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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.

MISTER, n., v. Also myster; mestare (Marw.).

I. n. Want, privation, necessity, need (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ork. 1929 Marw.). Obs. in Eng. Phr. to beet a mister, to make good a deficiency, supply a need. Comb. beitmister, a person or thing needed to relieve a strait. See also Beet, v.2 Deriv. misterfu(ll), needy, in dire straits.Abd. c.1700 J. Maidment New Bk. Old Ballads (1891) 10:
And fatt although my minny baik A bannock in here mister.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 245, 304:
Mister makes Man of Craft . . . The Misterfull must not be mensefull.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 85:
To please the sighing Sisters, Who often beet them in their Misters.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 26:
An' now for faut and mister she was spent.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xliv.:
Warld's gear was henceforth the least of her care, nor was it likely to be muckle her mister.
Slk. 1823 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. (1874) i.:
If twa or three hunder pounds can beet a myster for you in a strait ye sanna want it.
Lth. 1825 Jam. s.v. Beit:
Hence the phrase, when any thing, for which there is no present use, is laid up in case of future necessity; “This will beit a mister;” and the term beitmister applied either to a person or thing found necessary in a strait.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. ii.:
Ye hae helped me and relieved me in my hard mister and weirscales.
Rnf. c.1850 Crawford MS. (N.L.S.) M. 13:
To kep a stress, to beit an orra mister = to supply an extraordinary occasion, to make a shift.

II. v. 1. To need, stand in need of; to be necessary; ¶2. to be of consequence, to matter. What misters, what need is there?1. Sc. 1722 Ramsay Three Bonnets (1800) 397:
Counting what things he now did mister That wad be gi'en him by his sister.
2. Peb. 1715 A. Pennecuik Works (1815) 338:
What misters me for to express, My present poverty or wrack.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck x.:
Little misters it to me Whar they gang, or whar they ride.

[O.Sc. mister, need, 1312, mystir, a case of need, 1508, it misteris, 1424, O.Fr. mestier, need, necessity.]

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"Mister n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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