Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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THAN, conj., adv. Also thaun (Dmf. 1875 G. Anderson Two Angels 69); tan (wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 282). See T, letter, 1.; †then (= Eng. than in comparisons) (Slk. 1714 V. Jacob Lairds of Dun (1931) 240; Wgt. 1715 G. Fraser Lowland Lore (1880) 72; Sc. 1728 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) IV. 16; Mry. 1747 Lord Elchies' Letters (MacWilliam) 271; Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 55; Sc. 1825 Jam.); also in sense II. 3. thans(e), thance; See also An, conj.2, adv., and for I.Sc. forms Dan, adv. Sc. usages. [ðɑn, unstressed ðən; ðɑns]

I. conj. 1. = Eng. that in phr. nae winder than, no wonder that, prob. from a conflation of that and An, conj.1, 3. wm.Sc. 1835  Laird of Logan 263:
Nae wonder than you're like to gang dementit for perfect vexation.
Ags. 1894  J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 71:
Nae winder than your knees were knockin' thegither.

2. In imprecative phr. Deil than, would to the devil that . . . . See Nor, conj.1, 3., for which than is substituted (see Ib., 1.). Dmb. 1868  J. Salmon Gowodean 10:
Deil than your tongue were hookit neb and root.
Ayr. 1873  A. Glass Tales 18:
Deil than she may break her neck.

II. adv. = Eng. then (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 151; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc.

1. At that time, thereupon, thereafter. Used subst. in (1) and (5) below. Kcb. 1747  Kcb. Testaments MS. (Record Office) 10 July:
Another bill accepted by Robert Gordon payable to me against Martinmess then first.
Edb. 1772  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 38:
Naebody than is heard to blaw, On chaunter, or on aiten straw.
Ork. 1795  P. Fea MS. Diary (25 Sept.):
And than it came a heavy Rain.
Sc. 1887  Stevenson Underwoods 131:
My conscience! when my han's were fu', Whaur were ye than?
Abd. 1926  Abd. Univ. Review (March) 112:
We wiz i' the box bed i' the kitchie an' suppost t' be asleep or than.

Phrs.: (1) noos an' thans, now and then (I., n. and em.Sc.(a), wm.Sc., Dmf. 1972). See also Noo, adv., 4.; (2) than-an-awa, in the past, in the days that are gone (Abd. 1972); (3) than-a- or -o-days, in those days, at that time (ne.Sc. 1972). See also Dan, adv. Rare and obs. in Eng. Cf. nowadays; ¶(4) then and now, used attrib. = spasmodic, irregular in time; (5) wi' than, with that, thereupon. (1) Mry. 1914  H. J. Warwick Tales 44:
Mebbe a bit mair kitchie noos an' thans.
Ags. 1926  J. M. Smith House in West End 13:
He's a wee thing foolish nows an' thans.
(3) Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 99:
But then was then, my lad, and now is now; Bout then-a-days, we never met wi' cross, Nor kend the ill of conters or of loss.
Abd. 1872  J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 132:
They had a queer custom then o' days.
Lnl. 1896  Poets Lnl. (Bisset) 96:
Nae clud thanadays cuist a gum ower oor glory.
Ork. 1907  Old-Lore Misc. I. ii. 63:
The Johnstans aa'd Ootbrecks than-a-days.
Abd. 1967  Buchan Observer (21 Nov.) 7:
There was some stir at Biffie then-a-days.
(4) Kcd. 1932  L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song 28:
He farmed his bit land in a then and now way.
(5) Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 113:
Whan naething mair fra it dis seep, Wi' than they move the shankie.

2. Used inferentially: then, in that case, freq. as a particle in conversation. Gen.Sc. Phr. weel than, id.; also indicating emphatic agreement: yes indeed, very true, very much so. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc. Ayr. 1703  Session Bk. Dundonald (1936) 546:
To which Margrat Sands answered, What than?
Sc. 1819  Scott Bride of Lamm. xxvi.:
Mr. Balderstone! than the castle's gane out like an auld wife's spunk?
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb vii.:
It wasna neen o' the fisher tribe 't ye bade wi' than?
Kcb. 1893  Crockett Raiders xxxii.:
“Weel than!” said Silver Sand for all answer.
Kcb. 1901  R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 74:
But than, ye see, women's ay mair resoursefu' nor men.
Mry. 1927  E. B. Levack Lossiemouth 9:
“Did you fall, Jane?” “Weel than!”

3. Else (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Also in forms thans(e), thance, by assimilation to else. Gen.Sc. See also Ense. Phrs. or than or else; or than no, used with ironic force implying that the opposite of what has been said is the case, = colloq. Eng. “and I don't think,” nothing of the sort. See Else, Ense. Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 266:
Ah, Jamie lad, ye sair misken yoursel', Or thans ye wadnae tell me sic a tale.
Dmf. 1817  W. Caesar Poems 59:
Keep frae the town, or thence a knock Ye're sure to get.
Sc. 1825  Jam.:
Come hame sure, or than I'll be angry.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xx., xxxviii.:
“He has a gweed hantle o' poo'er fae the laird.” “Haud yer tongue, Peter Birse! Poo'er or than no.” . . . “Was't a hurt; or fat?” “Augh! A hurt or than no!”
Kcb. 1901  R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 124:
They maun do something, or thanse dee o' hunger.
Abd. 1925  Greig and Keith Last Leaves 117:
Your mare she is a rank rank witch, Or than yoursel Auld Clinkie Bell.
Rxb. 1925  E. C. Smith Mang Howes 2:
A fair durstna, or thance A micht never heh gotten off the bit aa day.
Abd. 1940  :
Sit aye doun fan ye gang intil a house or than ye tak the luck wi you — an old superstition.

[O.Sc. than, then, else, 1375.]

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"Than conj., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Mar 2019 <>



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