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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Self, pron., adj., n. and prefix. Also: selff, self(f)e, selfin, salff, selve, selvyn, -in, -en, selwyn, sel(l, sa(i)ll, (seliff, sellf, salf, schelf, shell, seill). Pl. selfis, -es, selves, sellis, salvis, (selfues, sellwes). [ME and e.m.E. sylf (a1175), selve, sulue (both Layamon), seolf (a1225), self (c1250), selff (c1460), sill (1516), OE self str., selfa wk. Cf. ON sjálfr.]Varr. of himself, etc. are given in brackets.

A. pron. and pronom. adj. In emphatic use, in apposition to a noun or pronoun (= L. ipse).

1. With noun. = Himself pron., Hirself pron., Myself pron., Our-self pron., etc. a. Following the noun.Also with inflected pl.sing. c1475 Wall. xi 135.
v malwaris als, that Wallace selff with met
1554–5 Treas. Acc. XII xlii.
And thairfore ar to be pait be my lord thesaurar self
c1556 Melrose Reg. Rec. III 242.
The salt pannis … payit to the plaice and careit be the plaice self
1562-3 Winȝet II 43/20.
That [Christ] … mot be the body self, the man self, and the self persoun of the man, nocht a fenȝeit, bot a trew persoun
1573 Sempill Sat. P. xxxix 107.
The larum rang, the regent self wes thair
1587 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 117.
Vnder the pan of punding the pouchis to the officeris selff
1596 Dalr. I 1/4.
The original beginning institutions lawis and preclair actes of the natione selfe compendiouslie to sett doune
1596 Dalr. II 216/29.
Quhen the king selfe was … gairdet with a court of twa thousand horsmen
1596 Dalr. I 7/12, etc. 1622-6 Bisset II 160/7.(b) 1560 Rolland Seven S. 2440.
The knicht heiring the stane fall in the well, Beleuit weill it was the lady sell
a1649 Drummond II 268/12.
Mor fit for Phǫbus Bay then Phebus sel
pl. 1596 Dalr. I 14/13.
Silurie sum tyme a weirlie peple … and rebellious to the Romanis selfes

b. Preceding the noun. Also, modifying a proper noun, without the def. art.(1) a1400 Leg. S. v 197.
And rane als and the self ayr clere
a1400 Leg. S. v 217.
Na ȝet the self fend dredis he nocht
c1460 Vert. Mess 71.
Os Aurij sais that the mes is als worthi as the self ded and pascioune of Cryst
1490 Irland Mir. I 62/29.
In the blis eternale … we sall se clerelie the diuinite in the self and propir natur
c1500 Halyb. xxii.
With owt the defasans of the self som
1505 Lanark B. Rec. 14.
The saed balye … gaef heritabyll stat, sesing and possessione, be the self eyrd and stane, to Alexander Williamsone
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 164/4.
The sacrifice of the croce was nocht ane recordatioun of ony benefice bot it was the self benefice [etc.]
1562-3 Winȝet II 43/20 (see 1 a sing. above).(b) 1375 Barb. vii 126.
Thai persawyt be his speking That he wes the selwyn Robert king
(2) 1606 Birnie Kirk-b. xx.
Some former reasones … by the which self-Momus may see kirk-buriall blame vndenyablie induced

2. With possess. pron.: (My, etc.) own. 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 207.
I haue hasarid my self lyfe for the defence of Scotland
1632 Lithgow Trav. iv 158.
They cormandize at their selfe pleasures

3. absol. as pron. 1585 James VI in Holinshed Hist. Scot. (1808) 726.
A thing hurtfull to none, profitable for selfis, acceptable to God and vise in the sight of the varld
1649 Carstairs Lett. 58.
My reallest love to … your husband and selfe
proverb. a1663 Pappity Stampoy 48.
Self do, self ha

B. adj. = Sam(e adj., Samin adj.

1. a. Preceded by def. art. or demonstrative pron.(1) c1379 Cal. Charters Suppl.
In fre blancheferme fra heyn furth for the self peny the qvylke is nemyt before
a1400 Leg. S. iii 343.
The self oure That hym betresit the tratoure
a1400 Leg. S. iii 459.
And tharfor suld this latir mane … The self bittirnes taste of gall
c1420 Wynt. ix 386.
Rycht in to the selff tyme thare
c1420 Wynt. ix 1697, etc. 1456 Hay II 68/1.
Becaus he [sc. a knight] is of the self ordre that kingis ar of
1513 Doug. i Prol. 229.
On the self ryver of Touyr
1513 Doug. iv xii 72.
That … the sammyn swerd, bath tway, And the self hour [L. eadem hora] mycht haue tane hyne away
1513 Doug. x Prol. 31, 32.
The Son the self thing with the Fader is; The self substans the Haly Gaist, I wys
1513 Doug. x vi 115.
Furth haldand the self randoun as it went
1513 Doug. vii iv 140, etc. 1549 Lamb Resonyng 25/12.
Quhat sap come fra the rute, now sall ȝe heir the fruit of the self tre and branche
1579 Acts III 176/2.
Gif I sall say vtherwayis nor the self wordis my lord … spak to me
1596 Dalr. I 282/30.
The Pape causet [Johne Scot] … in the selfe clostir to be decoret with ane … monument
(b) 1513 Doug. xii ii 22 (Sm.).
The selfin [C. self] chance, Turnus, sall betyd me
(2) 1549 Lamb Resonyng 155/15.
That the actor allone sall propone the questioun … and also that selff actor sall pronunce the sentence
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3472.
For that self syn of sodomye
1588 King Cat. fol. 5.
This selff Father hes begottin the Sone æternallie
1632 Lithgow Trav. ix 387.
I neuer saw any of that selfe nation to begge bread

b. In collocation with ilke, samyn and verie for the purpose of emphasis. See also Sam(e)-self(f adj., Self-same adj. c1420 Wynt. viii 600.
Syn this ilke selffe duche In fe wes haldyn off the kyng
1562-3 Winȝet I 10/5.
To ȝet in vnfenȝetlie the veray selfis affectionis of oure myndis
1564–5 Perth B. Ct. 245 (20 Feb.).
The precept that he deliuerit in jugement wes the samyn self precept that Alexander Blair chalmerlane deliuerit to him
1596 Dalr. I 300/7.
In the verie selfe mamunt quhen thay war to joyne battell
1596 Dalr. II 156/19.
The Inglis … ran the forra into Scotland the verie selfe day quhen the trues wes tane

2. absol. With def. art.: The same (thing). 1531 Treas. Acc. VI 20.
For xv elnis blak satyn of Venyse … to be ane goune cuttit out with tway nervis of the selff to the king agane Ȝule
1533 Bell. Livy II 98/16.
Turne thir blesand flammes on the toun of ȝoure inemyis, and distroy Fidena with the flammes of the self [L. suis flammis delete Fidenas]
1561–6 Book of Assumptions in Orig. Par. II ii 428.
The rentall of the prebendrie of Than pertaining to Symond Blyth, quhilk sould pay yeirlie to him iiii lib., and serve the self

C. pron. as noun.

1. a. Preceded by possess. pron. and awin, and having the force of an emphatic personal pron.Cf. Nain-sell.For a further example see Hir pron. 1 d.(a) a1500 Rauf C. 636.
Gif thow will not seik him, my awin self sall
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 782.
He thinkis his aune self shall do for his dail
a1500 Seven S. 662.
[She] Gart baith thair watteris till him bring Of hir awne self & of the king
a1500 Seven S. 1508.
And his awne self the senatour
?a1500 Steel Roy Robert 40.
Thow sall answer haue Of my awin self accept the laif
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 860.
It is eith to till that thy awin self will
pl. ?c1500 Rathen Manual 28/2.
For thai foryet to do mercye to thair avin salvis
(b) 1584 Cal. Sc. P. VII 106.
I speak in presence of the gryt God I loved yow as well as my awin saill
(c) c1700 Fugitive Poetry II xli 1/1.
When her nain shell to Edinburgh went, She pe saw pony tings

b. (One's) own person, (one's) self.(a) 1488 Treas. Acc. I 95.
To the master houshaldis self
a1500 Seven S. 2527.
The empriouris self to kirk he past
1549 Treas. Acc. IX 336.
For foure craipis of hudis bocht and deliverit to my lord governoures self
1590 Warrender P. II 146.
Your majesties selff is the gretest frend I leipin in curt
1609 Crim. Trials III 65.
To beg the saming at your hiechness self
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 274.
Better be the happie mannis self, nor the happie mannis sonne
pl. 1560–1 Edinb. Old Acc. I 351.
To the masonis selfis in that wolk for thar drink silver v s.
1596 Dalr. I 7/13.
The woddes selfes nocht onlie proffitable to the vtilitie of timber … but [etc.]
(b) 1473 Treas. Acc. I 33.
Deliuerit to the qwenis selue … ij elne of vellus
pl. 1570 Bann. Memor. 74.
Your wisdomes selues that were auditoris thairto, can beir record
(c) c1594 Battle Balrinnes in Dalyell Sc. Poems of the 16th Cent. II 350.
They burnt the biggingis, tuik the store Syne slewe the peopillis sellis

2. The self. a. = Itself pron. itself, the same, with reference back to a preceding noun. Also, once, with coll. referent.(1) c1450-2 Howlat 356 (A).
[The eagle] All of sable the self, quha the suth leris
1460 Hay Alex. 343.
Swik of tressoun beswikis euir the self
a1500 Henr. Orph. 605.
[The spirit] To kene the self a styme it may nocht se
1490 Irland Mir. II 92/32.
For ilk maner of thing be werray natur lufis the self
1490 Irland Mir. II 92/35.
The fyr multiplyis the self als fer as it may
a1500 Seven S. 2660.
He … brocht it [sc. a raven] wp quhill it couth fle And help the self alswele as he
1533 Bell. Livy I 185/2.
The office of the wame is richt nobil and proffittabil to the remanent membris; for it nocht onelie nurissis the self, bot als nurissis all the laif of the membris
1558 Knox IV 540.
Any realme … or citie, that hath subjected the self to Christe Jesus
1562-3 Winȝet I 24/2. 1570 Bann. Memor. 56. 1558-66 Knox I 457.
Thair crewelty then began to discover the self, for the decrepit … fand no greater favouris in thair furye then did the strang man, who maid resistance
c1550-c1580 Art of Music 21b.
The secund rewill is that na noit may alter befoir ane noit more nor the self
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 117.
And this love is never idle, but it is ever uttering the self, either in ane effect or uther
1596 Dalr. I 44/18.
Thair the land bowing the selfe be litle and litle with a certane laich lout and bend with her bosum [etc.]
1611-57 Mure Dido & Aeneas i 470.
The subtle air … In solide substance did the self congeale
1670 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. II 464.
It was alleged that bastardy … proved the self
(b) 1389 Wemyss Chart. 23.
This endenture … euynlyke til all men wydin the seluyn berys wytnes
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 211 (C).
O thyng full mekill wirteous … Thrught Goddes ordynaunce … Stakke the seluen in the wall [L. se ipsum affixit in muro]. And … It has stonden thar ythandly
(c) a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 736.
Rule youth weill, and eild will rule the sell
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 179/617.
The enraiged dispaire quhich uith stroakis bleaheuid beatis the sell
(2) c1575 Balfour Pract. 88.
Fifteen hundreth tallon out of barrellis, in vesselis that fittis the self, is ane tun

b. Be the self, on its own; separately. Also with pl. referent.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii 688.
The selfe ȝerde opnyt wyde & be the self suelyt al That the fyr lewit
1549 Compl. 11/3.
This sort of instramentis var sellit to pure pilgryms that hed nocht mekil moneye to by ilk instrament be the self
1561 Reg. Privy C. I 180.
Assistence and ratihabitioun be the self, ar sufficient aneuch to gif us actioun
1561 St. A. Kirk S. I 133.
Quhilk is omittit heir becaws it is al wryttyn into ane buk be the self remanand wyth regester &c.
1569 Reg. Privy C. II 5.
Quhilkis degreis wer severallie louked on, and everie ane of thame be the self weyit and weill considerit
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 6.
The counsall … should keep ane register be the self of all things … concerning the quietnes of the Hielands
1643 Dunkeld Presb. I 328.
Necessar it is that the samyn [sc. kirk] be erected in ane paroche kirk to be served be ane minister be the selff
1650 Kingarth Par. Rec. 21.
Ther confessions are wryten at large in a scroll by the selfe
(2) 1567 Lanark B. Rec. 37.
That thair be na wobis of grej maid bot it be halding without ony hair amangis it and siklyk that the hair wobis be halding be the sall and na things amangis it

c. In the self, in itself, intrinsically; generated from or having its source in the thing referred to; also, specif., of legal actions or circumstances, requiring no further action. Also with pl. referent.(1) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 391 (D).
Which stede may trust or sekyr be … In the self wncorruptabile
1402 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 55.
Efter as the obligacion thar apon made proportis in the self and gif it hapnys the forsaid [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. viii 5534.
The swn all tyme wythowtyn were Is in the selff bath lycht and clere
a1500 Henr. Orph. 419.
This feynit fable … Quhilk in the self suppose it fenyeit be … Yit [etc.]
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 552.
All faith and lufe I promissit to thé, Was in the self fickill and friuolous
1490 Irland Mir. I 62/25.
The … gretnes of meryt cummys nocht of oure infirmite … bot of the gretnes of the werk in the self
1494 Loutfut MS 11a.
Air … is the maist noble elyment nixt eftir the fir for it is in the-self [F. en soy] subtell and penetratife
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 159/3.
The sacrifice on the croce was in the self all wayes perfyte
c1575 Balfour Pract. 13.
Gif the king annalȝeis … in his les age ony … landis … , and revokis the samin in parliament, the samin alienatioun is null in the self, and requiris na declairatour
1578 Acts III 109/2.
This present act … to be als valitt and sufficient in the selff … as gif [etc.]
c1550-c1580 Art of Music 5b.
Mud maior perfyt it is in the larg hawand thrie longis in the self contenit
(b) 1513 Doug. i Prol. 119.
Nocht for our tong is in the selwyn [Sm. selfin, Ruddim. seluin] skant Bot for that I the fowth of langage want
(2) 1498 Acta Conc. II 284.
Quhilkis lordis has remanit apone the decyding of al sic summondis … unto the tyme that thai cawsit the masaris to call at the tolbuth dur gif ony summondis war and nane couth be apprehendit for the quhilkis the sadis lordis … declaris … al sic summondis … desert in the selff
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 203/14 (M).
The theologgis sermon the fable off poetrye With owt guid lyff all in the salff dois de

d. For the selff, for the same (as was lost, etc.); to be for the selff, ? to be sold for the sum referred to. Only in Selkirk B. Ct. 1521 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 61.
Thome Johnson deliveris this gud in pleye betuix Rechert Yong and James Watson. The tinsel suld be equaly delt betuix thaim and the clath be amend gottin agayne, and geif it beis gottin agayne, the gud to serf for the selff
1526 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 81.
[The] prissourris prisit ane pot laid in wod to James Braidfut … to the sowme of xii s., and it be nocht loussit within xv dayis it is for the selff [pr. sellf]

e. Of the sell, of itself. 1570 Sat. P. xvii 143.
And so this realme … Sall now … , As Aiax wes, be vanquer of the sell

f. The self of it, = Itself pron. 1653 Binning Wks. 412.
He comes to forgive sin and to subdue sin; to remove the guilt of it and then the self of it
1665 Dunkeld Presb. II 62.
That I knew the airt of the physiognome of a loun, for ye know that a guiltie conscience bleaks the selfe of it

g. With reference to a person. Also proverb. where the person is implied. 1490 Irland Mir. III 4/11.
He [sc. God] falȝeis nocht to creat … grace quhen the persoune disponis the self and resauis the haly sacramentis
proverb. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 393.
Charitie begins at the self

D. With prefixes him-, etc., varr. of Himself pron. 2, Hirself pron., He pron. 3 a, Itself pron., My-self pron. 1, 2, Our-self pron. 1 b, Our-selfis pron. 1 a, b. 1517 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 41.
[He] protestit him seliff to be fre [of] the said Archibaldis challanch quhill a new arrestment
1563 Dysart Gleanings 18.
Schewing him seill wyling to pay he [sc. the minister] offerit to the said officiar his gown
1682 Kirkcudbr. Test. (Reg. H.) 22 Dec.
Escepting hir oun bodilie cloaths which shoe is to have for hir selve
a1500 Seven S. 2534.
The child befor his fader fell And than on kneis he spak his sell
1519 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 54.
We ordand that … ilk man meit his awine witell his selff
1686 G. Stuart Joco-Ser. Disc. 8.
He'll say to his sel, Yon's twa Tory tykes
c1600 Pont Cunningham 6.
It [supra the soyle] becomes verry troublesome to the travellers, being of it selve of a spongeous nature
1451 11th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. vi 25.
I my schelf witht myn avne hande gaf heritabil stat [etc.]
a1568 Bann. MS 84b marg.
I forbeir to decat [sic] my sellf my book to great personis
1651 Laing MSS 270.
Therfor thes ar onlie to exoner my salf befor the vorld
1442 (1444) Reg. Great S. 64/1.
The endenture maid … betwix … the lady oure moder and our salf on the ta part, and [etc.]
a1578 Pitsc. I 35/16.
We haue experience of the same daylie amangis ws our sellwes
1557 Facs. Nat. MSS III xl.
And mareattour sall declare oure selfues manifestlie innemies tharto

E. As a prefix.Most occurrences of self- as prefix are in compounds which are given separate treatment below.

1. In object relationship to a noun of action (cf. B 1 a above). 1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 1645.
Self liberatioun
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 1645.
Self redemptioun

b. With agent noun: Self-sinner, one who sins against himself. 1645 Rutherford Tryal Faith 130.
All that Christ converteth are self-sinners too, but Christ converteth not all sinners

c. With adj.: Self-strong, using one's own strength, failing to depend upon the strength of Christ. 1645 Rutherford Tryal Faith (1743) 391.
But I intend this that because Peter is self-strong and his flesh saith to Christ that Christ is mistaken … Belike, if he had bee[n] diffident of his own strength, and … trusted in the strength of an intercessor, he should not have been deserted

2. With p.p. in which self- denotes the agent: = By or for oneself, without the agency of another. a1649 Drummond I 28/2.
Sound hoarse sad lute true witnesse of my woe And striue no more to ease selfe-chosen paine

3. fig. In the nonce-compound self-work-justitiary, ? = a minister who in a quasi-legalistic manner observes the outward forms of worship, but without spiritual commitment. a1652 Dickson Psalms I (1653) 340.
There is a challenge of self-work-justitiaries, legalists, and formal ceremonialists, who did rest upon outward good behaviour, and upon the outward discharge of the ordinances

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"Self pron.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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