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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).

Merite, -yt(e, Merit, Mereit, n. Also: mereite, -et, mirreit. [ME. and e.m.E. merite (a 1300), -yte (c 1315), merit (Ancren R.), merete (16th c.), etc., OF. merite (F. mérite), L. merit-um.]

1. That which is deserved by one's conduct; due reward or punishment (as for good works, sin, etc.).(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxix. 48.
Na ȝet that man mycht haf meryt … For-out examinacione & wardly tribulacione
?1438 Alex. i. 636.
And it is full gud richt that we Quyte him merite for his bountie
Ib. 1500.
As for sic seruice, sic merite
1456 Hay II. 26/6.
The honour … of the worschipfull reward and meryt of justice
1513 Doug. xi. Prol. 160.
Of hys gudnes the etern Lord alssone Restorys the meryt, with grace in arlys of glor
Arundel MS. 283/141.(2) 1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 396.
These same persons … might underly their merit and be punished
1616 Rollock Wks. II. 197.
Lord, save us from the merit of sin!
1625 Garden Kings 50.
And maid me last be murdered for my merit

b. plur. Reward or punishment, collectively. 1533 Bell. Livy i. 168/7.
Thai suld nocht haue ressauit sic meritis in rewarde of thare chevelrie

2. The condition or fact of deserving more or less well or ill, of meriting greater or lesser reward or punishment; desert. b. plur. Deserts. c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 1196.
That by meryt and dignyte And the labour of iche man Prerogatyve [in the sharing of booty] holdyn be than
Ib. 936. a1538 Abell 115 a.
Distributioun of geir to euirilk man eftir his laubour & merit anens his lord
1596 Dalr. II. 413/16.
I culd hope to slaik sum thing of myne yre … that throuch ȝour merit ȝe had incurit
1599 Rollock Wks. I. 442.
Thir ar plat contrair, the mercie of God and the merite of man; … thy merite is not abil to save thee
1639 Spalding I. 221.
Althogh his Majesteis declaratioun … (contrair to our mynd and merit) did call the lait assemblie ane pretendit assemblie
1640 Anal. Scot. I. 386.b. 1375 Barb. xv. 516 (E).
Eftre thair meritis deit he
1456 Hay I. 88/28.
And efter that do him grace or punycioun efter his meritis
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 9.
Thyr classis salbe … promovit hyear efter thair meritis
Ib. 44.
In dangere to be taken reid hand and puneist efter his meritis
c1590 Fowler I. 139. iii. 3/3.
These … complayning lynes May iustyle to your mereits appertayne
1596 Dalr. II. 412/29.
In forgetfulnes of sa greit meritis that ȝe suld be the … onlie author … of thir tumultes
1626 Edinb. Test. LIII. 260.
To pay to thame … according to the mereitis of thair cariage & behavior

3. The condition or fact of deserving well, of being entitled to reward or gratitude (as for good works etc.). b. plur. in the same sense.In the general and in the theological uses. Also, the merit of Christ, a saint, etc., as serving to earn God's forgiveness for sinners.(a) a1400 Leg. S. i. 164.
Sa it that wes done hym for dispyte Is honour now and gret meryt
Ib. ii. 519.
Ȝet wald nocht God his prayer War in wane … Bot tbe meryt of it gerte he [etc.]
Ib. x. 86.
Sancte Mathew gaf thé heile parfyte Of Goddis grace & his meryte
Ib. xvi. 46.
The Magdalane That fyrst hyre gaf til al delyt & [syne] was of a gret meryte
Ib. xl. 518. c1420 Wynt. i. Prol. 90.
I wes but meryt made priowre [etc.]
Ib. v. 1335.
A lorde borne wythowte meryte Is noucht worth, he sayd, a myte
Ib. vi. 173.
A man off gret meryte
c1450 Cr. Deyng (S.T.S.) 214.
He vynand the meryt therof [sc. of Christ's passion] by gud dedis and trew lawbor
1456 Hay I. 20/27. Ib. 13/12.
Thai ar out of the fay and may with na werkis wyn meryt
Ib. II. 18/24. a1500 Henr. III. 171/42 (Ch. & M.).
Nothir meryt [B. mirreit] is preisit
1490 Irland Mir. II. 111/19.
To teich His haly faith … to al maner of peple … for the meryt and saluacioun of thame
Id. Asl. MS. I. 11/28. 1513 Doug. iv. Prol. 192.
Rew on hym, it is meryte [B. mirreit] hys pane to meys
Ib. x. Prol. 49. Ib. xi. Prol. 161.(b) c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 40/15.
And na merite may be without it [charity]
(c) 1456 Hay II. 81/18.
The merit and the desert that is the caus of gude service of thy peple
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2500.
For thocht myne are ane gud man efter be Quhat merit may his gudnes do to me Gif that I de out of the stait of grace
1490 Irland Mir. I. 93/21.
This merit was wrocht … be ardent and jnenarrabile cherite
Ib. 152/6.
This haly lady was maid … jn the place of hie merit
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xc. 69. a1538 Abell 8 a.
Martir with merit ar tha at deys for defens of the reym
Ib. 70 b.
Bot he at is heir ane temporall lord and his merit exceid the merit of his subditis [etc.]
Ib. 87 a.
Bot of it at a man is inclynit to be natur nothir is it sin na merit
Ib. 90 b.
His 5 wondis … bure witnes quhat merit he [St. Francis] wes of
1562-3 Winȝet II. 75/20.
Be merit of fayth, conuersatioun, integritie and wisdum
1611-57 Mure Misc. P. i. 66.
Faint is the spirit, Of lytill vertue, worth or merit
(d) c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 281 b.
Trewlie it is full greit mereit Guide thingis for to be put in wreit
c1490 Porteous Noblenes 34 (Ch. & M.).
Larges … is the rent of honour quhairof the ane wynnis profit, the othir mereite
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xvi. 2. Id. lvi. 6. c1552 Lynd. Mon. 4425.
Thay thocht gret mereit and honour To contrafait the empriour
c1590 Fowler I. 256/1.
But mereit men to love and but desert
(e) a1568 Bann. MS. 249 a/17.
Moir mirreit war to hir be far to cure the seik from cair
b. ?a1500 Remembr. Passion 141.
To wyne meritis be gude werkis
Ib. 591.
O moder of grace … , throu the meritis of thé, get me grace
a1500 Colk. Sow iii. 69.
Lyk martiris killit off quhome the mirreitis rysis
Ib. 156.
Throw meik mirreitis of His only sone
1490 Irland Mir. I. 17/22.
Jhesus … nocht throu oure meritis, has cummyn jn this waurld
1560 Conf. Faith in 14.. Acts II. 530/2.
Quhasaeuer bostis thame selfis of the meritis of thair awin warkis
1580 King's Confession in Facs. Nat. MSS. III.lxx.
Justification by workes, … workes of supererogation, meritis [1638, merits], perdones, [etc.]
c1590 Fowler II. 59/16.
1600-1610 Melvill 629. 1663 Nicoll Diary 398.
Throw the grace of God and the merites of our propheit

c. plur. Good offices, favours, as deserving of gratitude. 1422 Stirlings of Keir 208.
For his consel, helppis, and gud merytis to me hedirtyll downe
1533 Bell. Livy I. 151/22.
For thi gracius meritis done to me

d. Merit-like, smacking of the doctrine of justification by works. 1645 Rutherford Tryal Faith 175.
This would seem pharisaical, and merit-like, if holiness did not relate to the free promise of the covenant of grace

4. The good and bad qualities, the excellences or defects (in performance of some craft etc.); the intrinsic rights and wrongs, the favourable and unfavourable points (of a matter or a legal case); also, the intrinsic rightness or justice (of a case at law). plur. and sing.(1) 1494 Loutfut MS. 5 b.
Thai ar jugis of the meritis of the said craft of armes
(2) 1532 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 57.
The parte adversar … ar nocht informit … of the effect and meretis of the caus
1565 Instit. Ct. Sess. 49.
Thai haue schawn plainlie the meretis of the caus of his client
1569 Reg. Privy C. I. 687.
The saidis provest … and counsale … quha best knew the meritis of the saidis actionis
(3) 1533 Bell. Livy I. 62/10.
The pepill … tharefore assoleȝeit him fra the deith, mare for admiracion and loving of vertew than ony iust merit of the caus
(4) 1615 Highland P. III. 280.
Any worthie service to be done aganis the rebels salbe faithfullie performed according to the mereit and qualitie of the fact

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"Merite n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2022 <>



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