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

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First published 1990 (DOST Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Return, -tourn(e, -torn(e, v. Also: ra- and -turne, -twrn(e; -towrne; -toorne; returine, -ane. [ME and e.m.E. retourne (Chaucer), -torne (1390), -turne (Lydgate), OF returnar, -er (842 and late 11th c. in Larousse), retorner (842 in Greimas), retourner (12th c. in Larousse). See also Turn v.]

I. intr. 1. To come or go back (to, fra, in, etc., a place or person).Freq., to returnagayn.There is possible ambiguity between intr. senses conjugated with to be in perfect tenses, and tr. senses in the passive.(1) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 2902.
Thelagonyus … prayit him sone to retorn [: sudgeourn]
1460 Hay Alex. (S.T.S.) 3241.
He saw the duke return agane
c1475 Wall. vii 1087.
Wallace … Raturnd agayne and come till Abirdeyn
1508–9 Reg. Privy S. I 278/2.
Ay and quhill he return and cum haim again
1513 Doug. vi ii 92.
That ych of thame, by coursis alternate, Sa oft gais and returnys that gait
15.. Lichtoun Dreme 81 (B).
The toder twa returnit To suallow me
1559 Edinb. B. Rec. III 32.
Quhilkis personis … being returnit and in enterit agane [etc.]
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 122/23.
Jesus Christe … is to returne agane one the letter day
1564 St. A. Kirk S. 208.
In sa far as sche departit fra hym wythoutyn ony just caus and at he requirit hyr … to return
1568 Cal. Sc. P. II 452.
He … shall retoorne when it shall please you
1615 Fraserburgh Kirk S. 27 Dec.
[Aberdeen] quhairfra she was lastlie returnit
1623 Perth Kirk S. MS 19 May.
Scho … returneit silent bringing watter frome the woll
(2) ?1438 Alex. ii 4567.
The knychtis of Grece returnit thare
c1450 Cr. Deyng (S.T.S.) 19.
Personis retwrnynge fra banasynge
c1475 Wall. iii 104.
Bot thai rycht sone raturnde in agayne
1513 Doug. ii v 46.
How far changit from ioy Of that Hector, quhilum returnyt to Troy, Cled with the spulȝe of hym Achillys
1531 Bell. 1531 Boece (M) I 133.
His eldest bruther, returnyng oute of Rome, decessit in Italy
1549 Compl. 42/22.
I … returnit to the fresche feildis that I cam fra
1554 Knox III 345.
Better … never to have knawin the treuth then sa suddanlie … to have returnit to thair vomit
1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv Pref. 59.
Compared to swyne returning to the myre
1596 Dalr. I 185/27.
Hameward as thay returnet
1606 Rollock's Thess. 118.
The sey when it flowes on a rock, immediatlie the jaw returnes backe againe in the sey
(b) 1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 227.
For I wait nocht quhow sone I returane to Lundone
1581 Nugae Scoticae 36.
I can not returine to him
(c) 1456 Hay I 183/8.
Gif that a man suld retourne agayn in prisoun apon his faith
1520 Fife Sheriff Ct. 198.
The foresaidis personis of inqueist … furtht of court passit in court retournand agane all concordand
1531 Bell. 1531 Boece I 193.
He retournit to York
1582 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 70.
All sworne and admittit, furth of court remoifit, herein avysit, in againe retournit
1603 Inverness Rec. II 20.
The said Donald Forbes retournit out sicke, being viel and perfyit … at his inganginge
(d) c1475 Wall. iv 228.
Thir men retornede, with outyn noyes or dyn, To thair maistir
c1515 Asl. MS I 203/3.
He retorned agane in Yngland
1570 Leslie 172.
1631 Justiciary Cases I 178.

b. transf., with non-material subject. a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 124 (Asl.).
Treuth [mycht] retorne with tryvmphe
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (O.U.P.) 187/24.
Riches sall returne to thé
1549 Compl. 85/21.
Than hardines and curage vald returne vitht in ȝour hartis
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. iii 13.
Hir pleasour can nowayes retourne, to my smairt

2. To turn about so as to face in the opposite direction. c1475 Wall. ii 59.
Wallace raturnd … And at a straik the formast has he slayne
Ib. x 331.
In the forbreyst he retornyt full oft
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 219.
Thaj … returnit agane, and brak abak vpoun thame
a1578 Pitsc.II 99/25.
Bot quhene the protectour … saw the great battell … returnand and geiffand bakis [etc.]
Ib. 99/28.

b. To turn back, retreat. c1475 Wall. x 672.
The erll off ȝork consaillyt the king to fle; Than he ratornd, sen na succour thai se
1549 Compl. 99/16.
To empesche the Romans, that thai culd nothir returne nor ȝit to pas forduart
1562-3 Winȝet II 53/11.
Wtheris … bayth feris to pereis, and thinkis schame to returne

3. To go back (to an earlier topic, consideration, etc.) a1500 Lanc. 1273.
Now leif we hir … And to Arthur we wil retwrn agan
c1475 Wall. ii 360.
I will ratorn to my mater agayne
1569 Sc. Hist. Rev. I 40.
Bot to retowrne to my former reasons
1558-66 Knox II 127.
But now we returne to oure historye
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 58/9.
To returne to my purpoise anent the gouuernement of youre subiectis
c1590 Fowler II 81/23.
Now lat vs retourne and speik of France

4. To revert to a previous state or condition. b. specif. To return to health (from (out of) sickness). 1531 Bell. 1531 Boece II 264.
Makbeth returnit fra al meiknes to his innative cruelte
1556 Lauder Off. Kings 74.
Of claye, Quhare-to thay mon returne sum daye
1587-99 Hume 37/108.
Flesh, bodie, bain, and lyre, … to ashes sall returne
b. 1535 Stewart 36163.
Quhen that he did retorn Out of his swoun
1562-3 Winȝet II 63/6.
That he had leuir the dethe of the deand sinnar than that he suld returne and leue

c. To return to a previous faith, practice, etc. 1490 Irland Mir. I 50/26.
Tharfor necessare is that he returne to God and put him in his mercy
c1515 Asl. MS I 303/6.
Men falling blak in synnis … nocht retornyng to confessioun with contricioun
1551 Hamilton Cat. 47.
He … will nocht returne to the Catholike faith
1562-3 Winȝet I 33/4.
Returne hame agane to ȝour awin moder Godis kirk

d. To change into (in) something else. 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 612.
Sen gane is thy glaidnes And all thy solace returnit in dispite
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (O.U.P.) 174/4.
All erdly joy returnis in pane
1513 Doug. iv viii 100.
Scho gan behald … the hallowyt watir cald Changyt … and furthȝet wynys gude Onon returnyt [L. se vertere] into laithly blude

e. To return on (a person), to fall to. 1513 Doug. ii ii 134.
The chance returnyt on a catyfe wyght

5. Of property: To return to a previous owner. b. Of a legacy: To go (back) to another legatee. 1402 Reg. Panmure II 184.
The said landis the quhilk … retournand to me and myn ayris … halily, fulily, freli … wythoutyn ony gayn callyng
14.. Burgh Laws c. 88 (A).
The lande sall returne [B. turne] to the next ayr of the wyff
1554 Glasgow Dioc. Reg. I 155.
And faillȝeand the forsaidcontrak hald nocht fordwart the land abone specifeyt to retwrne [to] the said Patrik
1605 Edinb. Test. XL 50b.
I leif to William Hammiltoun … xl markis moneth and failȝeing him be deceis to returne abak agane to my wyff … my thrid part of frie guidis … to returne & cum bak agane to Katreine Patersone
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 41.
His heretage vses to returne, as escheit to his over-lord

6. To make a retour to the Chancellory. = Retour v. 1543 St. A. Formulare II 276.
Off the quhilkis the saidis personis of inquest in jugement, retornate as said is, all in ane voce concordantly, be the … mouth of the … chancellare of the said assise

7. To return to, to become the cause of; to result in. 1528 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 277.
Ane … fortalice … quhilk may returne apperandlie to the danger and hurt of this realme gif the samin suld be perfurnist

II. 8. reflex. a. To turn round (to a person). b. To go back again to a place.a. 1533 Bell. Livy II 5/10.
Returnand him to Appius he said: [etc.]
b. a1568 Scott xxv 1.
Returne thé, hairt, hamewart agane
a1578 Pitsc. I 16/6.
Or evir thay returned thame againe

III. tr. 9. a. To send back to the Chancellory. = Retour v. 6. 1431 Liber Melros 522.
The qwilk brefe of inqueste … I … seruyt and agayne retournit to the kyngis chapell

b. To confirm (a person) as possessor. = Retour v. 8 a. 1534 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 114.
Georg to be retornat heyrof efter the tenor of his clayme

10. a. To turn back (a matter for blame) on (a person); to blame. a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 286 (Ch.).
Hir leuing vnclene and lecherous Scho wald returne [Th. retorte] on me and my mother

b. ? To pay back (a person) harm for (fra) harm. c1420 Ratis R. 418.
That thow … mone ilk day Tyne of thi gudis or of thi price Or ellis retwrn thaim wice fra wice

11. To return to, to change (a thing) into something else. a1568 Bann. MS 30b/11.
Our deth anon returnit is to lyfe

12. a. To rally (an armed force). b. To restore.a. c1475 Wall. x 301.
Bruce … mycht retorn their battaill
b. 1513 Doug. iv vii 66.
With hys wordis return [Sm. retourn] hir sad curage
Ib. xiii ii 78.
Now stad In bettir hoip return ȝour mynd beys glaid

c. To restore (a person) to life. 1567 G. Ball. 33.
God will … thé returne, thocht thow to graue wer gone

13. a. To turn one's thoughts back to something. a1500 Lanc. 1265.
So mokil to hir lady haith she vroght That at that tyme she haith returnyt hir thocht

b. To turn the head or eyes in another direction. 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 1397.
Returne thy heid, behald this vther art
Id. Æn. xii xii 23.
[They] Towart thar dukis dyd return thar eyn
c1590 Fowler I 112/1.
I culd no wayes returne my eyes from suche a famous sight

c. Returne thy bak, turn away! d. fig. To return (one's) sight in (a person), to look to with hope or trust.c. 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 1462.
In haist returne thy bak
d. 1513 Doug. xiii vi 150.
The all Itaill … Doith thé extoll … In thé only returnyt is thar syght

14. a. To send back (a person). Also to return bak. b. To send as a delegate. c. To force (an army) to retreat.a. 1596 Warrender P. (S.H.S.) II 297.
Somen uther prisoneris … wer presentlye returned into the casle againe
1615 Crim. Trials III 111.
The Counsall … hes returned him bak, with thankes, and hes propyned him with a coup
b. 1579–80 Reg. Privy C. III 266.
Sex or aucht personis … may be returnit to his hienes … to … conclude upoun the saidis materis
c. 1708 Inverness Kirk S. 53.
The French, who came … to invade us, … were returned in great confusion and considerable damnadge

d. To send back (a process or edict). See also Return n. 6, and cf. 9 above. 1636 Kirkcaldy Presb. 100.
The edict was returned indorsat with the names of the elders and heretors
1662 Acts Sederunt ii 85.

e. To send back, or give, an answer. 1651 Blairs P. 138.
To your laconik I returne not long, yet direct ansuer

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"Return v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Apr 2024 <>



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