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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Pray, v.1 Also: praye, prai, pra(a, prey, pre, pry. P.t. and p.p. prayit, -id, -ed, praied, preyed; prayt(e, prait, preit; prayd(e, praid(e, prad. [ME preye(n (1310), preie(n, praie, prai (Cursor M.), p.t. preide (c 1290), preȝede (Wyclif), praid (Cursor M.), i-prayed (Trevisa), e.m.E. pray, prai, OF preier.]

1. a. tr. To pray to (God, a saint, etc., also the Devil), or b. intr. To pray to, till or unto God, etc., for something, to do something, etc., for (= on behalf of) a person, or without complement.a. (1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxv 148.
Na ȝet thi lyppis suld nocht be Opnyt to pray the Trinite
Ib. xliii 27.
Thane wald scho in hart God pray be hir ane, & til hyme say [etc.]
14.. Edinb. Univ. MS. La. ii 318.
Sic men our lord mekle prays
1619 Garden Elphinstoun 1180.
To pray the Lord he lears
(2) 1456 Hay I 165/8.
And pray God to help him ithandly
Ib. 249/27. 1513 Doug. viii iv 206.
Prayand thar goddis fortobe aggreabill
c1536 Lynd. Compl. Bagsche 19.
I pray God lat hym neuer do weill
15.. Clar. iii 186.
Oft prayand God preserve ȝour gudlieheid
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 456.
Do ye the likliest, and pray God to do the best
(3) a1400 Leg. S. xviii 1481.
For-thi, dere lady, I thé pray [: ay] That [etc.]
?1438 Alex. ii 2099.
Now pray I God and makis my mane That [etc.]
1456 Hay I 303/18.
Bot here he prayis to God mekely that [etc.]
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 140/23.
I pray the Fader that they be al ane as ve ar ane
(4) c1490 Irland Asl. MS. 79/23.
Prayand and requyrand God almychti of forgevenes
b. (1) a1400 Leg. S. xxi 880.
That prayt the puple increly That thai wald but ony delay Til Ihesu Crist al hartly pray
c1475 Wall. vi 102.
Pray we all to the makar abow
1490 Irland Mir. I 23/10.
He has nane hier than His self to pray to
a1538 Abell 10* a.
Sanctis we suld pra to for diuers rasonys
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2652.
Ymagreis, … Prayand to thame deuotlye on thare kneis
Ib. 2178, 2344. 1567 G. Ball. 99.
O Lord … quhen I pray vnto thy maiestie
(2) 1375 Barb. xi 380 (C).
To God for thair richt prayit thai
1551 Hamilton Cat. 61.
Prayand to him [God] devotely for his grace
(3) c1420 Wynt. iv 311.
He prayid till his god Appolyne To grawnt hym wyttyng [etc.]
1456 Hay II 55/18.
And prayde to God to help thame
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 792.
a1500 Rauf C. 331.
To Jesus Christ thay pray, that grace thame to len
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 1591.
I pray to Christ for to [etc.]
(4) a1400 Leg. S. xiv 84.
Wysely luk, I pray thé til That I one that auchtful day … Befor Hyme trastly ma apere
?1438 Alex. i 2948.
He … prayit to God intentifly That [etc.]
a1500 Seven S. 1615.
Ȝit will I tell & to God pray That it may proffet ȝow sum way
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lxxix 32.
Prayand to God gif I wer deid
(5) a1400 Leg. S. vi 294.
Bot I to God prais fore thé, That thu mycht ryse & luf vith oth[i]re
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 140/12.
Quhare He dide praye to the father of heawine for tham that euer vas to beleue in hyme

c. In complimentary imprecations, as in the salutation or valediction of a letter or document. 1543 Corr. M. Lorraine 34.
I praye God hayf your lordschip in his kypyne
1544 Ib. 77.
I pry God kep your mastership
1547 Ib. 181.
Praying God to conserff our masteres and your grace
1549 Compl. 8/12.
Prayand to God to preserue ȝour grace in perpetual felicite
c1550 Lynd. Test. Meldrum 206. 1554 Facs. Nat. MSS. III xxxvi. 1583 Wemyss Corr. 78. 1613 Highland P. III 128. c 1628 Annandale Corr. 280.
Loweing sonne, I pray God ye be weill

2. intr. or absol. To address a prayer to a deity.Also said of the public prayer offered before a congregation by the minister. a1400 Leg. S. xxxii 661.
Thane cuth scho faste wak & pray [: ay]
Ib. ii 227. ?1438 Alex. ii 4796.
Quhare he allane Was prayand into tempil Dyane
c1450-2 Howlat 866 (A).
Thus pray thai as penitentis
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. 42/25. Ib. 49/6. c1500-c1512 Dunb. xiv 6.
Sic pryd with prellattis, so few till preiche and pray [: day]
1513 Doug. x vii 150.
The god hys askyn hard as he dyd pray [: bra]
1533 Gau 32/31.
1535 Stewart 12424.
Fra mony tempill that tyme to and fra The preistis come to pater and to pra
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5551. 1551 Hamilton Cat. 279.
Thow suld thairfor pray as the kirk prayis, quhilk in the Latanyes prayis to God the father [etc.]
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xlvii 17, 19.
Quhen thow cummis in the kirk to pray [: ay] … Ȝit luik that thow ay prayand be Quhill that [etc.]
1600-1610 Melvill 24.
To pray in my hart, and mein my esteat to my God
1629 Boyd Last B. 360.
It is more difficile to pray than to preach
1691 Edinb. Kirk S. in Sc. Ant. XIII 72.
Baillie Bruce as eldest baillie desyred Mr. James Kirton to pray

b. To pray for or efter something, or that something take place.(1) 1490 Irland Mir. I 137/16.
For this consent prait … all the faderis in the lymb
a1500 Bk. Chess 1558.
And for this cause I praye for thi weilefaire
1513 Doug. iv viii 90.
Than suythly, the fey Dydo … eftir deth prayt [: affrayt]
1533 Boece 449 b.
To pray for pardoun of thare synnys
1537–8 Crim. Trials I i 206.
I … sall pray dailie for prosperite of ȝour nobill grace
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xxi 88.
For peax and iustice lat ws pray [: away]
(2) a1500 Henr. Fab. 1616 (Bann.).
To pray [: fey (= faith), day] That tressone of this cuntre be exyld
1513 Doug. x xiv 16.
Prayand full oft he mycht hym salfly se
(3) 1549 Compl. 133/17.
To gar our vyuis & bayrnis pray nycht and daye to send ane mischeif on hym
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. 130.
Mekilmair quhen he is in heuin he vill pray to forgiue thame

c. To pray for a living person or for the soul of a dead person.(1) a1400 Leg. S. ii 514.
Ȝet Stewene for thame euir can pray [: thay]
Ib. vii 207.
Prayand for thame increly & lovd
a1450 Fifteen Ois 82.
For thy vnfreindis thus thou prayit [: saide]
1456 Hay I 30/32, 302/18. a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 958.
Thus prais the king in affray For Gawyne the gude
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. 45/28.
That the persone praye for him self
Ib. 40/12. 1511–12 Treas. Acc. IV 184.
And for to pray for his grace
1533 Gau 15/19.
Thay that prais notht … for thair inimis
1562-3 Winȝet I 5/34.
The inuocationis of sanctis to praye for vs
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 236.
Na minister should pray in thair sermouns for the quene
1586–7 St. A. Kirk S. 583.
To desyre the minister … to pray publiclie for his hienes mother, for hir conversioun [etc.]
1586–7 Cal. Sc. P. IX 280.
(2) 1380 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 76.
Prayis for hym that deyt
1471 Ayr Friars Pr. Chart. 53.
And pra for the said Mathois saul and Katrin hys wyffis
c1475 Wall. xi 1359. 1498 Aberd. B. Rec. I 427. c1500-c1512 Dunb. viii 32. 1509 Glasg. Univ. Mun. I 45. 1526 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. I 155.

3. tr. a. To recite (a prayer). 1490 Irland Mir. I 165/5.
Ane orisoune that Galfryde Chauceire maid and prayit to this lady
1533 Gau 5/10.
Quhen he hes prait ane pater noster
Ib. 5/29.
Our lord Jhesus … lerit vs to pray it
Ib. 85/8.
Supos thay prayit this notht with the hart
1562-3 Winȝet I 129/6.
1596 Dalr. I 102/6.
Thay … pray thair beides

b. With the words of the prayer as obj. c1490 Irland Asl. MS. 46/9.
For the publicane prayit in the ewangell ‘Deus propicius esto [etc.]’

4. To imprecate (chiefly, maledictions or harm) for or to someone or something.(1) a1568 Bann. MS. 49 b/61.
All that thay prayit for him wes ill
1633 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. V 547.
And scho did curse and pray ewill for the guidis, and therafter the most pairt off them dieit [etc.]
(2) 1597 Elgin Rec. II 56.
Andro … confessit that he prayit mallesonis to the said Robert for [etc.]
1604 Ib. 123. 1630 Fraserburgh Kirk S. II 1 Sept.

5. tr. To ask, esp. earnestly, supplicatingly or as a favour, to beg or request (another, also to another) of (= for) something, to do something, etc., also without complement.(1) a1400 Leg. S. vi 507.
To hym com Mygdona & prayt hym of forgyvnes
1456 Hay I 185/6.
Prayand him of passage and of favour of lyfing till his folk for the cost
1460–88 Facs. Nat. MSS. II 61.
Praying him of gudely continuance
a1500 Seven S. 2540.
Than askit the child … Fader I pray ȝow of forgifnes
(2) 1375 Barb. xx 201 (C).
He prayit thame in hy till do The thyng that thai war chargit to
a1400 Leg. S. xv 62.
Thai … Quhat men thai war … prad thame to say
Ib. vii 526. c1400 Troy-bk. ii 989.
c1420 Wynt. viii 2373.
To pray this pape … In thir injwrys to set remede
1424 State P. (Reg. H.) No. 14.
Yhe pray vs to len to yhw a soume of gold [etc.]
1428 Liber Melros II 521.
And than bath the pertis praide thaim and gafe thaim in charge to do furth
c1450-2 Howlat 256 (A).
He prayit [B. prait] the pape To call the clergy [etc.]
Ib. 664, 854. 1456 Hay I 63/23.
The lady his wyf … prayand him to hald him in at prayeris and contemplacioun for that a day
Ib. 118/7.
Than pray I ȝow to behald in ȝour mynde [etc.]
Ib. 224/15. 1456–70 Liber Aberbr. II 108.
We deyn Malcolm abbot … prays yowr nobylle lordschipys … tyl intend auisytly tyll owr said complaynt
a1500 Rauf C. 282. 1482 Lennox Mun. 122.
His hienes haith prait and chargit him … to remayne and awayt apoun his persoun
a1500 Seven S. 2411. 1523 St. P. Henry VIII IV i 14.
[He] thanket tham of ther monyfaild kindnes … and preit tham so to contenewe
1533 Bell. Livy I 261/2.
And … all vice evanissing, he prayit the pepill to suffir this Ceso to leif in the ciete quhil [etc.]
1540 Lynd. Sat. 265.
Pray my lady pryores The swth till declair, Gif [etc.]
1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 91.
Preand yow to advertis me off the sam
1568 Mary in Ellis Orig. Lett. 1 Ser. II (1824) 253.
Y … pres ȝou to du the lyk
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xvi 19.
All burrowis townis euerilk man ȝow prayis [: playis, wayis, dayis, galayis] To mak bainfyris [etc.]
c 1597 James VI in Salmon Borrowstounness 30.
1604 Dundee Shipping P. 79.
Quhar y pray yow mest ernestllay to tak may caws in hand
c1610 Melville Mem. 17.
(3) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 1016.
And preyed to say hem hys entent
(4) 1375 Barb. i 418.
And prays ȝow par cheryte, That ȝe resave her his homage
a1400 Leg. S. ii 204.
Thre knychttis … Praide hym ȝarne he wald tham sa [etc.]
Ib. xvi 503.
Ib. ii 1020, xxi 878 (see 1 b (1) above). c 1390 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 19.
And we pray yhow tendirly alsa that yhe gerre quit owre obligacion of xl l.
?1438 Alex. ii 10729.
I pray thé [Gaudefeir] for the lufe of me That the Bauderane delyuerit be [etc.]
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 616.
For-thy the Kyng Pryame they pray That [etc.]
Ib. 42. 1445 Aberd. B. Rec. I 13.
Oure will is, and we pray yhou effectuouslie, and alsa chargis that yhe assist … the said oure seruitoure in [etc.]
1490 Irland Mir. I 16/8.
I pray richt humylly the lecture that he reid this buk with cherite
1497 Lennox Mun. 346.
We exhort and prais ȝow … that ȝe mak the said Niniane … constabill
15.. King Berdok 39.
Than Jupiter prayit to god Saturn In liknes of ane tod he wald him turn
1549 Compl. 93/33.
Prayand to them of Gabine that thai vald be [etc.]
1559 Cal. Sc. P. I 251.
1566 Facs. Nat. MSS. III lii.
Quhairfoir I pra you for my saik and for the gentilwomannis awin saik … that ye uill not faill [etc.]
1588 Soc. Ant. IV 425.
I pray your l. will writ unto me at lenyth [etc.]
(5) 1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 229.
Ane man … bayd Jhone Wemmis pray my lord gyf he mycht enschew to cum away on hors bak
(6) ?1438 Alex. i 345.
Thow lufis me nocht that sa me prayis [: neid-wayis]
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 116.
To prise hym forthir to pray [: way, nay] It helpis na thing
1567 G. Ball. 38.
And than come furth his father kynde And prayit him rycht feruentlie

b. With an imperative clause, the expression I (also we) pray thé, ȝou, ȝour grace, etc., adds polite emphasis or deference to the request.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xxx 128.
I pray thé, sir, thu tel me quhy [etc.]
Ib. xxxviii 261.
Scho … sad til hyme angrely: I pray ȝow, herknes here
c1420 Ratis R. 740. c1420 Wynt. vi 1245.
Dame, Bryng wp this barne now, I pray thé
1456 Hay I 77/22.
And thairquhyne cumis this? I pray thé redare tell me
Ib. 77/27. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 19643.
Ȝe worthe readeris richt hartlie I ȝow pray Quhen ȝe it reid ȝe help it thar ȝe may
a1500 Rauf C. 59.
I pray thé bring me to sum rest
a1500 Henr. Fab. 39 (H).
I pray ȝour reuerence … Correct it at ȝour willis gratious
c1475 Wall. i 446.
Deyr cusyng, pray I thé, Quhen thow wantts gud, cum fech ynewch fra me
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lv 31. 1513 Doug. i Prol. 126.
I pray ȝou note me nocht at euery word
Ib. ii i 65.
Lippyn nocht, Troianys, I pray ȝou, in this hors
1540 Lynd. Sat. 1502. 1566 Anderson Collect. Mary I 46.
Quhat other thing ȝe think mete to be done … we pray ȝow latt us understand
c1600 Montg. Suppl. iv 41. a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xxi 1. 1604-31 Craig iii 27.
My lasure serues not yet, I pray thee stay
c1610 Jok Uplandis Newis 1.
I pray ȝow then tell us one Jok Such as ye heir
1615 Denmylne MSS. in Highland P. III 222.
I pray your lo. gett me lisence to [etc.]
1619 Fam. Innes 210. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1024.
Lass let the lade alane I pray yow
(b) 1513 Doug. xii ii 7.
Turnus, said scho, … Be thir ilk wofull terys I thé pra [: Amata] … , I thé beseik a thyng … , Desist … to mach Troianys in fight
1549 Corr. M. Lorraine 296.
Quhar for I pra your grace caus the leutenand wyth the garisonis to sped tham our
a 1589 Maxwell in Paisley Mag. (1828) 382.
Gwide schiris, I ȝow praa, Tak dewchane dorus or ȝe ga
(c) 1540 Lynd. Sat. Procl. 271.
On Witsonetysday cum see our play I prey ȝow [: to say ȝow]

6. tr., intr. and absol. To beg, request or petition, for something, that someone do something or that something be done, or without complement.(1) a1400 Leg. S. ii 215.
Thane thai prait he wald ga Quhare sa hym leste
Ib. xvi 502.
Pytuisly the prince can pray, That thai hyr kest nocht in the se
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 2736.
c1475 Wall. i 330.
Scho prayde he wald to the lord Persye went
a1500 Bernardus 91.
Quhilk to discomende Thi purs thé prayis to spende as thow may wyne
1560 Rolland Seven S. Prol. 176.
Praying hartlie this tale in patience tak
Ib. 81.
Sa for hir spous the empreour sone scho send With humbill hart and inwartlie praying, That he wald cum to hir
1690 Laing MSS. I 468.
But therefore it is humbly praied that your majestie will give ordour for [etc.]
(2) a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 789.
Than Schir Gawine the gay Prayt for the iournay, That he myght furth weynd
a1500 Rauf C. 880.
Thy self maid me neuer sa affraid, That I for souerance wald haue praid
(3) a1500 Seven S. 2751.
Than prayit the child to mak a paus
(4) c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 482.
Sum plenis and sum prayis, sum prasis mi bewte
1560 Rolland Seven S. 4474.
Ȝit not the les Sa inwartlie ȝe pra [: thairfra] [etc.]
(5) c1475 Wall. i 392.
Gentill men gif ȝe be, Leiff ws sum part, we pray for cheryte

7. a. tr. With the thing requested as object: To request.Also const. indirect obj. pron. of the person to whom the request is addressed.(1) ?1438 Alex. ii 2525.
Thre thingis I pray thé
Ib. 3386.
This pray I ȝow with all my mycht
a1568 Scott xiii 35.
This I ȝow pra, for ȝour he excellens
(2) 1562-3 Winȝet II 76/13.
Quha intendit and prayt na wther thing, bot that the noueltie being strampit doun

b. To beg for (a thing); const. of (= from). c1600 Montg. Suppl. iv 50.
Lyke as it is the lizairtis kynd Of mannis face to pray hir fude

8. intr. To plead or make earnest supplication (to someone) for or on behalf of another. a1400 Leg. S. vii 532.
Thu suld ded be, Na ware thi frend prayte for thé
Ib. x 179.
Gyf na ware that I Had prayt to myn lord for ȝov [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. viii 6051.
Ay qwhill the Stwart off Scotland … Prayid for hym sa ythanly

9. tr. To request as an answer to a question, to ask deferentially, to inquire. a1400 Leg. S. x 124.
Thu Goddis seruande I thé pray Quhow thu all lede spek cane

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"Pray v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Apr 2024 <>



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