Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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MUNSIE, n. Also muns(e)y; muncie, muncey; monsie, monsey; monzie. [′mʌnsi]

1. A disparaging name for a Frenchman. Arch. Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality i.:
Nae wonder they dread the accomplishment of what was spoken by the mouth of the worthy Mr. Peden . . . that the French monzies sall rise as fast in the glens of Ayr and the Kens of Galloway as ever the Highlandmen did in 1677.

2. One deserving contempt and ridicule (Sc. 1808 Jam.); an odd-looking creature; a ridiculously-dressed person (Abd.7 1925, Abd. 1963), a “guy” , “fright”, one whose clothes are tawdry (Ib.); used in 1900 quot. of the attire itself. Abd. 1887  R. S. Robertson On Bogie's Banks 77:
Sic munsies as they mak' themsel's, the lassies noo-a-days.
Abd. 1900  Weekly Free Press (1 Dec.):
Your braw new bonnet's dung a' ajee, Eh losh! it's an awfu' munsie.
Abd. 1903  E.D.D.:
A person of strange appearance is described as “a bonnie munsie”.
Rxb. 1925  E. C. Smith Mang Howes 21:
Aamaist the whole road-end cam oot-ther-oot ti waal an glowr at the unordnar munsie.

3. One in a sorry plight, who has been knocked about or got into a mess. Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 116:
He ga' 'im a gueede lickin, an' sic a munsie's he wiz.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxiii.:
Weel, man, he was an awfu' munsie that nicht. We hed to lay 'im doon upon a puckle strae for a file, an' skirp water in 's face till he cam' some till 'imsel'.
Abd. 1925 7 :
A drookit munsey.

4. The jack or knave in a set of playing cards (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 116; Abd. 1903 E.D.D.; ne.Sc. 1963); †a card game where the knave is a key card, as cribbage. Combs. conter-munsie, see 1930 quot.; munsie-pick, the knave of spades (Abd. 1903 E.D.D.). See Pick, n.6 Kcd. 1819  J. Burness Plays, etc. 284:
To get a hand o' Monsie Were keen that night.
Abd. 1899  W. D. Geddes Mem. J. Geddes 48:
At the farm of Waterside . . . there lived . . . a farmer who was given to card-playing, and, in his zeal for victory, was not very scrupulous as to the means. He sometimes, it was alleged, secreted at the game of “Loo” a spare “Monsey,” as the people called it — that is, a Knave or Monsieur — hidden up his sleeve. It became a proverb as to any awkward combination or collision that it was a case of “ramcounterin”' ane anither, like Waterside's “twa Monseys.”
Abd. c.1930  :
In the game of “catch-the-ten” , when one suit was trumps, the Jack of the other suit of the same colour was “conter munsie ” and was the strongest card in the game.

5. Phrs.: (1) to get its muncie, of a thing: to become useless from age, wear, accident, etc., to “have had it” (Abd.27 1963); (2) to mak a munsie o', of persons or things: to reduce to a ridiculous or sorry condition, to spoil, make a mess of, botch, bungle (ne.Sc. 1963). (1) Abd. 1955 16 :
Used of garden flowers at the end of the season, when the bloom is over. — They've gotten their munsie.
(2) Abd. 1863  G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod xi.:
They say ye made an' awfu' munsie o' him. There's some fowk 'at can respeck no airgument but frae steekit neives.
Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 116:
They ga' 'im drink, an made a munsie o' 'im.
Abd. 1895  G. Williams Scarbraes 29:
Ye've made a munsie sure aneuch An' Jeems, ye daurna blame the pleuch.
Bnff. 1923  Banffshire Jnl. (19 June) 8:
Sic a muncey as we made o' the fleer — ay the deck ye ken.
Abd. 1932  D. Campbell Bamboozled 16:
For ony sake, Norah, dinna mak' a munsie o' bein' mistress!

[Variant forms of Fr. monsieur, a gentleman, with jocular extensions of meaning, the French being popularly regarded as over-dressed and ridiculously foppish. O.Sc. monzie, a Frenchman, a.1686.]

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"Munsie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2019 <>



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