Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

UNLAW, n., v. Also ¶unla-; onlaw. Sc. form and usages:

I. n. 1. A fine, penalty. Sc. 1701  Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 290:
Absolving me from the unlaw for absence from ane assyze.
Slg. 1706  Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. (1925) 39:
The tread for his maniefast contemp and disobedience fins him in doubell onlaw.
Sc. 1732  J. Louthian Form of Process 273:
Fines, Amerciaments, or Unlaws inflicted upon Offenders.

Adj. phr. not worth the King's unlaw, applied to a pauper or destitute person esp. as a means of challenging his reliability as a witness. Ayr. 1722  Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (8 Aug.):
Bonitoun objected against John McLewnan aledging he is not worth the Kings unlaw.
Bte. 1723  Session Bk. Rothesay (1931) 376:
As to Catherine Spence he only objects she is not worth the King's unlaw.
Sc. 1762  Session Papers, Cutlar v. M'Clellan (10 Jan.) 20:
She is a Poor Woman, supported only upon his and the Charity of her Neighbours, and therefore cannot be received as not worth the King's Unlaw.

II. v. tr. and absol. To fine, with in of the penalty imposed. Pa.p. unlawed, ¶unlaid (cf. Inlaid). Rxb. 1702  Stitchill Ct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 147:
They and ilk ane of them ought and should be unlaid and amerciat conform to the said Acts of Parliament.
Sc. 1708  Rights & Liberties Commons Gt. Brit. (Pamphlet) 5:
He may (like the Sheriff) unlaw for Bloodwits in Fifty Pound Scotch.
Sc. 1738  Records Conv. Burghs VI. 17:
The convention fyne and unlaw the burghs following.

[O.Sc. unlaw, illegal act, 1318, a fine, 1424, to fine, c.1425, O.E. unlaȝu, illegality, O.N. úlg, id.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Unlaw n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 11 Dec 2018 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down