Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BACKSPEIR, -SPEER, -SPIER, v. To question, cross-examine, inquire into a matter. [bɑk′spi:r] Sc. 1808  Jam.:
To Backspeir. To inquire into a report or relation, by tracing it as far back as possible; also, to cross-question, to examine a witness with a retrospective view to his former evidence.
Sc. 1928  L. Spence in Scots Mag. (May) 142:
He speired and backspeired at us till he'd gotten near a haill hauf-century o' piper's news oot o' me.
Bnff. 1832  J. F. S. Gordon Chron. of Keith (1880) 322:
Faith ye'll blek [puzzle] the Minister; tell him to back speer ye there.
Abd. 1921  M. Argo Janet's Choice 16:
I winna be back-speired aboot foo I dee sic-an'-sic in connection wi' my ain faimily.

ppl.adj. back-spierin', inquisitive. Ags. 1897  “F. Mackenzie” Sprays of Northern Pine xxii.:
An impident, back-spierin' chield that Minister o' oors!

[O.Sc. earliest mention 1597 (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Backspeir v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jun 2019 <>



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