Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
ONSET, n., v. Also -sett.
I. n. 1. The act of setting in motion, the application of the driving power to a machine. Cf. Onlat.
Abd. 1923 J. Hunter MS. Diary (22 Feb.):
Went up past Segget telling Billie about the onset of Mr. Merson's mill.
2. In Brewing: the application of yeast.
Sc. 1849 T. Thomson Brewing 219–20:
Store yeast for onset requires to be changed occasionally. I found it useful to have a change of onset every four months.
3. The part where one thing is set on another; specif. the top of the neck.
Sc. 1731 Caled. Mercury (29 July):
A Large Horse . . . all the four Legs, the Eye-brows, the Onsett of the Head, grey with Age, and Switch-Tail'd.
4. Pressure of work, application or exertion of strength (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1964), fig. pressure, necessity (Ib.).
5. (The site of) a farm-house and its group of outhouses, a farm-stead; a small cluster of houses (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Also in n.Eng. dial. Cf. Onstead, Outset, Inset.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. iv. i. Prol.:
The Scene describ'd in former Page, Glaud's Onset. Dmf. 1788 Dmf. Weekly Jnl. (1 Jan.):
This farm is pleasantly situated, has an onset of good houses, and is in excellent heart. Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 438:
Stedding o' houses, the ground on which an onset is built. Uls. 1942 E.E. Evans Irish Heritage 47:
Little “clusters”, “onsets” or “clachans” of peasant houses, a dozen or so together, which preserve something of the character of the old villages.
7. Fig. A verbal assault, talking-to, telling off (Abd.4 1931). Also attrib.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 164:
But there's some here whom I appoint To gie the outs the onset junt. Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy G. Chalmers 196:
Though I got mony an onset aboot you, it aye ran i' my head that truth wad prevail.
II. v. To place or set on. Deriv. onsetter, in mining: the one who puts the tubs, etc., into the cage at the bottom of the shaft. Also in n.Eng. dial.
Lnk. 1956 Scotsman (2 June) 8:
Willie Laidlaw, onsetter, who controls everything that leaves the bottom in cage or skip.
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"Onset n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/onset>
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