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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.

By, prep. Also: bi, bye, buy, bay. [ME. by, bye, early bi, OE. , biᵹ. The unstressed OE. form is represented by Be prep.]

1. Beside, close to, near (a person or place).In verse, for the sake of rhyme, freq. placed after a pronoun (or noun) at the end of a line.(1) 1375 Barb. ii. 250.
The mekill mycht … off thaim that wes him by
Ib. vi. 252.
A gret stane than by him saw he
a1400 Leg. S. ii. 1151.
Than come a schadow … & stud hyme by
Ib. xxvii. 125.
To tak the ded barne … & vndir his clathis by hym lay
c1420 Wynt. ii. 337.
Scho … walde have gert hym ly hyr by
Ib. v. 225.
All that herd and stude hym by
c1450-2 Howlat 197.
Obeyand thir bischoppis, and bydand tham by
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 15.
I micht se on euerie syde me by
c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 197.
The bataill broucht on bordour hard vs by
1513 Doug. ix. ix. 138.
Mezentius hys scheild syne by hym lays
a1540 Freiris Berwik 72.
Cum hidder, … and sett ȝow down me bye
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lxxx. 1.
Vnder ane birkin bank me by I harde [etc.]
(2) 1375 Barb. vii. 404.
Sa hapnyt … that he By a vode-syde to sett is gane
c1420 Wynt. i. 829.
By wattyrys twa, Lyis a land calde Parthia
1535 Stewart 44512.
Foirnent Beruik, neirhand by Tueid
a1598 Ferg. Prov. 18.
Seldome lyes the devil dead by the dyke side
1628 Conv. Burghs III. 257.
The landis by and foregainst and vpone the north west thairof

b. Implying possession. 1375 Barb. i. 205.
Gyff that ony man thaim by Had ony thing
1644 11th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. vi. 57.
As for my detis … ; thair is als mouch monays bay me as to pay them

2. Past; so as to pass or go beyond. 1375 Barb. iii. 696.
By the mole thai passyt ȝar
c1420 Wynt. viii. 1538.
The wayis thai kepyt sa stratly, That he mycht na way get thaim by
1456 Hay I. 234/7.
Sa … come stalkand by him stillely … Caym
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 428.
Full oft I blenk by my buke
Id. v. 20.
By Sanct Petir … scho stall prevely
1513 Doug. vii. Prol. 28.
Oryon … Bewavit oft the schipman by hys race
Ib. xi. vi. 82.
We cachyt ar … far by Our natyve bundis
1531 Bell. Boece I. 180.
In the nicht … , the Romanis slippit by the tentis of Scottis
1535 Stewart 38650.
So hapnit him to ryde … in by ane montane syde
1542 Soc. Ant. III. 163.
The watter tabill … to schout the watter by the wyndowis
1574 Inverness B. Rec. I. 238.
The wrangus passing wyth thair sukkyn by the Kingis myln to the myln of Kilbean
1577 Prot. Bk. J. Scott 38 b.
With ane frie gait … as ane wayne may gang by ane vther
1587 Warrender P. 41.
It wes a custom … to goe by the eldest at tyms and mary the yonger
1596 Dalr. I. 30/19.
Clyd rinis by the craig on the ane sid
a1598 Ferg. Prov. 14 b.
Likelie lies in the myre, and unliklie goes by it
16.. Hist. Kennedy 57.
He … cuming by the toune, ryding one ane small haiknay
1746 J. Row Sermon 4.
The ass bogled … , but Balaam got by the Angel
1687 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. XIII. 187.
He had seen servants … carrieing cornes by Iames Buchanes hall door

b. Apart or away from, out of. (In various special senses.) By his wyfe (or hir man), adulterously. By (his) mind, by (him)self, out of (his) senses, insane.(1) c1420 Wynt. viii. 3293.
He … had in wown, By hys wyff, offtsyis to ly, Othir syndry women by
1596 Dalr. I. 121/25.
Punise her that lyes by her man, and with that sam pane him that lyes by his wyfe
(2) 1474 Treas. Acc. I. 324.
To a woman by hir mynd, at the Kingis command, iij s.
1532 Reg. Privy S. II. 185/1.
As we ar informit … that Johne Wardlaw of Torry is now presentlie by himself, nocht havand power nor witt to gyde himself, bot furios and furth of his mynd
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1788.
Than thay thocht hym by his mynde, Quhen he so furiouslie did flyte
1570 Sat. P. xxiv. 27.
Crabit but caus, and caryit by thy sensis
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 152.
I will write verse … To crabe thee … by thy mind
1596 Dalr. II. 353/10.
Normond with this ansuer was halfe by his mynd
1596 Misc. Spald. C. I. 87.
Scho rann wod and by hir mynd
1689 Leven & Melv. P. 161.
Its a wonder to see resonable men so by themselves
(3) 1535 Stewart 39821.
Foull appetyte … causis thame oft till go by the rycht
Ib. 55927.
Scho forthocht that scho ȝeid by the gait
1549 Compl. 72/2.
O ignorant … pepil, gone by the path vaye of verteouse knaulage
1551 Hamilton Cat. 31.
Cursit ar thai quhilk gangis by the commandis of God
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 106.
Swa no man that held ane grip of the cord could gang by the way
1596 Dalr. I. 181/1.
Quhen Athirco was put by the gate [L. sublato]
c 1687 Cromarty Corr. I. 56.
Your letters have fallen by my hand, so that I cannot find them
(4) 1559 Misc. Wodrow Soc. 276.
All this by my pretence [= design] I haif wryttin
1560 Rolland Seven S. 82/31.
At this time scho is put by hir mark
a1578 Pitsc. I. 250/1.
He was not ane good clark, and his cardinallis had put him by his intandement
Ib. II. 221/31.
So he was put by his purpois and utterlie refusit
1600 Bruce Bruces & Cumyns 615.
This piece of cross … will nocht trubil you, nor put you mukle by dyatt

c. Without; at variance with; contrary or in opposition to, against.In common use after 1550. (Cf. Avise n.1 3.) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 20.
For hys redempcioune, By skill and ageynes resoune, They woll haue all hys gold awey
1533 Bell. Livy I. 51/17.
Tullus gaif sic chargis … , that thai suld attempt na thing by his command
1533 Boece ii. x. 79.
By thare avise [he] wald deliuer na thing concernyng the commoun weill
1543 Corr. M. Lorraine 12.
By all way of justice the saidis leters … ar stoppit at the signet
1551 Hamilton Cat. 10.
Jugis quhilk for lufe of rewardis dois ony thing by the ordour of justice
1555 Stirling B. Rec. I. 64.
Johne Cowane allegeit the dene of gild chosin by actis of parliament
1559 Edinb. B. Rec. III. 48.
The saidis lordis declarit that thai wald compell na man to do by his conscience
1562-3 Winȝet I. 74/6.
That the persones … may mary agane … by the practise … of the Catholikis. marg. ‘By’ in Scottis and in Inglis toung is nocht ane
a1578 Pitsc. I. 280/26.
Scho tuik him to hir husband by the advyse and consall of the lordis
1581 Burne Disput. 144 b.
That God may do na thing by the established order of the varld
1596 Dalr. I. 33/29.
Quhilke … is … weil walled about, by [L. præter] the consuetude of vther townis with ws
1600-1610 Melvill 121.
We … fund him bedfast by his custome
Ib. 716.
The Metropolitan wes mychtily dashed, by expectatioun
1638 Johnston Diary 339.
I praysed God, that he had keiped me in this toune by my wil be his providence
1648 Falkirk Par. Rec. I. 154.
They answered that if any had been it was bye their knowledge

3. a. In comparison with or distinction from. a1400 Leg. S. ix. 47.
The taknys … tell ws quhare-by we ma Knaw hyme by vthire men
c1475 Wall. ix. 104.
Rycht weill ȝe may him ken … by his men
Ib. x. 879.
Thar schip by owris a burd was mar off hycht
1535 Stewart 19507.
Impediment it wes to thame … For to decerne thair freind by thair fo

b. In addition to, besides. Also by and attour (see Atour prep. 3) or beside(s).(1) 1482 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 45.
And attour … thir custumys to be payit … by the hevin siluir
1504 Treas. Acc. II. 259.
To Schir Andro Makbrek, to dispone to pur folkis and failȝeit folkis by the set almous, xxx li.
1520 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 201.
Ane hundreth merkis … by the ordinar fie, for the sustentatioun of iiij seruandis
1530 Lindores Chart. 32.
Ane taffite tippat by tham that is in the hatts
1540 Lynd. Sat. 3304.
Ane thousand sheip and ky By meiris and hors
c1552 Id. Mon. 4191.
Off the Romanis moste worthy weriouris, By presonaris, wer fourty thousand slane
1567 Edinb. Test. I. 49.
Ane blak hameland hors … by the airschipe hors
1570 Ib. 122.
Thrie bollis beir to be sawin … Item sex bollis beir by the seid
1581 Burne Cath. Tr. 129/21.
That the Galatianis had thair auin vulgar toung, and by that the Greik toung
1596 Dalr. I. 5/17.
By [L. præter] mony vthiris seiknessis … , that sair seiknes; … cam nevir till ws
Ib. 13/10.
It hes by the bischopes sait … mony monasteries
1630 Bamff Chart. 223.
Of blankets and bed plaidis, by the serwants beds, sewintein pair
1646 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 60.
Consisting of aucht hundreth sojoris by the generall persones and officiars of the regiments
(2) 1567 Edinb. Test. I. 16.
Vtensill and domicill by and attoure the airschip
1574 Conv. Burghs I. 33.
At all tymes convenient, by and attour the saidis twa mercat dayis
1587 Dundee B. Laws 478.
And this by and besyddis the penaltie quhilk the Kirk and Ministrie will incure to him
1600-1610 Melvill 146.
By and besyde the inward hand of God, … I haid twa utward speciall comforts
1619 Thanes of Cawdor 248.
I payet that I borrowit … by and attour the uther 300 merkis
1648 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 146.
Many familees ar removeit to the muir, … and that by and besyde manie mae poore persounes wha ar inclosit in thair houssis
1655 Ann. Banff I. 139.
[Allowed 14 marks] for … his charges by and attour the missive deves
1684 Decis. Lords F. 57.
The Lords found, … that by and attour the pleugh goods, there was upon the lands … other goods
1700 Glasgow Chart. II. 287.
The party failyier to pay … expenses in case of failyie, by and attour performance

c. Beyond, above; more than. 1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 104.
My brother, … will … keip ane gud part to yowr grace by all the wardyll
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5038.
Haveand sic prosperitie, With so gret ryches by mesoure
1567 Sat. P. iv. 15.
She luid me by all wycht
1568 Haddington Corr. 271.
Miscontent that ony sould haif reull of ws and our court by him
1576 Oppress. Orkney 48.
That thai ar grittumlie wrangit by the rest of Ȝetland
1587 Warrender P. I. 175.
To detene the bearer a tyde by dyet upon the event of thair audience
1596 Dalr. I. 18/30.
The gude wol in quhilke it abundes by [L. præ] all vthiris
1597 Melvill 429.
Fy! on the limmer Lindsay, by the leave
16.. Hist. Kennedy 51.
Gif he had tyme to had experianse to his witt, he had bein by his marrowis
1629 Black Bk. Taymouth 387.
For drinking in McFarlans house … quhill he spewit agane. Confesses he drank by dyet
c 1636 Maxwell Stuart Mun. 361.
The venting of forrayne coyne, … at a higher rate by their intrinsicque value

d. Except; than. 1581 Burne Disput. 161.
Ȝe man reiect al vther thing by the lau of Moyses
1587 St. A. Kirk S. 594.
That the saidis … be accusit for … purchessing of thame to be contractit be ony other person by the ministrie
1588 King Cat. fol. 30.
Mak me … that by the I may loue na pleasure

4. By, in various senses. (Cf. Be prep.)To set by (= regard, value): see Set v.(1) 1375 Barb. xvii. 292.
He … gert the schippes by the se Bring schot and othir apparale
1424 Lanark & R. 283.
[Thai] sal gife … the lelest and the treuast consale bi thair wytting
c1420 Ratis R. 414.
To restrenȝe that foly That baith may be restrenit by
c1475 Wall. i. 222.
Fast by the collar Wallace couth him ta
1497 Halyb. 104.
Warit in vad by the awyss of Loys Foray … 25 li.
Bocht by Rychye in Medylburgh
1513 Doug. II. vii. 109.
By multitude and nomer on ws set All ȝeid to wraik
1533 Boece iv. xvi. 154.
The archearis by and with speris … and vthir fensabill wapynnys inflictit grevous woundis
1649 Wemyss Chart. II. 231.
Bay reson all fleish is mortall
(2) a 1350 Facsimiles Nat. MSS. ii. 14.
Iere bi iere [glossing annuatim]
a1570-86 Hudson Maitl. F. clxxxii. 7.
His childaris childring florisch day buy day
(3) a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 47.
Zachary … wes in the tempil gan, By hym ane
a1500 Seven S. 666.
He callit the quene by hire allane

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"By prep.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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