Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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DRESS, v., n. Sc. usages.

I. v.

1. (1) To address. Obs. in Eng. since 17th cent. Sc. 1746 Culloden Papers (ed. Warrand 1930) V. 83:
I begg if your Lordship has any spare time, you may dress me two or three lines of advice.

¶(2) With at: to aim at, “set one's cap at.” Sc. 1797 Aberdeen Mag. 435:
Many a maid has been turned away, upon her account, for dressing at the men, as she calls it, looking out at the window, or standing at the street-door, in a summer's evening.

2. Specif. uses of Eng. meaning of “to prepare, make ready”: (1) of linens: to iron (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.2, Ags.17, Fif.13 1940); hence dressing-iron, a smoothing iron (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.); (2) to prepare a web for the loom by treating the yarn with a starch made from flour, etc. (Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. III. 317; Fif.3 1930); hence dresser, one who operates a dressing machine (Id.; vbl.n. dressin(g), (a) the flourpaste or size used by weavers (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 244); (b) (see second quot.); (c) in comb. dressing-box, the box used for holding the paste; (3) to prepare sheep for a show (Arg. 1948). (2) Sc. 1724 Treatise on Fallowing 99:
That Stuff wherewith they dress their Warp . . . the older and staler your dressing Stuff is, it is somuch the better.
(a) Fif. 1894 A. S. Robertson Provost 20:
The feck o' them hae the smell o' dressin' i' their noses a' the week.
Lnk. 1880 P. M'Arthur Amusements 75:
How could the water of Cologne mix wi' soor weaver's dressin'?
Ayr. 1836 Galt in Tait's Mag. (Aug.) 516:
Your grandmother heard the Paisley bodies were famous for making dressing.
(b) Gsw. 1860 J. Young Lays from Poorhouse 83:
But whiles, as he'd wrocht aff a “dressin'” or twa, Wi' his beam for a beuk-board, a blinkie he'd staw.
Ant. 1892 Ballymena Obs.:
A dressin' is the length of the loom, which is all that can be dressed at a time, and a weaver calculates his work by the dressin'. He can weave so many dressin's in the day.
(c) Lnk. 1805 G. M'Indoe Poems 10:
The yarn misbet, the comb, a card, The dressing-box a broken shard.

3. To geld, esp. of cats. Gen.Sc. Arg.1 1940:
Dae ye ken o' onybody that wad dress a cat for me?

II. n. Used with def. art. to denote the Highland dress. Sc. 1819 R. Southey Tour (1929) 194:
All natives [of Glengarry] were expected to appear in the dress (the dress is the phrase, ut lucus a non lucendo).

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"Dress v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2021 <>



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