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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PIE, n. Also py, pye (Sc. 1717 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 20); pay (Sc. c.1805 Jolly Beggars in Child Ballads No. 279 A. ix.); peh (Dundee). Sc. forms and usages:

1. As in Eng. Sc. combs.: †(1) Buckhaven pie, a jocular name for a crab, sc. meat enclosed in a hard case or shell; (2) pie-piece, a sandwich (Abd. 1951).  See also Piece 2. (1). (3) peh supper, a Scotch pie (see Scots, B. I. 1. Combs), with chips, bought from a fish and chip shop. (1) Fif. 1730 Earl of Haddington Select Poems (1824) 48:
And what to strangers give surprise, They call the crabs Buckhaven pyes.
(3) Dundee 1996 Matthew Fitt Pure Radge 11:
fehve peh suppers oot the deep sea, mario

2. An affair, business, matter, “ploy”, escapade (Abd. 1965).m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 251:
He's no get oot the pye sae easy as he's maybe thinkin'.
Gsw. 1886 A. G. Murdoch Readings 109:
“Can ye keep a secret, Tam?” “Brawly, Johnny, brawly, — if I'm in the pie.”
Gsw. 1887 Ib. 109:
“Eh, me, we're in a fine pie noo!” forebodingly said Mattie.
Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 67:
Geordie Steerich wisna i' the pie ava.

3. An agreement, bargain, understanding.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 107:
They made their py, an' aff together steer'd.

4. A shallow pit or heap of potatoes or other root-crops covered with straw for storage. Also in Eng. dial.Bwk. 1809 R. Kerr Agric. Bwk. 293:
A pit, or pie, is a conical heap of potatoes, about four feet diameter at bottom, built up to a point, as high as they will admit of, and resting upon the dry bare ground. The heap is carefully covered by a layer of straw: a trench is then dug all round, and the earth thrown over the straw, and well beaten down by the spade. The apex, or summit of the heap, is generally secured from rain by a broad grassy sod.
Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 217:
Storing potatoes, either in the trench, or in the pie, on the surface, is found preferable to keeping them in any building.

5. In quoiting: the soft, muddy patch with the target at which the quoit is aimed (Per. 1965).

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"Pie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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