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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BRAVE, adj. Once common in St.Eng. as a gen. epithet of admiration or praise, now arch.; last quot. in N.E.D. 1850. Cf. Braw. [bre:v]

1. “Fine, well-grown” (Bnff.2, Fif.1 1935); “gen. used ironically” (Abd.19, Abd.22 1935).Cai.(D) 1930 J. Mowat in John o' Groat Jnl. (3 Jan.); Cai.7 1936:
Yir a brave fat tursh an' if Sandy wanted ye an' his meyt he wid been by wi' hid lang ago.
Abd.9 1935:
A friend meeting a doctor on the road one day during a downpour of rain hailed him thus: “Ay, doctor, that's a brave rain.”
Tyr. 1929 “Mat Mulcaghey” Rhymes of a Besom Man 47:
I have a sow with a litter av ten That's gettin' a brave little size.

2. Phr.: brave an(d) —, used in conjunction with an adj. or adv., and meaning very. In Ork. it means fairly.Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 28:
Bees-will, Brockie t'ought the irons brave an' loos'.
Kcb. 1895 S. R. Crockett Men of the Moss-Hags xlvi.:
“Hae you a Bible?” asked the Colonel. “Aye,” said Sandy, “but it's gye and stoury . . . .” “It is indeed brave and dusty.”
Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell People and Lang. of Uls. 29:
Pigs may be “brave an' cheap.” A horse is “brave an' quate,” or the minister may “let us oot brave an' early.” This word, as in common use in Ulster's fields and glens, has never any trace of either boldness or courage.

Hence bravely, adv., very well; sometimes merely intensive = very (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Ags.1, Lnk.3 1935).Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. Ork. Par. (1922) 68:
One of the carvers . . . pronounced the fowls to be “Bravely auld, for I had tae rive the croopan sindry wi' me fingers.”
Per. 1898 E.D.D.:
“He's doin' bravely” is higher praise than “brawly.”
Uls.(D) 1879 W. G. Lyttle Readings by Robin 75:
“Weel, Rabin, hoo did ye like my sermin?” sez he. “I likit it bravely,” sez I.

[O.Sc. brave, fine, splendid, early Mid.Eng. brave (D.O.S.T.), Fr. brave, It. bravo. Poss. from pop. Lat. *brabum, a corruption of barbarum, wild (Hatz. and Darm.).]

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"Brave adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 May 2024 <>



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