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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

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.
Sc. 1995 Daily Record 14 Jan 60:
Of all the first Division clubs in the Borders, NOT ONE is clear of relegation worries. Telfer warned: "The Borders have to take a good look at themselves." They think only in the past. The 'aye been' attitude is very true."
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.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 15:
An ma Da says my Ma's a Bad Parent cos she's aye oot on the randan. I dinna ken fit the randan is, bit I ay get sweeties an a bosie fin she cams hame.
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.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 34:
He aye threips oan that when ye're deid ye're deid.
Thae's be nae girnin in ablo the mool ...
nor tholin Clootie's salutorie dool.
m.Sc. 1991 Donald Campbell in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 91:
But, oh my freens, I'll tell ye this anaa!
Edinburrie toun's no aye sae bonnie, douce and braw!
m.Sc. 1997 Tom Watson Dark Whistle 51:
Thir's auld yins gaun aboot
That's jist the same. - A'
Mid-week the caird's no merked
But perfect sixes aye drawn oot
Oan Sundays.
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 18:
Ye need tae mind yer rollers but,
They aye catch oan the windae frame.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 16:
The ba'-faced gowk they cried him
Geordie Pate o the Loan:
Dwelt aye at the back-en o his hoose
Nivver faur frae his neeps
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 30:
"Dinnae scold him Bryce, he's wantin' Hugh. You ken Hugh could aye birl his peerie-top for him and make him reed-whistles. The bairn's jist lost,"
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 4:
We'd think ilka hermless thing we did was wrang
Them that wants to can aye funn faut.
wm.Sc. 1998 Alan Warner The Sopranos (1999) 2:
' ... Kay and Ana-Bessie were aye willing to admit bursary girls like Fionnula had 'colourful character'.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 124:
' ... We canna aye be skewerin flesh, James - we must leave some work for Judgement Day. ... '
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.
Edb. 1995 Irvine Welsh Marabou Stork Nightmares (1996) 34:
How's it ey me that hus tae go? How no Elgin? It was a stupid thing to say. It just came out in my anger at being disturbed from my telly programme.
Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 39:
The body would be in the next room, but we would have a good time singing and talking, and there was aye plenty to eat.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 9:
How come you're aye oan aboot movies?
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 Ay,int. (adv.) 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 12 Jun 2024 <>



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