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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.

Met(t)al(l, Met(t)ale, Met(t)el(l, n. Also: -alle, -aille, -ill, -le; mat(t)el(l. [ME. metal (1297), -el(l, -ail, matel (14th c.), e.m.E. met(t)all, mettle, OF. metal, metail, L. metallum mine, quarry, substance obtained by mining, metal.]

1. Metal, metallic substance, collectively or unspecifically.(a) c1420 Wynt. i. 250.
Twbalkayin delytyt haile Be oysyde craft to wyrk mettalle [E. metall, W. mettaill], Irne and stele, lede and tyn
Ib. iv. 1897.
That metalle [C. metal] mad sa pure and fyne Off Corynt had the tytill syne
Ib. vii. 2082.
All the chalyce prysyd syne Off gold or silvyre mettall [C. metale] fyne
Ib. ii. 1078. 1508 Treas. Acc. IV. 134.
To the pottar … that makis the taist to melt the metall in
1512 Ib. 284.
For thre skoir auchtein stane sex pund bras and metall wrocht in pulleis for the Kingis schippis
1513 Doug. viii. vii. 167. 1532 Treas. Acc. VI. 158.
For walking of the mettall ane nycht … xij d.
1598 Acts IV. 176/1. 1644 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 16.
Ane thousand weycht of the best sort of metal that keips fyre best
1674 Inverness Rec. II. 259.
To be exchanged with ane wthr bell of alse good weicht and mettall as the towns bell
(b) 1474 Treas. Acc. I. 54.
To Johnne of Pennicuke … passand to Hadingtoune for metale to the gunne
1489 Acts II. 221/1. 1567 Ib. III. 43/1.
Craftismen of the pewderar craft … quhilkis makis and sellis corrupt mettale
1639 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I. lx.
(c) 1512–13 Treas. Acc. IV. 508.
ij dusan of firryn sperris … to steir the mettell with
1535 Acts II. 346/1. 1542 Treas. Acc. VIII. 126.
Upoune the … clengeing of the sink and rynnyng of the mettell
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2415.
Thay maid ane molten calf of fyne mettell
Arundel MS. 288/292.
As gold … is maist precius abone all vthir mettell
1558 Treas. Acc. X. 438.
Ane pund wecht of tyn to dulce the mettell to the said gros culvering
1562-3 Winȝet I. 75/7.
I am maid lyke soundand metell or ane tincland cimbal
1579, 1617 Despauter (1579).
All kynd of mettell
(d) a1538 Abell 8 a.
The gold the mettill and precious threis at wes in it
(e) 1658 Elgin Rec. I. 305.
Matellers of all sortes such as pewterars, brasiers, tinckers or vthers workers of mattell

b. As the material of weapons and armour, coins, musical instruments.(1) a1500 Rauf C. 827.
Thus ather vther can assaill With swordis of mettaill
c1475 Wall. v. 190.
His suerd he drew of nobill mettall keyne
1513 Doug. vii. viii. 113.
Of drawyn swerdis … The brycht mettale
1535 Stewart 33225.
With brandis bricht quhilk war of mettell fine
1558-66 Knox I. 146.
And assayis quhilk of the croces war fynast mettall, which staf was strongast [etc.]
(2) 1485 Acts II. 174/2.
1500 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 633.
In gude and fyne golde vsuale monie of Scotland and lakker metale
1517 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 101.
That all plakkis … be takin out throwch this realm without ony deference nochtwithstanding ony cullour or matell thai be of
1551 Hamilton Cat. 98.
All thai that strykis cownye of unlauchful mettall
1573 Reg. Privy C. II. 318.
Furnessing of silver, layit mettell or utheris to the furthsetting of the adulterat … cunye
1650 Kirkcaldy Presb. 359.
Alexander Moncrief had rounged his coyne and mixed his mettell
(3) 15.. Clar. ii. 1637.
The mirrie trumpits … The sound out throw the silver mettel thrang
c. quasi-adj. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 426.
Thair was bot ane god anerlie Quhilk spirituall was, nother mettell stane nor tre
1538 Treas. Acc. VII. 25.
Gevin to Gawine Hammiltoun for twa gunnis of matell fund … xl cronis

d. plur. Metals: metallic substance, collectively; also, (various) members of the class of metals. 1456 Hay I. 283/10.
All metallis all low and lychtnes that lemys and gevis sycht to the eyne
Ib. 290/7.
Croune of the nobilast of all metallis
c1460 Wisd. Sol. (S.T.S.) 79.
I maid hurdis of gold and tresore … , with jowellis of al fynest mettallis of all fassons, plesand with precious stanis
1516 Reg. Privy S. I. 417/1.
To put … xxiiii werkmen … in the mynd of ure of gold, silver, lede and all utheris metallis in Crawfurd Mure
1549 Compl. 145/29.
Coppir, bras, and yrn, and vthir mettellis
1591 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 46.
Haifing ane … knawlege of the fynnes of the mettillis
1592 Acts III. 556/2.
The haill mater of the mettallis and minerallis
Ib. 559/1.
To caus melt and fyne the vris of mettallis

e. Either of the two heraldic tinctures or and argent. c1450-2 Howlat 420.
Off metallis [B. mettelis] and colouris in tentfull atyr
1456 Hay I. 283/7.
And suppos sum ignoraunt men wald say gold is metall and na coloure, that makis nocht
1494 Loutfut MS. 10 b.
And here eftir salbe put first ii coulouris quhilkis ar callit metallis
In the quhilkis thair is twa metallis & v colouris
Ib. 11 b.
In armorie suld nocht be put metall on metall na colour apon colour

2. Applied to metallic ore, in the mine or before refinement. sing. and plur.Also attrib. with -place, -mine.sing. a1500 Colk. Sow iii. 114.
Sen goid, siluer, mettell and alkyn vre Fynit be folkis, vanisis
1490 Irland Mir. I. 58/18.
This element of erd … has within jt … all kynd … of metall, stanys, colis
1515 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 38.
The gold and matel that is wyn tharintill
1528 Lynd. Dreme 370. 1592 Acts III. 556/2.
Ony myne or seme of mettaill
1609 Hilderstoun Silver Mines I. 104 b.
Sax great cuddeis that caryis the mettell betuix driftis
attrib. 1562-3 Winȝet II. 22/2.
The presonis, pittis and mettal places fillit ful of the sanctis of God
1590 Welwod 77.
To send him skurgit to … perpetuall labour as to metall mines and galiouns
plur. 1531 Bell. Boece I. 251.
To win mettellis, querrellis and to mak tild
1554 Treas. Acc. X. 232.
To … serch … the coilheuchis of Linlithqw for coill and mettales
1592 Acts III. 556/2.
That … thair salbe ane ordinar officiar appointit … for the owersicht … of the mettallis … to be callit mr of the mettallis and minerallis
1596 Dalr. I. 56/27.
Ib. II. 248/1.
1609 Acts IV. 408/2.
Wlkis mycht be reserved … upoun moir choise and proffitable mettaillis
1672 Sinclair Hydrostaticks 260.

3. a. Clay or the like, for manufacture into pottery. 1549 Compl. 19/19.
Ane pottar vil mak of ane masse of mettal diuerse pottis of defferent fassons
16.. Symson's Descr. Galloway (1823) 137.
Under that [ash] there was an inch thick of a scurff like mug mettall

b. The raw material of glass manufacture. 1688 Acc. of Glasshouse in North Leith in Dunbar Social Life II. 129.
For the metle of 2880 peice of chapine botles

4. fig. a. The ‘stuff’ of a person or persons, what he ‘is made of’ or is worth.With reference to character or quality, or to spirit, courage, or ‘mettle’.Bell mettall, ? = good for or apt to noise or bragging but of little other worth or effectiveness. a1538 Abell 84 a.
Wirginite is a geme at ay it schenis brychtest in maist precius mettell that is in thaim at is heest in dignite
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 58.
Quhen scho saw in hir husband not mettell aneuch to troubil the estait, scho pykit out ane man
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS. No. 1598.
Ye ar all bell mettall

b. In other fig. contexts. 1621 Crim. Trials III. 507.
Expecting your majesties … favorable constructioun of our proceidingis, wischeing thay may prove good mettall when thay come to the tryall of the trew tuitchestone
1643 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 358.
Though a fire be kindled in the land, yet it is not to consume any of the mettal

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"Metal n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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