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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

GLEN, n. [glɛn]

1. A valley or hollow gen. traversed by a stream or river, usu. but not necessarily narrow and with steep sides; in longer rivers connoting the mountain valley in the upper reaches as opposed to the strath or broader vale below; in small streams, a dell or ravine, a den. By 1800 established in Eng. Deriv. glenner, an inhabitant of a particular glen.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 174:
In Glens the Fairies skip and dance.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Verses at Kenmore 7:
The meeting cliffs each deep-sunk glen divides.
Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 455:
[Strath] in Scotland is provincially applied to long, wide, low-lying vallies, with a chain of hills on both sides, to distinguish them from vallies, that are narrow, short, and more inland, which are called Glens.
Sc. 1800 A. Carlyle Autobiog. (1860) 477:
The Tweed, near Selkirk, where the delightful streams of Ettrick and Yarrow fall into it from the fine pastoral valleys or glens.
Rxb. 1802 J. Leyden Poems (1858) 225:
O'er glen and glade, to Soulis there sped The fame of his array.
Sc. 1810 Scott Lady of Lake iv. viii.:
Well! Clan-Alpine's men Shall man the Trosach's shaggy glen.
Sc. 1954 Scots Mag. (April) 7:
It takes five years to make a glenner.
Sc. 2000 Herald 30 Sep 16:
The Clearances boiled in the sufficiently recent past, and their consequences remain so visible to this day - empty glens, the crumbled ruins of black houses, the plethora of Highland names in our great cities and overseas - as to resound reproachfully in present political debate.

Combs.: (1) glen-heid, the higher end of a valley, i.e. that nearest to the upper reaches of the stream flowing through it (Ags.19, Ayr.8, Uls.4 1954); (2) glenman, a native of a glen; one from the Nine Glens of Antrim (Uls.4 1954); †(3) glen-stone, a kind of limestone mixed with clay. Cf. camstone s.v. Cam, n.1, 1., Combs. (1) (c).(1) Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 423:
Sheep . . . ought to be allowed as much of the glenheads, breas, and foot of the hills, as will support them during the severity of the winter and spring months.
Abd. 1924 M. Angus Tinker's Road 19:
An' the robin sings saft In the green glen-heid.
(2) em.Sc. (a) 1896 “I. Maclaren” Kate Carnegie 288:
With every mile northwards the Glenman's heart lifts.
(3) Dmb. 1794 D. Ure Agric. Dmb. 36:
The third kind of limestone is what is called cam-stone, (glen-stone) because mostly found in the bottom of glens.

2. A name given in Kilmarnock to the daffodil (Ayr. 1825 Jam.; Ayr.8 1954). See comb. for origin of this extended use.Ayr. 1858 A. McKay Hist. Kilmarnock v.:
The boys and girls of Kilmarnock . . . go to Craufurdland Castle for their wild lilies or glens.
Ayr. 1951 People's Friend (23 June) 21:
I had been up at Craufurdland with some others picking “glens” in the forenoon, bunching them in the afternoon and helping to sell them in the evening.

Comb.: Glen Saturday, “the third Saturday of April on which the children of Kilmarnock used to go to [the Glen of] Craufurdland Castle to gather ‘glens' or daffodils” (Ayr. 1879 R. Adamson Lays 75); “the first Saturday in April, or other day indicated by notice from the Castle, posted in the shop windows” (E.D.D.; Ayr. 1951 People's Friend (23 June) 21).Ayr. 1883 R. Kerr Auld Kilmarnock Town 12:
“Glen Saturday” wi' daffodils Brocht roun a feast o' joys.

[Found in O.Sc. from 1375 (c.1160 in place-names); Gael. gleann, a valley, dale, early Ir. glenn.]

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"Glen n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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