Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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OR, prep., conj.1 Also nonce forms ore (Peb. 1793 R. D. C. Brown Carlop Green (1817) 11; Sc. 1898 L. Walford Leddy Marget 22), oore (Slk. 1820 Hogg Bridal of Polmood vii.), ur (Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.). See also Er(e), Ir. [gen. unstressed and hence ər]

I. prep. 1. Before, ere (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 54, 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Gen.Sc. Also in adv. comb. or lang (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), ere long, soon, shortly. Gen.Sc. See By, conj. (1). Sc. 1710  Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 115:
Wee cannot yet be positive for what's fitt, but I hope wee will or Twesday.
Sc. 1736  Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 69:
There was a wife that kept her supper for her breakfast and she was dead or day.
Ayr. 1775  Burns I dream'd I lay ii.:
Lang or noon loud tempests, storming.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
I hae broken his head or now.
Slk. 1819  Hogg Tales (1874) 141:
One pert girl cried, “Ay, fie, tak' care, Wattie; I widna say but it may be thrapple deep or the morn.”
Ayr. 1822  Galt Sir A. Wylie xli.:
It's no past the bounds o' probability that some morning or lang ye may rant and ring for your dochter.
e.Lth. 1892  J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 263:
We'll a' be deid or then.
Abd. 1893  G. MacDonald Songs 129:
I'm gauin hame to see my mither; She'll be weel acquant or this!
Sc. 1893  Stevenson Catriona xii.:
I'll be there long or that.
Sc. 1903  N.E.D.:
He'd been there oft or than, Ise warran'. I've seen him lang or now.
Bnff. 1939  J. M. Caie 'Twixt Hills and Sea 39:
The lift's braw an' clear this mornin', But I doot it'll rain or nicht.

2. Until, till (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Sh., ne., em. and s.Sc. 1964). Lnk. 1827  J. Watt Poems 60:
Wait or the morn at een.
Edb. 1870  J. Lauder Warblings 67:
Oh, faither dinna sail or the dawn o' mornin' light.
Per. 1883  R. Cleland Inchbracken ii.:
She'll maybe no live or mornin'.
Abd. 1923  J. Hunter MS. Diary (4 Aug.):
We wrought or nearly 10 o'clock at night.
Ags. 1929  Scots Mag. (May) 148:
The milkin' wisna or nicht.

II. conj. 1. Before, ere (Sc. 1808 Jam.; I. and ne.Sc., Ags. 1964). In ref. to future time, freq. followed by the subjunctive, now obsol. Phrs. or ('t) be lang (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), or it's lang, or lang gae, see Lang, n., 1. (2), ere long. Comb. or ever, -ere, id. (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; ne.Sc. 1964). Cai. 1719  in C. K. Sharpe Acct. Witchcraft (1884) 191:
She said she knew him to be the devil or he parted with her.
Sc. 1736  Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 36:
He that marries or he be wise, will die or he be rich.
Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 80:
Their day-time toil had wrought them sick a wrack That, or they ee'd, the sun bet o' their back.
Sc. c.1783  Lady Maisry in
Child Ballads No. 65 A. 22:
An, or the porter was at the gate, The boy was i the ha.
Sc. 1818  Scott Rob Roy xxii.:
Or ever Monday morning begins.
Slk. 1818  Hogg B. of Bodsbeck i.:
Or it was lang he saw a white thing an' a black thing comin' up.
Ayr. 1826  Galt Last of Lairds xxxiv.:
[He] may . . . mak a playock wi' a whistle in its tail, or he'll either get heft or blade o' my vote.
Lnk. a.1854  W. Watson Poems (1877) 116:
Some day or't be lang.
Rnf. 1865  J. Young Homely Pictures 166:
Or ere my beast was oot the yoke.
Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 128:
'Twad be a sheem Tae aet the lempits or he comes heem.
Kcb. 1901  R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 39:
He . . . dee't . . . or ever his numerous new friens could get him wheedle't oot o' muckle o' his siller.

2. Until, till (Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Sh., ne., em. and s.Sc. 1964). Comb. or aince, id. (ne.Sc. 1964, eence). Sc. 1761  Session Papers, Gray v. Southwell (27 Feb.) 18:
Bear up my Wife's Heart as much as possible, or I see and win home.
Sc. 1826  Burd Isabel in
Child Ballads No. 257 A. 1:
There is a stane in yon water It's lang or it grow green.
Fif. 1870  R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 104:
Jock gaed far and far and farer nor I can tell, or he cam to a king's hoose.
ne.Sc. 1893  Dunbar's Wks. (S.T.S.) III. 355:
I winna gyang awa or ye dee't.
m.Lth. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 71:
I didna gaither my feet or aince it was a' by.
Gsw. 1937  F. Niven Staff at Simson's viii.:
Wait or I get the tickets.
Ags. 1952  Forfar Dispatch (4 Dec.):
She's knipit awa at the knittin or her beens is a' sair.

3. In expressions of preference: sooner than, rather than (ne.Sc., Ayr., Kcb., Uls. 1964). Ayr. 1792  Burns The Weary Pund iv.:
And or I wad anither jad, I'll wallop in a tow.
Sc. 1814  Scott Waverley xlii.:
He wald scroll for a plack the sheet, or she kenn'd what it was to want.
Sc. 1903  N.E.D.:
I wad sterve or I wad be obleig't to the like o' him.

4. Than. Now only in I.Sc. but in O.Sc., orig. as in 3. above, and in use till the late 17th c. when it was replaced by Nor, conj., 1. Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 3:
For dey wur no' a Heeland chief bit what t'oucht himsel' better or ony lord i' the land, a'to' he hed no' a sark tae his back.
Sh. 1891  J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 76:
Noo I'm been mairried mair or twice.
Sh. 1898  Shetland News (29 Oct.):
Der no a thing 'at I laek better ir a rosn tattie.
Ork. 1920  J. Firth Reminisc. 157:
Better cleanly want or a filty fill.

[In the above meanings obs., dial. or arch. in Eng. since the 17th c. Or is a southern form of O.N. ár, early, already found in O.Sc. from 1375. The O.E. form r, compar., gives the cognate Er(e), q.v.]

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"Or prep., conj.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



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