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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MAISTER, n.2 Also master, mester. Stale urine (‡Bnff., Ags. 1962). Hence maister-can, -laiglen, -pig, -tub (Sc. 1825 Jam.), a receptacle for storing urine for use as a detergent or for treating seeds prior to sowing. [′mestər]Sc. 1743 R. Maxwell Sel. Trans. 262:
Take near a Tub or Cask full of old Master . . . and mix it with as much Salt as, when dissolved, will make an Egg swim . . . Put therein as much of your Wheat you design to sow as it can conveniently hold.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) 189:
Wi' Maister Laiglen, like a brock He did wi' stink maist smore him.
Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 139:
'Tis out o' the sowen kit; And 'tis into the maister-can.
Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recollections 276:
Even the English seed itself is rendered more assured from a sprinkling of maister, as it is called, from the stale stand or tub.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 62:
Here heaps of filth, there dubs o' mester.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 176:
Another common detergent was stale urine, “maister”.
Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 71:
Mary is fessen' the spurtle, an' the mester pig is aside the wormot bus' itha yard.

[Appar. a deriv. from Mid.Du. mest, dung, Ger. mist, id., cogn. with Du. dial. miegen, O.E. mīgan, to make water, O.Fris. mēse, urine.]

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"Maister n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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