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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Mark, Merk, n.1 Also: marke, marck. [ME. marc (c 1200), mærk (Layamon), mark(e, merrk (Orm), merc(k (13th c.), merk(e, OE. (West Saxon) mearc, Angl. merc, str. fem., ON., MSw. mark: cf. also ONorthumb. (ᵹe)merce, ON. merke, and OF. merc, marc, masc., F. marque fem. Cf. also March n.2]

1. A conspicuous object serving to mark a boundary or a position.a. A boundary mark. See also Divis(e n., Mere n. and Methe n. for further examples. Also attrib. in Mark-stane n. b. An object marking the meeting-point in a joust or the turning-point or finishing-point in a race. c. A sea-mark.a. (a) 1422 Stirlings of Keir 208.
Be al rychtwyse markis,¹/₁₂ marchis,¹/₁₂ and thair dewyssis
? c 1500 Rathen Manual 27/2.
We cursis … all thai that makkis vrangwysis markkis or methis
1622-6 Bisset I. 292/25.
To pas about the saidis landis, and put in propis and markis as thai think ressonabill
(b) 1423 (1426) Reg. Great S. 11/2.
Twa forestar stedis … wyth al rycht merkis and marchys that thaim awch tyl haff
14.. Acts I. 44/2.
Gif ony lande be lynit … and the merkis be laide
1466 (1471) Reg. Great S. 214/2.
We decidit … that we … sal … kepe the landimaris takinnis and merkis uindir wirtin
1660 Rothesay B. Rec. 290.
[The liners] have maid the merche betuixt them square withe the merk of the old gaiwill and sett merche stanes thairin
b. a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1237.
Hectour and Alexander [etc.] … Quhen thai met at the merk than might thai na mair
1513 Doug. v. iii. 52.
In this place stykkyt heth the prince Ene A mark or wyttir of a greyn aik tre In … takyn onto the maryneris [etc.]
Ib. vi. 72. a1599 Rollock Wks. I. 411.
Ane runner … stryving till he cum to the mark
c. 1578 Conv. Burghs I. 63.
That … we have put oure tunnis and markis in the said gat alangis all places neidfull and accustomat
1613 Ib. II. 387. 1622-6 Bisset II. 246/27.
Gif thay ly dry in ane heavin, thay aw to set markis at thair hankeris, that they be planelie seine

d. A landmark, leading-mark. fig. To take one's mark from, ? to guide oneself by, to reckon from. 1524–5 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 74.
Your ester pull sal haif fre vche and throu all man to pas to Gosslowoll efter the merkis that the inqueist hes set thair
fig. a1689 Cleland 8.
Because that Scots-men endeavours To take their marks from evil hours

2. A target or butt set up for shooting at; hence, what is aimed at by a marksman, also, by a jouster. lit. and fig.To take one's mark be the mone, to aim at the mooin, shoot etc. wildly or erratically.See also Bowmerkis n. pl. and Markis-point n.(1) lit. 1491 Acts II. 226.
That … be hantit bowis schvting and markis tharfore ordinit
1513 Doug. v. ix. 37.
Baith arow and eyn etland at the mark
fig. 1549 Compl. 123/8.
I am the merk of the but, contrar the quhilk euere man schutis arrous of tribulatione
1561 Knox in Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xlv.
Onles that hir crafty counsall in so doing shot att a farther marck
1562-3 Winȝet I. 132/16. 1583–4 Waus Corr. 282.
Bettir … nor quhen ye schute to mys the mark
(2) 1538 Lynd. Justing 26.
I am rycht sure gude James had bene vndone War not that Johne his mark tuke be the mone
1658 R. Moray Lett. Jan. 12/21.
If all that talk of it do not take their marks by the moon

3. The high-water-mark, in Flude-mark, Se-mark.

4. A stone or cluster of stones of a different sort or a larger size set into a string or chain of jewels.Cf. 16th c. F. (Rabelais) marche n., id., marché (p.p.) de (of a string of jewels) having stones of (a different sort) set at intervals. 1573 Reg. Privy C. II. 247.
Ane chayn of rubeis with twelf markes of dyamontis and rubeis and ane mark with twa rubeis
1578 Inv. Wardrobe 262.
Merkis, merk
1585 Ib. 318.

5. A characteristic property, a distinctive feature, a criterion. a1500 Sir Eger 789.
If I chance to … get his helm, or yet his shield Or any mark of him to see, The lady will think it be ye
1572 Sat. P. xxxiii. 288.
Be thir marks they sall Gods children ken
1573 Tyrie in Cath. Tr. 17/30.
[Every sect] beleues … that thay teche … the … Word of God. To preif that this mark dois on na way conuein to your Kirk [etc.]
a1652 Dickson Psalms II. 119.
It is a kindely mark and property of a godly person to be a lover of the good of all Gods children
1662 Crim. Trials III. 605.
It haid all the pairtis and merkis of a child, such as heid, eyes, nose
1670 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 264.
The wateris found to be of the same qualitie according to the said doctor his marks and prescryvit meines of tryall

6. A mark or sign made on an article or an animal, for identification, attestation of quality, authentification, etc. Also transf.Also Schepe-mark.(1) 1502 Halyb. xxi.
Ye sall resaiu … a boit of malwesy markit with ȝour mark
c1500-c1512 Dunb. li. 5.
Quhen that I schawe to him ȝour markis
1543 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 114.
Ane scheris for the mark of the brethir of walkeris and schereris, and ane carde for the mark of the brethir of bonnetmakers
1555 Conv. Burghs I. ii. 1561 Reg. Privy C. I. 174. 1562 (c 1650) Dundee B. Laws 26.
That the herring … trees be … brunt with ther own mark
1562 Soc. Ant. LXXII. 225.
Ane assay of tyn markit with all thair markis
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI 152.
As to the uther [coins] of inferior sort he causit thayme be stampit with the mark of a hart
1606 Edinb. Masons 9.
For witnes off the same thai haif pit to thair markis with thair awin handis
1624 Linlithgow B. Rec. 24 Dec.
In selling and making ane firlot … and not cawsing mark the samein at the tounes mark
1627 Dumbarton B. Rec. 17. 1695 Arch. Scot. I. 557.
My wife will call for it [the household account-book] once a week, … and put her mark to it
transf. a1578 Pitsc. I. 319/27 (I).
Thair war money markit that day witht his mark throche the chaftis with ane sword quhilk was callit efterhend the merciles mark of schir James Hammiltoun
(b) 1480 Acta Conc. I. 57/2.
To prufe that the gudis … had his keyle and his merk
1520 Fife Sheriff Ct. 192.
Be the merkis of the skynnis [sc. of certain sheep]
1550 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. I. 17.
Ilk master … to have ane merk of his ain … to be set on their breid
1552 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 164.
To caus mak certane stane wechtis of leid and merk thame with the townis merk
1576 Orkney Oppress. 67.
Ane servand … markit his masteris lambis upon his merk
1623 Orkney & Shetl. Test. I. 94.
He lefis to his said eldest sone his eldest merk, … to wit tua helmeins vpon the left luge [etc.]
(2) 1535–6 Selkirk B. Ct. MS. 19 Jan.
Jhone Curror takis one hyme that the hog that George Michelhill hes perteines to Alan Michag batht be merk and byrne
1566–7 Reg. Privy S. V. ii. 325/1.
[Not to pasture] guidis [in the park of Holyrood] … bot sa mony as … deliverit … of the quilkis he sal be haldin to gif compt … or ellis the mark skin or byrn thairof
1606 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II. 10. 1650 Boyd Fam. P. No. 196 (1 Apr.).
To … hird … sheipe nolt and naiges … and … to deliver marke and burne of them
1665 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds I. 139.

b. transf. A beggar's token bearing the mark of a burgh etc., as a licence to beg. 1620 Perth Kirk S. MS. 20 Nov.]
[The nameis of the beggeris that hes gottin this day the townnis mark quhairby they may be licenciat to beg
1574 Glasgow B. Rec. (M.C.) 29.
Beggaris … to cum to the tolbuyth and ressaue thair marks the morn and gif in thair names; and gif … ony … beggaris resaueris of the marks trauell furtht of the burght … aind cum in again … thair marks sal be tane fra thame
1575 Ib. (B.R.S.) I. 457. 1574–5 Haddington Treas. Acc. 3.
Four pownd of leid to be markis to the puir folk
1629 S. Leith Rec. 16.
None to be suffered to bege throwe the toun without a marke givine be the sessioun and that everie monenday … they be called be name … to haue ther markes to shawe

7. A mark (as of identification or ownership) borne by a person. a. Allusively, the Mark of the Beast, the mark of Cain. 1567 G. Ball. 104.
Ȝe Moabitis, with hornis twa full hie, Outwart, lyke scheip, ȝe beir the beistis mark
1570 Sat. P. xxi. 6.
The mark that God gaif in his grief To Cains cursit kin

b. The Devil's mark.An insensitive spot on a witch's body, supposedly inflicted by the Devil, as a sign of allegiance to him.Also Wich-mark n. 1590–1 Newes from Scotland in Crim. Trials I. ii. 216.
They suspecting that she had beene marked by the Devill, as commonly witches are, made diligent search about her and found the enemies marke to be in her fore crag
Ib. 217. 1597 Misc. Spald. C. I. 133.
He schew thy [a witch's] mark vnder thy left lug
1598 Misc. Spald. C. I. 120.
That Christsondy [= the Devil] beatt a mark in the third fynger of thy richt hand
1597 James VI Dæmonol. 80. 1628 Irving Dumbartonsh. II. 37. 1629 Justiciary Cases I. 140.
Quha saw ane prene put to the heid be Mr Johnne Aird, minister, in the pannellis schoulder being the devills mark and na bluid following [etc.]
1643 Dalkeith Presb. in Butler Leighton 223. 1649 Crim. Trials III. 599.
Annabell Hall … confessed that she had maid a covenant with the Divell, and had received his mark and his name
1661 Ib. 601. 1662 Soc. Ant. XXII. 221.
Sathan gave you an mark; … when ye got the mark it was painful two or three days
1685 Sinclair Satan's Invisible World 110. 1697 Serm. on Witchcraft in Sc. Hist. Rev. VII. 393.

c. fig. A badge, brand, visible token (of a fault). 1622 Reg. Privy C. XII. 649.
Sett by be thameselffis with a mark of reprotche over thair headis, whilke is a verrie grite greif unto thame
1669 Conv. Burghs III. 610.
[This] wold prove ane wndealable mark of levietie and wnconstancie wpone them

8. A visible trace (of a blow, cut, etc.), as a scar, bruise, notch, or the like. a1400 Leg. S. xxi. 777.
Thocht that hundis one ws bark & of thare tetht lef in ws mark
? c1500-c1512 Dunb. xiv. 19.
Sic losin sarkis, sa moiny glengoir merkis
c1536 Lynd. Compl. Bagsche 86.
Ȝit gat he mony bludie wound As ȝit his skyn wyll schaw the markis
1560 Rolland Seven S. 7441. a1585 Polwart Flyt. 590. 1588 Crim. Trials I. ii. 163.
That scho gatt ane sair straik … the mark quhairof wes blae and ewill faurrit
1587 Carmichael Etym. 4.
Stigma, a mark with a het iron
1629 Justiciary Cases I. 103.
The straik quhairof [a sword] the lyntell beiris the mark

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"Mark n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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