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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).
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Woman, Weman, n. Also: womane, -ann, -en, -in, -une, voman(e, womman, woeman, wowman, wemane, -en, veyman, -en, weoman. Pl. wemen(e, -an(e, -enn(e, -eine, vemen(e, uemen, weimen, ueimen, weeman, -en, weymen, -an, weamen, weomen, women(e, vomen, womenn-, wommen, woomen, woemen, wimen, wymmen. [ME and e.m.E. weomon (c1175), wimman (c1200), wummon (Ancr. R.), womman (c1275), woman (Cursor M.), vomman (c1400); pl. wimmen (c1290), wimen, wemmen, women (all Cursor M.), wemen (Destr. Troy), OE wífmon(n, -man(n, pl. wífmen(n.]

1. A woman, a female, adult human being. Also characterised or identified by various prep. phrases or clauses. Also in collocation with Man n.(1) sing. 1375 Barb. vii 542.
We send a woman him to spy
1456 Hay I 252/25.
Efter the custum of the contree ony womman may be juge in hir awin lordschippis
1490 Irland Mir. I 63/23.
That the woman errit and was desauit in the speking of the serpent
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3344.
Now ȝe may know quhat kin a woman am I
1596 Dalr. II 63/18.
This woman for her beutie … was callit the fair Madne of Galoway
1619 Fraserburgh Kirk S. 89 (24 Feb.).
Jhone Ȝoung, father in law to the woman
1628 Dundee B. Laws 526.
Any servand … quha is cled with ane womin in marriage
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I 207.
Ane reseruation of lyfrent in favours of a woman
1683 Inv. in Donibristle Mun. (Earl of Moray's MSS) 10 (9-10 May).
The picture of a woman in a … gold frame
1685 Sinclair Satan's Inv. World 205.
The land-lord laid hold upon the woman … and forced her to [etc.]
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xxx 590.
Scho that thare was munk … lath ware hyr that ony man Suld wit be pruf scho ware weman
(c) 1660 Rothesay Par. Rec. 34.
Being demanded if he was maryed vpon this woeman [etc.]
pl. a1400 Leg. S. x 347.
a1400 Leg. S. xviii 814.
A-beoufe al wemen blist thou be
a1400 Leg. S. xix 468.
c1475 Wall. ii 421.
The wemen told, by Corsby … Off Wallace eschaipe
1535 Stewart 12734.
On the left syid quhair that the wemen faucht
1561 Edinb. Old Acc. I 347.
For brankin of tua wemen, xviii d.
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 159/31.
The scripture makis na mentioun that thair was ony wemen at the commwnioun in the latter supper
1562-3 Winȝet I 29/9.
Not be twa wemen Judith and Hester, bot be the pretious blude of the immaculat lamb
a1568 Weddirburne in Bann. MS 242a/202.
As to Salamone … Wemen causit nocht his ydolatre
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 433/1.
1570 Sempill in Sat. P. xii 100.
Sen than be wemen douchtie deidis were done
1558-66 Knox II 381.
Such styncken pryde of wemen as was sein at that parliament, was never sein befoir in Scotland
(b) 1570 Misc. Bann. C. I 42.
My blast of the trumpet against the regiment of weimen is approved of all the godlie
1631 Buccleuch Household Bk. 29 Oct.
To twa weimen for making the ludging cleine agen
(c) c1420 Wynt. i 916.
In all women thowe blyssyd be
a1500 Seven S. 1188.
He hatit women sa odious That he wald neuer ly with nane
(2) sing. 1497 Treas. Acc. I 356.
To ane woman with the grantgore
c1520-c1535 Nisbet I 12.
The womann off Samaria
c1610 Melville Mem. 120.
Na woman of sprit wald make choise of sic a man that was lyker a woman than a man for he wes very lusty, berdles and lady facit
pl. 1375 Barb. ii 534.
The wemen off his cuntre Come for to fech him hame
1572 Sempill in Sat. P. xxxviii 43.
Wemen with babis on thair breist
c1590 Fowler I 148/11.
To surpas all wemen of her kynde
a1578 Pitsc. II 9/25 (see (4) below). 1615 Lett. Eccl. Affairs II 433.
Weemen … off the bangstar Amasone kinde
(3) sing. c1420 Wynt. i 83.
That woman … that Eve we call
a1568 Bann. MS 135a/19.
A woman that is fair Is nocht happin gude
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 160/28.
Ane woman keipit in cage Is ane ewill tressour
1664 Household Bks. Archb. Sharp in Misc. Maitl. C. II 521.
To the woman that keeped Robine Hood wall
pl. 1501 Treas. Acc. II 119.
To wemen that brocht butir to the king … ix s.
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 982.
Wemen sic as me [sc. Venus]
c1590 Fowler II 189/6.
Sax wemen quhilk represented a silent comedie
1595 St. A. Kirk S. 806.
Wemen that keipis houssis be thame selfis, nocht wedowis and on mariit
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 145.
As to the rest of the weimen quha ar in handis, he knawis no thing
c1610 Melville Mem. 83.
The wemen that hanted with Quen Mary
1614 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 348.
For sax burding of fog … to the wemen that caryit it
(b) 1456 Peebles B. Rec. I 113.
The thre women that is hys arris
a1500 Seven S. 2446.
Twa women lykast … God never wrocht
(c) 1596 Dalr. I 290/11.
Woemen quha had vowet chastitie
(4) sing. 1375 Barb. i 64.
The neyst cummyn off the seid Man or woman suld succeid
c1420 Wynt. ii 78.
In all apport scho prowyt man Suppos in fourme scho wes woman
1456 Hay I 252/4.
Thare suld na womman be juge of thing that pertenis to mannis jugement
1466 Reg. Dunferm. 356.
I sall nocht thole … na man nor ȝeit woman … to [etc.]
a1500 Henr. Deth & Man 19.
Tha call me Deid, … Calland all man and woman to thair beirs
(b) 1470 Prestwick B. Rec. 16.
That man or wemane, … that is fundin thrise … a fechtar [etc.]
1490 Irland Mir. III 73/15.
Euirilk man suld laubour … & weman rychtsua to put away syn
1545 Douglas Corr. 155.
Man, veymen, and chaylde
1545 Douglas Corr. 158.
pl. a1400 Leg. S. ii 530.
a1400 Leg. S. vi 436.
A-lefyne thousand of men, Foroute barnys ore weman
1492 Myll Spect. 274/17, 21.
Socrates said that wemen ar the nettis of kawcht men … Secundus … sayes, that wemen is … the hevyest byrding that man may haif
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 448.
We wemen We set us all fra the syght to syle men of treuth
c1520-c1535 Nisbet I 7.
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 159/29.
Christ commwnicate to the tuelf apostlis … and ȝe communicate till all men and wemen of the congregatioun indifferentlie
1570-3 Bann. Trans. 393.
Not onlie men, but weeman and childrene
1576 Crim. Trials I ii 52.
Sche saw twelf persounes, aucht wemene and four men
1608 Conv. Burghs II 253.
Thatt no wemen nor maydis draw ony wyne or aill, bott to be done by men and boyis
1664 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 213.
That no inhabitant … should invite … more persones to be witnesses to any of ther bairnes bot four men, and four weemen at most
(b) c1420 Wynt. viii 6439.
A pestilens … Bathe men, and barnys, and women [W. wemen] It sparyd noucht for to kille
(c) a1578 Pitsc. II 9/25.
The honest men and weomen of the towne
a1651 Calderwood II 211.
At a purpose dance whereat men and weomen talke secreitlie the queene choosed Chattelat

b. With allusion to qualities, characteristics, duties or objects particular to or viewed as particular to women.Specif. (1) the sort of behaviour allowed to or expected of women; (2) (usu. deprecatory) of women as objects of male sexual attention; (3) child bearing; (4) attending on childbirth; (5) things made for women.See also Faint adj., Flour n. 4, Licht adj.1 10 b, Merchet n. for further examples.(1) 1375 Barb. iii 518.
Gretyng Cummys to men for mysliking … Bot it be wemen that can wet Thair chekys quhen-euer thaim list with teris
a1487 Gud Wyf & D. 11.
A woman suld … be Nocht lowd of lauchtir na of langage crous
1492 Myll Spect. 275/28.
Tell neuer thi counsall to wemen for thai can kepe nain
a1500 Bk. Chess 2069.
A woman is no battall wrycht
a1500 Bk. Chess 2071.
A woman aw to follow hir husband
1513 Doug. viii ix 32.
The wyssys … than, for feir, By woman and the matronys dowblet wer; Mor grew the dreid the narrar drew dangar
1558 Knox IV 383.
He that judgeth it a monstre in nature that a woman shall exercise weapons, must judge it to be a monstre of monstres that a woman shalbe exalted above a hole realme
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1182.
How mony wayis that wemen haue … to dissaue, ane innocent Into hir net
a1578 Pitsc. I 10/18.
Knawin of wemen the facultie That thay are nocht constant
a1578 Pitsc. I 158/14.
c1590 Fowler II 160/1.
Fortoun is of the nature of wemen, which must be beaten and spurred to do thé reason
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 134/10.
Uemen are the frailest sexe
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 38b.
Wemen being heretrices … gif they forfair … their bodies in fornication … sall be disheritted
(2) 1375 Barb. ii 551.
In wemen mekill comfort lyis
1375 Barb. v 544.
He gat witting … Throw wemen [C. vomen] that he wyth wald play
1456 Hay II 64/21 (see Kem v. 1). 1456 Hay II 135/9.
He suld nocht have na dale with wommen in that tyme
1492 Myll Spect. 276/27.
Abstene thé fra sic delectatioun of wemen that thow callis luf
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 178.
He has bene waistit apone wemen
1600 St. A. Kirk S. 923.
Archibald Thomson … nevir to hant in suspitious maner with hir nor na uthe[r] woman
(3) 1375 Barb. xvi 275.
A woman … That hyr child-ill … has tane
1375 Barb. xvii 820.
Women with child … gaderyt wp … [Arrowes]
a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi 175.
Ymang birthis that weman bare
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 183/73.
Sall cry Allace, that wemen thame bure
1533 Gau 39/9.
Schw hayd na payne … in hir birth as al oder vemen hes
c1575 Balfour Pract. 550.
Quhen ony woman, beand accusit of ony crime, alledgis hirself to be with bairn [etc.]
1649 Wemyss Chart. II 232.
(4) 1650 Brechin Presb. 51.
I suspecting her to be with child, offered to bring in weemen to her
(5) 1612 Bk. Rates (Halyb.) 297.
Lettrones … for wemen to work on
1626 Edinb. Test. LIII 338.
Gloves for weyman

c. With adjectival modification. Also as the second element of a compound.See also Ald adj. 1, Commoun adj. 4, Gentil woman n., Gresman n., Honest adj. 1, 1 b, Hyre-woman n., Ill adj. 1, Inglis adj. 1, Irisch(e adj. 1, Kinniswoman n., Maryit ppl. adj., Nobill-woman n., Scottis-woman n. for further examples.sing. a1500 Seven S. 501.
Thow garris thi awne sone de For wordis of a fals woman
1511–12 Treas. Acc. IV 182.
To ane pure honest womane
a1538 Abell 43a.
Merlyne … wes borne of ane nobill women of Briton
a1538 Abell 71b.
This wikkit wemen
1515 Acta Conc. MS XXVII 71.
Sa that sche will return … and be ane gud Scottis weman
1575–6 Lanark B. Rec. 71.
Ilk onfre man or wowman
1662 Highland P. III 20.
A poor womune
1681 Red Bk. Menteith II 203.
My Laidy Graham is a very cuning weoman
1685 Brechin Test. VII 127.
To Agnes Massie, litle woeman, viii lib.
pl. a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 610.
Now, worthie wemen, in this ballet schort, Maid for ȝour worschip and instructioun
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 982 (L) marg.
Mercy becumys all men & specily gentylwemen
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 200/55.
Thay ar so humill … All mercyfull wemen thair eirandis grantis
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. title.
The Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo
1539 Treas. Acc. VII 197.
1549 Compl. 11/23.
Al the fayr ande best lyik ȝong vemen
c1590 Fowler I 303.
The Hebrew wemen
(b) 1438 Reg. St. A. 430.
My wyfe and twa gentill women wyth hir wyth sic houshald as afferis
1533 Bell. Livy I 159.
How the commoun women of Rome war revist be Sabynis
(c) c1520-c1535 Nisbet Luke xxiii 29.
1638 Wemyss in Sc. Diaries 122.
The good religius wimen did rise up … and flang … ther stoulles
(d) 1671 Kingarth Par. Rec. 69.
Young woomen … drinking in ale houses

d. In (explicit or implicit) contrast with Lady n. 1 or 3, a female of lesser rank. c1420 Wynt. ix 2799.
Knychtis and sqwyeris … prelatis … Ladyis, madynnis and weman alle … Husbandis … that wynnis the corne [etc.]
1456–7 Acts II 49/2.
Sen the realme … is gretumly puryt throu sumptuos clething bath of men and wemen … that na man within burghe … weir clathis of silk [etc.] … and at thai mak ther wifis and dochteris in lik maner … and as to thar gownys that na woman weir mertrikis [etc.] … and in lik maner without the burowis of wther pur gentillmen and thar wifis

2. In generic use: The female human being. a1400 Leg. S. x 352.
That vomane suld luf hire husband
a1400 Leg. S. xvi 3.
Cryst … denȝeit of voman to be borne
1456 Hay I 251/30.
Man is of hyar nature and condicioun, and mare noble na the womman is
1490 Irland Mir. III 96/25.
God … quhen he iunyt the woman with the man

3. With possess. adj. or noun (phrase). a. A female servant. b. A wife or lover.a., b. 1432 Ayr B. Ct. 16 June.
The chalans of a woman of Newin Chepmanis
1503–4 Dunferm. B. Rec. I 127.
For the vrangvis … strykkyn of his woman
1601 Elgin Rec. II 88.
William Torreis woman and Barbara Pattoun for casting snaw ballis
1603 Montgomery Mem. 248 (see Er(e n. 4).
Four eir reings … gifin at nevyeires day to my Lady Haringtouns vemen
1605 Dundonald Par. Rec. 90.
Jonat Smyth, Adam Clarkis woman
1611 Brechin Test. III 155.
x lib. for the intertenment of his woman the tyme of the plague
1611-57 Mure Psalmes xlv 9.
Amongst thy [sc. Korath's sons] weemen, honored most By thee, kings' daughters stand
1671 Lauder Jrnl. 244.
Given at Mr. David Falconer's woman's brithell
1675 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. IV 392.
Being reproved by the petitioners woman they did beat her
1676 Irvine Mun. II 274.
The majestratis with the ministeris women … ane chopeing of wine
1677 Cunningham Diary 90.
To my wife's woman as part of her fie, £1 10 s.
1684 Peebles B. Rec. II 115.
Fynes Margaret Robiesone … for abuseing my Lord Mortouns woman

4. attrib. and possess. a. Of, belonging to, for the use of, appropriate or suitable for a woman. b. With designations of occupations or types of person. Also woman lowpar, ? a woman without connections or status or ? in objective use, one who goes from woman to woman (cf. Lowpar n.) or ? a fornicator (cf. Lowp v. 2 (3)). c. Of a place: Inhabited by women. d. Of a school: Run by women, ? = Scule n.1 1 e, q.v. for further examples. e. Of parts, etc. of a woman's body. f. Of descent or descendants: In the female line, from a woman.a. attrib. (1) 1505 Treas. Acc. III 159.
Ane woman sadill
1546 Aberd. B. Rec. I 236.
xix wemen schetis
1598 St. A. Kirk S. 864.
The haill wemen saittis fixit within the kirk
(2) a1568 Bann. MS 64b/25.
His … coit On womanwayis weill toyit abowt his west
possess. (1) c1475 Wall. iv 791.
Deuoydyde him … of the womannys weid
1488–9 Acta Conc. I 106/2.
A womanis haik price x s.
1540 Acta Conc. & Sess. MS XIV 75b.
Ane womanis gowne
1574 Edinb. Test. III 143.
xxij pair of wemennis knyfis
1598 Black Bk. Taymouth 329.
Wemenis sadillis
1623 Crim. Trials III 548.
Thay disguiset thame selffis in weamenis apparell
(2) c1460 Thewis Gud Women 8.
Men suld considyr That womenis honore is tendyr & slyddir
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2687.
Now ȝe may ken sic wemens properteis Quhat mercy, grace, or gude deid thay wil grant [etc.] … Than sall thay mak to ȝow ane thousand leis
a1538 Abell 75a (see Liknes n. 1).
1622-6 Bisset II 92/10.
Airschip geir, barnispairt and wemennis thrid
1656 Edinb. Justices Peace 408.
A lasse … to have the just and equall half of the womans wages, and no more
b. (1) c1460 Wisd. Sol. (STS) 78.
Women sangstaris
1529 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 102.
All women mettaris of mell within the burgh
1600 Reg. Privy C. VI 171.
To use the … testimonie of wemen-husies and bairdis
1647 Dunferm. Ann. in J. M. Beale Fife Schools 48.
That schools be set up in … the landwart of this paroche … and that men or women teachers be sought and provided thereto
1657 Cramond Cullen Ann. 47.
The best man huick sall have … in tyme of harvest £5 … the best woman huick £3
(2) a1568 Bann. MS 147a/14.
A ȝong man … witles A pure man spendar getles A auld man trechour trewthles A woman lowpar landles … sall nevir ane of thir do weill
c. attrib. c1510 Prester John 311b.
Ane land callit the vemen land quhar thair is na man nor na man dar byd oure ane ȝeire
possess. ?1549 Monro W. Isles (1884) 33.
Ane ile, callit in Erishe Ellan Naban, that is the Woemens ile
d. attrib. 1623 Grant Burgh Schools 133.
[Without prejudice to the] weemen schollis [of Perth]
possess. 1650 Pittenweem Kirk S. 14 May in J. M. Beale Fife Schools 49.
Those that hes thair bairnes at vomen's schooles be delt with for putting thair bairnes to the gramer schools
1651 Burnett Fam. P. (see Man n. 7).e. attrib. 1599 Glasgow B. Rec. I 197.
That na personne by gers … cumand to the mercatt wpoun hors bakis or weymen bakis
1655 Edinb. Test. LXVIII 170b.
Hingers for womene ears
possess. a1578 Pitsc. I 301/12.
His hair was lang lyke wemens
1590 Crim. Trials I ii 208.
In abstracking of … wemennis milk
f. attrib. c1515 Asl. MS I 186/2.
We ar cummyn … of the woman syd [Misc. Bann. C. III 36, wommannis syde] callit Scota
possess. a1460 Misc. Bann. C. III 36 (see attrib. above). 1596 Dalr. I 88/11 (see Race n. 2).

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"Woman n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Jun 2024 <>



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