Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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Z, letter of the alphabet. The twenty-sixth letter of the alphabet, denoting the voiced fore-blade fricative [z] and called zed [zɛd], †zad (see Zad), as in Eng., also dim. form Zaidie, q.v., though a dissyllabic form [′ɪzɪd, ′ɪzɪt] was also common both in Sc. and Eng., and is still heard among old speakers (Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. Gl.; Ags. 1810 J. Paterson Poems 133; Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 28). See also Izzat. Lord Glenbervie records (c.1775 Signet Lib. MS. 107) that initial z as in zeal, zenith, zone was sounded in Sc. as [dz]. This is still in use among some speakers as in e.g. zoo [dzu], and in the name of the letter [(ɪ)′dzɛd]. Its usages are substantially the same as in Eng. When the sound represents s voiced intervocalically, some writers use z as a more phonetic representation as in cruzie, Cruisie, mizzour, Measure, rooze, Ruise. In Sc. the ending -sure is pronounced [zər] as in leisure, pleasure; when the Eng. pronunciation [ʒər] is intended, this is sometimes indicated by the spelling -zh- as in pleezher. Cf. fuzhonless, Fushionless, puzhen, Pushion. c [s] is pronounced [z] in December in m.Sc. and Precentor in some areas. As explained under Y, letter, the character ȝ (yogh), representing the sound [j], came to be confused with a cursive z and the early Sc. printers freq. used z, when ȝ was not available in their founts. This sound being the second element in l and n mouillé, spellings like †bailzie, Capercailzie, Cunzie, Failzie, fenzie (Feingie), Gaberlunzie, spulzie (Spulyie) are common, and some have survived in modern arch. or hist. usage, notably in proper names like Culzean [kʌ′len], Dalziel [də(l)′jɛl], Drummelzier [′-mɛljɛr], Menzies [′mɪŋɪz], MacKenzie [†mə′kɛŋji. See Scott H. Midlothian xii., Stevenson Edinburgh v.], Benzie [†′bɛŋji], Cockenzie [†kɔ′kɛne], Lenzie [†′lɛnɪ]. Hence also in eclectic writers zit, yet (Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms cxix. 55), zung, young (Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. xxxv.). This ȝ ( > z) sometimes also represented an orig. [hj,j], which in some words developed into [ʃ(j)], and hence spellings such as Zetland, q.v., zirrie, zery, sherry, zizars, Shissors, scissors. 'Z. See His, pron., Hiz, Is, v., Us.

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"Z ". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Feb 2018 <>



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