Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PIECE, n. Also peice, peece, pees, pice. Dim. piecie. Sc. forms and usages:

1. As in Eng., but with ellipsis of o(f) (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 73; Bnff., Ags., Per., Lth., wm.Sc., Rxb. 1965). Cf. Bit and O, 1. (5). Sc. 1699 J. Clark Memento Mori 11:
Playing with a piece Pear, and throwing it up to intercept or kepp it in his mouth.
Sc. 1706 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 442:
For a peice tree . . . ¥0. 14. 0.
Sc. 1712 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) II. 138:
He eat his dinner very heartily, and seeing the cheese, he said, “Give me a peice cheese.”
Bte. 1746 Rothesay T. C. Rec. (1935) II. 788:
The Petition of John Moor wright craving a few of a peice ground lying to the eastward of his house.
Sc. 1753 “Theophilus Insulanus” Second Sight (1819) 3:
A piece linen from under his chin tied to the crown of his head.
Sc. 1909 N.E.D.:
Give me a small piece paper.
wm.Sc. 1932 A. H. Charteris When the Scot Smiles 248:
There's no her bate in Glesca at a drope soup, or a piece fish!

Sc. combs. and phrs.: (1) a piec(i)e, a little, somewhat, rather, slightly (Sh., Cai., Abd., Lth. 1965); (2) baa-piece, see Baa, (Suppl.); (3) door-piece, see Door, n.1, 4. (9); (4) owre the piece, = (8); (5) piece about, turn about, alternately; (6) piece and piece, piece by piece, little by little, gradually; (7) the piece, each, each one, apiece (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 89; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 259). Gen.Sc.; (8) through the piece, from first to last, as a whole, taken all over. (1) Ags. 1912 V. Jacob Interloper 240:
It's a piecie cauld, d'ye no think?
(4) m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 64:
I think, owre the piece, he's jist a gie queer hairum-scairum sort o' loon.
(5) Slk. 1835 Hogg Tales (1874) 541:
I'll make my brother Adam carry it piece about with you.
(6) Sc. 1721 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) II. 50:
Piece and piece as your leisure allows, pray send me what hath been remarkable as to religion and learning this last year.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 78:
Sae piece an' piece they lift them as they dow, An' see't all ocean down into the how.
(7) Bte. 1721 Session Bk. Rothesay (1931) 361:
James Stewart as justice of peace fined them in ten pounds Scots the piece.
Cai. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 48:
A fine of a cow the piece.
Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters IV. 141:
I suppose this is your maid wi' you, an' I'm sorry we canna gi'e you beds the piece.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxx.:
Ilka twa hoors or sae, I dealt oot a cawker to the piece o' them.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) ii.:
Weel, you're baith in the richt o'd . . . for you've bocht a sofa tae the piece o' ye.
Edb. 1900 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 18:
Ane o' thae dealers offered me six pund the piece for them.
Abd. 1913 C. Murray Hamewith 57:
Lang-leggit Time, but he was fleet When we'd a lass the piece.
Bch. 1941 C. Gavin Black Milestone vii.::
We hadna naething, just oor twa hands the-piece.
(8) s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 341:
Just thro' the piece tak Yeadie's race, An' point out ane wi' a clean face.
m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 63:
I dare say no a ill chiel, through the piece.

2. Used absol., with the omission of any complementary phr., in specif. senses: (1) a piece of bread and butter, jam, or the like, a snack, usu. of bread, scone or oatcake, a sandwich (Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 45). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. See also Jeelie, n., 2. (5). Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 35:
Rest you, bony hen, An' tak a piece; your bed's be made the ben.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 149:
A wheen babling bubly bairns, crying piece minny, parich minny.
Dmf. 1830 W. Bennet Traits Sc. Life II. 159:
During the day, he [stone-dyker] subsists on his piece.
Fif. 1862 St. Andrews Gazette (12 Sept.):
A gi'en piece is soon eaten up.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 44:
He got a great fardil o' cheese an' bread till's aifterneen piece.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxiii.:
My bit piece in a wee bag that she caa'ed her schule bag.
wm.Sc. 1928 J. Corrie Last Day 19:
There's something wrang wi' a man that canna tak' his piece.
s.Sc. 1937 Border Mag. (Sept.) 141:
All carried lunches were “pieces” then. I hope you have not begun to call them lunches.
Sc. 1955 J. Beith The Corbies iv. i.:
There were no “jam pieces” to be enjoyed between meals, so acceptable to the aching voids of the adolescent.

Combs.: (i) baby's piece, see quot. and (ii) (em.Sc.(a), w.Lth. 1965); (ii) bairn's piece, see sep. art. and cf. (i); (iii) bride's piece, a tea or light meal provided at a wedding by the bride's parents (‡Cai. 1965); (iv) cutting-off-piece, see sep. art.; (v) piece-box, the box in which a workman or schoolchild carries his midday snack or piece (Cai., wm.Sc., Gall., Uls. 1965). Cf. (vii) below; (vi) piece-denner, -dinner, a mid-day snack of sandwiches or the like (ne., em. and s.Sc. 1965); (vii) piece-poke, -pyokie, the paper bag in which a snack is carried (ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Kcb. 1965). Cf. (v) above; (viii) piece-time, a break for a meal or snack during working or school hours (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 50). Gen.Sc.; (ix) skule-piece, a child's mid-morning or lunchtime snack at school. Gen.Sc. Cf. (vi); (x) tea-piece, a mid-afternoon snack (Abd., Fif. 1965); (xi) twal'-piece, a light meal or snack taken at noon (Ork. 1965). (i) Fif. 1952 Sc. Daily Mail (5 Feb.):
Two youngish women approached him. One, wheeling a pram, stopped and said to him: “We have just come from the baby's christening. You are the first man we have met and we would like to give you Baby's Piece.” With a substantial slice of christening cake he was handed a portion of cheese and a half-crown. I am told it's an old Newhaven custom.
(iii) Sh. 1869 J. T. Reid Art Rambles 62:
Tea, or the “bride's piece” is generally over about six o'clock.
(v) wm.Sc. 1928 J. Corrie Last Day 19:
“Aweel,” said Jock, dumping his piece-box on the “pavement”, “if that's it I've got it.”
Sc. 1957 Bulletin (19 Oct.):
I was looking at plastic sandwich boxes, and my mind went back to the tin piece box that men used to carry to work.
(vi) Abd. 1963 Huntly Express (5 April) 1:
I well remember children from our own rural parish with their “piece denners”.
(vii) Bnff. 1916 Banffshire Jnl. (25 April) 3:
Not an infrequent opening of the “piece pyokie”, and a “houp” from the bottle.
(viii) Bnff. 1882 W. M. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars vii.:
“Piece time” comes at the middle of the day, when the whole company . . . sitting down along the side of the stooks, eat oatmeal cakes and cheese and drink brisk beer.
Ags. 1920 D. H. Edwards Muirside 219:
The solemn-looking old clock had apparently ever been an object of interest to the bairns — specially so, no doubt, at “leavie” and “piece” times.
Fif. 1954 Bulletin (18 May) 10:
In a resolution to the [miners'] union's annual conference at Rothesay next month they demand a return to a minimum of 30 minutes for “piece-time.”
(ix) Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 100:
A lump of this “sowany daigh” rolled in oatmeal to make it dry enough to carry in the pocket, was quite a usual “skule piece”.
(x) Ags. 1884 Brechin Advertiser (22 April):
The “tea piece” in the afternoon.
(xi) Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 100:
Sometimes a bowl of raw sowens with a handful of oatmeal added, was taken as a “twal'-piece”.

(2) a sheepmark made by cutting a small nick out of a sheep's ear near the base (Ork. 1760 in R. Pococke Tours (S.H.S.) 140, note; Sh. 1965).

(3) an indefinite space or distance, short for piece of gate, ground, etc. (I., n.Sc., Per. 1965). Also in Eng. dial. Wgt. 1707 Session Bk. Glasserton MS. (6 April):
John Stewart . . . acknowledged that he went after sermons upon a Sabbath day to the sea shore a little piece from his dwelling house.
Kcd. 1724 J. A. Henderson Banchory-Devenick (1890) 256:
After he had rode a piece of ground, [he] was forced to alight.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. ii. ii.:
Rousted with Eild, a wee Piece Gate seems lang.
n.Sc. c.1730 E. Burt Letters (1815) I. 145:
He told us we must go west a piece . . . and then incline to the north.
Sc. a.1740 Sweet William's Ghost in Child Ballads No. 77. A. xi.:
Now she has kilted her robes of green A piece below her knee.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 90:
Seeing aunty, back a piece he lap.
Edb. 1827 Justiciary Reports (1829) 153:
He was lying on his back, and his head was a piece off the ground.
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 591:
Du wid a geen a güde pees o gett afoar du fan twa better flyters.
Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (3 April) 410:
“Ha'e ye come far the day, na?” “Frae Selkirk,” returned the other. “That's a gude piece,” said Wattie.
Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 68:
Folk war sayin' we wad need tae sit a piece fae the wa' whan we war aetin' her.
Sh. 1961 New Shetlander No. 57. 7:
Whin ye're a piece awa fae laand Wi da blue joob below your keel.

(4) a place, spot, location, locality (I.Sc. 1965). Phrs. the bad piece, Hell, the nether regions, the guid piece, Heaven. Also adv. = Eng. -where in nae-piece, ony-. Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 3:
A' the folk at foucht against Charlie wur seur tae gang tae the bad piece whin day dee'd . . . Charlie had lost the day at a piece they ca' Culloden.
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 319:
Hid's weel kent 'at Gaelic's the lingo dat's taaked i' da bad piece.
Ork. 1910 Ib. III. i. 30:
Dey waar on dere wey tae tak his puir bit o' bairn an' lave a trowie rickity deean ting at dey hed wi' dem i 'er piece.
Ork. 1949 “Lex” But-end Ballans 13:
A race o' folk Wha's like is nee peece else.
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 141:
The lassie wis awa', clean awa', no sight or sign o' her ony peece.

(5) a portion or space of time. Obs. or dial. in Eng. Kcd. 1819 J. Burness Plays, etc. 19:
Isna my master wakened yet? I think it is a terrible piece o' the day.
Sh. 1965:
Wait a piece.
Abd. 1965:
“Ten mair days to wait!” “Aye, and a piece.”

(6) a derogatory term for a person, “individual”, “type”, “creature”. Also piece of goods, piece of work, id., of which this is prob. a shortened form. Also in Eng. dial. Sc. 1713 Hist. MSS. Comm. Report (Portland MSS.) X. 298:
I believe your Lordship will have nothing to do with him he being a whidling, dangerous, piece of work and not to be trusted.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 117:
There's few wad think her sic a saucy piece!
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxxv.:
She must be an ill-fashioned piece, if you're so much afraid of her.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 46:
Ye littleworth piece o'a littleworth kin'.
Ayr. 1891 H. Johnstone Kilmallie I. ix.:
The double pieces that they are!

[O.Sc. peace bread, 1580, pece and pece 1533.]

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"Piece n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Jun 2021 <>



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