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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).

Sensibil(l, Sensible, adj. (adv.). Also: sensibel, sensable, sencible, senciblle, senceable, sansabale, censable. [ME and e.m.E. sensible (Chaucer), sensyble, sencyble (Trevisa), censible (c1400), sensibyll (1434-5), sensybul (1538), F. sensible (c1265 in Larousse), L. sensibil- that can be perceived by the senses.]

1. Capable of being felt or perceived by the senses. Also transf. 1490 Irland Mir. II 125/4.
Punicioun of the man is spirituale intellectual & inuisible and nocht corporale bodely na sensible
1490 Irland Mir. III 2/1.
The proper way … of knawlage … is first to knaw bodely sensible and visible thingis and be knawlage of thame tocum … to the knawlage of thingis spirituale
1490 Irland Mir. III 2/35.
That he suld recouer the spirituall grace … be the meyn of bodely and sensible thingis as the watter in the bapteme
1490 Irland Mir. III 6/6.
The bustis and weschel that contenis this hevinly medycyn ar the corporale formys and sensible of the sevin sacramentis
1490 Irland Mir. III 2/19. a1568 Bell. Bann. MS 8a/303.
Quhair flammis bald and mirknes ar sensibill
1551 Hamilton Cat. 17/2.
Of crisyme, quhilk is the sensibil signe or mater of confirmatioun
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed). 158/21.
The Lordis body was offerit vp apon the croce in the awin forme, visible and sensible
1562-3 Winȝet I 86/23.transf. a1599 Rollock Wks. II 497.
He lets them see His feet, and the print of the nails. … This is a sensible argument, and see how he demits that glorious body to their eyes and to their hands to be seen, to be touched

b. Evident or perceptible to the mind or feelings. 1456 Hay II 111/25.
The wit of … man is sa noble … that all thing God and nature has maid is till him sensible and savourable be way of reasoun
1623 Aberd. Council Lett. I 212.
So cleir sensibill and inevitabill evilles and inconveniences

c. Easy to perceive, evident. 1632 Aberd. Council Lett. I 351.
The increas … may caus the dollor to debaische without ony sensibill present loss

2. Of language, in various applications: Striking, forceful; having a powerful impact on the hearer or reader. 1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 4.
It is rudely set out in sensible and homely terms as it was received of my mouth
1609 Crim. Trials II 292.
With verie sensibill and forcibill reasons and causis of thair constant and confident affirmation that these missiues wer writtin be him
1617 Mill Mediæv. Plays 268.
That this speche [of welcome to the king] be deliuerit in sensible ticht and gude language
1617 Mill Mediæv. Plays 268.
And then in sensible & good language he sall sett furth his maiesteis awin prais

3. Acutely felt, markedly painful. 1551 Hamilton Cat. 29.
Nochtheles the ma commandis that a man brekis in this lyif … he salbe condemnit to mair sensible paine in hell according to the gravitie of his syn
1642 Soc. Ant. X 270.
This aspertione has bein very muche sensible to me wha haue leauet all my dayes passionet for my countrey

4. Capable of feeling sensation; alive, animate. 1549 Compl. 17/21.
Ther is nocht ane Scottis terme that signifeis al quyk sensibil thyng
1637 Rothes Affairs Kirk App. 200.
If the coatch had beene alse sensibill as the bishope was made fearfull, I am sure it would have cryed out with many a bitter lamentation

5. Responsive (to a physical stimulus, etc.); sensitive; vulnerable.(1) c1649 Crim. Trials III 599.
The Divellis marke … whairof thay war not sensible, nether came furth thairof any bloode
1650 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. LI (1975) 50.
Shoe was sensible in the chyne and shrinked
(2) 1648 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 92.
Finding the burding of … the saidis offices to be … werie prejudiciall to my health, perceaveing the samen daylie sensible to decay

6. Liable to be affected emotionally; capable of being stirred or moved by (of) (something). 1640 Annandale Corr. 299.
I ame to acquainte you with … the late losse of my father. I ame confident your lordship will bee very sensible of this newes, for hee truly did respect you

7. Conscious or aware of something (as good or bad). Also const. that, whither (something is or should be the case).(1) 1643 Acts VI i 51/1.
Being so thruchlie sensible of the growing evellis and miseries that are readie to overcome our sister kirk
1644 Baillie II 224. a1650 Row 7.
Sir David Lindesay his Satyre … whilk made the people sensible of the darknes wherein they lay
1652 R. Pitillok Short Brotherly Examination of a Sermon 5.
It were the duty for believers to be baptized when they become sensible of practick holinesse
1660 Craven Ch. in Orkney II 2.
[The king's letter] which the presbyterie did gladlie receive, being sensible of it as a mercie to have such encouragement
1660 Laing MSS 279.
And I may tak himself as wittnes what my actions and cariage hath been for him, quhich trewly I am so sencible of in respect of myself that [etc.]
1667 Kelso Baillie Ct. 33b.
Being sensible of the danger of fyre
1670 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes No. 77 (8 Nov.).
[Andrew McMillen deponed] that he sould cause Andro Richardsone be sensibill of the sclander
(b) 1689 Murray Lyon Hist. Lodge Edinb. 126.
He was sansabale off his falt
(2) 1660 Aberd. Council Lett. IV 34.
As for the customes the burrowes are not senceable or at laist had not soo just occatione too feir the prejeduce that we wilbe at if [etc.]
1670 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes No. 77 (8 Nov.).
[He heard him say] that he sould mak Andro Richardsone sensibill whither or not he gave him the shott
1677 Edinb. B. Rec. X 295.
The councill being sensable that the said Deacon Wilsone hes don the work upon the faith and trust of the good toune peyment [etc.]

b. Gratefully conscious (of a favour, etc.). 1641 Wemyss Corr. 51.
The Generall Assemblie … derected this letter to your maiestie as ane testiment of ther senciblle acknowledgment of your royall and religious favouris conferred wpone them
1662 Laing MSS 332.
What your lordship hes deserved … is weil knowin to us al, and we wald be verie ingrate if we war not sensibil of it
1676 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. XXXVIII 161.
I … who am sensibel of her kyndness … when I was a traveller

8. Characterised by commonsense; rational, reasonable, judicious. 1598 James VI Basil. Doron 180/1.
Lett the greatest pairt of youre eloquence consiste in a naturall, cleir & sensibill forme of the deliuerie of youre mynde
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 185/9.
Escheuing obscuritie & delyting euer to be plaine & sensibill
1659 Hist. Fragm. I 34.
She was a sensible mettled wooman
1666 Cromartie Corr. I 17.
Remember, my Lord, that albeit I have not manie qualificatione, yet that I am so censable as that I wold [sic] wreat in this kynd if it wer not trewth
1677 Aberd. Council Lett. VI 119.
They were sensible and promised to low the said dyck

9. As adv. = Sensibly adv. 1643 T. Davidson Rowan Tree (1949) 31.
He fand out the said mark betuix her schoulderis in the quhilk he did thrust ane lang preane … yet the said preane was nawayis felt sensible be the said Janet

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"Sensibil adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Aug 2022 <>



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