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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.

Mos, n. Also: moss(e, mose, mois, moise, moiss(e, mooss, mowse, moas(s)e. [North. ME. mos (c 1260), mosse (? a 1400), also e.m.E. mosse (1485), moos (1486), ‘bog’ etc., and thereafter in this sense chiefly Sc., mod. north. Eng. and mod. Irish dial., OE. mos neut. bog.Cf. ME. (? orig. north.) and e.m.E. mos(se (1324–5), as the name of the plant (sense B below). Early north. ME. mose (? c 1150) in this use may be f. ON. mose.]

I. 1. As a place-name or place-name element, in senses 2–4 below, but esp. sense 4.(1) c 1220 Liber Dryburgh 157.
Obventiones totius terre mee de Mosplat
(2) 1219–33 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 428.
Extendendo per le Byermos
c 1300–30 Liber Melros II. 375.
Usque ad locum vbi Clovindik cadit in Grenemos … et a parte aquilonali de Grenemos versus orientem inter mussam et moram
1446 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 248.
And swa doun throw the Insnochmos to [etc.]
1475 Ayr Chart. 90.
Usque petarium nuncupatum Ridhalchis Mowse
1565 Reg. Great S. 656/1.
To the Tressirrig-mos and round about the samyne mos quhill [etc.]
Downe to the south end of the said Kirk-medo-mos
a1578 Pitsc. I. 403 h. of ch.
The battell of Sollen mos
1618 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 371.
Ascending up the Black Moiss
1661 Elgin Rec. II. 296.
About the Leavrick moise
(3) 1571 Elgin Rec. I. 128.
Nocht to birn no paittis within the mos of Mostowe
1578 Aberd. Chart. 339.
On the south syd of the mos of the Gardyne
The grene ley betuixt the mos and the towne of Gardyne
1588 Prot. Bk. J. Inglis 20 July. 1629 Urie Baron Ct. 66.
The haill tennents … to cast and leid thair leitt peitts … in the ordinar moss of Wrie
1677 Stitchill Baron Ct. 79.
For not leiding of ten loads of peits from the moss of Home to Stitchell
1682 Urie Baron Ct. 96.
To lead … ane leit of peates out of the latch of Glithnoe and moss of Cairntoune
(b) 1564–5 Reg. Privy S. V. i. 537/1.
Cum communi marresio lie mois de Monymoir
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I. 106.
Quhill they came to the mois of Cowhill
1662 Forfar Witches in Reliq. Antiq. Sc. 144.
That the divill appeired to her in the moiss of the Neutoune of Airly

2. Boggy ground, moorland. a1447 Bower Chron. II. 232.
Be hyll and mosse thaim self to weire
a1500 Henr. Fab. 184 (Asl.).
Throw mony wilsome wayis … Throw mure mos throw banke busk & brere
Ib. 2520 (H).
Baith ouer mois & strand
1533 Boece iii. v. 97.
Be … mos, slike & sward irksum to ane armye ȝoure regiouns aboundis
1535 Stewart 7398.
Into June … mos and myre with clot and clay will cling
Ib. 8833.
To fle, Sum to the mos, sum to the montanis he
Ib. 635. c1568 Lauder Minor P. ii. 46. c1590 J. Stewart II. 95/580.
He dryfs Throw mos and montane [etc.]
1596 Dalr. I. 9/17. Ib. 163/17.
Scharpe and hard hillis full of mosse, more and marrase
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 168. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1633.
There is mosse in a montane, wod in a wildernes [etc.]
1627 Rep. Parishes 70.
The lairgnes of this parochin in lenth thrie mylis … all moss

3. A bog, marsh, mire; also, a tract of bog or wet moor, a stretch of boggy moorland.(a) (1) 1208–18 Liber Calchou 76.]
[Sicut riuulus descendit a mossa, … inter mossam et duram terram
1294 Reg. Paisley 94.
Le mosse
1375 Barb. viii. 164 (E).
The hey gat liand was Apon a fayr feild, ewyn and dry, Bot apon athir sid … Wes a gret mos
Ib. xix. 759.
The mekill mos … That wes swa hidwous for to waid
Ib. viii. 173, xix. 738, 747. 1446 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 248.
Swa doun throw the mos
c1475 Wall. iv. 273.
The mos was strang, to ryde thaim was no but
Ib. vii. 808. 1506 Treas. Acc. III. 356.
To ane man biggit ane brig our ane mos
1508 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 127.
The heid of the mos
1524 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 73. 1531 Bell. Boece II. 34.
To win … scherettis … to mak ane gait throw the mos
1533 Boece iv. i. 125 b. 1535 Stewart 51220. Ib. 4742.
Ane mos … With mony dubbis that war bayth deip and wyde
a1568 Bann. MS. 267 a/23.
Quhen … everilk mos ar maid in gude domane
1615 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 324.
Quhill it come to the heid of the said blind burne, quhair thair is ane littill moss
1630 Kirkcaldy Presb. 10.
For the relief of these who had thair lands overflowed be the moss
1675 Erskine Diary 224. 1683 Butler Leighton 417.
If the Lord could be tyed to any place, it is to the mosses and muirs of Scotland
1684 Sibbald Scot. Illustr. 30. 1689 Rec. Old Aberd. I. 149.
That the said mos may be improven
1690 A. Shields Grievances and Sufferings 25.(2) ?c1675 J. Gordon Hist. II. 274.
The Highlanders … did runne of, all in a confusione, … till they wer gott into a mosse
1683 Misc. Spald. C. II. 293.
All of them took presentlie [? = ran off into] a mosse
(b) 1573 Sempill Sat. P. xxxix. 347.
He raid throw montanes many mose and myre
a1578 Pitsc. I. 301/8. 1616 Reg. Great S. 537/2.
Lie mures et mosis jacent. supra terras lie the brae-landis of Thornetoun
1679 Lauderdale P. 167.(c) 1553 Prot. Bk. R. Lumsdane MS. 14 b.
Frathin throw the mois as it is poittit
1627 Orkney Rentals iii. 50.
Moir nor the twa pairt muirs, moissis and barren ground
? 1643 Misc. Spald. C. II. xlii.
(d) 1670 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes 82 (14 July).
That the merch … goes from the moase at the backe of that hill, … from that moasse, … at the north side of the mosse

4. (A tract of) bog or moorland as useful property, esp. as a source of peat or turves; (a tract of) peatbog.Also Pete-mos n., Under-mos n.See also Lair n.1 6, Lair n.3 and Mure n. 1 b for further examples.(1) 1459 Liber Aberbr. 107.
Owr predecessoris … tholyt the smyth tyll byg ane smyde in the mos becaus of his colys and fuell that was necessar to his office
1473 Reg. Cupar A. I. 171.
They sal neuer cast bot onder a fourhed leuand a pairt of the mos in the ground and fylland behynd tham with the sward of the mos
1486 Prestwick B. Rec. 31.
He come in his rowm of the mos & hakkit his pettis
1511 Ib. 42.
Twa rod of mos, lyand in the he mos of Prestwick
1549 Elgin Rec. I. 100.
That na personis pas to the mos with crelis … provyding alvais that tha that hes pettis in the mos [etc.]
1557 Reg. Cupar A. II. 130. 1575 Prestwick B. Rec. 76.
For the selling & casting of ma peitis nor four dargis in the delt mos
1580 Elgin Rec. I. 158. 1586 Reg. Privy C. IV. 117.
Thay … castis up thair eird and mossis, leidis thair pettis and dovettis
1628 Ib. 2 Ser. II. 256.
1627 Rep. Parishes 36.
It haith nather moss nor lymestane
1632 Cullen B. Rec. 27 Apr.
To cast peittis or turris in the mekle mos
Ib. 27 July.
That thai sall not beire peittis nor elding out of the hill nor moss
1638 Aboyne Rec. 287. 1652 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 132.
Spoiling of the mossis be cutting, holling and burneing the saidis mossis
1664 Peebles B. Rec. II. 59. 1668 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes No. 21. 1665 S. Ronaldshay 49.
Schoe … being in the mosse to bring ane caisie of peatis to her owin hous
1669 Melrose Reg. Rec. II. 247.
Ane insoume and tua hill soume and halff moss and moor
1674 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. MS. 4 May.
Considdering that the common mosse quhen sett is over run they resolve that it shall not be castin againe ay and quhill it sward
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 454.
1678 Rec. Old Aberd. I. 132. 16.. Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. III. 83.
Few parts are far from good moss, which furnishes the countrey with fire
1698 Maxwell Mem. II. 347.
1701 Brand Orkney & Shetl. 25.
The usual … agreement with the proprietor of the moss
(b) 1473 Prestwick B. Rec. 22.
Fiff rodis of mose
1668 Dunferm. B. Rec. II. 287.
In hoiling and casting the toun mose
(c) 1535 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 124.
1563 Dumfries B. Ct. 208 b.
1588 Prot. Bk. J. Inglis 20 July.
1621 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI. 337.
Thair being no guid mois vpon that pairt of the landis pertening to Casschogill, thay haue oft … haid licence … to cast … thair peattis … vpon the landis of Cnokconie
1636 Misc. Spald. C. V 225.
The … comoune moiss
1637 Banff Ann. I. 76.
The haill awneris of peitis within the moisses
1649 Misc. Spald. C. V. 229.
Be resone of the scarcitie of moiss be the gryt abuse in burneing of them and making of brintland
c1650 Spalding I. 270. Ib. 205.
Where the laird of Monymvsk wes in ane moiss causing cast peitis
1693 Elgin Rec. I. 354.(d) 1646 Misc. Spald. C. V. 229.
That no peits be led of the lairds mooss quhair his leit peits ar castin
(2) 1461 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 362.
To be haldyn … the forsaide landys … in morys marres mosis myris hychttis [etc.]
c 1536 Rec. Earld. Orkney 222. 1540 Acts II. 379/2.
With commounty in the muris mosis and myris of Ouire and Nether Lifty
1550 Rec. Earld. Orkney 240. 1595 Douglas Bequest 7 July.
To bruik … all mure mossis hillis and fevall boundis therof
1610 Aboyne Rec. 202. 1614 Ib. 216.
Outseattis inseattis cottaigis moisses medowis [etc.]
1620 Grant Chart. 318.
1636 Glasgow Chart. II. 595. 1657 Bk. Dunvegan I. 83.
And pertinentis of the samyne, grassings, sheilings, moss, muires [etc.]
1659 Melrose Reg. Rec. I. 248.
With mose muire wood [etc.]
1658 Oliphants 243. 1659 Stewart Mem. 134.
1662 Burnett Fam. P.
The said toune and lands … with … dependencies, mosis, muires [etc.]

b. Appar. the right of taking peat or turves from a ‘moss’; also, an allocation of ‘moss’ or peat-bog for this purpose. Also to have (? = to enjoy) and to mak (? = to take for oneself) this right.(1) 1535 Selkirk B. Ct. 197 b.
This inquest … hes gevin … George Jamsone to vs and hant all fredomes of our common … videlicet, mos, mvir and lynggers
1544 Prestwick B. Rec. 59.
Tomas George desyris … to bruyk … mos and wraik
1672 Kirkintilloch B. Ct. 40.
With alsmeikle pasturage and mosse as effeirrs
(2) 1632 Cullen B. Ct. 27 July.
And na stalenger nor onfreman to hawe moss nor mak moss at thair awin hand but consent forsaid

5. Soil, turf or peat from a bog; bog-soil, bog. 1512 Treas. Acc. IV. 455.
For vij tu rs of hadder to the clay bargis vij s. viij d.; Item, for mos iiij s.
Ib. 473. 1596 Dalr. I. 28/7.
Eldine to the fyre, quhither … it war of mos, trie or stane, is abundant … aneuch
c 1680 Coll. Aberd. & B. 99.
There is a great deal of black earth thorow the countrey, which the people call moss
1701 Brand Orkney & Shetl. 86.
At the back of the toun there is a hill of black moss, wherein they cast their pites

6. Attrib. and comb. a. In senses 2 and 3.Moss-cheeper, the meadow pipit. Moscrop, cotton grass: for appar. earlier examples (f. 1326) as a surname, see Black Surnames, s.v. Moss. Mos-erde (= earth), marshy or boggy ground. Moss-hag, -hole, a pit or hole in a moss (Hag n. b). Also mos(s)-bridge, -burne (= burning: cf. Mure-burn(e), -fauld, -fowl, -hous, -syde, -water, -wynd. 16.. E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. VII. 15.
If any person in casting of peats do cutt trouble or under mine the moss bridges he shall pay [etc.]
1617 Acts IV. 537/1.
Makaris of murburne and mosburne … in forbiddin tyme
1684 Sibbald Scot. Illustr. iii. 22.
Titlinga, titling or mosscheeper
1683 Coll. Aberd. & B. 104.
Our hill mosses afford a long small grass, about the breadth of a straw, and a foot or two high … ; so that some mosses are so weel replenished with this moscrop, as they call it, that they are very good pasture
1533 Boece vi. vii. 198.
At ane strenth, environyt with moss eird, he lugeit his armye
Ib. viii. viii. 266.
And in the samyn [valley] ane myre with mos erde
1662 Retours I. No. 385 (Forfar).
Terras de Balhoussie, Mosfauld [etc.]
1673 Brown Suppl. Dict. Decis. I. 696.
As to the right of pasturage, with the privilege of casting divots and peats out of the moss, they did likewise find, that Tunnel, being interrupted within the forty years, and by payment of moss-fowls … his declarator of commonty could not be sustained
1680 Copy of Letter by Mr. John Dickson when Prisoner in the Bass (1717) 13.
Me thinks I see the wanderers lying in the moss-hags, jowking up and down
1677 Kirkintilloch B. Ct. 86.
Ane complaint … for … filling of his mosseholls with hir lint
1570–1 Reg. Privy S. VI. 199.
The said barony called the moshoussis
1537–8 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 151.
The bank be the mossyid vnder the litill bray
1609 Retours I. No. 68 (Dumfries).
Terrarum de Mossyd
1680 Cunningham Diary 128.
By John Spier of yearly feu for the moss-side of Over Johnston
1678 Fountainhall Decis. I. 15.
The drink was sometimes blood and other times black moss-water
1642 Elgin Rec. I. 273.
The croftis … bewest the mosswynd
1657 Ib. 301; etc.

b. In sense 4, with ground, turf, ward.Also Mos-lef(e, -maill(e, -rowm(e. 16.. Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. III. 4.
All the islands are well fired by reason of the abundance of moss-ground
1676 Misc. Hist. Soc. III. 305.
The tennentis … shall preserve … the moss grownd … that ther be no firr nor aik holled therin
1683 Coll. Aberd. & B. 103.
In the very best of moss grounds, which are ever on the tops of hills, whose peits when dry are exceeding hard
1652 Lanark B. Rec. 148.
To cast any of the forbidden earth, grein earth and moss turffes
1662 Retours I. No. 115 (Elgin).
Warda maresia lie Moswaird infra wardas glebarias dicti burgi de Elgin
1691 Ib. No. 663 (Ayr).
Terris vocatis Mossward

c. Moss-maister, -ward, a person appointed to keep order on a communal ‘moss’ (sense 4).Also Mosgrive.Also mosman, found only as a surname (f. 1426); see Black Surnames s.v. Mossman, and add: Johne Mosman (1489 Acta Aud. 134/1). 1652 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 132.
That ane moss maister sould be chosin for haueing a cair of the saidis mossis and … for the right regulating of the samen
1656 Misc. 3 Spald. C. II. 189.
To the mossgrieve for his 2 years service as mossward he gat for keiping the moss

II. 7. Moss, the plant or small vegetation.The only instance, unless, just possibly, quot. 1512, sense A5, really belongs here. 1643 Misc. Abbotsf. C. 182.
Ȝe … offered him ane grass, as ȝe callit it, but to his appearance, nothing but ane litle quantitie of quhyt moss or fogge

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"Mos n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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