Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BYRE, n. and v. Also byar (Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. i.; Lnk. 1806 J. Black Falls of Clyde 120). [′bɑɪər, ′bəiər]

1. n. Sc. usages in combs. and phrase: (1) byre-claut, a handled scraper for cleaning out a byre (Ags.1, Kcb.1, Kcb.9 1938); (2) byre-gang, the passage-way in a byre; (3) byre-knot, a way of trussing up the skirt behind, adopted by a milk-maid in a byre; (4) byreman, a cattleman (Bnff.2, Kcb.1 1938); (5) byre-mucker, one who cleans out a byre (Cai.7, Ags.1 1938); see Muck, v.; (6) byre-woman, a woman who looks after the cows (Bnff.2, Kcb.9 1938); (7) to mak' a byre o' yer belly, “to overeat” (Abd.4 1929). (1)Gall.1877 "Saxon" (ed.) Gall. Gossip 57-58: 
I hae . . . the very best muck-graips and byre-clauts made.
(2)Slg. 1912 J. Bryce Story of a Ploughboy 152: 
In the byre-gang I encountered my old tyrant.
(3) Per. 1938 J. Macdonald Old Callander 156: 
Their skirts conveniently gathered behind in the "byre knot".
(4)Rxb. 1915 Kelso Chron. (1 Jan.) 3:
The woman steward, the shepherd and the byreman were generally fixtures.
(5) Ayr. 1790 Burns Works (ed. Currie 1800) II. 310:
As ill spelt as country John's billet-doux, or as unsightly a scrawl as Betty Byremucker's answer to it.
(6) Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 48:
She wus byre-woman at Barlocco. A suppose A should 'a' ca't her the Dairymaid.

2. v. To put cows in the “byre” or cow-house (Abd.19 1938).Abd.(D) 1924 “Knoweheid” in Swatches o' Hamespun 12:
I'se awa oot te look at a beast we've byre't. He's a bittie aff's feed.

[E.D.D. gives byre for Sc., n.Eng. and Irish dials. Its appearance in Mod.St.Eng. is rare, but it is found earlier (mostly in vocabularies) from c.800–c.1050. The quots. in N.E.D. from c.1440 are mostly Sc. and n.Eng. O.Sc. has byre, byer, etc., 1437, a cow-house (D.O.S.T.); prob. cogn. with O.E. būr, Eng. bower, but not derived from O.N. bȳ-r, though both derive from Gmc. root *bū-, to dwell.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Byre n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: