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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Help, v. Also: helpe; (infin.) helpyn (Doug.). P.t. and p.p. helpit, -yt, halpet. P.p. also helpin, -yne. [ME. helpe(n, p.t. and p.p. helped (a 1300), OE. helpan str. verb., p.p. holpen.]

1. tr. To help in usual senses; to aid or assist.a. (1) 1375 Barb. iii. 360.
God help him
Ib. xi. 636.
He is in perell bot giff he be Soyne helpit
a1400 Leg. S. xxvi. 538.
Ony [that] ware herd sted … Trastand thru hym [God] to helpyn be
Ib. xxxiii. 416.
Oure godis … That helpis al the warld
?1438 Alex. i. 2340.
He, throw great help of his men, Was reskewit and helpit then
1456 Hay I. 129/11.
Gif the sone helpit the fader agayn the lord
c1475 Wall. v. 45.
Helpand the Scottis with his der worthi hand
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 47/27.
Thow suld … helpe thaim more spiritualye na bodely
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 159.
I hait him with my hert, sa help me our Lord
1513 Doug. ii. iv. 28.
The prest ... Quhilk with hys wapynnys dyd hys byssy pane His childryng forto helpyn and reskew
1556 Lauder Off. Kings 496.
The pure wedow … , Help hir with justice, geue thow can
1592 Wemyss Chart. 308.
[His sons] as yit nocht helpit nor forisfamiliat
(2) 1375 Barb. vi. 17.
Vre helpis ay hardy men
a1400 Leg. S. xxv. 603.
That craft hym helpyt sa
1456 Hay II. 150/23.
The body … helpis him … and furtheris him to governe tharefter
c1475 Wall. iii. 5.
Als bestiall … Weyle helpyt ar be wyrkyn off natur
c1500-c1512 Dunb. iv. 39.
Thame helpis no conclusionis sle
a1578 Pitsc. I. 86/21.
The proverb is, ‘Fortoun helpis the hardie’
(3) 1501 Treas. Acc. II. 126.
To Alexander Harper … to help him to by ane hors
1533 Gau 23/18.
Al oder thing quhilk cane help thé to keip chaistite

b. To advance, promote, further. ?1438 Alex. iv. 9594.
For men suld scarce men, hard and proud … , alwayes despyse. And helpe thare harme on alkin wyse
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 557.
Of all wemen protectour … Thou was, and helpit thair opinioun

2. reflex. To maintain, support, or defend, oneself. a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii. 250.
Ȝe ma nocht … Helpe ȝour-self na ȝet me
c1420 Wynt. iii. 418.
Than ware he febyll and off na pyth, Na had noucht for tyll helpe hym wyth
?1438 Alex. i. 1063.
Sa sawe he … Emynedus sa sturdely Help him-self with waponis snell
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2839.
Ane bodie that hes neid, To help thame self suld mony wayis cast
a1500 Seven S. 2660.
He fed the ravyn … quhill it couth fle, And help the self alswele as he
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5685.
Him self to help he culd get na defence

3. intr. To give assistance, or succour; to come to one's help.(1) 1375 Barb. ii. 416.
Schir Philip … gan cry: ‘Help, help! I have the new maid king!’
Ib. xix. 611.
Had nocht vre helpit the mair, I had beyn in gret perell thair
a1400 Leg. S. i. 92.
Merciful … Jhesu, In this disese helpe now!
?1438 Alex. ii. 4103.
It was bot hap that helpit thare, That he na was deid
1456 Hay II. 104/15.
Full mychty to help or to hynder
c1420 Ratis R. 536.
Quhar euer that vertew has repar, It helpis weill
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxiv. 33.
Rewthe, luif, is nocht, helpe ȝe not in this cace
1513 Doug. ii. viii. heading.
Thar helpit na suple
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lx. 45.
Quhat helpis castell, towre, or toun But help of men?
1600 Acts IV. 207/2.
[He] hard his majeste cry … ‘Fy! help! I am betresit’
(2) c1400 Troy-bk. i. 159.
We sall help … To mak rewarde
1456 Hay I. 105/1.
To help to recover the haly land
c1420 Ratis R. 1101.
Sum thingis that may help & sped To knaw the cours of thi youthed
1575 Edinb. Test. IV. 42 b.
He levis … to help to marie hir ane hundreth pundis

b. Impers., chiefly in negative or interrogative (implied negative) statements: To serve, profit. 1375 Barb. xx. 506.
Till tell of thair sorowyng Anoyis, and helpis litill thing
?1438 Alex. ii. 2806.
Lat be! it helpis nocht ȝe rehers
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 117.
To prise hym forthir to pray It helpis na thing
1490 Irland Mir. fol. 276 b.
And he ware coakkit [to penance] it helpit nocht him
c1568 Lauder Minor P. i. 644.
Quhat helpis it, thocht we the wourd professe?
1570 Sat. P. xii. 61.
Gif I trowit it helpit ocht to hang ȝow, Sa suld ȝe die

4. tr. and intr. Elliptically, with adverb or advb. phr. as complement: To help to proceed, go, bring, convey (away, forward, on, onwart, over, to, up). a1500 Henr. Fab. 2777.
‘Help ouer, help ouer,’ this sillie mous can cry
1497 Treas. Acc. I. 355.
To x werkmen to help vp with the ruf of Hannis toure
1513 Doug. i. vi. 82.
Forto help hir onwart by the way, … Of siluer and gold [he] revelit a huge wecht
Ib. iii. viii. 101.
My fader than cryis, ‘How, feris, help away, Streke aris atanys’
1586 Treas. Acc. MS. 53.
To help ane puir man to his hors j angill
1596 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 355.
To ane warkman … in helping up the catchpul
1619 Perth Kirk S. MS. 18 Jan.
Johne Patersone ... accuseit for helping on of pakis on hors bakis the last sabboth. .anserit that ... the pakis war coft fra James Corbie and that he helpit on with theme
1693 Lanark Presb. 118.
Some supply to help forward his son … in learning

5. To make good a defect or defects. a. To relieve, cure (a malady, etc.). a1400 Leg. S. x. 485.
His wlatsum infirmyte Mycht be helpyne be na way
Ib. xl. 1218.
[The cripple] mycht nocht helpyn be
1490 Irland Mir. I. 22/19.
Heire we ask all our necessiteis to be helpit

b. To remedy, amend; to improve, supplement, or complete. a1400 Leg. S. vii. 591.
Throu contrare contrare thynge Is helpyne ofte
1524 Douglas Corr. 90.
The reume standis ȝit in sa gret ane danger, that without it be schortly halpet it will pass ramed
a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxviii. 92.
Thair gluffis perfomit in thair hand Helpis meikill thair countenance
1595 Breadalbane Ct. Bk. 85.
Findlay Mcewen persewis Andrew Dow … for ane gift to help his dochters tocher
1615 Lett. Eccles. Affairs II. 446.
The Formis of Mariage … must be in sum pointis helpit
1633 Linlithgow B. Rec. 31 May.
The ... baxteris to help thair wheat breid
1623 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 341.
Thair ar sindrie defectis in the letter of gildrie, quhilk … mon be helpit and reformit

c. To mend, repair; to renovate.Common in the later 17th c. 1474 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 29.
Reparatioun of the said alter, nocht beildit nor helpit efter the … ordinance of the tone
1560–1 Edinb. Old Acc. II. 121.
To twa warkmen for helping the fowseis of the kirk yeard
1615 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 322.
Quhilk [boundary] stane wes ordanit to be helpit in the … mark thairof
1635 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 31.
[To inspect] the fabrik of the … Kirk, and to observe quhat is amis and moist neidfull to be helpit
1664 Ib. III. 32.
That the piked lofting in the hie steiple be helped
1672 Foulis Acc. Bk. 4.
To John Old for silk and threid to help my velvet coat
1700 Ib. 276.
To Wm. Bishop for … helping a little lock for the hampers

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"Help v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jun 2024 <>



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