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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).

Stabil(l, Stable, adj. Also: -ile, -yl(l, -yle, -ul, staibill, -ell, staybill, stapill. [ME and e.m.E. stable (c1290), stabil, -ul, -ell (Cursor M.), stabyll (Rolle), stabill (c1400), OF estable, stable (1120, 13th c. in Larousse), L. stabilis, f. sta- root of stāre to stand.]

1. Unmoving, immoveable, still; fixed, chiefly as to location, also, once, set down, designated; having solid foundations; solidly built; lasting. b. transf. Of a person's mind or opinion: Firm, determined a1400 Leg. S. l 119.
Sternys sewine … that … in thare stat euir ar thai stabill
c1475 Wall. i 125.
That sammyne stane … At Canemor … Brocht it till Scwne, and stapill maid it thar Quhar kingis was cround viij hundyr ȝer and mar
1533 Bell. Livy I 14/4.
This new affinite … gaif ferme esperance to Troianis to finis al thare errouris with ane stabill and sikkir duelling
1542 Soc. Ant. III 162.
Betuix the twa buttreis to be biggit ane honest dur with ane plain proche with sege stabill
1554 Knox III 287.
The raging seas shal obey and beare His feete and body as the massie, stable, and drie land
c1590 J. Stewart 27/462.
So in hir hand haifing the brydle drawne He stabill stands, And dois no stirage mak
c1590 J. Stewart 41/428.
Scho vas cheingȝeit to the stabill stone
1590–1 Edinb. B. Rec. V 35.
That the Kings Majesties customes … be payet … according to the custome-buikis and na other wayis … and als gevis commissioun to Henry Nesbett … to … sett doun … the … articles … anent the stabill ordour to be had of the new impost of the wynes and the customes
1596 Dalr. I 75/14.
Thay proponed, thair to plant a stable and sure mansione, and duelling place, to thame selfes and thair eftircumers
c1603 Sc. Hist. Rev. XL 93.
[Skene describes the Exchequer as] ane certaine stable courte, and nocht deambulatoure
b. 1542 St. P. Henry VIII V 207.
It … is oure stable mynd to send our ambassatouris unto ȝow

c. Of the sea: Calm. Only in Doug. 1513 Doug. iii ii 2.
The blastis mesit, and the fludis stabill
1513 Doug. iv x 114.
The stabil sey vndir the schippis slydis
1513 Doug. v xiv 42.
This calm salt watir, or stabil fludis

d. Of handwriting: Firm, controlled. 1582 Misc. Stair Soc. I 120.
As men growis in yeiris thai use to wreitt smallar and witht ane mair staibill hand
1582 Misc. Stair Soc. I 120.
Yung mennis afoir thai atteinis unto the stabill forme of wreitting usis rewling

2. Of a person: Resolute; steadfast; constant, loyal; settled, trustworthy, reliable; also, ? strong, physically capable of endurance. Also const. in.(1) c1450-2 Howlat 174 (A).
Swannis … war bischopis … Stable and steidfast tender and trewe … full wys and worthy thai war
a1500 Henr. III 106/20.
Can nane gane stand the ragyne of his blud, Na ȝit be stabil one til he agit be
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 18.
Farand on thair stedis, stout men and stabill
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 741.
Ane sterne knyght, stalwart and stabill
c1475 Wall. xi 580.
O wrech … that neuir couth be content … Bot thi fers mynd wylfull and wariable With gret lordschip thow could nocht so byd stable
1490 Irland Mir. I 32/2.
He is allane ferme and stabile, without chaunge ore permutacioune
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) xx 43.
Hald God thy freind, evir stabill be him stand
1513 Doug. v xiii 38.
‘Neptune,’ quod scho, ‘the fel ire and consate Of Queyn Juno … Constrenys me to condiscend thus stabill In all maner of request'
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matth. xxiv 13.
1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 87.
I sall stand fyrme and stabill at the saming and wair my luf with all my kyne … to the wtermest of my powar
1550 St. A. Baxter Bks. 6.
It is ackin [sic] be the bredren off baxtorie … to stand ferme & stabyll with thair decane in all thingis
c1590 J. Stewart 149/17.
Stand stabill stout and kynd
1680 Edinb. B. Rec. X 403.
I … am apprehensive that I shall not be soe stable at the nixt conveining of the Colledge for giving soe exact attendance as I wes wont
a1568 Bann. MS 220b/10.
O maistres myn … exampillair to all that bene stable
(2) a1400 Leg. S. xl 241.
He was … In iugment leile and stable
1460 Hay Alex. 2548.
Men of eild … ar nocht changeabill Bot sad of feris in deid stedfast and stabill
1490 Irland Mir. II 112/16.
The best thing that a man may do is to be ferme and stable in the faith of Jhesu
a1585 Maitland Maitl. Q. 29/59.
Ȝit in my hairt I salbe firme and stabill

b. Of the heart: Constant, steadfast. a1400 Leg. S. l 966.
One Jhesu seit thi hart ay stabile
a1500 MS Rawl. Q. b. 4 91b.
We may be gude lele seruand Hald our hartis stabil & fast
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 333.
Diane, that ladyis hartis dressis Till be stabill and na way inconstant
a1585 Maitl. Q. 38/53.
Gif ȝour hairt on God be firme and stabill

c. Of a period of one's life: Settled, unchanging; dull. c1420 Ratis R. 1637.
This eild that passis fyfty ȝer Is stabile, couatus and swere

3. Of the world, things in general, a society, country, set of beliefs, institution, etc.: Unchanging, permanent, securely established.Freq. in neg. consts. 1375 Barb. xiii 639.
In na tym stable [C. stabilly] can scho [sc. Fortune] stand
c1460 Wisd. Sol. 95.
Al was bot transitore … and na thinge … ferme and stabill
a1500 Colk. Sow i 442.
Nothing stable we se In this warld of variance
1490 Irland Mir. II 111/36.
Pepil suld … trow the faith of Jhesu and susteyne it to the deid without ony dubitacioun or variance bot thir thingis suld be stabill and ferme
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) lxxiii 17.
Heir nocht abydis, heir standis no thing stabill
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 616.
That quyet court, myrthfull and immutabyll, But variance, standith aye ferme and stabyll
1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 241.
Thai think and this realm cum till an stabill way, thay … wilbe pwnest
1560 Rolland Seven S. Prol. 18.
The court can nocht ay stabill stand
1558-66 Knox II 279.
Of lait yearis, many thingis, whiche befoir war haldin stable, have bene called in doubt
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 239/9.
Quhen we beleif it [sc. the world] is most stabill To change on ws it is most able
a1578 Pitsc. I 112/26.
Thair is nothing firme and stabill bot all thing subiect to ruine and decay
a1585 Maitl. Q. 79/80.
Ȝe ken our court is neuer stabill
1588 King Cat. 117.
Matrimonie anes contracted … is sa stable and suire … that it continues all thair haill lyf tym

b. Ane stabill meill, ? an established or agreed quantity (Mele n.2 1). 1597 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 353.
The juge decernis William McIlroy … to pey to Thomas Muir vj lib. for meill he bocht fra him the last yeir. … Hercules Aitkeine … to pey to him xxx s. for ane stabill meill and tua peclkis meill and tua peckis beir small mesour of the cropt 1597 he promissit him for his venture of the sey custome of victuall

4. In legal use, in agreements, etc., in the phrase ferme and stabill: Without alteration, revocation, retraction, and the like.See Ferme adj. 2 for further examples.Some examples may, rather, belong with Stabil(l v.1 1385 Red Bk. Grandtully I 139* (see Ferme adj. 2).
1392 Lennox Mun. 49.
Tyl halde ferme and stable … twychande the haly ewangellis, we gaf bodily hathe
1408 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 221.
And quhat so euir oure saide cosinez dois in this cas we grant to halde ferme & stabil in tyme to cum
1420–1 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV 384.
1439 Edinb. Chart. 64.
Ferme and stabil haffand and for to hafe, for vs and oure successouris for euermare
1447 (1449–50) Reg. Great S. 68/2.
[He shall] hald ferm and stabil the said determination … na clame to the heretage nam na part of it in the contrar of the said decrete
1459 Newburgh B. Ct. 2a.
That thai suld hald al thyngis spokkyn … anent the said resyngnacion ferm & stabyll & neuermar revok word thairof
1467 Newburgh B. Ct. 26b. 1488–89 Reg. Paisley 407.
The saidis partis … oblis thaim … tyl hald, kepe and observe ferm and stabil for evyr … but revocation or agayn callyng
1492 Highland P. II 193.
Ferme and stabul haldand and for till hald all and quhatsumever thingis my said assingnay in the said mater in myne name ledis till be done
1497–8 Acta Conc. II 96. 1574 Conv. Burghs I 24.
Promesand firme and staybill haldand, and for to hald, etc.
1582 Conv. Burghs I 132.
Promesand to hald ferme and staibill all … thing … neidfull
1612 Conv. Burghs II 355.

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



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