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

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First published 1983 (DOST Vol. V).

Pley, v. Also: pleye; ple-; plie; ply; play; pla-. [ME. (north., c 1440) pley, play, f. Pley n., otherwise appar. only Sc.] To plea, or plead, in various senses.

1. intr. To raise or prosecute a law-suit; to litigate.The quot. for 1540–1 may properly belong to 4 below.Also, const. of the thing sued for.(1) 1491 Acts II. 227/1.
That na induellare … purches na outlordschip … to rout na rid nor pley at bar … in the oppressioun of hs nychbour
1509 Justiciary Rec. (Reg. H.) II. 146.
Ony … that purches lordschip in oppression of his nychtboris or to pley with thame at bar
1540–1 Treas. Acc. VII. 420.
Gevin to ane Ducheman that pleyit before the Lordis to mak his expens
(2) 1540 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 220.
For ane kowe that Volle Scot pleis of with the successioun

2. To state, or maintain, the claim of a party to a law-suit; to plead, as an advocate, in a law-court (for the person represented) (in or until (? for intill) a matter). = Plede v. 1.(1) 1498 Acta Conc. II. 191.
The sade Malcum has na persone til pley in the accione
1532 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 377.
Anentis proces and formalite to be kepit be advocatis in pleying befor the lordis … that nane advocat nor procuratour stand within the bar to pley
1565 Instit. Ct. Sess. 5 b.
The aduocattit admittis to pley befoir thame
1622-6 Bisset I. 164/7.
That na procuratour nor advocate … pley forther in the mater eftir sylence is put to thame
(2) 1455–6 Perth Guildry 14.
Fra hine furth that nane gild brother purches ony vther man to pley for him at the bar than ane of his brether of the gild
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 1196.
With thé sal I ga vnto the King And for thé speik and plie until al thing
1491–2 Acta Conc. I. 211/2.
And huimbly besoucht my lordis to gif him curatouris to pley for him in all his accioune etc.
(3) 1497–8 Acta Conc. II. 130.
That he constitut na procuratouris … to the court of Rome to pley aganis our sade soverane lordis privilege of his croune

b. In extended sense: To plead or appeal earnestly (for something); to entreat; to implore. 1508 Treas. Acc. IV. 126.
To ane othir pure man that pleyit for ane tak
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 299.
Better playes a ful wom nor a fair cote

3. To contend (with, against another) in debate (? also, physically); to argue; ? to struggle (with). = Plede v. 3.With and without const. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2671 (Ch.).
Quod the uolf, ‘Ȝit pleyis [Bann. plyis] thow agane?’
1531 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 113 (see Pley n. 5 (3)). 1536 Lynd. Answ. Flyting 22.
Schir with my prince pertenit me nocht to pley
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 39.
The bischope of Glasgow pleit with the cardinall about the bering of his croce in his dyocie
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 89 (T).
Ga pley with thy peir I sall pay the lyk a paip
15.. Black Bk. Taymouth 164.
With youre maister be wonder laith to pley
1636 Boharm Kirk S. 24 Apr.
Convict of drunkness … and pleying with John Cummyng [etc.] … parochinars of Dundurcas

4. To put forward a plea; to make a formal allegation. = Plede v. 2.Also, with a document as subj. 1511 Bk. Old Edinb. C. XI. 107.
Quhen ony parteis enteris to pley, that the principale party and thar advocat sale entir with thaim
1560 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xx.
That na man entre to pley bot the parteis contenit in thair summondis and thair procuratouris
c1575 Balfour Pract. 275.
[That none] pley in judgment … without ane special mandat or procuratorie to that effect
Ib. 280.
That nather of the parties pleyand befoir him in judgment ressave ony wrang
1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 296.
For instruments pleyand aganis Patrik Boyman in Leyth for paking and peillin

5. tr. To sue (a person) (for possession of, for something, or on, vpon an issue); to take to court. 1507 Prestwick B. Rec. 40.
Cristine Red pleyt vpon the winnaill dyk … for faut of the vphaldyng of it scho was scathit iij f. of ry
1529 Conv. Burghs I. 511.
At na Scottis merchand nethir pley nor perseu ane wthir in Flanderis
1539 Chart. Coupar A. II. 147.
The said abbot sall neuer tribull pley nor inquiet the said den Alexander forder for the saidis jowellis
1622-6 Bisset I. 190/3.
The malice … of men to pley … thair nychtbouris maliciouslie

b. In extended sense: ? To trouble, as by litigation or debate; ? to try to get the better of. — a1585 Maitland Maitl. Q. xxv. 63.
And gif that ȝe … Frenchmen bring in hir quarrell to sustein Remember how thay pleit ȝow befoir

6. To maintain (a plea or cause) by argument in a court of law.(a) 1558 Jurid. Rev. XLIX. 31.
[We] will nocht it [the case] be forthir pleit bot to remane in our handis
1565 Instit. Ct. Sess. 7 a.
That na procuratouris … cum to the bar to pley ony mater without authentik literes
1566 Inverness Rec. I. 141.
That thair airis or executouris may pley or debait thair caussis
1581 Sempill Sat. P. xliii. 160. c1590 Fowler I. 196/2.
This is the actioun I intend to move And pleye at beautyes barr
(b) 1572 Sempill Sat. P. xxxviii. 92.
For causis and pausis thay plait into Pareis
(c) 1596 Dalr. I. 116/33.
Athir ar thay … men of law to plie a cause or men of weir to fecht
1649 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 169.
That the thesaurer advance ane thowsand pundis … to be sent eist for consigneing to get suspensioune and to plie the caus

7. To sue for (a right, decision, etc.) in a court of law. 1513 Rep. Hist. MSS., Var. Coll. V. 87.
That the said Alexandir … sall nocht pley the said discharge for hys faiddiris liftyme
1536 Haddington Corr. 201.
Our abbay … hes clamit and pleyit the richt … this lang tyme bipast
1558–9 Statut. Sc. Ch. 159.
That thai ar compellit to pas to Rome to pley the reduction of thar infeftments
1559 Dunbar Moray Doc. 51. 1559 Inverness Rec. I. 29.
The byll … suld be pleyt befor the jugis spirituall

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



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