Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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MORTAL, adj., adv., n. Also mortial, mortyal, mortyel.

Sc. usages:

I. adj. 1. As in Eng., deadly, causing death. In Sc. combs.: (1) mortal death, death; (2) mortal end, the end of everything (I. and ne.Sc., Ags., Slk. 1963); (3) mortal pox, -pock, smallpox. Hist. (1) Sh. 1914  Angus Gl.:
Du's gotten di mortal death.
(3) Sh. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XX. 101:
The small-pox have seldom visited these parishes, but at times have made terrible havock. At the beginning of this century, the mortal-pock, as it is called, caused great devastation, carrying off whole families.
Sh. 1931  J. Nicolson Tales 34:
We have it also on good authority that in 1720 the ravages wrought by the disease were so frightful that it was everywhere referred to as the “Mortal Pox.”

2. Adv. deriv. mortally, †mortallie, very, exceedingly. Gen.Sc. Colloq. or dial. in Eng. Fif. 1759  A. Laing Lindores (1876) 275:
Many become mortally drunk.
Sc. 1771  Smollett Humphry Clinker I. 55:
His pupil, who seemed to be about the age of three-score, stooped mortally.
Sc. 1831  J. W. Carlyle New Lett. (1903) I. 35:
It was very stormy, and I was mortally sick the whole twenty four hours.
Sc. 1887  Stevenson Treas. Franchard vi.:
With swollen eyes and looking mortally sheepish.
Kcb. 1895  Crockett Moss-Hags iv.:
He was indeed mortally fond of her girdle-cakes.

3. Extremely intoxicated, dead drunk (Cai. 1903 E.D.D.), = mortal drunk, -fou, under II. Gen.Sc. Deriv. mortalous, id. (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 255), formed after Miraculous, id. Also in n.Eng. dial. Lnk. 1824  Anon. Sc. Peasants xv.:
Maist nights in the week ye take as muckle as would make me mortal.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 54:
He was often carried home to his crue, on a hand-barrow, just mortal.
Ags. 1891  Barrie Little Minister xvii.:
“He may be a wee drunk,” said Micah in his father's defence, “but he's no mortal.”
Edb. 1895  J. Tweeddale “Moff” 214:
Tae fill yersel' mortal, wud only be takin' the better o' yersel'.

II. adv. With intensive force: very, exceedingly, extremely, greatly (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.), esp. in combs. mortal-drunk, -fou, dead drunk (Sc. 1903 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. Peb. 1836  J. Affleck Poet. Works 125:
Mortal fou ye came away.
Dmb. 1844  W. Cross Disruption xxvi.:
The mistress of the house was “mortal drunk” in bed.
Cai. 1869  M. McLennan Peasant Life 153:
She maun hae looed the Dandy mortal. She haesna gat ower it, an' ne'er will.
Ayr. 1891  H. Johnston Kilmallie I. 82:
The wife is geyan carefu' wi' the crockery: . . . she is mortal grippy.
Ags. 1896  Brechin Advertiser (28 Jan.) 3:
I didna like to see the three gettin' mortal drunk.
Gall. 1903  E.D.D.:
Mortal weary.

III. n. The mortal part or remains, the corpse (Slk. 1963). e.Lth. 1892  J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 208:
A gowpenfu' of gray, win-strewn ase — a' that was left o' the mortal o' Auld Red.

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"Mortal adj., adv., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2019 <>



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