Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LEASE, n., v.2 Also lees(e), leaze, leeze; †leis. [li:z]

I. n. 1. The division of the threads made in a warp before it is put on the loom, to facilitate the operation of beaming or at an earlier stage when made into hanks before being dyed (wm.Sc. 1960). Also in n.Eng. dial. Hence lease-pin, a pin fixed on a warping-mill around which the warp is leased (Sc. 1807 J. Duncan Weaving 9). Sc. 1807 J. Duncan Weaving 7:
The pins [on the heck in a warping mill] are placed, alternately, in two frames distinct from each other, and either of which may be raised at pleasure. By these means, what is called the lease is formed. The lease is most essential in every stage of the operation of weaving, as the whole regularity of the yarn in the loom depends upon it.

2. Fig., gen. of speech or thought: a continuous, coherent sequence, a train of thought, the thread of a discourse, a clear exposition or understanding of some story or idea, one's bearings or way about. Esp. in phrs. to get or lose the lees, one's lees (Uls. 1857 Uls. Jnl. Archaeol. V. 104, Uls. 1953 Traynor; m.Lth., Ayr., Gall. 1960). Ayr. 1896 H. Johnston Dr. Congalton iii.:
“Whare ar ye gaun?” “Stracht to the manse, where I'll get the leeze o' things.”
Uls. 1924 Northern Whig (Jan.):
“A hae loast the leeze o' mae coat,” cannot get it arranged.
Dwn. 1931 Ib. (2 Dec.) 5:
I lost the lees of it (i.e. could not understand it).

II. v. 1. To separate or sort out the yarn for the warp threads before weaving (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Fif.3 1930). Used somewhat similarly of handling the leaves in tobacco-spinning. Hence leaser, see quot. Gsw. 1843 Children in Trades Report (2) i 48:
He was taken … to learn the business first as a “leaser”, and then as a “wheel-boy”. The first is, he opens out the small bits of tobacco and gives them to the spinner; the wheel-boy turns the wheel.
Rxb. c.1880 in Watson W.-B.:
To lease up webs out of a confused state.

2. By extension: (1) to pass a coil of thread or rope through the hands unwinding or winding it up again (Slk. 1825 Jam.), as was done with yarn before the use of the warping mill, to unravel threads or strands in a cord (Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 350; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (2) “the term is also used to denote the act of arranging a number of entangled bits of pack-thread by collecting them into one hand” (Slk. 1825 Jam.); (3) “to gather anything, as straws, or rushes, neatly into the grasp of the hand” (Rxb. Ib.; Uls. 1902 E.D.D.); to arrange, lay in order, trim, sort in gen. (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl., leis; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 314); (4) fig.: to unravel, disentangle a complicated state of affairs, to tidy up confusion of any kind (Kcb. 1960). (3) Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Leasin' up your materials for the Word-book.
(4) Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie iv.:
Richt or wrang ye maun leeze out the tangled hank for yoursel'.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Lease up thae weeds. Leasin' in the gairden.

3. With out: to spin out, prolong, be prolix in telling a story (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). m.Lth. 1895 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick iv.:
Aweel, no to leese oot my story.

[The same word as Eng. dial. lease, O.E. lesan, to glean, gather, cogn. with Du. lezen, to gather, sort, select, read, Ger. lesen, to pick, gather, read, orig. to select and interpret sticks with inscribed runes (cf. Lat. legere, to gather, pick, read). The gen. meaning is to pick, select and arrange, hence sense 1. of n. and v. of threads sorted out for the loom, and other sense developments.]

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"Lease n., v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Oct 2021 <>



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