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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.

FOREHAND, adj., adv., n. Also -ha(u)n, †foirhand.

I. adj. 1. First, foremost, leading (Sh., Rs., ne.Sc., Ayr., Slk., Rxb. 1953). For quot., however, see note to Fore-a-hand.Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality vii.:
I'm as honest as our auld fore-hand ox, puir fallow, that I'll ne'er work ony mair.

2. In curling and bowling, of the stones or bowls: †(1) first to be played (Cld. 1825 Jam.); (2) approaching the jack or tee from the right and therefore given a leftward bias (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 247; ne.Sc., e. and wm.Sc. 1953). Cf. Faran.(1) Ayr. 1843 J. Dunlop Curling 41:
Then fore-han stanes, on mirrors clean.

3. Of payments, etc.: made in advance, paid before the charge becomes legally due (Sh., n.Sc., m.Lth., Ags., Arg., Ayr., Gall., Slk. 1953). Also used adv. Specif. of rent, payable by agreement in advance of the customary terms, which in farms are Whitsunday after sowing and Martinmas after reaping. Sometimes called †fore-rent. See quots.Hdg. 1703 Records Sc. Cloth Manuf. (S.H.S.) 347:
Ane bargaine of oakin timber that David Vertie made a foirhand bargaine with him for.
Abd. 1712 S.C. Misc. (1935) I. 23:
John Copland hath paid his duty for that year forehand.
Sc. 1731 Rec. Conv. Burghs (1885) 526:
All sales and forehand bargains of slaughtered ruch hides are a species of regrateing.
Ags. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 V. 367:
The rents are paid forehand, that is to say the rent for crop 1793, is paid, the first half, at Whitsunday 1792, and the last half at Martinmas 1792.
Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 85–6:
The entrance to farms in the Highlands is universally at the term of Whitsunday with respect to every thing, except the land under crop. The rent is payable per advance at the ensuing Martinmas. . . . Payment in this manner is called fore-hand rent, because it is made before the crop is either reaped or sown, to which it refers.
Sc. 1829 Quarterly Jnl. Agric. II. 133:
Rents, in Scotland, are paid either previous to the first crop being reaped, when they are called fore-rents, or they are paid subsequent to the reaping of the first crop, when they are termed back-rents.
Ags. 1859 C. S. Graham Mystifications 10:
This comes of fore-hand payments — they make hint-hand wark.
Lnk. 1862 G. Roy Generalship 99:
The callant now got his stipends forehand.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 52:
Fore-han'-paymin'. Payment in advance; commonly used when speaking of school fees.
Abd. 1888 Bon-Accord (11 Feb.) 17:
They wid hae gotten mair o' the seats let if they hadna been wantin' forehand payment.

4. In reserve, in hand. Cf. forrowhand, s.v. Forrow, adv.Abd. 1773 Sc. Farmer I. 405:
If you have any forehand dung, as every good tenant ought to have.

II. adv. Beforehand, already (Abd.27 1953).Cai. 1869 M. McLennan Peasant Life 158:
I kent it forehand, Jo.

III. n. 1. A position in front or in advance of, in phrs. to be to the forehand wi', to have the start or advantage of (Sc. 1825 Jam.; m.Lth.1 1953), to get the forehand o', id. (Uls.4 1953); to the forehand of, in front of, before, facing (Sh. 1975).Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xvii.:
Right to the fore-hand of us was a large green curtain.

2. In curling: †(1) the first stone to be played; the player to play the first shot on either side (Sc. 1892 Skating, etc. (Badminton Libr.) 380); (2) a shot coming in from the right-band of the tee, or the jack in bowls (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 176; ne.Sc., e. and wm.Sc. 1953). Cf. I. 2.(1) Rnf. 1805 G. McIndoe Poems 55:
Ye're well set on man, but ye're roaran, Whatna way's that to play a forehan'?
Dmf. 1830 R. Broun Mem. Curl. Mab. 107:
Fore-han', the person who plays first in order in his party.
Ayr. 1833 in J. Cairnie Curling 118:
Now, forehan', draw a canny shot; Weel iced, sir; just the thing.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 63:
Our forehaun, now ready for action, Is metin' the lead wi' his ee.

3. A leading horse in a team.Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxxvi.:
Four handsomer or better-matched bays never were put in harness — What fine forehands! — what capital chargers they would make.

4. In an iron-works: a foreman (see quot.). Also attrib.Sc. 1869 D. Bremner Industries 56–7:
The “forehands” employed in the operations described above earn much higher wages than any other class engaged in the manufacture of iron . . . The “forehand” shinglers, rollers, and heaters engage their own assistants, and pay them out of their joint earnings.

[Fore-, 1. + Hand. O.Sc. forehand, paid in advance, 1667. For III., 2. (2) cf. notes to Efterhin and Faran.]

Forehand adj., adv., n.

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"Forehand adj., adv., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 May 2024 <>



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