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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BARRA, Barry, n. 1. Also barrey (Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 52), barry.  Gen.Sc. forms of barrow, lit. and fig. [′bɑrə, ′bɑrɪ̢, ′bɑrɪ̢, Sc.; ′bɔrə Abd. + ′bɑrɪ̢]Abd.4 1928:
“Set doon the barra,” stop payment. Said of one who has become bankrupt.
Abd. 1931 D. Campbell Uncle Andie 10:
Sae pit that in yer barra an' rowe it.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xvi.:
“Get up off that barry,” he said sharply.
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo ix.:
He sent the apprentice boy alang wi' them in a barra.
Dwn. 1911 F. E. Crichton The Soundless Tide 37:
Man, do ye think ye can smash the yard cart, an' no more said than if ye'd couped the barra?
Edb. 1991 Dae Ye Mind ...? Volume Three of Stories and Memories from Members of St. Ann's Reminiscence Group 6:
I used tae go tae Victoria Street and collect papers tae deliver. I had a widden barry wi' two shafts and two pram wheels.
Dundee 1994 Matthew Fitt in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 174:
The young lad skytit roon the coarnir intil the merkat-gate an fleescht it doon the pavement, keekin ahint him as he gaed an neer enough cowpit a barry load o aippuls.
Dmf. 1997 Nell Thomson Spit the First Sook 31:
Mind you, the barrow was quite a push, but I was young and fit then. I remember Robert Harvey from Nether Keir being at the farm at milking time to speak with Jamie and he remarked, 'By Nell, you must hae wheeled a fortune on that barry', and Jamie, in his quiet way, said, 'A doot it'.
Ayr. 2000:
Aw the bonnie barra's mine
it used tae belong tae a harra
But the fly wee broke
He stole my rock
and A'm fur stickin ti his barra

Phrs. to lay or set doun the barra, to go bankrupt. See also Set, v., 14 (6) (ii). Sc. 1853 Tait's Mag. (March) 135:
What's the use o' doing onything when oor run's gane? We may as well lay doun the barrow at aince.

2. the Barras, the Barrows Shortened form of The Barrowlands, a street market in the East End of Glasgow.m.Sc. 1985 Janette Walkinshaw in Julie Milton Original Prints 58:
It wasn't really crystal anyway but just a glass one that I had picked up at the barrows.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Elder Stookie 15:
"Let's go doon the Barras, eh?" suggested Stookie ...
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 9:
Barras, the Of course, Glasgow's renowned informal shopping complex, east of Glasgow Cross. Its proverbial place in the language is shown by such phrases as 'I bet she didn't get that at the Barras' meaning 'That was certainly not cheap.'
Gsw. 1993 Margaret Sinclair Soor Plooms and Candy Balls 26:
Goin' tae the Barras
That wis such a treat
The weans are aw excited
No' knowin' who ye'd meet.
Sc. 1993 Clothes Show Magazine Feb :
The Square yard, The Barras, Stevenson Street, and Paddy's Market, Shipbank lane are also must-visits for spending sprees.
Gsw. 1994 James Kelman How Late it Was, How Late 68:
First things first he needed a saw. And he was gony get one. Apart from a hammer and a couple of screwdrivers there wasnay a tool in the house. He was aye meaning to pick up a few down the Barras.
Gsw. 1994 R.G.MacCallum Tongs Ya Bas 116:
The 'Tongs' were also one of the few Teams to be divided into many and varied age groups ... as follows: the 'Young Tongs' ... and the 'Toddler Tongs' with the latter not to be scoffed at especially if you were a pre-teenager from anywhere else in the city and you happen to get some aggro at the Barras.
m.Sc. 1995 Scotsman 18 Oct 8:
Legitimate traders cannot compete with prices at weekend car boot sales, places of work and market places, like the Barras in Glasgow where 50 grammes of Golden Virginia hand-rolling tobacco is selling for £4 instead of £7.50.
Gsw. 1995 James Barclay Paras Over the Barras (2002) 2:
Wullie, small and dapper, was in his fifties now and lived with Annie in her three room and kitchen home in the Calton, just a few streets from the city's famous open-air market, 'The Barras'.
Sc. 2002 Evening Times 15 Nov 27:
It follows a police raid two weeks ago at the Barras, when 150,000 pirate videos, DVDs and CDs worth £3 million were seized.
Gsw. 2003 Scots Magazine 186:
But the lure of the Barras proper has never diminished and calls me back every time I visit Glasgow. As an East-End wean it must have featured large in my early years, apart from the fact that our kitchen table was sourced there.
Edb. 2003:
Ah've still goat an eiderdown ma mither bought at the Barras in the '60s.

[O.Sc. bar(r)ow, a hand-barrow. Mid.Eng. barewe points to O.E. *bearwe, *barwe. A deriv. of beran, to bear.]

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"Barra n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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