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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FORBY, prep., adv., adj., n. Also for(e)bye, ferby, fer-bye, firby, furby(e); forbyes, -byse (ne.Sc.). [fɔr′bɑe, -′bai, fər-]

I. prep. 1. Besides, in addition to, as well as. Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. Hence in phr. forby that, elliptically for “besides the fact that” (Abd. 1930 N. Shepherd Weatherhouse 11; Abd.27 1953).Ork. 1720 in P. Ork. A.S. XI. 40:
Aug. 16th. To Incident in Kirk[wa]ll att my Departure ferby ane Hogshead wine.
Abd. 1755 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 27:
There was three i' the coach forby me.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 35:
Did I not send you my guid sprittled hen . . . forby a libby o' groats an' a furlat o' meal.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To his Auld Mare xv.:
Four gallant brutes, as e'er did draw; Forby sax mae, I've sell't awa.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xiii.:
I believe Highlands and Lowlands ken that, sir, forby England and Holland.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 215:
There was maybe ane forbye myself in the wood, and maybe twa.
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 591:
Wee hed annidder een furbye dat.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister x.:
There's queer things in the world forby Ezra.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders x.:
No doubt he had many a sin on his soul, forbye murder.
Dwn. 1911 F. E. Crichton Soundless Tide 10:
There's a change over him, Miss Patty! Others has seen it forbye me.
ne.Sc. 1931 I. Macpherson Shepherd's Cal. 84:
He's an old man, Jock, an' it's no use that way. Forbyes that ye were in the wrong.
m.Sc. 1986 Mary Brennan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 12:
Forbye Billy Kay's anxieties that we as Scots may be losing sight and sound of the felicities of the mither tongue, there is among a body of young writers, a feeling that we have lost contact altogether with the poetic resonances of language.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 13:
Ae nicht I sat by mysel at the fire
and thocht. Nae soond in the street forbyes
the wun blawin thro the telephone wire.
Dundee 1988 Ellie McDonald in Joy Hendry Chapman 54 29:
I went tae watch a marathon last week.
Near two thousand puir dementit craiturs,
like ain hauf nakit, forbye thrie waiters,
Santy Claas, seiven fairies an a freak.
Slk. 1991 Harvey Holton in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 133:
Aiblins abune still; fer-bye fechtan,
fer-bye fleean, he gaes gaitward
fuitless fuitsteids giean girth
tae Bran's back.
m.Sc. 1997 Tom Watson Dark Whistle 67:
an' forbye
That, they're movin' Philistines intae the
Schemes ...

2. Except (I. and ne.Sc., Fif., m.Lth., Ayr., Uls. 1953).Sc. 1819 Scott L. Montrose iv.:
Deil an unce of siller plate is about the house at a', forby the lady's auld posset dish.
em.Sc. (a) 1894 “I. Maclaren” Bonnie Brier Bush 216:
There's naebody wears a kilt forbye gemkeepers and tourist bodies.
Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 26:
The lass [is] left withoot a copper forby some insurance.
Fif. 1951:
Ye can get naething oot o Fife forby coal.

3. Followed by a noun clause, or gerund or inf.: let alone, not to mention, far from, much less.Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb vi.:
She said she expeckit there wud be some ootgang o' the butter forbye't ye sud say't it's scrimpt wecht.
Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 16:
“Geordie Paip, they say, never did nae gweed upon't.” “Haud yer tongue! Forbyse to dee gweed, he cudna deen muckle waur.”
Abd. 27 1953:
He wadna even look the wey o ye, forby speak til ye.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 182:
Forby he owed him money - a debt he had not repayed when he was there in '68, what with all his jouking and hiding from the authorities.

4. Beside; beyond, past, more than. Phr. to be forby anesel, to be beside oneself, out of one's wits (Sh.10, Ags.19, m.Lth.1 1953).Sc. 1836 Wilson's Tales of the Borders II. 378:
I didna dread there was onything forbye common aboot her.
Ayr. 1858 M. Porteous Souter Johnny 11:
[The smith had] . . . his snug abode Forbye his smiddy.
Wgt.3 1930:
When he saw Sandy “chunnerin' an' chitterin'” in the corner, Caldons thought he was “clean forbye himsel.”

5. Compared with, relative to (Sh., Abd. 1975). Obs. in Eng. in 15th c. Edb. 1884 R. F. Hardy J. Halliday ix.:
Lunnon's siccan a gran' place forbye this!

6. Nonce or erron. usage, = after. Slk. 1907 H. Murray Shepherd's Secret 52:
In ither sax months we'll be awa', and forbye then, I'll do a' yer biddin'.

II. adv. 1. Besides, in addition, as well, what is more. Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial.Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.T. Misc. I. 25:
Forby, how sweet my Numbers chime.
Abd. c.1776 Herd's MSS. (ed. Hecht 1904) 121:
Sandy has ousen, has gear and has kye, A house and a hadden and siller forby.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Capt. Grose's Peregrinations viii.:
Forbye, he'll shape you aff fu' gleg The cut of Adam's philibeg.
Sc. 1818 Scott O. Mortality xxxviii.:
“Na, but,” said Cuddie. “there was another reason forby.”
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums xiv.:
Ay, an' forby, it was rale threadbare aneath the table.
Sc. 1892 Stevenson and Henley Deacon Brodie Act i. Tab. i. Sc. ii.:
I'se gie ye my free permission, and lend ye a hand in at the window forbye!
Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 108:
An' mair an' forby, it's no' as if ye'll aye be lyin' here.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 109:
I sall lay me haands apon da moarn, I hae plenty ta dü firby.
Abd. 1930 D. Campbell Kirsty's Surprise 10:
The Milton fa wrote “Paradise Lost” never drove onything mair than a pen; forbyes, he's deid an' beeried mair than twa hunner year syne.
wm.Sc. 1954 Robin Jenkins The Thistle and the Grail (1994) 52:
"... Forby, you ken smoking's bad for you. It causes cancer of the lungs."
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 20:
"Will's jist ten and Maggie's lookin' for a place and she's jist a lassie forby. ... "
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 16:
He'd hae a last bit glower at the lift
Speirin for the morn's morn -
A couthie man forbye.

2. Near, beside, hard by; to one side (Uls.4 1953).Sc. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 40:
A bit forby, he did espy, A Swain fu' blythly plowin.
Sc. 1802 Scott Minstrelsy II. 18:
When he cam to his ladye's bour door He stude a little forebye.
Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads I. 24:
The blacksmith stood a little forebye, Wi' hammer in his hand.

3. Unusually, extraordinarily, exceptionally (Uls.4 1953).Clc., wm.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
He was forby kind, he was unusually so.
Gall. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 25:
Cuthbert, as a forbye righteous man.
Uls. 1908 A. McIlroy Burnside iii.:
Moreover, from a' I can hear she's a forby thrifty, sensible wench.

III. adj. Uncommon, extraordinary, strange; unusually good, better than most. In ne.Sc. only in phr. something (-body), naething (-body) forby.wm.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
A forby man, one who is singular, or of a peculiar cast.
Ayr. 1838 J. Morrison M'Ilwham Papers 10:
Ye hae gien a kin o' praise to the Humbug in yer ain paper, — a forbye thing, says he, when he has nae parti'cler interest.
Uls. 1879 W. G. Lyttle Readings 74:
“I tell ye that,” sez Sally, “the man has a forbye luk.”
Uls. 1910 C. C. Russell People & Lang. 42:
“A forbye horse,” “a forbye man.” “a forbye wife,” or “a forbye season,” means a horse, a man, a wife, or a season much beyond the common.
Dmf. 1921 J. L. Waugh Heroes 60:
Ye'll be thinkin' ye've landed among a forby unchancy fouk.

IV. n. An addition, appendix. Rare.Ayr. 1824 Galt Rothelan II. iii.:
Nae less than my own ransom, and a forbye to tak me hame.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 103:
They would come better in as a kind of addendum or forbye at the hinder end of my book.

[A comb. of for, prep., and by. For the form forbyes, cf. Bye's. O.Sc. forby, beyond, 1375, in addition, c.1575, as well as, 1530.]

Forby prep., adv., adj., n.

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"Forby prep., adv., adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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