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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.

But, n.2 Also: butt(e, bout; pl. buttis, bwttis, buitis. [ME. butte, but (15th c.), F. but goal, target.]

1. A mark for practice in archery; a mound or erection supporting a target.Usually in plural, and freq. a pair of buttis, indicating one at each end of the range. See also Bowbuttis and shuting-buttis.(a) 1457 Acts II. 48/2.
At the bowe merkis be maide at ilk paroch kirk a pair of buttis, and schuting be vsyt ilk Sunday
1471 Ib. 100/1.
At the futbal & golf be abusit in tym cummyng … & the buttis maid up & schuting usit
1490 Lanark B. Rec. 7.
For the buttis mending
1503 Treas. Acc. II. 368.
To George Campbell, gardiner … , to mak ane pair of buttis in the ȝard
1516 Ib. V. 79.
For the biging of buttis in the abbay
1532 M. Works Acc. II. 60.
xx faldom of cord to stent the cammes at the buttis
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 1048.
He wan the pryse abone thame all. Baith at the buttis and the futeball
1552–3 Lanark B. Rec. 24.
The said Ihone Haste sall haif the yard for the uphald of the bwttis
a1568 Scott v. 41.
In May frank archeris will affix In place to meit … To schute at buttis
1566 Treas. Acc. MS.
To … maister of werk for … beiting and mending of the buttis of Halierudhous
a1578 Pitsc. I. 340/15.
That the said Inglischemen sould schute aganis thame ether at prickis, reveris, or at buttis, as the Scottis pleissit
1600-1610 Melvill 308.
A certean of students … , wha weireing to go out of the Collage to thair exerceise of bodie and gham, causit big a pear of buttes
1660–1 Peebles B. Rec. II. 201.
For two sheit paper, when the butts was shott at by the archers
1684 Glasgow B. Rec. III. 358.
That place called the Trumpling Brae quiher the butts stood somtyme of old
(b) 1558 Edinb. B. Rec. III. 21.
James Adamsoun, thesaurer, to big ane but of fale at Iames Bassendennis hous abone the Nether Bow
1560 Ib. 88.
The but at the Nether Bow
1595 Duncan Appendix.
Scopus, meta, a mark, a butte
1658 Chron. Perth 44.
Andro Read wes drownit in the milnleid, aboue the over miln, betuix the but and the miln

b. Used as a measure of distance. 1569 Reg. Privy C. II. 38.
To quhome or thai approcheit be the space of ane pair of buttis, the said Andro with his complices … maid schot
a 1595 Skene Celtic Sc. III. 429.
The sea cummis almaist betwix thame [islands] saifand ane small grip of the lenth of twa or thrie pair of buttis
1600-1610 Melvill 275.
James … was … knawin to be a pair of buttes lainthe from him
16.. Reg. Panmure I. cxlv.
On the north syd, ane paire of boutis lenthe fra the hows, the northe stanke hes beine castine be industrie
1628 Ann. Banff I. 39.
They … pursued … the said James … be the space of tua buttis and mair

2. fig. A target or mark; an aim or object. 1513 Doug. II. 907/4.
Say thai nocht, I … at my self to schute a but hes maid?
1549 Compl. 123/8.
I am the merk of the but, contrar the quhilk euere man schutis arrous of tribulatione
1572 Sat. P. xxxi. 62.
Sen baith in France and heir Thay haue ane butt, as dois appeir, That is, to cut all doun
1581 Burne Disput. 133.
Sua sal the principal but quhairat he sal schut be to deny Christis cumming in the flesche
1606 Acts IV. 292/2.
His death wes ane of the cheif buttis of thair … malice
1610 Misc. Hist. Soc. II. 181.
Privat greed being the onlie caus and but whairat he schot

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"But n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Jul 2024 <>



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