Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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AULD, AUL', Aal, Ald, Ould, adj. Sc. forms of old. [ɑld, ɔuld I.Sc.; ɑl n.Sc. but Ags. + ɑld; ld em.Sc.; l(d) wm.Sc.; ɒl(d) sm.Sc., s.Sc.; ɔuld I.Sc., Cai., e.Rs., s.Arg.; ɑul Ant. The vowel may be medium or full length.]

1. The following sentences illustrate the various forms of the word with some of the uses common to Sc. and Eng. Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xx.:
I am an auld fallow . . . but I am also an auld soldier o' your father's. Ib. xxi.: this auld kirk. Ib.: a bennison frae some o' the auld dead abbots.
Sc. 1823 J. G. Lockhart R. Dalton I. 231–232:
I'm expectin' a very auld acquaintance o' mine . . . to come [etc.].
Sh.(D) 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 76:
We're desendid frae da ould Norsemen.
Ork.(D) 1907 J. T. S. Leask Old-Lore Misc., Ork. Sh., etc. I. ii. 63:
Dey . . . even lifted the lud o' the ald plowt kirn.
Bch.(D) 1926 P. Giles in Abd. Univ. Rev. (March) 117:
A like t' hear ye fin ye get on the aul' fernyurs [= past years].
Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter l. 15:
Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses, For honest men and bonie lasses.
Rxb. 1924 Hawick Express (22 Aug.) 3/7:
Aw've yince or twice risked ma auld banes in a motor-car.

2. A term to indicate degrees of family descent.

(1) Auld-auntie, “the aunt of one's father or mother,” Jam.2 1825, for Clydesdale.

(2) Auld Daddy, grandfather. Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xi.:
Mither, mitherl Meg Draiks winna gie me a bit of auld daddy's burial bread.

(3) Auld-father, “grandfather; a term used by some in the West of S[cot],” Jam. 1808.

(4) Auld gran'faither, great-grandfather. Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) i.:
Farther back than auld granfaither, that I mind of when a laddie.

(5) Auld-mither, grandmother (S.D.D. 1911).

(6) Auld son, oldest son. (See also Per. quot.) Sc. a.1825 Lamkin in Ballads ed. Child (1904) No. 93 b vi.:
O where is his auld son?
Per. 1898 G. W. in E.D.D.:
In these parts an oldest son, daughter, brother, or sister is usually spoken of as my auld son, daughter, brother, or sister: the “auld son” may be a child.
m.Sc. a.1846 A. Rodger Poems, etc. (1897) 149:
So they made his auld son — a queer billie — Half factor, half laird in his stead.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xviii.:
And so ye hae gotten your auld son married?

(7) Auld-uncle, “the uncle of one's father or mother,” Jam.2 1825 for Clydesdale. [Cf. O.E. eald fæder, grandfather.]

3. Used as designations of the Devil, prob. regarded as something primeval, but in general with a humorous intention, playful or ironical. (1) Auld a' Ill Thing. (2) The Auld Ane, — Yin. (3) The Auld Boy. (4) The Auld Carle. (5) The Auld Chiel. (6) Auld Clootie, — Cluittie, — Cloven-Clootie, — Cloots. (7) The Auld Enemy. (8) Auld ever more in a Powk. (9) Auld Hairry (= Old Harry). (10) Auld Hangie. (11) Auld Hornie, — Horny. (12) Auld Mahoun. (13) The Auld Man. (14) Auld Nick, — Nickie, — Nickie-ben, — Nicky Blue-Thooms. (15) Auld Roughy. (16) Auld Saunders, — Sanners, — Sanny, — Sandy. (17) Auld Sautie. (18) Auld Simmie. (19) The Auld Smith. (20) Auld Sooty, — Sittie. (21) Auld Spunkie. (22) Auld Thief. (23) Auld Thrummy. (24) Auld Waghorn, — Waughorn. (25) Auld Whaup-neb, — Whaap-neb. (1) Ayr. 1823 Galt Spaewife II. xxi.:
O! I'm fear't, for I doubt he was the Auld a' Ill Thing.
(2) Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf iv.:
He's ower far in wi' the Auld Ane to have a shadow.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 44:
The auld yin, the devil.
For examples of (3) to (25) see under Boy, Carle, etc.

4. Used in plant and fish names.

(1) Auld Gibbie, the common cod, Morrhua vulgaris. Sc. 1879 T. Satchell Glossary of Fish Names 8 (E.D.D.). [Gibbie, a familiar form of the name Gilbert.]

(2) Auld Man's Bell (see quot.). ne.Sc. 1886 Britten and Holland Eng. Plant Names, App. 507:
Aul' Man's Bell. Campanula rotundifolia, L. — N.-E. Scotl. (Buchan), where it is “regarded with a sort of dread, and commonly left unpulled” (Gregor's Folklore of North-East of Scotland, 148). [Aul' Man in sense of 3 (13) above.]

(3) Auld Wife. The ballan, a variety of Wrasse (Labrus maculatus) (T. Satchell Glossary of Fish Names (1879)).

(4) ‡Auld-wives' tongues, the leaves of the tremulous-leaved poplar (Watson W.-B. 44; Brotherston “Kelso Plant-Names” in Hardwicke's Science-Gossip 39).

5. Of different styles of dating.

(a) Auld Hansel Monday, “Handsel Monday old style, or the first Monday after the 12th of the month [January],” 1863 Book of Days I. 52/2. See Hansel.

(b) Aul-Eel Even, Christmas Eve, Old Style. Bnff.(D) 1924 “Knoweheid” in Swatches o' Hamespun 38:
And that is the Clyack sheaf? — Ay, te be keepit there or Aul-Eel Even.

(c) Auld Yule, in ne.Sc. Aul' Eel, Christmas Day, Old Style (Jan. 6). Sh.(D) 1877 G. Stewart Sh. Fireside Tales (1892) 99:
A merry day wis Auld Yule Day.
Bnff.5 1926:
Aul' eel.

6. The last in a period of time, day, month, year.

(a) Auld Year, in phr. to wauke the auld year into the new (see quot.). Sc. 1810 R. H. Cromek Remains Niths. and Gall. Song 41:
“To wauke the auld year into the new” is a popular and expressive phrase for watching until twelve o'clock announces the new year, when people are ready at their neighbours' houses with het-pints, and buttered cakes, eagerly waiting to be first-foot, as it is termed, and to regale the family yet in bed. Much care is taken that the persons who enter be what are called sonsie folk, for on the admission of the first-foot depends the prosperity or trouble of the year.

(b) Auld Year's Day, the last day of the year. Rxb. c.1885 W. Laidlaw Poetry and P. (1901) 34:
And Jethart bairns, on Auld Year's day, Would get their cakes for Hogmanay.

(c) Auld Year's Nicht, the last night of the year. Hogmanay. Rxb. 1923 Kelso Chron. (5 Jan.) 4/2:
Auld Year's Night (I have never understood why the word Hogmanay was seldom or never used) was a busy as well as a joyous night.

7. = The same, usual, oft-repeated, frequently merely intensive.

(1) Aul' adee. See auld to do (below).

(2) The auld man (in predicate), unchanged in character or ways; the man known as having certain characteristics. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 297:
To Parish Priest he promis'd fair, He ne'er wad drink fou ony mair: But hale and tight, He prov'd the Auld-man to a Hair, Strute ilka Night.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xii.:
Humph — fashious job! — Pate Maxwell will still be the auld man.

(3) Aul(d) or(d)nar, usual state, manner, way. Mry.(D) 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sketches v.:
Did ye notice 'at Jeames Nicol didna sleep a wink the hale time o' the sermon? and that's nae aul' or'nar wi' Jeames.
Dmf. 1830 R. Brown ed. Mem. Curl. Mab. 73:
For gude-sake will ye take advice, And play in your auld ordnar.

(4) Auld pecker, usual courage. wm.Sc. 1928 J. Corrie The Last Day 5:
You keep up yir auld pecker, Peter.

(5) Auld sooch, — soogh: “When a person or thing retains the same character, temper, or mode, without variation, it is said, — He, or It, has aye the auld soogh yet” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2).

(6) The auld thing (in predicate), unchanged in character or ways = the auld man (v. supra). Ags. 1870 Kirriemuir Observer (7 Jan.) 3/1:
For a' his fair fashions it was soon seen that he was just the auld thing.

(7) Auld to do' aul' adee, (a) a great fuss; (b) great trouble or difficulty. (See also Adae.) (a) Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
Auld to do,” a great fuss or pother. This phrase occurs in an E[ng]. form, “So there was old to do about ransoming the bridegroom” (Waverley I. 279).
(b) Abd.(D) 1921 J. Wight in Swatches o' Hamespun 8:
He hid's aul' adee files patchin' breeks.

8. Used in speaking of rents overdue. Lnk. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Doric Lyre 44 (E.D.D.):
Let oor rents be three days auld, Ye'll quately take the law an' sned it.

9. In various combs. peculiar to Sc.

(1) Auld Ally (also, — Alliance), see quot. under (6).

(2) Aul-back, adj., long past, of long ago. Abd.15 c.1915:
In the aul-back days.

(3) The Auld Buik, the Bible. Sc. 1917 D. G. Mitchell Kirk i' the Clachan 10:
O what bonnie blinks we've had here frae the Auld Buik!

(4) Auld Callant, an old Heriot Hospital boy. Edb. 1898 J. Baillie Walter Crighton Introd. xv.:
But with the end of the monastic system came the end of the romance of “The Wark” and the Auld Callant, as the old Herioter is called, will, within a measurable number of years, be extinct as the dodo.

(5) Aul(d) day. (See quots.) Mry. 1900 J. Spence in Trans. Bch. Field Club V. 230:
Christmas was in Moray . . . the great feast, and it tailed off with New Year's Day, which of course had its “auld day,” that is, the day after, which was a lazy day devoted to recuperating from the exertions, and from the eating and drinking of the great day itself. Why it came to be called “the auld day” I cannot conjecture.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D.Bnff. 216:
Aul' day, the day after a marriage, feast, ball, market, or such like occasion when no work is done, and a good deal of strong drink is consumed; as, “A met 'im o' the go; he's haudin' the aul' day.”

(6) The (Our) Auld Enemy (Enemies), the English. Sc. 1896 Mrs Oliphant Hist. of Scot. 148:
The “French party” . . . the “auld ally,” as England was the “auld enemy” of Scotland.

(7) Aul(d)-fangle, old-fangled, old-fashioned. Abd. 1928 Abd. Wkly. Jnl. (30 Aug.) 6/3:
Bit we're aul-fangle noo, an' ye wid redder slip awa withoot hiz. [From Eng. old-fangled, which is formed after new-fangled.]

(8) Auld-gabbet. — gabet, (a) speaking an ancient tongue; (b) old-fashioned in appearance, ancient-looking. (a) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 294:
Sae some auld-gabet Poets tell.
(b) Ib. 333:
Auld-gabbet Spec, wha was sae Cunning To be a Dummie ten years running.
[From Gab, n., q.v.]

(9) Auld Geordie, spade guinea. Uls. 1897 A. McIlroy When Lint was in the Bell i.:
“Auld Geordies” . . . being our name for spade guineas.
Uls.2 1932:
The nickname of “Auld Geordies” for guineas probably arose from the impression made on the minds of the people by the long period (1714–1831) during which the head of a George appeared on the coinage.

(10) Auld Haiks, gallows? Fif. 1894 W. D. Latto Tammas Bodkin, Swatches o' Hodden-grey xiii. 145:
Ye can gang to the Auld Haiks for ought we care.

(11) Auld kirk, n. Used also attrib.

(a) noun. (i) The Established Church of Scotland as distinguished from the Free Church, after the Disruption of 1843. Rxb. 1913 Kelso Chronicle (7 March):
Ye should a' be like me, an' gaun tae th' Auld Kirk or nane at a'.

(ii) fig. Whisky. The common explanation of this synonym for whisky is that the members and ministers of the Established Church were less zealous in the Cause of Temperance and Total Abstinence than the Free Church and other dissenting bodies. The term, however, may owe its origin in part to the fact that the stipends of the ministers of the Established Church depended largely on the price of barley, from which whisky is made. m.Lth. 1884 J. Plenderleith Kittlegairy Vacancy 6:
Now what will you tak. A glass of wine or a wee drappie of the “Auld Kirk”?
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick vi.:
Hae a bit tastin o' the Auld Kirk, Archie?

(b) adj. Of the Established Church of Scotland. Ags. 1889 J. M. Barrie W. in Thrums ii.:
The manse fowk doesna deal wi' him, except they're wantin' short-bread. He's Auld Kirk.

(12) Aul(d) lass, an old maid. Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 2:
She wus an “aul' lass” aboot 95 or 96, an' wus cross an' cantankerous acause she hadna a man tae rage on.

(13) Auld light, — licht. The term arose as an antithesis to New Light (light in the sense of enlightenment on theological questions), to denote the traditional doctrines impugned by the New Light. Also attrib.; hence as noun to denote a person accepting the old doctrine. Used chiefly in two connections, (a) for the Evangelical party in the Established Church; (b) for the conservative party in the Associate or Burgher Synod, when that body was divided in 1799, and for the party of similar views in the General Associate or Antiburgher Synod when it was divided in 1806; when the remaining members of these two bodies united in 1824 to form the Synod of United Original Seceders, the name Auld Lichts was popularly attached to the body thus formed. (a) Ayr. 1786 Burns To W. Simpson xxix.:
Some Auld-Light herds in neebor touns Are mind't [etc.].
(b) Ags. 1888 J. M. Barrie Auld Licht Idylls iii.:
One Sabbath day in the beginning of the century the Auld Licht minister at Thrums walked out of his battered, ramshackle, earthen-floored kirk with a following and never returned.

(14) Auld man's milk, a drink (see quot.). Sc. 1929 F. M. McNeill Sc. Kitchen 232:
Auld man's milk. (Meg Dods's Recipe.) Cream, rum, whisky, or brandy, eggs, nutmeg or lemon zest. . . . This morning dram is the same as the egg-nogg of America.
Abd. 1887 W. Walker (quoting W. Ingram, poem in MS. c.1812) Bards of Bon-Accord 373:
Happy with a few kindred spirits o'er his “cappie o' auld man's milk.”

(15) Auld-mou'd, “sagacious in discourse; sometimes implying the idea of craft” (Jam. 1808 for n.Sc.). Abd. 1746 W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1767) 35:
The auld-mou'd wives thus did me taunt.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 83:
She looks ill to ca', An' o'er auld-mou'd, I dread, is for us a'.

(16) Auld Reekie, — Reeky, — Reikie, a nickname of Edinburgh. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 215:
Right mony Gabs wi' them shall gang About Auld Reeky's Ingle.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xi.:
Down the brae hurled I . . . like a barrel down Chalmers's close in Auld Reekie.
Sc. 1825 R. Chambers Trad. of Edin. (1847) 147, footnote on origin of name:
When he observed the smoke increase in density, in consequence of the good folk of the city preparing their supper, he would call all the family into the house, saying, “It's time now, bairns, to tak the beuks, and gang to our beds, for yonder's Auld Reekie, I see, putting on her nicht-cap.” [This saying is assigned to the time of Charles II.]
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems, Auld Reikie (1925) ll. 1, 2:
Auld Reikie, wale o' ilka town That Scotland kens beneath the moon.
Edb. 1923 Edin. Ev. News (5 July) 4/8:
Folks ca' ye “Auld Reekie,” hoo fondly they say it!
Ayr. 1787 Burns Lament for W. Creech ii.:
Auld Reekie ay he keepit tight And trig an' braw. [Note in Cent. Ed. of Burns II. 346: “Auld Reekie” = Edinburgh; not because Edinburgh is abnormally smoky, but because her smoke is visible from many heights.]

(17) Auld Sodger, a dried chew of tobacco. Edb. 1881 (2nd ed.) J. Smith Habbie and Madge 90:
There's the last fill, that's mair like an auld sodger than onything else.

(18) Auld used hand, an experienced person, an “old hand.” Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's Well iii.:
Dick made twa, but he was an auld used hand.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Ep. to J. Rankine ix.:
Some auld, us'd hands had taen a note [etc.].

(19) Auld wecht, very clever or intelligent. Ags. 1891 J. M. Barrie The Little Min. viii.:
“What mortal man can do,” Wearyworld said, “we're doing; ay, and mair, but she's auld wecht, and may find bilbie in queer places.”
Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) vi.:
He's auld wecht; mind I tell you.

(20) Auld wife, a rotating chimney-cowl (also auld wife's mutch). Sc. 1887 Jam.6:
In ordinary cases the chimney-can or pig has set on it a top or tap: hence the term pig-tap. But where the ventilation is imperfect, the tap is removed and an auld-wife is substituted . . . the severity of a storm . . . came to be represented by the expression, “raining auld-wives and pig-taps.”
Edb. 1913 F. Niven Ellen Adair 73:
The February wind whirled the chimney tops, the upright ones like pepper casters, and the cowled ones, called “auld wives” or “auld wives' mutches,” because of their likeness to such old dames.

(21) Auld woman = Auld wife, above. Sc. [1829] Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 274:
Auld-women frae chimley-taps are clytin wi' a crash into every area.

Phrases: (1) Auld in the horn, aul' i' the horn, old and less fit, physically or mentally. Sc. 1915 R. W. Campbell Spud Tamson (1924) ii.:
But I'm auld in the horn, bad wi' indigestion, an' have tae wear specs through lookin' doon the trail for a wumin body tae warm my hairt an' bake my scones.
Bnff.(D) 1924 “Knoweheid” in Swatches o' Hamespun 10:
A'm ower aul' i' the horn te learn noo. [From the fact that the horns of certain animals give indications of their age.]

(2) Auld lang syne, gen. used now with substantival force.

(a) “Old long-ago,” bygone times; esp. used in recalling old experiences shared with friends. Sc. 1827 Scott Two Drovers i.:
I am Hugh Morrison from Glenae, come of the Manly Morrisons of auld langsyne.
Hdg. 1885 “S. Mucklebackit” Rural Rhymes, etc. 131:
Dear hallow'd Auld Langsyne.
Arg.1 1929:
Ach, aye, Jimmy, ah'll dae that for ye for aal langsyne.
Ayr. 1788 (publ. 1796) Burns Auld Lang Syne ii.:
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne.
Rxb. 1889 W. Laidlaw Poetry and P. (1901) 58:
On auld lang syne I'll stand and ponder.

(b) The song, or the tune, of Auld Lang Syne; now esp. Burns's song to the well-known tune. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 72:
[Title] The Kind Reception. To the Tune of Auld lang syne.
wm.Sc. [1835] Laird of Logan (1868) 420:
All the company having formed a circle round the bowl, joined in singing “Auld lang syne.”
[See Syne.]

(3) I' the aul = of old. Bch. c.1915 Abd.15:
Aw ken ye i' the aul.

[Cf. of the ald in Older Sc. in the sense of formerly. “Ane merch carne made and biggit of the ald; 1555 Coll. Aberd. & B. 383” (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Auld adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2021 <>



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