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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Uncapable, adj. Also: unkaipable, wncapable, -capabill, oncapabill. [e.m.E. uncapable (1586), vncapable (Shakespeare); Capable adj.]

1. Ineligible, unqualified or disqualified (also, of or to do something).(1) 1654 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 228.
It is a preparative never before passed … that a presbyterie should be tyed … to accept such ane unorderly call of a man uncapable for thie tyme [sc. not having passed his ‘trials’ for the ministry]
1681 Fountainhall Decis. I 151.
The twelve citizens of Edinburgh who were sequestrate and rendered uncapable
1683 Lanark B. Rec. 217.
Its votted that William Patersone, drummer, be declared uncapable upon many considerations
1680-6 Lauder Observes 275.
Polwart had only in the sheriff court … protested against thesse feuars as uncapable, and had not craved the judgement of the shireff and the court upon the relevancy of the objections he gave in against them
1688 Lauder Notices Affairs II 849.
The deceast Marquess of Montrose made ane nomination of ten tutors to his sone … the lady [sc. his widow] being uncapable, by marrieing Sir William Bruce his sone [etc.]
(2) 1640 Cuningham Journal 44.
The said Lords … finds … that the … defender hath … contraveened the foresaid injunctions … and therefore … declares him uncapable of the same
1664 Rothesay B. Rec. 86.
Finding that Major David Ramsay comissar of the Illes his had ane hand in keiping up jelosies … doeth unanimously heirby declair and rendir the said comissar unkaipable of being ane counsellar
(3) 1579 Acts III 135/1.
[They] hes committit … tressone … sua that they … to be fra this furth vnable and vncapable to brouk offices, benefices, honouris [etc.]
1658 Glasgow B. Rec. II 407.
There ar severall persounes being wncapable to bear any publict trust in this commounewealth … and being wncapable to be lytit so to vot in any election
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. i xvii 10 (1699) 93.
For though the law make them uncapable to succeed as heirs, yet it does not make them uncapable to receive a disposition
1692 Conv. Burghs IV 163.
If he prevaill the burgh will be rendered … uncapable for ever to injoy the priviledge of a royall burgh

2. Unfit to endure or receive, undeserving of (something).(a) c1590 Fowler I 98/19.
My daisled eyes, vncapable of suche a splendant light
a1658 Durham Comm. Rev. 575.
They had the glad tydings of the gospel that made them merry, but the world was uncapable of that joy
a1700 Charters Spiritual Disc. 113.
How weak our minds are, and how uncapable of a right understanding of divine things
(b) 1615 Denmylne MSS in Highland P. III 192.
I hope … ȝiour Majestie shall find him prowe nather onwoorthie nor oncapabill of ȝiour royall fauour

3. Unable to do, incapable of doing (something). 1633 Johnston Diary I 135.
The main poynt of that calling consist in catechysing, quherof I am utterly uncapable in respect of my natural haistines, kankerdnes, and impatience
1647 Maxwell Mem. I 339.
Issobell Maxuell, my dachtir, is wncapabill to governe hir awine effairis in regaird of hir naturall infirmiteis, being bothe dumbe and deaff
1677 Sharpe Witchcraft 139.
Neither in all their confessions … doe I observe anything that those who believe the existence of devils can imagine them uncapable to perform
1686 S. Leith Rec. 145/1.
He having none [sc. cash] … was rendered uncapable to serve the poor

4. Lacking ability or competence, incompetent. 1632 Lithgow Trav. x 437.
Preachers … who make conscience of their calling and liue as lanthorns to vncapable ignorants

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"Uncapable adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2023 <>



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