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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ILL-SET, adj., v., n. Also ull-set (Abd.). See Set.

I. adj. 1. Evilly disposed, “having evil propensities” (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ant. 1892 Ballymena Obs.; Fif. 1909 Colville 137; Ork., Cai., Mry., Ags., sm.Sc. 1958); harsh, cruel (Abd. 1930 Abd. Univ. Rev. (March) 103, ull-set; Slg., Fif. 1958); surly, out of humour (Abd. 1925 Banffshire Jnl. (21 April); Ork. 1929 Marw.); lacking generosity, churlish (Abd.7 1925); ungainly (Sh. 1958). Phr. ill-set-on for, badly off for (Ags.20 1958).Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' xxxviii.:
Auld luckie cries, “Ye're o'er ill set, As ye'd hae measure, ye sud met.”
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 96:
It's neither because I'm sour or ill set.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 134:
Ye ken I ne'er hae been ill-set, hae bitten, or hae flang.
Abd. 1877 G. Macdonald M. of Lossie III.i.:
It wad be ill set o' me to anger ye the moment ye come back to yer ain.
Per. 1895 I. Maclaren Auld Lang Syne 241:
Some ill-set wratches . . . canna bear the sicht o' a raelly gude man.
Dmf. 1898 J. Paton Castlebraes 245:
The ill-set tongue o' him wad persist in abusin' Angell James.
Edb. 1900 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 35:
I lookit the ill-set scoun'rel i' the face.
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 195:
Jennie wis gettan kindo ill-set, for sheu wisno wint wae bean contered.

Hence illsetness, opposition, perverseness.Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man ii.:
Often enough frustrated of my intention by the illsetness of others.

2. Ill-provided. m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 109:
I'm real sorry there's no a drap in the house the day, but I hope I'll no be sae ill set next time.

II. v. To be ill-becoming or unsuitable for; of clothes: to be ill-fitting. Ppl.adj. ill-setten, clumsy, awkward in movement (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1958). Also erron. -sitten.Sc. 1793 R. Brown Carlop Green (1817) 129:
An ill-sitten, shanglan' sutor, he, Wi' bairnly squeaking voice.
Sc. 1897 L. Keith Bonny Lady xi.:
Thae blae wishy-washy colours ill set an old skin.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (28 April):
Isna some o' da boy's claes awfil ill-settin'?
Per. 1901 I. Maclaren Young Barbarians 133:
I'm a widow o' good character and a member o' the Free Kirk, and it would ill set me to play such tricks.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 210:
It would ill set me to be fleein' about the house, waggin' my tail, like.
Abd. 1959:
It ill-sets you to miscaa a bodie.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 89:
She didna sweem well, Miss De Magistris, aa lab-sidit, wi ill-setten swypin strokes.

III. n. A state of hostility or bad feeling, a feud (Abd. 1958).Fif. 1933 J. Ressich Thir Braw Days 106:
Noo there wis aye a sort o' an ill-set atwixt the fisher-lads and the ploomen an' fairm-haun's.

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"Ill-set adj., v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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