Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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AYE, AY, Ey, adv. The spelling aye is the most common. Now only Sc. and north. Eng. (N.E.D.). [əi + ei Sc.; æi + ei s.Sc.]

1. Always, ever, continually, on all occasions. Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs (1881) 6:
There's aye some water where the stirkie drowns.
Abd.(D) 1928 W. Robbie Mains of Yonderton 42:
Aw'll tell ye ae thing 'at I ey like t' study whether aw be t' buy or t' sell.
Ags. 1845 P. Livingston Poems and Songs (1855) 107:
Death's clay-cauld hand has still'd the heart That aye was kind and true.
Edb. c.1770 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 2:
You ca'd her ay sae innocent, sae young, I thought she kent na how to use her tongue.
Lnk. 1925 W. Queen in Bellshill Speaker (24 July):
His luck wis aye great, He fund twa-an'-sixpence Ablo' a wee plate.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Ep. to Davie v.:
The heart ay's the part ay, That makes us right or wrang.
Rxb.(D) 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes an Knowes 14:
Snodgin on, A wad aye geet seen the better about iz.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) II. 153:
But the sport grew aye better.

2. Still, all the same. Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality v.:
Folk said it wasna a very gude ane [head], but it was aye a sair loss to him, puir gentleman.
Ags. 1889 J. M. Barrie W. in Thrums vi.:
“Ye'll no last mair than anither month, Jess,” was what my sister Bell said, . . . and yet here I am aye sittin' at my window.
m.Lth. 1882 R. Fleming in Mod. Sc. Poets ed. Edwards IV. 199:
The heather aye is bloomin' whaur The sweet blaeberries grew.
Rxb.(D) 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 8:
Hei's aye as thrang as ever.

3. Ever afterwards, henceforward. Sc. 1896 A. Cheviot Proverbs 40:
Ance provost, aye My Lord.
Abd.(D) 1809 J. Skinner Amusements, etc. 27:
And keep you ay the honest chiel That ye hae been.

4. Phrase: ay(e) and while = until (legal use), during the time that. (Rare.) Used both as a conj. and prep.; found also in O.Sc. Sc. 1697 G. Dallas System of Stiles 65:
To remain under sure fence and Arreastment, . . . ay and while sufficient Caution and Soverty be found.
Sc. 1717 Nairne Peerage Evidence (1873) 146:
In the powr of the said Mr William Nairn . . . to make use thereof . . . ay and while payment be made us or our foresaids as said is.
Sc. 1887 R. L. Stevenson Underwoods, Lowden Sabb. Morn ix.:
And aye an' while we nearer draw To whaur the kirkton lies alaw, Mair neebours, comin' saft an' slaw . . . The thicker thrang the gate.
Lnk. 1709 Minutes J.P.'s Lnk. (S.H.S. 1931) 76:
To commit him prisoner within the tolbooth of Lanark or other convenient prisons ay and while performance of the sentence.

[O.N. ei, ey. Cogn. with O.E. ā; Mid.Eng. o and oo; Ger. je; Lat. aevum; Gr. αει. The spelling of this and the preceding word in Sc. is irregular, but ay = yes, and aye = always, seem to predominate. Both words in Sc. are markedly diphthongal but not identical in pronunciation. N.E.D. and Un. Eng. Dict. prefer ay = always, and aye = yes, the first of which rhymes with the ay series of Eng. words like say, day, etc., while the second does not. The Concise Eng. Dict. spells ay = yes, and aye = ever, always.]

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"Aye adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Dec 2021 <>



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