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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.

Birth, Byrth, n.1 Also: birthe (birgh, bergh), byrthe, byrtth; birtht, byrtht. [ME. birth(e, byrth(e, early ME. birðe, byrðe, burðe, ON. *byrð-r (OIcel. burð-r), byrð.]

1. a. The act of bearing offspring. 1375 Barb. vi. 184.
For thai cummyn of a byrth weir
c1420 Wynt. vii. 3333.
Quhen of that byrth come tything
1490 Irland Mir. I. 140/21.
In hire byrthe sche had na payne
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xliv. 16.
Into thair birth thay suffir sair for ws
1560 Rolland Seven S. 267/16.
Scho … That had of him sic sorrow in hir birth
1598 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 165.
How sone scho micht travell efter hir birth
1609 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 164.
Ane lady … wery neir approching hir birth

b. The fact or time of being born; nativity. a1400 Leg. S. xxiv. 37.
Of Cristis byrth the fourty day
Ib. xxxvi. 23.
The byrthe of sancte John
c1420 Wynt. ii. 30.
Before or fra the byrth of Gode
Ib. 210.
Thowcht yhungar in the byrthe was he
1456 Hay I. 14/24.
Sen his birth hyderwart
c1450-2 Howlat 953.
This howlat … Bannyt bitterly his birth
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 375.
The breif tyme … Betuix thare byrth on to thare grave
a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxxii. 9.
Quho knawis his birth, his lyfe, his end

c. Condition or rank in respect of parentage. c1420 Wynt. v. 1337.
A kyng off byrthe and wnworthy
Ib. viii. 470.
Hym that is off byrth ferrare
1456 Hay II. 151/25.
That thou despis nocht a man for his law birth
Ib. 27.
Ches nane … for his hie birth
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 312.
His bastard blude and my birth noble
a1568 Scott vi. 6.
Bassir men of birth and blud
a1585 Maitl. Q. lxiv. 41.
Nobill birth and royall bluid

2. The result of bearing; that which is born; offspring, young, child. a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 175.
Ymang birthis that weman bare
Ib. 187.
Criste of maydine is the birth
c1420 Wynt. i. 1508; Ib. v. 4832, etc.
Quhat byrth scho bare off hyr body
?1438 Alex. i. 2887.
As ane beist hir birth will driue Fra the wolf
1456 Hay I. 293/29.
That the first birth suld be king efter his fader
c1475 Wall. viii. 1644.
O lowit leid, … O worthi byrth
1492 Myll Spect. 283/10.
Als sone as this lady was deliuer of hir byrth
a1508 Kennedy Flyting 250.
Abironis birth
Ib. 454.
Deuillis birth
1533 Boece iii. xvi. 114 b.
Scho departit with hir birth
1567 G. Ball. 139.
His mother … bure the byrth, fred vs from cair
1622-6 Bisset I. 44/15.
Ane … beist that eittis … thair birth

3. That which is borne by the soil; produce, crop(s). c1420 Wynt. i. 1351.
Thare bewys bowys all for byrtht
c1450-2 Howlat 25; Ib. 626.
Blyth of the birth that the ground bure
1535 Stewart 639.
The blumand bewis abundand with sic birth
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 329.
Twistis … Quhilk bowed throw burding of thair birth
1596 Dalr. I. 48/32.
Ȝeirlie sik a birth it beiris … that thai cal it the … garnel of Abirdene

4. Birth breif, a certificate of birth. Cf. Bore-breiff. 1698 Stirling B. Rec. II. 343.
The seavine birth breiffs given be the toune to Robert Russall [etc.]
1699 Ib. 346.
Giving uthers of the touns folks birthbreivs quhen going abroad

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"Birth n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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