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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

NOURICE, n., v. Also †n(o)ur(r)ice, -is, †noorise(Abd.1768 A. Ross Helenore(S.T.S.) 30); †nur(r)ish, †norish; †ne(e)rice, †nires, †neiris(h) (ne.Sc.); and reduced forms no(a)rse (Abd. 1886 W. Robbie Glendornie xxix.; ‡ne.Sc. 1964) corresp. to Eng. nurse. [′nørɪs; ne.Sc. ′ni-; in the sense of nourish freq. pronounced by older speakers as ′norɪʃ]

I. n. A nurse (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Obs. in Eng. from early 18th c. Mainly liter. and in ballads. Also attrib.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 29:
A Fool of a Nurrish makes a wise Child.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 53:
Mony a ane kisses the bairn for love of the nurice.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 30:
Fan I was young, upo' the neirish knee.
Sc. a.1818 Queen of Elfan's Nourice in Child Ballads No. 40. ix.:
O keep my bairn, nourice, Till he gang by the hauld.
ne.Sc. 1828–9 Lamkin in Child Ballads No. 93 N. 2:
O far's the laird o this place? O neerice, tell me.
Hdg. 1844 J. Miller Lamp of Lothian (1900) 225:
Ye nourices that hae bairns to keep.
Sh. 1852 P.S.A.S. I. 86:
An eartly nourris sits and sings And aye she sings, Ba, lily wean!
Abd. 1925 Greig and Keith Last Leaves 72:
“O still my bairn, nerice” she said.
ne.Sc. 1956 Mearns Leader (9 March):
Ye'll rise in a day or twa, if yer noarse cuts oot Shauchie.

Combs.: 1. nourice-fee, nursing fee, the wages given to a wet-nurse (Sc. 1825 Jam.); 2. nourice-skep, -skap, -ship, the place or situation of a nurse (Sc. 1808 Jam.), the art of nursing; the fee given to a nurse (Sc. 1808 Jam.).1. Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 67:
A gueed nourice-fee, To nurse the King of Elfin's heir Fizzee.
ne.Sc. c.1805 Jolly Beggar in Child Ballads No. 279 A. xxv.:
Four-an-tuenty hunder mark, to pay the nires feea.
2. Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. iii.:
“What is her connexion with the former proprietor's family?” “O, it was something of a nourice-ship, I believe.”
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. v.:
I'm a car-handed man, it's true, wi' little skill in nourcie-skep, be it of bairn or body.

II. v. As in Eng. Vbl.n. nouricing, nursing, a nurse's care and attention.Sc. c.1825 Fair Janet in Child Ballads No. 64 B. viii.:
I have a babe into my arms He'll die for nouricing.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxxix.:
“Hoo's yer mistress, Jeames . . .?” “Nae that ill, but some forfochten wi' norsin' Mr. Alec.”
Dmf. 1885 F. Miller Poets Dmf. (1910) 204:
“My young babe's in my arms,” she says, “That was nouriced in shame and sin.”
Sc.(E) 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ i. xxiv.:
Blyther nor gin it hed been nouriced i' delichts.

[O.Sc. nuryse, nowrys, a.1400, Mid.Eng. nurice, O.Fr. nurice, no(u)rice, a nurse.]

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



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