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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

GREE, n.1 Also †grie (Sc. 1814 Scott Poet. Wks. (1882) 639). [gri:]

1. Degree, social rank. Obs. since 16th c. in Eng.Cai. 1869 M. Maclennan Peasant Life 146:
I'll no be wastin' time wi' the geik-neckit wench, whan I ken a rosie lass o' ma ain 'gree.

2. Pre-eminence, supremacy, the first place; hence, the prize, palm. Gen. in phr. to bear the gree, to hold or win first place (‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), sometimes followed by awa or aff, also to carry, get, hae, tak —. Now liter.Sc. 1721 Caldwell Papers (M.C.) I. 243:
He carried the gree, as we say, at a ball at court.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd iii. ii.:
Amang our Lads, he bears the Gree awa', And tells his Tale the cleverest of them a'.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 4:
But Ramsay bears The gree himsel, an' the green laurels wears.
Ayr. 1795 Burns A Man's a Man v.:
That Sense and Worth o'er a' the earth Shall bear the gree an' a' that!
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxix.:
And they arena that bad at girdles for carcakes neither, though the Cu'ross hammermen have the gree for that.
Dmf. 1822 J. Mayne Siller Gun (1836) 160:
Auld Scotland strives to bear the gree.
Per. a.1837 R. Nicoll Poems (1877) 20:
For, whether be it at wark or play, The gree was wi' our auld Gudeman.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 114:
Sae we their sons wha be, Shall keep the ancient glee, Nor let the gree gang down While Polwart is a town.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 20:
On ilka lea Frae Thurso to the banks o' Tweed He bears the gree.

Phr.: †to gie date and gree, to give precedence (to) (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).Ib.:
To gie Date and Gree . . . this phrase may respect the precedency given to one, according to the date of his charter or title, as distinguished from another whose honours are more recent.

[O.Sc. has gre(e), grie, in sense 1. from a.1400, in sense 2. from c.1420, freq. in phr. to bere or win the gre. Ad. O.Fr. gré, a step; favour, power.]

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"Gree n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 May 2024 <>



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