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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Mery, Mirry, a. Also: merye, -ie, -ey; meary, moeri; mirrie, -ye, -ey, -hie, , myrry, -ie, mirie, ; merry, -ie. [ME. miry, -ie, myry, -ie, mery, -ie, also western and south-western mury, -ie, e.m.E. merry, -ie, OE. myr(ie, mer(ie.] Merry.

1. Of persons and their attributes:Cheerful, happy, carefree, gay, joyful, jolly. Also, glad, pleased (at (for) something, that something is so). Also quasiadv.(1) 1375 Barb. vii. 550 (E).
Quhar the king … Yheid wnarmyt, mery and blyth
a1400 Leg. S. xxx. 180.
Be als mery as thu ma
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 215.
The meriest war menskit on mete
Ib. 482.
Schir Golagros mery men … grathit full gay
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 282.
Bot ay be mery in my mynd, and myrthfull of cher
1513 Doug. iv. x. 43.
A queyn alane to steil away thus, lo! Accumpanyit bot with mery maryneris
1597 James VI Dæmonol. 15.
Many honest & merrie men & women haue publicklie practized some of them [sc. charms]
1665 Wemyss Corr. 126.
That place, wher I have bine so well and so merey
1679 Ib. 128. 1701 Brand Orkney & Shetl. 143.
A great confflict of waters called the Merry Men of Mey
(b) ?1438 Alex. ii. 10920.
Pauillonis quhare thay mire menȝe May all assembill
a1500 Colk. Sow i. 491.
Thairfoir to mak ws mirryar Thus did my fantesy fair
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxi. 21. 1540 Lynd. Sat. 106.
Als lang leivis the mirry man As the sory
1588 King Cat. 123.
O God, mak me … mirrie without lightnes
c1590 Fowler I. 182/13.
Thow lovsse, I frie, thow mirrye, I will easde
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Facetus, mirrie, festivus
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS. No. 1298.
The moe the mirrier the fewer the better cheer
1600-1610 Melvill 270.
The bern was fallon beautiful, loving and mirrhie
1661 Red Bk. Grandtully II. 166.
I most still persist to be mirrie, for … cair pays noe debt
(c) 1665 Wemyss Corr. 126.
I hop … that you and I shall be as moeri as ever wi wass
(2) a1500 Henr. Fab. 627 (Bann.).
Than Lourence lukit vp … Mery and gled that cummyn was the nycht
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 391.
Or ellis had I neuer mery bene at that myrthles raid
a1540 Freiris Berw. 426.
Quhairfoir of richt we aucht mirry to be
(3) c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 147.
With laitis full mery
1560 Rolland Seven S. 10116.
With blyth and merie spreit
Ib. 10569.(b) a1570-86 Dunb. Maitl. F. lxxxvi. 23.
Syn cummis ane vther glayd of his sorow … And fangis it all with mirrey face
1535 Stewart 9527.
Welcumand thame … With gudlie vult and with ane mirrie cheir
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5173. c1590 Fowler I. 59/26.
Brawe poettis of ane high ingyne and of a mirrie mwide
1596 Dalr. I. 268/18.
Clement and Jhone … baith appeirandlie of a mirrie ingine
1621-40 Melville Commonpl. Bk. 37.
With a mirie hart ouercome all weirines
(4) 1513 Doug. xiii. viii. 76.
Full mery noys and sovndis of gam and play
1533 Boece ii. xi. 81.
Be mery & jocound clamour of the pepill
15.. Clar. iv. 605.
So raid thay furth with mirrie collatioun
Ib. v. 804.
Then lewch they both and maid ane mirrie glie
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 198/8.
By mirrie cumpanie
(5) c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxiii. 23.
adv. Quho levis mirry, he levis michtely
Id. xlviii. 11.
Now dansand mirry, now like to dee
1567 G. Ball. 68.
We suld … Be blyith and myrrie sing

2. a. Of persons: To mak (also, to mak oneself) mery (also mery chere, fare), also, to be, and to hald oneself, mery.To feel or display cheerfulness or gaiety, to be cheerful; freq., to behave in a jolly or festive manner, to indulge in jollity or revelry.(1) 1375 Barb. x. 390 (C).
He sall mak merye this nycht
a1400 Leg. S. xliii. 25.
Quhene al mast mery Mad with mouth & menstrasy
Ib. xxxiii. 192. a1500 Henr. Fab. 288 (Asl.). a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 771.
Yit makis he mery, magry quhasa mynt
(b) ?1438 Alex. ii. 4879.
Men suld mak mirrie quhill thay mocht
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lvi. 12.
It is no glaid collatioun Quhair ane makis myrrie, ane vther lukis doun
a1540 Freiris Berw. 553.
Mak mirrey and se ȝe murne na mair
1560 Rolland Seven S. 6425.
This lady culd mak mirrie sing and dance
1596 Dalr. I. 78/10.
Thanaus … was … cum to … mak mirrie with thame
1605 Crim. Trials II. 481. 1610 Ib. III. 110.
Wilman and he suped togidder and made mirrye vpone the prouision that wes in his ship
a1651 Calderwood IV 639. 1667 Highland P. II. 15.
She dissembled her griefe and made mirrie till night
(2) ?1438 Alex. ii. 26.
The oist that nicht maid merie cheir
Ib. 495. a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 405.
Chenȝeit in syn thai mak bot mery cheir
a1500 Seven S. 1960.
The lord … maid gud cheire & mery faire
Ib. 1985.
Scho … maide him feist & mery cheire
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus i. 79.
The ane maid not so merie cheir As his fellow
(b) a1540 Freiris Berw. 417.
They eit and drank and maid richt mirrey cheir
c1568 Lauder Minor P. i. 586.
And vtheris thairof sall mak mirrye cheir
(3) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 1094.
He … mad hyme mery for to fare
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xiii. 32.
Sum makis him mirry at the wynis
(4) 1531 Bell. Boece I. lvi.
Quhen thay kest thaimself to be mery, thay usit maist aqua vite
1540 Lynd. Sat. Procl. 20.
With gude stark wyne ȝour flacconis see ȝe fill, And hald ȝour self the myrieast that ȝe may

b. Of things: To mak mirrie cheir, to produce joyfulness or gaiety, to supply the means of jollity or festivity. — 1570 Sat. P. xi. 3.
Adew … All things that may mak mirrie cheir

3. Hilarious from drink. a1578 Pitsc. I. 187/5.
The captane and his men became merie
1609 Crim. Trials III. 43.
All myrrie be drinking of wyne

4. a. Of occupations, especially pastimes, entertainments, etc., and events: Pleasurable, delightful; amusing, diverting; gay, jolly. a1500 Henr. Fab. 20 (Makc.).
It is rycht profitabill Amang ernyst to myng a mery sport
c1500 Crying of Play 132.
In Edinburgh quhar is meriast cheire, Plesans, disport and play
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 526.
I … with my pen did report thair pastance most mery
Id. liii. 7.
A mirrear daunce mycht na man see
1513 Doug. iv. Prol. 23.
Quhat is ȝour drery gemme? a myrry pane
Ib. v. Prol. 46.
Now harkis sportis, myrthis and myrry plays
Ib. 45. Ib. xii. Prol. 232. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 9107.
I pray God send vs mirrie meting

b. Of a saying, story, etc.: Amusing, diverting; comic, funny.(a) c1475 Wall. ii. 36.
Quhen Wallas herd spek of that mery saw
1513 Doug. i. Prol. 338.
Als oft as ȝe hym reid … Ȝhe fynd ilke tyme sum mery new consait
1579, 1617 Despauter (1579).
Camila, a merie mok
Facetiae, merie wordis or deidis
1597 James VI D æmonol. 9.
Surelie, the difference vulgare put between them [necromancy and witchcraft] is verrie merrie, and in a maner true
(b) a1540 Freiris Berw. 75.
The freiris wox blyth and mirrie talis culd tell
a1568 Bann. MS. 147 a/heading.
The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie Heir efter followis jocund and mirrie
a1578 Pitsc. I. 91/20.
Thay war at the denner crakand of mirrie matteris
(c) 1558-66 Knox I. 38.
How the people mocked thair curssing, he ferther told a meary tale

5. Of music and bird-song: Delightful, joyful, gay. b. Applied to the musicians and the birds. c1500-c1512 Dunb. xlvi. 3.
I hard a merle with mirry notis sing A sang of lufe
1535 Stewart 11889. Ib. 29743.
Of trumpettis, tabernis, stalwart wes the stevin, The clarione clinkit with ane mirrie cheir
a1568 Bann MS. i a/heading.
Ane most godlie, mirrie and lustie rapsodie
1567 G. Ball. 208.
Sa sall they pipe a merie fit
1621-40 Melville Commonpl. Bk. 9.
Quha can sing sa mirrie a not as he that hes not worth a groate
b. (1) c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxiii. 9.
Musicianis, menstralis and mirrie singaris
15.. Clar. ii. 1634.
The mirrie trumpits maid ane mirrie sound
(2) c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 6.
Glading the mery foulis in thair nest
Id. xlvi. 26.
This mirry gentil nychtingaill
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 1013.
To heir thir mirrie birdis sang

6. Of a season, time, place, etc. a.That gives pleasure, delightful. b. In which one is free from care, joyous, carefree. c. Spent in, or devoted to, jollity or festivity, festive, jolly.(1) ?1438 Alex. ii. Prol. 1.
In mery May, quhen medis springis
c1475 Wall. viii. 1183.
The mery day sprang fra the oryent
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. i.
Apon the midsumer ewin, mirriest of nichtis
Id. xlviii. 24. c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 927.
This wes the mirrie tyme of May
(2) a1500 Rauf C. 135.
Efter ane euill day to haue ane mirrie nicht
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 85.
Thay sall haue mery dayis Efter this trubyll
1564 Cal. Sc. P. II. 129.
At least I have one meary hour off the four and twenty
a1568 Bann. MS. 229 b/39.
Schort is ȝour havy nycht And lenthit is ȝour myrry day
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xxi. 40.
We … neuer hes ane mirrie day
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1148.
Manie mirrie evening maks manie sorie morning
1632 Prognostication.
God giue vs all a merrie Christmas and an happie new yeare
1657 R. Moray Lett. 14/24 Dec.
This should wish you a merry yule
(3) c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxv. 21.
Off Edinburgh the mirry toun
c1590 Fowler I. 127/38.
And in thair rowme a mirrier world And newar brawlie plaist

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"Mery adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jul 2024 <>



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