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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.

BRACE, Braise, Bress, n.1 [bres, brɛs]

1. “A fireplace” (Lnk.3 1935).Cai. 1916 Old Caithness Croft in John o' Groat Jnl. (31 March):
A big hearthstone was placed before the fireplace, or “brace” as it was called.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail lxiv.:
The craw thinks its ain bird the whitest; . . . but for a' that, it's as black's the back o' the bress.

2. “A mantelpiece” (Arg.1 1929; Lnk.3 1935).Sc. 1931 T. Smellie in Glasgow Herald (3 Nov.) 5:
The brace is later known in many parts of Scotland as a shelf placed generally over the kitchen fireplace for the display of the household gods.
Ags. 1712 in A. Jervise Land of the Lindsays (1853) App. 341:
Three bottels and tuo picturs on ye braise.
w.Sc. 1934 “Uncle Tom” Mrs Goudie's Tea-Pairty 44:
It's safer tae pit odd threpeny bits intae the pig on the brace.
wm.Sc. 1979 Robin Jenkins Fergus Lamont 11:
As we passed it I did not this time spit - I had acquired a horror of spitting - but I did mutter aloud the rhyme which was my own secret way of nullifying the Papish magic:
Hail Mary, fu' o'grace,
Stole a penny frae the brace,
Put a ha'penny in its place,
Hail Mary, fu' o'grace.
Gsw. 1993 Margaret Sinclair Soor Plooms and Candy Balls 20:
Granny's wally dug takes pride o' place upon the brace.

3. “A chimney made of straw and clay” (Slk. 1825 Jam.2).Lnk. 1865 J. Hamilton Poems 169:
The auld warl' dwallin' had a muckle clay brace.
Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
Brace, a screen, made of stakes interwoven with twigs, and covered inside and outside with prepared clay used to conduct the smoke from a fire on the hearth to an aperture in the roof.

4. (See quot.). Cf. Back, n.4Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 66:
Brace. A bit of wall in the middle of the kitchen floor against which the fire was placed. It divided the “fire-house” (kitchen) into “fore 'e fire” where the family sat, and “back o' the fire” where barrels, tubs, peats, etc., .were kept.

5. Combs.: (1) brace-hole, a recess or niche beside a mantelpiece for holding small articles; (2) brace-piece, mantelpiece; (3) brace steen, braise —, “a stone behind the fire in old houses” (Cai.8 1934, braise — ).(1) Sc. 1829 New Scotch Haggis 318:
'Twas nine o'clock, the father took Frae his brace-hole, the holy book.
(2) Sc. 1834 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) IV. 151:
Gie . . . Awmrose the owl to stuff for the brace-piece o' his bed-chaumer.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Ayrsh. Legatees x.:
The shelf below the brazen sconce above the brace-piece.
(3) Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 117:
[He] rakid oot his muckle fit Anunder the brace steen.

[O.Sc. brase, brace, bres(s)e, a band of stonework, timber, or metal, used to strengthen a framework or structure; in later use esp. the breast or arch of a chimney (D.O.S.T.). Mid.Eng. brace, O.Fr. brace (Mod.Fr. bras), Lat. brachia, the arms. The meanings here arise from the sense of supporting or steadying oneself with the outstretched arms.]

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"Brace n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Apr 2024 <>



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