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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.

Wer(e, Weir(e, v.1 Also: werre, weare. P.t. also weird, wor. P.p. also worn. [ME and e.m.E. were(n (c1175), werenn (Orm), wer (Cursor M.), were (Manning), weire (c1400), werre (1430), OE werian, MLG, MDu. weren, ON and Icel. verja.] tr.

1. To defend (a country), protect (one's lands). 1375 Barb. xvi 602.
The king aucht weill to ma Off ȝow, that takys sa wele on hand In his absence to wer his land
a1400 Leg. S. xvi 260.
The prynce … Come with his wyf … Til ydolis sacrifice to ma, To gyfe thame grace, & furthir sa That he mycht get & scho beyre Barnys, thare landis to were
c1420 Wynt. iv 770 (see b below).

b. To defend (one's honour); to justify a judgment. c1420 Wynt. iv 770.
It is myn honest det For my land my lyff to set … Na I prys, na payne apere Myn honowre and my land to were [C. Myn honour is my lande to were]
14.. Reg. Maj. c. 125.
Thocht forsuth na court be haldyn the record tharof batal to deffend & werre the domys of it self and quha sa settis a gayn ony court [etc.]

2. To protect, defend (a part of the body, a person, one's people) (fra something). Also absol.b. With God, a deity, etc. as the subject. c. reflex.To defend oneself.pres. 1375 Barb. xx 389.
All tym had I Handis my hed for to wer [C. were]
p.t. ?1438 Alex. ii 9988.
Of kingis beirdis he maid ane weid … He wald haue had Arthouris beird, And failȝeit, for he it richt weill weird
c1475 Wall. iii 183.
Wallace … ratornde … Hym to reskew, till that he rais off payne; Wichtly him wor, quhill he a suerd had tayne
p.p. c1475 Wall. ix 1851 (McD.).
Sic men I wend fra-thine for to haiff worn. Thow sall be hangyt
absol. a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1188.
We like yow ay as our lord to were and to weild
b. a1400 Leg. S. xix 538.
The fyre na-thing hyre deryt—The grace of God hyre sa wel weryt
a1400 Leg. S. xxxix 205.
Goddis angel can thame were That thai mocht na slepe thame dere
?1438 Alex. ii 2087.
Sa our goddis me were fra wa
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 58.
Criste were thé fra wa!
c. a1447 Bower Chron. II 232 n.
On fut suld be all Scottis weire Be hyll and mosse thaim self to weire Lat wod for wallis be bow and speire [L. Scotica sit guerra pedites, mons, mossica terra Silvæ pro muris sint, arcus, et hasta securis]
?1438 Alex. i 1379.
He wist … That thay of Grece wald wele thame weir
?1438 Alex. ii 548.
I haue helm and scheild to schaw Hors, haubrek, scheld and spere Quharewith I aucht me wele to were
14.. Reg. Maj. c. 45.
He [sc. a bondsman] that has gottyn sua fredome agane his lorde … he may for euermar him were & defende agane his lord
c1420 Wynt. viii 2032 (W).
Wallace … Fra he had hurt of thame feill thare That than aganis him fechtand ware … Warely him werand he remuffit
c1475 Wall. v 901.
A suerd he drew, rycht manlik him to wer

3. To hold, defend, guard (an entrance). c1475 Wall. iv 487.
Wallace … The ȝett he wor, quhill cumin was all the rout Of Inglis and Scottis; he held na man tharout
c1475 Wall. ix 1965.
At Sterlyng bryg he ordand thaim full rycht, And thar to byd, the entre for to wer; Off Wallace than he trowit to haiff no der

b. To ward off (something) fra (someone). a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 182.
Juppiter … In his richt hand he had ane groundin speir, Of his father the wraith fra vs to weir

c. Const. away. To drive off, repel. 1606 Birnie Kirk-b. vi.
Diogenes … being to dye, he directed his corps to be exposed. And … requyring a cudgell to be coutched beside, whereby to weare his wirriers away

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"Wer v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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