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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.

Ost, Oist(e, n.1 Also: oste, oost, oyst(e, oast. [ME. ost (c 1290), oost (14th c.), e.m.E. oast (a 1592), OF. ost, oost.The more common, and earlier, form: cf. Host n.2]

1. An armed company: a (usu. large) body of armed men, a military force, an army. = Host n.2 1.Also plur., with and without differentiation of sense.Grete, also greyt staill, ost, also = the main body of the army; hors ost, a force of cavalry; navall ost. In Lord or God of oostis, only in Nisbet after Purvey.(1) 1375 Barb. xi. 240 (E).
Our all the ost than ȝeid the King
Ib. xiii. 734. a1400 Leg. S. vii. 440.
He assemblyt in-to hy Of armyt men ane oste mychtty
Ib. xxxii. 569; etc.
The feynd sad … Thu has suorne of my oste be the mycht [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. iv. 717.
Syne the gret ost wytht Cerces Sone to the baytell cummyn wes
Ib. viii. 2149.
Ane new ost
Ib. iii. 286, v. 816, viii. 1808, etc. 1456 Hay I. 114/21. Ib. 48/34, 58/8, 112/11, 138/24, etc.
Thare may na man of armis leve the ost under the payne of dede
c1475 Wall. i. 79.
His ost he [Edward I] rasd
Ib. viii. 1019, x. 400. a1500 K. Hart 185, 850. c1515 Asl. MS. I. 222/7. a1500 Lanc. 1031.
He wist not of hyme self nor of his ost
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 22/19.
For it makis thair ost & batell starkar aganis the Devill
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xlii. 98 (B). 1513 Doug. ix. i. 67.
Turnus thar duke rewlys the myddillost
1535 Stewart 7054.
Ane mekill ost
Ib. 39364; etc.
Hand for hand with him in battell go, Or ost for ost
1542 Hamilton P. I. 158.
Ane wynge of our oste
1570 Leslie 119.
Ane mychty and puissant oste of Scottismen
a1578 Pitsc. I. 120/11. 1596 Dalr. I. 284/4. Ib. 331/22.(b) 1375 Barb. vii. 337 (E).
Till thar oist the remanand fled
Ib. 344.
The oyst wes all on ster
c1420 Wynt. v. 4462.
1448 Acts I. 351/1.
That na persoun … sal depart … withoutin leif of the chyftane of the oist
c1450-2 Howlat 326 (A). 1492 Myll Spect. 278/2.
Iudat … cuttit of Olefernus heid quhill he slepit in his pavillion in his oist
a1500 Bk. Chess 664. 1533 Bell. Livy I. 181/3.
The dictator left his band of horsmen & come on the myd feild of Sabynis … with his oist of futemen
Ib. 34/8. 1533 Boece ii. vi. 69. 1535 Stewart 15341.
Ane royall oist thai war
Ib. 23003.
The secund oist
1540 Lynd. Sat. 4581 (B).
1546 Id. Trag. Card. 163.
c1550 Id. Meldrum 94.
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 337.
1595 Duncan App. Etym. Philotus clxi.
Phalanx, exercitus, an oiste
1611 Reg. Privy C. IX. 178.
[Commanders of his] camp and oist
(c) 1375 Barb. xiii. 263.
The best … That wes in-till the oost [E. ost] that day
c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 911. c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matth. xxii. 7; etc.(d) 1619 Garden Elphinstoun 1552.
Ane Eduard came From Flanders with ane oast
1639 Thanes of Cawdor 297.
The oast that went to Aberdeen for apprehending the Marqueis of Huntlie
(2) plur. c1420 Wynt. viii. 1792; etc.
He … scalyd in buschementis nere thareby Hys ostys [E., A. oist, C. ostis] bydand prewaly
1513 Doug. ii. i. 33.
Heir the ostis war wont to ioyn in feild
Ib. vi. iii. 16.
Mysenus, … nane mair cunnand Ostis to assembill
Ib. xiv. 62.
With rayt ostis of the orient
Ib. vii. v. 34, x. ix. 14, xi. x. 30. 1531 Bell. Boece I. 107. a1578 Pitsc. I. 317/7.
The Earle of Lennox come out of Stirling witht thre great ostis marchand fordwart to Edinburgh
(b) 1533 Boece ii. xii. 82.
The … riches left be Britons … amang the oistis was distribut
Ib. iv. ix. 140. a1578 Pitsc. II. 20/8.
[They] passit to the feildis in twa areyit oistis to wit the vangard and the gret battell
1602 Reg. Privy C. VI. 376.
Brokin men … [have] tane the bauldnes in oistis, troupis and cumpanyis to repair … within the hairt of the incuntrey
(3) c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2778.
The rest that chapit … To Nynus gret oiste fled agane
1593 Moysie 110.
Quhill they come on the great oast quho seing theare men cheassit tuik affray and fled altogither
1600 Pitsc. MS. in Hist. Clan Gregor I. 106.
The governour himself in the greyt staill oist
1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 88.
Ane hors oist of our ald ennymeis ar in reddines to invaid
c1590 Fowler I. 101/101.
All thair nauall ost
(4) c1520-c1535 Nisbet James v. 4.
Into the eris of the Lord of oostis
Id. Ep. Ald. Test. xiii. 11. Ib. xxiii.
God of oostis, croun of hope

b. Passing into: A confrontation or joining in battle of opposing armies; two such armies at the point of battle. Also plur. in same sense. — c1460 Thewis Wysmen 424.
Thai ar presumptus, ful of bost, And euirmar hynmest in the ost
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 295 (A).
Quhat suld sic men till gang till ony oist [: boist]
a1500 Lanc. 1084.
To-giddir thar assemblit al the ost At whois meting many o knycht was lost
Ib. 1119. 1513 Doug. xi. iii. 22.
Desyre ȝhe paix bot for thame that bene lost By marcyall fayt and slane into this ost?
plur. a1500 Lanc. 1169.
And al the maner of the ostis till spere, How that it went

c. In ost, as an army; also in royall ost. In batell ost, in battle. With ost, accompanied by an armed force. To rais ost, to gather an army.(1) 1375 Barb. xiv. 137 (E); etc.
In ost thai war assemblyt thar
c1475 Wall. vii. 642.
xv thousand … Off all gaddryn in ost he had to leid
1535 Stewart 4669.
In royall ost tha war than to behald [etc.]
Ib. 5269.
For Julius hes in ost sic men The quhilk of weir all prattisis do ken
(2) 1535 Stewart 744.
In batell ost tha met efter but baid
(3) 1384 Acts I. 349/2.
Gif it happins that any … schapes for to ride witht oste ilk an of the lordes … sall set let thairin
(4) c1420 Wynt. iv. 589.
Agayne the kyng Amprityre … He rasyd ost and mowyd were And come on hym wytht his powere

2. a. The assemblage or assembling of armed men summoned by the Scottish crown for military service, usually on a specific occasion or for a specific campaign; the Scottish army. b. Also, the campaign for which such a force is raised.Normally all fencible men aged between sixteen and sixty were summoned to attend in arms, on a certain warning (commonly, eight days, but on occasion, instantly) with provisions for a stipulated period (usually, 15, 20, 30 or 40 days).Also in ost, in service of this kind.(1) 14.. Acts I. 108/2.
Ilk lord sal cum stuffyt & purvayt to the ost [L. ad exercitum] of caryage and vyttalis
1504 Treas. Acc. II. 454.
To the man that gydit thaim to the ost
1513 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 1.
Gif ony man … deis in his [the king's] army enduring the tyme of his ost
1528 St. P. Henry VIII IV. i. 498.
The cause quhy presentlie the raid and ost … wes delayit and postponit
1547 Sutherland Bk. III. 106.
To remaine att hame fra the said conwentioun and ost
1549 Corr. M. Lorraine 314.
I fynd this cuntray folkis makand diligence to the ost
1557 Inverness Rec. I. 14.
The said Johne is mad fre be resson his guidis wes flettit of the grund befor the proclamation of the ost
(b) 1513 Treas. Acc. IV. 522.
1516 Reg. Privy S. I. 435/1.
Exemand and dischargeand him of all passing till ony oystis or weris outwith the realme or within
1522 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 104. 1523 Treas. Acc. V. 218. 1527 Ib. 321. 1528 Lynd. Dreme 992.
The ciuele weir misgydis euerilk oist [: loste, boste]
1552 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 483.
Except the commoun oistis of the realme aganis the auld inemyis of Ingland
1588 Dunbar Moray Doc. 89 n. 1602 Reg. Privy C. VI. 829.
[The inhabitants of the West March are] now becum verie slak and negligent [in accompanying their Warden not only] at dayis of trew bot to oppin oistis
(c) 1496 Treas. Acc. I. 296.
For a waw of irne to turs with ws to the oost
Ib. 298.(d) 1582 Coll. Aberd. & B. 353.
Licence … for eating of fleschis remaineing fra wapinschawis oastis and raidis
(2) 1557 Fam. Rose 224.
He sendand his houshald, freyndis, seruandis, and tennents, sufficiently furnist to serue ws in oist and army

c. Attrib. with -silver. (In Uist and Harris.) a1595 Descr. Isles 430.
By all uther customes, maills and oist silver

3. A multitude, a large number, an abundance (of anything).fig. c1420 Wynt. i. 541.
and transf. Ane ost [: bost] Of angellis, that it kepis
1513 Doug. vii. iii. 24.
Hys first mansioun … as it had bene Ane ost of tentis stentit on the grene
Ib. xii. v. 65.
The ern … Befor hym catchand ane gret flycht or ost Of fowlys
1562-3 Winȝet II. 62/9.
Sa grete oistis of martyres
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Copiae, an oist, or riches

b. As adj.: Many. 1375 Barb. iii. 15.
And weill ost … War layd at erd, but recoveryng

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"Ost n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 May 2024 <>



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