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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).

Policie, -icy, -ecie, n. Also: poll- and -ici, -icé, -ic(e)y(e, -isy, -isé, -yci(e, -ycy, -ycé, -ysie; -ecy(e, -ecey, -esie, -esy(e, -eysie, -iecie; -acie, -acy, -acey; -ocie; (polcie, p[o]leci-). [ME and e.m.E. policye (1387–8), -ycy(e, -ecy, polleci, -esi (all 15th c.), etc., government, administration, prudence, cunning, course of action, MF policie (1370 in Wartburg), public administration, government, L. polītīa, from the Gk. Cf. Police n.Only Sc. in senses 5–7, with which cf. L. polītus refined, p.p. of polīre polish, adorn, cultivate, Polit(e adj., and late L. polities, policies, polish, elegancy, also med. L. (Eng.) politica urbanity (1220). Cf. the later Sc. dial. sense of ‘the park of an estate; pleasure grounds’ (SND, s.v. Policy n. 2).]Some examples entered under Police may have been intended for this word, viz. as policé etc. And, since in many MSS c and t are easily confused or are quite indistinguishable, it is conceivable that some spellings in c (though not of course those in s) might properly belong rather to Politie. Conversely, two of the examples entered there may perhaps belong here. But in view of the histories of both forms, and the confirmation of this one by spellings in s, it seems reasonably certain that the earlier and very much the commoner word is this one.

1. Government, administration, regulation of public affairs, organisation of a public institution; esp. good or strong government.It is unclear whether the Bell. Boece and Boece quots. belong here or in 5. 1456 Hay I 70/32.
How the haly kirk … and the commoun proffit may be kepit in gude policy and gude governance
Ib. 297/36.
And quhare thare is nocht syk ane ordynaunce, the realme is misordanyt, efter gude custumes of policy
Ib. II 23/34.
Office of knychtis is to manetene and governe landis and policy, and to defend thame
c1460 Regim. Princ. 142 (Marchm.).
Quhen Rome was regit … In justice and in public polesy [M. politey]
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 102 (Asl.).
That suld caus iustice polise [v.rr. polacy, polecy] & pes And all gud reull in to the realme to rys
Ib. 123.
Throw quhilk … iustice [might] ryng with pece & polise [v.rr. polacy, policie; rh. be, securite, chevalrie]
1490 Irland Mir. II 8/16.
That distroyis all law all policy all punycioun [etc.]
Ib. 123/15.
1494 Loutfut MS. 111 a.
Now it is sufferit for a maner of estait and pollesy at thair entrais in barrieris to ask leiff & haue leif for to be seruit
1500 Edinb. B. Rec. I 83.
Quharfore, as this our rationable and simpil desyris and petition is conform to equitie, and ar consonant to honore and pollecy, according to the usis and consuetudis of great antiquitie in vther realmys and provincis
1509–10 Ib. 125.
c 1522 Doug. in Doug. (Sm.) I p. cix.
He beyng or remanyng in Scotland suld put no goode ordour of justice nor pollecy apperandlie thairin
1531 Bell. Boece I 104.
Quhill Vespasian was gevin on this maner to polesy and vane religion of gentilis [L. vrbanis gentilitatisque religiosis rebus; sc. introducing Roman law and civility of manners and temple-building]
1533 Boece 274 b.
Be glore of ciuile polecie and religios actis [L. vrbanarvm ac religiosarum rerum] he was in grete extimacioun to all the pepill
1535 Stewart 8314. 1559 Q. Mary in Knox I 399.
And in thair precheing not to mell sa mekle with civill policie and publict governance
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xxii 39.
Fals dissimulatioun … Off polecey plane alteratioun
Id. Ib. civ 6.
Lowthiane quhair sum tyme hes bene Maist polcie, tranquillite [etc.]
Id. Ib. clxxiv 74.
1570 Knox in Calderwood II 514.
We are now left as a flocke without a pastor in civill policie
1572 Sc. Ch. Hist. Soc. Rec. VI 230.
Sa that no man micht weill see a lyff for thame that socht quietnes and rest and policie thairin
1574–5 Reg. Privy S. VII 15/1.
All abbaceis vacand … sall remane undisponit quhill ordour be takin anent the policie of the kirk
1596 Dalr. I 105/10.
To be curious anuich obserueris of al externe policie
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 15/14.
In that part where I speake of policie

2. An organised form of administration; an established system of law and order; a constitution or polity. 1483 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. II 103.
Sic … ordinances as sall be meitt … for … the … pollicie of the said craft [etc.]
1535 Stewart 51618.
At sic justice and policie for-thy King Edward haid … invy … als knew he … Thair policie sould euir eik and grow
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1893.
Thir mortall weris, Quhilk … euere polesye doun thrawis
1560 Acts II 534/1.
Quhasaeuer gangis about to tak away … the haill state of ciuile policeis now lang establischit [etc.]
1560 Cal. Sc. P. I 433.
Aswell anent the civille pollicye, as uniformetye of religione
1560 Bk. Disc. in Knox II 238.
In these and such like must everie particular churche … appoint thair awin polecie
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 171/30.
To subuert the haill ordour, policie, and religioun of Christindome
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xxii 39.
1565 Facs. Nat. MSS. III xlix.
Quhat vther is this bot to dissolue the haill polecy [ed. polety] … to mak the prince obey and the subiectis to command
1579–80 Reg. Privy C. III 264.
The personis appointit to treat upoun materis of the policie
1581 Melvill 87 h. of ch.
Of the kirk and polecie therof, in generall; and wherin it is different from the civill polecie
1584 Glasgow B. Rec. I 108.
For reformatioun of sindrie abussis croppin … in the policie of the kirk
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 210.
This confusion of kirk and policie
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 16/34.
Others, that likes better of the single forme of policie in our churche
Ib. 72/10.
The haill subiectis … be the auncient & fundamentall policie [1599 pollicie] of oure kingdome are deuydit in three estaites
Ib. 145/3.
Suffer thaime not to medle uith the policie … in the pulpitte
1600-1610 Melvill 87.
The Buik of the Polecie
1606 Ib. 628. 1606 Dunferm. B. Rec. II 16.
Concerning the policie and governament in pace and quyetude of the neightbouris and inhabitantis of the said burgh
1606 Birnie Kirk-b. xvi.
And this auncient policie wee perceiue practised in the ouldest of our owne countrey kirkes
1622-6 Bisset II 276/21.
1638 Nat. Covenant in Facs. Nat. MSS. III xcvii.
The true church … in her … presbyteries, sessions, policie [ed. politie], discipline
c1650 Spalding I 255.
For reformatioun of kirk and pollicie

3. The quality of prudence; discretion in dealing with affairs; shrewdness. b. An instance of this. c. In a bad sense: Expediency; cunning; dissimulation.(1) a1500 Henr. III 171/38.
Peas is away … Prudence and policy ar banyst our al brinkis
1559 Knox VI 17.
That carnall wisdome, and worldly pollicye, to which both ye are bruted to be moche inclined
1559 in Knox VI 92.
Ye are so open in your doings … which is more than wisedom and polycie doth requyre
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. ci 10.
Now warldlie wisdome is desait And falsate haldin polecey
a1599 Rollock I 373.
Is thy heid full of policie and hes thou manie plattis … in it and hes thou not this wisdome
1644 in Knox II 550.
The contriver of the late historie of Queen Marie wanted policie here to convoy a lee
c1650 Spalding II 427.
Bot heirin wes deip policie, as efter do appeir
(2) c1515 Asl. MS. I 269/14.
He … was a man of gret polisy and wisdome
1513 Doug. i Prol. 97.
Besyde hys innatyve pollecy, Humanyte [etc.]
1535 Stewart 44859.
1571 Sat. P. xxvi 5.
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 79.
I lyke well the mannis policie Bot [etc.]
a1578 Pitsc. I 408/21.
1600-1610 Melvill 117.
Quhilk was sa wittie in warldlie effeares and polecie
b. 1535 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 153.
And this ve did for favoris and his honest pollecy maid in our burgh
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 86.
Gif ane haue slane a man [etc.] … nouther can his lyfe suffice for imposing, nor his body for beiring, nor the judges policie for inventing, pane aneuch for him
1583 Cal. Sc. P. VI 377.
After my commen judgment and polysie
c. 1533 Boece 358 b.
Thai weyit sa hevilie to be skornit be the dissimulit polecye of Pichtis
1570 Misc. Bann. C. I 47*.
Thir Machiwellistes … that will circumvein you with thair policie
c1590 Fowler II 121/10.
With policeye and deceate
1607 Reg. Privy C. VII 515.
A young foolishe boy, not capable of ony greate fraude or policie
1618 Soc. Ant. IV 237.
Compassion [is] dead, Faith turn'd to pollicye

4. a. Politic, prudent or expedient course of action. b. A course of action proposed as advantageous or expedient; a plan, expedient, contrivance or stratagem. c. A crafty device, a trick; trickery. d. Be policie, by trickery. (Out) of policie, by a pre-arranged plan, deliberately as part of a plan, intentionally.a. 1513 Doug. Comm. i v 81.
And eftyr … thai becam for the nanys briggantis … and by a maner pollycy or practyk convenyt that the tayn of thaim suld tak his brother and all his complicis
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I 134.
Thai maid be slicht and craft of polecy to fle
1535 Stewart 4876.
Thir barbouris … hes no … wisdome into weir No policie nor prattik wirth ane peir
b., c. 1533 Boece fol. 20.
Of ane polacy & proposicioun maid be King Kenneth for danting of lymmaris
Ib. 258 b.
And that his polecy suld be occult, feneȝeing him desirous of pece [etc.]
Ib. 267 b.
How Hengist deuisit ane polecye to haue his son Occa … brocht in Britan
1535 Stewart 49242.
[Bruce] levit ay into ane gude beleif, Thinkand it wes ane policie to preif Trubill [etc.]
1582 Cal. Sc. P. VI 215.
1596 Dalr. I 102/3.
Or quhat thame selfes haue inuented of ane ingenious policie to dryue a pray and say thair prayeris
Ib. II 316/21.
Of that intentioune quyetlie to occupie the toune with sum prattick or policie
1600 Misc. Bann. C. I 151.
His depositioun is rather a policie then any verittie
1631 Justiciary Cases I 188.
Out of ane malicious polecie and designe tending to the sawing of discoird … betuixt his maiestie and his maist loyell subjectis
d. (1) 1515 Douglas Corr. 69.
To haf that byschep rendyrryt to hymm othyr be pollycy or other wayes
1615 Crim. Trials III 364.
And thair, be craft and policie, tuik in the said castell
(2) 1596 Dalr. II 300/19.
About the beginning of the battel … the cry rais of policie [L. de industria] as we trow mair than ony vtherwyse be sum traytouris … and [etc.]
1669 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes No. 37.
Eftir the said Mr. David … had apprehendit the said money with light candles, he out of policie caused blow out the candles

5. Improvement or development (of a country, estate, town, property or the like) by the erection of buildings, by plantation or enclosure, or by addition to or embellishment of an existing building; provision of amenity; amenity.(1) c1420 Wynt. vii 957 (W).
Bot wild and waist the land than wes And like bot a blynd hethynnes For scho maid all the polesy That vsit is till now trewly
1475 Edinb. B. Rec. I 30.
And for reparatioun beilding and polecy to be maid in honour of the said sanct of Sanct Jhone
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxxii 20.
Ȝour foirstair makis ȝour hous mirk … Think ȝe not schame Sa litill polesie to work
1527 Prot. Bk. J. Foular II 264.
Till mak ony polesy utouth the said chalmer for eisment of the said land
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I 31.
Thai creatt ane king … and began to mak pollecy in bigging of municiouns, townis & castellis
1545 Inverness Statute in Reg. Great S. 757/1.
Owtlandis men of grete clannis, nocht habill … to use marchandice nor mak daylie residence nor policie nor na maner of biging within the said burgh
1550 Dundee Chart. 38.
The inhabitantis of … Dunde ar reparand the samin, and makand sum polecy for the … honesty of oure realme
1553–4 Reg. Privy S. IV 412/2. 1568 Lyndesay Pref. (S.T.S.) 402.
The pure dar mak na policie … in cace thai big thame selfis out
1568 Reg. Privy S. VI 88.
To gratifie the personis havaris of the few landis thairof thairabout to gif thame occasioun to mak policie thairupoun
1585 Reg. Morton II 312.(2) 1472 Reg. Cupar A. I 163.
Tharatour the sade Wilȝam sal put the sad landis to al policy efter his powar in byggyn, hanyng and defens and plantatioun of treys that is to say eysses, osaris and sauch and hauthorn for defens
Ib. 165; etc.
Polyci, polici
1474 Edinb. B. Rec. I 31.
Togidder with the Ile of Sanct Jhone in the college kirk of Sanct Gele to beild and put to polesy in honour of the said sanct
1505 Chart. Coupar A. II 116.
And the saidis Richard [etc.] … sal put the saidis akaris and toft til al possibil policy witht biggin of gud ȝerdis houssis sufficiand chawmeris and stabilis
1539 Reg. Cupar A. II 11.
1542 Ib. 19.
Sall putt our … landis till all possible pollecye and honestie thai may
1550 Ib. 97.
(3) 1535 Acts II 343/1.
For polecy to be had within the realme, in planting of woddis, making of edgeis, orchartis, ȝardis, and sawing of browme, it is statute … that [etc.]
1536–7 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. II 84.
Havand consideratioun of the polecie and dyueris vtheris actis necessar to be done within the tovne at our souerane lordis … hame cumming
1585 Inverness Rec. I 302.
Quhartrocht he maye wse sum pollecie in his yard in respect now is the tyme of yeir of herbis … sawing [etc.]
(4) a1500 Bernardus 265.
Gef thow cowatis to byg … The mar thow art applyit to polisy The mare encreseis thi mynde in fantasy
1531 Bell. Boece II 227.
Scho knew the mind of Kenneth gevin to magnificent biging and polesy [L. magnifica ædium structura atque ornatus delectaret]
Ib. (M) I 88.
1533 Boece 77 b.
Commendit was King Fynnane … for civilite and polecie, be quhilkis mervelluslie he decorit his realme
1535 Acts II 344/2.
Becaus sik ordoure … as is deuisit for polecy may failȝe be falling of landis in to ward
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus Prol. 172.
Sum geuin to plant and big in policie
1577 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 34.
For decoring of the toun in bigging and pollecie
a1578 Pitsc. I 163/3.
For he … delytit mair in musik and polliecie of beging nor he did in the goverment of his realme
(5) 1518 Edinb. B. Rec. I 181.
That thai mycht honour and repair the said ile to the honour of God … and polecy of our said kirk
1530–1 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 352.
Woddis … parkis, orchardis, yardis, gardingis, eischis and uthiris treis growand about the said place to the polecy tharof
1536 (1538) Reg. Great S. 394/2.
To … teill yeirlie 1000 acris of thair commoun landis of oure said burgh … for polecy, strenthing and bigging of the samyn
1540 Cart. S. Giles civ.
To the effect that … the land pertenyng to James Prestoun … mycht be bocht for the weill and policie of the kirk
1546 Reg. Great S. 758/1.
That the said profit be putt to the … decoratioun and policie of the said burgh
1555 Acts II 497/1.
Gif the wod of Falkland was … decayit in the grouth thairof … to be parkit hanit and keipit of new for policie thairof
1573 Inverness Rec. I 228.
And nychtbouris can nocht get to thair biggynnis na keynd of tymmer for policie of this burcht
1578 Reg. Privy S. VII 253/2.
1587 Acts III 506/2.
That the … erectioun of … Brint Iland in ane frie burgh regall is not onlie very commodious and convenient for the policie and decoirment of this realme bot also [etc.]
(6) 1533 Bell. Livy I 88/4.
Tarquyne … began to do werkis of policy [L. pacis opera] in Rome
(7) 1540 Lynd. Sat. 2689 (Ch.).
Set into few ȝour temporall lands To men that labours with thair hands … Quhair throch the policy may incresse
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I 58.
[The above lands] may be sett in few ferme for augmentation of the rentall and increas of polacy
1583 Edinb. Univ. Chart. 91.
That as it sall happin thair said colledge in policie and leirning to incres, that the said Mr. Robert … salbe advancit to the maist honorable roume that sall vaik thairin

6. Passing into: The buildings, plantations etc. with which a country, estate, town, etc. is improved or developed; improvements, adornments or amenities of this sort. a. collect. sing. b. plur.a. c1460 Wisd. Sol. (S.T.S.) 126.
Than tuk I in detestacione … al the werkis and polesy that I had gart mak wndir the sone with grete deligens
a1500 Colk. Sow ii 121.
A cornar of a cuntre … Quhich he plenyssit with peple and polesy
1533 Bell. Livy I 69/24.
The ciete of Alba quhilk stude iiijc ȝeris in grete magnificence and policy
1535 Acts II 349/1.
All our souerane lordis burrowis are … waistit and distroyit in thair gudis and polecy and almaist ruynous
1550 Old Dundee II 118.
Our Lady Werk Stair … gif it war biggit and repairit war to the honour and decoreing of the policie of the town
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1804.
Sum paste in to the orient [etc.] … And so, thare poleysie left west
1559 Aberd. B. Rec. I 323.
Certane personis … hes interpryssit … to distroy kirks, religious places and the ornaments and polacie of the same
a1568 Scott i 45.
The pulling doun of policie reprufe
1562-3 Winȝet I 45/18.
The wyld sangleris … quha … trampis down the heuinlie incres and all decent policie of the samyn winȝarde, drest and deckit be the former workmen, vnfenȝeit policiaris of the samin
1564 Reg. Privy C. I 279. 1564 Dundee Chart. 40.
In the said kirkȝardis quhairin the deid was buryit of befoir mair decent polecie may be had to the honor of oure realme
1567 Dundee Council Rec. in Mylne Master Masons 64.
The peir hawin schoir and bulwark … quhilkis ar the principal partis of the policie and common weill of this burch ar grytlie decayit
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xcvii 88.
In the mene tyme grit polecie And gud townis distroyit be
Id. Ib. xxvi 25. Id. Ib. ci 7.
1573 Inverness Rec. I 228.
Trocht the … dertht and heing of pricis of tymmer the policie of this burcht dekeis
1573 Bann. Memor. 303.
Wha … pulled doun … the houssis, biggingis, and polycie, the ornamentis of this toun, and cuntrey lykwayis
c1575 Balfour Pract. 132.
Aganis the destroyeris of planting, haning and policie
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 206. Ib. 301. a1578 Pitsc. II 238/15.
And had distroyit the antient placeis and pollocie off the south
1587 Acts III 505/2.
It wer to be lamentit to sie sic gorgeous policie to decay
1588 Glenartney Doc.
Persones quhilkis … within oure forrest of Glenartnay … distroyis the growand treis and policie thairof
1589 St. A. B. Ct. 6 May.
Ane man … to owersee … the comoun werkis & deceyit policie off the samin
1594 Acts IV 71/1. 1622-6 Bisset II 38/14.
1649 Mining Rec. 172.
Haveing power to open thair grounds destroy thair policie woods houses and orchards
1672 Argaty Baron Ct. 13 July.
In breaking and abuseing his tries and polacie both fruit and baren
1674 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes No. 195.
John Diksone [etc.] … hes … cutted [etc.] … the haill grouane timber and polacie within … the fruitt yairds
b. 1531 Bell. Boece I 260.
The Pichtis spred fast in Athole and maid sindry strenthis and polecyis [M. sindry municionis and pollecyis] in it
Id. Livy I 29/4.
Eftir thai had vesyit the situacioun wallis and policyis [v.r. p[o]lecijs] of this new toun
Ib. 84/3.
To eik the commoun weill with thir and siclike policyis [v.r. polecijs]
1541 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 507.
The biggingis, woddis, yardis, hegeis, gardingis, stankis, dykis and conyngharis and uthiris policyis of the place
1562-3 Winȝet I 128/17.
Quhy hef ȝe wappit doun the monasteriis, and principal policeis of this realme
1568 Cal. Sc. P. II 532.
Quhat distructioun of polyceis in casting doun cathedrall kirkis
1573 Sempill Sat. P. xxxix 17.
1574 Cal. Sc. P. V 48.
1655 Bruces of Airth App. cxi.
Ane sufficient mansioun with hall chalmer kitching douckat & uther policies necessar correspondent to the ground

c. An amenity or improvement of a town. 1680 Edinb. B. Rec. X 418.
Edinburgh … is destitute of such ane usefull pollicie as ane exchange

7. a. Polish of manners, refinement, cultivation, civilisation. b. Polishing or refining of manners.a. 1513 Doug. viii vi 11.
With ane kynd of men … Quhilkis nowder maneris had nor polecy [L. neque mos neque cultus]
1596 Dalr. I 9/19.
In this north parte [of Scotland] ar sum prouinces sa plentifull and of gretter ingines, that throuch thair policie thay … excel mony in the south
Ib. 131/8.
His people … alluttirlie rude and without all policie and ornat maneris [L. rudes, nullaque morum elegantia politos]
1633 Acts V 73/2.
And his majestie being movit … with ane earnest love of incres of policie and having thairwith ane speciall regaird to … educatioun
b. 1596 Dalr. I 160/10.
Plutarchie sa artificiouslie quha could illustir histories and was sa notable in the policie dekking and outset of maneris and honestie

8. Personified and fig. 1528 Lynd. Dreme 863.
It is deficill ryches tyll incres, Quhare polycie makith no residence
Ib. 966.
Als, in the oute ylis and in Argyle, Unthrift, sweirnes, falset, pouertie, and stryfe Pat polacey in dainger of hir lyfe
1572 Sat. P. xxxiii 19.
My [Scotland's] bodie was weill cled with policie
Ib. 82.
Particular weill hes spulȝeit policie
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 68.
Fair virgynnis … callit … Justice and Policie
c1600-1633 Johnston MS Hist. in Mill Mediæv. Plays 190 n.
Thrie fair virgines callit Luiff, Iustice and Policie

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"Policie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 May 2022 <>



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