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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.

Burn, n. Also: burne, bwrn(e, born(e, bourn, bowrn. [ME. burn, burne (bourne), OE. burna.]

1. A brook or stream.Frequent in early place-names, as Merburne (c 1170), Triernburn (c 1200), Bradestrothirburne (c 1220), Treburne (1222). Kyrkeburne (1229), etc.(a) 1375 Barb. vii. 39.
Richt to the burn thai passit ar
Ib. 78.
At that burn eschapit the king
a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 1314.
Sone was he thare cummyne Til a place, quhare a burne had runnyn
c1420 Wynt. viii. 4590.
At a lytyll bwrne passyng Schyr Thomas hwrt wes in the kne
1425 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 97.
Landis liand on the sovth side of the bvrne of the said burch
1461 Liber Plusc. 382.
All thir watteris … Baith of salt sey, of burne, well and revere
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1819.
The carll pullit the lyne, … It steipit in the burn
1493 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 214.
The croftis of the yond syd the burn … to perten to the sayd wicar
1513 Doug. ii. vi. 14.
Quhen the burn on spait hurlys down the bank
Ib. iii. v. 131.
A smal burn half gane dry
1531 Bell. Boece I. p. xxvi.
The hillis of Cheviot, fra quhilk springis mony small burnis
Ib. p. xlvi.
Fra this fontane discendis ane litil burne or strip
1535 Stewart 38914.
All the strandis neirby … Lyke ony burne abundit all with blude
1549 Reg. Cupar A. II. 59.
Ane pairt of the said miln landis lyand vpoun the est of the burn of Wester Drymmie
1592 Reg. Great S. 90/2.
The victuall land maillis of Clestrane benorthe the burne
a1598 Ferg. Prov. 112.
Ye may drink of the burn, but not byte of the brae
1611 Reg. Panmure I. p. xcii.
Thear as the strype or auld vattirgange entres in the bwrne
1656 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 337.
The haill tanners qwha hes thair bark holis on the burne or neir the burne
1683 Melrose R. Rec. III. 9.
John Uschar … houked ane seugh … doune allongs to the burne
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xlii. 306.
Weltrand, as it a borne had bene
1420 Liber Calchou 447.
A pese of lande … lyand between ij bowrnis
1522 Stirling B. Rec. I. 17.
That na persoun … woucht [sic] ony maner of clais at the toune bouirn … for fyling of the bourn
1655 Lamont Diary 91.
The bourns ran downe some shorne cornes in severall places

2. Water, esp. for use in brewing.Frequent in north-eastern records after 1600. 1509–10 Rentale Dunkeld. fol. 85 b.
In brasino pro lie burn & candelis ad sedecim lie maskis
1540 Lynd. Sat. 4140.
To make thinne aill thay think na falt, Of mekill burne & lytill malt
1548 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 141; 1552 Ib. 164.
That na maner of persouns ledares of burne tak the sam furth of the wellis … bot to pas to the Loch and vthers convenient places
1598 St. A. Kirk S. 850.
That na brouster caus be led ony burn to mask thair fattis, nor fill thair leadis upon the Saboth
1603 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 27.
The Sabbath day is grytlie prophanit … be bearing of burne be a gryt nomer of theas that brewis
1626 Elgin Rec. II. 197.
John Forsythis wyffe purgeit hir selfe … that she drew no burne but ane fraucht to mak redie hir meat
1633 M. Works Acc. XXVIII. 17.
Aucht laid of burne for draking the lyme at ij s. the gang
1658 Elgin Rec. I. 308.
For bringing in of horse … to carie burne for quenching of the fyr at the west porte

3. Attrib. or comb. with (1) bra, cruke, end, hede, mouth, rude, side, trout; (2) bearer, rowbour, tub.(1) 1420 Liber Calchou 447.
A schele … apon the bourn bra
1470 Prestwick B. Rec. 8.
A porciunkle of land liande at the said furd of the burn, … callit a burne cruk
1498 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 237.
Tres perticatas terrarum … le Burne Rudis vocatas
1508 Ib. IV. 465.
Sic semper versus boream … relinquendo le Burnhedis ad Strabogy
1509 Acts II. 267/1.
The dene of Cokburnpeth contenand fra the braa hede to the burn ende
1548 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 350.
Cum … duabus croftis de Burneside unacum crofta de Waterside
1597 Reg. Great S. 180/1.
Apud torrentis ostium lie burnemouth de Largo
1598 Stirling Ant. III. 309.
Item, xx born trowtts. Item, ijc egis
1601 Crim. Trials II. 357.
Steling of twa naigis … furth of ane burnesyde bevest Calder
1641 Dundee Chart. 58.
Ab ostiis torrentis vulgo vocat. lie Burnemouth de Innergowrie
(2) 1569 Prot. Bk. G. Grote 74.
Hinging of burnrowbouris
1581 Perth Kirk S. 240.
This act in special to be directed against baxters, brewsters, … burn-bearers, fleshers
1645 Edinb. Test. LXI. 134.
Twa wasching tubes, … ane burne tub

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



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