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

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

Wast(e, Waist, adj. Also: vast(e, wayst, vaist, vayst, waest, west, weist, weyst, weast, uesten, (wasts). [ME and e.m.E. wesste (Orm), west(e (both Layamon), waste (c1290), wast (Cursor M.), waast (c1430), waist(e (both 1535), OE wéste, OF wast var. of guast, MDu. woest, LG wöst, L. vāstus.]

1. a. Of (an area of) land, a country: Uncultivated; uninhabited, not built on; wild, desolate; barren; ruined as the result of invasion. b. Of a building: Uninhabited, empty, unused; derelict, ruinous through invasion or neglect.In attrib.use chiefly with land. In predic.use chiefly to hold, leave, ly, etc. waste; also to lay, mak waste, to cause to be in a state of ruin or neglect.a., b., attrib. 1375 Barb. vii 151 (C) (see (b) below).
14.. Acts I 26/2.
Quha sum evir be made new burges of a waste lande and he hafe na lande wythin the burgh herberyt … efter the fyrst ȝere he sall haf herberyt lande and byggyd
1439 Edinb. Chart. 64.
The vaste lande neire byside the house of John off Turyng
1552 Grey Friars 230.
The pece of vast ground befor the Gray Freiris (quhar thai had wont to gaddir myddingis and fulȝe)
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 150/18 (M) (see Wasty adj. a (2)).
1558 Inverness Rec. I 26.
The … communite grantit to hyme the set of nyntene yeris tak of ane rud of wast land callit the Rud manse for byggin of the same to be furthcummand to the chepland and his successoris
1606 Highland P. III 86.
His hienes respecting, … the wast landis of Iyla, quhill thai be pleneischit and manwrit
1678 Kirkcudbr. Test. (Reg. H.) 1 Nov.
Resting severall yeares bygone for waste land and possest be himself quherof he lifted the cropt £66 13 s. 4ð.
1678 Argyll Justic. Rec. 96.
And … most barbarouslie band and tyed her with ropes and putt her in that conditione within ane wast houss quher no persone lived
(b) 1375 Barb. vii 151.
The formast cummyn wer Till a waist [C. vast] housbandis hous, & thar Thai slew the wethir that thai bar And slew fyr for to rost thar mete
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2376.
Throw woddis waist thir freikis on fute can fair
c1515 Asl. MS I 155/14.
Affrica has … mar wildernes & waist landis for gret hete and birnyng of the son than Europia
1497 Acta Conc. II 91.
Refusing to gif saising to Robert Trent of ane waist land liand in the sade burgh
1514 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 150.
A waist land of Robert Napers … ane waist land of Sandy Chalmers [etc.] … the quhilk lands ar opin and vnclosit throw the quhilks thair is oppin passage in greitt daynger to the towne and nychtbouris thairof
1527–8 Prot. Bk. J. Foular II 260.
The land and tenement bak and four waist and biggit land
1542 Aberd. B. Rec. I 184.
To byg ane commound hailis vpoun the tovnis pece vayst [pr. rayst] ground, lyand in the rattoun raw
1573 Davidson in Sat. P. xlii 140.
Ȝe se out throw this land How mony waist kirkis thair dois stand But outher prayers or preiching
1577–8 Inverness Rec. I 259.
Certan waist laarychtis of Barne rowmes lyand vpon the Barne hillis
1578 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 78.
Thair commone waist lands lyand within the territory of the said burgh besyde the auld pund fauld
1583–4 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 315, 316.
The waist lands of thair commoun mwre hes nocht only bene vnprofitabill vnto the commoun weill bot als is spilt … brokin and narrowit be the nichtbouris merchant thairwith … the saids provest, bailyeis [etc.] … concludet … that the said commoun mwre and waist grund thairof … to be teillit and … set furth in few be acre
1592 Acts III 617/1.
The said James hes fullelie to repair and builde vp the foirsaid haill vaist and decayit tenement to the decoratioun and policie of the realme
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 122.
Of ane burges made of waist land … after ȝeare and day he sall big and inhabit his land. … And gif thereafter it is waisted be fire … he may dimitt the land destroied and not inhabite, vntill he be of power to big it againe. … Reservand alwaies to the King his rent, of the waistland, and of the inhabite land
1633 Acts V 94/2.
Waist ground comoun wayes loynes and vthers comounties
1642 Edinb. B. Rec. VIII 5.
All and haill that waist bounds lying alongs the Water of Leyth
1674 Edinb. B. Rec. X 200.
That John Howat who hes the chop in the wester waist tenement perteining to James Murdoch make the hight of his chop from the flooring thereof to the overbed of the flooring above to consist in the hight of seaven foots and ane half
(c) 1530–1 Glasgow Prot. IV 32.
Ane waest bornesteyd, lyand into Sant Tenewsgaet
1531 Prot. Bk. M. Fleming 14.
Ane waest tenement
(d) 1587 Wedderb. Compt Bk. 7.
Ane chartour of alienatione of ane weyst peice of ground
(e) 1615 Hossack Kirkwall 180.
Twelve footts of weast ground
1699 Yester Wr. 321.
Dispositione … of the said great lodging and the oyr weast tennement mentioned
(f) 1581-1623 James VI Poems II 40/46.
He maid the sonne to knou his endit race The uesten earth then maid thou darknes so As nicht cam on quhen all uylde beastis … From uoodis & forrestis creip throuch plainis to go
(g) 1667 Old-lore Misc. IX 147.
To the face of the hill be-north Noube as … there is wasts ground not strictly marched
predic. (1) 1263 (1264–6) Exch. R. I 13.]
[De terra … eo quod vasta fuit
c1420 Wynt. ii 791.
He send wytht tham sum of his men Tyll Yrland, that was noucht yhit then Inhabityde, bot wes wast haly
14.. Burgh Laws c. 42 (B).
He sal byg his land and eftyr that gyfe it be waste … He may lat that be vnbiggyt qwhil he be of ese to byg it agayn
1492–3 Acta Conc. I 294/1.
The … landis offerit to hir … nocht arable nor lawborable bot barane & waist
1520 Bk. Islay 36.
The sayd Sir Johne sal haf the sayd landis as lang as thae are vast
1531 Bell. Boece I xxi.
He fand the samin waist and nocht inhabit
1568 Hosack Mary Q. of Scots I 535.
The … hous … was … ruynous waist and not inhabite be ony of a long tyme before
1649 Laing MSS 248.
The charge is not verie populous … skersly consisting two hundreth and fortie communicants, the third part of the paroch being almost wast since the last trubles
1661 P. Gordon Diary 43.
The sheets so dirty … and the houses so decayed and wast
1672 Edinb. B. Rec. X 119.
The said land … hes bein waist ever since the said Robert Rae procuired the foresaid right
1684–5 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. 3 Ser. XXXVI 167.
That the landis … and mill therof were all waist so that the landis possest did hardly pay teind and publict
(2) 1438 Ayr B. Ct. 4 May.
The rudis that war prufit waist … be the bailȝeis for the kyngis mark
1460–1 Ayr B. Ct. 20 Jan.
Jame Walkar seriand preuit the landis waist of qwhill John Miller lyand in the wod gate in defalt of vi s. of annuell rent ȝerly acht to Wilȝam
1478–9 Acta Conc. I 28/2.
Johne … sall restor to … Robert xiiij bollis of mele for the skath of the lying of his land wast
1490 Irland Mir. I 121/3.
Thi realme in gret parti standis desolate and waist
1501 Acta Conc. III 99.
The sadis landis … war takin up … and halding waist be umquhile Kenyeoch McKenze
1531 Bell. Boece I 150.
Our castellis ar left be thaime wast
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1804.
Sum paste in to the orient, And sum in to the occident Sum south, sum north, as thay thocht best; And so thare poleysie left west
1573 Inverness Rec. I 229.
Ane barne rowme quhilk was newyr occupeit lyand vpon the Barnehillis on the northt syde of wmquhill Thomas Flemyngis barne, quhilk lyis presentle waist
1627 Rep. Parishes 115.
The rest of the few aikers … are all lying waist unlaboured and never licklie to be laboured
1633 Orkney Witch Trial in Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. V 544.
The quhilk old howse being standing woyd and weast
1661 Bk. Arran II 105.
[They] did also susteane great … losse throw lyeing of the saids lands of Arran waste be the space of sex yeers
1681 Inverness Rec. II 290.
The fewing of that peice ground … rather then to have it wast quherby the same may be encroached on by neighbours, not concerned therin
(3) a1400 Leg. S. xxix 326.
The feynd … kist don castellis in hast & towne & tilth al mad wast, Sa that of his wes hale na thing
1478 Acta Conc. I 12/1.
Herbert of Johnestoune has hewin & brokin … & layde the said mylne wast
1533 Boece 151b.
The Romanis … quhen thai haue made all waist and bare thai ceirs baith erde and sey
1534–5 Wigtown B. Ct. 297b.
Geif the croft that he had … laye vast the fyrst ȝere at he tuik it
1563–4 Reg. Privy C. I 257.
Ane grete cumpany of brokin men … hes raisit fire, brint, waistit, and distroyit sindrie barne yardis … houssis and biggingis layand thairthrow waist ane grete part of the cuntre
c1575 Balfour Pract. 494.
Gif ony man happinis to destroy or cast down ane uther man's miln-dam or leid, and thairby … layis the miln idill or waist, he sall [etc.]
1599 Aberd. Council Lett. I 83.
The saidis personis intending … be concurrence and assistence of broken hielandmen quhom the said Sir Thomas hes subiect to his command to lay the saids lands … waist
1623 Aberd. Council Lett. I 207.
The pure tennentis being beggerit and undone they will give over thair roumis and lay the same waist
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I 215.
Ane milne being laid waist aither be breakeing of the milne or doune casting of the dam, the author of the wrong should pey the skaith sustained
c1650 Spalding I 4.
[They] resoluis be force of armes ather to recover thair awin kyndlie possessionis, or vtheruayes to cast the samen waist

c. comb. 1618 Trial Isobel Inch 8.
The said jugler oppint the forsaid waist hous dur

2. Of an area, a room in a building, etc.: Empty, unoccupied; disused. Also, of (part of) a ship. a1400 Leg. S. xxxi 221.
Quhen he saw cum ham hir chare, & quhen hyre chawmir wast saw he, Quhare welthi wes scho wont to be
1465–6 Aberd. B. Rec. MS V i 575 (14 Feb.).
Quhen he cummys to the havin thar he losis he sall schaw the vast rowme to the mayster of the barge
a1500 Seven S. 424.
His famele folowit sa that all waist Left the castall … Saifand a barne his aperand aire In credell bundin lay slepand faire
1513 Doug. vi iv 69.
Throwout the waist dongion of Pluto kyng
1513 Doug. vii v 19.
Than all assurit of this land and feld … thar schippis left desolate and waist
1513 Doug. xii xiv 48.
The stane he at his foman threw Fayntly throwowt the voyd and waist air flew
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 773.
They left thair awin schip standand waist, And in the Inglis schip, in haist, They followit, all, thair capitane
1590 Burel Pilgr. i 187.
Out come the quhittret … To haue ane hole he had grit hast, Ȝit in the wood thair wes nane wast, To harberie that iaip
1662 Sc. N. & Q. II 133.
Most pairt of the laich chamberis and bilboes, especiallie under the first schoole did stand weast without students

b. Wast fracht, a duty payable on any empty cargo space in a ship. 1456 Perth Guildry 15.
Wast fracht like gilt of ballast & of the gudis in the schip In primis Robert of Blair wast fracht
1563–4 Perth B. Ct. 29 (20 Feb.).
James Watsoun protestis that gif the jugis decernis him to pay weist fraucht for remeid of law & reduction of proces
1563–4 Perth B. Ct. 34 (25 Feb.).
Gif the jugis pronuncis and decernit the said James Watsoun to pay ony west fraucht of the schip callit the Andro na west fraucht beand prowin be the said Blais
1583–4 (16 … ) Dundee B. Laws 122.
[If] thai be under the danger of the payment of waist fracht, in that caise it sall be leasum to tak wpon credit als meikle as will save the payment of … waist fracht

c. Of an area in a mine from which coal has been extracted: Empty, worked out. (See Roum n. 9.) 1672 Sinclair Hydrostaticks 284.
The smoke whereof being full of sulphur, and other bituminous matter, and not having free passage to come above ground, filleth all the waste rooms underground

3. Devoid of something. c1420 Wynt. v 2916 (W).
For statut law first ordanit … at all ydolis were bot waist Off godheid, and deuillis ware
1513 Doug. xi vii 177.
Our large feildis and boundis all betweyn Left desolate and waist of induelleris
1596 Dalr. I 208/13.
King Eugenie … inuadet Britannie wast of men of weir

4. Of an object: Disused, ? dilapidated; surplus, ? useless. 1510 Stirlings of Keir 293.
In the chalmer of des of the said hall, a waist stand bed, wyth a waist pres
1626 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. II 287.
Away taking of … ane stick of pearling, ane scheir ane outcutting iron west stuff & dyveris uther moweables
1654 Edinb. Test. LXVIII 39.
Nyne waist rowes estimat all to ij lib. xiiij s.
1700 Cramond Ch. Grange 66.
Lost and wast goods being tolerated to be proclaimed

5. Of something non-material. a. Unprofitable, useless, idle. Also quasi-adv., in vain. b. Abandoned, desolate.a. c1460 Wisd. Sol. (STS) 274.
To the wykit man he gevis mekile waste and wane lawbore and grete dises and afflixoune of spreit
c1475 Wall. v 944.
Than Wallace said; ‘This is bot waist foly, Comons to slay, quhair chyftayns gayis away’
c1475 Wall. ix 365.
O ryoll roy … With waist wordis I will nocht yow trawaill
1513 Doug. x ii 58.
To … set in sted of that man, light as lynd Owder a clowd or a waist puft of wynd [L. ventos … inanis]
a1568 Scott xii 49.
It is bot waist Mo wirdis to taist
1644 Hume Douglas (STS) 375/28.
Whilk is a weast fear
quasi-adv. 1513 Doug. ii xii 62.
Sche sa lychtly vanysyt in the ayr That with myne armys thrys I presyt thar About the hals hir fortil haue belappit, And thrys, al waist [L. frustra], my handis togiddir clappit
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 710 (T).
Grant, guis, that my inventioun waris thé than, With out the quhilk thow micht haue barkit waist
b. 1513 Doug. x xi 111.
Leif nevir … thus dissolait and waist [Sm. wayst] Thy new allyans, promyst thé
c1590 Fowler I 115/75.
That noble art on which our helth dois stand, That now amangs ws lyis abused, so clene corrupt and waist

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"Wast adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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