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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.

LEAL, adj., n., adv. Also leall, leel, leil(l), liel. [Sc. lil, em.Sc.(a) lel]

I. adj. 1. Loyal, faithful, adhering to one's allegiance, duty, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Gen.Sc. Now mainly poet.Ags. 1708 Dundee Charters, etc. (1880) 135:
I shall be leall and true to the Queen's Majestie of Great Brittan.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 161:
Happy that Moment Friendship makes us leal To Truth and Right.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 19:
When love dwells atweesh twa lovers leal.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Reply to Invitation ii.:
But Foorsday, Sir, my promise leal, Expect me o' your partie.
Sc. a.1800 in W. Stenhouse Illustr. to Sc. Musical Museum (1853) 390:
Then up wi' the Souters o' Selkirk, For they are baith trusty and leil.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf vii.:
He's his father's true son — a leal friend.
Abd. 1844 W. Thom Poems 46:
Your kindly breast's the lealest hame That I can ever ken.
Lth. 1884 A. S. Swan Carlowrie xv.:
I think those born in Scotland are leal aye to their first love.
Sc. 1892 Stevenson Catriona xxix.:
He's no very bonny, my dear, but he's leal to them he loves.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xvii.:
There's no a Faa that wadna mak' a guid man, leal and true-hearted, kind too at the feck o' times.
ne.Sc. 1929 M. W. Simpson Day's End 32:
Wi' leal an' lichtsome he'rt to tak' The fremmit road wi' you.
m.Sc. 1986 Tony McManus in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 170:
We, wha standfrae are til yer hich estait,
Ken no tae lowt til fenyeit magnificence,
Bein obeisant but til the commoun gait,
Dreidand nocht the wanwyt weys o reverence,
Gar ye that hauld by hierarchie's law
And are but til yer ain backsprentless kynd leil,
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 49:
Suin, keekin thro' the mist o time,
a hunder leal forbears, swore
ti redd the land o Edward's crime,
symbolic Eilean Mor.

2. Honest, straight, not given to cheating, honourable in one's dealings (Sc. 1808 Jam.); sincere; fair, equitable. Also used subst.Sc. 1704 Essay in Defence of Stuff-Manufactories 15:
If the Leel come to their Gear by such Reckoning, I know not.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 10:
A Tinklar was never a Town-taker, A Taylor was never a hardy Man, Nor yet a Webster leal o' his Trade.
Sc. 1727 P. Walker Remarkable Passages 83:
I have had my leal Share of Wrongs this Way.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 11:
When yet the leal an' ae-fauld shepherd life, Was nae oergane by faucit, sturt an' strife.
m.Lth. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 167:
Sweet Innocence, wha's winning smile … Can ne'er dissemble or beguile, But aye be leel.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 55:
Leal folk ne'er wanted gear.
Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs 186:
It's hard to be poor and leal.
Ags. 1894 People's Friend (20 Aug.) 541:
I'd been a better man the day, had I when younger bent a lealer back to the spade.
Per. 1944 D. M. Forrester Logiealmond 5:
Men and women who were “true, leal, and aefauld”, had no “brew” of people described as “loopy, lang-drachtit, and far-socht”!

3. True, veracious, esp. of testimony (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1960).Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 6:
I have sic good ground to work upon, and leal verity to keep me frae being thought a fleecher.
Ayr. 1766 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (8 May):
To bear leel and soothfast witnessing in a Process of Scandal.
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 137:
The following tale Shall stand a witness, sooth and leal.
Sc. 1959 Ct. of Session Citation of Witness:
To bear leal and soothfast witnessing, and give and declare your oath of verity, in so far as you know or shall be interrogated respecting the points and articles admitted to probation.

4. Of a woman: chaste, pure, unsullied. Freq. in ballad usage.Abd. 1745 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 29:
I believe she was a leel maiden.
Sc. a.1776 Cruel Mother in Child Ballads No. 20 A. iii.:
She's counted the leelest maid o them a'.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 6:
O whare gat ye that leal maiden, Sae jimpy laced an' sma'?
Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads I. 191:
His heart was like to break, That such a leal virgin Should die for his sake.
e.Lth. 1896 J. Lumsden Battle Dunbar 86:
Be thou leal an' chaste.

5. Real, genuine; exact, accurate, well-aimed. Now arch.Bnff. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 92:
But whan he enter'd the wee house, Thinkin a Maukin leal to souse.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 167:
A leal shot ettled at the cock.
n.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
A leal stroke. One that hits the mark; used both literally and metaphorically. In this sense, although figuratively, it is applied to maledictions.
Sc.(E) 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ ii. xii. 74:
Thar is nae ither gate till life an' leal saucht cept the gate o' the Halie Cross.

II. n. Orig. adj. used subst., in phr. the land o the leal, †the lands of leal, the land of those who “have kept the faith”, the country of the blessed dead, Heaven. Gen.Sc., usu. as a reminisc. of Lady Nairne's song (see 1798 quot.).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 39:
Say that ye'll die, an' but her canna cowr; But for her sake maun view the lands of leal.
Per. 1798 Lady Nairne Land o' Leal iv.:
Now fare-ye-weel, my ain John, … We'll meet, and we'll be fain, In the land o' the leal.
Sc. 1822 R. M'Chronicle Legends Scot. II. 46:
And it's but fit, that when we hae done a' that we could in the warld, that we should gang to the land o' the leal.
Sc. 1842 D. Vedder Poems 60:
But Borrisdale gaed to the land o' the leal.
Per. 1895 I. Maclaren Auld Lang Syne 147:
Fouk say they're in the land o' the leal.
ne.Sc. 1910 Scottish Studies III. 202:
We're a' wearin' awa tae the lan's o' the leal.
Sc. 1995 David Purves Hert's Bluid 33:
Haud forrit, Grieve,
i the Land o the Leal!
The lave o us wul mynd,
throu aw yeir leevin days,
ye naither war ti haud
nor yit again ti binnd.

III. adv. Also in forms leally, †leallie.

1. Loyally, faithfully, honestly, sincerely. Hence comb. ¶leal-loved.Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs I. 160:
Had me fast, let me not gang, If you do love me leel.
Gsw. 1810 Private MS.:
I, William Erskine, Esqre Advocate … ratify, approve and confirm this present in so far as the same is leally and truly made and given up.
Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 196:
I've gien you the story leal, As I've heard tell.
Per. 1835 R. Nicoll Poems 30:
The men o' the plaidie an' bonnet sae blue, Wha by Scotland, my country, stude leally an' true.
Abd. 1845 P. Still Cottar's Sunday 27:
The wee-things, standing in a ruddy raw, Their leal-loved grannie's reverent leuks survey.
Abd. 1882 W. Forsyth Writings 26:
My hert is in this cup o' wine, An' I wad pledge them baith richt leallie.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 75:
Ye've done yer duty leally an' fou weel.

2. Truly; exactly, accurately; thoroughly, properly; “smartly, severely” (Abd. 1825 Jam.).Sc. 1720 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 154:
How without thought these dawted Petts of Fate … By pure instinct sae leal the Mark have hit.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 164:
For weel wat they a skin leal het For drinking needs nae hire.
Abd. 1777 R. Forbes Ulysses 36:
Wi' courage an' guid counsel, we Can wrang our faes mair leal.
Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 15:
[She] swore she'd be, (for a her fa') Kiss'd leal frae lug to lug Fu' sweet that day.
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 51:
That wee bit loch aside the Biel, The curling stane he'd play fu' leal.

IV. Derivs. and combs.: ¶(1) lealdom, loyalty, loyal adherents or subjects; (2) lealfu, loyal, faithful, trusty; (3)leal-gude, good and true, honest. Cf I. 2.; (4) leal-heartit, faithful, sincere, loyal-hearted (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Bnff., Per., Fif., Lth., Lnk., Rxb. 1960); (5) lealman, a loyal or faithful subject, a liegeman; (6) lealness, loyalty (Sc. 1882 J. Ogilvie Imperial Dict.); (7) lealty, id. Obs. in Eng. and revived by Scott.(1) Ags. 1894 A. Reid Songs 95:
The liftin' o' wha's lily hand Brocht lealdom far and near.
(2)Slg. 1788 R. Galloway Poems 15:
I gat the buiks, my lealfu' laddie.
(3) Ayr. 1847 Ballads (Paterson) II. 59:
Auld Auntie was nae spinster bauld, A leal-gude bodie she.
(4) Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 35:
Where the leal-hearted Looking-glass With Truths addresst the lovely Lass.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 25:
Wae's me! her lad's awa to France, A young, leal-hearted soger.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie lxxvii.:
He could see no change which the elevation had produced in his letters; “for they continue,” said he, “as leal-hearted as ever.”
Abd. 1873 J. Ogg Willie Waly 147:
Ye're godly an' honest, leal-hearted an' true.
Per. 1893 R. Ford Harp Per. 299:
The leal-heartit trust o' the frien's that are gane.
Kcb. 1898 T. Murray Poems 29:
[I] left my auld father and mither and a' My leal-hearted cronies in wild Gallowa'.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xi.:
The auld and the bauld and the leal-hearted must go down because of conceited halflings like you that are Achans in the camp.
(5) Sc.(E) 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms xxxv. 27:
The Lord be wight, that lo'es lown life for his lealman.
(7) Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth xxix.:
Christians might take an example from him for his lealty.
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie iv.:
Our lealty, our fealty, The Southerns hae awa.
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 10:
We gae in for leilty to the kirk as weel's the king.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 75:
For lealty we'll be ilka ither's bail!
Abd. 1991 George Bruce in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 22:
and mither at the tap eidently protectin her brood
frae the storms o divisions in retour for lealty,
as we ken noo, seein their doups jig up and doon

[O.Sc. lele, in most of the above senses, a.1400, used adv. from c.1420, lelely, 1375; North. Mid.Eng. lele, O.Fr. leel, leal (Fr. loyal), loyal, orig. Lat. legalis, legal.]

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"Leal adj., n., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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