Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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STEER, v.2, n.2 Also †steir. Sc. usages of Eng. steer, to direct, guide:

I. v. In derivs. and combs.: (1) steerer, the rudder of a boat, in Sh. sea-taboo usage (Sh. 1814 Irvine MSS., Sh. 1971). Obs. in Eng.; (2) steering-tree, the handle of a single-stilted plough. Cf. II.; ¶(3) steerin-stok, = (1). Poet. (2) Cai. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 X. 23:
A sort of plough yet more singular was used. It had but one stilt, called the steering tree.
Abd. 1877  W. Alexander Rural Life 147:
Four, or perhaps six, horses were yoked to the front of this frame, which had a “steering tree” attached behind.
(3) Sc. 1907  D. Macalister Echoes (1923) 31:
The steerin-stok o' gowd.

II. n. A plough-team. Cf. obs. Eng. steer, a plough-handle. Combs. steer-draught, the name of the two oxen immediately behind the leading pair in a twelve-oxen plough; steer-pin, a pin or strut joining the stilt to the beam of the old Ork. plough (Ork. 1814 J. Shirreff Agric. Ork. 52); steer-tree, the stilt or handle of a single-stilted plough (Lnk. 1825 Jam.). Cf. I. (2) above; see also 1837 quot. Dmf. 1810  R. Cromek Remains 147:
I had a steer o' gude owsen to ca'.
Rnf. 1837  Crawfurd MSS. XI. 310:
A man attending the plow with a long pole with a fork on the one end, and a hook on the other. He guides the plow, by the fork he pushes the coulter down and by the hook he raises the plow up. The long pole was called the steirtree.
ne.Sc. 1881  W. Gregor Folk-Lore 179:
Counting from the pair next the plough, the name of each pair was: — “Fit yoke, Hin frock, Fore frock, Mid yoke, Steer-draught o' laan, Wyners.”

Deriv. steerless, aimless, without a goal, wandering in a bewildered manner. Prob. a nonce usage of Ainslie. Eng. steerless, without a rudder, lit. and fig., is found from the 13th to 17th cs. and dial. = unsteady. Ayr. 1822  H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 43:
Slowly wan she thro' the broom, For steerless was her stap.

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"Steer v.2, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Feb 2019 <>



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