Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GAIR, n.1, v. Also gare, gear, ¶gehr; gayro, geyr(o) (Ork.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. gore. [Sc. ge:r; Ork. ′gair(o)]

I. n. 1. A strip or patch of green grass, gen. on a hill-side (Rxb. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry, Gl., 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Lth., Peb. 1953); “sward on a hillside where heather has been exterminated by water” (Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 151, gayro, 1929 Marw., geyr(o); Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 26). Often green gair. Also in Nhb. dial. Ayr. 1790  A. Tait Poems 135:
Thro' ev'ry bank and little how, Or grass-green gare.
Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 183:
A wee bit yardy mete out square, Wi' a wheen pat-stuffs plantit there, An' daffodillies round its gair.
Sc. 1799  Trans. Highl. Soc. (1807) III. 524:
The general production of this soil, is heath intermixed with gairs, that is, stripes of very fine grass.
Slk. 1818  Hogg B. of Bodsbeck I. 286:
Some puir dumfoundered soul . . . comes bleating back a' the gate to its cauld native hills, to the very gair where it was lambed and first followed its minny.
Dmf. 1832  Carlyle in
Froude Early Life (1882) II. 269:
By degrees I got hefted again, and took obediently to the gang and the gear.
Sc. 1880  Mod. Sc. Poets (ed. Edwards) I. 36:
The martyrs sae buirdly and bauld . . . Forgathered on some green gair.
Bwk. 1881  Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club IX. 452:
These “green gairs,” and the patches of marshy ground broke up the continuity of the heather.
s.Sc. 1918  Sc. Jnl. Agric. (1922) I. 263:
The reason for a green gair or flush is the outflow of a spring.

2. “An odd piece of land, an angular bit of a field; often applied to an uncultivable bit of a field” (Ork. 1929 Marw.).

3. A strip or triangular piece of cloth, a gore, gusset in a garment (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 165); a triangular opening at the neck or foot of a garment (mostly in ballad usage). Sc. 1765  T. Percy Reliques I. 33:
And scho has taine out a little pen-knife, And low down by her gair.
Ayr. a.1796  Burns My Lord a-hunting i.:
My lady's gown, there's gairs upon't, And gowden flowers sae rare upon't.
Sc. 1806  R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 61:
And ye'll tak aff my Hollin sark, And riv't frae gair to gair.
Sc. 1808  J. Finlay Ballads II. 73:
Young Johnstone had a nut-brown sword, Hung low down by his gair.
Sc. 1813  A. Cunningham Songs 67:
She pluck'd a bodkin from her gare.
Slk. 1813  Hogg Queen's Wake 160:
The next blow that Earl Walker made, Quite through the gare it ran.
Abd. 1930 1 :
Cut a gair aff ae side o' the breedth o' stuff tae fix on the tither side; it'll gie some width at the hem.

4. †(1) “Anything resembling a stripe or streak; as, a blue gair in a clouded sky, a red gair in a clear sky” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (2) a dirty streak or stain on clothes (Fif. Ib.; Fif., Dmb. 1953); †(3) a crease in cloth (Lth. 1825 Jam.); (4) a bare, worn place on clothes, etc. (Mry.1 1925; Fif. 1953).

II. v. 1. To streak, to become streaked or dirty (Bnff., Cld. 1880 Jam.), to be striped, of an animal's coat, of cloth. Also ¶gairie. Dmf. 1810  R. H. Cromek Remains 238:
Tak aff thae bars an' bobs o' gowd, Wi' thy gared doublet fine.
Fif. 1825  Jam.:
The rigs are said to be gair'd, when the snow is melted on the top of a ridge, and lying in the furrow.
Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 58:
Fin the nout begin to fleck an gair, Ye may lat oot the byre mair and mair. [Gregor Folk-Lore N.-E. Scot. (1881) 132, gehr.]
Sc.(E) 1925  Scots Mag. (March) 471:
Her cloak was gairied wi' the green.

2. “To crease, to become creased” (Lth., Cld. 1880 Jam.).

[O.Sc. has gair, a gore in a garment or piece of cloth, from c.1470, ga(i)rit, striped, streaked, from 1556; O.E. gāra, triangular piece (of land), O.N. geiri, gore, triangular strip, from O.N. geir, O.E. gār, a spear (from the shape of the spear-head).]

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"Gair n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2019 <>



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