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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.

Line, Lyne, n.2 Also: lin, lyn(ne, lyin(ne, lyen, layn. [ME. line, lyne, OE. líne, ON. lína, and OF. ligne: see Ling n.3]

1. A rope, cord or string, as used for various purposes.a. A builder's line, used for measuring, levelling, making plumb etc.; a gardener's line; and see also 2. Be lyne and levall, = carefully, methodically.(1) 1529–30 M. Worhs Acc. (ed.) I. 2.
For ane double lyne to the masonis
Ib. 25. 1532 Ib. 108, etc., 1548 Treas. Acc. IX. 271, 1554–5 Edinb. Old Acc. I. 146.
Lynis, lynnis
1551 Hamilton Cat. 28.
Ane biggare can nocht make ane evin up wal without directioun of his lyne
1613–4 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I. 342.
For ane bunche of lynes xi s.
1615–16 Ib. MS. XI. 10 b.
For tua staine of calk and sum lynes to the wrichtis
1633 Ib. XXVII. 14.
For twa hankes of skeinȝie lyne i s. iiij d.
1691 Foulis Acc. Bk. 131.
For 4 hanks of twyne to be a lyne to the gardner
(2) 15.. Sym & Bruder 71.
Our all the hous be lyne and levall The ladis come to luk him

b. A ship's cable or sounding-line. c1475 Wall. ix. 52.
The seymen than … Ankyrs wand in, … Thar lynys kest and waytyt weyll the tyd
Ib. (1570) ix. 57.
Leidis on lebuird … Lynis laid out to luik thar passage sound

c. A fishing-line; also ? fishing-lines collectively. Also attrib. in lyne-man.Also Grete lyne (Grit lyne), Small lyne and Handline.Also in fig. contexts.See Huke n.1 2 for further examples. 1528 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 121.
All the quhit fischaris … consentit to gif to thair chaplane … of euery lyne xij d. in the yeir
1534 Acta Conc. & Sess. VI. 119 b.
xiiijm fische hukis & xvj thousand lynis
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 1530.
Androw and Jhone did leif … Thar schippis & nettis, lyinnes and all the laue
1574 Reg. Great S. 616/2.
Cum piscationibus, … cum hamo, esca piscium et lie lyne
c1590 J. Stewart 72/67.
The gouldin lyn, helas, quhy dois thow lois To catche ane frog?
1649 Cullen Kirk S. Feb. 18.
Agnes Stevinsone delait in baiting lyns on the Lords day
attrib. 1607 Urie Baron Ct. 11.
The lardis lyne men that ar vpone his bott is decernit … to pay the dewittie
1622 Ib. 45.
The haill fischers ar decernit ilk lyneman to pay ane hundreth haddox ȝeirlie and thrie keilling thir thrie ȝeiris bygane
? coll. a1651 Calderwood VII. 393.
A hagbute was shott at him out of a fisher's house in the Fisher's Streete, … The knave, efter long searche, was found under the lyne

d. attrib. (But ? cf. Line n.1 2.) 1511 Treas. Acc. IV. 304.
Twa pecis cabillis of lyne ȝarne, weyand vjm jc xij pund wecht

2. A measuring line: applied here to that used by persons appointed to make formal division of land or by ‘liners’ in a burgh (Linar n.). 1388 Bamff Chart. 22.
The qwilke foure layd the lande wyth lyne and departit tham ewynly in tua
1509–10 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 126.
The lynaris forsaidis … deliueris be the leile lyne streikit immediatle fra [etc.] … that efter the tenour of the ald boundit charter … it contenis betuix [etc.] … twa rudes [etc.] … in breide

b. Breve of line. = Lining vbl. n.2 b.c1575 Balfour Pract. 439 (see Lineatio(u)n n.).1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Breve.

c. Lyne stob, stane. = Lining vbl. n.2 d. 1550 Glasg. Prot. I. 18.
With the twa biggit howssis … gangand to the lyne stobbis
Ib. 19.
The lyne stob
1609 Dunferm. B. Rec. II. 64.
[They have] lynit the saim be placing and inputting lyne stanis betwix the said lands

3. A line drawn or marked on a surface, or anything resembling this. a1538 Abell 16.
In euirilk side of the leif thai ar twa lynis … ane at the heid of the wrytin lynis [etc.]
1555–6 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 326.
For calk to the wrychtis to strik the lynis on the tymmer
c1550-c1580 Art of Music 25.
With figuris and sypheris in void spacis within rewlis or lynis sittuat
1596 Dalr. I. 266/32.
Than tua lynes, on the vttir syde, wouen in threid of golde

4. A circle of the celestial or the terrestrial sphere. a. The line of the ecliptic. b. The equinoctial line, the equator.a. c1552 Lynd. Mon. 692.
Of quhome Phebus was principall Just in his lyne eclipticall
b. 1627 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. II. 13.
For plantatioun of ane iseland … beyound the equinoctiall lyne
1685 Dunlop P. III. 17.
This pleac is fare over the lyen

5. ? A bar or sand-bank in a river or harbour. 1534 Treas. Acc. VI. 233.
The expenis maid upon the schip … sen scho come to Dunbertane: … Payt to viij men quhilkis were left to keip the schip or scho wes put owre the lyne
To ane sterisman fra the new werk to the lyne
Ib. 236.
[To twelve seamen] to help the schip oure the lyne

6. a. An imaginary straight line in geometry or astronomy. 1549 Compl. 48/26, 30.
Ȝe sal ymagyn ane lyne that passis throucht the spere lyik til ane extree of ane cart, … than at the endis of the said lyne, ȝe sal ymagyne tua sternis

b. To hald the lyne, ? to maintain a straight course, run straight on in the direction indicated. c1575 Balfour Pract. 439.
Ane bord brokin in dennis deep Sall hald the lyne, and plumming keip

c. In adverbial phrases, with the meanings: In a straight line, directly; straight forward, straight ahead; straightway, quickly; straight.(1) c1420 Wynt. i. 864.
Wytht hyllys hey thir landys ar … Ewyn as a lyne fra est to west Betwene the gret rywarys twa, Ynd and Tygyr
1560 Edinb. B. Rec. III. 66.
And swa in langis the breid of the said kirk be just lyne to the southe sydwall
1605 Paisley B. Rec. 279.
That the utter sydewald nuid, nerest the yaird of John Vaus younger, and the utter sydewalk [sic] nuik of the bakehous … are just meithis and marches of the said Johnis wallis thairof of his bakhous nerest the said Patrik and fra aucht to gang lyne richt betwixt the said merches
(2) 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. ii. 51.
Thair veyage furth contenand richt as line … Thay fast approching
15.. Clar. i. 45.
Furth gois the speiris straicht as ony lyne
(3) 1375 Barb. xix. 356.
Thai that drunkyn had of the vyne Com ay wp endlang [E. lingand] in a lyne
c1450-2 Howlat 841.
Ȝit he lap fra the lowe richt in a lyne [B. lycht in lyne]
(4) a1568 Bann. MS. 79 b/8, /16, etc.]
[Als evin be lyne rycht as a rammis horne, … Als leill by lyne rycht as a ramis horne

7. a. Of persons: To draw in a lyne, ‘to come into, or be in, alignment’, fig. to be alike in some respect. a1400 Leg. S. xvii. 277.
There [= thir] cysteris drev wele in a lyne, That this [= thus] endyt in a tyme
Ib. xxiii. 68.
Ther [= thir] drew ful ewine in a lyne

b. To set or tak in or in til a lyne, = to set (two things) on a level, to treat or regard alike. a1400 Leg. S. xli. 128.
Bot Na sais scho, Bot his thret na his gluthryng Scho set bath in til a lyne
Ib. xlii. 66.
Scho … tuk bath ewine in a lyne Thar harsknes & thare fleching

8. fig. a. Line of conduct or procedure, principle of behaviour, rule or canon of life or practice. ?1438 Alex. ii. 5848.
Edeas on hir maneir Affectit, for hir amouris fyne, Hir lykit to lufe [= live] vnder that lyne
Ib. 6733.
He that all couetis, all mon tyne, Or ellis of laute les the lyne
1549 Compl. 1/2.
The immortal gloir that procedis be the rycht lyne of vertu fra ȝour magnanime auansing of the public veil
a1568 Scott i. 100.
Thai … that governis weill thame sell, And lelalie on lawtie layis thair lyne
1562-3 Winȝet II. 7/2.
This is … an infallible … reul to al richt, an ewin lyne of lawtay, a tweche stane of the treuth
Ib. 19/5.
Werray necessare it is … that the lyne of propheticall and apostolik interpretatioun be directit according to the rewll [etc.]
a1585 Maitl. Q. xciii. 2.
Loe heir two wights inburied be … Quha by thair death hes naturs course by naturs lyne conclud

b. Beyond or without one's line(s, beyond the limits of one's proper domain of action or concern, beyond one's sphere, outside one's province. 1646 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 104.
The suplicantis testimonie that hithertillis they have not streitched themselfis beyond their lynes bot walked within the compas of their trust
a1658 Durham Commandments (1675) 257.
Consideration of the punishment of theft, what it may be in the civil courts of men … we will not insist here without our sphear and line
1660 Wodrow Hist. I. 27.
Not that we haue thoughts to go without our own line to meddle with the affairs of another Kirk

9. A line of family descent; a line of heirs or successors; a lineage or ‘stock’ of descendants. c1420 Wynt. iv. 1784.
Quhen that the kyngis maid endyng He sulde be kyng off all the hale That cummin war be lyine female
Ib. v. 3056.
Bot Octaveus, a gret man syne That cummyn wes off kyngys lyne, Ras
Ib. viii. 423.
How off that kynryk suld the crowne Folow in till successyowne In onykyne lyne down cumand Fra the stok
c1475 Wall. i. 22.
Of hale lynage and trew lyne of Scotland
Ib. 34.
Go reid the fyrst rycht lyne of the fyrst Stewart
1513 Doug. iii. ii. 62.
And thar sonnys and sonnys sonnys syne And al that evir succedis of thar lyne
a1585 Maitl. Q. i. 6.
Vnto thair lyne & linage to give licht
1630-1651 Gordon Geneal. Hist. 249.
Who, raigning successively and dying chyldles, made place to the lyne of Margaret his eldest sister

b. The sequence of succession to, or occupation of, a throne etc. 1456 Hay I. 252/33.
That the said Quene Johanne mycht nocht put by the lyne of the successioun fra the rycht airis to the King Lowis

c. Family descent; chiefly, lineal or direct, as opposed to collateral, descent.Commonly with prepositions, in adverbial phrases. Evin in or be line, in or be lyne evin, be (by) or of (rycht) lyne, rycht be lyne, be lyne of fles or of heritage, lyne be lyne: By descent or family inheritance, also, by family relationship; by or in lineal descent or succession, lineally. Of fer lyne, distantly related. (Heir, successor, succession) of lyne, = lineal, by the regular succession, as opposed to of tailȝe (entail).(1) a 1350 Facs. Nat. MSS. II. xix.
Heredibus dicti Willelmi … legitime directe immediate linialiter [gl. euin in line] et non ex latere … descendentibus
1375 Barb. i. 61 (H).
[Ony male] That were in lyne [ewyn descendand]
a1400 Leg. S. vi. 446.
Synciane, that wes … cosyne To the kinge thar be rycht lyne
Ib. xi. 3; Ib. xxxvi. 1218.
Of Symone … & of Judas … That brethire ware be lyne of fles To sancte James
c1420 Wynt. ii. 1676.
Off this Anthenor come syne, Descendand ewyn down be lyne, Francus
Ib. vii. 132. 1456 Hay I. 214/10.
Bot before that tyme it [sc. the Empire] ȝede all be lyne of heritage and successioun
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 193/21.
Wndere our kingis, of richt lyne discendand fra Gathele & Scota
Ib. 194/28.
Thare king is cummyn dovne lyne be lyne fra the devill
1516 Acts II. 283/1.
That … Johne Duke of Albany … is the anelie air to his said vmquhile fader … and … is nerrest of lyne & blude
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1962.
He was frome Noye the fyft be lyne
1570 Leslie 8.
Of quhom ye are be line and grees lauchfully descendit
Ib. 16.
His fader succeidit to the erledome of Douglas be tailye, and she to Wigtoun [etc.] … by lyne
1596 Dalr. I. 134/29.
The lawful ȝouth quha rycht be lyne was sproung of the Kingis blude
(2) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 2073.
Thocht he of fer lyne Was and fer sib to Orestes
(3) 1400 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 48.
And saufand the successyoun of lyne gyf it hapnis to faylȝe of the forsayd Robert or hys airis
1453 Douglas Bequest 10 June.
Me & my ayeris & successouris of lyne or of talȝe
1481 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 330. 1501–2 Chart. (Reg. H.) No. 642.
The rychtis thairof of lyne & of tailȝe
That the said Margaret … is nerest & lauchfull are of lyne to … hir fader
1561 Irvine Mun. II. 12.
Lauchfull kyndlie and just tennand of lyne and bluid in and to [etc.]
c1575 Balfour Pract. 325. 1592 Digest Justiciary Proc. P. 32.
Scho quha standis as ȝet air, at the leist appeirand air of lyne to hir brother & father
1673 Rothesay B. Rec. 322. 1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. ii. 59.
Where once w'agree, three times we squable, … Like heirs of line, or heirs of tailȝies
1684 Decis. Lords F. 62.
The defender might do diligence for his relief by discussing the heir of line

d. A family or race. a1400 Leg. S. xxxii. 518.
He wes borne of a vergine Aganis the kynd of manis lyne
c1450-2 Howlat 384.
The Douglas … that lyne honorable
c1600 Montg. Suppl. xxii. 5.
Resembling weil the verteuis raice & lyne Quhairof ye com
1611-57 Mure Dido & Æneas iii. 55.
A virgin preist, by chance of Morish lyne … feeds the dragon

10. A line of writing or print. 1499–1500 Acta Conc. II. 397.
That the last lyne contenit in the sammyn letter … was nocht writtin the tyme that the remanent was writin
15.. Newbattle Chart. MS. (Reg. H.).
The dat day [etc.] … in the furst lyne contenet
1569 Cal. Sc. P. III. 16.
Thair is sum lynis [pr. lyins] cuttit out off thame [sc. the letters]
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. 7 b.
Thair vas not ane lyne in the Bybill quhairin thai vald not haif fund [etc.]

b. Put for: A portion of the content of a body of writing or the like. Lyne be lyne, seriatim, point by point. 1375 Barb. xvii. 84.
And quhen the marschall the cowyne Till bath the lordis, lyne be lyne, Had tald
1560 Rolland Seven S. Prol. 33.
Asking leif … Me for to leir ane lessoun or a lyne Of thair prettick
1687 Dunlop P. III. 38.
Never getin a lin from you

c. plur. (in coll. sense). A writing, a written message, a document, letter or note. Also (thir, this, sum) few, two or three, lines, = brief note. 1572 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. lxiii.
I shall … desier yowr lordshippes … to receaue by thes my lines my … thanks
1586 Rait & Cameron King James' Secret 57.
Farder I am constreaned to remit to nixt occasion, having scarce tyme to scrabill this few lynes
1587 Ib. 150.
I send you theis lynes vith this inclosit to his majestie quhairby your lordship shall understand hou maiters gois heir
16.. Bk. Old Edinb. C. XX. 109.
For … wryting most abusefull sklanderous and opprobrious lynes and letters
1631 Annandale Corr. 285.
Hopping that quhatsoewir is insert in theis laynis schall be constroweid in the best sence
c 1635 Black Bk. Taymouth xix.
I thoght good to wryt thir few lyns to yow to shawe yow [etc.]
1638 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 46.
That some few lynnes … should be addit to the couenant
1651 Baillie III. 138.
To crave two or three lynes under one of your hands … or else to give up gossoprie
1652 Inverurie 323.
The session … requested the minister to caus draw up sum lynes for securing of him in the matter of his school duty
1668 Laing MSS. I. 366.
I ... shall desire your lordship to wrytt two lyns ether to my Lord Crauford or to me
1669 Sc. Hist. Rev. XL. 60.
A woman named Issobell Walker ... whom I recommended to Captain Scot by tuo lynes with our drummer

d. sing. A missive, note or certificate. 1678 Craven Ch. in Orkney 76.
That … theire master should be acquainted of this by a lyne
1680 Dunlop P. III. 7.
Having receaved a line a litel befor … from … master Bardy who sent his line in on a sabooth day that it might macke al haste to my hand
1681 Dunkeld Presb. I. 279.
He undertook to make out by a line … that … he had married John Marshall upon Janet Ritchie
1695 Cochran-Patrick Coinage II. 249.
[The] principall Secretary of State produced a lyne from the Master of Stair's the other principall Secretary to him in answer to a lyne he wrott … anent the stamps for the mint house
1696 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds II. 653 (2 Sept.).
Sent you by your lyne 5 dozen princes mettell buttons att 6 shi. doz.
1697 Glasgow Stent Bk. Pref.
Except such of them who have subjected themselves to the stent by a line under their hand
1698 Inverness Kirk S. 40.
The session … ordered that a lyn be given the minister the next Lord's day intimating a general contribution

e. A line of verse; also verse, poetry. 1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 8.
The regent sal cause thayme to writ twa or thre lynis of Terence
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xxviii. 9.
Thir last aucht lynis
1585 James VI Ess. 60.
Gif your lyne be of aucht fete
c1590 J. Stewart 71/59.
Thir lothsum lyns
1611-57 Mure Sonnets viii. 9.
Hir worth I raise in elegiak lyne

f. To read the line, to read out the words of a psalm a line at a time. 1665–7 Lauder Jrnl. 33.
They singes a psalme, which the minister nominats, reading the first 2 or 3 lines of that to be sung, after which they read no more the line, as we do, but the peaple follows it out as we do in Glory to the Father

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"Line n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 May 2024 <>



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