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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.

ONSTEAD, n. Also -steed (Zai), and deriv. -steading. The houses and buildings forming a farm-stead (e.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1942 Zai.; s.Sc. 1964); a cluster of farm-workers' houses or the like. Cf. Onset, Steading. [′onstɛd; Rxb. -stid]e.Lth. 1713 Country-Man's Rudiments 30:
Plant round all your Yards with Ash and Elm-trees . . . and in Time they will serve to keep up the whole Onstead of Houses.
Abd. 1748 Abd. Journal (17 May):
Alexander Cheyne lately Indweller and Inhabitant in the Village or Onstead at or near the Miln of Macterry in the Parish of Fyvie.
Rxb. 1768 Session Papers, Buccleugh v. Turnbull, etc. (10 March) 7:
Up to the North Side of the Syke, then East back of the Onstead of Closses.
Ayr. 1805 Hume Decisions (1839) I. 572:
The onstead, or dwelling-house on the lands.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf xviii.:
A high narrow onstead of three stories, with a chimney at each end.
Dmf. 1830 W. Bennett Traits Sc. Life II. 186:
A search was leisurely made throughout and around the whole onsteading of houses.
Lnk. 1837 Trans. Highl. Soc. 370:
The erection of onsteads is always set about at the commencement of a lease.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders iv.:
As soon as ever I could get near the onstead for yowching dogs.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 93:
Frae onsteads near the lads appear.

[On-, pref.1, + Stead.]

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



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