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

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First published 1983 (DOST Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Only, -lie, Onely(e, adv. Also: onlye, -leye, -lé, -lely, -llie, onelie, ounlie. [ME. onliche (1297), -like (c 1330), onelych (14th c.), oonly (14th c.), late ME. and e.m.E. only, onely, used in place of Anely, Anerly, Allanerly.] Only, solely, alone; no more than, and nothing more, merely.(1) 1513 Doug. viii. Prol. 28.
Lufferis langis only to lok [etc.]
1531 Bell. Boece II. 168.
Fallin only be vengeance of thair unhappy king
1562-3 Winȝet I. 121/30.
Is nocht that meanit only of a mariit woman?
c1568 Lauder Minor P. iv. 21.
The caus heirof is onlie couattyse
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 143 (T).
Onlie becaus, oule, thow dois vs it I will wreit vers off commune kynd
c1590 Fowler I. 122/123.
He, onlye he, who onlye fair dois shyne
1590–1 Crim. Trials I. ii. 233.
And only graiping him
1594 Colville Lett. 262.
Onle one yowe
1596 Dalr. I. 30/5. Ib. 3/14.
Only in thrie places is [the wild ox] left
1604 Crim. Trials II. 436.
Only for leuf of geir
1621 Brechin Test. IV. 9 b.
Haid onlie the … plenissing of hir hous
(b) 1533 Boece v. i. 163 b.
Thai war sparit onelie to kepe thare bestiall
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 4125.
Onely to God be laude and glore
1565 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xlix.
That the qwerrell … wes onelie religioun
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 46.
That he laubourit onelie for thame
1570 Leslie 123.
The Duik of Albany … desyrit onely that he mycht haif [etc.]
1575 Reg. Privy C. II. 478.
That thair be onelie ane forme of grammar techeit
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Serplath.
Bot in furing of them … the skippers countis onely nine barrelles for the last
(2) 1490 Irland Mir. I. 137/18.
In thé only lyis all oure help
1513 Doug. xii. ii. 70.
Betwix ws only
1533 Bell. Livy II. 117/25.
Na land bot it onelie
1533 Boece iv. vi. 133.
Ane conforte onelie remanit
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 119/3.
Flesche only without the spreit
Ib. 135/15.
1562-3 Winȝet I. 5/17. 1573 Davidson Sat. P. xlii. 726.
1580 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. lxx.
This onely is the true … fayth
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. 17 b.
As thocht they onlie imbrecit the scripturs, and ve denyit the same
1598 Skipper's Acc. (Morton) 11 a.
Wpone … hidis onleye
1609 Argyll Rentals ?9 Oct.
Ane meir ounlie with ane fold
1622-6 Bisset II. 216/18.
He salbe as lieutenant generall onlie
(3) 1513 Doug. iii. iii. 67.
Now I remembir only quhou Cassandra [etc.]
1557 Knox IV. 284.
I will onlie advertise yow of sic brut as I heir in thir partis
1562-3 Winȝet II. 30/14.
Bot peraduentuir thir thingis ar onlie commandit tothe Galathianis
1567 Sat. P. vii. 67.
Bludy boucheouris … War only hard and only had the steir
1567 G. Ball. 64.
He is ane potent King, And will allanerlie, Onlie be our remedie
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest 16.
Quha is onlie the trew medicinare of [etc.]
1562-92 Wode's Psalter (Bass, dupl. vol.) 17.
Thir four bukkis wes only pennit be me
1579 Acts III. 151/1. c 1580 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I. 94.
Quhidder thais thingis tendit that way onlie or to the commoditie of particular personis
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. (S.T.S.) 86/31.
Thir caluinolatre ministers quha onlie lenis vpon Caluins iugement
a1585 Maitl. Q. xlix. 5. 1599 Lett. Jas. VI to Eliz. 131.
Ye haue only … maid him a generall promeise thairin
1606 Acts IV. 298/2. 1614 Fraserburgh Kirk S. 30 b (6 Mar.).
Scho onlie preisit throw the thrang to win in for heiring
1622-6 Bisset II. 99/6. 1643 Edinb. B. Rec. VIII. 25. 1653 Moray Synod 117.
The kirk of Kynnedour being ruined … and the kirk of Ogstoun that is onlie up
1668 Inchmahome Pr. 173. 1700 Misc. Spald. C. III. 179.(b) a1500 Bk. Chess 1354.
He suld fra werkis onely rest The haly daye
c1515 Kennedy in Asl. MS. II. 274/33.
Onely abone all virginis thow had hap
Id. Flyt. 420.
Onely dependand on his excellence
1562-3 Winȝet I. 3/5.
Quhairvpon the weilfair thairof is onely groundit
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 25. c1590 Fowler I. 75/234.
Who onelye was … The onelye man borne to triumphe … And onelye bred to countreis win
1595 Edinb. B. Rec.V. 146.
The monethlie contributioun … is onelie grantet to the sustentatioun of thair awin puir inhabitants
1684 Insh Colonial Schemes 242.
There goes onely with me there Mr. David Violent
(4) a1500 Quare Jel. 386.
Withoutyn ony quhy Bot onely for his wickit gelousy
1556 Lauder Off. Kings 535.
Of na malyce … Bot onely for the prosperitie Of prencis
Id. Minor P. i. 251.
We find nocht heir sic vaine coniunctioun Bot onlie findis ws [etc.]
1570 Prot. Bk. Gilbert Grote 77.
[He] wald nocht have ado witht the said lady thairanent bot onlie witht the said lard
(5) 1562-3 Winȝet I. 68/26.
We oppone na thing … except only that apperis till ws manifest errour
1569 Canongate Ct. Bk. 21. 1581 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 44.
Except onlie sic personis as [etc.]
(6) c1515 Asl. MS. I. 327/13.
Thus nocht onely be the fulfilling … bot als [etc.]
1533 Bell. Livy I. 112/26. Ib. II. 121/8. 1533 Boece i. vii. 49 b.
Victory was nocht conquest be multitude onelie bot als weill be hardement
1558 Knox I. 304. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 2134. a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 117/25. 1562-3 Winȝet I. 52/9. Ib. 78/2.
I fand it nocht only sclinder and licht bot planelie inglorius
c 1565 Buch. Wr. 8. 1567 Sat. P. iv. 31. 1568 Hosack Mary Q. of Scots I. 540.
Not onelie requirand the murther to be tryit bot alswa namand Boithuile
1569 Q. Mary in Facs. Nat. MSS. III. lix. 1570 Buch. Wr. 33.
With all this thay ar not content onelie to manteine Scottis bot als thai ressave Inglis tratouris
1585 James VI Ess. 66.
Because nocht onely ȝe essay nocht ȝour awin inuentioun … bot lykewayis [etc.]
1596 Dalr. I. 29/20; etc. 1604 Dundee Shipping P. 79.
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 457.

b. Bot only, only bot, nothing more than, only, merely, just. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2386.
Alexander haid left his oist on land And tane with him bot onlie ten thousand
c1475 Wall. i. 410.
He had no helpe only bot Goddis grace
a1500 Bk. Chess 416.
[A king] suld bot onelye haue a quene
Ib. 527.
1560 Rolland Seven S. 130.
We haue na barne bot ane, Nor neuer had, bot onlie him allane
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 126/24.
To think that it is onely bot ane figure and taken
1593 in Montg. (Suppl. ed. S.T.S.) p. 333.

c. comb. in onlie-gottin.Cf. late ME. oonly-geten, only-gottin (Hoccleve). — 1560 Rolland Seven S. 1578.
Howbeit he be my onlie gottin chylde

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"Only adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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