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

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Fall, Faw, v. Also: fal(e, fa(a. P.t. fel(l, feill. P.p. fallyn(e, fallin(e, fallen, fawin, fain; fal(l. [ME. falle(n, ONhb. falla, WS. feallan.]

1. intr. To fall from a standing posture; to become suddenly prostrate. Also, to fall in battle. 1375 Barb. iv. 255.
The King sall fall in the fichting
a1400 Leg. S. ix. 285.
The kingis god Baldak Wes fallyne downe
c1420 Wynt. iv. 1006.
The fowlis wyld … That fey court ay folowyd nere, Quhill deand at thai fallyn were
c1475 Wall. i. 227.
Without reskew he stekyt him to dede. The squier fell
1492 Myll Spect. 295/25.
Scho stekit hym, … , quhar he fell downe deid
c1500-c1512 Dunb. ix. 7.
Falling on face, … I cry thé mercy
1513 Doug. iv. xii. 95.
Als feill sys Scho fallys bakwart in the bed agane
1535 Stewart 12349.
Mony knycht than haif tha maid to kneill, … and mony hes gart faw
1560 Rolland Seven S. 6760.
I sall rather my self fall on my knife
1596 Misc. Spalding C. I. 95.
The womann … striken with sic feir, feill deid
fig. c1420 Ratis R. 1508.
Thow lufyt al wordys to gar men fall
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 329/8.
To absolȝe man fra syn in case he fall
c1568 Lauder Minor P. i. 213–14.
That he that stands may stand, and nocht do fall, And quho hes fallin, may knaw the sam at all

b. To fall on kne(is), to kneel. a1500 Bk. Chess 1997.
Sanct Bernard … Thankit gret God and fell on kneis law
a1568 Bann. MS. 30 b/6.
Cum mortall kingis, and fall on kneis doun
c1550 Rolland C. Venus 1v. 431.
Esperance … fell doun vpon his kne Befoir Venus

c. Of buildings: To come down in pieces. 1513 Doug. ii. vi. 27.
The nobil lugyng of worthy Deyphobus Was fal to grond
Ib. ii. viii. 6.
The ancyant worthy cite doun is fall
1596 Misc. Spalding C. I. 95.
William Murray, cordinar, belewit the hows … suld hef fallin

2. To drop from a higher to a lower place; to come down involuntarily.(a) 1375 Barb. vi. 253.
A gret stane than by him saw he,, .reddy for to fall
a1400 Leg. S. xxxviii. 508.
God … of the hewine a rayne gert fal
c1420 Wynt. viii. 4504.
Thai off dew wald lyk, Quhar thai fand it owcht fallyn thyke
1456 Hay I. 228/14.
As a sclate fell of a hous and slewe a man
Ib. II. 132/8.
Than all the levis fallis … and all verdure is corrupt
1456–70 Liber Aberbr. 107.
Begynnand at the burne … quhar that the strype fallys in the said burne
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 939.
The fulye of the fyne gold fell in the feild
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxii. 76.
Thai leit him fall doune with ane swak
1535 Stewart 29764.
Edfridus … af his hors amang thame fell doun deid
a1578 Pitsc. I. 336/12.
Thair was … ane greit portculis of trie falland doun
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. 70.
Gif ane theif is hanged vp vpon the gallous, and falles down fra the samine
(b) 1535 Stewart 18959.
Down castand craigis, the quhilk … Richt mony hurt quhair that tha did doun faw
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1695.
Ane dog … ane collap staw; Passand throw Tweid … the flesche leit faw
fig. 1456 Hay II. 39/12.
To fall fra grete honoure agayne that anys a man has bene at
1490 Irland Mir. I. 85/9.
Throu it the ressoune of man is fallin fra hie science and nobile state to gret blindnes and ignoraunce
1535 Stewart 15885.
His confort culit and his curage fell
1560 Rolland Seven S. 6861.
Quyte auld freindschip thay let faw
1572 Sat. P. xxx. 30.
All my senses suddanly doun fais
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xxvii. 14.
We … nowder will persaue nor kna That God for syn will lat ws fa
Ib. xcix. 50.
Sum hes bene grit and fain [Q. fallin] fra hey estait

b. To sink to a lower level. 1533 Boece x. xiv. 384.
Quhen the rivere of Lewin … was fallin and ebbit
1535 Stewart 33845.
Quhen that the flude was fawin
Ib. 39165.
Quhen that the ice was fawin, Thir deid bodeis out of the loch wer drawin

c. Of the night: To come on. 1375 Barb. i. 106.
Durst nane … , fra ewyn fell, abyd Castell or wallyt toune with in
Ib. xix. 705.
Than ger mak our fyres bricht, … Quhill that the nycht weill fallyn be
c1420 Wynt. ix. 129.
Qwhen the nycht welle fallyn was
a1570-86 Maitl. F. liii. 6.
The sarie lairdis … sendis thair wyffis behind the ȝardis To furthir erandis fra ewin faw

3. To get into a certain state or activity; to become involved or engaged in something … 1375 Barb. i. 250.
Than mays clerkis questioun, Quhen thai fall in disputacioun
Ib. iii. 193.
For throu mekill disconforting Men fallis oft into disparyng
a1400 Leg. S. ii. 197.
That na man suld … Fal in wanhope
Ib. vi. 420.
Gyf man … Fel in syne
c1420 Wynt. iv. 2058.
Wemen … fallyn, for dule, in hewynes
Ib. v. 3718.
The cumbyre that thow art fallyn in
1456 Hay I. 125/16.
He fallis in the crime of lese mageste, and in the payne of it
a1500 Rauf C. 90.
Into sic talk fell thay
Ib. 728.
The king fell in carping
1531 Bell. Boece II. 102.
It was belevit … that he suld fall in Pelagius heresyis
1537 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 87.
Now it is dekeyit and fallin in povertie
1576 Misc. Maitl. C. I. 112.
The said Walter [having] laitlie spokin and fawin in ressonyng and questioun with Iohnne Seytoun
c1615 Chron. Kings 36.
Malduinus … fawand in suspitioune of harlotrie wes mwrdreist
1596 Dalr. I. 91/1.
Gif thai fel in ony danger
1600 Acts IV. 209/2.
He and Harie Ruthven … fell in conference heiranent
c1650 Spalding I. 78.
They fell in sum wotdis about the vptaking of this fyne

b. With other preps., esp. on (slepe). a1400 Leg. S. xvii. 209.
He … fel one slepe of godis wil
c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 2256.
Thai … throw thare swete songe fallis on slepe
c1475 Wall. i. 237.
The ȝong captane has fallyn with me at stryff
1496 Acta Conc. II. 12.
The sadis landis ar fallin under the Kingis revocacione
1562-3 Winȝet I. 6/13.
Albeit it chance … that he fal on sleip quhen he suld erast walk
a1500 Henr. Orph. 109 (B).
Scho annone fell on a deidly swoun

c. With adjs. To become (blind, sick, etc.). c1420 Wynt. viii. 5879.
Blynd off bathe his eene fell he
1517 Acta Conc. MS. XXX. 135.
Ane child … is fallin sek
1531 Bell. Boece I. p. lviii.
He that was … fallin daft or wod … was geldit
a1568 Scott ii. 205.
Fra scho fell fow he fled away
16.. Hist. Kennedy 21.
The Laird of Bargany being this way agreitt with my Lord, thay fell werry gritt

d. ellipt. To become vacant. 1571 Sat. P. xxviii. 75.
The Cardinall deit, and than Sanctandros fell

4. a. To fall away fra or from (a person or principle). a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii. 770.
[This one] now is fra me suddendly Thus falline
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xli. 11.
Be ȝe ane janglar, and ȝe fra vertew fall
a1578 Pitsc. I. 105/13.
Frome them that … fallis sumtyme from right and ressone

b. To come down on. c1420 Wynt. ii. 415.
That foule … fell on caryoun all gredy
a1500 Henr. Orph. 332.
Thar fand he Pharo, for oppressioun Of Godis folk on quhilk the plagis fell
a1578 Pitsc. I. 4/12.
I will now cry that of his influence … may on me fall

c. To enter in(to) the mind. c1420 Wynt. v. 3711.
How may it fall in thine intent Tyll ask the haly sacrament?
1456 Hay I. 147/11.
[Gif it] efter fallis in his hert to pas of the contree

d. To betake or apply oneself, to begin, to some action. Also ellipt. to set to work. 1513 Doug. vi. x. 36.
Hand for hand Thai fal to werslyng on the goldyn sand
1536 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 76.
To gar mak viij stanis wecht and vther small wechtis, and to fall to the samyn incontinent
1540 Lynd. Sat. 360.
Fall to and tak ȝour pleasure
Ib. 1311.
In the mene tyme fall thow to warke Incontinent, and beild ane arke
1553 Lanark B. Rec. 27.
Geif the said [persons] payis nocht the soum or tha fall to the leddin of the tyndis [= teinds]

e. To become indebted to one. 1491 Acta Aud. 151/2.
William … haid brokin the compromisse & therfore wes falyn to him in the said soume of vc li.

f. To fall to, to fall upon, engage with. 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 6.
When ȝe fall to thame, bourd nocht with thame

g. To fall out, to digress. 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 130.
Heir we wer apeiring to fallout in some vther termes devoyding from the purpose

5. To happen, occur, take place. (Very common in 15–16th cents.)(a) 1375 Barb. i. 124.
For wnfayr thingis may fall, … Als weill to-morn as ȝhisterday
Ib. ix. 30.
Gif it fall at thai vill ficht, … Syne fall quhat euir that God vill send
a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 1151.
A ferly thing, That fallis wyd-quhare ilke ȝere
c1420 Wynt. v. 4126.
The fest … fallys ay Ewyne apon the Lammes day
c1420 Ratis R. 43.
That we weil be ensample may Se fall, and fallis ilke day
c1475 Wall. ii. 307.
Othir a Scott wald do a Sothroun teyne, Or he till him, for awentur mycht faw
1507 Edinb. Chart. 191.
The feist … quhilk fallis yeirlie on the thrid day of Nouember
1531 Bell. Boece I. 156.
Dredand sum dangeir to fall be thair continewal feirsnes
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 1034.
Oft tymes … it falls, The strang … Puttis waiker to the walls
(b) 1375 Barb. i. 587.
Of hys etlyng rycht swa it fell
Ib. vii. 54.
Sum men sais this eschaping Apon ane othir maner fell
a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 571.
A lytil barne … saw hou this ferly fel
c1420 Wynt. v. 1922.
That howre fell in the dysemale
Ib. 3376.
All thus The end fell off foule Arryus
?1438 Alex. ii. 2333.
Fell neuer sa fare to presoneir
c1475 Wall. viii. 1251.
Assumptioun day off Marye fell this cas
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxii. 70.
This report I … How at Dumfermling fell the cace
1535 Stewart 29934.
Ȝe sall heir me tell Of sick freindschip betuix thame efter fell
1596 Dalr. I. 260/10.
Sum alledge thay fell in another tyme
(c) 1375 Barb. xix. 625.
‘It mycht haf fallyn weill’, said he
1498 Acta Conc. II. 283.
With anter and avingture fallin and for to fall
1535 Stewart 17265.
Sayand also the suddane feid was fawin, With greit slauchter
1569 Reg. Privy C. II. 38.
Throw alteratioun of wotdis fallin betuix him and Maister Thomas Keir
1596 Dalr. I. 92/25.
Gif ony discorde … had fallin amang thame

b. May fall, perhaps, perchance. a1400 Leg. S. xxiii. 394.
Thocht na fath to me ȝe gefe, Ma fal to thame ȝe wil be-lif
Ib. xxxvi. 1016.
Sa to do ma fall thai hicht
c1420 Wynt. v. 4308 (W).
Sum … Will call the autour to rekles, Or may fall [R. perchans] argw his cunnandnes

c. To fall out or furth, in the same sense. 1563 Reg. Privy C. I. 244.
Ather to pas to Carlisle, or cum to this toun of Drumfreis, as sall fall out be lot or … be aggrement
1606 Melrose R. Rec. I. 8.
To releife his cationer … anent the cumer fallen out betuix tham and Walter Eleis
1610 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 316.
The … wrangis and bludis quilkis commounlie falls furth and ar committit be notorious tulyeouris
1627 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. II. 54.
Whairby notice may be givin to the subjects of anie forraine or intestine invasioun that sall happin to fall out
1637 Spalding I. 81.
Thair fell out … ane cruell weit dynging on nicht and day

6. To befall (one); to happen to (a person or his fortunes) … 1375 Barb. ii. 45.
Sa hard mycheiff hym fell
Ib. xvi. 668.
To the bischop is fallen faire
a1400 Leg. S. x. 492.
Quhene the puple hard tythinge How it wes fallyne to the kynge
c1420 Wynt. v. 3854.
Na till hys state sallfall defayme
c1420 Ratis R. 247.
As I sal the exemple tell, That Gothra the Bulȝone fell
c1475 Wall. viii. 1140.
Gret fawour will off fortoun till him fall
a1568 Scott xviii. 13.
Quhat chans that may fall me
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lxxvi. 6.
Thre brether war we, … The hardest fortoun fell me
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xxi. 83.
Sum mischeif will faw ws And nobilnes we put away

b. In phrases of imprecation or good wishes. c1475 Wall. i. 430.
Foule mot yow fall
1513 Doug. i. Prol. 260.
A twenty devill way fall hys wark atanys
1567 Sat. P. iii. 229.
My bony boy, … fair mot thé fa
1572 Ib. xxxi. 27.
Foull fall thame hes the wyte
1583 Sempill Ib. xlv. 690.
A vengeance faa him
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 735 (H).
Mischeif fall thy lipps
1638 Bk. Pasquils 44.
A witches son, shame fa his face

c. tr. To meet with, to fall into. (Cf. 7 b.) a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 84.
I haue pietie thow suld fall sic mischance
a1500 Seven S. 1315.
Ȝe sall fall sic confusioun As fell a lady in this tovne
Ib. 2085.
For the fals talis of the emprys Als mony sall ȝe fall mischefis
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xc. 61.
That man is abill to fall ane gret mischance

7. Of possessions: To come to one as owner, esp. by natural or legal right. a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 1016.
He [to whom] that fische to tend fell
1417 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 215.
The tend penny of all … profitis fallande to the kyng in the forsaid schirefdomys
c1420 Wynt. viii. 937.
He … gert thame decerne, at the crown … Till the Ballyoll suld fall off law
1466 Acta Aud. 4/1.
Isabel … sal brouke and joyse … the terce of the twa part falland til hir
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 256/16.
It suld fall to the aire quha euer war nixt prince
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxiii. 34.
No moir thy pairt dois fall Bot meit, drynk, clais
1561 Glasgow Prot. II. 94.
The haile movabile airschep quhilkis may fall … to hir
a1578 Pitsc. I. 170/11.
Na casualietieis culd fall to the king … bot it was disponit be the advyse of this Cowchrin
1632 Bamff Chart. 228.
He declarit that thair restis awand to him his haill stipend … quhilk fallis and pertenis to him as annat
1683 Melrose R. Rec. III. 8.
Six butts in Coatburne … qwhich fell by cutt and cavell to him
ellipt. 1542 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 110.
In this cais his escheit fallis … by reasoun of his noncompeirance
1615 Crim. Trials III. 374.
Gif it be sa tryit that the persone [is] convict, for the first falt his escheit sall fall

b. tr. To get, acquire, obtain. a1500 Henr. Fab. 722 (H).
In cace na flesche into my fude I fall
1535 Stewart 1350.
Be cut and cavill than till his part fell he Fra Clyde [etc.]
1557 Inverness Sheriff Ct. 59 b.
Cawillis being cassin, … scho fell hir terce to the schadow
1576 Edinb. Test. v. 61.
I … levis to … my dochter for all the geir that scho may fall be my deceis … aucht hundreth merkis
1622-6 Bisset II. 102/2.
They that ar onlie unforisfamiliat will fall the samin of law
1633 Misc. Abbotsf. Cl. 161.
Away, wich carling, devill a farthing ye noll fa
c 1690 Roxb. Ball. VI. 616.
Double dunts upon their rumps The lads began to fa' then

8. a. To belong or pertain to something. 1375 Barb. xvii. 176.
All that fell till stuff of toune; Thai kepit that fra distroying
1387 Edinb. Charters 36.
The forsayde masounys sal lay in place … xijc hewyn stanys … swylk as fallys to that werk
14.. Acts I. 30/2.
[To] do service to the kyng of als mekyl as fallys til ane rude of lande at the leste
?1438 Alex. ii. 487.
He set his battreis to our wallis And vtheris engynis that thair-to fallis

b. To be appropriate to, to come to one as a task or duty, to become (one). ?1438 Alex. ii. 1257.
It fallis na lard … For to missay nowthir ȝoung nor ald
Ib. 2681.
All four lichtit, … With bow and brais, as fallis huntaris
c1420 Wynt. vii. 1604.
All othir kyn offys, That all othir byschapys mycht And fallys for to do on rycht
a1500 Preistis Peblis 953.
It fallis to na king To brek his vow
Ib. 1007.
Now fallis me To tel ane tail
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 151.
Now, fayr sister, [it] fallis ȝow but fenȝeing to tell … How haue ȝe farne
c1568 Lauder Minor P. i. 309.
Now falls it weill to vs to wey but moir Quhat wes the cause
a1568 Scott v. 8.
Now in May to madynis fawis With tymmer wechtis to trip in ringis

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