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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.

Hous, Hows, Hus(e, n.1 Also: hous(s)e, houis; hows(s)e, howis(e; hws, husse, huise, hwis, huys; hos. [ME. hous(e, hows(e, hus(e, OE. and ON. hús.]

1. A dwelling-house.See also to hald (= keep) hous, Hald v. 7 (2). Also gen., housing, shelter, in phrases as hous and hald, herbery and hous, etc.: see Hald n. 2, Harbory n. 1, Herbery n. 1, etc.(a) c 1320 Liber Calchou 199.
[Per extremitatem terre del Morehuses
Chart. Neubotle 28.]
Willelmo de Huntyrhuse
1412 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 389.
That ilke man … sal stand gaird … under the payne of banysing and tyttyn doune of his hus
1489 Dunferm. B. Rec. 9.
That wrangwisly scho occupis his huse
1533 Gau 61/22.
The disciplis wes gadrit to gider in ane hws
1545 Corr. M. Lorraine 130.
The withhaldaris of the said hwsis
1561 Inverness B. Rec. I. 61.
To the Chanrie or oder gettis out of his awyne huse
1565 Ib. 120.
In the incuming to the hus
1640 Misc. Spald. C. V. 105.
In Elspet Culones huse; … in the said husse
(b) 1368 Reg. Great S. (1814) 59/1.]
[Cum tenandia terre de Murhous
1375 Barb. v. 522.
He hame till his hous is gane
Ib. vii. 151.
The formast cumin weir Till a vast husbandis hous
a1400 Leg. S. xvi. 346.
The Magdelayne … Thai tuk in hovse and herbry
Ib. xxii. 633.
Thre housis that gewine ware
?1438 Alex. ii. 2067.
This is dame Venus hous
c1450-2 Howlat 142.
He … ay will haue entre In hous and in hall hie
1473 Treas. Acc. I. 65.
For the mending and theking of a hous
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxxii. 17.
Ȝour foirstairis makis ȝour housis mirk
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1384.
This Ark, … Most lyke ane housse with sett on rufe
a1578 Pitsc. II. 235/29.
Euirie gentilman and vtheris pairtit to thair housis
1622 Crim. Trials III. 509.
Margaret … led him but the hous
1652 Rec. Old Aberd. I. 82.
For braiking of Johnne Levie his hous
(c) 1375 Barb. i. 534.
Alexander … wes syne destroyit throw pwsoune In his awyne hows
Ib. xii. 396.
Howsis and thak thai brak
a1400 Leg. S. vii. 726.
Thai lewit the howise, & ȝed thar wa
Ib. xii. 303.
All the apostolis semblyt vare In til a howse
c1420 Wynt. vii. 2992.
Thare howssys and men war brynt alsua
c1475 Wall. xi. 998.
A hows quhar Wallace oysyt to byd
1499 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 76.
Ilk man … that hes thair howse to clenge
1509 Prestwick B. Rec. 41.
Ane hows of his inwyth the burgh
1560 Carte Northberwic 78.
To help hym wytht the beilding of his howis
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I. 114.
Alexander past on the hows himself, to mend the sam
1611-57 Mure Ps. cxxxii. 3.
In tabernacle of myne howsse Not lodgeing will I take
(d) 1548 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 260.
I left in my huise certane stuff, sic as meill, malt [etc.]
a1578 Pitsc. I. 90 marg.
The erle of Dowglas tak[is] the tutour of Bumbie out of his hwis
(e) 1456 Peebles B. Rec. I. 117.
The hos that Roben Johnsoin begit

b. A stronghold, a castle. c1420 Wynt. vi. 1962.
Makbeth … set hym than … A gret hows for to mak off were Apon the hycht off Dwnsynane
Ib. viii. 5616.
The wardane has this castelle tane, A wycht hows made off lyme and stane
c1475 Wall. x. 754.
Sa feblyst [thai] war … the hous till him thai gaiff
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 236/12.
The king … come him self and askit the said hous [viz. the tower of Dundas]
a1639 Spotsw. Hist. (1677) 271.
The English general used many persuasions to the captain to make him render the house
Ib. 273.
He caused repair all the Kings houses, especially the castle of Edinburgh
1644 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 18.
Deteining thame as captives ... within the houssis of Strathbogy and Auchindoum

c. A religious house; a monastery or convent. a1400 Leg. S. xxxi. 265.
Quhen the abbot wes dede, Ewyne … wele gouernyt the hous
1411 Ayr Fr. Preach. Chart. 45.
For the sawle of … Alis Cambell … that liis in the hous of the Freris Prechouris
1418 Liber Melros 503.
The said howse and kyrkwerk of Melros
c1420 Wynt. vii. 1129.
Off Cystews Ordyr is that hows, And Quhyt Mwnkys relygyows
1456 Liber Aberbr. 89.
The saide lord … has gyffyng … to the hous of Aberbrothoc twa pecis of land
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 202/7.
He distroyit & wastit … lxxx housis of religioun

d. In transf. and figurative use. c1420 Ratis R. 1511.
God sall … thé out of his hous defend
a1500 Henr. Fab. 590.
The feyndis infernall … houndit doun … To hellis hole, and to that hiddeous hous
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxi. 67.
Quhen na hous is bot hell and hevin
1560 Rolland Seven S. 42.
[They] causit it [Rome] … to be callit the hous of warldlie schame
1551–2 Ayr Common Good MS.
Item, for mending of goddis hous, iij s.
1581 Burne Disput. 164 b.
Becaus this or that planet vas in sik ane hous of the heauin

2. A building, or part of one, resembling a dwelling-house, but used for some other purpose.Usually as the second element in compounds, as Ale-, Bake-, Brew-, Charter-, Counsell-, Cunȝehous, but occas. with of. 1464 Peebles B. Rec. 151.
At the sayde frere … mycht byge … a hous of almes
1629 M. Works Acc. XXI. 41.
Ane [sneck] for … the dore of the hous of office
1641 Acts V. 392/1.
That in everie schyre … thair be ane schooll or hous of wertue erected

b. A structure (usually small or of moderate size) resembling a house, used for storage, keeping of animals, or similar purposes.See also Laich hous n. c, Litil(l)-hous n. a, b. 1501 Treas. Acc. II. 25.
Payit to the wricht that maid the houses on [the cannons] Messingeir and Talbart iiij dayis wage
1520 Stirling B. Rec. 2.
Na persoun … sall haild ony syen [= swine] wtwith … housses
1580 Reg. Eccl. S. Trin. 162.
For the mending of the hous of the bellis
1600 Reg. Privy C. VI. 115.
[For their burning ... of her house of] twa hous hicht with a laich hall, certane uthiris houssis, and hir haill insicht
1657 Peebles B. Rec. II. 44.
All the persones within toun who hes any swyne, to keep them within cruives or houssis
1665 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. II. 9.
The use of his houses, especially for girneling and keiping of his victuall

c. A compartment. 1630 Bamff Chart. 223.
In the chamber, ane press of twa housses
1621-40 Melville Commonpl. Bk. 27.
The buiks in my pressis in all the thrie housis

3. A number of persons related by descent from the founder of a family. c1420 Wynt. iv. 2634.
Off that hous and that famylle He wes off kyn and off renowne
?1438 Alex. ii. 5.
The fair citie … quhair Floridas the fre Beleuit with him as of house
1515 Douglas Corr. 72.
Sene our houssys ar of the auld allyat
1535 Stewart 41160.
His hous and famell … Onto sic riches and greit honour grew
1562-3 Winȝet I. 8/12.
Sum off ȝour houssis hes bene … deiectit to pouertie
a1578 Pitsc. I. 109/11.
Thir nobill and ancient housse of Lyndsayis
1596 Dalr. I. 325/6.
Frome him the hous and clann of the Cumeinis first vpsprang
c1650 Spalding I. 50.
The most pairt wes cum of the hous of Rothimay, kyn, freind, or allya
1663 Wemyss Corr. 131.
Ther was never any deshendet of your Lordships hous who desayers mor your Lordships' honor than I have done

b. A household. 1490 Irland Mir. I. 26/6.
The fadere is maist of all the hous, barnis, seruandis and vthire

4. Attrib. with bible, brod, cloak, clock, cock, dog, flure, gown, hede, hen, hicht, hire, hund, irne, lurdane, meting, menȝie, mess (mass), nuke, rigging, wife.Most of these are not recorded as in English use or are of earlier date. 1633 Edinb. Test. LVI. 204.
Ane hous bybile
1694 Inchmahome Pr. 164.
Ane large and ane less house bible
1650 Edinb. Test. LXV. ii b.
Fyftene hinging house broads
1649 Ib. LXIV. 154.
Ane house cloak worth xx merks
1653 Soc. Ant. XXIII. 300.
One house clock with its bell
c1500 Fyve Bestes 133.
Our hous cok sall the houris of the nycht Alswele devyde as ony orlage richt
c1650 Spalding I. 195.
[All] hous dogis, messenis, and quholpis
a1500 Seven S. 440.
The hous flure was full of blud
1637 Edinb. Test. LVIII. 88.
Ane hous gowne lynnit throw with furres
1649 Ib. LXIV. 256 b.
Ane gray serge house goune
1513 Doug. ii. viii. 20.
Troianys … Rent turettis doune and of hous hedis the thak
c1650 Spalding I. 182.
Thay … schot diuerss schotis fra the houss heid
1558 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 491.
Payand … ȝeirlie … twelf hous hennis
a1586 Maitland Ho. Seytoun 37.
Fra the first jaistis vp, quhilk was … biggit vp tua hous hicht
1579 Edgar Hist. Dumfries Notes 148.
[To build] ane sufficient prisoun-hous of three hous hicht
1659 Edinb. B. Rec. IX. 167.
With tents and gallowses of a houshight
1495 Halyb. 89.
For pynor fee, hous hir, [etc.]
14.. Acts I. 13/2.
Of hym that slais a mannis hous hund
1570 Edinb. Test. i a. 74 b.
Fyve scoir stanes of hous irne
1603 Philotus cxi.
Thy prayer is not half sa holie, Houselurdane, as it semis
1680 Soc. Ant. XLV. 235.
If these usurpers should cry doun house mettings, … we ought to keep mettings in houses especially
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xviii. 33.
I speik nocht lyk thair hous menȝie
1587 Bk. Univ. Kirk II. 717.
They repaire commonly vnto Airth … quher they have thair house mes at their pleasure
1646 Aberd. Council Lett. III. 65.
Betwixt David Aedies house noocke and the nearest kirk style
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3436.
The burges … saw ane hole tyruit in the hous rigging
1375 Barb. vii. 238(E).
He come sone in the hous, and fand The howswyff on the benk sittand

5. A separate portion of a building, consisting of one or more rooms; an apartment or 'flat'. See also heicht hows Heicht adj. (3), hyche hous Hich adj. (2), etc., Laich hous and ovir hous, inner hous Inner adj. 3, and utter hous, and Litil(l)-hous n. c. a1540 Freiris Berw. 357 (M).
On this wyse he ȝeid the hous about Weill twys or thrys
1600 Crim. Trials II. 214.]
[His maiesty passing through three or foure sundry houses and all the doores locked behind hym his maiesty entred into a little study

b. As a measure of the height of a building, in the phr. houshicht, -height, -high: (One or more) storeys or 'floors'. See also Hicht n.1 1 (2). 1638 Henderson Serm. 317.
If they see a house-height or two above them, they think they cannot be happy whill they win there
c 1641-54 J. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II. 554.
Craighous with a tour of 4 hous height
Ib. 558.
Dermet twa hous high

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"Hous n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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