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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LAY, v., n.1 Also ley; lae (Sh.). Pa.t. laid, led; pa.p. laid and, by confusion with Lie, lain (Per. a.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (1905) 247). [le:, Sh. læ:]

Sc. usages:

I. v. 1. With sim. meanings to Eng. in cases where Eng. usage has put, place, set or other word. Freq. in I.Sc. as a rendering of O.N. leggja. See Combs.Sc. c.1740 D. Hume Trial for Crimes (1800) II. 68:
A general finding or declaration that the libel, as laid, is relevant to infer the pains of law.
e.Lth. 1794 G. Buchan-Hepburn Agric. e.Lth. 139:
Oxen … in as good order for laying upon turnips that season, as the average run of cattle.
Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe 332:
Faith they've never been able to lay saut on his shadow since the nicht o' the robbery.
Sc. 1887 Jam. Suppl.:
I canna lay my han' to that wark, nor will I provide siller for't.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (30 Dec.):
Dis lashes o' shooers is aneugh ta lay a body frae da life.
Sh. 1926 Shetland Times (4 Dec.):
Hoo mony he [walrus]'s laid his tusks trow.

a. Combs., with advs. and preps.: (1) lay about, to put (a boat) about, turn round (Sh., Ayr. 1960); (2) lay aff, (a) to vomit, bring up from the stomach; (b) v., tr. and intr., to recount or discourse upon fluently, to talk volubly and confidently, to hold forth (Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw.). Gen.Sc.; n., a harangue, a voluble discourse, a rigmarole. Gen.Sc.; (c) to disable, hurt, damage; to kill, slaughter (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1960). Phr. to be laid aff one's feet, to be laid up by illness (m.Lth., Uls. 1960); (3) lay afore, only in pa.p. laid afore, exhausted, worn out (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1960) [translation of Norw. dial. forlegen, at a loss, nonplussed, Faer. fyrilagstur, exhausted, drained of strength]; (4) lay aside, gen. in pass.: to be incapacitated by illness. Gen.Sc. Cf. (7) (b); (5) lay at, (a) to strike at, inflict blows on, belabour (Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh., ne.Sc., em.Sc.(a), Lth. 1960). Now only dial. in Eng.; (b) to act or do something with vigour or vehemence, lit. and fig., to work hard (Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc. 1960); (c) to keep a rowing-boat stationary (Sh. 1960); (6) lay awa, of a fowl: to lay eggs in out-of-the-way places away from the usual nest. Gen.Sc. Also jocularly, of an unfaithful husband or wife (Gall. 1960); (7) lay by, (a) tr. and intr., to (cause to) stop, cease, desist or rest (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 252; Sh., Abd., Ags., Fif., m.Lth., Kcb. 1960), in 1723 quot. to deter from communicating; (b) to prostrate, make unfit, incapacitate through illness, gen. in pass. (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., ne.Sc., Fif., Lth., Ayr., sm.Sc., Slk., Uls. 1960). Cf. (4); (c) also lea by, to put away (in the proper place) (Cai., Bnff., Ags., Fif., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s); (8) lay doun, (a) to lay in the grave, bury (ne.Sc., Per., Kcb. 1960); (b) to trim or embroider. Arch., in ballad usage. Cf. obs. Eng. lay, id.; (c) to slaughter, kill (an animal) (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). Cf. (2) (c); (d) of snow, rain: to precipitate. Cf. (13) (a); (e) to cease to speak of, drop (a subject); (f) to set (the feet) on the ground in walking or running. Phr. a' that one can lay doun, as fast as one can go, at top speed. Cf. Lift, v., 1. (5) (i); (9) lay efter, used with refl. pron., one's mind, etc.: to apply oneself to, interest oneself in, go in for (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1960); (10) lay f(r)ae, with refl. pron.: to lay about one, to deal blows all round, to hit out in all directions (Sh., ne.Sc., Lnl., Ayr., Wgt. 1960); to work vigorously (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1960); (11) lay in, (a) to set to work energetically, to get on with a job vigorously, to apply vigour (Sh., n. and em.Sc.(a), Lth., Rnf., Slk. 1960); (b) to co-operate with another, esp. in farm-work, to share equipment and labour in some task (Ork. 1960); (c) used refl.: to lay in a stock or store of, to take in (goods) in bulk (Sh., Lth. 1960); (d) to fold (something) down or over on itself, as the page of a book (m.Lth., Ayr., Wgt. 1960); (e) in dressmaking: to turn up a hem and fold it over before sewing (Ork., Abd., Ags., Ayr., Kcb. 1960). Obs. in Eng.; (f) in forestry: to hack a tree round the circumference of the trunk before felling to prevent it splitting upwards as it topples or to cause it to fall in a particular direction (Abd., em.Sc.(a), Ayr., Kcb., Dmf. 1960); (g) to decrease the stitches, taper off a stocking, etc. in knitting (Sh. 1960); (h) sc. the oars: to ship the oars, to cease rowing; (i) of a pall-bearer at a funeral: to lower one of the cords of the coffin into the grave; (12) lay into, -til, to eat greedily (of) (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 102; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Cf. (13) (b). To lay intil, — atil (anesel), to stuff oneself with food, to gorge (Sh., ne.Sc. 1960); (13) lay on, (a) used impers. of rain or snow: to fall heavily (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., ne.Sc., Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr., s.Sc. 1960); (b) v., to eat heartily, to “tuck in” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff 102; Ags., Lth., Uls. 1960); n., a hearty meal, a surfeit (Ib.). Cf. (12). Also in vbl.n.; (c) to work hard or earnestly, to apply energy (Gregor; Sh., Uls. 1960). Vbl.n. layin on, id. (Gregor); (d) to flatter (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1960). Hence lay-on, a flatterer (Id.). Cf. Eng. “lay (it) on thick”; (e) in curling: to send up, deliver (a stone). Cf. 11.; (f) to put on to, direct, put in touch with. (14) lay out, sc. the oars: to start rowing (Sh. 1960). Cf. (11) (h); (15) lay out for, used intr., (a) to prepare or make ready for; (b) to abuse, blame (Sh. 1960; Sh., Ork. 2000s); (16) lay ower, to turn over (a furrow) in ploughing (I. and ne.Sc., Wgt. 1960); (17) lay past, = lay by (c). Also fig. (Sh., Ork., Bnff., Abd., Fif., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s); (18) lay till, -tae, -to, where till, etc., is prep., (a) to ordain, destine, assign by fate (Sh. 1960); (b) to set about eating, start in on (food) (Sh., Uls. 1960); (c) v., to assail with blows, beat, belabour (Sh., n.Sc., Per., Fif., Lth., Gall., Uls. 1960); n., a fight, scuffle, set-to; where till is adv., (d) to set to work with vigour (Sh., Per., Fif., Wgt., Slk., Uls. 1960); also refl. (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., Sh. 1960); (e) v., to add, attach, build on, apply, bring into action or to bear (ne.Sc. 1960, -tee); of a sail: to hoist (Sh. 1960); n., an addition, a lean-to, in a building (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (f) to close, shut (a door) (Sc. 1887 Jam.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw.; I. and ne.Sc. 1960); (19) lay up, (a) to put or pile up, set a load on a horse's back (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1960); (b) to start to make an article, to go through the first stages or lay the foundation of manufacturing something, in knitting, weaving, etc. (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc. 1960); to get a meal ready and served; (c) to set, pose or put (a riddle) to be guessed (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1960). See Guddik; (20) lay wi(th), used refl., to work hard, make strenuous exertions (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw., — with; I.Sc. 1960). Cf. Faer. leggja sær við, id.(1) Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sk. and Poems 109:
Whin we wir gottin it a' we laid aboot fur hame.
(2) (a) Kcd. 1819 J. Burness Plays 291:
A taylor, wha by me did sit, Laid aff his kail just i' the bit.
(b) Dmb. 1817 J. Walker Poems 63:
They ease their back,-lay aff their crack.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 21:
“Man, he laid it aff bonny!” “Yon's an orawtor,” says An'ra.
Per. 1895 I. Maclaren Brier Bush 162:
He 'ill lay aff stories aboot battles and fairies.
Abd. 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 114:
Being “weel shod i' the gab” … she would be “layin' aff”' about every one and every thing connected with the district.
Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 78:
He laid aff o' him a lock o' trock.
Gsw. 1934 D. Allan Hunger March iii. xi.:
He had laid off for quite ten minutes on the folly of taking risks.
Abd. 1957 People's Jnl. (14 Dec.):
Cornkisters galore an' lang lay aff's in the Doric.
(c) Lnk. 1885 J. Hamilton Poems 29:
She … gat a sair cauld, an' was laid aff her feet.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (16 Sept.):
A'm laid aff me tae in a stane, an' he's laek ta draw awa' me hert.
(4) Gall. 1704 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) I. 125:
Two of the old elders of that Session are laid aside by sickness.
Sc. 1879 J. C. Shairp Burns 172:
At this crisis his faithful wife was laid aside, unable to attend him.
Fif. 1938 St Andrews Cit. (19 Nov.) 7:
He was laid aside with a serious illness.
(5) (a) Sc. 1880 Jam.:
He laid at him till he could har'ly stan'.
(b) Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
Du is layin' at; he is layin' at de rain, it is raining very heavily.
Sh. 1952 Robertson and Graham Sh. Grammar 29:
Shö wis sittin dere layin at da sock.
(6) Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 148:
That's the tower, whar' the famous, but frail countess o' Cassilles was sae lang cavied up in, like a hen that lays awa'.
Dmf. 1825 A. Cunningham Sc. Songs II. 123:
Ye maun ca' in the hens, John, Else they'll all lay away.
Rxb. 1843 Zoologist I. 361:
During the past summer one of our hens chose to “lay away,” as poultry-women term it, in a neighbouring plantation.
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 326:
A ald gizzened ceular whimmled ower a deuk ahint da back tae keep 'er fae layan awa.
(7) (a) Sc. 1723 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) III. 68:
A most searching sermon that laid by the most part of the Christians that were met there.
Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken vii.:
“But lay by yer flitin'.” “Lay by! Joseph Smiley.”
m.Lth. 1956 Scotsman (1 Oct.) 6:
My grandmother often remarked to my grandfather, who had put in a long spell [at] gardening or other work: “Come awa' noo and lay by.”
(b) Sc. 1782 Medical Commun. I. 69:
They are universally seized with a Catarrh or cold, as they call it, which rages so fast that in twenty-four hours, every individual . . . is … laid by.
Rnf. 1871 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 43:
Since I was laid by here alane, I hae had whisperings o' the still sma' voice.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sk. and Poems 57:
He had … “laid himself by”' with sweeties and currant-loaf.
(c)Gsw. 1992 Jeff Torrington Swing Hammer Swing! (1993) 156:
He'd be laid by in a drawer in the mortuary, his tongue at long last idle and unmoving in his frozen mouth.
Ayr. 1999:
A'll lay it by. Wait til a lea by the messages
(8) (a) Abd. 1810 J. Cock Hamespun Lays 125:
At Nelson's funeral he had been! Saw Willie Pitt laid down!
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 37:
I saw her laid doon i' the lanely kirkyaird.
ne.Sc. 1888 D. Grant Keckleton 29:
I had laid doon his wife in the year o' the short crap.
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 78:
“Fan are they layin' 'im doon?”' said Sandy. “Wedsinday,” said the gravedigger.
(b) Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xiv.:
A scarlet cloak, laid down with silver lace three inches broad.
(d) Sh. 1952 Robertson and Graham Sh. Grammar 29:
He's laid doon a lok a snaa.
(e) Sh. 1923 T. Manson Lerwick 184:
Merran never forgot the little episode, and “never laid it down” whenever she had an auspicious chance to remind him of his unmanly conduct.
Sh.12 1960:
Dey never laid it doun about his mistak. Boy, I wiss du wid lae yon doun.
(f)Ags. c.1840 W. J. Milne Reminisc. (1901) 62:
[The horses] went off after the cart at full speed, an' a' that the beasts cud lay doon.
(10) Abd. 1820 A. Skene Poems 67:
See gin ye're yet layin' fae ye, On Johnnie's head.
Abd. 1880 G. Webster Crim. Officer 117:
The aul' man, her husband, tryin' to interfere wi' a spaud or shovel — layin fae him.
Abd. 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 75:
The young mear starts to fling, and lays frae 'er like the verra deil in meenlicht.
(11) (a) Cld. 1880 Jam.:
Turn to your wark noo, and lay in.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnstone Glenbuckie xiii.:
Though I hinna muckle to offer ye, I'm willing to lay in till the wark.
(b) Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Very often two crofters, who have only one horse each, “lay in” for spring and harvest work.
(c) Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 109:
She also found it most profitable to purchase considerable quantities at a time, or, as she styled it, “to lay hersel' in.”
(d) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian x.:
I'll lay in a leaf of my Bible, and that's very near as if I had made an aith. Note [1829]: — This custom, of making a mark by folding a leaf in the party's Bible when a solemn resolution is formed, is still held to be, in some sense, an appeal to Heaven for his or her sincerity.
(h) Sh.12 1960:
When we cam ta da bow, we laid in.
(i) Dmf. 1961:
Whae's gettin to lay in at Chairlie's funeral?
(13) (a) w.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
It's layin' on o' snaw.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (26 Aug.):
Eftir da rain laid on.
(b) ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 72:
“That's yer denner, sirs,” cried Meerie, “A' lay on an' dinna spare.” A', laid on richt weel contentit.
(e) Sc. 1849 Chambers's Information II. 683:
By a skilfully “laid-on” stone … the inwick is taken.
(f)Rxb. 1875 N. Elliott N. Macpherson 148:
Maister Dippie wad len' me an ootfit for a word, or lay me on whaur I could get a' I want.
(15) (a) Sh. 1899 Shetland News (22 April):
Shü was layin' oot fir da sooth service.
(b) Sh. 1897 Ib. (17 July):
Bekis da hoe düs what he tinks right an' ye tink wrang, ye lay oot for him.
Sh. 1952 Robertson and Graham Sh. Grammar 29:
What dat wife lays oot for da ting a boy!
(16) Abd. 1957 Buchan Observer (4 June):
Haud ye awa' to the ploo wi' them an' see if ye can get a bittie o' the ley laid ower.
(17)Sc. 2003 Press and Journal 3 Jun 13:
... but a serious sense-of-humour failure on both sides of the Glencoe divide shows that Scots cannot lay past even a 311-year-old grievance.
Unwittingly, Mr McDonald might have united Campbell and McDonald at last, albeit only in pique.
(18) (a) Sc. 1818 Scott Antiquary Gl.:
Laid till her. Fated that she should.
(b) Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II 210:
Away then John goes to the amry and lays to the haggies, till his ain haggies cou'd had nae mair.
(c) Slg. 1812 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 151:
When the money was taken from him, he heard them say, “lay to him.”
Sc. 1887 Jam.:
The twa cast out, and had a grand lay-tae.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood iii.:
She fair gied it to Peter the day … She fair laid till him.
(d) Cld. 1880 Jam.:
I could wait na langer, and jist lay to.
(e) Sc. 1715 Morison Decisions 14522:
The Lords found the builder of the wall liable to a servitude oneris ferendi both of the joists and laid-to chimnies; … he must build and lay-to the chimnies as they were before.
Rxb. 1867 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club V. 310:
Most of the houses had outside stairs, ash-pits in the street, and unsightly lay-tos for cows and poultry.
Sc. 1887 Jam., Suppl.:
Ye may lay tae the water now, i.e. let on or apply the water, as in starting a mill. Begin now, and lay tae your hale strength.
Sh. 1890 J. Sinclair Scenes & Stories 232:
Jüist as we led till ta sail, he med a watter aff o' da fore kaib.
(f) Sh. 1899 Shetland News (28 Oct.):
Shü cam' frae layin' til' da door.
(19) (a) Sh. 1894 in P. Jamieson Letters on Shet. (1939) 117:
Layin up on [sic] unkin mare.
Sh. 1923 T. Manson Lerwick 103:
2 women laying up [peats], 31/2 days at 8d. … £0 4 8.
(b) Sh. 1899 Shetland News (1 July):
A'm gaein ta lay up da supper.
Ib. (25 Nov.):
Shü cam' an' took her waers, an' begood ta lae up loops.
Sh. 1933 Manchester Guardian Wkly. (30 June):
An elderly woman who had all day been at the sheep-dipping on the far hill … returning home “laid up” and “made” a spencer, or sleeved vest, between the hours of four and five-thirty.
Sh. 1952 New Shetlander No. 31. 6:
He wid mak a muckle flittin kishie an kjerry dem ower ta Norrawa. Sae he begood ta lay up a kishie.
(c) Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sk. & Poems 57:
Haes doo nae guddicks 'at doo can lay up, boy?
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 181:
The common pastime for such occasions was “layin' up guddiks.”
(20) Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 77:
I laid me with tae pu' you oot o' the gubs.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
Du is no layin' dee wi'.

b. Phrs.: (1) lay (one's) account for, with, to with inf., to expect, anticipate, reckon on (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 29). See also Account; (2) lay dry, to drain, draw water from, in mining; (3) lay eggs, to put down one or more stones in the game of Chucks while another is thrown into the air (see quot.); (4) lay heart to, to set one's mind to, devote oneself to (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (5) lay (one's) heid till, to apply oneself to food, to eat up; (6) lay (one's) lugs in, about, amang, id. See Lug; (7) lay the law on, see Law, n.1, Phrs. and Combs. (14); (8) lay to the hide or skin, to soak to the skin (Sh. 1902 E.D.D., Sh. 1960).(1) Sc. 1748 Smollett R. Random I. xxvi–ii.:
I must lay my account with such interruption every morning … The Scots always laid their account in finding enemies among the ignorant, insignificant and malicious.
Sc. 1764 in Boswell in Holland (Pottle 1952) 156:
These trials you laid account to meet with.
Sc. 1845 R. W. Hamilton Pop. Educ. ii. 17:
We as Christians need not lay our account for any other state of society.
(2) Sc. 1724 W. Macintosh Fallowing 59:
Lint will thrive in any tolerable good Ground, provided it is laid dry.
Fif. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IX. 384:
This coal was laid dry by a day-level of 350 fathoms in length.
(3) wm.Sc.1 1900–58:
With all 5 pieces in the hand, one is thrown in the air, one “egg” is laid and the falling piece caught. The remaining “eggs” are laid one-at-a-time, then two-at-a-time, and so on. The “eggs” are then collected in reverse order, finishing with all 5 pieces in the hand.
(5) Abd. 1894 J. A. Jackson Bundle of Old Stories 14:
Didna I gie ye as muckle treacle and breid as ivver ye could lay yer heids till?
(8) Sh. 1898 J. Burgess Tang x.:
The disconvennience of bein laid to the hide with rain.

2. To beat down, flatten (crops by wind or rain). Gen.Sc. Now mainly dial. in Eng.Sc. 1799 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 575:
The late rains have laid the strong corns.
Sc. 1822 Scott Pirate vi.:
I was only wanting to look at the bear-braird, which must be sair laid wi' this tempest.
Edb. 1872 Trans. Highl. Soc. 166:
Care should be taken to avoid using for thatch straw that has been “laid” before cutting.
Ork. 1920 H. Campbell Folk Songs 26:
So we beat the wild nor-waster, and garnered in wir grain Afore 'twas shaken by the gale, or laid, destroyed by rain.
Abd. 1936 D. Bruce Cheengefu' Wordle 23:
“ Sic sawin', sic shearin'”, we'll hae nae an ill hairst than gin the corn binna a' laid afore we start.

3. Of speech, noise, tumult, etc.: to silence, to still, check, halt, put a stop to, allay. Obs. in Eng. exc. dial.Peb. 1702 C. B. Gunn Linton Church (1912) 84:
He came not to the house of John Haddo till “speech was laid,” and that he knew nothing of that matter.
Edb. 1786 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) 27:
For 'tis a blout will soon be laid, And we may hap us in our plaid Till it blaws o'er.
Sc. 1835 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. 323:
Why do they call for you to lay a tulzie when you're no a magistrate?

4. To smear (a sheep's fleece) with butter or other unguent as a protection against wet or cold or vermin (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 313; Slg., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.). Hence laid, of wool: smeared (Sc. 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 724), made of smeared wool; laying time, the season for doing this, about the beginning of November (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).Gall. 1692 A. Symson Large Descr. Gall. (1823) 72:
The most part of their laid-wool, call'd in other parts smear'd wool, is in the parish of Monnygaffe, so called, because, about Martimas, they melt butter and tar together, and therewith they lay, for that is their expression, or smear their sheep by parting the wool, and with their finger straking in the mixt butter and tar on the sheeps'-skin.
Ork. 1775 J. Fea Present State (1884) 64:
In this fine situation, is our butter sold, for laying sheep, and greasing coach wheels, to the everlasting disgrace of our country.
e.Lth. 1794 G. Buchan-Hepburn Agric. e.Lth. 101:
The mode practised by the Messrs Stevensons, in laying their sheep, is, by a mixture of 8 pounds (of 22 ounces) of butter to a Scotch pint (fully two English quarts) of tar.
Dmb. 1794 D. Ure Agric. Dmb. 63:
Eight or nine fleeces of white wool commonly make a stone of 24 lb. aver. and five or six of laid. The former sells at about 7s., the latter at 5s. per stone.
Kcb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VII. 56:
The sheep are, I believe, universally laid which, although prejudicial to the quality of the wool, is deemed a necessary precaution against the inclemency of winter.
Ayr. 1819 Edb. Ev. Courant (12 April) 3:
Common laid plaidings were about 11d. an ell — common white ditto 121/2d.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 165:
There lives a herd, I hear folks say, That can baith kill, and clip, and lay.
Sc. 1900 Scottish Farmer (10 Feb.) 117:
I am often asked by manufacturers if I cannot supply them with yarns made from laid wools such as they used to get from us many years ago.

5. To prepare cheese curd as in quot. Gen. in ppl.adj. laid, of cheese.Dmb. 1794 D. Ure Agric. Dmb. 77:
[Cheese] is called laid when the curds are pressed at first very gently with the hand, great care being taken not to break them; and the whey as it rises is taken off with a skimming dish. This process is continued till the whey is extracted and the curds become solid. They are then broken into as large pieces as possible, and put into the chesset to be pressed. … Dunlop cheese is mostly of the laid kind.

6. To plant or make (a hedge) to root (see quot.) (m.Lth., Bwk., Kcb. 1960). A somewhat similar use occurs in Eng. dial.e.Lth. 1794 G. Buchan-Hepburn Agric. e.Lth. 23:
We formerly used to turn up a portion of the sod from the ditch proposed to be made in the front of the hedge, and after laying that sod upon its face, the thorn was layed or planted upon it, at an elevation of from 4 to 6 inches above the surface of the adjoining ground, with a view, no doubt, to encourage the growth of the plant, by doubling the soil below it.

7. To weld a new edge on a cutting tool, plough-iron, or the like (Kcd. 1890 J. Kerr Reminisc. I. 48; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. Also in Eng. dial.Sc. 1705 Observator (2 May) 30:
A bit of Iron for Horse Shoes, or to lay my Plough Irons with.
Gsw. 1725 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 242:
Laying of quarrie mells, sharping messon irons, and other smithwork.
Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1813) 36:
Ye'll tak the coutter to the smithie, And get her laid and sharped.
Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recollections 126:
There was a custom, too, of the masters allowing them to take a pint of beer, on the occasion of laying a sock or a culter.
Bnff. 1889 Banffshire Jnl. (5 Nov.):
It was a country retort when a small favour was asked from one on whom there was no claim — “Tak' your brod to be sharpened where you tak' your coulter to be laid.”

8. To plait, to twist yarn or strands to form thread, cord or rope. Also in nautical Eng.Ork. 1770 P. Fea MS. Diary (11 June):
Had 2 men sawing Deals and 3 men laying Teathers.
Abd. 1951:
To lay the tippins = to twist, plait the hairs which make the tippins for fishing lines.

9. To put a child on an anvil to cure it of rickets (see quot.).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D.Bnff. 101:
The child is taken before sunrise to a smithy in which three men, bearing the same name, work. One of the smiths takes the child, first lays it in the water-trough of the smithy, and then on the anvil. While lying on the anvil all the tools are, one by one, passed over the child, and the use of each is asked of the child. The nurse then receives the child, and she again washes it in the water-trough. If the smith takes a fee for his work, the lay has no effect.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 45:
This disease [rickets] was cured by “layan.”

10. To mix (dough) for bread (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in n.Eng. dial.

11. To play a curling stone (Ags., Kcb. 1960). Cf. 1. (13) (e).Ags. 1892 Arbroath Guide (23 Jan.) 2:
Weel laid! O, yes! a perfect beauty.

12. Of a weaver: to lay a web of cloth on a board for measurement and inspection, hence to produce a finished length of cloth.Sc. 1734 Letter to Author Interest of Scot. 6:
She obliges her Weaver, who by this Time is glad of Employment, to lay eighty Yards of it for an eight hundred Reed, whereas it should only make seventy two Yards in a nine hundred Reed.
Sc. 1776 Weaver's Index 94:
You will see by the first Table how many laid yards you can get out of such a quantity of yarn, as you allow for the warp.

13. intr. To lie, rest, lie down. Rare. Now only dial. or in illiterate use in Eng., prob. arising out of confusion with lay, pa.t. of Lie. Combs. lay-day, a working day at the end of pay-week for which payment lies over, a lie-day see Lie, v., 8. (3) (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 41); lay in, of a woman: to lie in childbed, be confined (Sc. 1902 E.D.D.).Abd. c.1692 A. Pitcairne Assembly (1722) 47:
If I had such Tenandry in my little Interest, I vow God I should let it lay Lee.
Sc. 1707 Edb. Courant (30 July–1 Aug.):
A fine Sclaited House with Five Acres and a half of Land, laying at the Gallow-Green near the Gibbet. As also two Acres and a Half of Land with Houses, Barns and Barnyards lying at the back of the Crackling House near the Pleasants.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 437:
She … would lay in barns with them at night.
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 71:
Wha … prematurely in their last lair Ha'e lowly laid.
Slg. 1842 Children in Mines Report (2) 481:
Works on the long days 15 and 16 hours … On the lay days only eight hours, as the gin only works three days a week.

14. Special combs.: laid drain, a field drain formed by a row of stones laid on each side, and a course of flat stones laid above these (Abd. 1811 G. S. Keith Agric. Abd. 426; Sh., Cai., Gall., Uls. 1960); lay-bag, lay-p(y)ock, the ovarium of a fowl (Sc. 1825 Jam., -pock; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Abd.7 1925, -pyock; Sh. (-pockie), Ork., Cai., ne.Sc., Per. (-bag) 1960).

II. n. †1. A group, number; a collection of (stolen) goods. Sc. thieves' slang.Sc. 1821 D. Haggart Life 7, 120:
The flash kanes, where I might fence my snib'd lays. … I saw a lay of coves looking at some horses.

2. A tax, assessment, impost laid on rent. Now only dial. in Eng.Sc. 1830 W. Chambers Bk. Scotland 236:
The ley now charged in the parish of St Cuthbert's, which incorporates a great section of the city of Edinburgh, is 1s. 3d. per pound on the rental.

3. A lull in a storm, a break or pause in a series of waves, “a moment of smooth water in which a boat may dart through the surf to the beach” (Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh. 1960). Hence fig., a chance, opportunity (Cai. 1902 E.D.D.).Cai. 1902 E.D.D.:
In a storm at sea, heavy breakers come to the shore in sets of from three to seven, after which there is a lull, which is called a lay. Boats entering a harbour or haven in a storm wait for a lay.

4. The act of lying or resting; time to lie down or rest; bed-time. See v., 12. Also attrib.Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 114:
Ae bonny morn o' May, By break o' day, Ye started frae the lazy lay, To tak' a journey.
Slg. 1842 Children in Trades Report ii. k 30:
Glad am I when the lay comes.

5. The re-steeling of the cutting edge of an implement. Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. See v., 7.Abd. 1765 J. Skinner Amusements (1809) 117:
“We're out of iron, the horses must be shod, The coulter needs a lay:” — “That's very odd.”
Kcd. 1956 Mearns Leader (28 Dec.):
“There ye are. A pint lay.” Wi' that young Corny bung't his plough sock at Brooky's feet.

6. Mood, disposition, temper (Sh., Ork., m.Lth. 1960). Cf. Eng. slang lay, occupation, “line”, “tack”.Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.:
On the lay of, in the humour of.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
He was on a fine lay the day.

[O.Sc. has lay, to silence, 1540, to lie, 1587, lay on, of rain, c.1420, lay to, exert oneself, 1513, lay, n., a lull (Sh.), c.1580. In senses 3. and 6. of the n., the word may be partly a translation of O.N. lag, a lull between breakers, Norw. lag, mood, humour, see Lag, n.4, 4.]

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"Lay v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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