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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1937 (DOST Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Bissy, a. Also: bissie, bisse, bisie; byssy, bysse. [ME. bisy, bysy, bisi, OE. bisiᵹ. Cf. Besy and Busy.]

1. Of persons, etc.: Actively engaged, working diligently. (See also Be n.)In some instances approaching an adverbial use. c1475 Wall. ix. 704.
Quhen thai off hay was ladand most bysse
a1500 Henr. Fab. 248.
Thir small birdis, … Full bissie scraipand for to seik thair fude
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxiii. 85.
The bissart, bissy but rebuik
1513 Doug. i. vii. 10.
The byssy Tyrryanys lauborand ardently
Ib. iii. ii. 119; etc.
Mony marynar Byssy at thar wark
1548 Treas. Acc. IX. 238.
To be bissy in his effaris
1549 Corr. M. Lorraine 426.
My lord … is bisse to appont with his folkis [etc.]
a1568 Scott i. 43.
Be bissie now to banisch all debaitis
1570 Leslie 3.
He was never more bissie occupeit
1596 Dalr. II. 467/27.
A faithful labourer … , ernist, and bissie
1615 Highland P. III. 273.
His companie ar bissie repairing the yll

2. Of actions, etc.: Characterized by diligence. 1513 Doug. i. Prol. 119.
I set my bissy pane [etc.]
Ib. vii. 34.
Thar labour is bissy and fervent
Ib. iv. x. 11.
Mesyng thar bissy thocht
1533 Boece vii. i. 220 b.
Quhen he wakit fra bissy curis
1584 Reg. Privy C. III. 644.
The bissy travellis of sindrie inquiet spreittis
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xiv. 82.
To pleis thy god set all thy bissie cure

3. In comb. with branit (brained), weyngit. 1513 Doug. v. iv. 109.
The dow discendis soft and fair, Not byssy weyngyt, bot planand esyly
1572 J. Maitland M. Fol. lxxxviii. 1.
Gif bissie branit bodeis ȝow bakbyte

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"Bissy adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Feb 2024 <>



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