Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BREIST, BREEST, n. and v. Sc. forms of Eng. breast. Where the form breast is illustrated the meaning is peculiar to Sc. In Sc. the word has most of the meanings of Mod.Eng. See N.E.D. s.v. breast, n., 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8; v., 1, 2, 3, 6. The following are either more common in Sc. than in Eng. or are altogether peculiar to the former. [brist Sc., but ne. + briʃt]

1. n.

(1) A perpendicular face cut in a moss. Gen.Sc. Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 454, s.v. underthoum:
Underfit peats, peat turf, digged beneath the foot, not in the common way of cutting them of [sic] a breest.
Gall. 1898 E.D.D.:
The “breast” is cut into gen. to a depth of from 3 to 5 feet.

(2) “A step or layer in a manure heap” (Bnff.2 1935). Ags. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 640:
The breast of the turned dung.

(3) “The desk board of a pew” (Abd.22, Ags.2 1935). Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 98:
An' some their heads laid on their looff, On their seat breast, an' sleepit.

(4) the front or projecting part of anything.

(a) The cobbled slipway forming the front of a harbour. Cai.7 1935:
E boatie's lyan at e breest o' e harbour.

(b) The gable of a house. Ork. 1929 Marw.:
I was standan under the b[reest] o' the hoose.

(c) The front board of a cart. Bnff.2 1935:
Jeck cam' fusslin' hame sittin' on the breest o' his cairt.

2. v.

(1) To spring up or forward; in the case of a horse, bringing the strain of the harness on the breast of the horse; to press forward, climb. Known to Abd.9, Ags.1, Slg.3 1935. Edb. 1929 (per Edb.1):
The bairn breistit up oot o' my airms and was nearly in the fire.
wm.Sc. 1927 J. Corrie in Scots Mag. (Dec.) 217:
An' yestreen when I breisted ower the hill Tae meet my Love, the Spring was in her prime.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Auld Farmer's Salutation xiv.:
In cart or car thou never reestet; The steyest brae thou wad hae fac't it; Thou never lap, an' sten't, and breastet, Then stood to blaw.

(2) “To mount a horse by gripping the mane and wriggling over” (Kcb.9 1935).

Hence breestan-stane, “a mounting block” (Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2 1935).

(3) “To cut peats horizontally” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 218; Bnff.2 1935).

3. Phrases and combs.: †(1) breast-bore, “an instrument for boring” (Clydesd. 1825 Jam.2); †(2) breast-lace, corsage lacing to which ladies used to attach a small silk bag for money, notes, etc.; (3) breist o' the laft, front of the gallery in a church. Gen.Sc.; (4) breast-peat, a peat formed by the spade's being pushed into the earth horizontally. See 1 (1). Known to Bnff.2 1935; (5) breest-powl, “cross bar of pole secured to collars of horses” (Arg.1 1933; Kcb.9 1935); (6) breast-seat, front seat in the gallery of a church (Bnff.2, Abd.22 1935); (7) breist to breist, face to face (Abd.9, Ags.1 1935); †(8) breast-woddies, the harness round the breast of a horse [see Woddie]; (9) in a breist, — breast, abreast (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Ags.1, Lnk.3 1935). (2) Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery iv.:
I wasna sae tocherless but what I had a bit land at my breast-lace.
(3) Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann, etc. 10:
At rowp or preachin' the best ye'll hae, This warld or the neist ane's gear, The breist o' the laft on a Sawbath day.
sm.Sc. 1923 R. W. Mackenna Bracken and Thistledown iii.:
Aggie had not waited for him at the kirk door — she was already in her pew in the “breist o' the laft.”
(4) Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Gen. View Agric. Peb. 208:
A perpendicular face of the moss [is] laid bare, from which the digger, standing on the level of the bottom digs the . . . breast-peat.
(6) Abd. 1797–1881 Mem. of J. Geddes (1899) 29–30:
Possessed of a “breast-seat” in the loft of the church, “Hillocks” was also notable as a patriarch in his way.
(7) Sc. 1928 L. Spence in Scots Mag. (July) 273:
And as he turnit to flee, he cam' breist to breist wi' Rab Greig, the laird's servant.
(8) Abd.(D) 1767 R. Forbes Jnl. from London, etc. (1869) 15:
Sometimes the breast-woddies, an' sometimes the theets brak.
(9) Abd.(D) 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War (1918) 30:
We fixed oor baignets, speel't the trench, and chairged them in a breist.
Hdg. 1801 R. Gall Poems, etc. (1819) 38:
They held by ane anither's neive: Then a' at ance (it is nae jest) Moved slawly forat in a breast.

[O.Sc. brest(e), breist, breest, n., the breast, the front or advanced part; v., to press forward (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Breist n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 May 2021 <>



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