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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Lair, n.1 Also: laire, layr(e, layar, layer, laar; lare; lear(e. [ME. and e.m.E. leir, leyr, layere, lair, OE. leᵹer. Except for sense 1, the following are appar. chiefly or only Sc. (and, in some cases, north. ME. also).]

1. A person's or an animal's lying- or resting-place. a. A person's couch, bed. c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 1657.
Wyntir … with his austrene wyndis blast … Was cummand frome his lurkand laire
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 133.
Ȝe ar harbreit oure hie … Quhair[for] descend and lawar mak ȝour laire
?a1500 Rosw. & Lillian 306.
Thou shalt Want neither meat nor laire
1560 Rolland Seven S. 9911.
To ane chalmer belyue thay culd him bring … quhair his bed was and lair
1606 Birnie Kirk-b. iv. 5.
Their mother earth, as the graue onely designed by God, … and keeping best relation to our resurrection, as out of whose lare onely we may properly be saide to rise

b. A place where cattle or sheep lie down; a part of a pasture where cattle or sheep go or are taken to rest. Also fig. 1513 Doug. xiii. Prol. 44.
Still war the fowlis … All stoir and catall seysit in thar lair [R. lare]
1616 Crim. Trials III. 383.
In ane cleuch-syde, quhair the said laird of Drumlangrig his scheip war lying in thair lairis
1674 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds II. 185 (3 Jan.).
[The] Grayston croft and sheep lears [between] the leane [and the way]
fig. a1585, a1568 Montg. Ps. xxiii. 5.
He makes my leare In feelds so fare

c. A wild animal's den or retreat. 1596 Dalr. I. 21/26.
Another kynde of slwthundes, … throuch violence out of thair lairis and dennis he dryues the foxis, the martrix, the brok and the wilkatt

2. A night's rest. 1513 Doug. viii. iv. 70.
As all the bestis war Repatyrit weil eftir thar nychtis layr

b. The provision of a bed for a person; lodgings. 1543 Treas. Acc. VI. 212.
For James Canochtsounis burd and lair, xiij li. vj s. viij d.

c. The spending of a night by an animal or animals belonging to one person among the crops of another. Also north. e.m.E. (of Tweedmouth) (1613 Raine North Durh. 243). 1629 Milne Home MSS. 85.
That na guidis be out of foldis ... in the night ... pain ... ane nichtis lair in corne, ane firlit corne
1633 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. II. 365.
For tua nightes laires of fyv nolt and tuentie sheip in the said George his cornes of Thundertoun of the cropt 1630 yeirs ane firlott quhyt aittis ilk heid of nolt nightlie and ilk fyv sheip ane firlott lyk aittis nightlie
Ib. 390.
Togidder also with thrie firlottis aittis for ane nichtes lair of thrie horsis eftir the persewares entrie to shear the cornes with ane boll aittis for ane nichts lair of four horsis at sundrie tymes thaireftir perteining to the saids defenderis
1671 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes No. 94.
Item I aclame the said John Hair the number of four pecks of corne for ane nights lair of ane mear cropt 1668 quhilk I offer to prove
1671 Ib. No. 107.
Maire I aclame them the nights lair of a naig in my skeath being ane furlett corne

3. a. Said of a woman: A lying with a man as a prostitute. a1500 Seven S. 1223.
The King … said that him behufit than For hele haf deile with a woman And bad him … A hundreth merk gif for a laire
1603 Philotus 1110.
Quhat is ȝour pryce damesall fair ? Quhat tak ȝe for a nichts lair?

b. Lying-in or childbed: only in Childbedlair, Cheldbed lare, jesing-lair, Jesing n.

4. A burial-place or -site. a. A grave or tomb. b. Chiefly, a space or plot reserved as burial-space by a person or family in a church or graveyard. Also attrib. with place, and see Lair-silver and Lair-stane.See also kirk-laire, Kirk n. 9 d.(a) c1420 Wynt. vii. 3244.
He chesyd hys layre in till Kelsew, Noucht in the kyrk off Sayntandrewe
1454–5 Edinb. Chart. 79.
In the quhilk ile thare sal be made a brase for his lair in bosit werk
1458 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. II. 329.
Thai sall haue thair lairis quhen thai discess free in quhat place of the kirk it plesis thaim to ly
1502 Treas. Acc. II. 150.
Giffin to David Prat quhen he began the laying of the lair in Cambuskinneth, xiiij s.
1508 Ib. IV. 132.
To the Almayn that suld mak the Kingis lair in Cambuskinneth in marbill, xxviij s.
1535 Stewart 3985.
The lordis … Hes saisit him syne in his sepulture … in till ane feild full fair, Quhair that him self befoir chesit his lair
1539 Glasgow Prot. IV. 119.
Twa wax preckattis byrneand … abone the lair of Jhon Painter
a1578 Pitsc. I. 154/13.
[Bishop Kennedy] fondit ane … colledge in Sanctandrois, … quhairin he maid his lair verri cureouslie and costlie
1594 Misc. Maitl. C. I. 69.
Inconvenientis that hes arrysit wpone the inbringing of the bodies of the deid of ane parochin into the lairis of parochineris [of another parish]
1617 Perth Kirk S. in Birnie Kirk-b. p. ix.
[The said James having] brak vpe his [Gawen's] lair within the quier of the kirk of Monkland
1649 Aberd. B. Rec. III. 108.
Many persones … cannot … pay for thair lair according to the old rait as was exacted for buriallis within church abefoir
1653 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 262.
All these wha pretendit to have any lair at the kirkyaird dyk
1688 Robertson Cullen Church Ann. 69.
[Two pews to be erected] in the east side of the Duffs Ile in the roome called Skeith's lair next unto Tochieneal's seat, or pew, … [reserving] the right of the lair or buriall underneath the said pews, to any who hath true right thereunto
(b) 1464 7th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 736/1.
Ws Androw … abbot of the Abbay of Jedworth … haff grantyt … til … Robert of Ruderford … and his wyff thar laris within the quer of our abbay next the wtmest grese
1495 Reg. Episc. Brechin II. 317. 1497 Douglas Chart. 165.
The said Willȝeme … has gevyne sex markis to the reparacioun and bygyne of the said Iill for laris of the grund
1555 Stirling B. Rec. I. 66.
William Makke admittit be the counsall in the uptaking and laying of laris in the kyrk in tymis cuming
1606 Birnie Kirk-b. xix. 36.
A most auncient custome of keeping the predecessor lare in buriall
1721 Glasgow B. Rec. IV. iii.
The lares and burial places in the Northwest Kirkyeard
(c) 1529 Stirling B. Rec. I. 36.
All layaris and thruchis
1553–4 Edinb. Old Acc. II. 21.
The layeris of the kirk for this yeir … Item, for ane barnis layer, ij s.
1625 Elgin Rec. II. 189.
Jhone Pedder and Patrik Chalmer ilk ane of them tuentie s. for the layer off their children
1665 S. Ronaldshay 49.
For the kirk layer, mortcloth, and four bells rung, … £16 Scots

5. A place or position where anything rests or lies; a site. 1555 Coll. Aberd. & B. 383.
Euill auisit personis … hes remouit the principall merche stanis out of the auld and naturall laires
1558 Treas. Acc. X. 367.
To certane pyonaris for thair laubouris in the monting of Mons furtht of hir lair to be schote
1573 Reg. Privy C. II. 232.
Quhen thay had … cassin the ground, … led thair stanys, cassin and mixt thair lyme and sand and in the space of xx dayis … had brocht thair werk reddy to the lair
1692 Conv. Burghs IV. 571.
A years [rent] of the midding lairs at the east and west ports, 18. 0. 0.

b. One of the vats in which, at different stages, hides lie in tanning; hence, one of the stages in tanning. = mod. Eng. layer. 1652 Edinb. Test. LXVI. i.
xxvj daiker ane hyde of thick lethir of the first and second lair lying in bark

6. In the north-east: A patch of ground near a peatbank on which the cut peats were laid to dry.Appar. unrelated to Lair n.3 1247–8 Lindores Chart. 179.]
[Concessimus eciam eisdem monachis longitudinem et latitudinem unius acre in dicta mora … proximo adjacente loco in quo dictas petas fodient, in cujus quidem acre longitudine et latitudine predictas petas suas … licite possint desiccare
1608 Inverurie B. Ct. 13 June.
Awaytacking ... of wthir mennis peittis aithir be leiding away or flitting of peittis out of lairis of wthir mein
1615 Reg. Great S. 435/2.
Terras de Counteswellis etc. [Aberdeenshire] … cum spatiis terrarum immediate a dictis marresiis distantium vulgo lie lairis in quibus glebe et focalia arida devenire more patrie possent
1678 Forbes Baron Ct. 318.
That no persone … quho leads peatts to my lord shall remove from the moss wntill they give satisfaction to the mossgreiwf … for dighting the lair and gate
1692 Urie Baron Ct. 102.
That he hade severall tymes carried away gathrings of lairis of peatis of other persones furth of the moss

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"Lair n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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