Galt Sir A. Wylie xiii.:
It would therefore, sir, be very obliging if ye hae done your pleasure and needs, to gae quietly awa'.
Kcb. 1896  Crockett Grey Man vi.:
He knew how to shut them up till we had done our needs on our foes.

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"Need v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Mar 2018 <>



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