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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.

MENYIE, n., v. Also menye; meng(i)e, mengyie; menzie, -y; menji(e); meing(y)ie, meinzie; maingie; menee; ¶maingeh, mingie; manzy. [′mɛŋi, ′mɛnji, †′mɛɲi].

I. n. ‡1. The persons comprising a household, a family, a particular set of people. Obs. in Eng. exc. dial.Lnk. 1710 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 95:
It is provyded . . . that none hold more [victuall] than will sustain themselves and their meinzie till neu corn.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 42:
If the laird slights the lady his menyie will be ready.
ne.Sc. 1893 W. Gregor Dunbar's Wks. (S.T.S.) III. 164:
It is still used in Banffshire = a number, and pronounced maingeh (ng nasal); also by way of contempt to a family or a particular set of people, as “She's mairriet in amon a queer maingeh”.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. xlv. 155:
A man's faes are they o' his ain menyie.

2. A retinue, a band of followers (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); a following of armed men (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis). Also fig. In n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 25:
What gars thee look sae big and bluff? Is't an attending Menzie?
Abd. 1737 W. Meston Poet. Wks. (1802) 71:
With this rare menzie coming o'er, He reached peaceful Saturn's shore.
Sc. 1792 Geordie in Child Ballads No. 209 A. v.:
And she has mountit her gude grey steed, Her menzie a' gaed wi' her.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Letter x.:
The musicians were engaged in the same joyous revel as the menyie of old Sir Thom o' Lyne.
Slk. 1830 Hogg Tales (1874) 440:
But had I kend half an hour ago what I ken now you an' a' your menzies should never hae taen Aidie Scott alive.
Ayr. 1835 Galt in Tait's Mag. (Jan.) 130:
The Dyeuke's flunkies and menzie.
Abd. 1875 G. Macdonald Malcolm II. xix.:
He had gien orders till's menyie to be aff afore the mornin' brak.

3. Of persons or animals: a crowd in gen., a multitude, a host, a throng or swarm (Dmf. 1825 Jam.; Mry.1 1925; ne.Sc., Edb. 1962). Also in Eng. dial. In 1822 quot. the rhyme is an eye-rhyme.Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 176:
Five hundred flaes, a fendy flock; And are not thae a wakrife menzie?
Abd. 1748 R. Forbes Ajax (1754) 14:
Then as he did the auld man leave Amon' sae fierce a menzie.
Kcb. 1808 J. Mayne Siller Gun 38:
Three loud huzzas the menyie gaed.
Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems x.:
Alack-a-day! the menseless menzy Ere now has jeer'd a chield to frenzy.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xviii.:
Wi' a' this mengyie o' shirras, and lawvyers, an' constables.
Bnff. 1929 Banffshire Jnl. (1 Oct.) 2:
Man, I wis like a wull craiter in yon menjie o' wimmen.

4. A large number of objects (Sc. 1808 Jam.), a heterogeneous collection, a mixture, medley, a confusion. Obs. in Eng. exc. dial.Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 143:
For mony a menzie of destructive ills.
Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 257:
Wi' menji [? a menyie o] feathers in her hat, Silk stockings and siller sheen.
Ags. 1896 Barrie Margaret Ogilvy iv.:
You get no common beef at clubs, there is a manzy of different things all sauced up to be unlike themsels.
Bnff. 1918 M. Symon Wir Roup 1:
An' sic a menge! Cairns o' this, An' cairns o' that, nae mous!
Abd. 1993:
Sic a menee o stuff in at draaer.

5. A noisy festive gathering, a party. Hence combs. menye-cogs, -singers, see quots. The combs. menyie-cog, -singer are found only in Dennison and are phs. creations of his own. For menyie-cog cf. Maan-cog.Ork. 1885 W. T. Dennison Peace's Almanac 126:
The drinking cogs at a feast were divided into two kinds, the “menye-cogs” and the “cogilt-cogs”, the first were passed through and drunk from by all the company; the second were confined to their respective cogilts. The “menye-cogs” were distinguished from the others by having every alternate stave made of dark wood, so that the vessel had a variegated appearance. . . . The “menye-cogs” were the guid-man's cog, the priest's cog, and the bride's cog.
e.Lth. 1885 S. Mucklebackit Rhymes 211:
Your menzies, “balls”, and a' that.
Ork. 1905 W. T. Dennison Ork. Weddings 33:
There were in Orkney so late as the first half of the eighteenth century men called “menye-singers”, whose profession it was to sing ballads on public occasions.

II. v. 1. To mix confusedly, to crowd (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 111, maingie; Ayr. 1880 Jam. m(a)ingie).

2. Of ripening grain: to become mixed in colour (Fif. 1825 Jam., meingyie). Cf. Ming, v., 3.

[O.Sc. menȝ(h)e, an armed troop, 1375, a retinue, 1438, menzie, a multitude, 1528; O.Fr. meyné, mesniee, a household, Lat. *mansionata, from mansio, a dwelling, a house.]

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"Menyie n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jul 2024 <>



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