Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BOY, n. Sc. usages.

1. “A male person of any age or condition, if unmarried and residing in the parental home” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). Gen.Sc. Cai.7 1935 gives it as obs. or obsol. Kcb. 1895 S. R. Crockett Bog-Myrtle, etc. ii. ii.:
As in Ireland all the sons of the house are “boys” so long as they remain under the roof-tree, even though they may carry grey heads on their shoulders.

2. Used specifically for an apprentice (Lnl.1 1935). Lnk. 1928 H. Lauder Roamin' in the Gloamin' iii.:
My Uncle Sandy was a “bottomer” in Eddlewood Colliery, and one of his mates agreed to give me a start as his “boy.”

3. A term of commendation and praise; always with the definite article. Gen.Sc. Gsw.(D) 1902 J. J. Bell Wee Macgreegor (1903) ii.:
“If a beast wis gaun fur to pu' ma heid aff,” remarked Macgregor, who had grown suddenly bold, “I — I — I wud gi'e't a kick!” “Ye're the boy!” said his father.

4. Used with auld: “a name for the devil; or one with devilish habits” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 23). Ags. 1894 “Fergus Mackenzie” Humours of Glenbruar xiii.:
It'll land richt i' the fryin'-pan, an' Annie'll think it's the auld boy himsel' come doon to see her.

5. Dims. boyag (Cai.); boyan (e.Rs.1 1928). Cai. 1930 Caithness Forum in John o' Groat Jnl. (17 Jan.):
A wis a fouchlin' [clumsy] boyag at a hairvest dance. [The termination -ag is the Cai. equivalent of the common Sc. dim. -ock; -an is Gael.]

6. Comb.: boy-lassie, a boyish girl, a hoyden. Kcb. 1911 S. R. Crockett Smugglers xiv.:
She was never more to be the accomplice of horse-copers; the gipsy “boy-lassie” who could hold her own with tooth and nail.

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"Boy n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 May 2021 <>



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