Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WHIN, n.1 Also whun, whyn. See also Fun, n.1, Pease, 1. (2). [ʍɪn]

1. Any one of the various hard crystalline types of igneous rock, as basalt, flint, or diorite (Sc. 1808 Jam.), “in some areas more loosely applied to any hard stone used as road stone, such as hornblende schists and gabbros” (Abd.16). Gen.Sc. and n.Eng. dial. Also attrib. as in whin dike. See Dyke, n., 3. Sc. 1766  Caled. Mercury (30 Aug.) 415:
From that to Charing-cross, is [paved] with Scots blue whyn.
Bwk. 1835  Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club (1885) 89:
The term Whin is applied in Berwickshire to all rocks except freestone and quartz.
Per. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 X. 4:
From the main body of the trap, whin dikes may be traced.
Sc. 1873  A. Geikie Great Ice Age 152:
Gravel and stones with large ‘whin' boulders.
Dmf. 1875  A. Anderson Two Angels 92:
For the heart grows hard, an' lies dead in the breast, Like the bouk o' my nieve o' whin.
Arg. 1898  N. Munro J. Splendid xxiv.:
A pleasance walled by whin or granite.
Sc. 1937  Econ. Geol. Cent. Coalfield I. 143:
Whin has been used in the building of some of the older houses and cottages in the district.

2. A piece of whin rock, a boulder, slab or stone (Slg., Lth., Bwk., Lnk., Ayr. 1974); specif. a curling-stone made of whin. Adj. whinnie, stony, of a field (Ork. 1974). Sc. 1823  Scots Mag. (Jan.) 3:
Dandy Dinmont having dug out from the stole of a two year's old peat stack, his “true blue whins”, had graced them with new handles, and a fresh soleing.
Lnk. 1915  :
He threw a whun at me. Dim. whinnie, -y, a kind of playing marble. Obs.
Gsw. 1870  G. Henderson Recollections (1914) 32:
Two “jarries” equalled a “whinny.”
Hdg. 1886  J. P. Reid Facts & Fancies 195:
Ha, miss'd, hurrah! an' I'll ha'e you — Is that your demon whinnie?

3. Combs. and phrs.: (1) bastard whin, whinstone mixed with limestone; (2) black whin, a variety of dolerite; (3) floating whin, see quot.; (4) whin(e) boul, a hard nodule of whin embedded in sandstone (Ags. 1953). See Bool, n.1; (5) whin brush, whinstone dust or small rubble; (6) whin craigman, a quarrier of whinstone, a quarryman; (7) whin dust, = (5) (em., wm.Sc., Wgt. 1974); (8) whin-flag, a flag or flat slab of whinstone; (9) whin-float, “an intruded bed, or an overflow on the surface, of igneous rock” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 72). See Float, n., 2.; (10) whin-gaw, “a narrow dyke or intrusion of whin” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 72). See Gaw, n.1, 4.; (11) whin quarry, a quarry from which whinstone is obtained; (12) whin-rock, = 1. and 2.; (13) whinstane, (i) = 1. (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 474); a boulder or pillar of whin. Gen.Sc., also fig. Now in St. Eng., as a geological term. Also attrib. or as adj. = hard-hearted, inflexible; also solid, durable; (ii) a curling-stone (Ayr. 1928). See 2.; (14) white-whin, see quot. (1) Fif. 1841  Trans. Highl. Soc. 337:
The trap, however, is not pure, but has a mixture of lime in it, in consequence of which it is commonly named Bastard Whin.
(2) Per. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 X. 315:
At upper Concraig black trap, or as some style it, black whin rock.
(3) Lnk. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 VII. 546:
In many parts of this county, the whin lies on the transition and other rocks in the form of mountain caps. Workmen in Lanarkshire term this “floating whin.”
(4) Ags. 1776  First Hist. Dundee (Millar 1923) 144:
It is a considerable oppen court within, and paved like the rest of the Street with Whine bouls.
Ags. 1896  J. Stirton Thrums 94:
The whole of the fences on thirty acres of land are all whin bouls.
(5) Gsw. 1728  Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 294:
The filling up the holls of Camlachy cawsey with whin brush.
(6) Gsw. 1745  Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1911) 195:
Mells, gaveloks, hammers, wadges and other smith work made and furnished by him for the caseyers and whin craigmen.
(7) Per. 1953  Scotsman (14 Feb.):
For the garden there is nothing so good as whin dust, as it is called locally in Perthshire. This is the actual dust that is made when grinding the stone and riddling it afterwards for road metal. It consists of all sizes that go through a quarter-inch mesh riddle.
(8) Slg. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 VIII. 324:
The under part or bottom of the coffin was whin-flag, as was also the upper part or lid.
(9) Rnf. 1920  Memoirs Geol. Survey Scot. 21:
The “whin float” resting on the Upper Castlehead Coal.
Ayr. 1932  Econ. Geol. Sc. Coalfields IV. 83:
The Craigs of Kyle are formed by the outcrop of a thick “whin float” or sill of compact, hard olivine-dolerite.
(11) Gsw. 1819  Edb. Ev. Courant (17 June) 1:
The fir park and great whin quarry, at present working by the city of Glasgow.
(12) Ayr. 1785  Burns Death & Dr Hornbook xviii.:
I might as weel hae try'd a quarry O' hard whin rock.
Sc. 1806  R. Forsyth Beauties Scot. IV. 58:
All the hills are whin-rock.
s.Sc. 1835  Wilson's Tales of the Borders I. 267:
He has a heart harder than a whin-rock.
(13) (i) Gsw. 1730  Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 335:
Three houses in the Drygate foot which were builded with whin stone.
Sc. 1763  Boswell London Jnl. (1950) 179:
It is as if one were making a collection of whinstones in Scotland, where you may get them on every field.
Ayr. 1785  Burns To W. Simson iv.:
My curse upon your whunstane hearts, Ye E'nbrugh gentry!
Ayr. 1787  Burns Letters (Ferguson) No. 131:
I said a fervent prayer for Old Caledonia over the hole in a blue whinstone, where Robert de Bruce fixed his royal standard on the banks of Bannockburn.
Dmf. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XI. 515:
Several large whin or moor stones placed in the ground.
Sc. 1822  Scott F. Nigel xxvi.:
Ye might as weel expect brandy from bean-stalks, or milk from a craig of blue whunstane.
Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Miller 36:
It was het aneugh to melt whunstanes, let a be airn.
Abd. 1865  G. MacDonald Alec Forbes xiv.:
He's a blue whunstane that's hard to dress.
Sc. 1894  Stevenson W. of Hermiston v.:
He has some of Hob's grand whunstane sense.
Ags. 1901  W. J. Milne Reminiscences 289:
The sichts whilom seen, dancin' roond that whin steen.
m.Sc. 1910  J. Buchan Prester John v.:
I haven't your whinstone nerve.
Rnf. 1920  Econ. Geol. Sc. Coalfields IV. 13:
Whinstone; Fireclay, faky; Daugh and Coaly partings.
Sc. 1971  Scotsman (21 July) 15:
A Midlothian quarry is to supply 20,000 tons of whinstone for the construction of the M4 motorway in Berkshire.
(ii) Edb. 1885  J. Strathesk More Bits 274:
Our buirdly leaders, doon white ice Their whinstanes dour send snoovin'.
(14) Peb. 1843  Trans. Highl. Soc. 161:
Intermixed with these are beds or veins of a rock named “white whin”, from the light yellow colour of its weathered surface. When fresh, it is bluish-grey, and breaks with an uneven coarsely-granular fracture. It appears to consist principally of alumina, lime and iron.

[O.Sc. quhyn, quhyn stane, 1513, North Mid.Eng. quin, id. Of obscure orig. Some suggest that the orig. form may have been whin stane, a stone common where whins (see Whin, n.2) are found but this does not accord well with evidence of date and usage.]

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"Whin n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jan 2018 <>



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