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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).

Purg(e, v. Also: pwrge, purdge; porge. [ME and e.m.E. purge (Rolle), purche (1387), also puyrgi (13–14th c.), porgen (14th c.), poorgyn (Prompt. Parv.), powrg (1434), pourge (1495), OF purgier, -ger (12th c. in Littré), L. purgāre cleanse, in early L. pūrigāre, f. pūrus Pur(e adj.1: cf. Purgis v.] To purge, in various senses.

1. tr. To make physically clean; to clean or cleanse (also fra, or of, (from) an impurity). = Purify v. 1.(1) 1499–1500 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 77.
That within viij dayes … thai … purge and clenge thair said hous and all maner of stufe being thairintill be watter and fyre
1513 Doug. i iv 38.
Than was the quhete with fludis chaffit and wet And instrumentis to purge it swith out set
Ib. xii Prol. 40.
Ischit Phebus … To purge the ayr, and gylt the tendyr greyn
1518 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 177.
That all … inhabitaris of this burgh purge and clenge thair calsayes to myd channell fornent thair … houssis or buithis
1527 Prot. Bk. J. Foular II 239.
Till purge and clenge thar conductis
1533 Bell. Livy II 266.
The sinkis … mycht nocht purge the towne of … corruptioun
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 6036.
All beis renewit, by that fyre, Purgeyng all thyng materiall, Under the heuin imperiall
1587-99 Hume 159/99.
When he is purged and purified in the bathstoffs
1616 Aberd. B. Rec. II 340.
To … leave ane four nuikit hoill in the croun of the said voult, quhairby the said haill sink may be purgeit
(2) 1456 Hay II 121/25.
Of all bitter gustis and evill savouris in thy mouth it [bark of a tree] sall purge thé
1549 Compl. 9/9.
That throucht sic excerse, ther membris mycht be purgit fra corruppit humours
c1620 Sutherland Bk. II 365.
Seiknes … sometymes … purgeth the bodie from nocent humours

2. To empty or relieve (the body or a part of it) by flushing out or evacuation; to evacuate; also absol. Also fig. or in fig. context, and to purge out. 1456 Hay II 131/19.
Than is spedefull to … purge the corps and the membres naturale mesurabily with drinkis
Ib. 144/20.
And to purge the corps and the blude fra perilis that may fall for exces … and misgovernaunce of mannis persone
Ib. 134/7 (see Purgatio(u)n n. 2 b). a1538 Abell 54b. 1549 Compl. 67/8.
Tansay, that is gude to purge the neiris
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. ii 23.
Trembling he stood, in a quandarie, And purg'd, as he had eaten larie
absol. 1600-1610 Melvill 146.
For finding as in the spring-tyme nature beginning to purge I helped the sam with a melancolique purgation
fig. a1568 Scott xv 17.
My breist is woyd and purgit of pussoun
1572 Sat. P. xxxiii 66.
Lyke ane gude mediciner, or gude syruge, Of euill humouris he [sc. my son] did my body purge
1682 Lauder Observes App. iv 308.
A Catholique pill, to purge out Christianity

3. To free from ceremonial uncleanness or defilement. c1420 Wynt. v 5633.
He halowyd … And purgyd it [the temple] off all dewylry
1513 Doug. vi iii 145 (see Asperge v.). 1533 Boece 183.
The nobillis … war sic like purgit be the fontane of bapteme
Ib. 399.
Gormwnd … leiffing all hethin ritis … offerit him self to the preist to be purgit with that haly lauatoure
1533 Bell. Livy I 96/25.
He purgit thame be ane sacrifice namyt Lustrale
Ib. 270/9.

4. a. To make spiritually or morally clean, to cleanse of spiritual or moral defilement; const. from, fra, of (the corruption, sin, fault, or the like).(1) c1515 Kennedy Asl. MS II 275/67.
Beseike thi sone … To purge me of my gret trespas & wyce And clenge my saull fra lipper syne inwert
1533 Bell. Livy I 194/10.
[That] we suld haue done sum tressonabill offence … & mycht nocht haue purgit ws thareof bot alanerlie be the sacrifice of piacle
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 283.
All faithfull peple purgeing frome thare synnis
Ib. 6238.
Lat ws, O Lorde, be purgit with that blude
Arundel MS 283/142.
Beand purgit fra all filth and smot of syn
1560 Rolland Seven S. 7567.
Of siclyke faultis se thow weill purgeit be
1567 Sat. P. v 98.
And purge vs from ipocrasie
1567 G. Ball. 73.
He gaue him sell To saif from sin and purge vs cleir
1590 St. A. Kirk S. 662.
That … this holl congregatioun … micht be purgit of sic vices as now aboundis thairin
(2) 1528 Lynd. Dreme 343.
Purgatorye, Quhilk purgis saulis, or they cum to glorye
1580 Hay in Cath. Tr. 69/13.
Purgatorie … in the quhilk the saules … was purgeat
1551 Hamilton Cat. 158.
Ane hel, quhairin thai ar … purgit fra thair venial synnis

b. To rid of or from corrupting or objectionable elements or members.(1) 1531 Bell. Boece II 44.
Vortimer set him to purge his realme of al heriseis brocht in it be Saxonis
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xviii 3.
Send ws thy help this land to clenge and purge Off discorde and inanimitie Betuix the liegis and authoritie
Id. Ib. ci 64. 1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 58.
I am besy with our story of Scotland to purge it of sum Inglis lyis and Scottis vanite
c1620 Sutherland Bk. II 359.
Purge your countrey peice and peice from that vnciwill kynd of cloithes such as plaids [etc.]
1650 Rothiemay Kirk S. in J. Gordon Hist. I App. lvi.
To have the launde purged from profanitye
(2) 1533 Boece 338b.
Ethfin … studyit … to purge his realme of mysdoaris and brokin men
1558-66 Knox II 415.
Yit wes not the courte purged of hureis and huredome
1586 Bk. Univ. Kirk II 658. a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI (1825) 93.
And the tranquillitie of the estait of this commonweill to be purgit from wicked malefactors
1597–8 Warrender P. (S.H.S.) II 354.
Sa monei yong slycht men ver sustenit in thir partis [etc.] … that now albeit it hes pleisit God … to satle this cuntrai in rest and quyettnes yit it can nocht be purgitt of sik lownis
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 84b. 1616 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 83.
That the towne may be purgeit of extranear beggeris
(3) 1653 Binning Case of Conscience 32.
That the judicatories were minting at their duty to purge them [armies]

5. To remove (from (fra or of) something) by some cleansing process, to void or eliminate (an impurity or some polluting, noxious or extraneous matter). lit. and fig.(1) 1456 Hay II 122/18.
Reubarbe … to purge the fleume of thy stomak and of thy mouth
Ib. 131/28. 1549 Compl. 67/25.
I sau ysope, that is gude to purge congelit fleume of the lychtis
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest 18.
Gif superfluite or corruptioun of humoris be euacuat and purgit
1587-99 Hume 108/61.
Sicknes may be healed by … salutaire medicaments: The melancholious humors may be purged [etc.]
(2) 1473 Reg. Cupar A. I 171.
Half a chalder of horscorn … the caf purgit cleyn fra it
1551 Hamilton Cat. 286.
As be ane blawin fyre that purgis quhat saevir it fyndis doin throw unwarnes, … at the lest it purgis thai thingis quhilk a man hes contrackit be the dust of his fete, … his eirdlie … affectiouns
a1568 Bann. MS 243a/14.
For harmes of body … The pottingaris will purge the panis
1600-1610 Melvill 316.
I haiffing the speitche answered Ther was a peccant humor in the body quhilk behoved to be purged. … I said it was suspition on ather syde, for purging wharof it war best we sould be frie on ather syde
1683 Fountainhall Decis. I 208.
[The processes of writs] are … more fit to purge and obviate fraud or obreption then these … inventions of the doctors

b. To purge (one's) natur, to void semen (in sexual intercourse). a1500 Seven S. 1211.
Vs women or ellis thow sall Agane in to thi seiknes fall: Bot thow thi nature purge clenly Thow sall be inflat with mesalry

c. To clear away or out (an impurity from a substance, objectionable elements or members from an institution etc.). 1611-57 Mure II 45/411.
To refine His gold, and purge away the object ore, Christ is marchd forth
?c1675 J. Gordon Hist. III 61.
The episcopall leaven … was not wholly purged out
1698 S. Ronaldshay 67.
The committee … [met at Kirkwall to] purge out [the parochial clergy and all others who [etc.] … [these being called] intruders

6. a. reflex. To clear oneself of the imputation of guilt (by oath, compurgation, ordeal or otherwise), to establish one's innocence; latterly also, to affirm or swear one's innocence, to deny guilt solemnly or on oath. Also const. noun clause.(1) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 1897 (D).
Pallamydes … Profferit him … so to purge him by battell
14.. Acts I 361/2.
Giff a burges or ony other aw to purge him again the king [etc.] … and quhar the querell tuechis the kingis person … than with the xij hand he sall purge him
Ib. 84*/2 (see Hand n. 1 e). 1456 Hay I 261/9.
Gif a man wald accus ane othir of the crime of adultery … and he wald purge him thare of his innocence
Ib. 263/7. 1559–60 St. A. Kirk S. 19.
Compered Elizabeth and … gaif ane ansuer conteynand in effect that sche purgeit hir and deniit his clame and petitioun
1565 Ib. 254.
And he sworne purgis hym and is absolvit
1574 Ib. 402.
Ansuered that in presence of this seat he purgit hym thairof in his conscience of befoir and yit affirmis in his conscience the said purgation to be of verite
1583 Ib. 510. 1598 Wedderb. Compt Bk. 176.
In respect the said James hes purgit him be ane ayth and that I am damnifeit thairof
1599 Rooseboom Sc. Staple 124.
The said toun of Campheir purges thame selffis … of all contrauentioun of the mutuall contract
1612 Bk. Islay 150.
His declaration … to purge himself and to blame your m[ajestie]
1676 Cullen Kirk S. 30 April.
The said James … simply denyed & offered to purge himself by oath
(2) 1532 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 60.
Becaus the said Alexander purgit hym at he hed na hert or part of the samyn displesur
1535 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 151.
Schir Jhone Brydin [etc.] … purget thaim be thair greit aychtis in faice of the court … that [etc.]
1576–7 Mill Mediæv. Plays 160.
The sadis decanis … purgit thame selffis … that thay mantenit noth the said superstitious festuall dayis
a1578 Pitsc. I 197/19.
Quha purgit him selff richt effectuouslie that he knew it nocht [etc.]
1584 Gowrie P. 41.
He desyred them to purg them selfs [the jury] by oth that they gave no particulare advyce or confirmation to the kings advocat to accuse him
1596 Dalr. II 251/7.
Lettres … he wrot … in quhilkes him selfe he purges and clenges that he cam not

b. To free (another) of a charge or imputation of guilt by bearing witness on his behalf. c1420 Wynt. vii 3004.
To pwrge hym for-thi [C. tharfor, W. thare] the qwene Profferyd hyr to swere bodyly
1500 Acta Conc. II 410.
Anent the constitucione of the trespassouris being apone the Bordouris that made faith and swere thame self clene and innocent of the crymes … that war imput til thame, and utheris persons brocht til purge thame, and thareftir thare maisteris … takand the sammyn on thare … honesteis

c. To clear or help to clear (another) of the imputation of guilt, to establish the innocence of; (of a court) to declare innocent of a charge or suspicion. c1420 Wynt. v 4598.
Off all thir crymys … This Symacus thare purgyd wes, And … restoryd till hys se
Ib. vii 2762. 1463 Acts XII 30/1.
The quhilk declaratioun thai hald sufficiant to purge the said Alexander … of the said voice and rumor
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 16.
That … Lethingtoun … be thair votes was purged … fra the kingis murther
a1578 Pitsc. I 57/24.
He sould haue bene purgit be ane assyse for all kynd of suspitioun concerning the kingis maiestie
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 78 (T).
Now sir I demand how this poyd may be purgit?
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI (1825) 272.
Bothwell was tryit be his pearis, and was purgit be thayme for the cryme of witchecraft
1622-6 Bisset I 293/23.
The pairtie defender … sall … luik … gif he [the judge] hes tane any rewarde … and gar purdge him thereof
1673 Argaty Baron Ct. 10 April.
The defender desyred the said Donald to purge his awne geir and all vther goodis and geir of the said skaith

d. To clear (a judge or witness, or oneself) of partial counsel, also partialité.See, also for further examples, Partial(l adj. 1 b (2), Partialité n. (a). 1543 Reg. Morton II 287.
The erle said … the said laird … purgitt him of parciale counsale
1559 Admir. Ct. Bk. (St. S.) 93.
[The] procuratour … producit David Litstar [etc.] … quha war ressavit sworne and admittit and purgeit of partiale counsale
1565 Perth B. Ct. 282 (27 March).
Comperit the said Johnne Lethame and producit the witnes following viz Johnne Pringill suorn and purgit of parciale counsall, Johnne Hendersoun purgit & suorn

e. ? fig. To free (persons) from (of) suspicion by others. c1650 Spalding II 10.
This paper wold appeir to porge our Scottis of all jelouseis and suspitioun at the English handis

7. To ‘wipe out’ (an offence). a. To cancel (another's offence) by providing atonement or granting pardon. b. To relieve oneself of the consequences of or to establish one's innocence of (one's own offence). c1500 Makc. MS iv 64.
My saul with sanctis, suet saluatour, rasaif, Sene that thi passione purgit my traspas
1604 Douglas Corr. 190.
I most humblie crawe your maiestie pardoun to purge my pairt of any misbehaviour vsit att that tyme
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 90.
Fund quod titulus superveniens possessori violento does not purge the violence; and the partie ejected should be restored to his possession
1679 Lauder Notices Affairs I 246.
Naked presence in treason being criminous, except you exculpat and purge it by proving it was casual
1701 Cramond Kirk S. IV 14 Nov.
The session appointed him to appear in publicke congregation to purge the said scandall

c. reflex. To free oneself from (fra) (the consequences of) (an offence) as by atonement. c1615 Chron. Kings 100.
The tratouris … maid all the slachter that wes maid that day to purdge thame selffis fra the former fack

d. As a term of law: To remove or clear off the consequences of (a failure to comply with certain conditions) by subsequently complying with these conditions. 1564 Riddell Tracts 164.
Not onlie the said James, bot the rest of the said Roberts barnis, be ressone of the marriage forsaid subsequent, the first offence thairby being purgit, wes maid lauchfull
c1575 Balfour Pract. 374.
Gif ane man be denuncit rebel … for non-compeirance, … and thairefter compeiris and purgis the contumacie … he … sovld be … ressavit as witnes
1628 Galloway P. 8 Aug.
Gif the said Maister Johne … assignay foirsaid sall not purge to me the saidis arreistmentis
1631 Justiciary Cases I 157.
And hir vassillatioun arryseing frome the causses foirsaidis and being purget be the foirallegit evidences and presumptiones is na fals witnessing
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I 257.
The heir may purge his refuise of the offer [of marriage] mad to him, be accepting the match quhen he is persewed
Ib. 271.
The receaveing of the dewty from the tennent to quhom the rentall wes assigned purged the faylȝie
Ib. 264, II 217. 1634 Bk. Carlaverock II 129.
I must again humblie intreit ȝour lordship to haif cair that that widsett may be purgit
1672 Lauder Notices Affairs I 45.
A resignation and giving charter theirupon doth purge prior recognitions
1681 Stair Inst. i xiii §14.
Though the irritancy was committed long before, yet by payment at the bar it was allowed to be purged, even though the party after the irritancy got possession

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"Purg v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Sep 2022 <>



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