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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HIMSEL, pron. Also himsell. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. himself. Cf. Hersel.

1. Prep. phrs.: (1) at himsel, (a) see At, prep., 8.; (b) in a state of mental composure (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc., Ayr., Kcb., Uls. 1957); (2) by himsel, beside himself, out of his senses (Cai. 1902 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc. See also By, 4. (17); (3) to be like himsel, (a) to be unchanged in appearance, e.g. after death (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc.; (b) to act up to one's reputation. Gen.Sc.; (4) to be on himsell, to transact business on his own account (Abd. 1825 Jam., Abd. 1957).(2) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 179:
Poor Mouldy rins quite by himsel, And bans like ane broke loose frae Hell.

2. Applied to the head or chief person in any body or institution, e.g. a chieftain in a clan, the husband in a household, a minister in a congregation, an employer, the “boss.” Gen.Sc.Mry. c.1850 Lintie o' Mry. (Rampini 1887) 30:
While Meggie took charge o' the cairt an' the beast, An' himsel', being active, aye managed the rest.
Inv. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evid. I. 237:
I am not aware that there is any one paying rent unless to himself.
Ags. 1888 Barrie When a Man's Single 89:
“I winna hae't lyin' aboot here,” Chirsty, the wife of Tammas, said, . . . “ye'll better tak' it on to 'imsel.”
Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 39:
“Is't himsel the day?” says Geordie to the elder, michty consequential, wi' his way o't “Ay,” says the elder, “it's himsel.”
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road ii.:
The clan must stick together and go out upon the old road when Himself required.
Abd. 1920 C. Murray Country Places 24:
When gloamin' has set “Himsel'” free fae the ploo, She shanks by his side an' sings “Hushie-ba-loo.”
Fif. 1929 A. Taylor Bitter Bread 254:
If himsel' is averse to leaving his ain bottle, I'll e'en gang along.
Uls. 1948 D. G. Waring Not Quite so Black 88:
“Captain,” she hissed, in her usual stage whisper. “Himself is back for dinner the day!”
Inv. 1978 Eona Macnicol The Jail Dancing 112:
"Though I am sorry for your disappointment in not finding Himself at home. You had not made an assignation with him?"
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 61:
Gin anither oor, he wis up at the laird's hoose, tae drive Himsel tae the station fur the haik bi train intae the big toun near forty mile awa.

3. An Ork. fishermen's taboo-name for the halibut or turbot (Ork. 1929 Marw.).

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"Himsel pron.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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