Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BREERS, Briers, Breeirs, [′briərz, bri:rz Sc.; ′briɪrz Bnff.]

1. “The eye-lashes” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 16, s.v. breeirs). Bnff.13 1914; Abd.2 1935:
He has sung (singed) the breers o' his een.

Hence breery, adj., “applied to the crust that sometimes collects on the eyelashes, as when there is inflammation of the eyelids. Thus a person, on whose lashes a crust has formed, is said to have ‘breery een.' Known in Buckie and Dundee” (Ayr.9 1935). Known also to Bnff.2 1935.

2. “The eyebrows” (Bnff.8 c.1920). Sh.(D) 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 160:
Loard save dee an spaekna dirt. Yallow hair! Ha, ha, ha! Man her hair is blüid rid, an' her e'e briers is near white.

3. Phrases: (1) to draw the breers owre ane's een, “to hoodwink one” (Bnff.7 1912; Abd.19 1935); (2) to get oot by the briers o' the een, “to have a hair-breadth escape” (Bnff.6 1914; Abd.9 1935); (3) to hing b(y) the breers o' the ee(n), to be in a highly precarious position, esp. applied to one “on the eve of bankruptcy” (Abd.4 1929; Ags.1 1935, rare). (3) Bnff. 1923 Bnffsh. Jnl. (29 May) 5:
Here's Jimmie, badder 'im. He's a rale fine chiel, but he's hingin' b' the breers o' the een.
Ags. 1853 A. Jervise Land of the Lindsays 147:
[He] gave utterance to the extraordinary exclamation, that rather than have lost the day, “he wud be content to hang seven years in hell by the breers (eyelashes) o' the e'e!”

[Breers is prob. a double pl., -r as in Childer (O.E. cildru), Caur (O.E. calfur) + the usual s of the pl.; O.E. (Anglian) brēg, (W.S.) brw, eyelid (Sweet). Cf. O.N. brá, eyelash, pl. brár.]

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



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