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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Prene, Prein(e, Prin(e, n. Also: preinne, preyn(e, prinn-, pryn(e, prynn-, priene, preen, prean(e, prenn(e. [ME prene (Gen. & Ex., Awnturs of Arth.), early preon (Ancr. R.), after 15th c. appar. only Sc., and, in mod. dial., north. Eng., OE préon.]

1. A pin.Also, a decorative pin or brooch.For further examples see Clout n.1 1 b, Grotkin n., Nedil(l n. 1, Paper n. 2 (3).(1) 1507 Treas. Acc. III 261.
For prenes to the pailȝoun and upsetting of it
1529 Edinb. Hammermen 126 b.
For prenis to put the armis on with, ij d.
1562 Treas. Acc. XI 183.
For reparatioun of hir graces beddis … as followis … ijm prenis, xvj s.
1572 Sat. P. xxxiii 84.
My coller rent is be Dame Fremitnes, The prenis thairof ar reft be sad Nysenes
(b) 1603 Montgomery Mem. 249.
1611–12 Edinb. D. Guild Acc. in Burns Benef. Lect. 176.
For preinis to prein the claithis
1621 Edinb. Test. LI 77 b.
Four grotkin of preinnes at fyftie schillingis the grotkin
1650 Misc. 3 Spald. C. II 202.
To by preines to the bairnis at Ȝuill mercat
(c) 1603 Montgomery Mem. 245.
For prines, xii d.
Ib. 246. 1674 Argyll Justic. Rec. I 44.
Twa strings of black beeds and some prins which he stoll
1676 Cunningham Diary 77.
My compt of lace working as follows: … A cod to work upon, 17 s. 6 d. Prins to work with, 5 s.
1691 Cramond Kirk S. III 29 Jan.
He … brake doun the curtain and desired a prin from … Margaret to prin up a part of it that was rent by him
(d) 1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Spinter, a priene or broche
(2) 1494 Acta Conc. I 320/2.
Claspis melȝeis prennis neidellis price xx s.
1547 Treas. Acc. IX 67.
For prenis and nedillis to hir
1631 Stirling's Royal Lett. II 506.
A licence … to mak prinnes, needles, etc., within Scotland
1646 Edinb. Test. LXII 275.
Certane small wairs sick as preins, neidles [etc.]
1670 Inverness Rec. II 242.
Not to sell … any steple guids except preins and needles
1671 Ib. 250.
1681 Foulis Acc. Bk. 94.
To my wife to buy a byble … sheirs, prins, needles, etc. from a chapman
(3) 1568 Edinb. Test. I 215 b.
lx paper of prenis of the foure rois
1569–70 Soc. Ant. VI 52.
a 1590 Thanes of Cawdor 196.
1618 Edinb. Test. L 37 b.
xx paipper of preinis at ij s. the paipper
1621 Maxwell Mem. 334. 1647 Sc. Hist. Rev. XXX 151. 1664 Old Ross-shire I 205.
1647 Edinb. Test. LXIII 56.
xiij packills of preins

b. With qualifying word or expression specifying a size, type, make or purpose. a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 423.
Thy plesand lawn pinnit with goldin prene [v.rr. pene, pin]
1491 Treas. Acc. I 189.
For ij prynnis of gold to the king … xxvj s. viij d.
1496 Halyb. 45.
Bocht … half a li off prynis of gold
1506–7 Treas. Acc. III 370.
a1568 Bann. MS. 228 b/43.
With peirlit prenis of pacience
1567 Edinb. Test. I 80 b.
Ane gros of greit prenis
1568 Ib. 215 b.
xx paper of lane preins
1581 Ib. IX 186.
xx gros of small prenis … sex gros of blew prenis … ten gros of pareis prenis
1584 Ib. XIV 14 b.
Ane gros of countrie prenis … ane gros of ȝetling prenis
1586 Ib. XV 64.
Ten dissone of stob prenis … foure dissone of doubill stob prenis … ane dissone of siluer prenis … foure dissone of Frenche prenis
1590 Ib. XXII 257, 258.
Nyne paper and ane half of ȝallow prenes price of the paper ij s. vj d … .tua paper of blew prenes at ij s. the paper
1605 Ib. XL 186.
Four paper of hude preinis
1607 Ib. XLII 244 b.
Sax paper of huik preins
Ib. XLIII 153 b.
xviij paper of ȝallow prennis at iij s. iiij d. the paper … xx paper small blew prenis at ij s. vj d. the paper … xviii paper greit prennis at iiij s. iiij d. the paper
1617 Ib. XLIX 267.
Halff ane paipper of huid preines
1621 Ib. LI 32.
Ane dosone of peirlie preines price thairof xviij s.
1625 Ib. LIII 17 b.
Ten paiper of pairling preinis
1628 Ib. LIV 356.
xxxviij dossone of perling preines at iij lib. the dossone
1647 Ib. LXIII 215.
Twa packits of Hamebrucht preans
1675 Biggar ix 96.
For a dosen of great prinies to prin the mortcloath and horscloath

c. With reference to a pin or pins which pricks or pierces rather than fastens, e.g. in investigations of alleged witches (as also in Prik v. 3).(1) a1400 Leg. S. xliii 533.
A bose of wynd That fillit ware, & with a prene Mocht out be latine
c1590 Fowler II 33/31.
A smal prick of a preine may scail the wind in blawin bleddars
1622 Crim. Trials III 527.
For thair is ane preyne raschet throw my fute
1628 Fraserburgh Kirk S. II 26 March.
In brodding Magnus Willock with ane prein in tym of his prayeris
1650 Maxwell Mem. I 356.
That ill folk would putt prines in som folkes heart and when the prin cam to the head, they would die
1682 Lauder Observes App. iv 304.
His enemies having the rowing of it up, might perhaps … have put some crooked prin intil it
(2) 1590–1 Cal. Sc. P. X 464.
Being brodit with prenis
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 133.
Ane prein being input therin … thow culd nocht feill the same
1618 Trial Isobel Inch 9.
Quhilk pairt was immediately thairefter … prickit with ane greit preyn
c 1630 in Law Memor. Pref. lv.
1643 Justiciary Cases III 611.
In the quhilk he did thrust ane lang preane
1649 Sc. N. & Q. IV 28.
1661 Sc. Hist. Rev. XIX (1921–2) 208.
The preins being taken out, the holles remained vnclosed
1661 Crim. Trials III 602.
1662 Wilson Annals Penicuik 181.
[To be put to trial] by the prines
1678 Lauder Notices Affairs I 200.

d. In proverbs (? alluding to games played with pins). a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 776.
Happie go lukkie small preins play
Ib. No. 1838.
Ye play Jack nedle Jack prein

2. As a type of something of trifling size or value. a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxviii 56.
Now skantlie in it [the market] may be sene Twelff gait glydis deir of a preine
1634 Johnston Diary I 217.
Calling … his faythers love in quæstion becaus he withholds … from him a trifle, a stray, ane prine, ane needle

b. Freq. in negative contexts.(1) c1475 Wall. vii 910.
Off courtlynes thai cownt him nocht a preyne
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xiv 28 (M).
That all the lawis ar nocht set by ane prene
a1585 Arbuthnot Maitl. Q. xxxv 200.
& ȝit the geir for quhilk thay weir Is not the worse a prein
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iii 546.
For sic storyis I cuir thame not ane prene
Id. Seven S. 5041. a1585 Maitland Maitl. Q. xvi 94.
Of thair will [they] will not want ane prein
1572 Sat. P. xxxiii 101.
And nane dois cair for commoun-weill ane prene
a1578 Pitsc. I 3/17. a1585 Maitl. Q. lxxx 40.
Pryne [: myne]
1587-99 Hume 65/45.
Your prayer profits not a prin Except [etc.]
(2) a1500 Prestis of Peblis 1191.
To thé thow thocht I was not worth ane prene
1535 Stewart 58306.
Sic gratitude tha gat … That worth ane prene he leit nocht spulȝeit be
1540 Lynd. Sat. 155 (Bann.).
My purches is nocht worth ane prene [Ch. preine]
a1568 Bann. MS. 93 a/25.
I call that counsall nocht worth a prene
a1585 Arbuthnot Maitl. Q. xli 99.(3) a1500 Henr. III 114/22 (Makc.).
No grume one ground my gardone may degraid Nor of my pytht may pair wyrtht half a prene [Bann. of wirth a prene, Bann. Dr. half wirth a prene]
(4) 1540 Lynd. Sat. 4169.
Goldsmythis … To mix, set ȝe not by twa prenis, Fyne ducat gold with hard gudlynis
c1552 Id. Mon. 635. 1659 A. Hay Diary 90.
She wold not give 2 prines for our kindnes

3. a. Prene-poynt, poynting of ane prene, a pin-point, as the type of something of insignificant area. ?a1500 Dewoit Exerc. 109.
Thai left nocht sa mekill haill vnwondit of ȝour precius body as to set doun a prene poynt
a1500 K. Hart 127 (see Pointing vbl. n.1 1).

b. Attrib. and comb. Also Prenecod(e n. 1623 Edinb. Test. LII 72 b.
Tua ratelleres & certane preincaces
1646 J. Hope Diary (1958) 176.
Full of small holles of the bignes of a small preen head
1654 Edinb. Marr. 640.
[Mark Smith] preinmaker

4. ? A fishing hook.As preen, also preen-hook, in the mod. dial. of Shetland. 1469 Acts II 96/2.
Salmonde, grils, and trowtis quhilkis ar distroyit be cowpis, narow mass nettis and prinnis set in to reueris that has course to the sey [etc.]

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



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