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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

LAIR, n.2, v.2 Also lare; ¶lüir. Dim. lairie. [le:r]

I. n. ‡1. Mud, mire (Ags., m.Lth., Kcb. 1960); clay, esp. with a sandy admixture, as in a sea bottom (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., lüir).Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 39:
My bonny grey marie, That carried me thro' the dubs and the lairie.
Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems (1813) I. 32:
Thro' glaury holes, an' dybs nae mair Ye'll ward my pettles frae the lair.
Sc. 1849 A. Bell Melodies 33:
Tho' soil'd wi' dub an' lair.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags iii.:
He was covered with the lair of the moss-hags.

2. A wet, muddy or boggy spot, a mire (Abd. 1960).Sc. a.1796 Merry Muses (1959) 150:
An' up the glen there rase a knowe, Below the know a lair on't.
Lth. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 75:
At last they fand her in a lare, An', as they thought, she was a hare.
Edb. 1816 J. Aikman Poems 185:
Dashin', an' plashin', The causey's just a lair.
Slk. 1817 Hogg Tales (1874) 153:
Yonder gaes anither down through a lair to the een-holes!
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 118:
The heat wad drive a coo to the moss To sink in a watery lair.
Abd. 1960:
The close is an awfu' lair o' dubs eennoo.

Hence lairy, miry, muddy, swampy (Sc. 1855 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 724; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Abd., Ags., Rxb. 1960).Per. a.1825 Donald and Flora 19:
Did ony [ewe], in a far-fetched winding turn, Come near the lairy springs, or cross the burn?
Abd. 1845 P. Still Cottar's Sunday 144:
The “wee-things stacher through” The lairy snaw.
Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer ii.:
Twenty or thirty dragoons were urging their horses forward in pursuit, weaving this way and that among the soft lairy places.

II. v. 1. intr. To sink in mire, to become bogged, to stick fast in soft ground, mud, snow or the like (Sc. 1808 Jam.; n.Sc., Ags., Fif., Edb., sm. and s.Sc. 1960). Also fig. to wallow.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 20:
Their ae beast cow I saw them lately flea, That for plain poortith lairt intill a bogg.
Slg. 1769 Session Papers, Drummond v. Erskine (30 June) 53:
The Parks of Sauchie, where their Horses were liable to lair.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 116:
Nae Hottentot that daily lairs 'Mang Tripe, or ither clarty Wares.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Winter Night iii.:
I thought me on the ourie cattle, Or silly sheep, wha bide this brattle, . . . And thro' the drift, deep-lairing, sprattle.
Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 44:
The heather muir he marches thro', Whiles in a moss-hole lairin'.
Ags. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ii:
The puir animal laired in them ower an' ower again up to the very wame.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders xxiii.:
It was terrible-like grund, lairin' at every step, but the wean ran on licht-fit.
Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 49:
Oonless ye're lair't in some saft bog in France.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde & Tweed 108:
He lowsed, when laired I could nae langer plod, My glaury feet.
Edb. 1928 Labour Standard (10 Nov.):
“Relieve us o' oor burdens,” is the business man's cry, “For Industry's near lairit in the glaur.”
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 4:
O a suddenty, the back wheel o the tractor laired in the dubby sheugh aside the burn an furled roon, spirkin glaur in ilkie airt. Deeper an deeper it sank, fair stukken, held ticht in the rut o the sappy grun.

2. tr. To cause to sink in miry ground, to embog (ne., em.Sc., Ayr., sm. and s.Sc. 1960). Also fig.Wgt. 1702 Session Bk. Sorbie MS. (24 May):
He did drive Andrew McConnells nolt on the last Sabbath of Aprill last till he laired them.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 67:
The laird may be lared and need his hind's help.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 96:
By some proud, stern, polemic wicht, . . . Wha lairs himsel in controversy.
Ags. 1815 G. Beattie Life (1882) 173:
Lair'd by spunkies i' the mire.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Tales (1874) 218:
I am sure if I gang near Crake's Moss it will lair me amang the hags and quags.
Rxb. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. I. 216:
Nor mair in bents and bogs [will this horse] be laired.
Kcb. 1911 Crockett Rose of the Wilderness xxiv.:
One had been “laired” doon about Trool Lodge.
m.Sc. 1925 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 371:
He scatters paper like snow in winter, nearhand lairing the meenister in the drift o't.
Ayr.4 1928:
The hoose wiz laired up wi' snaw.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 1:
" ... Forbye, ye micht cowp the tractor an lair her at the brae foun, bi the boggy bittie aside the burn".

3. To cover or stain heavily with mud.Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song 268:
Laired with glaur was his uniform.

[O.Sc. lare, to sink in mire, 1558, lair, mud, mire, 1637, North. Mid.Eng. layre, c.1300, O.N. leir, mud, clay.]

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"Lair n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Jun 2022 <>



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