Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

LAIR, n.3, v.3 Also lare, laer (Sh.), lear; leir; lere (Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxvi.). Sc. forms of Eng. lore. See P.L.D. § 32. [le:r. The occas. pronunciation li:r is due to confusion with Lear, q.v.]

I. n. 1. Learning, education, lore, doctrine (Sc. 1755 Johnson Dict.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Fif., Peb., Ayr. 1960). Freq. attrib. as in book lair, college lair. Sc. 1718  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 71:
For in Clark-Lear he was right prime.
Per. 1766  A. Nicol Poems:
I was at school 'bout half a year; That letter'd me first in the lear.
Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II.:
They'll hip the maist fek o' their lear, Sin Gregory's dead.
Ayr. 1786  Burns To Sc. Repres. xix.:
An strive, wi' a' your wit an' lear, To get remead.
Sc. 1816  Scott B. Dwarf iii.:
You that have been at college, and the High School of Edinburgh, and got a' sort o' lair where it was to be best gotten.
Ayr. 1822  Galt Sir A. Wylie i.:
If he wasna a deacon at book lair, he kent as weel as the maister himsel' how mony blue beans it taks to mak five.
Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 80:
Honour, as it did effeir, The man o' merriment and leir.
Ags. 1860  A. Whamond James Tacket vii.:
There was a mysterious virtue connected with college lear, which, now-a-days, we can scarcely understand.
Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 113:
Whin fairly dung wi beuk lare skill.
Lnk. 1881  A. Wardrop J. Mathison's Courtship 56:
Sae you needna come here, She's aware o' your lear, An' your lingo, sae cheatin' an' lood, auld man.
Abd. 1882  W. Alexander My Ain Folk 107:
For ony kin' o' beuk lear [he] cudna tell ye a B fae a bull's fit.
Sc. 1887  Stevenson Underwoods 77:
It's possible — it's hardly mair That some ane ripin after lear May find an' read me.
Abd. 1890  Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) XIII. 92:
Couthie hert mak's skeelie han', An' daes instead o' leir. He tuik a flaskie, heeld him up An' doctor'd him wi' care.
Kcb. 1896  Crockett Grey Man xx.:
I read but little, never having been greatly given to lear.
Sh. 1898  “Junda” Klingrahool 30:
If meditation, books, or laer Could ever bring surcease of care.
Abd. 1948  Abd. Press & Jnl. (1 Dec.):
East Coast fishers don't say that their families have left school or finished their education; they say, “They've gotten lear.”

Deriv. learless, unschooled, without learning; comb. lear-ma(i)ster, a teacher, instructor (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Rnf. 1815  J. Finlayson Rhymes 76:
How can I, a learless wight, Pretend to think I'm in the right.
Rnf. 1852  Crawfurd MSS.:
A B Buff, Gie the lair-maister a cuff.
Sc. 1865  R. W. Buchanan Inverburn (1882) 42:
Aye finding wonders, mighty mysteries, In things that ilka learless cottar kenn'd.
Ags. 1894  Brechin Advertiser (29 May) 3:
He did that — an' David Middleton was his lear-maister.

2. A habit, custom, usu. in phr. ill-lair (Cai. 1902 E.D.D., Cai. 1960). Hence ill-laired, having bad habits, badly brought up, spoiled, of a child (Cai. 1920 John o' Groat Jnl. (9 Jan.), Cai. 1960).

II. v. 1. To teach, educate. See Lear. Only in ppl.adj. Deriv. lairer, a pupil, a learner (n.Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 177). Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 54:
On this great day the city-guard, In military art well lear'd.
Ayr. 1824  A. Crawford Tales Grandmother 182:
I'm no sae weel laired as the minister.

2. To learn. Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 140:
An lest their kintry cannae sweer, They lair new aiths.

[O.Sc. lare, instruction, doctrine, learning, from a.1400, O.E. lār, teaching.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Lair n.3, v.3". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jun 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: