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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BLITHE, BLYTHE, BLIDE, Blyth, Blyde, Blyid, Blye, adj., n. and adv. Also blied (Ork. 1920 H. Campbell Island Folk Songs 10). In colloq. speech the reduced form bly was also freq. (Ags. a.1914). [bləið Sc.; but I.Sc., Ags., Fif. + bləid]

I. adj.

1. Joyous, cheerful, happy, glad, well-pleased. Rare in Eng. prose or colloq. use since 16th cent., but freq. in poetry (N.E.D.); chiefly poet. (Concise Eng. Dict.); rarely used of persons except predicatively (Un. Eng. Dict.). Gen.Sc.Sh.(D) 1916 J. J. H. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr Iktober 14:
Mony a time, a bedral is da blydest body i da hoose.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 37:
An' O! I thought him bony, blyth an' free.
m.Sc. 1991 William Neill in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 49:
Blythe nou wha tholed the wintertide
its crannreuch cauld an lang.
Green, green the shaws on braw Kenside
an sweet the laverock's sang.
m.Sc. 1997 Tom Watson Dark Whistle 52:
And prowl the hill-fit singin'
Tae the wind, bar Sundays 'coorse. Blythe
Faither frae the rhubarb-pungent gairden
Ags., Fif. 1825 Jam.2:
Blyde, Blyid. The pronunciation of blithe, cheerful, in Fife and Angus.
Ags. 1921 A. S. Neill Carroty Broon xv.; Ags.1 1934:
I'm blyde I'm at the tatties wi' achteen-pence a day.
Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (ed. Henderson 1905) 81:
My wee bairnie's dozin', it's dozin' now fine, And oh! may its wauk'nin' be blyther than mine.
Rxb. c.1885 W. Laidlaw Poetry and Prose (1901) 10:
Your modest face, so blythe and kind, Bears the reflection of your mind.

Comb. blythe-faced.m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 105:
Thae thocht it [a girl] was a bit blythe-faced taed o' a thing.

2. Kind, friendly. This meaning is given as obs. in N.E.D.Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Sh.7 1935:
He is noblide i' de broo,” he looks angry, in bad humour.
Ork.(D) 1908 J. T. S. Leask in Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc. I. vi. 223:
A lock o' Deerness men staan aboot hans waar blide an' reused 'im for 'is pluck, an' speered gin 'e wadna hae a air o' the Ald Kirk afore he begood.

3. Followed by of: (1) fond of. Not given in N.E.D., Un. Eng. Dict., or Concise Eng. Dict.; (2) glad of, pleased to have. (1) Ork. 1929 Marw.:
I'm very b[lide] o' that bit o' bairn.
(2) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality iv.:
I wad be blithe o' his company to dine wi' me.
Sh. 1993 New Shetlander (Sep) 22:
"I'm travelin to Levenwick" he said "and I'm finnin it's a lang wye fae Scalloway. I'd be blyde of a drink of blaand if you had it - an I can pay for all I need."
Ags.2 1935:
I'd be blythe o' a dry sark.

4. Followed by to: pleased to.Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 8-9:
The folk o Wassetter . . . wur blide tae help the ither side i' the time o' sair need.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall in Neil R. MacCallum Lallans 51 15:
We ir blye ti walcum hir back wi the bairn's tale at follaes, adaptit frae a series o siclyke yairns at war braidcast on Radio Scotland's 'Nickety Nackety' back in 1984, tho in a kinna anglicised firm.

II. n. Happiness.Ags. 1870 Arbroath Guide (1 Jan.) 3/5:
Ye kenna the blythe o' oor ain ingle neuk.

III. adv. Happily, cheerfully, kindly. Latest example in N.E.D. dated 1785. The adv. is omitted by the Concise and Un. Eng. Dicts. Gen.Sc.m.Lth. 1882 A. Cargill in Edwards Mod. Sc. Poets IV. 56:
Syne blythe to me she coost her e'e.
Ayr. 1795 Burns O, wat Ye wha's in yon Town (Cent. ed.) iii.:
The sun blinks blythe in yon town.

IV. Phr.: be or by ye blithe, a euphemism for “no.”Sh. 1899 J. Spence Sh. Folk-Lore 133:
The crew in their conversation seldom give a negative reply. Instead of their saying “No,” we hear “by-ye-blithe.”
Ib. 246:
“Haand me a kippok o' piltiks,” says Lowrie. “Be-ye-blithe,” says Robbie, “no ene is in 'er.”

V. Combs.: (1) blythe-bid, to command. Liter.; (2) blythe candles (see quot.); (3) blide-feast, a thanksgiving feast after a birth. Cf. Blithemeat; (4) blythefire, a fire kindled to celebrate the birth of a son.(1)Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ i. vii. 11:
Dae yer best, an' God sal blythe-bid yer guid ettle.
(2) Ayr.4 1928:
Blythe candles. Candles were burned at the birth of a child and read by the wise to see how the child would fare in this life.
(3) Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Sh. Trad. Lore 178–179:
There were three gatherings after a birth, the blide-feast — thanksgiving; the fittin' feast . . . and the christening.
(4) Ayr. 1913 W. Kissock Sc. and Eng. Poems 38 (per Ayr.4):
Yestreen I saw the blythefire's glare.

[O.Sc. blith, blyth, etc., happy, glad, cheerful, pleasant; Mid.Eng. blith(e), blyth(e), early bliþe, bliðe (D.O.S.T.). O.E. blīðe, O.N. blīðr, (1) gentle, kindly, (2) pleasant, agreeable, (3) mild. balmy (of weather) (Zoëga); Goth. bleiþs, friendly, merciful. Further history doubtful. For d = th see P.L.D. § 165.]

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"Blithe adj., n., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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