Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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HARN, n.1 Also †harne, harran, haur(i)n, haarn (Sh. 1933 J. Nicolson Hentilagets 11), harren (Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 126); hairn, hern (Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 152); and arns (Rs. (Avoch)). [hɑrn(z), hrn(z), ‡he:rn(z)]

1. In pl. The brains, lit. and fig., the intelligence (Sc. 1693 Sc. Presb. Eloquence (1718) 116, hairns; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per., Ayr. (hairns) 1915–23 Wilson; Mry.1 1925; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; I., n. and em.Sc.(a), Peb., Ayr., Kcb. 1956). Also fig. the contents of anything. Sc. 1722  Ramsay Poems (1800) II. 390:
Nor shall our Herds as heretofore, Rin aff with ane anither's Store, Nor ding out ane anither's Harns.
Sc. 1755  Scots Mag. (Aug.) 410:
Say but that again, and I will gar your harns clatter, though it be the Sabbath-morning.
Rnf. 1790  A. Wilson Poems 61:
On me ye've laid yer crazy harns, An' fix't me for a bouster.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality xvii.:
Thae whigamore bullets ken unco little discretion, and will just as sune knock out the harns o' a psalm-singing auld wife as a swearing dragoon.
Ags. 1861  R. Leighton Poems 24:
His haurins are dosen'd, his een sair bedizen'd.
Rnf. 1870  J. Nicholson Idylls 104:
When the string at the mouth, wi' the wecht within it, broke, An' oot fell the haurns o' my muckle meal-pock.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb ix.:
The lad was a natural born dunce . . . his “harns,”after deducting the outer case, might have been contained in an eggshell.
Dmf. 1899  Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 371:
Their heads had aye mair hair than hairns.
Sh. 1922  J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 102:
Shü wis sittin' waitin for a shance o' da harns, whin da lamb's head wis klov'n.
Sc. 1923  R. Macrailt Hoolachan 7:
Is he a wyce bairn — mensefu', — wi' a' his harns aboot him?
Bwk. 1943  W. L. Ferguson Vignettes 69:
The mair ye bittle her auld harns, The waur she bleezes oot at ye!
Mearns 1956 5 :
Ye'll blaw your harns out! — said to anyone blowing his nose violently.

Hence harnless, brainless, stupid (Abd.19 1930; Sh., Cai., Bnff., Knr. 1956). Sh. 1891  J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 83:
Du's, güd traath, a harnliss snül Ta be sae led.
Lnk. 1893  J. Crawford Songs 88:
Juist fancy yonder hernless wight.
Bnff. 1924  Swatches o' Hamespun 83:
The lave o' them haiveless like harnless deer.

Comb. (in sing.): harnpan, the skull (Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 692, hern-; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 256, haurn-; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., hern-, harn-; Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Knr., Peb. 1956). Sc. 1721  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 188:
The Harn-pan of an umquhile Mare, He strung, and strak Sounds fast and clear.
Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 24:
A hag sailt i' his toom hairn-pans Awa' to France.
Ayr. 1822  Galt Sir A. Wylie ciii.:
Robin has gotten an awful cloor on the broo, we think his harnpan's surely dunklet.
Abd. 1828  P. Buchan Ballads I. 273:
I'll lea' to you my harnpan, It is baith lang and sma'; I'll lea' it to yoursell, my lord, To drink your wine witha'.
Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin vi.:
Haud back if ye dinna want a bullet through your harran-pan!
Rxb. c.1870  Jedburgh Worthies 27:
An over-sized hat, which contrived to keep its place despite the scanty “harn-pan” beneath it.
Ork. 1931  J. Leask Peculiar People 134:
Sheu wad spelt apen da harnpan o' da first ane 'at darkened 'er doorstane.

2. pl. Voice. Cf. Brain, n.1, 1. (2), id. Rs. 1919  T.S.D.C. III. 15:
“O, at a arns 'e hiz.” Oh, what a voice he has got.

[O.Sc. harnis, etc.,, from 1375, the brain, brains, harn-pan, from a.1400, skull, late O.E., a.1154, hærnes, O.N. hjarni, brain.]

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"Harn n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2019 <>



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