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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.

NAE, adj. Also ne (Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1813) 19; Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 30; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.), na. No, not any. Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. Sometimes found in double neg. constructions. Comb. nae evens, the name of a game. [ne:]Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 270:
Yee Hand is nee Hand; that is, one Hand. where there is no Help, can dispatch but little Work.
Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 98:
Your noisy tongue, there's nae abideint.
Ayr. 1768 Burns Twa Dogs 16–17:
But tho' he was o' high degree The fient a pride na pride had he.
Sc. c.1791 Sir Andrew Barton in Child Ballads No. 167 B. 46:
Sir Andrew called his nephew then: says, Sisters son I hi ne mae.
Ayr. 1793 Burns Tam o' Shanter 67–8:
Nae man can tether time or tide.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. ix.:
Truly I ken nae title they have to be yowling and howling.
Slk. 1819 Hogg Tales (1874) 148:
Did you no hear them sayin' nae ill words?
Uls. 1879 W. G. Lyttle Readings 38:
She said nae mair.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums 139:
I'll tak paper, but no nae ink nor nae pen.
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Jooly 26):
A blinnd mind is hoppless, for der nae wy o trivlin.
Abd. 1923 Swatches o' Hamespun 18:
Aw houpe aul Meggie's nae nae waur.
Gall. 1928 Gallovidian Annual 91:
A ken naething aboot nae eggies.
Edb. 1956 Edb. Ev. News (19 May) 4:
He's no' glaikit. But he's nae gairdener.
m.Sc. 1987 Andrew Cowan in Iain Crichton Smith Scottish Short Stories 1987 99:
'There's nae difference,' she said. 'Ye can use either wan. Disnae matter.'
m.Sc. 1996 Christopher Brookmyre Quite Ugly One Morning (1997) 134:
So upon returning to the disco, the offered consolation from a pal that 'Alison Gifford's got nae tits anyway' was very much redundant.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 6:
'Twas Esk or Teviot keltered doon
I mind nae mair -
But the same sang cam' soughin tae oor lugs
An' thunnered there!
Abd. 2000 Herald (18 Sep) 21:
And could you send half a dozen taxis doon to snarl up the docks? "Nae problem. We usually dae that anyway."

In combs., gen. forming adverbs and nouns: nae ane, no one. Gen.Sc. Cf. Nane, pron.; naebody, naebdy, neebody, -bothy (Ork. 1929 Old-Lore Misc. IX. ii. 76), nobdy, nobody, no one. Gen.Sc.; naegat(e), -gait(s), -get, see Gate, n., 1. (2); nae-ho, nohow (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add.); naelins, in no way, “used as a neg. interrog.” (Abd. 1825 Jam.); naerizzon, a “no reason”, an invalid reason; na(e)t(h)in(g), nai- (Sc. 1740 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 462, 1818 Sawers), ne(a)-, naw- (Sc. 1896 Stevenson W. of Hermiston i.), ni- (m.Lth. 1915 Gsw. Herald (22 Nov.)), nee- (Ant. 1928 Irish Breeder 18), nathan (Ork. 1909 Old-Lore Misc. II. i. 30), nichan (Mry. 1908 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 32), nithing, nithin, noathing, nothing. Hence naethingness (e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 206). Phr. tae a naething, to a T, exactly. Gen.Sc.; naeway(s), -wise, -wye(s), in no way, nowhere. See Wey: naewhere, -whaur, nowhere; nae-worth, worthless; no-user, a destructive, wasteful person.Sc. 1720 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 152:
Naething can our wilder Passions tame.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 124:
Naething wrang I hae to lay to you.
Ayr. 1788 Burns I hae a Wife ii.:
I hae naething to lend, I'll borrow frae nae-body.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xviii.:
I want naething frae nane o' ye.
Gsw. 1819 A. Rodger Poems (1901) 113:
I live naewhere; I starve at Tollcross.
Lnk. 1833 Whigs of Scot. I. vi.:
They saw naithin' but clubs; and felt naithin' but blows.
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 591:
Du tocht nethin ta pit dye mark . . . apo mye steag.
Sc. 1838 Wilson's Tales of the Borders IV. 90:
Mind it's for Miss Barton, and nae ane else.
Ayr. a.1843 J. Stirrat Poems (1869) 52:
Hadst thou but seized some nae-worth creature.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 97:
Although the sight be naething rare.
m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 148:
There's been nae ane here this mornin'.
m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 260:
Jist my very sel' tae a naething.
Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 30:
Forty years, an' nae ane ever saw 'neath the lid.
Abd. 1874 N. N. Maclean North. Univ. 7.:
Robertson cam' in for a £1210s. bursary an' Macnicol wis naewhaur.
Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie xxvii.:
Naegait 'ithin my sicht or my cry, or the hearin' o' my ears.
Abd. 1882 G. Macdonald Castle Warlock lxv.:
I wad as sune think o' seein' my ain sister, gien I had ane, gang frae hame for sic a naerizzon as that!
Fif. 1894 J. Menzies Our Town 160:
He is naewise ower fond o' soap an' water.
Cai. 1909 D. Houston 'E Silkie Man 9:
Fatoor 'ey thocht 'ey said neethin'.
Rxb. 1916 Kelso Chron. (17 March) 4:
Naebody said onything bad aboot ye.
w.Sc. 1928 J. Corrie Last Day 49:
What aboot them? I see naethin'.
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie in Neil R. MacCallum Lallans 51 (1998) 5:
" ... 'Can thoo see the buttons apae his cott? bit neebody's ever offered me as muckle as a bite o bere bannock. A body gets fairly tired o fish an dunters year in year oot!"
Bnff. 1957 Banffshire Jnl. Xmas Annual:
I lookit, an' there's nithing there.
Gsw. 1962 Bill McGhee Cut and Run 115:
'You're a "no-user" an' yet Ah'm stuck oan ye.'
Sc. 1979 T. S. Law in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 81:
Thare is naething byordinar tae yer nichtit ee
atween the day ye saw an the day ye daenae see,
sm.Sc. 1979 Alan Temperley Tales of Galloway (1986) 1:
Roun' his hairy form there was naething seen,
But a philabeg o' the rashes green,
Sc. 1983 John McDonald in Joy Hendry Chapman 37 44:
There's naethin tae tine
and naethin tae hain;
tae smoor onie life
is tae smoor yer ain.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 48:
naebdy or nobdy Local versions of nobody: 'Who's is that's, naebdy's?'
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 4:
Ah cry it a dampt disgrace
That a naebody should tak the maister's place!
To breenge in here, a raggity bare-fit tink,
Wi' the bareface to tell us whit to think.
Dundee 1990 Matthew Fitt in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 8: The Day I Met the Queen Mother 14:
One minute, Assistant Manageress Gillan was naewhere to be seen, a wee gust of wind later, there she was, efficient, neat and calm, and asking Rab the new-start to fetch some chips out of the freezer.
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 34:
Nou, ye're miesslan awa wi the lave.
A rickle o banes i the nave
o Corstorphine Kirk.
Naithin biordinar.
Abd. 1992 Press and Journal (10 Oct) 4:
".... Canna interest masel in nithing."
Gsw. 1992 Ian Pattison More Rab C. Nesbitt Scripts 135:
You'll end up a durty no user like yir Da.
Ayr. 1995:
Yaiseully whin he's baukit [sat down] there, ye say nithin.
Sth. 1996 Gordon Stewart in Timothy Neat The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland 103:
But now I'm weary doon the brae
My limbs are stiff and bent
I've got my leave, I've pu'd my day
But I ha'e naithin to repent!
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web iii:
Tae get the tawse at the schule wis naethin - a meenit's hurt - fur I got it aften. Far, far coorser nor ony tawse wis the skeely wheep o a teacher's tongue that cud bare yer wee mistaks an shortfaas fur aa tae leuch at.
Edb. 1996:
She mairrit a right no-user - he's aye beatin her up and takin money oaf her an yaisin it fur the drink.
Arg. 1998 Angus Martin The Song of the Quern 54:
For mony a wan haes slep' face tae the table,
hale crews in scaly boots an skins awa
intae that blissfu warld where there's nae herrin,
nae boats, nae buyers, naethin real at a.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 90:
'Did she say anything?' he asked his aunt.
'Aye. She sat up and asked for yer faither. That was aboot three oors ago. Since then, naethin.'
Sc. 2003 Daily Record (30 Sep) 13:
And that's the problem with our world today. Everything is geared towards the no-users, chancers and spoilers, who are out of control, while decent citizens the silent majority have to live in fear.

[In O.Sc. from 14th c., O.E. nā(n). See P.L.D. § 32.2.]

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"Nae adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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