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

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

We(i)rd, n. Also: werde, wered, veird, ueird, weyrd, weard, weerd, waird, woird(e, wird. [ME and e.m.E. wird, weird (both Cursor M.), werd (1320-30), weerde, wierde (both Gower), wyrde (14th c.), OE wyrd. Also in the later dial.]See also Wanwe(i)rd n.

1. Destiny, the agency by which events are determined, fate. 1375 Barb. iv 148 (C).
Werd that to the end ay driffis The varldis thingis
?1438 Alex. ii 5610.
The king of Grece … That throw wirship and throw werd … Hes winnin sa mony fare citie
1460 Hay Alex. 412.
Than techit he him … Baith artmagik and necromancie Off weird of fortune be physinomie
1461 Liber Plusc. I 387.
Quhat proffyt is it with fortoun for to flyt? Deed, weird na fortoun ar nocht for to wyt
c1475 Wall. ix 244.
For chans off wer thou suld no murnyng mak; As werd will wyrk, thi fortoun mon thou tak
1603 Philotus 794.
How dois the quheill of fortoun go, Quhat wickit weird hes wrocht our wo?

b. pl.Strands of destiny, chiefly or only by way of incorporating a reference to the Fates of classical mythology. Also const. possess., the Fates from the point of view of how an individual is treated, or further examples of sense 2 (2).(1) ?1438 Alex. ii 2030.
Lat me work as weirdis will
c1409-1436 Kingis Q. § 169.
Thou has fundin stale This mony day withoutin werdis wele, And wantis now thy veray hertis hele
1513 Doug. i i 30.
This goddes ettillit, gif werdis war nocht contrar, This realme tobe superior … To all landis
1531 Bell. Boece I 5.
The Scottis sall bruke that realme … Geif weirdis faill nocht, quhair evir this chiar is found
1531 Bell. Boece II 232.
The weirdis [M. weyrdis] war determit to bring this realm to nocht
1533 Bell. Livy I 17/16.
The begynnyng of Rome … was thirllit to destanye and fatale chance of werdis [L. fatis]
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 262 (T).
Wanschaippin wowbat, of the weirdis invyit
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 346 (T).
‘Wo worth,’ quod the weirdis
1604-31 Craig i 9.
Nor wits nor weirdes thy [sc. James VI] fortunes bringes about, But that eternall prouidence aboue
1604-31 Craig ii 87.
1581-1623 James VI Poems II 77/30.
Thus castin is my lukelesse lotte that uofull ueirdis haue spunne
1644 Hume Douglas (STS) 232/18.
The wairds wil shew him onlie to the earth [etc.] [marg. Virgils Epitaphe of Marcellus]
(2) 1572 Sempill in Sat. P. xxx 37.
Wa worth his weirds (gif ony weirds can be!) Parcas, Lacheses, Atrapus, all thre!
1625 Garden Kings 64.
Ay thy weirds, thy valour thay invyde And crosd thee with misfortunes

c. A person or entity viewed as the instrument of destiny; one of the Fates. d. pl.= We(i)rd sisteris n. pl.c. c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3664.
Lucane doith Allexander compair, Tyll … a mortall weird, Doun thryngand peple, with his sweird
c1590 Fowler I 28/48.
Whome crwell weird or fatall parks bereaued of his breath
a1605 Montg. Sonn. xxxiii 1.
Vhom suld I warie bot my wicked weard, Vha span my thriftles thrauard fatall threed?
d. a1605 Montg. Flyt. 326 (H).
‘Woe woorthe,’ quothe the weirdes [MS wordes; T. weirdis]
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 398 (T).
The[n] … voitit the weirdis [H. weirdsisteres] in ane voce

2. The destiny, fate or fortune of a person, the path or outcome of one's life, freq. const. possess., once, as belonging to or deriving from Fortune. Also pl. with reference to one person.Some examples may belong in sense 3.sing. a1400 Leg. S. xxiv 220.
Allace, hard werd to me is lad, That thus has tynt myn warldis fere!
a1400 Leg. S. l 1033.
A wrech am I, … For-[thi] my wekit werd I bane
c1420 Wynt. ii 1349.
Off the werd [C. werde] of Ycary
c1450-2 Howlat 459 (A).
I sall waynd for no wye to wirk as ȝe will At wis gif my werd wald with ȝou to the deid
a1500 Henr. Orph. 156.
Welcome woddis wyld … My wikit werd in wildernes to wair
c1475 Wall. iv 761.
My waryed werd in warld I mon fullfill
1513 Doug. i v 52.
Cytherea be nocht efferd, For thi lynage onchangit remanys the werd [L. fata]
1533 Bell. Livy I 215/28.
[They] bad thame pas fordwart as happy and lusty gallandis with gude werde [L. ire fortes ire felices jubent]
1535 Stewart 31674.
He … slew him thair, sic wes his hap and werd
a1568 Bann. MS 132a/5.
Welcum be werd as evir God will
a1568 Scott xxiii 11.
Suppois it be my werd To luve vnluvit
(b) 1460 Hay Alex. 2631.
The quhilkis tauld him mony ferlie thingis, Off his weird, fortune, and his gouerningis, And said him he suld neuir ourcumin be … Na nane in warld suld turn abak his weird
a1500 Henr. Fab. 649 (Ch.).
My destenie and eik my weird I ken
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 490.
O Atropus, warye we maye thy weird
1531 Bell. Boece I vi.
Our life, our giding and our aventuris Dependis from thir hevinlie creaturis Apperandlie be sum necessite. For thoucht ane man wald set his besy curis, So far as laboure and his wisdome furis, To fle hard chance of infortunite; … The cursit weird yit ithandlie enduris
1531 Bell. Boece II 260.
Quhilk wes gret displeseir to Makbeth: for it maid plane derogatioun to the thrid weird, promittit afore to him be thir weird sisteris
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 1466.
Scho, aganis hir will, wes maryit, Quhairthrow hir weird scho daylie waryit
1560 Rolland Seven S. 4159.
God hes me send sa vnhappie ane weird
a1570-86 Arbuthnot in Maitl. F. 49/1.
O wrachit weird, O fals feinȝeit fortoun … O cruell destanie … O ewill aspect in my natiuitie
a1599 Rollock Wks. I 393.
Knawing well that this mon be the weird of the gospell and of the ministers, tak all thir troubles for sure notes of the treuth of God
a1599 Rollock Wks. II 468.
We use to say, ‘Prayer will break hard weird’; and it is true, repentance … will hold off judgment that would light upon us
(c) 15.. Clar. i 1025 (see Weird v.).
pl. (1) 1375 Barb. xviii 46.
God may rycht weill our werdis [C. veirdis] dele
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 245.
The fatall sisters twynand our weirdis out
1573–4 Acts III 87/2.
Egiptianis … perswade the people that thay can tell thair weardis, deathis and fortunes
(2) 1375 Barb. iii 390.
He thocht but mar delay In-to the manland till arywe And till the end his werdis dryw
c1420 Wynt. iii 393.
Scho … menyd hyr wykyde werdys [W. wordis] sare
c1450-2 Howlat 964 (A).
My werdis ar wan
1571 J. Maitland in Sat. P. xxvii 102.
Gif thatt [etc.] … Then warreitt war thy weirdis and wanhap
(3) c1409-1436 Kingis Q. § 9.
On hir tolter quhele Euery wight cleuerith … And failyng foting oft … Sum vp sum doun is non estate nor age Ensured … So vncouthly hir werdes sche [sc. Fortune] deuidith

3. That which is destined to happen, more generally. a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1082.
Thair wil nane wyis, that ar wis, wary the werd
1513 Doug. iii vii 48.
Bot we from werd to werd and chance mon wend

b. Fate or destiny with regard to events, esp. a particular event, the outcome of an event, esp. the fortunes of war; the event itself. Also pl. and proverb. ?1438 Alex. ii 8209.
Lordingis, with sely werd [F. bon destinement], To-morne airly … I will ilkane … Vpon ȝour hors all armit be
c1420 Wynt. iii 804.
How many changys that tyme felle … As werd off were maid thaim to stere
c1420 Wynt. ii 1381.
Sene werde off batayle is dowtows
c1420 Wynt. vii 979.
Quhen he wes dede, swa be that werd Nest erle wes Willame Lang-Swerd
a1500 Rauf C. 377.
Lat me wirk as I will, the weird is mine awin
a1508 Want of Wyse Men 7 (Ch. & M.).
Now sele is sorow, this is a wofull werde, Sen want of wyse men makis fulis to sit on binkis
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I 281.
The Britonis, quhilkis prait God to send him gude weird aganis his inymyis
pl. 1533 Boece 224a.
Ane strang army was collectit to distroye the Romane impire, … be fataill cours of weirdis it tendit to myschief
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 258.
Efter word comes weird
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 109.
After word commes weird weill worth them callit me dame

4. Some event, etc. which indicates the future, an omen, a prognostication. Also attrib. b. A decree of a god.(a) c1420 Wynt. iii 1081.
Now will I the werd [C. worde, W. word] rehers, As I fynd off that stane in wers: Ni fallat fatum, Scoti, quocunque locatum Invenient Lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidem
1513 Doug. vi iii 77.
Thus, efter the spamen werd, He prentit baith his futsteppis in the erd, Behaldand redly quhat syngnys thai schaw
1513 Doug. xii xiii 150.
Forto resist Juturnais ire and werd [L. omen]
1531 Bell. Boece II 264.
Forthir, remembring the weirdis gevin to him, as is rehersit, that Banquhois posterite suld rejose the crown
1533 Boece 115a.
Romanis … ressavit Vespasiane, becaus be weredis … thai traistit … he was sum tyme to be exaltit to grete honouris
1533 Bell. Livy I 24/6.
Hercules … said he acceppit the werdis [L. omen] & suld fulfill all destanyis
1533 Bell. Livy I 118/19.
Of quhilk tempill was gevin this augurie … This werde [L. auspicio] of perpetuite beand acceppit, followit ane vthir prodigie [etc.]
1533 Bell. Livy II 200/23.
Thir Gaulis, following the werde [L. omen] of the said place … biggit ane toun
1551 Hamilton Cat. 49.
Thai brek this command … quhasa lippinnis to werdis or dremis
1612 Orkney & Shetl. Ct. Bk. (ed.) 25.
They [sc. gypsies] … wer indyttit … for geving of thame selffis furth for … givearis of weirdis
(b) 1676 Belhelvie Kirk S. in Strathbogie Presb. xiv.
Being questioned how she had that knowledge; answered, by the twelve signes, for shee said there was fyve woirdes for men and fyve for women in every signe
(c) 1700 Misc. Spald. C. III 179.
Professing knowledge of charming, tellers of wirds … inseperable attributes of those called Egyptians
attrib. a1658 Durham Commandments (1675) 47.
When any take a word of Scripture at the opening of the Bible … which is to make a weerd, or fortune-book of the Book of God
b. 1513 Doug. xii xii 202.
And thou, Tellus, mast nobill god of erd Hald fast the speris hed by ȝour werd

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"Werd n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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