Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BRAE, Bray(e), Brea, n.1 Sc. and n.Eng. dial., though occurring in recent literary Eng. [bre:]

1. The brow of a hill. Gen.Sc. Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 259:
Dinna gang ower near the edge o the brae.

2. A hill or hillside; the high ground adjoining a river bank. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery ii.:
The mountains, as they would have been called in England, Scotticé the deep braes, rose abruptly over the little glen.
Ags. 1916 A. Reid in Abd. Book-Lover II. No. 1 (May) 22:
The land o' the loch an' the river, The land o' the ben and the brae.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 25:
The lads on baith braes o' the Tweed, Wi' Irish chapies brave an' wude.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Banks o' Doon (Cent. ed.) i.:
Ye banks and braes o' bonie Doon.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders vii.:
It grieved me to see the bonny corn that had grown so golden on the braes anent the isle screeving up in fire to the heavens.

Hence braeie, adj., “declivous, having slopes, hilly” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2). Abd.2 1935:
Heughhead is awfu' braeie an' sair o' the horse.

3. A road which has a steep gradient. Also used fig. Often found in the names of streets, cf. Windmill Brae, Aberdeen, Bouly Brae, Arbroath. The Lth. quot. below might equally well come under section 2. Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs 18:
If a man's gaun doun the brae, ilka ane gies him a jundie.
Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xviii.:
It's a vera stiff brae, an' ere we wan up to the kirk, it was gyaun upon eleyven o'clock.
Ags. 1889 J. M. Barrie Window in Thrums i.:
On the bump of green round which the brae twists, at the top of the brae, and within cry of T'nowhead Farm, still stands a one-storey house.
Lth. 1882 J. Strathesk Bits from Blinkbonny vii.:
We maun a' set the stout heart to the stey brae.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 24:
Juist than I heard the rummle o' the cairts comin doun the brae.

4. Upland, mountainous district, often occurring in the name of the district, e.g. Braemar, the Braes o' Balquhidder. Often in pl. Sc. a.1714 First Earl of Cromartie in Earls of Crm. (ed. Fraser 1876) II. 468:
So levying such force as they could, they obtained peacable passadge through Sutherland, and falling in to the brayes of Cathness they robed the country.
Ags. 1846 A. Laing Wayside Flowers (1878) 125:
The standard on the braes o' Mar, Is up, and streaming rarely.
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie's Wallet i.:
“Gae wa,” says he, “ye landlouper, and stay in the land ye lo'e best; the bonny braes o' Scotland . . . whaur the kindly heart an' the couthie hame gang thegither.”

5. Combs. No illustrations are given of such compounds as brae-tap, brae-side, etc., where hill is similarly compounded in Eng.

†(1) brae-hag, “a steep bank with an overhanging edge of turf” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (2) brae-hauld, same as brae-hag, “forming or suitable as the retreat of a fish” (Ib.); (3) braehead, brea —, the top of a “brae.” Gen.Sc.; †(4) brae-laird, braes —, “a proprietor of land on the southern declivity of the Grampians” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); †(5) braeman, bray-, an inhabitant of a hilly region; one who inhabits the southern slope of the Grampians (cf. (4) above); (6) brae-set, situated on a slope; steep; †(7) brae-shot, (a) “a quantity of earth that has fallen from a steep” (Lnk. 1825 Jam.2); (b) “a large sum of money, to which one unexpectedly becomes heir: ‘He's gotten an awfu' brae-shot'” (Ib.). (3) Sc. 1737 Third Earl of Cromartie in Earls of Crm. (ed. Fraser 1876) II. 180:
When there are as maney stones as will finish the summerhouse and the wall, let the rest be laid to the brea head above the cowfold.
Rxb. a.1860 J. Younger Autobiog. (1881) 325:
That cauld starry night out on Tweed braeheads, in the bield o' Paton's corn-stack.
(4) Sc. 1731 J. Mitchell Highland Fair 5:
No doubt! you are a great Man — no less than our Chief's Plenipotentiary Ambassador to the Braes Laird!
(5) Sc. a.1714 First Earl of Cromartie in Earls of Crm. (ed. Fraser 1876) II. 475:
The Earl being south, waiting on the King, the Strathnaver men and braymen of Cathness took opportunity in his absense to invad Sutherland.
Sc. 1823 Scott Q. Durward ii.:
“I am, master,” answered the young Scot, “a braeman, and therefore, as we say, a bowman.”
ne.Sc. a.1835 J. Grant Tales of the Glens (1836) 103:
A party of our Braemen would hastily heave on their currachs, and hurry down Deeside in order to reach the burgh before the vampires could be disengaged from their prey.
(6) Bnff. 1925 J. M. Caie in Scots Mag. (Aug.) 373:
A fearsome road's afore me, unco brae-set, dark an' caul', An' weel-a-wat I'm jist a thochtie lame.
Abd. 1924 Leebie's Wooin in Swatches o' Hamespun 67:
Taken home to Knapfeuich, a small, “brae-set” holding.
Ags. 1838 Montrose Standard (18 Jan.) 3/2:
In consequence of the snow and hard frosts, our brae-set streets have become very dangerous.

[O.Sc. bra, bray, brae, later variant brea (D.O.S.T.), n.Mid.Eng. brā (rare), Midland bro (1330), appar. ad. O.N. brá, eyelash = O.E. brw, bréaw, eyelid, O.H.Ger. brâwa, Ger. braue, with development of meaning from eyelash, eyelid, eyebrow, brow, to brow of a hill. Cf. Gael. bràighe, the upper part (of places), and bruach, a bank or brink (MacBain), both of which are represented by brae in Sc.]

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"Brae n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 May 2021 <>



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