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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Scorn, Skorn(e, v. Also: scorne; scoirn; scowrn; schorne. [ME and e.m.E. skarnenn (Orm), skorne (Manning), also schornen (Ancr. R.), aphetic f. OF escarnir, escharnir, eschernir, of ulterior Gmc. origin: cf. MHG schernen (OHG skernôn, schirnôn), MDu. and early mod. Du. schernen to ridicule, f. as Scorn,n.]

1. tr. To ridicule, mock, deride; to taunt, insult; to show, or express, contempt for (a person, also a thing).(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxi 155.
[Gap in text] Scornand hyme, callit hym wod. … & hyme sic questione can mowe In scornyng, his wit to prowe
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1762.
The lark, lauchand, the swallow thus couth scorne
c1475 Wall. vi 133.
‘Quhom scornys thow?’ quod Wallace
Ib. 469.
Sum scornyt him, sum gleid carll cald him thar
c1490 Irland Asl. MS 59/5.
For than thow … scornis Him and His law
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 599.
Thai tirvit him … Him till array and skorn as he war king
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 164/98.
The ja … skornit him as it was lyk
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 215.
We sall gar scale our sculis all thé to scorne
1533 Gau 41/24.
Quhow he suld … be scornit and crounit with ane croune of thorne
1549 Compl. 51/8.
Lactantius Firmien … scornis the mathematiciens that effermis antipodos
15.. Christis Kirk 21 (M).
Sche scornit Jok and scrippit at him
a1578 Pitsc. II 9/10.
This ambassadour … was … mockit and scornit be the bischoppis and kirkmen
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 15.
He comes to mocke Christ, to skorne him in his face
a1599 Rollock Wks. I 380.
Will thou bid ane blind man judge of colours, thou scornes him
1600-1610 Melvill 142.
‘Sir, he skornes your majestie and Counsall.’ ‘Na, my lord,’ sayes Mr. Andro, ‘I skorn nocht.’
c1610 Melville Mem. 337.
Then men wer appointed to skorn them at ther logingis and before ther windowes when they loked out to the streit
1673 Justiciary Ct. Rec. II 168.
Where upon the pannell cryed, ‘Webster, loun, are ye scorning me? I shall shoot yow’
(b) c1515 Williamson in Doug. (Sm.) I p. xxxii.
The Frens men now mokis and scowrnys Scottismen for ther labour
(c) a1578 Pitsc. II 48/1.
(d) 1460 Hay Alex. 3551.
Thai may nocht him schorne that cummys [B. cumis it] fra
(2) c1420 Wynt. i 458.
He … grynnyd … And skornyd fast his fadyr lumys
1533 Bell. Livy I 213/34.
Als sone as the Veanis fand the Romanis enterit in thare landis, thai returnit haistelie to thare … townis; And fra the Romanis war departit, thai made ythand hereschippis in thare landis, scornand [L. eludentes] thare weris with pece and thare pece with weris
1562-3 Winȝet II 27/26.
Quha nocht onlie neclectit to couer the baernes of venerable Noe, bot also maid the samin patent to wtheris to be scornit
1567 G. Ball. 94.
He scornis all thair consultatioun And wickit pepillis Imaginatioun
1596 Dalr. II 5/36.
Bot quhais pietie they skorne, thay wist quhat it meinet or the morne

b. To make (a person) look foolish or helpless; to make a laughing-stock of. 1528 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV 415.
Your seruand … saw how I was scornit with herounis … and had no halkis for thaim
1567 G. Ball. 215.
The fenȝeit goddis thay scornit him [sc. Jupiter] For lyke offence, within a quhile

2. To disdain, look down on; to despise; to reject utterly. a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii 417.
Nocht-thane, tho thu our godis skorne Thu tellis ws first … quhat thi name is
a1400 Leg. S. xlviii 16.
My leman dere, Quhy scornis thu me, lat me here, Refusand me, & I ne wat quhy?
?1438 Alex. I 403.
And in short tyme I trow that ȝe Sould scorne me, fra I war went
Ib. 564.
Men suld nocht repruf pouerte Thocht pure men ay skornit be
c1460 Thewis Wysmen 137.
Fore God scornys euir the scornouris
Ib. 416.
Of pure folk haf thai na petee Bot scornis thaim
a1500 Rauf. C. 429.
Schir knicht, it is na courtasie commounis to scorne
a1538 Abell 14b.
Papirius … ga … na trast to the fals goddis but scornit thame
1596 Dalr. I 69/15.
Twa things almaist ouer al sal we find, in the beginning athir sa terrible that we contemne thame, or sa feinȝet that we skorne thame
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. ii 87.
Sche … scorn'd my loue, Lauching to sie my trickling teirs doune go
1657 Balfour Ann. I 137.
The ȝeire … brought furthe muche jelosie of the Englishe aganist ther King … bot he palliat with the wysest of them, and scorned the rest

3. Only Sc.: To deceive (a person); to delude, fool.a1400 Leg. S. xix 128.
Quhy fled thu fra the hee-way, & led me thru the scharpe thornis? Me thinke, fulely thu me scornis!
Ib. xxxii 444.
Thane Cypriane persawit wele That he wes scornyt [L. delusum se videns] ilke dele
1533 Boece 358b.
Thai weyit sa hevilie to be skornit be the dissimulit polecye of Pichtis
1596 Dalr. II 432/2.
Quene regent skornt [L. illusa] with thir wordis, na creddance scho wald gyue … to ony admonitionis
Ib. 432/7.
The quene althoch scornit with the craft … of the aduersaris … scho feirit nathing
1614 Crim. Trials III 296.
For quhat conditioun beis promeist ȝow be onie in Orknay, thay bot skorne ȝow; for the counsall will not kenne quhat conditioun thay mak to ȝow

b. ? To elude, evade. But perhaps merely another instance of 1 above. 1596 Dalr. I 99/5.
Bot gif the princes … cum against thame with ane armie … thay bot skorne thame

4. intr. or absol., in sense 1 or 2 above. ?1438 Alex. ii 2027.
Ȝe may best scorne. ȝe ar baith better and eldar borne
a1500 K. Hart 304.
And strangenes hir portare can weill scorne
?a1500 Dewoit Exerc. 76.
Quhen thai for gret dispit, skornand and in derisioun, cled ȝour precius body our with a pece of purpour claith
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matth. xxvii 29.
And thai knelit before him, and scornit, [P. scornyden hym]
a1568 Scott xxxiv 68.
Quhen Thay [sc. ladies] … greitis Sum of ȝow lawchis and skornis
c1568 Lauder Minor P. iii 35.
The hypocreit will skorne contynewallie, And neuer can finde ane falt in to him sell
1596 Dalr. II 220/33.
Vtheris lauch and skorne thinking it cam of phrenesie
1600-1610 Melvill 142 (see 1 (1) above). a1689 Cleland 8.
Ladies heckl'd and lords horn'd Some for lending money scorned

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"Scorn v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 May 2024 <>



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