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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
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Lady, n. Also: ladi(e, laday, ladé; laidy(e, -ie, -ey, laydy(e, -ie, ; laedy; leady, -ie; ledy, -ay, -ie, , leddy, -ie. Plur. also ladis, -ys. [ME. lady, ladi (14th c.), earlier lavedi, lafdi, laffdiȝ (Orm), also (west. and south.) levedi, lefdi, ONhb. hláfdía, OMerc. hláfdíe, OWS. hlǽfdíᵹe.]

1. The consort or spouse of a man of rank, as king, baron or knight.Esp. one who has the title ‘Lady’.(a) a1500 Henr. Orph. 173 (A).
My lady, quene and luf Erudices
a1500 Colk. Sow iii. 682.
[Earl Flannislie] namit it [his territory] eftir him and his lady
1490 Irland Mir. 61. heading.
The state of innocens that Adam and his lady war creat in
Ib. MS. 306 b.
As the lord anoernys with precius clething his hartlie louit lady
1531 Bell. Boece II. 449.
To annere to hir as his lawchful lady and wiffe
1528 Lynd. Dreme 209.
Thare kirkis rewin, thare ladyis clenely cled
a1586 Maitland Ho. Seytoun 38.
His ladye remanit wedo xlv yeiris
1583 Wemyss Corr. 78.
The lady, your maisterschipis bedfellou
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1710.
Ye bread of the nurice that weil can florish, a lising to the laird and ane other to the ladie
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I. 164.
Ane wodsett … made to him and his ladie in lyfrent
1645 Baillie II. 295.
Remembering my service to your good kind lady
(b) 1481 Misc. Spald. C. II. 324.
Tyll … Heyrlle Wylyam the Hay, tyll his spoys, contas and layde Deym Betterecht of Dogles [etc.]
1684 Bk. Old Edinb. C. IX. 118.
Sir William Scot … & his laidie wer present
Ib. 153.
A petition presented by Dame Elizabeth Dundas Laidy to Sir John Dalrymple
1687 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. XIII. 177.
She hes seen the said James Forbes and his ladie and Peitter Grant and his laidie … walking about the said hous
(c) 15.. Clar. i. 1322.
The knicht … sen his ledie revischt was, never he Did . petie to no creatoure
1637 S. Leith Rec. 27.
The said nobell lord and his ledie his wyfe

b. A lady tercer.See also Terce n., Tercear n., for further examples. 1480 Acta Conc. I. 63/2.
To hald him skatheles insafer as the ladijs thrid extendis to
1491 Acts II. 225/1.
Quhen ony laidy haffand terce … happinis to deces [etc.]
1525–6 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 241.
George erle of Huntlies landis quhilkis ar all haile in thre ladyis handis be resoune of terce, lifrent and conjunctfee
1536 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 131.
Janot Inglis lade of terce of landis of Orrok
1569 Glasgow Prot. IV. 6.
Dame Jonet Steward lady tercear of the samyn [estate]
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I. 179.
The lyfrent of ane lady tearcer

2. A woman having authority or property: a female ruler or landowner; a female occupant of a throne, barony, etc.; a mistress in relation to disciples or followers.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxi. 136.
Sen vsurpyt pouste Has mad me ȝoure lady [L. dominam] be
c1420 Wynt. iv. 433.
Dame Tarays that tyme wes lady And quene regend all Sythy
1447 Reg. Great S. 106/2.
The forsaide lady oblisis her to inlow … as uthir lordis inlowis … on four half aboute
a1500 K. Hart 349.
Scho ran vnto hir lady kene
1550 Prot. Bk. W. Corbet 13.
[Letters of procuratory by the said] Jonet Newton of Dawcowe, laidy
1572 Sat. P. xxxiii. 374.
All thir foirfalts … That lords, lairds, ladys, and lawers dois exerce
1596 Dalr. II. 441/8.
Quhilk abbacie is in Rhemes, quhair her sister was ladie or abbates than
(2) 1498–9 Acta Conc. II. 319.
[Margaret Hume, widow of Thomas Yare] lady of the frank-tenement of the two part of the sadis landis
Ib. 328.
Aganis Jonet Tulloch, ane of the ladyis of Bonyngtoune, and Maister David Gardin, hir spouse
1500 Ib. 378.
[Beatrice Folkert] lady of the half landis of Folkertoun
15.. Clar. v. 1295.
Thay speirit quha was ladie of the feist, And thay tham kennit to Meliades
(3) transf. or fig. 1375 Barb. i. 550.
Arthur, that throw chevalry Maid Bretane maistres & lady Off xij kin[rykis] that he wan
a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 781.
For laydy of the warld we hir cal, & als emprise of hele withall
1456 Hay I. 21/22.
That the kirk of Rome suld be callit lady and maistres of all cristyn kirkis

3. A gentlewoman.Very common throughout the period as a courteous or complimentary mode of reference to a woman regarded as of some rank or of gentle birth or breeding.(1) 1375 Barb. ii. 567.
The ladyis raid rycht by his syd
1397 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 32.
Betwix a nobil ladi Mergaret contas of Mar [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. v. 992.
Swa in hys slepe, … A yhong lady … Aperyt tyll hym
1456 Hay I. 251/6.
Quhethir gif bataill … may be lefully haldyn before the ladyes
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 474.
Ane lipper lady rais, and till hir wend
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1253.
That ryale cumpany, Of lordis and ladis, lufsum to lere
a1570-86 Dunb. Maitl. F. li. 50.
Quhy put God sic bewtie In ladeis face
1535 Stewart 46883.
Richt mony lade led wes in that ring
c1540 Lynd. Syde Taillis 25.
That euery lady of the land Suld haue hir taill so syde trailland
1560 Rolland Seven S. 525.
We wald ȝe tuke sum honest gay ladie Ȝour nobill quene … to be
a1585 Maitl. Q. ii. 100.
Lyik lordis wyffis in ladyis weid As dames of honour
a1578 Pitsc. II. 210/25.
The regent knawand this guide ladyes mynd
1662 Highland P. III. 20.
His father and mother sister and wife are witch people and will … make thé a lady
1682 Melrose Reg. Rec. III. 33.
[Janet Hallywall] called lady [in Gattonside]
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xxv. 704.
A laydy far & auenand [sc. the Virgin]
Ib. xxix. 382.
That he mycht brok the laydy fre
a1578 Pitsc. I. 240/21.
Scho remanit … and all the Inglis lordis and laydies with hir
(c) 1540 Lynd. Sat. 1505 (B).
For scylence I protest Off lords, laird and leddy [: reddy]
a1568 Scott vi. 17. Ib. 27.
Thocht my lyking wer a leddy [: reddy] And I no lord
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1107.]
[I am ane ȝoung lady, And to performe ȝour will am heir reddy
(d) ?1438 Alex. (c 1580) ii. 4787.
Ilkane of tha ledeis fre To vthir said in priuate [etc.]
(2) a1400 Leg. S. x. 217.
Thane com the ewnuke of Quen Candas … & sad, Laydy [etc.]
c1450-2 Howlat 738.
We … all committis to thé Saull and lyf, ladye
1513 Doug. iii. Prol. 1.
Hornyt lady, pail Cynthia, not brycht
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1155.
O lady fair, I pray God me defend [etc.]
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 286.
Ladie! ladie! the blake oxe hes neuer trampit yit vpoun your foute
(3) a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 607.
Lo, fair ladyis, [etc.]
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 503.
Ladyis, leir thir lessonis
1513 Doug. ii. Prol. 15.
Harkis, ladeis, ȝour bewte was the caws
Ib. xi. vii. 48. a1568 Scott iv. 1.
Ȝe lusty ladyis, luke, The rakles lyfe ȝe leid
1640 Bk. Pasquils (1827) ii. 7.
Ladayes, I requyst you, keep from the vall

b. A lady in attendance on a queen, a lady-in-waiting. 1473 Treas. Acc. I. 29.
For lyveray govnis to sex ladys of the Quenis chalmire
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1847.
Thair awin maistres thay chancit for to meit With hir ladyis cumming fra the tornay
1561 Treas. Acc. XI. 65.
For vij elnis … blak to be vj cussinettis to the Quenis gracis ladeis
a1578 Pitsc. II. 124/22.
The King of Neverowne … leidand our Scoittis quein hame … with hir tryne of ladyes

c. Ladies sailing, gentle sailing, easy progress: cf. mod. Eng. (nautical) lady's wind a gentle breeze. 1629 Boyd Last B. 185.
Man ... like a shippe before the winde ... may get ladies sailing, as wee say, and that in a wonderfull quietnesse

4. In territorial, family and other complimentary titles. As Lady, the Lady or my Lady.In (1) and (2), applied espec. to wives and female successors of greater and lesser barons; also to countesses and marchionesses, but less frequently, the latter being also often designated by their specific rank (see Countes(se n, etc.).(The) auld (= the dowager) lady, also (the) ladie elder; (the) ȝoung (= the present) lady, also ladie … ȝounger; and baith ladyis, the ladyis.(1) 1474 Treas. Acc. I. 69.
To my lady of Hammiltoune the Kingis sister
1497–8 Acta Conc. II. 109.
[The] evidentis … war in the handis of the lady of Kynnard
a1500 Lanc. 253.
To defend the lady of Nohalt
1519 Fife Sheriff Ct. 139.
Margrete Sinclare ald lady of Balmouto
1525 Douglas Corr. 99.
Send the said wryttyngis … to my lade of Caldstreme
1539–40 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 485.
Marioun Howme, lady of Craufurd
1555 Balmerino Chart. 67.
To haue resauit fra … ane honorable woman, Christiane Kyrcaldy, ȝoung lady of Culethy, ane assedacioun [etc.]
a1578 Pitsc. I. 266/16.
Lyand still bydand the ladie of Furdis coming
1604 Elgin Rec. II. 118.
The auld ladye and young ladie of Grant communicated this day awcht dayis
1618 Grant Chart. 317.
Fra Agnes McKensie, ladie elder of Dunnachtane
1649 Lamont Diary 9.
The younge lady of Balfoure in Fyfe dyed at Kilrinny, being daughter to the Laird of Moncreife
Ib. 12.
Ane Mistris Hendersone, … sometymes lady of Pittahro
c1650 Spalding II. 53.
The ladie dowager of Huntlie, ane nobill … princes
1677 Stitchill Baron Ct. 80.
To pleas the lady of Stitchell
(b) 1438 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 265.
Gylis of Murreff, laydy of Culbyne
1488 Acta Aud. 114/1.
Jonete Hammiltoun laidy of Gaitgirth
c 1570 Breadalbane Lett. (Reg. H.).
To ane honourbill laydy the laidy of Glenvrquhaye this
(2) 1498 Liber Melros 621.
Jonet covntes of Murray and lady Frendraucht my grandame
1501 Treas. Acc. II. 120.
To Home, the lady Musgraves man
1501 Reg. Privy S. I. 108/1.
Janete Kennedy lady Bothuile
1503 Ib. 142/2.
Elizabeth lady Glammys, the spous of umquhile Johne lorde Glammys
1506 Orkn. & Shetl. Rec. 248.
My ladye Syncler
1517 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 100.
Angnis the lady Botwell
1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 229.
My gud sister my lady Hwntlye
1548 Ib. 281.
Maryon lady Home
1563 Inchaffray Reg. 83.
The rentall … gewin in by my lord and lady Drummond
c1610 Melville Mem. 120.
His mother my lady Lenox
1653 Lamont Diary 77.
The Atholers … went to Huntley, the lady Glames joynture
1677 Fawside Coal Compt 16.
To the ladie Litel Fawside loads
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. (1699) i. xvii. 90.
Feb. 1666, Lady Miltoun against the laird
(b) 1561 Digest Justiciary Proc. D. 14.
Marone Ogillwye laidye Innermerkye
1652 Lanark B. Rec. 148.
At the laydie Carmychellis hous
1684 Bk. Old Edinb. C. IX. 166.
Laidie Colvine werdit
(c) 1597 Warrender P. 324.
My leadie Huntlie to embrase the religion with hir husband
(d) 1628 Dundonald Par. Rec. 267.
Soune to the leddie Dregarne
1629 Ib.
Servant to the ledy Dregarne
1644 Tulliallan Coal Wks. 70.
To the ledie Tulliallon
(3) 1586-7 Acc. Lady Bellenden .
The lady justice clarkis accompt
1629 Boyd Fam. P. 9 June.
Umquhile Dame Margrat Lyone lady marquess of Hamiltoune
1639 M. Works Acc. XXIX. 20.
Ane stok lok for my laedy thesauraris chalmare doore
(4) 1503–4 Treas. Acc. II. 337.
To the lady maistres
1507–8 Ib. IV. 60.
For x elne dames to lady maistres litill madin … xij li.
Ib. 67.
To the lady maistres, hir half ȝeris fee
1540 Ib. VII. 320.
Gevin to the lady maistres for expensis debursit be hir for covering of my lord princis cradill
1540 Lynd. Sat. 1831.
Speir at my ladie priores, Gif lechery be sin
(5) 1488 Treas. Acc. I. cclxxxviii.
To a man of lady Margaretis
1494–5 Ib.
To my lady Margrete
1496 Ib. 277.
Giffin to the lady Margreit of Drummond
1570 Leslie 268.
Ane beutifull … princis, lady Elizabethe, was proclamed Quene of Inglande
1600 Treas. Acc. MS. 99.
His maiesties darrest dochter lade Margret
1649 Lamont Diary 4.
The Earl of Angus maried … lady Jeane Weyms, my lord Elchos eldest daughter
(6) a1500 Colk. Sow iii. 120.
Lady Wagtaill his joy and all his hairt
c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 77.
My lady Cleo, that help of makaris bene
Ib. 210.
Yoldyn as a woful prisonnere To lady Beautee
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lxxii. 46.
Quhen lady Judith wes send fra the toun

b. The Lady, one who has the title ‘Lady’ as sense 4 above.  1495–6 Treas. Acc. I. 265.
Lady Margretis dochtir, … vj ellis of Rissillis broune … deliuerit to the said lady
1501 Ib. II. 123.
To pas with the ladyis cariage to Ternway
1587 Edinb. Test. XVII. 250.
I leif to the laird of Lag xl lib., … to the ȝoung lady x lib.
1598 Black Bk. Taymouth 325.
Off new treidling scheittis maid be the laidy in Finlarg
c1650 Spalding II. 91.
The lordschip of the Engȝie had the lady dovager hir to be lifrentrix thairof
1657 Stitchill Baron Ct. 8.
Robert Dickson servitor to the old laidy
1674 Cunningham Diary 2.
I compleited the first year's boarding to the lady
Ib. 43.
The laird and lady being at Pasley
1685 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds II. 346.
[The miller is] to work the ladie [four loads of corn yearly free of multure or bannock] except the ladyes guidwill

c. My lady, as a mode of address or reference to a noble lady (normally one who has the title ‘Lady’). Also once our lady.Commonly used by a servant or inferior of or to his or her mistress.(1) 1409 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 73.
We [sc. the Earl of Angus] haf sett to the sele of oure lady oure modyr
(2) c1420 Wynt. viii. 4884.
This is ane of my ladyis [sc. Agnes of Dunbar] pynnys; Hyr amouris thus till my hart rynnys
a1500 Rauf C. 229.
With my lady the Quene In office maist haue I bene
1473 Treas. Acc. I. 72.
Thingis deliuerit to my lady in Hadingtone the Kingis sister
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xlii. 16.
Bewty sayis, Ȝa schir, perchance Ȝe be my ladeis presoneir
Ib. liv. 5, 10, etc.
My ladye with the mekle lippis
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 1028.
That salbe done, quod thay, my ladie
1551–2 Treas. Acc. X. 55.
Ane boy send to Lynlythqw witht holand claitht … to my lady
1576 Breadalbane Lett. 19 May.
My wyfe & hale hushuld commendis tham hartlie … to my ladie ȝour wyfe
1600-1610 Melvill 221.
I war maist ingrat if I sould forget my guid, godlie and maist courteus lady, my lady Wedringhton
1611 M. Works Acc. (ed.) 332.
Ane new key to ane loke of the duir of my ladies calbenat
c 1680 Bk. Dunvegan I. 205.
Shews for my leday £1. 16. 0.
1696 Annandale Corr. 126.
I wisch my leady my recover her helth quickly

d. Our, my soverane lady, the Queen as sovereign; see also Soverane a.Common only during Mary's reign.(a) 1482–3 Acta Conc. II. ciii.
[To] pay to our soverane lady the Quene or her factouris [etc.]
1543 Corr. M. Lorraine 51.
To be abstractit fra making of gude service to our soverane lady
1545 Reg. Paisley App. 7.
In the bukis of our soverane ladyis consall
1550 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 151.
Oure souerane lady … ordanis [etc.]
1554 Crim. Trials I. i. *368.
In will to oure souerane lady and hir justice in hir name
1558 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 311.
Our souerane ladyis letters impetrat be hym
1559 Inverness Rec. I. 37.
Our souerane lades auctorite and lawis
1561 Crim. Trials I. ii. 409.
For convocatioun of our souerane ladies liegis
1566 Ib. 481.
Our soverane lady being for the tyme in her maist secreit chamber
1571 Bann. Memor. 92.
The said Johne … invyed against our souerane ladie
(b) 1551 Prot. Bk. W. Corbet 14.
My souerand laydye
(c) 1543 Acts II. 432/1.
Vmquhile our souerane ledyis feder … hir guidschir & grantschir
(d) 1561 Edinb. B. Deeds 5 b.
The tennement of land … to be haldin of our souerane leady

5. A lady who is the object of (esp. chivalric) devotion; a knight's or lover's lady, mistress or ‘ladylove’ (lady luffe). a1500 Lanc. Prol. 166.
Myne hart nonne othir bissynes Haith bot my ladice seruice
1535 Stewart 25667.
Ilk man … To just and turnay for his ladeis saik
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 51.
I wait Sir Lancelote du Lake … Faucht neuer better … For his ladie in no battell
Ib. 84.
He … stude weill ay in his ladies grace
a1568 Scott xi. 3.
Thocht ȝe with ȝour ladyis daill, [observe] ressoun
Ib. xv. 24.
Sweit maistres, lady luffe & lusty wicht
Ib. xvii. 17.
My lady fair, of me scho takis no cure
a1568 Bann. MS. 143 a/2.
I met my lady weil arrayit
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. i. 3.
Luiffaris, leif of to loif so hie Ȝour ladyes

6. The Virgin Mary. More commonly Our lady.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 633, 639.
A lady Mary, … wysly, laydy, pray I thé That thu wald mercy hafe of me
c1450-2 Howlat 724.
Haile lady of all ladyis, lichtest of leme
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxii. 12.
Ay the lame cryd, Lady, help!
1537 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 412.
[To] syng Aue gloriosa ane anteme of our lade in honour and laud of that glorious lade
(2) c1420 Wynt. ii. 233.
The tribus … Off quhome come oure suet lady, Goddys modyr, myld Mary
1456 Hay II. 70/11.
His dere … moder and virgyne oure suete lady Marye
a1540 Freiris Berw. 88 (B).
Our deir lady Mary keip [M. Our lord Jesus me sauf] fra sic cace

b. In combinations: Of (in honour of, dedicated or gifted to) the Virgin.Orig. syntactical use of the gen. (which in ME. agreed in form with the nom.), as ladie-alterage, -corse, -fasting, -kirk, etc.: also Lady-day, Lady-mes. Also with the possess. laydys, ladies.(1) 1576 Ch. in Orkney 149.
The thrid of the prebendarie of the ladie alterage in Sanct Manis
1632 Lanark B. Rec. 326.
The alterage callit the Ruid, Halybluid and Lady in Lanarke
16.. Hist. Kennedy 47.
Me lord … wes at the Lady-corse befoir the laird
1456 Hay I. 32/3.
As gif the pape walde curs a man, for he wald … fast the lady fastyng in brede and water
1473 Treas. Acc. I. 64.
Gevin the King to offir … in the Lady Kirke of Sanctandros
1490 Acta Conc. I. 165/2.
The prouest of the Laidy Kirk besid Sanctandres
a1578 Pitsc. I. 380/6.
The Lady Kirk of Heuche
1596 (1658) Rothesay B. Rec. 1017.
And sicklike we passed to the Lady Land called the Little Lady Rood
1454 Invent. in Dundee B. Ct. I. 3.
The lady preist
1495 Reg. Episc. Brechin II. 316.
To serve the lady preyst of the forsaid kirk [of Our Lady in Dundee]
1606 Reg. Great S. 668/2.
Advocatione rectorie … ecclesie parochialis de Eglischame, capelle … de Nether-Craig et lie lady-preistschip dicte ecclesie
1693 Soc. Ant. XIII. 76.
To cause some of their guard stand at the Ladie steps and Tron kirk door
1580 Liber Dryburgh 312.
Ex australi parte porte vulgo vocate lie Ladye Yett
(2) 1487 Reg. Episc. Glasgow 453.
Octo decem solidi de terris subscriptis viz. de le Laydys Ȝarde … cum pertinentiis
1654 Moray Synod 119.
Superstitiouslie repairing to the cheaple at Speyside vulgarlie called the Ladies Cheaple

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



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