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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).

Sever, -ir, v. Also: sevire, sivir, syver, -yr, sivver. P.p. also severt, etc., scheveeritt, sypherit. [ME and e.m.E. sever (c1375), AF severer, ceverer, OF sevrer (1080 in Larousse) to separate, L. sēparāre to disjoin, sever, part.]

I. tr. 1. To separate, set apart, cut off (people) fra one another, God, etc. morally or physically by distance; to distinguish one group from another.pres. 1490 Irland Mir. II 126/36.
God … sal sevir thir twa partes of men the gud fra the euill
1490 Irland Mir. III 88/11.
Thar mone be a distinccioun visible to seuer and disting the clerkis fra the laif and that is the tonsour and schawin in the heid
a1568 Bann. MS 23a/6.
Inflame ws with the fervent fyre Of luve of thé … That nothing erdly sever [ed. sover] ws Nor pairt ws fra thy hie empyre
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 35.
Scho [sc. the Queen of England] … severis fra the saikles in punissing sic [as] ar gilty in offenceing
p.p. a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 253 (M) (cf. Separat(e p.p. 1(b)).
Sodomyt sypherit fra sanctis celestiall
1533 Bell. Livy I 58/5.
Thre Curacianis following on him als fast as thai mycht, ilkane severat ane large space fra vthir
1533 Bell. Livy I 64/13.
Quhen he saw him selfe ane lairge space severit fra baith the armyis
1533 Gau 97/9.
Our fader thou quhilk is in the heuine ve ar thy bairnis heir apone the ȝeird and seuert fra thé heir in ane fremmit cuntreth
1598 Misc. Spald. C. I 122.
And … that the godlie wilbe sewred [ed. schowred] fra the wicked
1650 Carstairs Lett. 75.
It is not, in any dispensatione severed from Him, to give out a lessoune

b. specif. Of the parts, chapters of a literary work: To separate, divide from each other. 1531 Bell. Boece I iii.
The table of the historie; contenand every buke and cheptour craftely severit be thaimself

c. To dissever, dissociate (persons or things which are usually considered to be indissolubly linked). 1490 Irland Mir. I 157/28.
The saule was neuir partit fra the diuinite, na ȝit the diuinite seuerit fra the body
1490 Irland Mir. II 35/30. a1538 Abell 57 (bis) a.
Tham at God hes coniunit lauchfullie be mariage na man ma sewir to conuers with ony othir
1549 Lamb Ressonyng 39/16.
It semit nocht a Catholik kyng to intercommown with a kyng seuerit fra societie of Christin men [sc. the excommunication of Henry VIII]

d. To deprive (someone) of (something). c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 337.
Quhen I severit had that syre of substance in erd

e. To prevent, hinder fra a course of action. 1533 Bell. Livy I 208/17.
The inemyis … mycht skairslie be severit fra oppugnatioun of thare tentis

2. a. Of an obstacle: To separate (persons, etc.). Also const. fra. b. p.p. Of persons, places, etc.: To be cut off fra (something material or non-material) (by) or as by an obstacle.a. 1533 Bell. Livy I 38/12.
The rivere of Tyber severit thame fra the Romane landis on thare richt handis
1533 Bell. Livy I 171/1.
All municiouns, quhilkis war laid be industrye to sivir [B. syver] the armyis
b. 1554 Misc. Bann. C. III 83.
We ar insularis duelland in ilis seuerit aluterlie fra science of lettres
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 71.
Ane hous in maner severit from all hant of men
16… Fraser in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 218.
From that [sc. Gunna] to the North laijs the Ille of Colle, severid by a smal stream weadable sometymes when it is low water

3. p.p. Marked as distinct. 1531 Bell. Boece I viii.
[The Elements] thoucht thay be richt far Fra othir severit, with qualiteis contrar
1533 Gau 83/30.
Part of psalmis ar sewert be this vord sela … it singnifeis that thair is ane singlar marklie thing in that prayer and that man sal rest thair and ramember apone the meninge

4. To scatter, disperse (a group of people). a1538 Abell 19a.
Thai faucht quhill tha mycht sewir thame
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I 7.
How Romanis fechtand … with vncertane victory war scheveeritt be ane schoure of hayill

II. intr. 5. Of persons: To separate, part; to leave, depart (fra a person, place, etc.).(1) c1475 Wall. iii 162.
Durst nane seuer quhill the maist pres was past
(b) 1533 Bell. Livy I 60/2.
Sone eftir baith the armyis siverit and returnit hame
1596–7 R. Bruce in Calderwood V 574.
Sivver not; increasse thy unioun, power and thy affectioun more and more on Him
(2) a1538 Abell 37a.
The thre brethir desyrand to syvyr fra othir
c1460 Consail Vys Man 64.
It … fra al gud men garris thaim seuer
c1475 Wall. iii 86.
For sodeyn stryff, fra it he wald nocht seuir
1531 Bell. Boece II 161.
He maid ane … aith nevir to sever fra this town quhill the wallis thairof wer equate to the ground

b. Of a quality: To depart fra, leave (a person). 1490 Irland Mir. I 146/12.
Chastite and halines na way may sevir fra hire, na part fra hire haly name

c. Of the soul: To depart from (out of) the body. 1531 Bell. Boece II 305.
Quhen our saule mon sevir out of this corporall preson

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"Sever v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Oct 2022 <>



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