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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PEREMPTOR, adj., adv. Also p(e)rempter, -ar, -our, paremptor, peremtor, -ur; peremper; ¶perinter; and reduced forms perempt; perent (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928) s.v. pernitret). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. peremptory. [pə′rɛmtər]

I. adj. 1. As in Eng., imperative, demanding instant obedience, insistent.Sc. 1705 Analecta Scot. (Maidment, 1837) II. 18:
I have not had my thoughts that way, and so I hope you will not be peremptor.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 96:
The Missive Letter, and peremptor Bill, Forbade them rest, and call'd forth all their Skill.
Gsw. 1736 J. McUre View Gsw. 74:
The Provost being peremptor to have the King's order obeyed.
Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 185:
That peremptor messenger's boun' . . . To flit ye far, Lord knows to where.
Rnf. 1852 J. Fraser Poetic Chimes 135:
The beast gied orders sae perempt, 'Twas vain an excuse to attempt.

2. Of things: urgent, pressing, imperative, unavoidable.Sc. 1701 Seafield Corresp. (S.H.S.) 337:
Heaveing an paremptor affaire att Edr quhilk vill requeire munnie.
Sc. 1718 News from Bathgate 35:
Your Choice is peremptor. For we, your Masters, Inquire, If ye will die by Wounds, or Plaisters.

3. Of persons: positive, absolutely certain and assured; of things: precise, outright, unequivocal.Kcb. 1700 Session Bk. Minnigaff (21 April):
Through the interval she could not be peremptor as to particulars.
Sc. 1728 P. Walker Six Saints (Fleming 1901) I. 258:
It contains several peremptor gross mistakes.
Wgt. 1731 Session Bk. Wgt. (1 Jan.):
His maisters positive peremptor certification.
Sc. 1904 A. M. Anderson Crim. Law 280, 289:
A second diet is peremptory: it cannot of consent be called before, or postponed after, the date mentioned in the citation . . . The prosecutor and each panel has five peremptory challenges. Not more than two peremptory challenges may be directed against separate jurors.

Phr. peremptory defences in Sc. Law usage: a defence put forward by a litigant in a lawsuit which, if proved, would have the effect of at once annulling all further proceedings (see quots.) (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 64). The equivalent in Eng. law is pleas in bar. See also Dilatory Defence, Preliminary.Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institute I. iv. 143:
A peremptory Defence excludes the Action for ever. Such Defence is made against the Validity of the Pursuer's Title, or the Instructions thereof; or against the Relevancy or Verity of the Libel.
Sc. 1732 J. Louthian Form of Process (1752) 267:
All his Defences, both dilator and peremptor, which the Sherriff shall either advise in Court, or allow.
Sc. 1754 Erskine Principles iv. i. § 39:
Defences are pleas offered by a defender for eliding an action. They are either dilatory, which do not enter into the cause itself. . . . or peremptory, which entirely cut off the pursuer's right of action.
Sc. 1896 W. K. Morton Manual 459:
Defences may be of two kinds: (1) Dilatory, sometimes termed preliminary, which do not enter into the merits of the dispute, but object to the action brought . . . (2) Peremptory, or defences on the merits, which challenge the foundation of pursuer's claim. The effect of success here is a judgment of absolvitur, entirely freeing the defender from the claim in all time coming.

4. Of persons: excessively careful, fussy, finicking, “extremely nice” (Lth. 1825 Jam., peremper, -or; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), perent, Sh. 1965).Sh. 1899 Shetland News (18 Feb.):
Benna is ower peremtur wi' her ain aerrinds, lat alane idder folks.

5. Used elliptically as quasi-n.: (1) = peremptory defences (see 3.); (2) to be, be put to or stand to, at, (up)on one's peremptors, to be precise and formal in one's attitude, to stand firm on one's ground, to mind one's ps and qs (Bwk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 140).(1) Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institute I. iv. 227:
Except Dilators peremptoriae causae, i.e. those proponed as Peremptors, upon the Verity whereof the Defender ventures the Cause.
(2) Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xli., xcii.:
An t'ou's sae on thy peremptors, I fancy I maun comply . . . Had Mr. Keelevin been noo to the fore, I wouldna needed to be put to my peremptors.
Lth. 1825 Jam.:
“He's ay upon his perempers.” he's always so precise.
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. ii.:
“I am no pretender to carnal knowledge,” quoth I — for I at first stood on my peremptors.
Ayr. 1834 Galt Lit. Life III. 89:
I could not spend time in idle talk, for there is nothing, in a purpose of marriage, like a man being on his peremptors.

II. adv. 1. Decisively, conclusively, immoveably, categorically. Also peremptorly, id.Gall. 1729 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) II. 123:
A letter from William M'Kitrick at London, alledged fornicator with Mary Kimmin, peremptorly denying all guilt with her.
Sc. 1751 W. McFarlane Geneal. Coll. (S.H.S.) II. 455:
I am perempterly of the oppinion it was no Sooner than the Son of the Alfornus that first took the name of Lessly.
Lnk. 1838 J. Morrison McIlwham Papers 14:
The maister refuset peremptor.

2. Exactly, precisely.Inv. 1715 Inverness Kirk Sess. Rec. (Mitchell 1902) 238:
D — was ordered to give in that money to James Vaus by four in the afternoon premptarly.

3. Swiftly, smartly, without any delay (Abd. 1965).Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS.:
The corn had tae be geddert up vera perinter.

[O.Sc. peremptoir, definite, outright, 1397, defenssis peremptouris, 1561, peremptour, n., id., 1552, to one's peremptors, 1635, ad. Fr. peremptoire, Lat. peremptorius (from perimere, to take away), esp. in Civil Law sense, “precluding all further dispute, decisive. final”, the earliest usage of the word in Eng.]

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"Peremptor adj., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2023 <>



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