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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).

Unprof(f)itabil(l, -able, adj. Also: unprofytabyl, -eitable, unprouf(f)itable, wnprofitable, -proffietabill, -profettable, -profitable, onprofitabil(l, -able, oneprofetabill. [ME and e.m.E. vnprofitable (a1325), vnprofitabil (c1425), vnproffitable (1526); Prof(f)it(t)abil(l adj.]

1. Of a thing, action, etc.: That yields no profit or advantage; vain; useless (also, to something). c1460 Wisd. Sol. (STS) 492.
He bidis ȝonge men kep thaim fra wnprofitabile [v.r. wnprofitable] delytis in thar ȝouthag
c1490 Irland Asl. MS 29/16.
Will thow for sa litill a folye & vnproffitable thing & plesance, do displesance to God?
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Prol. Rom. 319/22.
As lange as thair remanys in the hart vnlust, teduisnes [etc.] … sa lang ar al the werkis wnprofitabile, losit ande tynt
1526 Acts II 312/1.
Evill disposit persouns that mycht … pres thame to draw his hienes to vnprofitable and vnvertuous havingis
1531 Bell. Boece II 164.
He that sufferis his land to be fild with guld, or siclik unproffitabil wedis, sall pay … ane ox
1551 Hamilton Cat. 101.
Thai that will be riche, fallis into temptatioun … and to mony unprofitabil and noysum desyris
a1578 Pitsc. I 169/15.
No man durst say that his proceidingis was wicked or ewill or wnproffietabill to the common weill
1622 Haddington Corr. 142.
I made a vnprofitable jornay both for the mis of my errant and your lordship
1638 Elphinstone Mun. 26.
Tua little cabinettis witht sindrie … unproffitable wretes … nocht worthie to be inventered
1640 Kirkcudbr. Min. Bk. 67.
I did heir at the Committie at Edinburgh, that they had written to the Committie of Galloway, answering to thair letter, that they had fund the Threive to be unprofeitable, giving present orderes that they should flight the samen
(b) 1456 Hay I 208/13.
Thare suld be small redres, and bot ane unproufitable plede
1456 Hay II 163/10.
Send never thy soveraine baille na thy lieuetenant to be thy messagere, for thou sall fynd it unprouffitable
(c) 1513 Doug. ii x 106.
Fle thou my son, in haist away thou wend, And of this laubour onprofitabil [Sm. wnprofitable, Ruddim. vnprofitabill] mak ane end
1533 Gau 84/9.
Na man sal onderstand sua that oder prayers ar ewil or oneprofetabil quhilk hes noth the Pater noster in thayme
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 119/2.
Thow ma persaif that science without cherite is onprofitable, bot cherite iunit to science edifyis and makis science profitable
absol. a1578 Pitsc. II 60/5.
Herasies to God be knawin on this maner, as the goldsmyth knaweth the fyne gold frome the wnprofettable by the tuiche stone

b. Of land: Infertile, unproductive. 1513 Doug. xi vii 50.
Ane ald feld onprofitabill [Sm. onprofitable, Ruddim. vnproffitabill] and rude … This grund sawys full onthriftely
1600 Acts IV 229/1.
The ground … is now altogidder waist, deforme, and vnproffitabill

2. Of a person: Of no consequence, worthless; unsatisfactory as a worker, undiligent. 1461 Newburgh B. Ct. 6a.
Commone ressettyr of vnprofytabyl personis
1551 Hamilton Cat. 34.
The sentence gevin agane the unprofitable servand quhilk sal be cassyn into the outwart myrknes
1562 Reg. Morton I 9.
I call your conscience to record yff I hayf bene ane vnprouffitable forster to that house or not
1567 G. Ball. 169.
Do all that thow art abill Ȝit thow art unproffitabill
1595 St. A. Baxter Bks. 52.
Alexander Chrystie and Androw Lawsoun hes bene vnproffitabill serwandis to the maisteris in the baikhous
1677 Inverness Rec. II 271.
To mack search & scrutinie throw the quholl towne for idle and unprofeitable persones

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



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