Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BORE, Bor, n.1 and v.

1. n.

(1) A chink, a crevice. Gen.Sc. This use is obs. or arch. in Mod.Eng., where the meaning is restricted to “an auger hole or other cylindrical perforation” (N.E.D.). Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Bor, a small hole or crevice; a place used for shelter, especially by smaller animals.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
What are we to do neist, for every hole and bore in the country will be steekit against us, now that ye hae affronted my auld leddy, and gar't the troopers tak up young Milnwood?
m.Lth. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller of Deanhaugh 24:
Nane o' ye are half sae weel acquaint wi' the Auld Town as I am. I ken every hole an' bore about it.
Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter (Cent. ed.) l. 101:
Thro' ilka bore the beams were glancing, And loud resounded mirth and dancing. Commonly in phr., benmost bore, the most secret recess.
Ags. 1816 G. Beattie John o' Arnha' (1826) 75:
E'en frae the benmost bores o' hell.
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 152:
A word or twa touching the feelings that fill us on glowring after lang absence, at the spots that hae a' had o' the memory's “benmost bore.”

(2) In pl. bores, the openings in the teats of cows. “Da bore i' da pap — the milk passage in the teat” (Sh.4 1934). Sh.(D) 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 48:
“What's ta come o' you trow da hairst, if A'm no able ta . . . tak a sipe o' mylk frae da bores o' da bess [cows],” Girzzie said.

(3) Extension of meaning to indicate the margin of an opening, hence the rim of a bowl, etc. Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas, etc. 24:
Cry in about our frien's to raise a splore, An' fill the best brose bicker to the bore.

(4) In comb. with blue, “an opening in the clouds, when the sky is thick and gloomy, or during rain” (Sc. 1808 Jam. s.v. bor.; Bnff.2 1935). Abd.(D) 1867 Mrs Allardyce Goodwife at Home xlvi.; Abd.2 1935:
The mist's gyaan aff the Tap o' Noth, An' there's some bores o' blue.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Calendar I. ii. 58:
All at once a lovely “blue bore.” fringed with downy gold, opened in the cloud behind, and in five minutes more . . . all was beauty and serenity.

(5) Curling term: “A passage between two guarding stones” (Bnff.2 1935). Known also to Kcb.1 1935. Ayr. 1786 Burns Tam Samson's Elegy (Cent. ed.) v.:
He was the king of a' the core, To guard, or draw, or wick a bore, Or up the rink like Jehu roar In time o' need.
Ayr. publ. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc., and Poems 306:
Auld Roslin, tho' ne'er in a hurry, Is famous at wicking a bore.

(6) A bored hole, one of a series, as on a strap or belt; extended also to indicate a measure of distance (see first quot.). Sc. 1842 The Deacon's Day in Whistle-Binkie (2nd Series) 80:
Man, could ye no put back the yard dykes a bore, and gie me mair elbow room?
Abd. 1935 Nancy Scott in Abd. Press and Jnl. (22 April):
A crofter, whose turnips were very scarce, when asked how they were lasting, replied, “They're wearin' awa' ower fast. I'll need t' draw in the beasties' belts a bore.” In phrs.: (a) to tak in, or up, a bore, “to begin to reform one's conduct; synon. with “turning ouer [sic] a new leaf” (Mearns 1825 Jam.2). Also known to Bnff.2, Abd.19 1935; (b) to clink a bore, id.; (c) neist bore tae butter, fig. used to mean the next best thing.
(b) Ags. 1867 G. W. Donald Poems, etc. 167:
But neist day I cudna help thinkin', While musing the twa stoops atween, — Far better a bore I'd been clinkin' Than gaun the black gates I hae gaen.
(c) Bnff.2 1928:
Weel, weel, if this sample o' corn's nae exac'ly as gweed as the last, it's neist bore t' butter.
Abd. 1935 B. in Abd. Press and Jnl. (9 April):
The mistress of the farm in bygone days, addressing the maid busy with the churn, says — “Hinna ye gotten butter yet, lassie?” The lassie replies, “Na, bit I've neist bore tae butter, that's ream at the brakin.” [The proverbial phrase (6)(c) is prob. derived from the device for raising or lowering a board or bar by means of a pin and a series of holes (bores) arranged vertically at regular intervals.]

(7) An instrument of torture. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 272:
Now strike my Finger in a Bore, My Wyson [gullet] with the Maiden shore [threaten], Gin I can tell whilk I am for When these twa stars appear thegether.

2. v. (1) “Used of sun and moon: to appear through breaks in the clouds” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). See n. (4) above.

(2) intr. To press, sometimes indicating violent impact, as in third quot. Gen.Sc. Mry.2 1935:
The bairnie wis caul' an' bored in aneth her mither's shawl.
Ags.10 1925:
Dinnie bore so close to me.
Arg.2 c.1893:
Used in leaping games — e.g. leap-frog — for failure at the leap with consequent impact on the person to be cleared. One who so failed was said to “bore.”

(3) Gen. used with preposition at, in, etc.: to browse over, to study with assiduity and penetration. Almost always used contemptuously; phs. suggested by the endless tunnelling of creatures like the worm. Bch. 1928 (per Abd.15); Ags.1 1935:
“Fat's she borin' at?” “She's borin' amon' beuks (or in a beuk).”
Lnk. 1887 A. Wardrop Mid-Cauther Fair 183:
Borin' in the fire till a' 'oors.

(4) With on, “said of a horse pulling ahead of his fellows in a team. The opposite term is “sitting in the britchens.” “Jock's meer is nae use on the laan; she bores on too much” (Arg.1 1933).

[O.Sc. bore, boir, n., a hole made by boring, an opening, and, v., to pierce by boring. Mid.Eng. borien, O.E. borian.]

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"Bore n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Sep 2021 <>



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