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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).

Usage, n. Also: w(s)sage, usaige, wsaige, usadge, wsayage. [ME and e.m.E. vsage (1297), usage (c1340), vsadge (1582), OF usa(i)ge.]

1. A person's usual mode of behaviour, one's conduct. 1375 Barb. i 114.
Had ȝe … consideryt his vsage … Ȝe suld, … Haiff chosyn ȝow a king: that mycht Have haldyn veyle the land in rycht
1567 Misc. Maitl. C. IV 119.
What was the usage of the Bishop of St. Andrews during that time
a1578 Pitsc. I 132/6.
How wnlyk is he wnto thé in maner and conditioun and how far diffrent frome thy wssage and good governament
1584 Sempill in Sat. P. xlv 877.
He sayned him, but he said no mair: Tak up his Londone wsayage thair
1602 Reg. Privy C. VI 352.
[Williame, Lord Herreis … binds himself … that he] … sall had hand to the guid and dewtifull usage of the said minister and sall fortefie, mantene and assist him in the peceable … joysing of his glebe [etc.]

b. One's behaviour or conduct towards or in relation to another or others, one's treatment of another. 1567 Sat. P. iv 144.
Clytemnestra, … Hir husband, slew: so vyle was hir vsage
1568 Hosack Mary Q. of Scots I 526.
He wes reiected and rebuked opinlie in presence of diuerse lordes … he wreit to hir lamentand his evill intreatment and fremit vsaige
1643 Glasgow Burgesses 112.
[John Boyd, maltman, made burgess gratis] in regaird of … his kyndlie usage and cariage toward the inhabitants of this burgh

c. Action, behaviour, means of proceeding in a particular situation. 1456 Hay I 101/9.
Evill dede cummys never of the nature of bataill, bot it cummys of a fals custume and fals usage
1571 Waus Corr. 78.
Geif it mycht be gottin gud chaip, it wor gud deiling wyth it, for the kirkis will paye ane gud end of the pay[ment] of the haill for the present … this I thoycht gud to geif yow warning of, and to haif your adwyis in the wsaige of the same
1642 Baillie II 6.
When I sent word that such usadge would make me think of a transportation, the motion was misregarded

2. Regular practice of (in) an activity, the state of being accustomed to carrying out an action or being in a specified state. Also, in (till) usag(is), as a habit, regularly.(1) 1375 Barb. xix 163.
His men all worthyn ar sa wicht For lang wsage of fechting … ilk ȝowman is sa wicht … he is worth a knycht
1424 Acts II 6/1.
That in ilk x li. worth of lande thar be maid bowmerkis … quhar … men may cum and … haif vsage of archary
1456 Hay I 84/33, 34.
Ane othir caus cummys of usage, that a knycht is usit in harnes of lang tyme, the quhilk usage makis him hardy and expert, be oft hanting of the were that he is wont till
1490 Irland Mir. II 71/27.
The haill tressour of the kyrk is in the vsage and exercicioun of thir haly sacramentis
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 309 (Asl.).
Men suld in to thair tender age In wertewe & devocioun haue vsage
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 503 (Asl.).
He that syn can lok in till his chene Be lang vsage of spirituale captiuite
1513 Doug. ix viii 123.
The Troianys … Be lang vsage of weir … kend Quhou thai thar town … suld defend
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 613.
Thir nunnis … nycht and day Syngand and sayand psalmes and orisoun, Nocht vnderstandyng quhat thay syng nor say, Bot lyke one stirlyng or ane papingay, Quhilk leirnit ar to speik be lang vsage
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1277.
Of craftis thay had small vsage, Off marchandyce, nor lawborage
a1570-86 Maitland in Maitl. F. 326/2.
Off God the misknawlege Off sin the grit vsage Na pwneisment for vice The wanting of justice [etc.]
c1650 Spalding I 225.
[They] wes send commissioneris … to his Majestie, to schaw how thay war doun and oppressit be the tyrrannie of the covenanteris for thair … protectioun. His Majestie hard them patientlie, and lamentit thair vsage
(2) c1420 Wynt. v 249.
He hade in usage [C. in vsagis, W. in till vsage] offt Amang twelff maydynnys … to ly In lykyng, lust, and lychory

b. Use, employment (of something). 1490 Irland Mir. I 95/4.
The membris of the man and woman ordand for generacioune are now membris of lust, filth and inobediens … and … this nobile persoune … suld nocht haue bene producit be wsage of thir membris
1513 Doug. ii ix 7.
Hys hawbryk quhilk was lang furth of vsage
1576 Prot. Bk. W. Cumming 169b.
William Anderson … left the hale gudis … pertenyng to hym … to his vyf. … the vsage thairof for all the days of hyr lyf
c1590 Fowler I 293/71.
The dumbest man Which hes no vsage of his tounge

3. Custom, habit, established procedure, rule or principle, esp. on the part of a community, group, etc. Also pl. ?1438 Alex. ii 5154, 5155.
I rede we to the pacok do The vsage that coustumit is thair-to. In this countre the vsage is that [etc.]
?14.. Ship Laws c. 13 (H1).
The schipmene may beir sic kiching furth as vsage [B. vsage of schyp is] of schippis
1456 Hay I 73/10.
Twa brethir was bathe accusit of thift, for the quhilk the usage was that thai suld enter in barras
1456 Hay II 126/22.
Gif it befallis that thou … nedis change thy custum, do that … nocht hastily, bot lytill and lytill … for usage is ane othir nature the quhilk is perilous to change
1456 Hay I 100/29.
Bot that cummys of a fals usage of men of armes, for misgovernaunce of the weris
a1500 Lanc. 821.
He goith ymong them in his hie curage, As he that had of knyghthed the wsage
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 290 (Asl.).
The secund natur is callit conswetud, Quhilk lichtly levis nocht the ald vsage
1513 Doug. vii x 3 (Ruddim.).
The manere than was, and the auld custume Within the land of antient Latium, Quhilk blissyt vsage [C., Sm. vsance] eftir mony ane day The cieteis and faderis of Alba kepit ay … dyng
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1847.
Att that tyme, thare wes none vsage, To carue, nor for to paynt image
a1568 Bann. MS 92b/58.
Thow seis ane suerd in ane wod mans hand Quhilk for the tyme wantis vsage and ressoun … So is ane juge withowt intellectioun Quhilk in his hand beiris the suerd of justice Quhen he suld strek hes no cognitioun Bot as ane blindman wauerand on the yse
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 30.
Nathing has been done according to the forme of law, nathing in ordour, nathing efter the ancient usage
pl. 14.. Reg. Maj. c. 63.
Al the movable thingis salbe departit in thre evyn porcionis becaus of comone law and vsagis of the kynrick

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"Usage n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Sep 2022 <>



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