Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BRITHER, Breethir, Bridder, Breeder, Bruther, n. and v. Gen.Sc. forms of St.Eng. brother, which form is illustrated here only in senses peculiar to Sc. [′brɪðər Sc.; ′bridər, ′brɪdər, ′briðər ne.Sc.; ′brɪdər Sh.]

I. n.

1. Brother, as in St.Eng. Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
Yea, my bridder, dat it truly is.
Bch. 1932 P. Giles in Abd. Univ. Review (March) 106:
She wiz Hielan' an' cam' doon ta this quintry first ta keep house tull 'er breeder.

†Phr.: to be an auldest brother, to scold, lecture. Mry.(D) 1810 J. Cock Simple Strains 133:
I see a storm in Watty's brow Will light on him ere lang: I trow he'll be his auldest brother.

2. An equal; one of a pair. Mry. 1865 W. H. L. Tester Poems 79:
Ae sleeve hangs til't — I've tint its brither.
Hdg. 1885 “S. Mucklebackit” Rural Rhymes, etc. 39:
Owre the wide yearth there's no his brither!

3. Pl. forms: brether, breder, breether, breither. [′bre:ðər, ′bredər, ′bri:ðər] Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.:
Twa breder, two brothers.
Ags. 1823 A. Balfour Foundling of Glenthorn II. iii.:
I've now some moyen amo, my breether, the freeholders in the county.
Fif. 1873 in J. A. H. Murray D.S.C.S. 160; Fif.10 1936:
Brether . . . is in every-day use . . . as the plural of brother. In the town it has in some degree given place to brithers; but in the country it still holds its own.
Edb. 1736 Edb. Council Reg. in Burgh Records (1909) 204:
That the widows and daughters of burgesses and burges and gild brether be admitted to trade without paying any entry money, untill they are married.
wm.Sc. [1835–1837] Laird of Logan (1868) App. 488:
Or hae ye heard o' her breither twa, Wha facht at the warlock tree?

4. Combs.: (1) brither-bairn, cousin; (2) brither-dochter, “a niece” (Cai. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.); (3) brither-sin, nephew. (1) Cai.7 1936:
He's ma brither-bairn [i.e. uncle's son], bit a'll no heyl [spare] 'im.
(3) Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 66:
A Stroma man, a witness in a trial for breach of the peace, gave the following classical evidence: . . . “'ey wir a' in ae carrywattle on my brither-sin's shillin' hillag.”

II. v.

1. “To match, to find an equal to” (Lnk. 1825 Jam.2). Bnff.2 1936:
The grieve biggit a dandy ruck in the mornin', an' the foreman breethir't it in the efterneen.

2. “To initiate one into a society or corporation, sometimes by a very ludicrous or filthy process” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2, brither). The form brother is gen. used here, as more befitting the ceremonious nature of the practice. Vbl.n. brothering; also used attrib. Sth. c.1850 C. D. Bentinck Dornoch Cath. and Par. (1926) 277:
When an apprentice was admitted a full member [of a Guild], he was said to be “brothered.”
Ags. 1739 in A. J. Warden Burgh Laws of Dundee (1872) 609:
Considering that the practice of brothering or head washing is contrary to the Municipal Laws of the burgh.
Bwk. (Eyemouth) 1860 in P. F. Anson Fishing Boats, etc. (1930) 55:
The boys often had to be caught by force before they would submit to their initiation, or “brothering.” But once it was done, they were looked upon as grown men and treated as such by their shipmates.
Clydeside 1936 (per Arg.1):
Shipwrights in Clyde shipyards had a brothering ceremony for apprentices, who had to pay an initiation fee, sometimes as much as ¥2. A Bible was used at the ceremony, probably to administer an oath, and the meaning of certain cryptic trade markings was explained. The ceremony, which was of a secret nature, is no longer practised.
Ayr. 1912 G. Cunningham Verse, Maistly in the Doric 139:
We met yestreen wi' Mattha Gray In “Morton's o' the Bull,” To brither him and twa-three mae, And hae a drink o' yill.

3. To accustom; to inure. Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 17; Bnff.2 1936:
“Ye've been a gueede file at the sea; ye'll be weel brothert wee't by this time.” The idea of rough usage is at times implied in the word.
Bch. 1929 (per Abd.1):
I'm weel bruther't wi the caul' cwintra, niver coddle't masel'.

[O.Sc. brother, bruther, broder, bruyther, pl. brether, breither, breether. The combs. brether barn, cousin, brother dochter, niece, brether sone, brother —, nephew, and the verb brother, to admit formally to a trade, etc. (earliest quot. 1682), are also found in O.Sc. (D.O.S.T.). The forms with medial [i] go back to O.E. dat. brēðer, earlier brðer. In the modern combs., brither is a remnant of the O.E. gen., which had the same form as the nom.]

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"Brither n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2021 <>



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