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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).

Nede-, Neidful(l, a. Also: ned-, neide-, neyd-, nyeid-, nid-, need- and -fule, -foull. [ME. and e.m.E. ned(e)ful(l, also néodful, early niedfull (12th c.), f. Nede n.]

1. a. Of persons: Needy, necessitous. a1400 Leg. S. xvi. 80.
The remanand dystribut scho To pure mene & neidful to
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxvii. 33(R).
In warld is purest man I vys And neidfullest In his intent For of allguidis nothing is his
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5983.
That tyme quhen ȝe refusit the puris Quhilkis neidfull cryit at ȝour duris

b. Of conditions, circumstances, etc.: Attended by need or want. 14.. Burgh Laws c. 100 (A).
Ande efterwart a mekill nedful mistar cumis to the fader
1456 Hay II. 81/32.
He that gevis atour his power … puttis him till a bitter nedefull destress of povertie
c1630 Scot Narr. 176.
In so needfull and dangerous a time

c. Of manner of living: Confined to simple needs, frugal, sparing. c1460 Thewis Gud Women (S.T.S.) 249.
And thai had thriftee men With gudly, suet, neidfull lewynge, Thai wald neuir do mys for nakyne thinge

2. Requisite, necessary, indispensable, desirable; also obligatory, unavoidable, essential. a. In attrib. use.Freq. nedefull thing(is.(1) a1400 Leg. S. v. 113.
The thryd for nedful dispysinge Is quhene [etc.]
1456 Hay I. 225/32. Ib. II. 85/8, 161/27.
Quhen a thing principale is grantit, all the nedefull pertinence till it is grauntit
1464 Peebles B. Rec. I. 150.
In tym of gangyng to the kyrk or another neidful erand
1494 Ib. 195.
Al the irne wark and treyn wark nedful and behufful pertening to the said stipil
1521 Doug. in Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xv.
I am cummyn in this realm … apon certan neydfull dyrectiounes
15.. Clar. v. 374.
The Constabill … At sike ane tyme [at the feast] he was ane neidfull man
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 4842.
The neidfull sacramentis
Ib. 652. 1562 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 7.
To inlaik thair neidful sustentatioun
1590 Mill Mediæv. Plays 197.
For scaffalding & vther neidfull provisioun
1600-1610 Melvill 23.
Bot his will was neidfull obedience to us
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 201.
The fore court surrounded with all needfull office houses
1695 Reg. Privy C. in Chambers Domestic Ann. III. 143.
To … make the needful improvements
(2) c1420 Wynt. v. 3916.
In mete or drynk or clethyng And in all odyr nedfull thyng
Ib. vi. 1358 (W).
Gif destany be neidfull thing That I commend to thare iugeing That clerkis are
14.. Burgh Laws c. 15 (B).
Thai sal fynd hym al nedful thyngys that is to mete & clath
1456 Hay I. 296/33. Ib. 112/11.
For suppos he be never sa wys ȝit may he fynd evermare to lere newly nedefull and spedefull thingis
1473 Reg. Cupar A. I. 177.
With ledyn of sand to al nedful thyngis of the abbai
1483 Acta Conc. I. *84/1.
In all nedefull thingis according for a gentle man
1498 Ib. II. 287. 1500 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 81.
And siklike neidfull thingis
1502 Treas. Acc. II. 68. 1513 Doug. iv. x. 65. 1545 Reg. Cupar A. II. 33.
And principally in the neidfull thingis pertenyng to the said altar
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1512.
The same tender plant Sum neidfull thing it did inlaik and want
(3) 1496 Acta Conc. II. 8.
The Lords Auditouris … ordanis … that letters nedefull be direct hereapone
1499 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 625.
Wyth all vtheris clausis neidfull & speidfull
1507 Reg. Privy S. I. 220/1.
And al uther officiaris nedeful
1516 Ib. 413/1.
And all uther officiaris … neidful
1565 Lochwinnoch Par. 131.
With all claus of varrandice neidfoull
1583 Perth B. Ct. 30 April.
[To] mak all vther securitie nidfull heiron
1668 Rothesay B. Rec. 158.
And that all letters neidfull pas heirupon as effeirs
1674 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. IV. 278.
For citeing of assyses and witnesses neidfull

b. (At) (al) times or places nedeful, = when or where something or some action is needed or desirable.(1) 1505 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I. 103.
That ane of the maisteris … pas at all tymes neidfull [to] lift and rais the saidis quarter paymentis
1554 Ib. II. 193.
To pas in and furth thairat at tymes neidfull
1588 Glenartney Doc.(2) 1555 Glenartney Doc.
Ȝe pas to all and sindrie the paroche kirkis and townis and vtheris places neidfull
1565 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xlviii.
That … ye pas to … Edinburgh and all vtheris places neidfull
1622-6 Bisset I. 97/9.
It is difficill to cary these oure letteres to everie places neidfull
1624 Justiciary Cases I. 18. 1631 Ib. 152.

c. In predic. use. a1400 Leg. S. xl. 131.
Til he in knavlege of clergy That nedful wes wes wise inuch
1456 Hay I. 149/19.
For sen his caus is nedefull and resonable, laufull, naturell and cheritable
Ib. II. 116/3.
And gif he takis lesse na is nedefull, alssua he will be seke
Ib. I. 160/13. 1481 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 331.
It sall be … reformit als oft as it be seyne spedfull or nedfull
1535 Stewart 3135. Ib. 22466.
Meit and drink [etc.] … That neidfullwar, he hes to thame sent
1533 Boece i. vi. 45.
Saying or thai recounterit in batell ane commonyng was nedeful
1548–9 Corr. M. Lorraine 292.
Caus wait one the fortht of Inaresk sa mony as is nedfull
1560 Bk. Disc. 216.
In everie colledge we think neidfull at the least ane steward [etc.]
a1578 Pitsc. I. 141/8.
To bring the effect quhen ewir it was neidfull
1596 Dalr. I. 126/16.
Quhilke counsel … appeired … sa necessar, sa proffitable and sa neidful that [etc.]
1613 Glasgow Merchants House 110.
Mair nor was neidfull

d. Const. to (till) (also towardis) or for some person or some purpose or object.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxx. 430.
Bryng hame quhet, oyle or wyne & nedful thing to the keching
1456 Hay I. 154/32.
And myn othir gere that is nedefull to me
Ib. II. 62/29.
The vertu of temperaunce, and quhat it is nedefull and behovefull till
Ib. I. 112/8, II. 54/12, 92/30, 116/2. 1506 Liber Aberbr. II. 370.
Ande all othir necessar thingis to do … neidful to fisching craft
1513 Doug. Æn. Direct. 42.
That it salbe reput a neidfull wark To thame wald Virgill to childryn expone
1559–60 St. A. Kirk S. 14. 1624 Crim. Trials III. 559.
All vther thingis neidfull towardis the executioun of this our commissioun to do and vse
(2) c1400 Troy-bk. i. 350.
Gold and sylk Anournyt with sere coloures clere As for syk thing nedefull were
1452 Acts II. 41/2.
Na maner of wittail … forther than is neidfull for thair awin persounis and … thair househaldis
1456 Hay II. 54/36.
And thus is prudence ane of the maist nedefull poyntis that may be for knychtis
1484 Lennox Mun. II. 124.
And all vthir officiaris neidefull for the keping of the saide castell
1493 Ib. 149.
The wryttynis nedfull for the fulfilling of the forsaid thingis
1597 Douglas Corr. 42.
1612 Orkney & Shetl. Ct. Bk. (ed.) 30 July.
And utheris memberis of court neidfull for administratioun of justice
1665 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 214. 1670 Ib. 268.
With power … to make laigher the said gramer scooll loft if found neidfull for thair accomodatione

e. Const. infin. phrase, active or passive.With (2), cf. Med(e)ful(l a. (2).(Something) is nedefull to be done, = it is necessary or desirable that it be done.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xvi. 420.
Althinge, that nedfull ware To serwe & ese thame in thare fare
1456 Hay I. 118/20. Ib. II. 112/17.
For thai twa thingis ar bathe nedefull and spedefull to geve bataill
a1538 Abell 38 b.
Pelage … said … at baptism wes nocht neidfull to do awa syn bot [etc.]
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xix. 36. 1614 Highland P. III. 153.
I wanttit … credit neidfull to haue affectuatit suche ane earand
(2) 1498 Acta Conc. II. 269.
Wit ye that neidefull thing is to bere lele witnessing to the suthfastnes
1526 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 88.
Sen neidfull thing is to beir leill vytnessing
(3) c1420 Ratis R. 1805.
Syndry thinge That is rycht nedfull for to knaw
1535 Stewart 5919.
Money and men … And alkin thing that neidfull is to haif
1554 Reg. Cupar A. II. 113.
We fyndand him sic stuf in the mentyme as wilbe neidful to wse vpoun our expens
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8666.(4) 1456 Hay I. 145/27.
The quhilk is bathe nedefull and spedefull to be payit
1472 Edinb. Chart. 135.
Housis biggit apon our wal … the quhilkis ar nedefull to be castin doune
1524 Stirling B. Rec. I. 20.
And gife hus [= his] harandis be gret and nyeidfull to be doun
1529 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 102.
All utheris evidens nedfull to be had
1635 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 31.
To observe quhat is … moist neidfull to be helpit

3. Needful, necessary, desirable. In impersonal phrases, variously const. a. It is nedefull, nedefull is.With (2), cf. Med(e)ful(l a. (2).(1) c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2432.
Philip my father is dede And neidfull is to haue ane in his stede
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 329/23.
It is nocht nedefull to expreme thaim here
a1500 Bk. Chess 1110. 1513 Doug. vi. i. 68.
Mair neidfull now it war … Sevin ȝong stottis … in offerand brittin ilkane
1533 Gau 25/33. 1567 G. Ball. 130.
That is neidful to want na thing
a1585 Maitland Maitl. Q. xi. 53. 1598 Liber Coll. Glasg. lxxvi.
Neidfull it is to haif the autentik copies therof
(2) 1431 Buccleuch Mun. II. 28.
For that yt ys neidfull and merytabelle to ber wytnes to the suthfastnes
1480 Thanes of Cawdor 439.
1481 Soc. Ant. LX. 90.(3) c1460 Vert. Mess (S.T.S.) 9.
It is mar spedfull, neidful and profitabile to the manis saul-heill to her mes … na [etc.]
1456 Hay II. 161/21.
It is nedefull … to thé till have a … discrete man to be thy secretare
a1500 Bk. Chess 629.
Neidfull it is to princis or to a king Off litteratour to be attour all thing
1583 Reg. Morton I. 141.
His answer wes … it wes nocht neidfull to him to put thame in wreit
1600 Crim. Trials II. 192.(4) a1400 Leg. S. iii. 583.
Thare for is nedful that thru thé Oure goddis now enpleysit be
1489 Acts II. 219/1.
That it is … neidfull that ane ambaxiat be send
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xv. 26.
Nocht neidfull is men sowld be dum
1533 Boece ii. xii. 84 b.
Nedefull war that men evill gevin and nurissaris of discorde war removit
Ib. vii. x. 241.
It is nedefull that quhay desiris wyn seneȝeorie … suld [etc.]
1533 Gau 5/18. Ib. 8/13. a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. ci. 79.
And neidfull that ȝe freindis be
1566 Gray Lett. & P. App. x.
It is maist neidfoull that we be honorabillie accumpanyt
1577 3rd Rep. Hist. MSS. App. iii. 419/1.(5) 1519–20 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 194.
And gif itt be neidfull, comand thame of the toun … till do swa
1535 Stewart 30839.
As neidfull war

b. To think (also, to find) (it) nedeful.(1) 1550 Corr. M. Lorraine 341.
We thocht nocht neidfull to impesche you with lang writing
1550–1 Ib. 345.
I thocht it neidfull to breik with my lord governour
1560 Rolland Seven S. 9971. 1567 Acts II. 548/2.
Our said souerane … hes thocht neidfull and convenient to dispens … like as hir maiestie presentlie dispensis
1568 Lyndesay Pref. (S.T.S.) 397.
I think it not greitlie neidfull to tary thé thairon
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest. 4. 1589 Douglas Corr. 241.
I thocht it nocht nedfull to wreit particularlie to everyone
(2) 1515 Douglas Corr. 68.
The Quenys grace … thynkis nedfull I be promovyt to that seyt quhilk now is vacand
1590 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 17.
[The council] fynds it neidfull that ane wawpounschawing be proclamit
(3) 1550 Reg. Cupar A. II. 75.
Thai sall haue power to big alsmekle as thai think speidfull and neidfull
1562 Will A. Betoun 226.
Gife they think it neidfull
1581 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 558.
The same [loch] to dame in or latt furth swa oft as thai sall think neidfull

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



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