Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WEIR, v., n.2 Also ¶weire, weer, wier, wear; ¶ware, ¶wair (Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 186). [wi(ə)r]

I. v. A. Forms. Pr.t. as above. Pa.t. and pa.p. weak weir(e)d (s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell Psalms x. 6), wiered, weared. In the 18th c. the word became confused with Wear, esp. in sense 4. below, and the strong conjugation, pa.t. wure, pa.p. worn, ¶wore, was adopted by many writers thereafter.

B. Usages. 1. (1) To guard, defend, protect from attack, intrusion, etc. (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1942 Zai). Rxb. 1768  Session Papers, Buccleugh v. Turnbull, etc. (10 March) 23:
To weir the Common and keep off the Beasts belonging to the Lordship.
Slk. 1801  Hogg Sc. Pastorals 23:
For wearin' corn of hens an cocks.
Sc. 1802  Scott Minstrelsy I. 187:
I set him to wear the fore-door wi' the speir while I kept the back-door wi' the lance.
Edb. 1852  D. M. Moir Poems II. 118:
I used to wear the bit young lambs Frae the tod and the roaring stream.
Sc. 1907  D. MacAlister Echoes (1923) 165:
Weir yersel, my son.

Comb. wierwa, a defence wall, bulwark, rampart, used fig. in quot. Arch. and liter. Abd. 1882  W. Forsyth Writings 14:
But noo ten thousan' buirdly briests Micht mak' a wierwa' wide and wicht.

(2) To help (one) to last out, to provide for. Poss., however, a derived sense of 4. Sc. 1815  Scott Guy M. xxiv.:
She should have a pint bottle of brandy and a pound o' tobacco to wear her through the winter.

2. To stand guard over, to keep a watch on; of a sheep-dog: to stand in front of a group of animals to control their movements and prevent them breaking loose (Sc. 1855 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 690; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1973), hence vbl.n. weirin(g). Phr. to weir a gate, to stand at a gate and open and shut it as required, esp. at a sheep-shearing or -dipping (Dmf. 1867 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 56; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Slk. 1782  Session Papers, Darling v. Blackie (9 Aug.) State of Process 10:
He was never directed to turn the sheep off Appletreeleaves ground, but only to wear them and keep them from going o'er far athort the ground.
Rxb. 1808  A. Scott Poems 80:
Colly tents his master's stick, An' tugs, an' takes, an' wears.
Sc. 1820  Scots Mag. (May) 93:
A monstrous eel, wi' twist and tweel, The gapan' entrance wure.
Slk. 1823  Blackwood's Mag. (June) 631:
The boy was wearing one of the fold doors.
Rxb. 1921  Kelso Chronicle (12 Aug.) 2:
Her out-run was good, her lifting, bringing, and driving too hurried, her penning and weiring excellent.

3. Freq. with adv. aff: to keep (animals, etc.) off, to hold back or at bay, to prevent from approaching (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1942 Zai), “to stop” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); to ward off (a blow) (Watson). Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 47:
Lord wear aff the featour's blow Frae honest fock.
Gall. 1825  Jam.:
The lasses should wear the lads aff them.
Rxb. 1825  Jam.:
There is a common phrase among the peasantry in Roxburgh, when one good turn is solicited, in prospect of a grateful requital; “Dight the meldrop frae my nose, and I'll wear the midges frae yours.”
s.Sc. 1880  Border Counties' Mag. I. 159:
Aw wad wade in up to the oxters, to weir the vesshel back!
Sh. 1897  Shetland News (11 Sept.):
Doo düsna ken foo blied I am ta see dee or ony body. Kens doo hit waers ill aff o' me.
m.Sc. 1907  J. Buchan Poems (1917) .29:
They weir our siller, mak' our laws, And God! sic makin'!
Bwk. 1921 ,
Stop by blocking the course. Weir thae nowt.
Sc. 1928  T. T. Alexander Psalms xliii. 3:
And wear me til Thy holie hill, Whaur Thy lown biggins be.
Sc. 1931  J. Lorimer Red Sergeant x.:
It'll be my business to wear him at Talla Linns and warn him.
Abd. 1936  D. Bruce Cheengefu' Wordle 23:
We wore't [last sheaf of corn] in, an' we've aye worn't in, an' you an' me'll weer through a gye kurn hairsts thegither yet.

4. (1) To drive animals or persons singly or in groups gradually and gently in a desired direction, to shepherd, edge forward or head (an animal, etc.) by degrees (s.Sc. 1808 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 627; Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 274; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Gen. (exc. I.) Sc. Also with advs. in (about), into, up, etc. This usage has tended to run together with Wear, v., 2., poss. with influence from Eng. wear, to bring a person into a certain way of thinking or behaving. Sc. 1724  Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 84:
Will ye go to the ew-bughts, Marion, And wear in the sheep wi' me?
Sc. 1725  Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. i.:
[She] bade me hound my dog, To wear up three waff ewes stray'd on the bog.
Rxb. 1767  R. S. Craig & A. Laing Hawick Trad. (1898) 246:
He wore in the sheep and nolt so that they could not get to the Common.
Sc. 1775  Weekly Mag. (26 Jan.) 208:
The sheep come trottin' frae the hill, Whar they've been wore wi' meikle skill.
Slk. 1819  Hogg Tales (1865) 148:
A great big rough dog, that had very near worn him into a linn in the water.
Sc. 1833  Chambers's Jnl. (March) 69:
Paterson wiered him, as a shepherd would say, up to a corner of the dyke.
Rxb. a.1860  J. Younger Autobiog. (1881) 19:
Whenever worn up and impelled to resistence, I was always successful in securing honourable victory.
Abd. 1882  W. Alexander My Ain Folk 94:
L'll get the beasts worn in aboot in a filie.
Edb. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 16:
Pate wear'd them a' to the kirk maist reg'lar ilka Sabbath day.
Gall. 1912  A. McCormick Words from Wild-wood 47:
The bark of a dog or the voice of a shepherd as they ‘wear' the sheep down the mountain sides.
Rxb. 1925  E. C. Smith Mang Howes 1:
Thir billies hed a sair hatter or they got the bruits weerd bye the cairts.
Lnk. 1928  W. C. Fraser Yelpin' Stane 117:
This weared them [trout] farrer an' farrer up till the water was fair hotchin' wi' them.

Hence wearer, a dog that is skilful in herding animals (Dmf. 1973). s.Sc. 1925  Scottish Farmer (3 Jan.):
The “wearer's” work is far more scientific. He has to stop the sheep when it is necessary.
Arg. 1954  D. Mackenzie Farmer in W. Isles 107:
Herding goats with a dog is only effective if the dog is a ‘wearer', that is one that will bring the quarry to you and not drive it away.
Dmf. 1959  Dmf. & Gall. Standard & Advert. (14 March):
Good Working Hill Dog Wanted, run out, firm steady wearer, nice eye.

(2) used in a pass. sense: to be herded. s.Sc. 1824  J. Telfer Border Ball. 40:
The yowes were wild, and wadna weire.

(3) in transf. senses of persons or things: Edb. 1796  J. Thomson Poems (1801) 2:
She [Poverty] weirs me in at ilka place, In spite o' me.
Ags. 1821  Montrose Chron. (9 Feb.) 46:
Gin you see stormie leuks brewin, Ye'll weer him as well as you can.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 293:
He “kepped the ball” means he so weared in the ball with his hands, that he got hold of it.
Edb. 1839  W. McDowall Poems 221:
To cheer him — an' wear him — Fu' canna [sic] through his lays.
Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 207:
A'll wear 'im roon yet.

II. n. 1. As in Eng., a river dam. Comb. ¶ware-sluice, a sluice or inlet-control on a weir. Mry. 1756  Session Papers, Stephen v. Brodie (11 Nov.) 10:
He was one of the Workmen employed by him to build a Ware-sluice at the Intake of the Water to said Mill, and that he remembers the same was strongly builded, and that twelve Spars were used in said Piece of Work.

2. An embankment at the side of a river to prevent erosion. Also in Eng. dial. Gsw. 1714  Burgh Rec. Gsw. (B.R.S.) 525:
The harbour betwixt the far end of the key and Captain Lyons weir.

3. A hedge, fence (Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 158); a partition. Comb. weir-buse, -buist, a wooden partition between stalls in a byre (Lnk. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., -buist). See Boose, n.1 Kcb. 1789  D. Davidson Seasons 51:
Now weir an' fence o' wattl'd rice The hained fields inclose.

4. The milking stock on a farm, “cows and ewes giving milk” (Rxb. 1825 Jam., because these “were formerly enclosed in a fold”). Cf. I. 2.

5. “Force, restraint” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); defence, in sword-play. Ayr. a.1878  H. Ainslie Pilgrimage (1892) 237:
At guard an' weir lay Andro Keir — He faught to haud his ain.

6. An act of shepherding or heading off cattle. Cf. I. 4. (1). Rxb. 1923  Watson W.-B.:
Hey, callants! gie thae bease a weir.

[O.Sc. were, to defend, 1375, werwall, 1450, to guard an entry, 1475, to ward off, c.1480, O.E. werian, to defend. The n. is partly direct from the verb, partly from O.E. wer, Eng. wear, dial. ware, a river barrier, from the same stem, wer-.]

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"Weir v., n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Nov 2018 <>



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