Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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OUTFANG, n., adj. An abbrev. form of the feudal law term Outfangthief. See also Infang.

I. n. 1. The right of a landowner to pursue a thief outside his own jurisdiction in order to bring him to justice, or his right to try and punish a thief from elsewhere who comes within his jurisdiction. The precise application of the word is uncertain. Now only hist. Used adv. in Ayr. 1816 quot. Ayr. 1816 A. Boswell Works (1871) 146:
And whether the thief, he be caught In the fact, or be gruppit out-fang.
Sc. 1828 Scott F.M. Perth iv.:
Would you have us now yield up our rights, privileges, and immunities, our outfang and infang, our hand-habend, our buck-bearand?

2. Goods stolen outside a landowner's jurisdiction, prob. meant rather to represent a n.comb. Out + Fang, n.1, 1. Sc. 1732 Six Saints (Fleming 1901) II. 50:
James Irvine of Bonshaw, who formerly made a trade of fine horses, of outfang and infang betwixt the kingdoms.

II. adj. Of a thief, guilty of theft outside the specified baronial jurisdiction in which he is caught. Kcd. 1700 J. Anderson Black Bk. (1843) 130:
He is accused as a common and notorious theif, outfang theif, infang thief, and a theif by open voice and common fame.
Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate xxx.:
A country where men's wordly gear was keepit from infang and outfang thief, as well as their immortal souls from the claws of the deil and his cummers.

[O.Sc. outfang, = 1., 1549. Meanings I. 2. and II. are extensions from the orig. meaning, itself a development of O.E. ūtfangene þēof, “a thief caught outside”, a later formation after infangene þēof. See note to Infang.]

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"Outfang n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2020 <>



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