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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Wale, Wail(l, n. Also: waile, vaill, weill. [North. ME wal(e (both Cursor M.), wall (a1352), ON val, OHG wala. Also in the later dial.]Cf. Outwale n.

1. A choice, an act of choosing.There is some ambiguity with sense 2. a1400 Leg. S. vii 432.
Al thai … I sal sla, … but ony wale
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 982.
Schir Wawine, wourthy in wail
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 885.
Of uenisoun he had his waill, Gude aquavite, wyne, and aill
1637 Stirling Merch. Guild 54.
Promitting to have given thame the waill of ane punshone of wyne … and the said Isobell having waelit ane punshone … and markit the same [etc.]
1637 Rutherford Lett. (1671) 160.
I rue not that I made Christ my waile & my choice
1637 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 200.
I will have no other tutor, suppose I could have wale and choice of ten thousand

b. To (at, in) waill, (presented) for (one's) choice, (available) for choosing, freq. with the implication of being freely available or of abundant choice. Also at will and wale (cf. 2 (2) below) and full grete waill, ? = in great abundance.There is some ambiguity in early texts with the infinitive form of Wal(e v.Some examples may be open to construction as infinitives.(1) ?1438 Alex. ii Prol. 11.
Euer ilk vy hes welth at waill [: baill]
c1450-2 Howlat 447 (A).
With lordis of Scotland lerit and the laif As worthy wysest to waile in worschipe
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 211.
Wynis … maist wourthy to vaill
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 223.
Thus refreschit he his folk … With outin wanting in waill, wastell or wyne
c1475 Wall. viii 89.
Thus raid thai furth … Ner Enerweik chesyt a feild at waill With ix hundreth off likly men to waill
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 1249.
We se the finall end of our trauaill Amid ane plane a plesand roche to waill
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 1875.
Full mony worthie wicht Amid the clois, with all mirthis to waill
1513 Doug. v xii 35.
Thar was na strenth of vaillyant men to waill Nor large fludis on ȝet that mycht avail
(2) 1456 Hay I 147/18.
[He] mycht in the tyme that he feit him have had otheris at will and wale
(3) a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1339.
Wynis wisly in wane went full grete waill Amang the pryncis

2. The thing chosen, one's choice, the pick, choicest or best (of a number of things, etc.). Also will and wale.(1) 1460 Hay Alex. 94.
All the wysest clerkis and the wale Off Macedone of Grece and of Sclauone
(b) 1513 Doug. vii iv 188.
The Kyng Latyn but faill Gart cheis of al his stedis furth the waill
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Prol. Rom. 324/23.
Before all ewill dedis … thair mon be vnbeleif in the harte, as in the rute, fontaynne, waill, ande strentht of all synne
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus i 153.
This was he cled in waill morigerate
1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II 303.
Coft fra Gorge Levell, of Dunde, xii lang treis, of the waill of his tymmer
a1568 Bann. MS 229a/71.
Scho mycht haif comfort king or knycht … As waill and well of warldly wicht In womanly vertew
1576 Edinb. Test. V 20b.
To James Falconer … the waill & chois of samony as he pleisis of all his bukis
a1578 Pitsc. I 399/24.
Ane great airme … to the number of lm men the waill of all Ingland
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. l 45.
Hir native giftes, and graces gud, Sua bonteouslie declarris indeid As waill, and wit of womanheid
a1658 Durham Comm. Rev. 51.
As gold is the most excellent mettall; so the Church is the choice and waill of all the world beside; it's Gods garden
(c) a1585 Maitl. Q. 154/56.
For ather scho the pryis had wone As weill of womanheid
(2) 1460 Hay Alex. 1366.
Thinkand for till oureryde the first battall, And of the laif to tak baith will and wale

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"Wale n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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