Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
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.

OR, prep., conj.1 Also nonce forms ore (Peb. 1793 R. D. C. Brown Carlop Green (1817) 11; Sc. 1898 L. Walford Leddy Marget 22), oore (Slk. 1820 Hogg Bridal of Polmood vii.), ur (Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.). See also Er(e), Ir. [gen. unstressed and hence ər]

I. prep. 1. Before, ere (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 54, 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Gen.Sc. Also in adv. comb. or lang (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), ere long, soon, shortly. Gen.Sc. See By, conj. (1).Sc. 1710 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 115:
Wee cannot yet be positive for what's fitt, but I hope wee will or Twesday.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 69:
There was a wife that kept her supper for her breakfast and she was dead or day.
Ayr. 1775 Burns I dream'd I lay ii.:
Lang or noon loud tempests, storming.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
I hae broken his head or now.
Slk. 1819 Hogg Tales (1874) 141:
One pert girl cried, “Ay, fie, tak' care, Wattie; I widna say but it may be thrapple deep or the morn.”
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie xli.:
It's no past the bounds o' probability that some morning or lang ye may rant and ring for your dochter.
e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 263:
We'll a' be deid or then.
Abd. 1893 G. MacDonald Songs 129:
I'm gauin hame to see my mither; She'll be weel acquant or this!
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xii.:
I'll be there long or that.
Sc. 1903 N.E.D.:
He'd been there oft or than, Ise warran'. I've seen him lang or now.
Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie 'Twixt Hills and Sea 39:
The lift's braw an' clear this mornin', But I doot it'll rain or nicht.

2. Until, till (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Sh., ne., em. and s.Sc. 1964).Lnk. 1827 J. Watt Poems 60:
Wait or the morn at een.
Edb. 1870 J. Lauder Warblings 67:
Oh, faither dinna sail or the dawn o' mornin' light.
Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken ii.:
She'll maybe no live or mornin'.
Abd. 1923 J. Hunter MS. Diary (4 Aug.):
We wrought or nearly 10 o'clock at night.
Ags. 1929 Scots Mag. (May) 148:
The milkin' wisna or nicht.

II. conj. 1. Before, ere (Sc. 1808 Jam.; I. and ne.Sc., Ags. 1964). In ref. to future time, freq. followed by the subjunctive, now obsol. Phrs. or ('t) be lang (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), or it's lang, or lang gae, or lang be (Sc. 1823 Blackwood's Mag. (March) 372); or a' be dune (deen), before it's all over (Ork., ne.Sc., Ags. 1975); see Lang, n., 1. (2), ere long. Comb. or ever, -ere, id. (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; ne.Sc. 1964).Cai. 1719 in C. K. Sharpe Acct. Witchcraft (1884) 191:
She said she knew him to be the devil or he parted with her.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 36:
He that marries or he be wise, will die or he be rich.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 80:
Their day-time toil had wrought them sick a wrack That, or they ee'd, the sun bet o' their back.
Sc. c.1783 Lady Maisry in Child Ballads No. 65 A. 22:
An, or the porter was at the gate, The boy was i the ha.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxii.:
Or ever Monday morning begins.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck i.:
Or it was lang he saw a white thing an' a black thing comin' up.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of Lairds xxxiv.:
[He] may . . . mak a playock wi' a whistle in its tail, or he'll either get heft or blade o' my vote.
Lnk. a.1854 W. Watson Poems (1877) 116:
Some day or't be lang.
Rnf. 1865 J. Young Homely Pictures 166:
Or ere my beast was oot the yoke.
Abd. 1868 G. MacDonald R. Falconer II. xvi.:
He's gaein' to mak' something o' im, or a' be dune.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 128:
'Twad be a sheem Tae aet the lempits or he comes heem.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 39:
He . . . dee't . . . or ever his numerous new friens could get him wheedle't oot o' muckle o' his siller.
Sc. 1995 David Purves Hert's Bluid 19:
Tak yeir pype an yeir auss out o here
or A clatter yeir lug wi ma ring!
ne.Sc. 1996 Lindsay Paterson in Sandy Stronach New Wirds: An Anthology of Winning Poems and Stories from the Doric Writing Competitions of 1994 and 1995 17:
It wis aboot fower o'clock or she fell asleep.

2. Until, till (Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Sh., ne., em. and s.Sc. 1964). Comb. or aince, id. (ne.Sc. 1964, eence).Sc. 1761 Session Papers, Gray v. Southwell (27 Feb.) 18:
Bear up my Wife's Heart as much as possible, or I see and win home.
Sc. 1826 Burd Isabel in Child Ballads No. 257 A. 1:
There is a stane in yon water It's lang or it grow green.
Fif. 1870 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 104:
Jock gaed far and far and farer nor I can tell, or he cam to a king's hoose.
ne.Sc. 1893 Dunbar's Wks. (S.T.S.) III. 355:
I winna gyang awa or ye dee't.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 71:
I didna gaither my feet or aince it was a' by.
Gsw. 1937 F. Niven Staff at Simson's viii.:
Wait or I get the tickets.
Ags. 1952 Forfar Dispatch (4 Dec.):
She's knipit awa at the knittin or her beens is a' sair.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 107:
Whiles she'd let the milk curdle and make a hangman cheese, hanging it outside on a nail in the wall for nearly a week or it dried and hardened.

3. In expressions of preference: sooner than, rather than (ne.Sc., Ayr., Kcb., Uls. 1964).Ayr. 1792 Burns The Weary Pund iv.:
And or I wad anither jad, I'll wallop in a tow.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xlii.:
He wald scroll for a plack the sheet, or she kenn'd what it was to want.
Sc. 1903 N.E.D.:
I wad sterve or I wad be obleig't to the like o' him.

4. Than. Now only in I.Sc. but in O.Sc., orig. as in 3. above, and in use till the late 17th c. when it was replaced by Nor, conj., 1.Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 3:
For dey wur no' a Heeland chief bit what t'oucht himsel' better or ony lord i' the land, a'to' he hed no' a sark tae his back.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 76:
Noo I'm been mairried mair or twice.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (29 Oct.):
Der no a thing 'at I laek better ir a rosn tattie.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 157:
Better cleanly want or a filty fill.

[In the above meanings obs., dial. or arch. in Eng. since the 17th c. Or is a southern form of O.N. ár, early, already found in O.Sc. from 1375. The O.E. form ǣr, compar., gives the cognate Er(e), q.v.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Or prep., conj.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: