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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.

Likly, Lykly, a. (n.) (adv.). Also: lick(e-, lic-; lyck-; leik- and -lie, -lé. [ME. lick- (Cursor M.), lic-, lik-, lykly, -li (also -liche adv.), ON. líklig-r (earlier glíklig-r) likely, probable, fit, promising, OE. (once) líclic (chiefly ᵹelíclic) fit, suitable. Cf. Likely.]

1. Having an appearance of truth or probability, seeming to be so or to be about to be so, probable, likely. c1420 Wynt. vi. 1710.
Schyr Knowt, that wes a wyly knycht, As he saw lykly in the fycht, Dowtyd to be supprysyd sone
Ib. 2323.
Les lykly thyng suth mycht be Demyd be possybylyte
Ib. viii. 6870.
Pryd may offt-tymys well gere faille That is apperand rycht lykly
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5008.
This I beleue, and is the liklyest
1570 Leslie 234.
Be the helpe … send frome France to the releif … of Scotlande, frome the … apperand danger was licklie and emanent thairto throch the cruell persuit of Ingland
1596 Dalr. I. 177/3.
[The Romans wish] ather that … thay al occasione of seditione may cut away; or that rather thay may occupie Britannie; and that is lykliest
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I. 105.
The dittay off Helen Fraser, a parte quherof is evident and manifeist, ane vther parte lycklie and probable
1600 Sc. Hist. Rev. XXXVI. 4.
I lyk nocht that, schir, for that is nocht lyklie
?1549 Monro W. Isles 19.
Certane banes [etc.] … alledgit to be the banes of the saids pygmeis, quhilk may be licklie according to sindrie storeis

b. Having the appearance, giving the impression (that one had done something, or that something had happened to one); appearing to be (strong, etc.), having the appearance of being, -looking. Cf. Like a. A 3. c1420 Wynt. vii. 3463 (Au., E2).
Sua this Kyng was lykly [Hys pryncehad chawngyd in tyrandry]
c1475 Wall. viii. 1015.
A ryoll sted … Beildyt about, rycht lykly to be wicht, Awfull it was till ony mannis sicht

c. Const. infin.: That may be expected, that is apparently about (to do something). Cf. Like a. A 4.Chiefly predic. When attrib., following the noun qualified. a1500 Henr. Fab. 1751.
Quhat gude, quhat euill is liklie for to be Of euerilk thing euin at the finall end
1574 Reg. Privy C. II. 415.
The greit inconvenient liklie to follow be spreding of the … pestilence to landwart
a1578 Pitsc. I. 51/26.
Because they knew thair deidlie enemies … lyklie to obteine his [sic] wickit intent
1590 Conv. Burghs I. 313.
Quhairby this pure burch is alradeye impouaragit and liklye to incur his maiesties wreth
1596 Dalr. I. 149/16.
Quhen Cæsar … saw that thay war nocht lang lyklie to byd constant
1607 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 295.
To stent … [£222. 4s. 5¼ d.] for support of … Dumbartane, quhilk is liklie to be wrakit be the inundatioun of the watter of Clyde
1622 Crim. Trials III. 527.
Ane … seiknes … quheirin the said Margaret was sa extremlie handillit that scho was liklie to ryve hir selff
1622 Conv. Burghs III. 134.
Thair herbarie [etc.] … ar becum ruinous and licklie to fall doun
1627 Rep. Parishes 115.
The rest of the few aikers … are all lying waist unlaboured and never licklie to be laboured
1630 Kirkcaldy Presb. 19. 1644 in Row xxv.
Quhen it wes reported that he wes not liklie to live
1659 Glasg. B. Rec. II. 411.
Divers persones … throw … their … contempt to the magistratis … , are lyklie to caus the … tredsmen … lois ther haill … priviledges
1670 Aberd. Council Lett. V. 9.
It being a matter of so great concerne and licklie to meett with mutch oppositione
?c1675 J. Gordon Hist. I. 9.
The door he did fynde shutt against him, and so was at a stande, lyckly to have been oppressed

d. In impersonal construction, qualifying a nounclause: (It is) credible or probable, (it is) to be supposed or expected (that etc.), it looks as if (something is, or may turn out to be, the case). Cf. Like a. A 5. c 1400 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 248.
The land … is called Lurgyndaspok, that is to say The Bischapis Leg, the whilk name war nocht likly it suld haf war it nocht the bischapis
1581 Burne Disput. 106 b.
It is maist liclie that ȝour neu erectit kirk … may maist esilie err
1596 Dalr. I. 3/11.
It is liklie that thay being sa noble seymen … that our iles thay apned vpe afore the Romanis
1600 Crim. Trials II. 251.
As for thir romuris that gois that the King was … ane persewar and not persewit, it is not true nor lickly
16.. Herries Mem. 75.
It was nothing licklie she wold fancie his persone, that was neither handsome nor well faced
1649 Blairs P. 21.
It is lickely that ere it be long he shall haue againe the same, yea grytter power

e. adv. Seemingly, apparently. c1420 Wynt. vii. 3643 (E, L).
[This King Edward] likly [Hys pryncehad chawngyd in tyrandry]

2. Of persons (chiefly men). a. That has the appearance of being fit or capable (for (to) an activity or to do something). a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 837.
Thai … gert a basare cum … That wes stark and likly als But let to strik in twa his als
c1420 Wynt. iv. 24.
He chesyd syne a thousand hale, Yhong and lykly to batayle
c1475 Wall. ii. 364.
Haile he was, likly to gang & ryd
Ib. v. 22.
With vi hundreth weill graithit in thar armes, All likly men to wrek thaim of thar harmes

b. Having the appearance or giving promise of being a stout and effective fighter, strong and brave looking. c1475 Wall. iv. 209.
Sexty he had off lykly men at wage
Ib. vi. 371.
A likly ost as of sa few thai fand
Ib. vii. 513. 1570 Leslie 215.
Thay appered to be licklie men, and well appointed for the war

c. Of good appearance, well-made, good-looking, handsome. c1475 Wall. i. 213.
Likle he was, richt byge and weyle beseyne, In till a gyde of gudly ganand greyne
Ib. vi. 784. Ib. vii. 375.
Ye ar … Als forthwart, fair, and als likly off persoun, As euir was I
1513 Doug. ix. vi. 63.
The lykly ȝong child, … That all the fornycht in ryot and in play Had spendyt
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8377.
He … was of bodie the liklyest … weill maid at all fassoun, Weill fauourit of face and gude proportioun
Ib. 8686.
Sa furth he fairis, ane liklie man to luik
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS. No. 1641.
Ye ar sib to a singet catt ye ar better nor ye ar likly

d. ? Giving promise of success, promising, hopeful. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS. No. 954.
Liklie lyes in the myre & wnlikly goes by it

3. Of things. a. That appears suitable or adapted (for some purpose). c1420 Wynt. ii. Prol. 24.
Off hys storys tha wyll I Compyle, that me-thynk mast lykly, Tyll oure matere accordande, And tyll yhowre heryng mast plesand
Ib. iii. 1060 (C).
This Symon … wan Irlande and chesit that plasse Qwhar honast and mast likly was, Thar he made a grete cite

b. ? Apparently ready for use, or ? of good appearance 1692 Caldwell P. 93.
Quherin boyl a handfull of earth wormes quhill they be leiklie

c. Of armour: That has the appearance of being of good quality, that gives promise of strength. a1500 Sir Eger (1711) 91.]
[Likelier armour than I had Was no Christian man in clade

4. absol. as n. a. In the superl.: The liklyest, The course which appears to offer the best prospect of success; what seems most promising or most suitable in the circumstances. 1375 Barb. iii. 334.
Then amang thaim thai thocht it best And ordanyt for the liklyest That the Queyne [etc.] … suld ga … till Kildromy
c1420 Ratis R. 941.
For comonly thai folow kynd, And gretly to the moderis strind; Sen thar is bot the lyklyest Hald ay gud mothir dochtir best
c1475 Wall. vi. 379.
Be wryt or word quhilk likis yow best till haiff? In wryt, thai said, it war the liklyast
1533 Boece vii. vii. 234.
Ȝe suld be erectit in hope of glorios victorie: treulie it efferis wicht men euer haue esperance of the likliest
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2022.
To eshew danger, do ȝe the liklyest
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 234.
Do the likliest, and God will do the best

b. In the compar. (In Hay:) Quha has the lyklyar, appar., which (of the combatants) has apparently the greater expectation of victory. 1456 Hay I. 98/19.
Gif the lord may nocht knaw the first day quha has the lyklyar, gif thai suld cum again on the morne and enter in felde as before
Ib. 268/8.
The prince … suld discretly juge at the parting quha has the victory or the lyklyare [F. lequel est vainqueur]

c. (An) ill licklie, a poor or unfavourable prospect (of an outcome): cf. 1 d above. 1680 Soc. Ant. XLV. 241.
Ye may think you will escape the judgment of God, but there is an ill licklie of it quhen you state yourselves against his people

5. Similar in appearance (to or till, or const. dative). Cf. Like a. A 1. c1420 Wynt. vi. 1158.
For bath hewyd and tale he had As a hors, and hys body All till a bere wes mast lykly
1513 Doug. ii. xii. 64.
The figur fled as lycht wynd … Or maist lykly [v.rr. lik-] a waverand swevyn or dreym [L. simillima somno]
1609 Acts IV. 423/1.
Haveing considerit the fyve wryttis producit be the aduocat declaris that he thinkis thame lyklie to his wryttis and that the samin appeiris to be verie lyk his wrytt be the conformitie of letteris and spelling
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1338.
Sche is a gimmer liklie, sche is hewit like the bak

b. adv. With close resemblance, so as to provide a good likeness (in portraiture). a1585 Maitl. Q. xlviii. 47.
Not abill … With colouris competent So quiklie Or liklie A forme to represent

6. Suffixed to an adj. in Ill-likly a. = Like a. E 2.

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"Likly adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Apr 2024 <>



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