A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)
Spar(e, Spair(e, v. Also: spayr(e, spear, sper(e, speir, spier. P.t. and p.p. also spard, spaird, etc. [ME and e.m.E. sparie(n (c1205), spar(e (Cursor M.), spare(n (a1325), spare (Caxton), OE sparian. Cf. MLG, MDu. sparen, ON spara.] Chiefly negative.
1. tr. To allow a person to live, to leave unharmed, to allow to go free; to refrain from inflicting punishment on, to fail to punish, to show leniency to, passing into next.
(1) Oure goddis mercyful are, That [t]hé sparyt has sa lang, Thocht thu haf done thaim gret wrang; Leg. S. xxxiii 597.
Dyng of hir to haf mercy That thi wikit e hire spaire; Troy-bk. ii 861 (D).
Peleus … prayit Pirrus … To spaire Acastrus; Troy-bk. ii 2609.
Sum faderis ar sa … wayke spiritit, that thai coud nocht … chasty thair barnis, quhilk norist thair barnis ay the mare in vicis quhen thai saw thai war sparit; Hay I 68/18.
Litill … war worthe the privilege, gif he suld spare my persone, and dryve my gudis, and prisoune my servandis; Hay I 240/28.
Our lang thow has beyn spard; Wall. xi 390.
It was euer familiare to the Romane maieste to spare thare subiectis; Boece 216b.
Thy wrathe on us is kendlit bauld … spair us Lord, Maist humelie we desyre; ?1578 Anal. Scot. I 273.
Thought that I [sc. Death] thé for a tyme hes spaird To waist with woe thy ouercummed corpse, Ȝit [etc.]; Fowler I 236/19.
William Young … accusit for selling of drink on the Sabbothe … becaus this is the first tyme he is spairit; 1592–3 Elgin Rec. II 28.
The Lord … sparit hir [sc. his wife] for a speciall wark of comfort to me; Melvill 139.
[He prayed a short word, and had these expressions three times] Lord, spare the green, and take the ripe; a1680 Hay Fleming Six Saints I 232.
(2) The gud king thar folowit then With [fyve hunder] that wapnys bar That wald thar fayis na thing spar; Barb. viii 336.
He strake and fellit and mony hes slane; Quhome euer he hit, he sparit nane; Alex. ii 1702.
Off elde, na kynd, nane sparyd thai; Wynt. viii 1842.
Spare never thine inymy quhill thou be first maister of him; Hay II 152/26.
Quhen … counsale … Has ordanit strate justice na man to spair; Regim. Princ. 269 (Marchm.).
Wes nane sa big about him [sc. the wolf] he wald spair And he war hungrie, outher for fauour or feid; Henr. Fab. 1955.
Nisbet Rom. xi 21 (see 3 below).
He [sc. God] sparit notht his aune sone, bot gaiff hime for his al; Gau 41/13.
Gif thow hes hap now hit hir on the heill And spair hir nocht; Rolland Seven S. 8045.
We ar resolut not to spair thame in setting the veritie to thair leyis; 1568–9 Anderson Collect. Mary IV ii 186.
God, who from the begyning has punished the contempt of his word, … shall not spair you; Knox II 362.
Let the execution declare that no man is spared for feed nor favor; R. Bruce Serm. 355.
Panis will be for me prepairitt; I sell nocht houp for to be speritt, That has thai dedlie wraithe deserwitt; Montg. Suppl. v 45.
(3) Thai sparyt, off na degre, Thaim that thai trouit his freynd wa; Barb. iv 10.
A … tyrande, that sparit nane That trewit in-to Cristis lay; Leg. S. xxxiii 360.
Wallace … The bludy knyff bar drawin in his hand, He sparyt nane that he befor him fand; Wall. i 232.
King Edward … raisit his armie, inuadand Scotland maist cruelly, … spairand nane that wald nocht be obedient to him; Charteris Wall. Pref. 165.
— Ilkane stekyd othire, sparand nothire fadyre na brodyre; Wynt. iv 818.
Nether spairing auld nor ȝoung; Pitsc. I 123/20.
The Danes … spairet nouther ordour, kynd, or age; Dalr. I 279/20.
Nather intending to spayre thair ordinar nychtbours or … kynnisfolks; Hist. Jas. VI (1825) 79.
b. With non-material subject, const. negative: To fail to affect, to leave untouched.
He [sc. Death] sparis no lord for his piscence, Na clerk for his intelligence; Dunb. (OUP) 179/33.
I se that makaris … gois to graif, Sparit is nought ther faculte; Dunb. (OUP) 179/47.
O dreidfull dragoun [sc. Death] with thy dulefull dart, Quhilk did nocht spair, of feminine the flour; Lynd. Depl. Magd. 16.
Thir thre … To ilk man geuis … his fatall weird … None leuand spairis; Rolland Ct. Venus ii 642.
It [sc. the punishment of sinners] is no sentence be man debaittabill, It nowthair sparis king nor empriour; Lauder Minor P. i 43.
Love … Not sparing ony age Of cazard, king, nor page; Montg. Misc. P. xiv 42.
c. To allow (a person or persons) to go free from criticism, the publication or implication of their names, etc.; not to criticise, etc.
Quhy cal ȝe ws … for the vseing of the samin [names] Papistis, and sparis in that part the hail Kirk afoir ws? Winȝet I 93/15.
Quhairin na stait he spairit, bot stoutlie schew thame, How thay baith God and man had sore offendit; Charteris Lyndesay Pref. Adhort. (STS) 25.
Thear arays swme debait betuix him and his eldest sone be the instigatione … chiefly of neir kinsmen quhom I do spair in this place; 1611 Reg. Panmure I xxxvi.
A learned man … whose name I wished altogether to have spaired; 1638 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 149.
Knowing Mr. Melvill to be ane bold, plaine, and frie speaking man, and of ane hote and fyrie spirit, sparing no flesh; Row 285.
d. To refrain from sexual activity with.
He that his wif nocht that tyme [sc. of menstruation] sparis … Forsuth he synnis than dedly; 14… Edinb. Univ. MS La.ii.318.
He nocht allanerlie deflourit wirginis & matronis bot als sparit nocht his awne sistiris and douchteris; Abell 69b.
Jonet Brunto, beinge accusit as ane commun harlot, nocht sparand na man; 1612 Inverness Rec. II 97.
e. To allow (a person) to be exempt from (a task or duty), to make an exception for. Also, once, reflex.
His sirvand or him self may nocht be spard To swynk or sueit; Henr. Fab. 2751 (Bann.).
The Session thinks fit to take their oathes. Barbara Dun being but young she is spared; 1697 Penninghame Par. Rec. I 7.
reflex. He him sparit nakyn thing, Bot prufit swa his fors in ficht, That [etc.]; Barb. v 362.
f. To refrain from taking (a person's life); not to execute; to allow to live.
Also with non-material subject. Also transf.
Because he wes younge … the king spairit his lyff and committed him to perpetuall presoun; 1537 Crim. Trials I i 196.
Yf the civile sweard foolischelie spair the lyeff of the offendar; Bk. Disc. 248.
In the threscoir yeer of his aige … giu God haid spairit his lyf quhill that day; 1585 Strathendrick 158.
To sie if … deathe hir lyfe would spair; Fowler I 82/134.
The personis of those men whose lyves ar spaired salbe saiflie keept and maid furthcomeand; 1610 Crim. Trials III 109.
transf. God spear my dayes, with rest in his Kirk; Melvill 10.
g. ellipt. Of circumstances: To allow (something) to happen.
As the Apostillis did … Thay creat ministeris all quhair, Quhair euer quyetnes wald spair; 1573 Davidson in Sat. P. xlii 590.
2. To forgive (a person (of) their sins). Also absol. b. quasi-intr. Const. till a person or their sin.
Thow, that on rude ws ransomit … Spair our trespas; Dunb. (STS) lxx 27.
There is ane prouerb that sais parce sepulto, … spair hym that is in his sepulture; Compl. 127/27.
I pray thé … that thou spair me of quhat sum euir I haue synnit; Arundel MS 240/62.
Mak me throu thy lufe that I spair all thaim that dois me ill; Arundel MS 240/66.
absol. I lefit nocht thane myn syne, … & in that case nane wald spare; Leg. S. xviii 558.
The prowest and baillies … considerit his allegeance to be trew … thairfor wald spair and continew the saidis Robertis residence within this burcht; 1580 Inverness Rec. I 288.
Howbeit for a tyme he [sc. God] spair, … he will avenge the cryes of his elect; 1606 Melvill 651.
‘Gratious Prince!’ quod he, ‘Proue pitifull and spair, (Since that my cryme come bot be chance, And was involuntare)’; Garden Elphinstoun 1224.
b. [They] thowcht to thole hym no mar, na till his fellony mar to spar; Leg. S. ii 834.
For-thi to God ay lowynge be, That thru the sparand is to wrak Of synful, that wil pennance tak; Leg. S. xviii 733.
Takand sum vthire … Sparand til his as in wislyng, That scho de nocht sa fule a dede; Leg. S. xxxiii 121.
Pepill … quhilk eitis menis fleche, … and sparis nothir till thar frendis na till vtheris; Prester John fol. 311.
3. To abstain from destroying or damaging (land, a town, a resource, etc.); not to injure (a part of) the body.
Na sal it be lefful … thar awyn landis to spare and othir mennis landis to wast; Acts I 11/2.
The Grekis occupyis haly—al is tharis, Quhat so thame lyst tospil is nane that sparis; Doug. ii viii 124.
God sparit nocht the kindlie brannches or perauenture nouthir he spaire thee; Nisbet Rom. xi 21.
Cattell and corne and insicht [they] sparit nocht; Stewart 13694.
Provyding always that the conyngis and lapronys be sparit betuix [supra Fastronevyn] and Alhallowmes; 1555–6 Edinb. B. Rec. II 231.
God … Quha be his deith did ws restoir … Nocht karing nor sparing His body to be rent; Maitland in Bann. MS 14a/193.
The … emperour seing the luffing behaviour of the nobill wemen … for thair cause sparide [pr. sparise] the towne; Leslie 5.
The Earle of Huntlie … brunt wpe all the ane syde of the toune … bot spairit the wther syde be ressone ane part thairof perteinit to his favoraris; Pitsc. I 100/2.
He strake himself twise … in the craige … but by the providence of God, his thropple was spaired; Calderwood VII 160.
4. To avoid, desist from, forbear using ((a part of) oneself, one's equipment, resources, etc.), freq. implying a failure in effort or application. b. With non-material object.
Burssiuale richt fast him bair, His feit he sparit na thing thair; Alex. i 2964.
Maugre haue he that spares his baines Till the great hoste be rushit anes; Alex. ii 287.
Thayr wes na spurris to spair, spedely thai spring; Gol. & Gaw. 305.
To wyn our awin my selff I neuir spard; Wall. x 767.
This nobill toun That for to do thé honnour did not spair Thair geir, riches, substance and persoun; Dunb. (OUP) 137/67.
He spairis nother landis nor guddis to draw all the legis in all partis to concord; 1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 238.
Lat neuer spair the poulder nor the stanis; Lynd. Test. Meldrum 185.
God his wand no more wald spair Bot on thame he wald wyrk vengence; Lynd. Mon. 1318.
Thair wes na paynis left nor hors flesche sparit; Buch. Indict. 43.
proverb. He that spairis the wand heats the bairne; Carmichael Prov. No. 809.
b. Sparand the law for frendschip luif or feyd; Regim. Princ. 185 (Maitl.).
Syn thai spak more spedelie and sparit no matiris; Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 40.
It is maist convenient and best to spair puneisment for the said cryme; 1553 Reg. Privy C. I 141.
To obey you my deir luife I spare nouther honor, conscience nor gretnes; 1568 Anderson Collect. Mary IV ii 73.
It micht be hir pleasour to spair onye fordar proceding whill [etc.]; 1586 Rait & Cameron King James's Secret 78.
He will spair no hazarde nather of croun or lyf; 1588 Laing MSS 76.
c. To refrain from doing something, to forbear, omit, hesitate or fail to do.
(a) Scho sparyd noucht thare fete to weysche; Wynt. v 3917.
Men, and barnys and women, It [sc. the plague] sparyd noucht for to kille; Wynt. viii 6440.
Threfe caikis … scho sparit nocht Haboundantly about hir for to deill; Henr. Fab. 283 (Bann.).
For all his spech, to pas he wald nocht spar; Wall. ix 1019.
Scho … sparit nocht for his presens To sla the hound; Seven S. 1450.
He sparit neuer for to spend Quhill of his gudis he maid ane end; Seven S. 875.
Malicious persouns, … hes nocht sparit to traduce me; 1585 Misc. Bann. C. I 111.
He sparet nocht to speik hardilier and proudlier than ony way was decent a subiecte to the king; Dalr. II 72/23.
I hawe not sparid to lay opin to yowe the … waiknes of all my estats; James VI Basil. Doron App. 306.
The abvse … be the seamen dreawers vha sparit not to goe to the dreawe vpon the Sabbath afternoone; 1642 Crail Kirk S. 9 July.
The advocats … who spared not to utter their privat sentiments; 1682 Lauder Observes App. iv 306.
I need not spare to tell you that I have raised my letters of horning; 1696 Cunningham Diary xxxvi.
proverb. He that spares to speak, spares to speed; Ferg. Prov. No. 307.
(b) He suld spedely speike and spair nocht to spell; Howlat 99 (A).
My preterit tyme I wald nevir spair Plesans to put in to that mowth; Kennedy in Bann. MS 268a/10.
Addres thy body baldly and not spayr Forto recontyr alone thyne aduersar; Doug. xi vii 185.
Spair not for to brek the lokkis; Lynd. Sat. 1657 (B).
Spair not to gif thame all ane syse, Quhome ȝe beleif the king did sact; 1567 Sat. P. v 51.
Goddis hand can not long spayr in his anger, to stryck the head and the taill; Knox II 338.
Fergus spaires not be wearing the Duke's cote to avow him ȝit his man; 1572 Cal. Sc. P. IV 256.
Yf there be defaultis in the qualities of our wairdens we will not spair to put better in thair places; 1593 Warrender P. (SHS) II 212.
Tha spairet not to tak a pray … out of the midcuntrie; Dalr. II 205/30.
I vill not spair to … perform all lefull offices of kyndnes; Colville Paraenese Ep. 4.
I spair to truble your highnes with … naymes [sc. of two executed criminals]; 1609 Highland P. III 117.
That a young man … had motioned that matter to him … but spaired to treate with him thairanent whill this daye; 1623 Aberd. Council Lett. I 204.
(c) Spier; 1566 Irons Leith II App. 616.
d. Const. to (a person) and pres. p.: To refrain from doing.
Thai [sc. aldermen] sal swere … that thai sal nocht spare to na man doand lauch [A. spar to do rycht til all mene]; Burgh Laws c. 79 (B).
e. ellipt. To refrain from an action.
Zozoma, spar for Godis sak, For I ma nocht me turne to thé; Leg. S. xviii 264.
Quhene … of it [sc. the temple] til in the ȝarde I wes cummyne, I ne spard; Leg. S. xviii 572.
Floridas straik, and wald nocht spare; Alex. ii 4096.
With the spurris he sped him and nocht to spare; Hay Alex. 3637.
The lady was leech and had skil And spared not, but laid him till; Sir Eger 1880.
Dum Wyf 67.
These rented relictis be hir they warre releued, … Quhen caus requyred ȝit did she neuer spair; Kamington 49.
His pintle against the palice wall Puld out to piss, and wald nocht spair; 1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv 700.
Came ȝe to wow our lasse … Ȝe will not spair nor speir quhais aucht hir; Philotus 39.
5. To spare na thing. a. To leave nothing out. b. To spare no effort in order to achieve a particular result, stop at nothing.
a. He … wald let for no man To speike quhill he spokin had sparit no thingis; Howlat 808 (A).
Be God me think na thing ȝe spair; Bann. MS 134a/14.
b. Meȝentyus … the Troianys to invaid na thing sparis; Doug. x xii 5.
[They] Weltis down in woddis gret mastis, and na thing sparis, Saysyng half onwrocht, so ithand thai war fair bown; Doug. iv vii 76.
Our adversaryes … will spare nathing outher be micht or slicht to com be it [sc. Edinburgh Castle]; 1572 Cal. Sc. P. IV 377.
6. To refrain from consuming or using.
Scho mycht ald Ysak trane with wyne … He thocht the caus for till aspy And sparit the wyne & fenȝeit slepe; Seven S. 1067.
Fill the best wine … and spair it nocht; Rolland Seven S. 6691.
proverb. Kail spaires bread; Ferg. Prov. No. 557.
Spair never your maisters salt beif for a drink; Carmichael Prov. No. 1405.
b. To save, store up, hoard.
He war nocht our narow na nedy that he had lak tharethrou, nocht to spare his gude and spend his honour; Hay II 49/28.
To haue distresse on bak and bed and burde And spare till othir men of gold a hurde; Henr. Orph. 542.
I thank yow, schyr, off this mychty reward; Your gyft herfor sall nocht rycht lang be spard; Wall. x 944.
My sone I chairge thé to dude Spend with wirchep and spair nocht Godis gud; Colk. Sow ii 254.
Sum grit gud gadderis and ay it spairis; Dunb. (STS) xxxvi 25.
Spaird; Lynd. Sat. 4488.
Haueing gottin 13000 li. … for this fruitles expeditioun, he spendit and spairit it as he pleissit; Spalding I 218.
proverb. Better weil spairred nor evil waired; Ferg. Prov. MS No. 296.
c. absol. To live sparingly, frugally, parsimoniously.
Thairfoir sic [sc. good fare] as thow seis, spend on, and not spair; Rauf C. 202.
He is sa greit negart, … Euer spairand and euer wantis; Rolland Seven S. 3188.
[He] sum tyme spairis and sum tyme spendis; Rolland Seven S. 3182.
proverb. Unbaikin dois spair bot unground meikle mair; Carmichael Prov. No. 1691.
7. To avoid incurring, to save (expense, labour, etc.).
I suld hawe thank, sen I nocht trawaill spard; Wall. xi 1433.
[He] said na spending suld be sparde To heile his son; Seven S. 636.
He spairit na coist nor ȝit trauaill To preif his practikis on the pure; Lynd. Meldrum 1450.
Nouther money, nor laubour of men nor horsis was spairit about it; Buch. Detect. (1727) 26.
Montg. Suppl. xxxiv 66.
This cours … was taken … for to spair both the paines and purses of the inhabitants; Gordon Geneal. Hist. 481.
I shall spare labour to offer a discussion of them; Shields Hind Let Loose xvi.
b. To keep clear of, avoid (physical obstacles).
Hillis na valeyis sparit he nane, The narrest way to the king hes tane; Alex. i 2129.
He sped him in spedely, and nane of thame he spaird … He thristit in throw thame thraly with threttis; Rauf C. 654.
He spairit nouther busk nor boig, For weill he kennit the cunning of the doig; Henr. Fab. 2530 (Ch.).
8. To dispense with, do without (something or someone) not essential to one's needs or convenience; passing into to expend, spend.
Also, to have (something) to spaire.
Provisioun … for … the men of weir quhais service can nocht be sparit; 1567–8 Reg. Privy C. I 609.
Syne at the sege of Leith scho [sc. Queen Elizabeth] sparit ane pois, And dang the Frenchmen, quhilk we docht not do; 1573 Sempill Sat. P. xxxix 37.
I may spair [L. carere] Vezel, my father, and ȝou, Bot nather Audebert, nor Candidais mu; Burne Disput. 103b.
The … plenissing of his hous that may be spayret to be tayne and brynt; 1597 Edinb. B. Rec. V 196.
Such as … the cuntrey may spaire such as yairne, linning, bestiall, and such lyk; 1633 Cochran-Patrick Coinage II 98.
I must goe … with the number of men I mentioned … and with as mony armes more as you can spaire; 1639 Hamilton P. (Camden Soc.) 90.
I can be weall spared, leving thes partes weall garded … and the Island secured; 1639 Hamilton P. (Camden Soc.) 91.
I sall say no more, only intreat Mr. Bruntfeild to spar his mony till Candlsmess; 1661 Red Bk. Grandtully II 169.
Children who could be spared from the fields; 1672 J. M. Beale Fife Schools 227.
I wold have sentt yow ane hawck … if I had itt to spaire; 1683 Fraser P. 264.
Praying with them, he said … ‘Good Lord, spare the lap of thy cloak and cover the poor lad’; 1685 Hay Fleming Six Saints I 73.
proverb. Cats eats that hussies spares; Ferg. Prov. No. 216.
b. To put aside, reserve (money, goods, a task, etc.) for, to (a person, purpose, etc.). Also const. infin.
(1) Other sum [sc. wool] thai spar for mede in scath to the king; Acts I 334/2.
Salmon, salt [etc.] … might spared bee For mutuall commerce, and commoditie; 1633 Lithgow Poet. Remains 102.
That they wald spair some of thair laigh seats for some gentilmen; 1643 S. Leith Rec. 43.
(2) Quhair is thi micht thi gold and thi riches, That to thé sparit was in thi tendir age; Regim. Princ. 163 (Marchm.).
I wyl als spair mater to my nixt writing; Buch. Wr. 58.
On hors thai will no money spend Bot spairis it till ane vthair end; Maitl. F. 438/50.
For the insicht spairit to the delyverie and than to be gewin in particular in wrything; 1589–90 Berw. Nat. C. XXI 273.
(3) Sum tyme may chance a man spend mair Upon ane day, nor he may spair To spend in vther nyne; Rolland Seven S. 3168.
proverb. Spend as ye may spair; Carmichael Prov. No. 1378.
c. To set aside (time) for a purpose, to leave (a period of time) free. Also ellipt.
‘Gudmen … Sparis a tyme that we ma se Suthfastly gyf scho ded be!' ‘Na’ … ‘we wil nocht spare Bot kyste hyr owt’; Leg. S. xvi 493, 495.
He haistit the samin [sc. marriage] … nocht spairing the tyme foir-biding as was the wse then; Pitsc. I 48/11.
It is vncertane to ws quhen we may spair that laisar quhilk the hearing of your particulariteis will require; 1583 Wemyss Corr. 29.
d. To bestow (a gift) on a person.
Gratious gifts scho [sc. Veritie] on my person spaird; J. Stewart 220 § 83.
9. To refrain from the use of. Cf. 4 above.
A! lord, sparis of sic speche, quhill ye speir more; Gol. & Gaw. 274.
10. intr. To let up, desist from an action, process, etc. (on account of (for) a reason.).
The schippes, that scaled wor, Draif in one heipe, dyngand on vthir, Nouthir sparand for schip nor ruthire; Troy-bk. ii 1734.
For cost for-thi he sparyd noucht, Na for trawell; Wynt. vii 2771.
Fra thai [sc. girls] be passit sevin ȝeir and mair Natur spryngis and will nocht spair; Gud Wyf & D. 92.
He ordand Jop … to pas, and for no costis spayr, Bot honour do the corp till sepultur; Wall. ix 1540.
[He] studyet how he suld gar him de And nother spair for syn nor schame; Seven S. 717.
Sie the burgessis spair not for expence; Lynd. Sat. 52.
Wee sall nether spair for wind nor raine Till our days wark be done; Lynd. Sat. 411.
Tha well nocht spair noder for cost nor travell to haf this plas; 1548–9 Corr. M. Lorraine 295.
Within few dayis the feist was preparit Aboundantlie and for na coist thay sparit; Rolland Seven S. 4510.
Quoth Courage … He is but daft that hath to doe, And spares for everie speach; Montg. Ch. & Slae 370 (Wr.).
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