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

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).

Febill, Feble, a. Also: febyll, -yle, -il(e, feibill, feible, feable, fibill. [ME. febil, feble (c 1175), OF. feble, fieble.]

1. Physically weak. a. Of persons.(a) 1375 Barb. i. 510.
Rycht mays oft the feble wycht
1456 Hay II. 132/13.
All the vertues of mannis corpis and bestis worthis waykare and feblare
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xl. 8.
To be feble scho did hir fene
1525–6 Treas. Acc. V. 255.
To ane auld feble prest
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 413.
I ame auld and febil bathe
c1420 Wynt. iii. 417.
Than ware he febyll and off na pyth
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 122.
Your folk ar febill and faynt for falt of thair fude
1513 Doug. ii. vii. 132.
For age Hyphitus waik and febill was
1531 Bell. Boece I. 152.
Maist cowart and febill bestis saiffis thaimself for dangeir
1560 Rolland Seven S. 9299.
I am waik and febill as ȝe kend
(c) 1583 Sempill Sat. P. xlv. 1006.
Ane baxteris sone of bas degrie, Feable and fleid and nothing worth
1624 Buccleuch Mun. II. 267.
Gib wes bot a feible coutcher and wald never do the turne
1662 Crim. Trials III. ii. 620.
I am become so feible … that hardlie dow I travell any quhair

b. Of parts of the body. 1456 Hay II. 139/28.
Hate in somer softis the stomak and makis it mare feble
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 6080.
The mair men lukis on Phebus bricht, The mair febill sall be thair sicht
1570 Leslie 139.
Fye on the feibill hand quhilk wald not do the thing the hart thocht
a1585 Maitl. Q. xlv. 12.
The stering spreit … Into my febill breist I find decay

c. Of (old) age or strength. c1420 Wynt. i. 654.
Thai ma noucht weylde, Thair wapnys for febyll heylde
a1500 Henr. III. 157/49.
O febill aige, ay drawand neir the dait Of dully deid
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. Prol. 103.
With ery courage, febill strenthis sary
Id. Æn. viii. viii. 121.
My febill and slaw onweldy age

2. Weak in respect of something. 1375 Barb. xvi. 355.
Tharfor he thoucht the cuntre was Febill of men
a1500 Rauf C. 552.
Thow salbe fundin als febil of thy bone fay
1535 Stewart 40143.
Gif thow be so febill of estait
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 6315.
The bak, the howlat, febyll of thare eis

3. Materially weak; not strong or solid. c1475 Wall. vi. 452.
The man kest off his febill weid off gray
Ib. xi. 1010.
Thus semblyt thai about that febill hauld
1513 Doug. x. ii. 75.
The Phrigyane febill geir
1586 Edinb. D. Guild Acc. 263.
Ane litill kettill of copper … quhilk he spilt in battering of it oure mekle, and maid it feble

4. Lacking firmness, force, or energy: a. Of actions, the mind, etc. c1475 Wall. iv. 746.
O feble mynd, to do so foull a mys
1472 Lennox Mun. 91.
It may nocht be callit possessioun … , bot ane nakit promys and febyll intrusioun
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 479.
Of our saull hele we haue sa feble cure
1513 Doug. i. Prol. 31.
My cunnyng febill at all
Ib. x. Prol. 91.
Consider thy raison is so febill and lyte
1533 Bell. Livy I. 207/7.
Ane new remede to covir thare febill cowartry
1533 Boece II. v. 65.
Quhilkis iniuris made his … empire waik and febill
c1550 Rolland C. Venus i. 370.
The febill fauour thow did of lufe obtene

b. Of persons. 1531 Bell. Boece II. 18.
I am he that sal … punis febill cowartis
1567 G. Ball. 190.
The ignorant peple sa lawit bene and febill
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 24.
To oppresse thair nychtbouris feblar than thai
1596 Dalr. II. 309/6.
In sik trauel tha onlie war not feble

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"Febill adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Aug 2022 <>



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