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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.

OUTBY, adv., adj., n., prep. Also -bye, ootby(e), owt-; oodby, udbe, udbi, ubi (Sh.); and pleonastic from ¶ubdee by. [ut′bɑe, I.Sc. ′u(d)bɪ]

I. adv. 1. Outwards, out and a little way off from the speaker, beyond, to or at some distance from a point expressed or inferred in the context, away from the shore, out at sea, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Gen.Sc., also in n.Eng. dial.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 115:
An' gar'd her lips on his gee sick a smack That well outby ye wad ha heard the crack.
Ags. 1794 W. Anderson Piper of Peb. 15:
The short pouch-pistol that had shot Him dead, out-by a bit they got.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxv.:
The very pick-maws and solan geese ootby yonder at the Bass.
Ags. 1857 A. Douglas Ferryden 84:
Josey an's crew didna ging very far oot bye this lang time.
Inv. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evid. IV. 2966:
Some of them are more lucky than others in getting jobs out by.
Kcd. 1933 L. G. Gibbon Cloud Howe (1937) 233:
Folk sat outbye and couldn't make out the words that the two spoke one to the other.
Sh. 1949 P. Jamieson Letters on Shet. 10:
The voe and channel “out-by” are fine boating and fishing places.
Slk. 1991 Harvey Holton in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 132:
Finn Spies the Deer an Sends the Dug Bran Oot-Bye
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 3:
The bings oot-by, lik dour black cairns,
raised ti a special breed o men, -
o moles, wha howk thir stent o coal an then, ...

2. (1) Out-of-doors, outside, out in the fields (Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1753 Scots Mag. (July) 344:
There were two gentlemen wanting him out-by; and . . . he went out.
Rxb. 1811 A. Scott Poems 10:
What tho' hard poverty's your lot, To work out bye in hodden coat.
Edb. 1816 J. Aikman Poems 181:
The bairns are a' enjoin'd to tak their books, An' no allow'd to play themselves out-bye.
Fif. 1845 T. C. Latto Minister's Kail-yard 28:
Their plaids threw round them, late their blanket, Took up their rungs, an' out-bye shankit.
Dmb. 1894 D. MacLeod Past Worthies 200:
“Where is your father?” “He's workin' in the mill.” “And your mother?” “She's oot by workin'.”
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong Robbie Rankine 4:
Geordie Simpson and the boy were oot at the horse, and seein' a' things richt oot-by.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde & Tweed 84:
Until the hey oot-by had cast the dew.
Ags. 1933 W. Muir Mrs. Ritchie viii.:
I'm awa' ootbye to ha'e a crack.
Arg. 1951 Scots Mag. (June) 190:
The wind of the western ocean howling and moaning among the rocks and the whins outby.
em.Sc.(a) 1991 Kate Armstrong in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 114:
Ilka day she howders wi a sey tae the wal
In the yaird ootbye.
Sc. 1991 R. Crombie Saunders in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 30:
They hear a tap on the winnock,
They see a beckonan wraith:
Outbye stauns their deid faither,
Hapt in his black priest-claith.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 16:
Geordie Pate o the Loan:
Dwelt aye at the back-en o his hoose
Nivver faur frae his neeps
Whiles, come evening, gangin ootbye
He'd hae a last bit glower at the lift
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 104:
'Jean,' he said sharply. 'Will ye gang oot for a minute?'
She instantly stood up and made as if to move ben, but he barked at her again. 'Na, na - oot, I said. Ootby if ye please. Maister Mitchel and I hae a private matter to settle.'

(2) Away from home, not at hand; abroad. Also fig.Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. vii.:
A' gaes wrang when the Master's out by.
Lth. 1852 M. Oliphant Adam Graeme iii. viii.:
He's been twa-three years out bye yonder [in India].
Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle ii. viii.:
The kind of food you've been used to outbye.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 51:
Fowk caa fur luv ootbye
Bit luv bides inbye.

(3) In mining: nearer to the shaft, towards the pit-mouth (Ayr. 1964).Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 129:
Archie Sma' . . . was coming oot bye through the waste when the Doura misfortune took place.

(4) Away from the populous part of a district, in an outlying, gen. upland part (Kcb., s.Sc. 1964). Cf. Inby, I. 3. and II. 1. (2) below.Slk. 1823 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. i.:
For as far outbye as I live, I can tell ye some things that ye dinna hear amang your drinking cronies.
Rxb. 1923 Kelso Chron. (11 Dec.) 2:
“Jock” Fair o' Bughtrig was an interesting personality “ootbye,” and was much liked for his friendly ways. In all the hill gatherings he was keenly interested.
Dmf. 1957 Dmf. & Gall. Standard (9 March):
Collie Bitch, 4 years, for Sale, good out-bye, run out any distance.
Abd. 1994 David Toulmin in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 71:
"An affa big dookit for juist twa doos!" That was the wye that the folk outby spoke aboot the Dookit Fairm.

(5) In or towards the outer part of a room, away from the fire, nearer the door, in I.Sc. specif. in or to the outby (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., ubi; I.Sc. 1964). See III. below.Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 88:
While the gudeman out-by maun fill his crap Frae the milk coggie, or the parritch cap.
Abd. 1867 A. Allardyce Goodwife 8:
Oh! mem, ye're unco far ootby; Jist sit in to the fire.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 11:
Dan I draas him wi forrce ubdee by ta da door.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 8, 12:
The but-end or kitchen . . . bore also the name of in-by or abune-the-fire, to distinguish it from oot-by or ahint-the-fire.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 92:
I guid oodly [sic] for a drink o' watter.

II. adj. 1. (1) outlying, out-of-the-way, distant, away from the main or central part of anything (Sh., Abd., Ags., Uls. 1964).Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 182:
[I] found them in an outbye stable.
wm.Sc. 1842 Children in Trades Report ii. I 5:
Out-by departments, in which the hours are much more frequently excessive than in the printing-shops.
s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell Psalms II. 8:
The maist owt-bye pairts o' the yirth.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (3 March):
Da oodby pairt o' da byre güde, shael an' a'.
Sc. 1931 J. Lorimer Red Sergeant ii.:
It's frae ootbye pairts ye maun be no to ken o' that.

(2) specif., of a farm or farm-land: away from the steading (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor), in the outlying fields, in an upland or more pastoral area (Sc. 1903 N.E.D.; sm. and s.Sc. 1964). Hence outby herd, a hill shepherd (Dmf. 1955), outby herding.Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf ix.:
Harry and I hae been to gather what was on the out-bye land, and there's scarce a cloot left.
s.Sc. 1850 Sc. Minstrel (Rogers 1885) 366:
“An out-bye herding” in the wilds of Eskdalemuir.
Slk. 1891 W. Dalgliesh Poems 23:
Ootbye herds whyles had to contend Wi' slight snaw-storms.
Rxb. 1923 Kelso Chron. (3 Oct.) 2:
It is a great gathering the Yetholm show, both for “outbye” and “inbye” folks.
s.Sc. 1936 Scotsman (16 May) 17:
With his dog behind him, the shepherd strode away to the “ootby hirsel.”
Rxb. 1955 Southern Reporter (8 Dec.) 6:
The difficulty of finding shepherds for oot-bye places in the Borders.

(3) in I.Sc.: in or near the outer part of the living-room in the old style of farmhouse. See III. below.Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 133:
He wis at da ubie end o' da table, an' I sees him risin an' makin fur da fire.
Sh. 1964 Sh. Folk-Book IV. 6:
Young calves were brought into the “but-end” and given a “böl” on the “ootby” floor.

(4) Of a boat, sailing to distant waters.Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 101:
The outby boats went off to very distant waters, taking on much more ice and even greater quantities of stores. They were bound for the far-aways.

2. Out of doors, outside, in the fields, rural, esp. in combs. outbye work, field labour (Sc. 1825 Jam.), -worker, a field labourer (s.Sc. 1872 D.S.C.S. 227: Lth. 1964). Cf. Out, V. 2.; fond of the open air.m.Lth. 1842 Children in Mines Report II. 447:
Have tried outbye work, that is, field labour, and prefer the work below.
Lnk. 1844 J. Lemon St. Mungo 51:
Scores o' ither outbye things It rackless bure awa'.
Lnk. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 11:
The rural celebration of the communion, called “Out-by Preachings,” or simply “the Occasion,” . . . has long passed away.
Dmf. 1898 J. Paton Castlebraes 145:
The ootbye Agricultural workers.
Arg. 1902 N. Munro Lost Pibroch 104:
The clean out-by life of shepherds.
Bwk. 1912 J. Burleigh Ednam 144, 145:
The hind and bondager of thirty years ago are now known as farm-servant and “oot-bye” worker . . . “Oot-bye” workers are more picturesque, with their great sun-bonnets and straw-rope leggings.
Rxb. 1918 Kelso Chron. (29 March) 4:
She's no' sae weel off's the oot-by workers.
Lnk. 1923 G. Rae 'Mang Lowland Hills 45:
To me wi' the ootby soul, an' the hillward een.
Sc. 1948 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 452:
Pity the oot-bye workers on a day like this!

III. n. The outer part of the old Shetland and Orkney kitchen between the back of the central fire-place and the door in which young animals were sometimes housed (Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh., Ork. 1964). See J. Omond Orkney 80 Years Ago 8, J. Firth Reminisc. (1922) 12. Also in Nhb. dial. Cf. II. 1. (3).

IV. prep. 1. On the outskirts or in the neighbourhood of (Sc. 1903 E.D.D.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; ne.Sc., Uls. 1964), outside, just beyond. This usage is prob. more freq. thought of as two separate words out + by and accented on the first [′ut bɪ]. For 1964 quot. cf. III.n.Sc. 1916 M. Maclean Songs 33:
Ootbye the toon o' Nairn.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 3:
Below the wa's, oot-by Montrose.
m.Sc. 1925 J. Buchan John Macnab v.:
I'll step doun i' the cairt afore mornin' and leave him ootbye the Castle.
Sh. 1964 Sh. Folk Book IV. 5:
Several “reps” running across the width of the room both “ootby” and “inby” the fire.

2. Outside, without. Also with of.Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxvi.:
“I was gaun a lang journey, outby of my father's knowledge.” “Outby his knowledge, Jeanie!”

3. As compared with. Cf. By, prep., 1. (1).Ags. 1887 A. D. Willock Rosetty Ends 90:
Much o' the amity that existed atween the twa beasts was due to the fact that nae partiality was shown to the ane ootbye the ither by Dauvit.

[Out, adv., + By, prep., 1. (5). O.Sc. outby, = I. 1., 1640.]

Outby adv., adj., n., prep.

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"Outby adv., adj., n., prep.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 May 2024 <>



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