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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
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Sail(l, Sale, v. Also: saile, sayl(l, sayle, seill. P.t. also selitt, sallit. [ME sæilie(n (Layamon), sayli (c1275), sail(e (Cursor M.), etc., ME also seilien, seile(n (both Layamon), seylle, seille, ceylyn (Prompt. Parv.), e.m.E. sail, sale (1535), OE siglan, segl(i)an, ON sigla (Sw. segla, Dan. seile).]In the perfect tense, also conjugated with to be.

1. intr. Of a person: To sail, to travel over water in a ship or boat propelled by sails; to take part in a voyage; to navigate a ship. a1400 Leg. S. xxix 367.
Bot ay the tyme thai war sayland, Ay [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. ii 1591.
He and hys fadyre [etc.] … saylland, happynyt in the ile
1513 Doug. i i 64.
As the Troianys frakkis our the flude … With bent sail full, rycht merely saland
1540 Lynd. Sat. 613.
I purpois nevir to saill agane

b. With adverbials.Specifying direction, destination, distance, duration, place, manner, condition, type of vessel, also on or be se or water or equivalent medium.Also in fig. or allusive use.(1) 1375 Barb. xvi 665.
To thar schippis in hy went thai And saylyt hame
Ib. xx 332.
A lang way furthwart saylit [C. salyt] he
Ib. 334. a1400 Leg. S. xv 107.
Fra thine to Cypre saylit thai
Ib. xxi 12.
Fore-thi dewot til hym suld be Thai that saylis to the se
c1420 Wynt. ii 813.
c1475 Wall. xi 331.
He gert the schip in cowert saill away
Ib. ix 177. 1490 Irland Mir. I 83/1. 1492 Myll Spect. 284/7.
The king Oetus … maid his marynaris to row and saill efter the schipe of Jasone
1513 Doug. Comm. i iii 75.
The watyr, quhis is flowand, drynkabyll and ganand to sayll or swym intyll
1519 Fife Sheriff Ct. 164.
Because he was to saile in Flanderis
1535 Stewart 9429.
At the last thai come sailland in Forth And fand ane hevin
Ib. 38619.
And saillit vp syne by Sanct Abbis heid
1549 Compl. 51/27.
Departand in ane schip fra that mark, sailand quhil he be furtht of the sycht of the said mark [etc.]
1566-70 Buch. Comm. on Virgil Æn. iii 506.
Provehimur pelago, we saill furth
a1578 Pitsc. I 355/7. 1581 St. A. Kirk S. 473.
Quhill the said Jhone micht pas to saill furth of this realme to evacuat discipline
1596 Dalr. II 343/24.
1602 Conv. Burghs II 138.
Giff ony skipper becumis seik, … the cumpany to serwe and saill with this new in sett skipper [etc.]
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xlix 9.
c1650 Spalding I 225.
The Bischop of Ross wyf … be sea saillis to hir husband
(b) 1375 Barb. xiv 378.
Thomas of Downe … salyt wp the Ban
c1420 Wynt. ii 1605.
At the last thai saland [C. sayllande, W. sailland] swa, Arywyt … in Affryca
c1475 Wall. ix 59.
With full sayll thus fra Scotland furth thai found, Salyt haill our the day and als the nycht
1504–6 Treas. Acc. III 90.
In Julij, quhen the king salit first to Maij
1513 Doug. iii viii heading.
Eneas … mony strange wentis hes salyt by
1531 Bell. Boece I xlviii.
We have salit throw the seis quhare thir clakis ar bred
Id. Livy I 5/21. 1535 Stewart 585.
The wynd wes fair … Betuix tua scheittis thai salit lown and still
Ib. 9427.
Ay saling on or thai wald stynt or ceis In sindrie airthis [etc.]
15.. Lichtoun Dreme 37 (M).
And suddanlie out throw the frossin se We salit in storme … To paradyce
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 336.
Oft haue I salit ouer the strandis
Ib. 5533.
And sum men saland on the sey
1570 Leslie 150.
(c) a1595 Cullen Chron. Aberd. 32.
Kyng James the Fyft selitt to the Illis the xxv day of Julij
(2) 1513 Doug. i iii 34.
Ane othir [ship] in quham salit the Lycianys stowt
1622 Elgin Rec. II 172.
Grissallis mother saillit in a riddell
1626 Kinghorn Kirk S. 29.
Robert Meluill … was inhibit to gange ower the watter seilling in ane boit upon the Sabbathe day
fig. or allusive 1533 Bell. Livy I 91/14.
At last, seing hir husband was dede, scho began to sail on ane vthir burde [L. alia præsidia molitur]
a1538 Abell 17a.
He that wes before sa pridfull that thocht he had the ȝerd to saill on and the se to gang on
1535 Stewart 39115.
Semdill is sene Quhair euir men ryde or saill
a1570-86 Shaw Maitl. F. 384/4.
I rid ȝow than war lufe war le Suppois ȝe sale betuix twa scheittis Vtheris hes salit als weill as ȝe

c. With infin. phrase of purpose. a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 379.
Thou sailit to get a dowcare, for to dreg it, It lyis closit in a clout on Seland cost
1535 Stewart 9424.
With mony schip to se burd passit syne Sailland to seik quhair tha mycht get resset

d. To travel by sea for the purposes of trade: cf. also Saill n.2 1 and Sail(l)ar n. 1.Also const. in (with, in the way of) merchandice.1457 Acts II 49/1 (see Sail(l)ar n. 1 (a)). 1464–5 Ib. XII 30/2.
Ilk merchand or vthir persoun quhat sumeuer saland or sendand woll or skin fra quhatsumeuer port or hawin within the realme of Scotland
1487 Ib. II 178/2.
Sa that na man sale in the saidis partis in the way of merchandice bot famous and woureschipfull men haifand ilkane of ther awne half a last of gudis or samekle in sterage
1498 Aberd. B. Rec. I 67. 1507 Ib. 437.
That nay onefreman keipe oppin butht within the burgh nor haue license to saile in merchandise … ; and gif the denys of the gilde sufferis thame to saile or keip oppin buitht [etc.]
1516 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 163. 1518 Aberd. B. Rec. I 94.
The legence gevin to vnfremen to saill with merchandeise
Ib. 95.
That nane onfreman nor freman quhilk makis nocht contineuell recidence … haue … licens to saill thame self nor thar gudis out of the port … of this gud toune
1531 Perth Guildry 194.
The saidis den and merchandis hes oblist thaim that nane of thame sall saill with ony onfremanis gudis
1535 Acts II 348/2.
Thai salbe oblist to pay the said pane of xx li. for euery man that passis and salis incontrar the said act [etc.]
That na skippar [etc.] … ressaue ony merchand to sale in thare schippis without thai haue the names off thame in tikket
1567 Ib. III 42/1.
That na fischearis … hant or saill in merchandice with fischeis thame selfis bot that thai sell the samyn to fre merchandis within the realme
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 347.
Sic as dischargeand to saill without thair pak wer worth jm pundis
1579 Reg. Privy C. III 217.
His hienes … hes ratifiit … all … liberteis pertening to the craftismen of auld and hes grantit thame libertie to saill and use merchandice als frelie as ony uther persoun within the burgh
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I 37.

2. Of a vessel: To go or move by means of sails; to accomplish a voyage in this fashion. Also transf. and fig.(a) 1375 Barb. xix 195.
Marchand schippis that sailand [C. saland] war Fra Scotland to Flaundris with war
Ib. xvi 564.
Saillyt [C. salit]
c1420 Wynt. vi 2032. 1456 Hay II 100/33.
But it [sc. the wind] thai mycht nocht wax, and ȝit na schippis saile
c1515 Asl. MS I 160/8.
The strang cours of watteris … agane the quhilk may na schipe saile
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 21/166. a1568 Bann. MS 211b/11.
Where many a barge doth saile and row with are; Dunb. (STS) lxxxviii 29. Schellops saillis alsweill as schippis most hie
Ib. 266b/29.
Quhen that the schip may sicker saill but steir Quhen [etc.]
1596 Dalr. I 55/28.
Out of quhat arte sa euir the wind blawe, schipis may sail baith in and out without al danger
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xlviii 109.
Our ship wes clene and saillit very fast
(b) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 1973.
Bot the laif of the schippes fyne … Come saland to the samyn place
c1450-2 Howlat 774 (A).
Sound saland on the se schippis of towre
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 250.
a1500 Seven S. 2593.
Richtsa a schip come saland by
1528 Lynd. Dreme 1019.
1535 Acts II 348/2.
That na schip sale with stable gudis
transf. c1420 Ratis R. 1133.
To mak … Of brokin breid a schip saland
1562 Descr. of a Pageant in Reeves Sc. Prose bef. 1600 79.
Item ane schip braulie with saillis … sailland on the calsay as it had bene in walter
fig. a1568 Sempill Sat. P. xlvi 7.
Scho will sale all the wintirnight, And nevir tak a telȝevie

3. Of persons or vessels: To set sail, depart on a voyage. 1375 Barb. xvi 17.
Till his schipping is he gayn And sayllyt [C. salit] weill out-our the se
a1400 Leg. S. xxvi 235.
This done, thai sailyt but bad
Ib. xxix 365.
Eustace … Fand a schipe til saile al ȝare
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 717.
?14.. Ship Laws c. 20 (B).
A schyp is in to a havyn & abydis his tyme and he be redy to sayle [etc.]
1489 Treas. Acc. I 120.
To the king to gif Jacob the lutar quhen he sulde hafe salit
1493 Halyb. 5.
Paid for his costis in Medilburgh bydand quhill the schip sallit
1502 Treas. Acc. II 353.
For his expens in Leith [etc.] … and syne he sailit nocht
1540 Lynd. Sat. 4507.
Insaciable merchant men … Ar nocht content … Bot sailis in to the stormy blastis In wintter to get gritter castis
a1578 Pitsc. II 204/7.
1633 Kirkcaldy Kirk S. in Stat. Acc. (1796) XVIII 656.
She having come in to her house her husband being newly sailed [etc.]

4. tr. a. Of a person or a vessel: To sail over or upon, to cross by sailing (the sea or a river). a1400 Leg. S. xxvii 739.
Machore … saylyt the se … in dais thre
c1420 Wynt. i 1599.
Then wes na schype to sayle the se
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2074.
Till Flanderis sall it neuer saill the se
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 200 (A). 1513 Doug. i ii 26.
A pepill onto me ennemy Salis the sey Tuscane
1533 Boece 89b.
That ane power fra Orknay had salit Pichtland Firth
Ib. 150b.
[That] Pichtland Firth … mycht nocht weill be salit
a1538 Abell 99a.
Albert Impriour saland the wattir of Reym he wes slane
1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 104. c1550 Id. Meldrum 200.
Ȝe ar ouir ȝoung to saill the see
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus Prol. 146. a1605 Montg. Flyt. 468 (T).
Nikniven … gart tak it To saill the see in a sive

b. Of a person: To navigate (a vessel). Also fig.Also const. in (= to) a destination. 1502 Acta Conc. III 190.
Till haf made reddy … the schip callit the Egyll, til haf furit men of weyre in the raid of Leith … til haf bene salit at oure soverane lordis command in Denmark
1504 Treas. Acc. II 437.
To Robert Bertonis marinaris that salit the litill schip with the king to Maij
1559 Declar. Lords in Knox I 431.
And sum of thame sua meitt for thair office … as ane sowtar is to saill ane schip
fig. a1568 Sempill Sat. P. xlvi 48.
Bot nycht and day mon he nocht tyre, That sailis my bony ballinger

5. a. Of a ship: To sail doun (another ship), to overtake, overcome and ? sink (it). c1475 Wall. ix 99.
The lakest schip that is his flot within May sayll ws doun on to a dulfull ded

b. (If not misread for hail(l Hale v.1) ? to jettison, abandon (tackle, etc.), in order to lighten ship; to sail doun, ? to cut down (a mast), for this purpose.But the semantic connection with the other senses is not apparent. 1608 Denmylne MSS in Highland P. III 111.
In respect of the … tempest of wedder and contrarie tyddis … quhairthrow I sailit downe ane of the mastis of my awne schippe
c1617 Melrose P. 292.
All your maiesties stuffis ar now arryued … bot not withowt danger. … One of your maiesties schippis … wes forced to saill ane anker and ane cabill

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"Sail v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2022 <>



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