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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.

BOX, n.1 Also boax. Used as in St.Eng., but note the following peculiarly Sc. uses.

1. Phrs.: (1) (up)on the box, receiving weekly payment from a friendly society or poor's fund, supplied by church collections, fines, etc.; more recently applied to those in receipt of National Health Insurance benefit (Gsw. 1961 Pulse (24 June) 2). Obsol.; (2)out the box, (i) (something) not acceptable in a situation; (ii) mad; drunk, exhausted etc to a degree as to make one incapable. (1) Edb. [1715] A. Pennecuik Works (1815) 160 Note:
Fifteen got assistance from the Poor's Fund, or, as it is generally expressed, there were forty-five Linton lairds, fifteen of which were on the box!
Ayr. 1830 Galt Lawrie Todd i. ii.:
Being . . . a Buchanan, as there is society for folk of that name in Glasgow, it came to pass that she applied in her auld days for a recommendation to get her put upon the box.
(2) (i) Edb. 1991:
'No that's out the box. You won't be allowed to do it that way.' [when asked if someone would write something in a specific way]
(ii) Sc. 1997 Daily Record 3 Dec 17:
Gordon Jackson QC, defending, said: "I know where the sympathy lies in this case. It lies in the fact a young man is dead and his family are devastated".
Mr Jackson said he had to accept his client "was out of the box", but insisted that did not make him responsible for Colin's death.
Sc. 1998 Daily Record 18 Dec 27:
At Dingwall Sheriff Court yesterday, Peasnall pleaded guilty to the offence, but escaped a driving ban.
Freddie Main, defending, said: "He was out of his box and oblivious to what had happened to him. He does not actually need glasses."
Sc. 2001 Scotsman 26 Oct 10:
A sluggish rendition of New Age sounds like a bad rehearsal demo and one version of I'm Waiting For The Man is so laid back that Lou appears to have done his waiting, taken delivery of his gear and got smacked out his box already.
Edb. 2005:
I was out the box efter the pairty.

2. Combs.: (1) box-bed, a bed enclosed on three sides and roofed with wood; the fourth side is closed either with sliding panels, ordinary hinged doors, or curtains. Also used to denote a bed which folds up to resemble a chest of drawers. Now gen. known in Eng.; (2) box-cairt, “a cart made to tilt, as opposed to the lang cairt which could not be tilted without unyoking” (Abd.2 1935 (also Cai.7 1935)); (3) box-ladder, “a straight narrow staircase, like a step-ladder but completely filled in with wood behind, and enclosed on both sides by walls” (Slg.3, Lnl.1 1935); (4) box-master, “the treasurer of a town, society, or corporate body” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2, s.v. penny-maister; Abd.19, Ags.1 1935); applied now only to the treasurer of a trade-guild. Hence boxmastership; (5) box-pulpit, an old-fashioned pulpit (see quot.); (6) box-seat, “a square pew in a church” (Ags.2, Lnk.3 1935); cf. bucht-seat s.v. Boucht, n.2 (3). See also Box-day and Box-wrack.(1) Sc. 1773 Boswell Tour (1936) 59:
I was to sleep in a little box-bed in Mr Johnson's room. I had it wheeled out into the dining room, and there I lay very well.
Sc. 1991 Roderick Watson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 103:
Troilus on tap o Cresseid i the dark
(narra pairts thon box beds).
Ork. c.1912 J. Omond Orkney 80 Years Ago 9:
The box bed resembles a little wooden house with sliding doors, and when they are shut it is said to be very warm.
attrib. Abd.(D) 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 9:
His cot stob-thackit, wi' twa timmer lums, A box-bed closet 'tween the but an' ben.
Abd. 1980 David Toulmin Travels Without a Donkey 21:
At that time the cottages were little better than hovels, with box-beds and thatched roofs, though they did have cement floors, but they have since been renovated and roofed with red slates.
Edb. 2003:
Ma freend slept in a box-bed in Drummond Street when she wis a bairn.
(3) Ayr. 1891 H. Johnston Kilmallie xvii.:
A “trance,” or entrance lobby, from which a steep box-ladder led to a bedroom and store above.
(4) Sc. 1768 Scheme for Annuity for Widows of Members of Incorp. Hammermen Canongate 4:
That the Treasurer for the time uplift and receive from the contributors the contributions to be quarterly paid by them, and from the Boxmaster to the Corporation yearly the sums foresaid to be applied to this scheme.
Sc. 1837 Wilson's Tales of the Borders III. 385, 390:
The incorporation of Dyers and Scourers of Perth had a deacon and boxmaster. . . . To her I owe my boxmastership.
Kcd. 1726 G. H. Kinnear Glenbervie (1895) 52:
James Burness in Hawkhill was elected Boxmaster [of the Kirk Session] by a majoritie of votes.
Ags. 1714 A. J. Warden Burgh Laws Dundee (1872) 460:
The first mention of the term Boxmaster, which appears in the books of the [Bonnet-maker] Trade, is in a note appended to the accounts for 1714 by the Conveners Auditing Court.
(5) Uls. 1902 A. McIlroy Humour of Druid's Island 50:
Yin o' thae auld-fashioned box-pulpits, wi' a lang stalk that cam' doon tae the precentor's sate, an' a wee do'r ahin, that ye couldna see.
(6) Kcb. 1901 S. R. Crockett Love Idylls 7:
The Millwharchar “box-seat” remained for ever empty and swept.

3. A coal-hutch in a mine (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 12); †a measure of coals, a boxful (see quot.). Ayr. 1779 J. Swinton Weights, etc. 62:
A Box; containing nearly 5 Winchester bushels, and reputed the eighth part of a ton weight.

4. The hollowed-out bed of a road. Clc. 1795 J. F. Erskine Agric. Clc. 80:
The box, as the road-makers in Scotland call that part that is dug out for laying the stones in.

5. In pl.: the game of hop-scotch, from the compartments into which the stone must be kicked (Ags. 1952).

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"Box n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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