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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.

Bony, Bonie, adj. Also: bonny, -ie. [e.m.E. bonye (1570), bonny (a 1529), of obscure origin. In early Sc. examples always with single n, but rhyming with mony.]

1. Beautiful, handsome, pretty, nice: a. Of persons. a1500 Prestis of Peblis 820.
Ane bonie wenche sho was
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxii. 8.
He braisit hir bony body sweit
Ib. lxxv. 35.
Ȝe brek my hart, my bony ane!
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 157.
In the stabill thai fand the bony barne
1540 Lynd. Sat. 160 (B).
Thay callit my mvder bony Bes
1551 Hamilton Cat. 53.
The ymage of our lady … beirand in her arme the bony ymage of hir sone
a1568 Bann. MS. 137 a/3.
Scho brankit fast and maid hir bony
1567 G. Ball. 206.
The Persoun wald nocht haif ane hure, But twa, and thay war bony
1567 Sat. P. iii. 3.
Ane bony boy was soir makand his mone
a1585 Montg. Maitl. Q. lxiv. 23.
The maist bening and boniest Mirrour of madinis, Margareit
1596 Dalr. II. 137/12.
April xv our Quene is delyuerit of a bony barne
1665 Lauder Journal 113.
He married his wife … only for his gear, and she took him because he was bony
1666 Wemyss Corr. 127.
My wankle [= uncle] tels me my brother is gron the boniest litle man that hi ever did se

b. Of things. Also = good, excellent. a1500 Prestis of Peblis 743.
Vpon ane lytil bony stule Sat Fictus
?1549 Monro W. Isles 41.
Ane ile callit Cransay, … ane boney ile for corne and gerssing
1560 Rolland Seven S. 146/21.
Ane bonie lytil kie, Hang at hir belt
Ib. 326/5.
That bony foull of flicht, The nichingaill
a 1568 Sat. P. xlvi. 48.
Bot nycht & day mon he nocht tyre That sailis my bony ballinger
c1590 J. Stewart 54/49.
Zephir … vith bonie bousum blast
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xlii. 1.
A bony ‘No’, with smyling looks agane
1591 Crim. Trials I. 240.
The said Agnes preparit ane bony small pictour of ȝallow walx
1607 Edinb. Test. XLIII. 5.
I leif … to my brother, becaus he misteris nocht, … ane bonie bonnet of gold
c 1614 Rep. Hist. MSS. I. 139.
Thertie yeardis of flowrit tafetie or sume uther bonie sticht stuffe for his doichteris
1633 Maxwell Mem. I. 228.
The morne, the towne of Edinburgh moosteris and makis swndrie bonie pastymis
1638 Baillie I. 149.
The man hes a bonny spirit

2. Of a space of time: Little, short, moderately long. Usually a bony quhile. a1500 Doug. K. Hart 732.
I salbe heir within ane bony quhyle
1540 Lynd. Sat. 3651 (B).
We sall leir ȝow to dance Within ane bony littill spaice Ane new paven of France
a1540 Freiris Berw. 330.
It salbe heir within a bony [M. littil] quhyle
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 928.
Abasd, ane bonie quhyle I baid, And musd
1596 Highland P. I. 188.
Within a bonny while … he tuik occasioune … to advyse me
1600-1610 Melvill 36.
His face first fell to the est, bot within a bonie whyll turned about to the west
1604-31 Craig ii. 26.
Thou both bagg and bow a bonie while shalt beare
1622-6 Bisset I. 288.
Eftir that he haif pawsed a bony quhyle

b. Of number: Fair, considerable. 1590 Burel Pilgr. i. xxix.
I thocht it best, In this cathalogue to conuene Ane bonie nomber

3. In ironical use. a1500 Prestis of Peblis 187.
At the last of mony smallis couth mak This bony pedder a gud fut pak
1685 in Biogr. Presb. I. 76.
Ye've played a bonny sports to your self, by being so loose-tongued

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



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