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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BREE, Brie, n.1 and v.1. See also Broo, n.1 [bri:]

1. n.

(1) Liquid in which anything has been steeped or boiled so as to extract the essence; broth, soup, gravy. Also used fig. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1769 D. Herd Sc. Songs (1776) II. 28:
A nivefow of meal, and handfow of groats, A daad of a bannock or herring-brie.
Sc. 1858 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. (1862) II. v.:
“Ye use the Lord's Prayer sae aften — ye juist mak a dish clout o't.” Skinner's rejoinder was, “Verra true! Aye, man, we mak a dish clout o't, an' we wring't, an' we wring't, an' the bree o't washes a' the lave o' our prayers.”
Sc. 1995 David Purves Hert's Bluid 23:
... the fell progress that buids ti mell the human race
intil a waesum brie o sachlessness foraye.
Fif. 1986 Harry D. Watson in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 164:
They boiled skate, and gave the 'bree' to barren women.
Arg.1 1929:
Away and poor the bree aff the wulks.

(2) “Whisky” (Bnff.2, Abd.19, Fif.10, Link.3 1935). Cf. Barley-Bree.Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (ed. Rogers 1905) 253:
What in the morn wad been my scorn, Wi' the bree o'ercome, I did at late.
wm.Sc. 1987 Anna Blair Scottish Tales (1990) 147:
It was rough bree and the likes of Rory MacKenzie, of one of the glens that open on Beauly, did not feel they had done a good job unless it caught the throat and slackened the limbs at first sip.

(3) Juice (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10, Lnk.3 1935).Edb. 1917 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's o' Solomon iii. 10:
They'll be reamin fu' an' skailin, Wi' the red bree o' the grapes.

(4) Liquid or moisture of any kind (Bnff.2, Fif.10, Lnk.3 1935). Cai.7 1935, snaw-bree.n.Sc. 1865 Fishing in n. Scot. in Times (22 April):
Though “snow-bree” is unfavourable to angling, still it brings water to the river and with it fish.
Abd.(D) 1921 R. L. Cassie Doric Ditties 15:
Across the close, in wechty beets, they pleyter't throu' the bree.
Abd.2 1935:
Sharn bree fae the midden gars the ingans grow better than onything ye can gie them.

Phrases: (1) aboon the bree, above water, said of a person who is holding his own against difficulties, e.g. money troubles; (2) to come through the bree, of liquid in cooking, to bubble to the surface just before boiling (Ags., Edb., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s); (3) to spoil the brie, to upset the apple-cart; (4) tae tak' the bree wi' the barm, to take the rough with the smooth (Mry.(D) 1898 J. Slater Seaside Idylls 30).(1) Kcb. 1890 A. J. Armstrong Ingleside Musings, etc. 42:
To keep the kettle boilin', lass, An' heads aboon the bree.
(2) Sc. 1993 Herald 23 Nov :
What fine wood! Having soaked most of the salt from the fish overnight we slow-boiled some tatties today and just as they were coming through the bree added the salt herring split and splayed so that the fish gave the loosening tatties their salt...
(3) Ayr. 1894 A. Laing Poems 101 (E.D.D. Suppl.):
I trust we hae'na spoiled the brie Wi oor applause.

2. v.

(1) To pour water on vegetables, etc., to be boiled. Rare.Bnff.2 1935:
Mercy on's! I've forgotten t' bree the kail, an' they're brunt black.

(2) To drain the water from solids that have been boiled.n.Sc. 1898 E.D.D.; Bnff.2 1935:
Lassie, gyang an bree the taties or they'll be a throuw the bree.
Abd.2 1935:
If ye've bree'd the kail, ye'll fin they're stickin tae the pot.
Abd. 1993:
It's time tae bree e tatties.
Abd. 1996 Norman Harper and Robbie Shepherd Anither Dash O' Doric 24:
'Oh I ken fit at's for, Grunny,' said Tracy.[meshed rosebowl]
'Fit?' said Granny, wondering what was coming.
'Breein cubbidge.'

(3) Phr.: to bree yir taties, “to micturate” (Abd.22 1935).

[Mid.Eng. brē, brēie, broth, gravy (Stratmann); used in Destruction of Troy (c.1400) for “water, the sea”; apparently the same as O.E. brīw, pottage, porridge, and brēowan, to brew.]

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"Bree n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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