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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

MAVIS, n. Also mevies (Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 37); mavish (Ant. 1892 Ballymena Obs. (E.D.D.); Uls. a.1908 Traynor (1953)), and dim. forms mavosie (Sc. 1791 Young Beichan in Child Ballads (1956) I. 465); ma(a)vie (n.Sc. 1867 N. Macleod Starling xiii.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson); maivie (Slg. 1902 W. C. Paterson Echoes 34); ¶erron. marvie. [′me:vɪs]

1. The song-thrush, Turdus ericetorum. Gen.Sc. Now only poet. or dial. in Eng.Sc. 1706 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 434:
To a man brought a nest with 5 young marvies [sic].
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. ii. iv.:
Delightfu' notes That warble through the merle or mavis' throats.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 156:
How cou'd you troke the Mavis' note For “penny pies, all piping hot?”
Ayr. 1794 Burns Ca' the yowes (2nd set) i.:
Hark, the mavis' e'ening sang Sounding Clouden's woods amang.
Sc. 1813 Scott Lady of Lake iv. xii.:
Merry it is in the good greenwood, Where the mavis and merle are singing.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 79:
She's singin' like a mavie.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sk. and Poems 18:
He had a good tenor voice, and could sing like a mavis.
Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith (1913) 6:
Nae a blackbird nor a mavis, that hae pipin' for their trade.
Dmf. 1912 A. Anderson Later Poems 89:
The mavis was thrang in the Eliock wuds, An' O, he pipit rarely.
w.Sc. 1917 H. Foulis Jimmy Swan 297:
They look on me and my carnations like a kind o' glimpse o' the country, where the mavie whistles and the milk comes from.
Ayr. 1950 D. Mackie Doon the Burn 25:
I hearken to the magic flute, On which the mavie pipes to me.
m.Sc. 1979 William J. Tait in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 37:
As I stoater hame through Drummond Place
At ten tae five o an April moarnin,
A barrage o birdsang opens up,
Blackies an mavises burstin their haases
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 67:
And there's birds: the mavis, the spug, the corbie,
the stuckie, the greenlintie, the bullie, e'en a gow,
Lnk. 1991 Duncan Glen Selected Poems 54:
There's the quick rustle o birds aneath the bushes
and mavis's sang shairp frae a branch
heich and daurk agin the blue luift.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web v:
Scots, Gaelic, Inglis: three leids. Takk ae wird - a birdie wird: the mavis. Noo, doon on the page, the v luiks like the birdie's beak. The m is the wings, booed in flicht, an the s is the marra o the wirm that the mavis etts fur brakkfast.
Abd. 2000 Herald 15 May 19:
There is a mavis and two black-birds sitting on their nests in the wood, and one more blackie in the shoppie.

2. Fig. A variegated marble (Ags., Per. 1919 T.S.D.C.), from its speckled appearance.

3. Combs.: (1) big mavis, the missel thrush, Turdus viscivorus (Bwk. 1874 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club VII. 295; Ags. 1962); (2) cinder mavis, see quot. and cf. Cinder-Mavis; (3) mavis-skate, the sharp-nosed ray, Raja oxyrhynchus, from the similarity in shape and colour of its pectoral fins and beak; (4) midden mavis, see Midden.(2) Edb. 1960:
Cinder-Mavis. A person who sits habitually and lazes by the fire, a lazy fire-hugging person.
(3) Edb. 1811 Wernerian Soc. Trans. I. 553:
Oxyrhinchus. Sharp-nosed Ray; White-skate; Friar-skate; May-skate or Mavis-skate. This is now and then got when the nets are shot near the mouth of the Frith.

[O.Sc. maviss, c.1420, Mid.Eng. mavys, O.Fr. mauvis, id.]

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



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