Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

BIG, adj. [Phon. as in preceding.]

1. Elated, swollen-headed, consequential. Gen.Sc. Regarded as colloq. or slang in St.Eng. Mry. 1865 W. H. L. Tester Poems 139:
His wife as braw an' big as Lady Tenny.
Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xvi.:
Sandy was rale pleased when he saw me so big aboot my cake.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 66:
“Hear til him!” says he; “he downa be spoken to, he's that big!”

2. Friendly, intimate. Mry.2; Abd.2 1934:
Me an' Jock's gran' billies an' we've aye been big thegither.
Ant. 1898 W.J.K. in E.D.D.:
In common local use. John an' me's no big.

Combs.: (1) Big-boukit, “advanced in pregnancy” (Ayr.4 1928).

(2) Big Buik, the Bible. Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. of Sc. Life and Char. 50:
When the auld gowkoo-clock wad gie warnin' o' ten, Then the table was set an' the big Buik brocht ben.

(3) Big-coat, greatcoat, overcoat. N.E.D. gives this as Sc. Sc. 1828 J. Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 120:
Big-coats wi' fur . . . gie an agreeable rouchness to the . . . stream o' life.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Chron. of Keckleton 41:
Wi' that Matthew got up an' stept out to the hallan to put on his big coat.
Rxb. 1917 Jedburgh Gazette (27 April) 2/6:
For those night rides he used a long drab “big-coat.”

(4) Big ha'-Bible, the family Bible, so called from its original use in the hall or principal room of the house, where the household assembled for religious services. See Ha', Hall. Ayr. 1786 Burns Cotter's Saturday Night xii.:
The Sire turns o'er, with patriarchal grace, The big ha'-Bible, ance his Father's pride.

(5) Big hoose, — house. (See first quot.) Per. 1928 A. Stewart A Highland Parish 178:
The Big House, as the laird's dwelling was called.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 26:
At this the hizzies frae the big hoose, in the pew ahint, a' nudged ane anither an' giggled.

(6) Big mavis, “the missel-thrush” (em.Sc.(b) 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 2).

(7) Big miss, great loss by death, or by the departure of a friend. Still in gen. use. Mry.2; Abd.9; Slg.3 1934:
He'll be a big miss in the clachan.
Abd.2 1934:
A letter last week from New Aberdour deploring the sudden death of a young man says “His sister will have a big miss.”

(8) Big oxeye, “the great titmouse, Parus major” (Rxb. 1915 G. Watson Nat. Hist. Lists i.). C. Swainson Brit. Birds (1885) 32 gives this for Frf., e.Lth., Rxb.

(9) Big sma' faimily, a large family of young children. Gen.Sc. ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Chron. of Keckleton 96:
My ain youngest Wee Johnnie, that's noo a big, stoot man and the father o' a big sma' faimily in America.

(10) Big-wimed, big-bellied. Abd. 1904 W. A. G. Farquhar The Fyvie Lintie 73:
A big-wimed County Council man Was chosen to be Chairman.

(11) Big yin, “a large size of ‘bool' or marble” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). In pl., older boys. m.Lth. 1894 W. G. Stevenson Puddin' 22–23:
Sometimes the big yins sets us on, an' we wad be ca'ed “cooardy” if we didna fecht.

[Origin obscure. Its connection with Bigly, adj., is rendered doubtful because of the meaning of the latter.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Big adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 May 2021 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: