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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.

Never, Nevir(e, adv. Also: nevere, -eir, -ir(e, -yr(e, -ar, neivyr, newer, -ir, -yr(e, neu'r; niver, niwer, nifir; neaver, nawer, -ir; and Neir. [ME. neuer(e, nevere, nefere, næure, etc., north. newer (c 1400), e.m.E. never, OE. næfre.] Never.

1. At no time, on no occasion.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 918.
As he of sicht had neuir merring
c1460 Thewis Wysmen 372.
Vthir folk thai honor neuir
c1420 Ratis R. 318.
Wrechitnes that neuir wan land
1456 Hay I. 56/8.
The quhilk [fire] for vi or vij dayis cessit never of birnyng that noble citee
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 314/11.
Jowis etis neuer sennonis
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 209.
Strait Gibbonis air that nevir ourstred ane horse
Id. Tua Mar. W. 335. Ib. 407. 1530–1 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) iii.
That he gaif never his sister the chaines
1562-3 Winȝet I. 8/32.
Neuir reformand thaim selfis fra … auarice
1566-70 Buch. Comm. on Virgil Æn. iv. 338.
I gaif me never furth for thy husband
1573 Tyrie in Cath. Tr. 8/31.
He neuer ansueris to that quhilk [etc.]
1596 Dalr. I. 5/19.
That sair seiknes … cam nevir till ws
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I. 177.
That thei neuer hard ony guid taill tauld vpone hir
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 133.
A reaven pot played never even
Ib. Nos. 1478, 1480.(b) 1533 Gau 57/30.
And it heris newer His word without frwit
1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 72.
I pray God tha com newer haym
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. i. 93.
Ȝouth newer ceas'd to blo
(2) a1400 Leg. S. iii. 1091.
Fore that I in hell neuir wes
a1500 Seven S. 1357.
Hewe it [sc. a tree] that it be nevere worth
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 165/15.
Quhar men ar nevere seike nor cald
1562-3 Winȝet I. 12/11.
To the end that thy maiestie be neuir thairwith poliutit
1564 Peebles B. Rec. I. 296.
That he wais … newir requyrit to the counsaill
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 198.
A scharp craver never a gud payer
1619 Garden Elphinstoun 2447.
Neu'r was he seene to lache
1682 Lauder's Observes App. iv. 305.
1692 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes 19 Apr.
That ther was nawer amongst ws report her off witchcraft
(3) 1375 Barb. i. 310.
In all his lyve-tyme he … neuir wald for myscheiff faill
a1400 Leg. S. i. 3.
For men may a stane neuir bow
Ib. xxv. 364.
Of my ded … The warld sal neuire cese to tel
a1450 Fifteen Ois 220.
Grant me the blis neuer sall haue end
1481 Buccleuch Mun. II. 76.
Sal neuer vex inquiet [etc.] … the said Robert
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 434.
With kirk-gude sal I neuer haue ado
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxvi. 57 (M).
That neuer cowthe be content
1513 Doug. Conscience 26.
To poysoun justis thow dois never irk
1567 G. Ball. 15.
Quhilk thay did neuer keip
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 101.
An ill servant will never be a good maister
1622-6 Bisset II. 193/33.
(b) 1509 Lennox Mun. 188.
Swa at the pament … sall newyr hort the sayde lord
1596–7 Misc. Spald. C. I. 85.
Swa that he culd newir be satisfeit of drink
1611-57 Mure Misc. P. x. 16.
Joy nor smairt Sall newer diuert My most loyall hert
(4) ?1438 Alex. ii. 4373.
Do we neuer na couardry
c1460 Consail Vys Man 260.
Set neuir thi hart one cowatice
a1500 Seven S. 377.
He said Bantillas neuer worth thé wele
1513 Doug. ix. Prol. 14, 16.
Be nevir sle and doubill, … Clym nevir our hie
Ib. x. vii. 27. a1570-86 Maitl. F. lxxxv. 4.
Lat never thy cair in court be cryid
Ib. 25. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 291.
Give never the wolfe the wedder to keep
1640 Aberd. B. Rec. III. 208.
Let newer the convenanteris hawe any pairt in the kingdome of heavine
(5) ?1438 Alex. i. 206.
I hope neuer to hald of land Ane akirbreid
1453 Reg. Dunferm. 341.
The quhilkis … I will all vtrali be excludit and neuer to be herd in jugement
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 149/31.
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. ii. 94.
I liue resolued neaver to dispair
1613 Grant Chart. 211.
Quhilk contract … [to] be … annullit and nawir to resawe faith
1639 Sc. N. & Q. i Ser. XII. 59.
(6) 1616 Sutherland Corr. 122.
Gif their be ony actioun in yow, itt will kythe now or newir
1628 Rec. Old Aberd. II. 7.
Alex. Cruikschank … wes ordained to redeem his ring … at Barth day or newer
(7) 1640 Pope's Conclave.
comb. That never-enough-deserving prelat
1682 Lauder's Observes App. iv. 308.
A niver-failing medicine

b. Accompanying another negative: see also never nane, 3 c below. — ?1438 Alex. i. 2939.
He luffit neuer na lossingere
Ib. ii. 390.
Weill na may he neuer speid
1408 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 67.
That we neuir consentit til nane act of parlement ne of counsel
c1420 Wynt. vii. 2453.
Na kyn swylk fundatyown Suld newyre into that plas be set
1490 Irland Mir. II. 31/9.
In na maner of way he [Satan] mycht neuir wincus Him
a1500 Seven S. 1189. 1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 131. 1553 Glasgow Test. I. 97.
That scho tak neuer noder husband nor laman
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I. iii.
1632 Lithgow Trav. 327.
Serpent like … That bowes the grasse but never makes no path

c. Followed by na or nor. — c1420 Wynt. v. 539 (C).
Off that playe neuir yrk na sade
1456 Hay I. 161/10. Ib. 128/28.
A pure creature that never maid were nor never bare harneis na wappin
c1460 Consail Vys Man 52.
That thow be neuir leif to lee Na ill of answere for to bee
1526 Lennox Mun. 227.
We sall newyr reuok na agane call the samyn
1559–60 Inverness Rec. I. 42.
He hes … held newyr stob nor stayk
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 159/37.
This ordinance was nevir of the evangell nor ȝit of the Kirk … nor na vther haifand iust authorite

d. Followed by bot (but), save or except, introducing an exception or a contrast.(1) ?1438 Alex. ii. Prol. 15.
Na neuer gat thing of my will Bot tene
c1420 Wynt. v. 3751.
I trow that Ambros Sall newyre decerne bot that is rycht
Ib. viii. 903.
Lat newyre the Brows now bere the crown Bot yhe hawe his subjectyown
c1450-2 Howlat 485.
Now bot I semble for thi saull … Sall I never sene be into Scotland
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 48. ?a1500 Steel Roy Robert 120. 1533 Bell. Livy I. 46/22.
This tempil eftir the tyme of Numa was neuer closit bot twyis
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 164. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1508.
There was never a caik bot there was a maik
Ib. 1493. 1576 Crim. Trials I. ii. 57.
Interrogat gif euir sche had spokin with him … Ansuerit, neuir save anis
1682 Lauder Observes App. iv. 308.
That which was bred in the bone went niver out of the flesh except by [etc.]
(2) 1490 Irland Mir. I. 150/2.
He assumyt neuir the nature angelic, bot oure nature he assumyt of the haly virginale body of this lady
c1490 Porteous Noblenes 179/24.
Thai haue neuer … dangerous manere bot allway lufand and gracious chere

e. In comparisons.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii. 163.
Mare care mad neuir ony man!
c1400 Troy-bk. i. 338.
Mare crafty saw thai neuir nane
c1420 Wynt. v. 2043.
A bettyre lessown newyre wes red Than I herd in a priwa sted
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 6.
Neuer ane blythfullar bird was on the beuche harde
1549 Compl. 9/24.
He vas neiuyr les solitair as quhen he aperit to be solitair
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS. No. 886.(2) a1400 Leg. S. xv. 85.
Sik merwal neuir befel As we here ȝow of tel
?1438 Alex. ii. 9661.
I sall neuer sic ane vther se
c1420 Wynt. ii. 1246. a1500 Rauf C. 97.
Sa fell ane wedder feld I neuer
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xiv. 5, xxxiv. 48. 1531 Bell. Boece (M) I. 103.
Apperandlie was neuir sene sa mony eloquent poetis … as wes that tyme
15.. Christis Kirk (L).
Was nevar in Scotland hard nor sein Sick danceing and deray
1556 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xxviii.
Nor sic ane thing wes neuir as we ar surlie informit
a1578 Pitsc. I. 342/28.
Thair was nevir sic provisioun … maid for na tryumphe
(3) a1578 Pitsc. I. 24/22.
Nevir the lyk was seine at na manis mairiaige

f. With the addition of a word, phrase or clause limiting the time.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xlii. 281.
Thai … neuire ware sene to this day
14.. Burgh Laws c. 86 (A).
Fra that tym efterwart he sal neuer be herde
c1450-2 Howlat 618. 1456 Hay I. 21/19.
Efter hir deces thai sall never mary agayne
c1475 Wall. i. 8.
Our ald ennemys … That neuyr ȝeit to Scotland wald do gud
a1500 Rauf C. 169.
Ȝit was I neuerin my life thus gait leird
a1500 Seven S. 2674.
Ȝe sall neuer heir thaim maire
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 174.
Quhy burges barnis … to the thrid aire Can neuer thryf
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 195/23.
Thai kepit neuer langar trewis than thai mycht se apperance of ony awantage
1540 Lynd. Sat. 669.
Sen I was clekit of my dame ȝit was I never leill
1549 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xxiv.
That he nevir did afore the said day that micht be prejudiciall
(b) c1420 Wynt. vii. 2672.
Fra theyne … Thai suld newyr be contrare To … Ingland
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 418.
1549 Corr. M. Lorraine 317.
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. clxxvii. 73.
1574 Inverness Rec. I. 238.
Newir to trubill nor inqueat this burcht induring his lyff
a1578 Pitsc. I. 26/18.
(c) ? 1615 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 259.
The same … will niwer conwalese agane

g. In collocations similar to those of 3 a but without the indef. art. c1450-2 Howlat 188.
Was neuer leid saw thaim lauch
1456 Hay I. 178/10.
Gif … sauf condyte vaillis nocht, never man wald traist efter in sauf condyt
a1500 Seven S. 926.
Thair was neuer man couth juge The cors
1501 Halyb. 269.
Yet he neuer paid myt for his costis
1504 Wemyss Chart. 122.
The said Lard Wemis ressauit newer penny of profet
1513 Doug. viii. Prol. 176.
Thys was bot faynt fantasy … Nevir word of verite
1611 Reg. Panmure I. xxviii.
Thearefter newir word wos of theme
1614 Crim. Trials III. 301.
Thair was neuir thing lukkit weill yit quhilk he devysit
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 134.
A mease of meat hinderit never man

h. Never quhare, never ȝit quhare, never anywhere (as yet).North. ME. never quar (Cursor M.), newer whare (c 1400), id. 1375 Barb. x. 703 (E).
I hard newyr quhar in nakin land Wes castell tane sa hardely
Ib. xi. 39 (E).
Ik herd neuir quhar sa lang warnyng Wes gevyn to sa michty a king
?1438 Alex. ii. 9929.
Ik sic plenty Of men that neuer ȝit quhare War sene sa mony as thay ware

2. Passing into a more or less emphatic simple negative: In no way, by no means, not at all, not.(1) 1375 Barb. ii. 385.
This bargane neuir may langar last
c1400 Troy-bk. i. 105.
We come neuir in purpos her Ȝour kingis land to stroye no stere
c1420 Wynt. v. 5273.
A makare mycht he nevyr be Bot gyve [etc.]
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2097.
It was renummyne … that King Philipe his father neuir was
a1500 Seven S. 2380.
This ryng was neuer maid in Vngry
c1500-50 Brevis Cronica 323.
The battaillis … endit nevir till the last distructioun of the Pychtis
1535 Selkirk B. Ct. MS. 202 b (7 Dec.).
For his eld I lukit neuer
1549 Corr. M. Lorraine 303.
I sall nifir haif an grot of your lordship ger quhill I be deid
1571 Maitland Maitl. F. clxxvii. 16.
In this storme thy stait will newir stande
1697 Cramond Kirk S. IV. 17 Oct.
& that she never minded it untill 8 a clocke on sabbath morning
(2) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 2818.
I wait neuir how
a1500 Colk. Sow i. 23.
Hyding hurdis in to hirnis And knawis nevir quhome till
c1500 Crying of Play 3.
Se quha is cummyn nowe Bot I wait nevir howe
1513 Doug. ii. xi. 95.
I wait neuer quhydder My spows Crevse remanyt

3. a. Qualifying a noun: Never a (ane), not a, not a single; cf. also sense 1 g.See also Dele n. 1 for several examples. a1500 Seven S. 760.
Neuer a drope … Wald ryn
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lii. 6.
In malice spaik I newir ane woord
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 899.
That nicht he sleipit neuer ane wink
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 150/20.
The wickit opinioun aganis the mes hes nevir ane propirte aggreand with ane godlie doctryne
a 1600 Gowrie P. 7.
The said Davie received never a stracke in her majesty's presence
1605-6 Welsh Forty-eight Serm. 498.
There isnever a stripe that his back keeped, but [etc.]
1615 Highland P. III. 185.
Thair is newer a minister in the wholle ille except wan poore man
1637 Rutherford Lett. (1671) 225.
Christ … was neuer a whit angry
1632 Lithgow Trav. 101.
There were seventeene boats cast away … and never a man saved
c 1641–54 J. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II. 549.
Ther is never a hous upon Chluynie but sheils and wood

b. As pron.: Never ane (one), not one, no one at all; not any, none. a1500 Peblis to Play 72.
And never ane bad, ‘Abyd ȝow!’
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 155/25.
And ȝit nevir ane of thir thre termes is expreslie contenit in the new testament
a1568 Bann. MS. 147 a/15.
Sall nevir ane of thir do weill
1614 Melrose P. 150.
Echt schottes … and nevir one frome the castell
1657 Hibbert P. No. 19.
Never one did come to buy a pickle of itt [sc. meal]

c. Never nane, no one, none at all. c1400 Troy-bk. i. 595.
Thar was neuir nane hyr lyk
?1438 Alex. ii. 5981.
Foroutin lesing Of sic ferlys [I] hard neuer nane
c1420 Ratis R. (S.T.S.) 176 § v. 7.
Thar was neuir nan … That may excus hyme fra lawbor
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 286.
Thair gat he nane homage … Nor neuer none sene
a1500 Seven S. 324.
All barane It was and frut bure neuer nane
1513 Doug. iv. xii. 27.
Only gyf that neuer nane At our cost had arryvit schip Troiane
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 483 (B).
Lat nevir nane sic ane be callit a Scott

d. Nevir the better, none the better, no better at all. a1605 Montg. Flyt. 345 (T).
Desyrand daylie for to die Bot nevir the better

4. In conditional clauses, in never sa (so), preceding an adj. or adv.: To however great an extent, however. Also with sic, preceding a noun.(1) 1375 Barb. xv. 422 (E).
All thoucht yhe hald him neuir sa stout
a1400 Leg. S. xxxviii. 118.
Suppos thai wald neuir sa fane
1456 Hay I. 196/1, 2.
Albe thai never sa wele witty na hardy thai suld nocht [etc.] … all war thai never sa michty
Ib. II. 16/20.
War he never sa grete a lordis sone
a1500 Henr. III. 134/7. a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 386. 1513 Doug. viii. iv. 107. 1531 Bell. Boece I. xliv. 1558 Statut. Sc. Ch. 159.
And albeit men obtein sentences never sa mony
1567 Sat. P. vi. 24.
Thocht he war neuer exalted so hie
1593 Acts IV. 34/2. 1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 45.
And it were never sa lang syne
1596 Highland P. I. 156.
Albeit the saidis takenis and suspicionis be neveir sae licht
(2) ?1438 Alex. i. 2909.
For nane … All be he neuer of sic renoun, Sall I neuer tyne sterop

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"Never adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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