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

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Eln(e, n. Also. elln(e, ellin, ellen, elwyn, elene, elin. [ME. eln, elne, ellen, OE. elne (nom. eln). Cf. Ell.]

1. An ell as a general measure of length.(a) 14.. Acts I. 309/1.
The eln aw to conteyn in lenth xxxvii inch
Ib. 387/2.
The mesure of the balk that men weyis with sal be in lynth an elne and ij quarter
c1420 Wynt. i. 760.
In hys hewyde … hornys twa, Ane half elne [C. elwyn] lang, ilkane of tha
1555 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 305.
For sclaitting of the overstair, quhilk wes vj elnis and ane half
1589 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 148.
The woll weill kaipit with stane ane elne above the eird
1605 Ellon Presb. 54.
Ane peis land extending to 23 falls lenth and ane eln
1632 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 48.
That na elne nor weycht, unstampit with the tounes stampt be vsit
1655 Conv. Burghs III. 411.
The elne of Pearth … they alledg is ane inch longer nor the just elne
1681 Highland P. I. 318.
Ane elne of sarking … to the centrie studie
fig. 1626 Garden Worthies 119.
Few was, in giving councill … , That past him, eln, or inch, or space, or spane
(b) 1506 Orkney & Sh. Rec. 248.
Ane pece of kletht of gold the lyntht of ane Flanderiss ellin
1578 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 75.
Foure wyndois … of … ane elin of breid, and all ther elins to contene thre fute and ane half for the elin

b. Used as a plural. (ME. and OE. elne.) 14.. Acts I. 387/2.
The rude off lande in baronyis sal conten vj elne
c1420 Wynt. i. 663.
Thare ar folk sex elne of hycht
Ib. 815.
Thai … sex elne [C. elwyn] are hale of leynth
1476 Ayr Friars Pr. Chart. 54.
With four and twenty elln of lenth on the baksyde of his foir hous
1513 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 87.
The speir contening v eln and d.
1555–6 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 367.
For the slatters for thikne iiij rud xxiiij eln new thak
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 322.
The toun of Edinburgh begane to big thair fortressis … tua eln thick

2. An ell as a cloth measure.(a) 14.. Acts I. 304/2.
Gif the clath … be saulde be elnys
1509 Treas. Acc. v. 365.
Ane eln … of uterfyne to be tua pair of hois
1529 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 230.
Ane new govne of blak velvett contenand xvj elnis
1549 Treas. Acc. IX. 351.
Ane elne tannye welwote
1575 Edinb. Test. III. 363.
Nyne dosan of elnis of dantellis aujour quhite
1591 Crim. Trials I. 243.
Thre elnes of bombesie and fyve quarteris of broune
1618–9 Misc. Spald. C. V. 143.
For four elnis thrie quarteris reid Inglis flanning at 56 s. ilk elne
1632 Edinb. Test. LV. 255.
Thrie elns of dropp de berrie at thrie pundis the eln
c1650 Spalding II. 312.
On everie elne of plusche or pan veluot, xx s.
1697 Falkirk Par. Rec. II. 55.
To buy att Edinburgh nine elnes of velvet
(b) 1494 Treas. Acc. I. 233.
iiij ellis of taftays, price of the ellen xviij s.
1538 Aberd. B. Rec. MS. (J).
Half ellin of Brug satine
1565 Prot. Bk. G. Grote 68.
vi quarteris … holand claytht, pryce of the elin xviii s.
1608 Tailor's Acc. Bk. 74.
iij quarteris … of blak ging taffatie at vj li. … the elene

b. Used as a plural. (Cf. l b.) 1483 Acta Aud. *112/1.
ij elne and a half of satyn crammasy
1488 Treas. Acc. I. 163.
Thre elne and dimid. of varyande tartar
1505 Ib. II. 294.
xxvii elne Bertane claith
1541 Aberd. B. Rec. MS. (J).
Thre elln of bloncat

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"Eln n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Dec 2023 <>



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