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

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First published 1983 (DOST Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Pert, Peirt, a., (n.) and adv. Also: perte, pertt, perth; peirte; peart(e; part; pairt. [ME. and e.m.E. perte (Manning), pert (c 1350), also peert (a 1430), peart (1515), peirt (1529), aphetic f. apert Apert a. and n.Like OF. apert, Eng. apert ‘partly repr. L. apertus, partly = OF. aspert, espert, L. expertus’ (OED).]

A. adj.

1. a. Of an action: Performed openly and boldly. = Apert a. 1. b. Applied to courage: ? Open; ? bold, stout.a. Barb. x. 73 (C) (see Apert a. 1).b. 1531 Bell. Boece (M) I. 164.
Galdus … come with pertt corage
Ib. 171. Ib. (1821) II. 371.

2. Of persons, also (once) of animals: Bold, hardy, daring. Also transf.(1) 1375 Barb. x. 531 (C).
Ane William Francas Wicht and pert [E. apert] vis and curtas
1531 Bell. Boece (M) II. 399.
He persuaditt twa pert men
1533 Boece iii. vii. 101. 1535 Stewart 27123.
Tua pert Pechtis on hors wer huvand by
Ib. 59616.
So pert tha war and luikit to na perrell And cruell als
a1568 Bann. MS. 135 a/37.
It makis a perte mows Ane vnhardy catt
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 362.
Where shame is … there he maketh us bold and pert
(2) transf. c1420 Wynt. v. 3553.
He was Pert off wult and eloquent
1533 Boece xii. viii. 468 b.
Ane wikkit man … consauit in mynde ane peirt and detestabill interprise
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5802.
With peirt visage and countenance richt haill … [she] began to tell hir taill
a1578 Pitsc. I. 138 n.
Quha culd weill … dissemble with ane hard and peirt countenance

3. ? Fair, beautiful. a1568 Bann. MS. 227 a/7.
No fame on flud so quhyt So proper of portratour sa pairt no sa perfyt

4. Of a person: Expert, skilled, experienced. = Pertly a. b. Sharp; clever; quick-witted; pert.The quot. f. Dunb. may properly belong to 5 below.Also transf.(1) c1420 Wynt. v. 275.
He wes rycht pert and eloqwent And full austere in jugement
c1450-2 Howlat 643 (A).
The pitill and the pype gled … Befor thir princis ay past as pert purviouris
c1460 Wisd. Sol. (S.T.S.) 445.
And the pert fulys wenis that na man suld be maid of bot fulys with grete men
c1490 Porteous Noblenes 16 (Ch. & M.).
Diligence … makis of ane rud and vnnurist man ane man cunning pert and weill manerit
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 305 (M).
Endit was my innocence with my ald husband, I wes appeirand to be pairt within perfyt eild
a1568 Scott iii. 17 (B).
Wald ȝe rewill ȝow … Be prevy, pert [ed. part], … lat non knaw ȝour intentis
(2) transf. c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iv. 613.
The peirt persing of foirgeir into deid

c. Ready, apt (for (to) a course of action); quick (to or till act). a1568 Bann. MS. 70 a/17.
Be not pert in prevetie To vyce or iniquitie [Maxwall Till ws na iniquite]
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 84/9.
All the honest men … as maye make thaime pert to make thaire awin suitis to you
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xl. 25.
As prentise proud mair peirter nor expert
a1651 Calderwood VII. 54.
As he was the most ambitious … so he was the peartest

5. Bold, in a derogatory sense. Chiefly predic.a. Forward; impertinent, saucy; insolent. b. Presumptuous; audacious.Common in the phrase be ouir (also so, to) pert (to (till), also for to, as to, do something), freq. preceded by durst (nocht).predic. (1) 1535 Stewart 14056.
He said … How durst ȝe be so pert all to presume Me till impung of my … will
Ib. 20605.
That ony Pecht sould be so perth to preve To pas that wall without the legatis leve
Ib. 30174.
Thair wes no lord … durst … be so pert for to oppres the puir
1540 Lynd. Sat. 1955.
Thow art our perte to spill the proces of our play
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iv. 369.
I was to pert to put my friend to pane
15.. Clar. iii. 2165.
Quha hes maid ȝow sa pert To tryst my servand furth in this desert?
1567 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 6 Dec.
Quha dar be sa pert to deill my breid [etc.]
a1568 Bann. MS. 44 b/74.
1580 Reg. Privy C. III. 296.
Saying that he wes owir pert to ding that boy
a1599 Rollock Wks. I. 388. c1610 Melville Mem. 45.
Seing few or nane sa pert till assist him
1638 Henderson Serm. 180.
That whilk God casts down … man is over pert to mint to set it up again
(b) c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii. 339.
Quhat causit thé be sa peirt for to delyre Fra Venus court?
Id. Seven S. 4013.
Ouir peirt thow art to mak sic ane compair Of the maisteris
Ib. 6080. a1578 Pitsc. I. 197/30.
How he durst be so peirt for to mell with the honourabill croun of Ingland
(c) 1540 Lynd. Sat. 2912.
1621 Lett. & St. P. Jas VI. 339.
Ȝe ar over peart to dissobey the Kingis maiesties chairge
1671 Inverness Presb. 14.
How durst yee bee so peart as to abuse mee this day?
(d) 1572 Reg. Privy C. II. 163.
1579–80 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 77.
Saying how he durst be sa part to deill ony vynes without his avys
(e) a1578 Pitsc. I. 222/12.
Thow art ower pairt lurdane … to strampt on my fute
1643 Acts VI. i. 21/2.
Knave how durst thow be so pairt as to put my man in waird
(2) c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxv. 10.
He wes townysche peirt and gukit
15.. Clar. iii. 1003.
Scho that never furthie was nor peart
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8749.
Lodwik was schamefull and feminine And Alexander peirt furthie and masculine
1580 Hume Promine (L'envoy) 18.
Thay ar ouir pert
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xxii. 10.
‘Fell peart’ quod Cupid ‘thou appeirs’
(3) 1535 Stewart 51052.
Quhilk maid him than the perter of sic thing
(4) 1597 Calderwood V. 559.
Ungodlinesse and unrighteousnesse … is growne now so peart and impudent that she darre stop up to the Mercat Croce
attrib. 1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 400.
Sic peirte prouocatouris Sulde puneist be abufe all strang tratouris
1596 Dalr. I. 338 marg.
The Cathnesmen … ar puniset for the perte and pernicious pratt thay playd to thair bischop
c 1625 Misc. Spald. C. II. lv.
The avowed resaiter of seminaries and the most pernicious and peirt infecter in the north
a1634 Forbes Rec. 522.
So impudent and peart a forgerie

B. quasi-noun. Only in the phr. in pert, openly, in public. = In apert, s.v. Apert a. and n. 4, also Privé adj., n. and adv. B 3. ?1438 Alex. ii. 10002.
Men aucht to lufe him commonly Baith in peirt and priuaty
c1450-2 Howlat 60 (A).
I dar … Nocht for schame of my schape in pert till appeire
1453 Stirlings of Keir 226.
I … sal neuermar … mak ony persute … in or to the said landis … in preve or in pert [etc.]
1488–9 Liber Melros II. 618. 1497 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I. 71.
That nane of thir personis … vse the samyn cure within this burgh in pesens nor peirt
1576 Reg. Privy C. II. 550.

C. adv. a. Openly; ? audaciously, with effrontery. b. Briskly. = Pertly adv. 2 a. 1454 Douglas Chart. 384.
Preve or pert, in the law or by the law
a1578 Pitsc. II. 73/1.
Thow … sayest pairt it is waine to build … coistlie churches
c1475 Wall. iii. 203.
On horsis some to strenthis part can found To socour thaim

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"Pert adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Dec 2023 <>



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