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

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First published 1937 (DOST Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Birn, Byrn, v. Also: birne, byrne, byrnn. [ME. birne, byrne, OE. byrnan, or (by metathesis of r) from ON. brinna Brin v. See also Burn v.]

1. intr. To be on fire. (Freq. in pres. pple.) 1375 Barb. v. 24; Ib. xvii. 619.
The fire That thai saw byrnand
c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 1712.
It signified the se birnand
c1420 Wynt. iii. 775.
A bale fyre … byrnand schyre
1456 Hay I. 13/18.
A grete hill all birnand
a1500 Rauf C. 222.
Ane bricht fyre was byrnand full bald
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyting 14.
The se sould birn
c1500-c1512 Kennedy Ib. 279.
He birnis in hell
1513 Doug. ii. v. 92.
The … fyre, Quhilk in hir tempil … byrnys schyre
Ib. vi. 28.
The nixt hows byrnys of Vcalegon
1531 Bell. Boece II. 63.
Ane crownit dragoun wes sene birnand in the lift
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2488.
Quhowbeit the tempyll byrn
1567 G. Ball. 34.
To byrne in hell for ay

b. To glow with heat or brilliance. ?1438 Alex. ii. 3703.
The poyntis … of rubeis birnand as fyre
c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 25.
Beriall droppis … birnyng as ruby sperkis
Id. xxvi. 87.
Lyk turkas birnand reid
15.. Clar. i. 24.
His helmit … All birnand full of bricht stonis

c. fig. To be ardent, eager, angry, etc. c1420 Wynt. viii. 3170.
A gredy carle . .wes Byrnand in swylk gredynes
1456 Hay I. 85/10.
Ane othir is … byrnand full of ire
c1420 Ratis R. 826.
Yre That byrnis in thi thocht as fyr
a1500 Henr. III. 147/40.
The low of luf … full blithlie birnis
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 320.
Our brestis birnand with a hevinlie fyre
1513 Doug. iv. iii. 21.
Dido byrnys in hait lufe al atanys
1533 Boece iii. xiii. 110 b.
That … he suld nocht birn in wilfulnes
1567 G. Ball. 96.
His irefull hart with baill sall euer byrne
a1578 Pitsc. I. 4/1.
He birnis ay in sicht of guid or euill

2. tr. To set on fire; to consume with fire. a1400 Leg. S. ii. 797.
To byrne the gret cite
1405 Douglas Corr. 63.
That my men … has byrnde the toun of Berwike
1456 Acts II. 46/1.
That na man sulde byrne ane vther mannys hous
c1475 Wall. vi. 479.
Sum bad byrn him
c1475 Wall. xi. 288.
In cruell fyr he byrnys this regioun
1504 Breadalbane Doc. (Reg. H.) No. 32.
Thar landis … and gudis to waist, distroy and birne
1513 Doug. iv. x. 88.
Reddy to byrn thi schippys
1531 Bell. Boece I. 107.
To birne the bodyis of thaim that deis
1563 Inverness B. Rec. I. 98.
Saying … scho suld byrnn all his cornis
absol. 1375 Barb. xvii. 525.
Thai … in Ingland gert byrn and sla
1540 Buccleugh Mun. II. 171.
I oblis me … to oist, birn, sla and distroy ilk xv dayis anys
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 4637.
To byrne and skald thay never pretendit

b. In figurative uses. a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 466.
Lust birnis thy breist
1513 Doug. ix. ii. 76.
The huge ennoy byrnys hym throu the banys
Ib. x. v. 146.
Syrius … Byrnys the erth of drowth
c1590 J. Stewart 20/179.
That both dois birne and freis My blaiknit brest

c. To burn with a hot iron; to brand. 1507 Treas. Acc. IV. 77.
For ane irn to byrn sair teith
1530 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 19.
Scho wes adiugit to be birnt of bayth the chekis

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"Birn v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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