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

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Fair, Fayr, Fare, a. Also: faire, fayre, far, fear. Comp. fairer(e, fayrer, -are, farer, -are, farrare. Superl. fairrest, fayrest(e, farest, -ast, farrest(e. [ME. fair(e, fayr(e, feire, early fæir, faiȝer, etc., OE. fæᵹer.]

1. Beautiful, handsome, of pleasing form or appearance: a. Of persons. (a) He wes nocht sa fayr, that we Suld spek gretly off his beaute; Barb. i. 381.
Thu art fayrer than sone or mone; Leg. S. xviii. 793.
The Qwenys swn … That yhong and avinnand was, and fayre; Wynt. iv. 512.
This Philipe had a douchtyr fayre; etc.; Ib. v. 1653.
That fayr sweit thing, bening in everie bour; Doug. K. Hart 933.
Turne agane I will To this fayr wyf; Freiris Berw. 133.
A woman beutiful and fayr; Dalr. II. 22/30.
(b) Ȝet wes scho al-out fairare Thru treutht scho had in Cristis layre; Leg. S. xxviii. 99.
Sampson the wicht, Absolon the faire; Hay I. 65/9.
Ipsa domina vocata est The Fair Madin of Niddisdale; Liber Plusc. 325.
I present ȝow thir childer fair & ȝung; Bk. Chess 1194.
Ane fairer knycht … On ground may nother ryd nor gang; Dunb. i. 7.
Fair ladyis thare chene may not eschape; Lynd. Test. Pap. 1053.
As Jupiter fair Europa did tak Throch bullering strems; J. Stewart 33/114.
(c) A laydy far & auenand; Leg. S. xxv. 704.
He saw angelis fare & brycht; Ib. xxvii. 59.
Thare tyll a woman yhung and fare, He oysyd mekyll his repayre; Wynt. iii. 315.
We ar … Farar be fer than ever wes Absalon; Kennedy Pass. Christ 19.
Fferleig … is ane plesand fare man; Boece ii. iii. 61.
Sen that I am a presoneir Till hir that farest is and best; Dunb. xlii. 2 (B).

b. Const. of (face, form, hue, etc.). Scho was far of fax and face; Leg. S. xvii. 7.
A knycht … Fayr off fassowne and fetys; Wynt. iv. 207.
Twelff maydynnys, yhong, … and fayre off hew; Ib. v. 252.
Of statur large, and frely fair of face; Henr. Orph. 72.
Europia bringis furth … men strangar and farer of schap than Affrica; Asl. MS. I. 155/19.
Ane woman … Fairar of forme wes never none; Lynd. Mon. 768.

c. Used in courteous or complimentary address. Clarus said, ‘Fare, sueit cousing’; Alex. ii. 2674.
Than ansueris … the knycht sayand, Faire schir [etc.]; Hay I. 223/2.
Then said the squyer, Faire fader [etc.]; Ib. II. 9/18.
Fayr deyme', he said; Wall. v. 330.
‘My fair, sweit cummer’, quod the tuder; Dunb. xl. 11.
Ȝe did greit mis, fayr Conscience; Doug. K. Hart. 609.

d. Of the face or limbs. With braid visage, plesand and fair; Barb. x. 282.
Wikit men … with schorgis … Hvr far flesch raf; Leg. S. xxviii. 276.
Religious men … Cumis thair to wow and se fair facis; Dunb. xiii. 44.
Syk eyn had he, and syk fair handis tway; Doug. iii. vii. 39.
Fair forme and face angelicall; Maitl. Q. lxiv. 10.

e. Of animals: Beautiful in form or colour. Men that wicht war … On fair courseris; Barb. xi. 518.
The brukyd bestys and the wayre He gert depart fra quhyt and fayre; Wynt. i. 218.
Oft fair foullis ar fundin faynt; Rauf C. 523.
A cok The gudliest & farest of the floke; Fyve Bestis 60.
The farest hart that evir wes sene; Bell. Boece II. 298.
Ane fair hors with aparelling of sadill and bridell; 1567 Bamff Chart. 70.

2. a. Of inanimate things: Beautiful or fine in form, appearance, or make. (a) He … a fothyr [of hay] in suld bryng, Fayrer and gretar … Than he broucht ony that ȝer befor; Barb. x. 199 (E).
A branche … Of a palme tre, … The fayreste ves euir sene thare; Leg. S. vi. 126.
Dedalus … maid twa Feytheramys fayre thare flycht to ta; Wynt. ii. 1334.
In Athenys he ordanyd hade Off fayre werk a gret lybrare; Ib. v. 1303.
A fayr bricht starn, rynnand with bemys cleir; Doug. ii. xi. 29.
He hadd a very fayer cupboard of plate; 1584 Gray Lett. & P. 4.
Thay … erected a fayre stane brig; Dalr. I. 276/28.
(b) Thai saw apere A knycht in armys faire and clere; Leg. S. xxxiii. 942.
A faire brycht stern and a clere; Wynt. ix. 2203.
Nocht be his harnais, … na othir faire habilliamentis; Hay II. 35/30.
The prent Of … fair or foule ymag[e]rie; Contempl. Sinn. 257.
The pyne grewe fair at all devys; Seven S. 302.
Amyd the clos … Stude thar that tyme a mekil fair altare; Doug. ii. ix. 11.
With iacinth fine and topazion sa fair; Rolland C. Venus i. 113.
Tua stand chasmen of the fairest sort; 1582 Treas. Acc. MS. 42.
(c) A ringe, Far, and worth mekil thinge; Leg. S. v. 604.
He saw fare appolis in a ȝarde; Ib. xii. 146.
Thow suld noucht bere sa fare a knyff; Wynt. viii. 2042.
As farest ros takis sonest faidinge; Thewis Gud Women 10.
Four perlis and a fare ruby; 1488 Treas. Acc. I. 80.
As ane sterne is farer na ane oder in brichtnes; Gau 67/8.
Ane sword wes send, nane farar on the mold; Stewart 44440.
I … haid in my hand, a quare of peiper of calumnies, in fear wraitt; Melvill 418.

b. Of places, landscapes, buildings, etc.: Forming a beautiful scene or sight. (a) Hys land, that is fayr inewch, Thai the lord off Clyffurd gave; Barb. i. 286.
Quhare flowrys are fele on feldys fayre; Wynt. i. 1338.
A fayre cyte, nane till it lyk; Ib. iv. 1334.
Thocht Iohne Balȝoun maid ane band Contrair the richt of fayr Scotland; Steel Roy Robert 54.
We slyde throu fludis endlang feil costis fayr; Doug. iii. ii. 117.
Malcolme dedicatis the bischoprie of Murthlic to S. Moloch, agmenting it with mony fayre feildes; Dalr. I. 302/17.
(b) In a richt fair place, that was Lawch by a brym; Barb. xiv. 338.
A wel fair & fyne Of watere, clere as cristel; Leg. S. xl. 540.
Thai … gert mak a toumbe … in the fairest place of Rome; Hay I. 64/21.
Ane forest on fold, that farly was fair; Howlat 15.
Content of the fair firth; Ib. 23.
The castell is … Moist fair, most gudly, most plesand to be sene; Freiris Berw. 20.
Ane faire palice of greene tymmer; Pitsc. I. 336/3.
(c) A fare sted … enhournyt with treis sere; Leg. S. xxvii. 527.
Fresche wellis fare & suet spryngande; Troy-bk. i. 257.
The realme was ane plesand thing & fare; Boece i. iii. 37 b.
It is haldin this is the samyn fare kirk ȝit standing in the convent ȝarde; Ib. vi. xii. 210.

c. Presenting a fine spectacle. Thai war the fayrest [C. farast] cumpany That men mycht find; Barb. xi. 528 (E).
Ane fair battell on breid Merkit our ane fair meid; Gol. & Gaw. 24.

d. Plain, even; easy to traverse. Ane faire feild can thai fang, On stedis stalwart and strang; Gol. & Gaw. 556.
Ȝe haue bot nyne myle of the farest way; Fyves Bestis 210.

e. Clean; free from mud or filth. He knelit down on his kne quhiddere the gait was faire or foule; Asl. MS. I. 199/18.

3. Bright, clear; not dull or cloudy. In the ayr Wes clernes sene grete and fare; Leg. S. ii. 273.
At the evin … Men prysis ay the fayr day; Wynt. iv. 415.
The lift he saw baith fare and pure; Alex. ii. 31.
I se the firmament fair vpon ather syde; Rauf C. 289.
A farer nycht my self saw nane; Seven S. 2040.
The wedder is fair and smolt; Peblis to Play 51.
The morning wes sa fair; Lynd. Meldrum 1018.
Upon Trinity Fair evin, gif it be ane fair day, and failyeing thairof the nixt fair wedders; 1597 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 200.

b. Of daylight: Complete, ‘broad’. Ilkone … stark watches maid that nicht, Quhill on the morne that it wes fair da licht; Stewart 21770.
Upon fair day lycht, at x houris afore none; 1553 Reg. Privy C. I. 148.
On the morne ȝe may Do ȝour intent, quhen it is fair licht day; Rolland S. Sages 1674.

4. In various non-material applications as a term of commendation or approval: a. Of language or diction. Quhen he to thame … Had maid ane fair amonestyng Till do weill; Barb. xx. 412.
Scho gluterit hyme rycht ofte With wysing fare & wordis softe; Leg. S. xxxvi. 496.
Quha lukys the Bybille … Off this may fynd a fayr story; Wynt. i. 490.
Fourme of dyte and fayre spekyng; Ib. iv. 3.
Nocht in fair wordis, bot in worthy werkis; Hay II. 35/26.
His fayre subtile langage; Ib. 154/25.
‘Be thé I tell a taill.’ ‘Say furth … off the farrest ye can’; Wall. x. 131.
Fairar Inglis … and mair parfyte Than thou can blabbir; Dunb. Flyt. 111.
They gaif this ȝoung earle ffair defferent answeris; Pitsc. II. 19/3.

b. Of usual manners, general bearing, or personal qualities. He wes off full fayr effer, Wys, curtais, and deboner; Barb. i. 361.
Of fairere thewis … Na halyare mycht na man be; Leg. S. xxxvi. 659.
Off fayre affere and thewys gud; Wynt. iv. 1955.
Wertuous aporte, fare having; Ib. ix. 2785.
A king … suld be wis, faire and curageus; Hay I. 299/27.
Off treuth the tothir qualytee I call baith gud and fair lawte; Ratis R. 534.
Hir hat suld be of fair having; Henr. III. 103/25.
The fair four vertewis cardinale; (Dunb.) Maitl. F. lxix. 75.

c. Of behaviour towards others. His sone … Maid him richt faire cheire; Troy-bk. ii. 2884.
Quhen tyll hys gestis he maid gud chere, And welcummyd thame on fare manere; Wynt. ii. 1000.
Sho … with dalyance sa fair Hir knicht him cleipis; Doug. Pal. Hon. i. 435.
Luve … in quhais fair dissimvlance May none assure; Dunb. xlv. 3.
Fayr calling is grit garitour on hicht; Doug. K. Hart 305.
Ressauyng thame … With fair calling and homelie cheresing; Stewart 21514.
That fre anserit with fair afeir; Maitl. F. cxxx. 73.

d. In miscellaneous contexts. At hym-self had sene hym do Myraculis fare; Leg. S. iv. 61.
Fra he herde the karling mak Sa fare hicht, he can confort tak; Ib. xxx. 157.
Off his brothyr the fayr fame Wes delete all halyly; Wynt. v. 933.
Sa fare defence thare couth thay mak; Alex. ii. 1348.
Quhilk of thame that befell … the fairest aventure, he suld be king; Hay I. 41/22.
Faith has a fair name, bot falsheid faris bettir; Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 460.
Sum farar way ȝe micht ȝour harmes wreik; Doug. K. Hart 341.
Freedome is a faire thing; Ferg. Prov. (1641) 7.

e. Fairer, better, preferable, more honourable. The fairer, the best (of a fight). Quhen thai … saw weill that thar enemys Had all the fayrer [E. farer] off the fycht; Barb. x. 78 (E).
To se quhethir fayr [C. farar] war him till To ly about the toun … , Or than in England for to fayr; Ib. xvii. 837.
It had bene fayrar for him to haffe sende me that querell in to wryt; 1384 Douglas Lett. Rich. II 143.
Me think farar to dee Than schamyt be; Gol. & Gaw. 1035.
Far farar is ane thousand fald to de Or leif with thame in sic meseritie; Stewart 4517.

5. Of encounters: Well fought; equal, even. Thair fell of weir ane fair poinȝe Betuix Frenche and Inglismen; Wynt. viii. 6586 (E.2).
Romulus discomfyte thame in fair felde with bataill; Hay I. 42/24.
Quhether call ȝe this fair play, or nocht? Henr. Fab. 2556.
Any of the horsemen … , or soldiors that war takin in the feyld at fayre weares; Hist. Jas. VI 101.
Its a fair foghin feild quhair nane escapis onkillit; Melville Commonpl. Bk. 19.

6. Of wind: Favourable, following. Also of a good passage. This fair wynd blawing evyn befor; Doug. iii. vii. 22.
Ve … twik saill … vyth fayr vynd; 1587 Waus Corr. II. 396.
We tuk the sie, and gat verie fear passage; Melvill 280.

7. Used absolutely: a. Fair words or treatment. Bot scho ne wald consent thartil, For fayre na lath, gud na il; Leg. S. xxxii. 416.

b. One who is fair; a woman. Usu. with that or my. Thir women kind … spendis mekle gud in waist, To have loving of hir that faire; Ratis R. 1290.
Len me thi licht … , To fynd the faire in fame that neuir was fyld; Henr. Orph. 172.
Now fayre, fayrest off every fayre; Dunb. lxxxix. 1.
Fair sweit wourdis he spak to that fair; Maitl. F. liv. 19.
My fair, quhair haue ȝe ee? Ib. 25.

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"Fair adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Sep 2021 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/dost/fair_adj>

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