Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PREE, v.1, n. Also prie. [pri:]

I. v. 1. (1) To make trial of, have experience of, try out, sample. Vbl.n. preein(g), a small quantity of anything, a sample (Bnff., Ags. 1966). Cf. II. 1. Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 113:
May they share o' ilka blessin', Sorrow never pree ava'.
Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St. Patrick I. xi.:
“Are the' ony mae o' ye hereawa wad like to pree the airn?” said the victorious youth to the dying warrior.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xvii.:
We were saddled with his family, which was the first taste and preeing of what war is when it comes into our hearths.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 86:
We'll pree the English the night.
Sc. a.1894 Stevenson New Poems (1918) 50:
To pree a' sensuality.
Per. 1894 I. MacLaren Brier Bush 199:
A' wish Elspeth MacFadyen cud hear ye, her 'at prees the sermons in oor Glen.
Bwk. 1947 W. L. Ferguson Makar's Medley 48:
For men, like craws, maun howk to pree The halesome fruits o' Toil.
Abd. 1959 People's Jnl. (19 Dec.):
Tae think that a fella craitur his tae pree the depths o' sorra tae the verra foun'.
Cai. 1966:
To pree a person: to find out what is in him.

(2) to try by tasting (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, prie s.v. Priefe). Gen.Sc., now chiefly liter. Also in Eng. dial. Vbl.n. preein(g), a taste, tasting (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Ags., Per., m.Lth. 1966). Cf. II. 1. Also fig. Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 115:
Nae henny-beik that ever I did pree Did taste so sweet.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 67:
Come prie, frail man, for gin thou art sick, The oyster is a rare cathartic.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 75:
Peg Pharis had, to quench her drouth But pried it.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 5:
O here's ae drap o' the damask wine; — Sweet maiden, will ye pree?
Slk. 1823 Hogg Tales (1874) 299:
After . . . tasting old Janet's best kebbuck and oatmeal cakes, and preeing the whisky bottle, the young farmer again set out.
Sc. 1832 Henderson Proverbs 58:
The proof o' the puddin's the preeing o't.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 295:
Lat's a' gaither in her, an' hae a preein' o' something afore we gang tae lan'.
Ork. 1913 Old-Lore Misc. VI. iv. 180:
Even those who had remained sober through the carousals of the night were apt to lose their balance after preeing this heady broust.
Sc. 1917 J. Lee Warriors 67:
Compel them come and pree The big and buirdly Haggis.

(3) Phrs.: (i) to pree (someone's) lips or mou, to kiss, “taste (another's) lips” (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (ii) to pree the mart, see quot. and Mart; (iii) to pree the tangs, to be in the grip of poverty, to suffer want or privation (Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 39). (i) Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 8:
He took aff his bonnet, and spat in his chow, He dighted his gab, and he pri'd her mou'.
Ayr. 1792 Burns O John, Come Kiss Me ii.:
O, some will court and compliment, And ither some will prie their mou.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 267:
I preed her lip, I prest her waist, I claspt her fondly to my brest.
w.Lth. 1890 A. M. Bisset Spring Blossoms 62:
My airm stole roon' yer yielding waist, And aft I pree'd yer mou'.
Abd. 1922 Weekly Free Press (21 Jan.) 7:
Nae word she spak, but held her mou' That I micht pree her lips. (ii) Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 44: The friends who came to “pree the mart” — that is, to dine, take tea, and spend the long winter afternoon and evening.
(iii) wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan (1868) 547:
A man wi' sic fare may ne'er pree the tangs. ¶(4) Nonce usages: (i) to give a taste or flavour to.
Edb. 1834 A. Smart Rambling Rhymes 102:
Tasty things it never lackit To pree the mou'.

(ii) to grip with the lips as if in sipping or tasting. s.Sc. 1947 L. Derwent Clashmaclavers 18:
Wi' twa-three preens preed in her mou'.

2. Specif. in herring fishing, esp. in phr. to pree the nets, to make a test haul to find out if the fishing area is a productive one. Also used absol. (Ork. 1825 Jam. s.v. preif) and in phr. to pree on (Arg. 1930). Sc. 1857 Chambers's Information I. 709:
A custom exists of preeing the nets — that is, lifting out a portion of a train and examining it.
Bnff. 1869 J. G. Bertram Harvest of Sea 453:
Some fisher-people perform a kind of “rite” before going to the herring-fishery, in drinking to a “white lug” — that is, that when they “pree” or examine a corner or lug of their nets, they may find it glitter with the silvery sheen of the fish, a sure sign of a heavy draught.
Arg. 1939:
Come along, mates, I think we should pree on noo and see if we hev a good marking; if no', we'll shuft.

II. n. 1. An experiencing or trying of something, a tasting or testing; a small quantity of the substance tested or tried, a sample, pinch. Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xxiv.:
The snuff that I hae here . . . tak a pree o't.
Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1863) I. 26:
I ken the verra gem-eggs, at the first pree, frae your dung-hill.
Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 169:
Gie me a pree, but no my fill.
Ags. 1880 A. M. Soutar Hearth Rhymes 37:
A kiss upon paper is cauld to the pree.

2. Nonce liter. extension of meaning: flavour. Lnk. 1881 A. Wardrop J. Mathison's Courtship 126:
Puir souls, they've forgotten its pree.

[A shortened form of prieve, Pruive, q.v. Cf. Gie, Hae, etc.]

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"Pree v.1, n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Jun 2021 <>



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