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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FIERY, adj. Also fir(e)y. Sc. usages:

1. Of weather: close, sultry, thundery (Dmf. 1925–6 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 25; Gall. 1951). Sc. 1807 J. Carr Caled. Sketches (1809) 212:
A servant at an inn said, "Oh! Sir, it has been a terrible wet and fiery night;" meaning that there had been much rain, accompanied with thunder and lightening.

2. In combs.: †(1) fiery bron, a blazing peat used for signalling, instead of a torch or lantern (Cai. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.). See Brand; †(2) fiery cock, St Elmo's fire; (3) fiery cross, a wooden cross, charred at one end and, acc. to Scott, dipped in blood at the other, carried from place to place by a succession of runners to summon the fighting men of the district to arms. Hist. Now only in symbolical use. See Croishtarich; (4) fiery-tail, the redstart, Phoenicurus phoenicurus (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); †(5) fiery tangs, the crab, the lobster, in reference to the fierceness of the grip or colour of their claws after boiling (Ags. 1813 J. Headrick Agric. Ags. App. B 55, firy — ); †(6) fiery watter, sea-phosphorescence (Nai. 1886 Folk-Lore Jnl. IV. 7).(2) Bnff. 1886 Folk-Lore Jnl. IV. 7:
Saint Elmo's Light is called Fiery Cock, in Crovie.
(3) Sc. 1724 Gen. Wade in Hist. Papers Jacobite Period (S.C.) I. 133:
On sudden Alarms, or when any Chieftan is in Distress, they give Notice to their Clans or those in Alliance with them, by sending a Man with what they call the Fiery Cross, which is a Stick in the form of a Cross, burnt at the End, who send it forward to the next Tribe or Clan. They carry with it a written Paper directing them where to Assemble.
Sc. 1746 Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine Families III. 243:
They had dispered many of their officers with parties through the different parts of the country with what they call the firey crosses.
Sc. 1830 Scott Tales of a Grandfather (3rd Ser.) I. vii. 223:
In the year 1715, the fiery cross was sent through the districts or countries . . . this emblem consisted of two branches of wood, in the form of a cross, one end singed with fire, and the other stained with blood. The inhabitants transmitted the signal from house to house wth all possible speed, and the symbol implied, that those who should not appear at a rendezvous which was named, when the cross was presented, should suffer the extremities of fire and sword.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days xxviii.:
Her great-great-grandfather, Big John of the Axe, could colleet five hundred fighting-men if he wagged a fiery cross at them.
Sc. 1951 Bulletin (21 May):
A fiery cross made of rough tree branches was set alight at the Mound, Edinburgh, on Saturday at a rally of the Young Scots National League.

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"Fiery adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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