Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WHILES, adv., conj. Also whyles and, by analogy with While, n., in quasi-dim. forms whilies, whileocks. See also Files. [ʍəilz]

I. adv. Sometimes, at times, occasionally (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen. (exc. I.) Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. Ayr. 1789  Burns To Dr Blacklock viii.:
Wha does the utmost that he can Will whyles do mair.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality v.:
A pain I hae whiles in my ain stamach.
Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Miller xvi.:
I took a wee drapie dribble, maybe whiles ower muckle.
Lnk. 1853  W. Watson Poems 54:
Anither faut, she's whileocks lazy.
Dmf. 1873  A. C. Gibson Folk-Speech Cum. 127:
Sweethearts a score I whyles rhyme ow'r — their names, Bell, Barbara, Bess. . . .
Ags. 1894  J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden (1922) 66:
Atween you an' me, I thocht whyles they werna far wrong.
Bwk. 1900  A.T.G. Ann. Thornlea 32:
Whiles ane 'll sit doon.
ne.Sc. 1929  M. W. Simpson Day's End 53:
Maistly for siller — an' whilies for a dram.
Slk. 1964  Southern Reporter (16 April) 9:
I whiles think it is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Freq. in correlative constructions whiles . . . whiles, at one time . . . at another. Sc. 1705  R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 75:
She continued two or three years, whiles praising, whiles neglecting prayer.
Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 66:
Whiles slouming, whiles starting wi' her fright.
Ayr. 1790  Burns Tam o' Shanter 83–4:
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet. Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet.
Slk. 1824  Hogg Tales (1874) 518:
They say the de'il's often seen gaun sidie for sidie w'ye, whiles in ae shape an' whiles in anither.
Hdg. 1903  J. Lumsden Toorle 127:
Whyles she ‘but to hae me aff-haun,' Whyles ‘she wadna wed for a Croun.'
Sc. 1917  D. Mitchell Clachan Kirk 14:
Whiles fechtin wi' storm, whiles wearied wi' heat.
s.Sc. 1933  Border Mag. (June) 82:
Whiles wading thro' the slush and snaw, whiles basking on the brae.

II. conj. While, whilst. Obs. in Eng. Sc. 1756  M. Calderwood Journal (M.C.) 189:
Whiles Mr Calderwood went through the colledge, Daniel attended me.
Cai. 1869  M. McLennan Peasant Life 326:
I'll lift his fore-fut whiles ye pit on the saydle.

[O.Sc. quhylis, sometimes, a.1400, whils, whilst, 1515, from O.E. hwīles, adv. gen. of hwīl, a while, as in sumehwīles, ōðerhwīles, etc.]

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



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