Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SKIRE, adj., adv., v., n. Also skyre, scyre, skeyr, skuire; skir-; skier, skeir, skeer; skare, skair, and poss. misreading, ¶skure; ¶skaur. [skəir, †skir]

I. adj. 1. Clear, bright. Only in phr. skare moonlight (Ork. 1929 Marw.). Comb. skyre-leukin, of a bright, gaudy colour (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 165).

2. In comb. Skeir-, Skeer-, Skure-, Skiers-, Skyres-, Skuires-, Scarce-Thursday, Skir-Furisday, Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, freq. applied to a fair or market held on that day (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Skir-Furisday). See etym. note. Abd. 1724  W. Orem Descr. Old Abd. (1791) 49:
The Supper of our Lord before Pasch, commonly called Skeir-Thursday's Fair.
Gsw. 1736  J. M'Ure View Gsw. 56:
The twentieth day of Yuil, which is a great Horse Fair, and continues weekly till Skiers-Thursday.
Abd. 1794  Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 2) VI. 184:
Says Tam, There's many a quean an' loun Has here been shriven, Wha wore skeer Thursdays sackin gown Frae Fastern's Even.
Rxb. 1825  Jam., s.v. Skeir:
Scarce-Thursday, the name of a fair held at Melrose on the Thursday before Easter.
Gsw. 1864  Glasgow Herald (15 April):
“Skiers” Thursday. — This important concluding market was held yesterday.

3. Absolute, pure and simple, out and out, unmitigated. Sc. 1710  T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. Schire:
A skire fool.

II. adv. Absolutely, utterly, altogether, stark. Hence skire-mad (also ellipt. skire), -nakit, -wrang (Sth. 1825 Jam., skaur-wrang). Edb. 1720  A. Pennecuik Helicon 78:
He had a base property 'twas scyre wrang.
Per. 1758  A. Nicol Rural Muse 15:
Our land is now skier naked made.
Lth. 1822  Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) II. 35:
The man's gane skire.
Fif. 1825  Jam. s.v. Skeir:
In Fife the phrase is skyre-mad, i.e., quite insane.
Knr. 1891  H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 92:
Skeer nakit, wantin' claes!

III. v. To shine brightly, to glitter, be brightly coloured or gaudy, to cut a dash in gaudy garish clothes (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 165; Ork., ne.Sc. 1970). Most freq. in ppl.adj. skyrin, bright, gleaming, of gaudy colours, garish (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Ork., ne.Sc. 1970). Also adv. Deriv. skyrie, id. (Ork., ne.Sc. 1970), skyrishness, gaudiness, garishness. Sc. 1724  Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 24:
Nae skyring gowk, my dear, can see, Or love, or grace, or heaven in thee.
Abd. 1748  R. Forbes Ajax 19:
The gowden helmet will sae glance, An' blink wi' skyrin brinns.
Ayr. 1790  Burns Battle Sherramuir iii.:
But had ye seen the philibegs And skyrin tartan trews, man.
Edb. 1822  R. Wilson Poems 129:
Round him spread a cheery skyrin light.
Abd. 1826  Aberdeen Censor 80:
The skyrishness of their dresses.
Dmb. 1831  D. MacLeod Past Worthies (1894) 102:
We saw the rays of the morning sun Coming up the horizon skyring.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxix.:
That braw French merino she's been skyrin in.
Abd. 1922  G. P. Dunbar Whiff o' Doric 22:
In their gigs an' their cairts, Some dubbit, an' some skeyrin' new.
Abd. 1945  Abd. Univ. Review 33:
A skeirie bit gravat, a buik i' the han'.

IV. n. Anything brightly-coloured, a brightly-coloured tawdry piece of dress (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 165).

[The diphthongal forms derive from O.N. skirr, clear, pure, the simple vowel forms from O.N. skærr, id. For Skire-Thursday, cf. O.N. Skíriþorsdagr, Norw. Skirtorsdag, skjær-, Maundy Thursday, on which ritual bathing, symbolic of purification from sin, took place. O.Sc. has skyre, clear, bright, a.1585, skyr, adv., completely, 1581, Skyre-, -is Thurisday, 1420, Early Mid.Eng. skir, skere, pure. The St. Eng. cognate form is sheer.]

Skire adj., adv., v., n.

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"Skire adj., adv., v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



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