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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).

Sabill, Sable, n.2 and adj. Also: -yl(l; -ell. [ME (1352) and e.m.E. sable, OF sable (15th c. in Godefroy); appar. f. Sabill n.1]

A. noun. 1. Black, as a heraldic colour. c1450-2 Howlat 356 (A).
In a feild of siluer … Ane egill … All of sable the self
1494 Loutfut MS 14b.
And sum sais that al coulouris ar subiect to sable quhilk representis the blak for in al myrk place all coulouris ar blak
Ib. 146b.
He beris endent perbend asure & sable
c1550 Lynd. Test. Meldrum 107.
My baner … Of siluer schene thrie otteris into sabill
1561 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III 502.
The armes … as fallowis Azur thre beirheidis siluir mussalit sable [etc.]

2. The colour black; also sabill blak, blak sabill.Freq. as a symbol of care or mourning. Only in verse.(1) a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 20.
Baneris … of siluer and sabill
1492 Myll Spect. 297/18.
Ane … twme purs and ane pair of beidis of sabill
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 418.
My clokis thai ar caerfull in colour of sabill
Id. G. Targe 126. Ib. (OUP) 111/7.
For him, allace, now may thow weir the sabill Sen he is gon, the flour of chevelrie
Ib. 176/19.
Nycht als blak as sabill
1513 Doug. vii Prol. 167.
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2.
Thov lytil quair of mater miserabyll, Weil auchtest thou couerit to be with sabyl
1528 Id. Dreme 81, etc. 15.. Clar. iii 223.
All of sabill salbe myne aray Whill ȝe returne
Ib. 259.
Never … scho … wore ane hew bot ane, And that was sabill, signe of steidfastnes
a1568 Scott ix 29.
Ane sure hairt set in to sabill, Ane wofull hairt, bot gif ȝe rew
(2) a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 221.
Venus … cled in ane nyce array, The ane half grene, the vther half sabill blak
1570 Sat. P. x 11.
Than come Dame Dreming, all clad in blak sabill, With sweyning nymphis in cullouris variabill

b. Blackness, darkness. c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 433.
And as the new mone … Kythis quhilis her cleir face through cluddis of sable
Ib. (OUP) 142/56.
The purpour sone … Doing all sable fro the hevynnis chace
Ib. 191/2.
Sabill [R. sabell]
a1568 Bann. MS 238b/12.
Nor lat no sable frome ws thy bewty hyd

B. adj. 3. Black; dark (of clouds, etc.).Only in verse. c1500 Fyve Bestes 87.
In colour sabill
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 447.
According to my sable weid I mone haif sad maneris
Ib. (OUP) 60/2. 15.. Dunb. App. xi 26.
This vale of bale … Ourdirkit with the sable clud nocturn
1513 Doug. xi xi 140.
Opys … Persand the ayr with body all ourschrowd And dekkyt in a watry sabill clowd
Ib. xiii Prol. 38.
The nycht furthspred hir cloke with sabill lyst
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1416. a1568 Scott xiv 4. 1604-31 Craig i 18.
England … now weaires the sabill weede
1647 in Melvill lxxi.

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"Sabill n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 Aug 2022 <>



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