Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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AIVER, AVER, n.1 [′e:vər]

1. A horse used for heavy work, a carthorse. From this (sometimes contemptuous) sense the word came to mean “old or worthless horse”; but these several meanings cannot always be distinguished. Now almost obs. Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Sc. Proverbs (1818) 17:
An inch of a nag is worth a span of an aver. — A little man, if smart and stout, is much preferable to an unwieldy lubber, though much bigger.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lam. xxiv.:
I hae been short-breathed ever since, and canna gang twenty yards without peghing like a miller's aiver.
Sc. 1830 (2nd ed.) Scott Monast. xxxiii.:
Gilbert has . . . only an auld jaded aver to ride upon, fitter for the plough than for manly service.
Sc. a.1862 A. Hislop Sc. Proverbs 68:
Caff and draff is gude eneuch for aivers.
Abd. 1920 in Deeside Gleanings (2nd handful) 10:
Whaislin' like a fooner't aiver.
Edb. 1787 W. Taylor Sc. Poems 42:
In Spring I plow my inlan' fields Wi' weel fed Aivers.
Ayr. 1786 Burns A Dream xi.:
Aft a ragged Cowte's been known To mak a noble Aiver. [Burns's own gloss is “old horse.”]

2. (See quots.) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D.Bnff. 8:
Aiver, a stupid person.
Abd.14 c.1915:
Aiver. Now used only as a term of contempt. “A queer aiver.” “Sic a droll aiver.”

[From Anglo-Fr. aveyr, aver (Fr. avoir, Lat. habēre), as n. = “having,” possession, esp. stock, cattle, beasts of burden. Older Sc. has avir = “cart-horse” (early 16th cent., Dunbar and Bellenden).]

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"Aiver n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Sep 2021 <>



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