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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.

Ley, Le, Lie, n.2 Also: leye, lee, lye. [ME. leȝ (c 1305), leye (c 1430), OE. léah fem., inflected léaȝe, léȝe as commonly in place-names.OE. also had léah masc., inflected léas, léa, ME. legh (c 1450), e.m.E. ligh, and e.m.E. le, lea, lay.]

1. Found, chiefly as a second element, in Scottish place-names from an early date.The older meanings may have been: a wood, a woodland glade, a clearing in a wood, a clearing used for pasture or arable; and, later, a piece of open land, a meadow: see A. H. Smith Eng. Place-Name Elements (Eng. Place-Name Soc. XXVI.) s.v. lēah.(1) a 1165 Liber Dryburgh 179.
Landam de Caddisley
c 1170 Ib. 268.
Cum communi pastura de Morlei
1230 Ib. 181.
Landam que vocatur Herdesley
c 1280 Liber Calchou 95.
Vsque in viam de Huntteley
Ib. 219.
Quoddam heremitorium quod vocatur Merchingleye [v.r. -leie]
a 1309 Coldstream Chart. 20.
Vsque ad vallem descendentem inter Farniley et Strikesley descendentem in Riuulum de Crumbesyde
c 1320 Reg. Great S. (1814) 15/1.
Terras de … Grunley
Foresta de Maldisley
1572 Sat. P. xxxi. 75.
Quhen thay come … Downe to the Gallow ley
1602 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 310.
That the musteris … be haldin … upoun Loganes ley
1649 Maxwell Mem. I. 349.
This day I began to sheire my corne in the Drip ley
(b) 1165 Facs. Nat. MSS. I. 20.
1375 Barb. xvi. 336.
In the hawch of Lyntoun le [: sle; E. Lyntaile: sleye]
Ib. 349.
At Lyntoun-le [E. Lyntailey]
Ib. 443. 1466 Chart. Coupar A. II. 59.
Per vallem seu riuulum dictum le qwhytle den
plur. ? c 1225 Liber Dryburgh 135.
In parte … illius culture que vocatur Langeleys
c 1310 Lindores Chart. 185.
1531 Reg. Dunferm. 363.
The stair of the town leis be est the said stair
(2) 1361 Rot. Sc. 855/2.
Hugo de la leghes … de Dunde
c 1300 Liber Dryburgh 893/1.
Thomas de leyis
1453 Exch. R. V. 566.
Alano Lokcart de lez ley
c1500-c1512 Dunb. iv. 63.
Schir Mongo Lokert of the le

2. In general (chiefly verse) use: A tract of open grass-land, meadow or pasture.(a) 1513 Doug. xii. Prol. 55.
Laggerit leyis [Sm. leys] wallowit farnys schew
Ib. viii. Prol. 2.
As I lenyt in a ley in Lent … I slaid on a swevynnyng
Ib. xii. Prol. 183.
In lyssouris and on leys [R. leyis] litill lammis … socht bletand to thar dammis
1535 Stewart 1535.
Vpoun ane ley thair ludging syne thai maid
(b) a1500 Henr. Fab. 1785.
Luke to the lint that growis on ȝone le [B. lye]
Ib. 2525.
He … lap ouer leis
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 312.
Thai plantit doun ane pailyeoun vpone ane plane lee
a1500 Colk. Sow i. 246.
As thay lukit on a lee, Thay saw an vther menȝe
1535 Stewart 19412.
Eugenius vpoune ane lustie le Dewydit hes his ost in battellis thre
15.. Sym & Bruder 21.
[They] schupe thame vp, to lowp our leis
16.. Lord of Lorn in Child Ballads (1898) V. 54/2.
He bid him go to the shepherd's house To keep sheep on a lonely lee
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1641) 8.
He that is redd for windlestrawes, should not sleep in lees [MS. leyes]
(c) 1535 Stewart 56642.
Of Inglismen greit power of the new Within tua myle wes cumand ouir ane lie
15.. Lichtoun Dreme 77.
He draif thir thre quhailis vnto ane lie [M. ley]
a1603 Anc. Prophecies 18.
Beside a lie, I met a beirne
Ib. 20.
What kinde of light was that … Thou shewed to me vpon yone lie?
Ib. 22.

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"Ley n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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