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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.

QUEEN, n. Also †quin. See also Wheen.

Sc. usages. [kwin; I.Sc. hwin]

1. As in Eng., the chief female personage in certain local festivals or celebrations, or at a ball, a harvest-queen, a Candlemas queen (see (2) below), etc. Cf. King, n., 1.Slk. a.1786 T. Craig-Brown Hist. Slk. (1886) I. 551:
Selkirk Ball turned out very hartsome . . . Whytebank and Miss Elliot King and Queen. Mrs. Mackay queen-elect for next ball.
Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 550:
The fortunate lass who took the maiden was the Queen of the feast.
Sc. 1822 R. M'Chronicle Legends Scot. III. 138:
In another part of the room, some young people were forming a throne for the king and queen.
Sc. 1863 R. Chambers Bk. Days I. 214:
The boy and girl who give most [to the Candlemas Day gift to the schoolmaster] are respectively styled King and Queen. The children, being then dismissed for a holiday [at Candlemas], proceed along the streets in a confused procession, carrying the King and Queen in state.
Fif. 1897 D. Pryde Queer Folk 182:
Then when the close came, and every ear of corn apparently was reaped, the favoured lass was taken to the spot, the stook was cleared away revealing the unreaped shock, she cut it and thus secured “the maiden,” and became “the Queen of the Harvest.”
Arg. 1897 Folk-Lore XI. 441:
The young reapers of both sexes, when they neared the end of the last rig or field, used to manoeuvre to gain possession of the Maighdean-Bhuana. The individual who was fortunate enough to obtain it was ex-officio entitled to be the King or the Queen of the Harvest-Home festival.
w.Lth. 1906 A. Porteous Town Council Seals 254:
Sometimes two persons were dressed in flannel, with burrs and led about, and they were respectively called the “King” and “Queen” [at Queensferry].
Rxb. 1918 Jedburgh Gaz. (8 Feb.) 2:
The ball was finely decorated with ribbons, the gift of Mr Halliburton's sister, Mrs John Spence, Dawson City, who was the last “Queen” of the Grammar School.

Specif.: (1) Beltane Queen, the girl who is crowned Queen at the annual Beltane celebrations in Peebles; †(2) Candlemas Queen, “the schoolgirl who, by presenting the largest sum of money to the master on Candlemas-day, won distinction and certain privileges” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). The custom died out about 1887; (3) Lanimer Queen, the girl chosen as queen at the celebrations accompanying the annual riding of the marches in Lanark (Lnk. 1967). See Lanimer; †(4) Queen of Cocks, = (2).(1) Peb. 1906 Edb. Ev. Dispatch (8 June):
The daughter of the gamekeeper . . . has gained the coveted honour of being Beltane Queen, she being dux girl at Kingsland school.
Peb. 1914 Weekly Scotsman (28 June):
Great crowds attended the annual March Riding and Beltane Queen ceremonies at Peebles on Saturday.
(2) Sc. 1947 H. W. Meikle Scotland 254:
The prohibition by the School Board of the Candlemas offerings that were part of the dominie's perquisites ended the historic custom of electing the Candlemas King and Queen.
(3) Lnk. 1918 T. Reid Lanimer Day 54:
A Lanimer Queen, chosen from the public schools of Lanark, New Lanark, St. Mary's and Kirkfieldbank by the suffrages of their comrades, and attended by maids of honour, heralds, court officials, rides in state in the procession.
Lnk. 1936 in M. M. Banks Cal. Customs (1939) I. 115:
The ceremonies associated with the Lanimer Queen date only from the nineties of the last century [1893].
(4) Sth. c.1800 in F. M. McNeill Silver Bough (1959) II. 34:
At Dornoch . . . the cockfight took place in the Sheriff Court Room, with the schoolmaster and a select party of friends on the Sheriff's bench. The coronation was held later in the school. The seats behind the master's desk were occupied by “the beauty and fashion of the Town,” some of whom were responsible for the devising and making of the crowns. The King and Queen of Cocks were called out, and after a Latin speech by the schoolmaster were duly crowned.

2. The cock that took second place in the. Candlemas cock-fighting held in schools in various parts of Scotland.Ags. 1860 A. Whamond J. Tacket 37:
My cock beat the whole, killed the queen, and bore away the bell.
Abd. a.1897 W. Gregor in M. M. Banks Cal. Customs I. 12:
The cock that gained most victories, or that “keepit the fleer langist” was named “King”, the one next to him “Queen”, and the third one “Knicht”.

3. The last sheaf of corn cut in the harvest, the corn-dolly sometimes made from this. Cf. Maiden.Bwk. 1902 Folk-Lore XIII. 178:
Two women on the Spottiswoode estate every year made “kirn dollies” or “queens”.

4. In dims. queenie, kweenack, the female of the crab, Cancer pagurus (Fif. 1911; Ork. 1929 Marw., kweenack).

5. Combs. and phrs.: (1) meadow queen, meadowsweet (Ork. 1967). See (8) and Meedow; (2) Queen Ann(e), a long-barrelled large-bore flint-lock musket of 18th-c. type; (3) Queen Ann(e)'s thrissil, the musk-thistle, Carduus nutans (Bwk. 1860 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1863) 210); (4) Queen Chronicle, the ladybird (Kcd. 1955 Scotsman (24 Dec.) 6). The second element is appar. a variant of -coll-awa as in King-coll-awa, id., s.v. King, n., 3. (10); (5) queen herring, the allis shad, Alosa alosa (Sc. 1864 J. M. Mitchell The Herring 41); (6) Queen Mary, (i) a girls' ring-dance accompanied by a song beginning “Queen Mary” (see quots.). Gen.Sc.; (ii) = (4) (Fif. 1955 Scotsman (24 Dec.) 6); (7) Queen of Heaven's hen, the skylark, Alauda arvensis. Cf. our Lady of Heaven's hen, id., s.v. Lady; (8) queen of (the) meadow(†s), -meeda, the meadowsweet, Spiraea ulmaria (Rxb. 1801 J. Leyden Complaynt 355; Sc. 1808 Jam., meadows; Peb. 1815 in A. Pennecuik Tweeddale 132). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc. Cf. (1); (9) Queen of the South, a soubriquet for the town of Dumfries (see 1962 quot.). The Dumfries football team is so called; more recently, the name given to the Dumfries school-girl chosen annually as the festival queen at the local Riding of the Marches; (10) queen's cake, a queen cake, “a white sweet cake” (Sc. 1825 Jam., 1837 M. Dods Manual 374; Ork. 1967). See 'S; (11) queen's chair, a method of carrying a girl by seating her on the crossed and joined arms of two bearers (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., Abd., Slk. 1967; Edb. 2000s). Cf. King, n., 3. (7) and (17) below; (12) queen's cushion, (i) id. (Sc. 1808 Jam.); (ii) the plant stonecrop, Sedum acre (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (13) queen's head, the common top-shell, Calliostoma zizyphinum (Ork. 1954 Ork. Miscellany II. 56); (14) queen's huid, the reticulum of a sheep, used as a container for a pudding with haggis stuffing (Gall. 1910). Cf. King, n., 3. (25) (a); (15) Queen's Own Highlanders, the name given to the regiment formed in 1961 by the amalgamation of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and the Seaforth Highlanders; †(16) queen spots, a dress material; (17) queen's seat, = (11) (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (18) queen's soup, a plain white soup, made with veal, chicken, bacon, vegetables and spices, soup à la reine (Sc. 1837 M. Dods Manual 124); †(19) Queen's student, see quot. The Queen is Victoria.(2) Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 204:
Patrick has a lang Queen Ann Now, Lord hae mercy on the man That Patrick takes his mark at.
Ags. 1833 J. Sands Poems 72:
His lang Queen Anne, his darling gun.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan II. iii.:
D'ye think my queen Anne has nought but a snuff o' powder in her?
Sc. 1903 E.D.D.:
He killed nothing that day because he insisted on taking his auld Queen Anne wi'm.
Abd. 1914 A. McS. Bishop 29:
I hinna a gun worth speakin' o', laird; only an aul' roosty “Queen Anne”.
(6) (i) Bwk. 1894 Antiquary xxx. 17:
Queen Mary, Queen Mary, my age is sixteen, Yet nae bonny laddie will tak' me awa'. My hands by my side, and I gave a “Ha, ha.”
Sc. 1898 A. B. Gomme Trad. Games II. 104:
Queen Mary. The Scottish game is played by girls. The players join hands, form a circle with one in the centre, and dance round singing. At the words “'ill tack me awa',” the centre player chooses another one, and the two wheel round. Then the singing proceeds. At the exclamation “ha! ha!” the players suit the action to the words of the line. In the Cullen game the girls stand in a row with one in front, who sings the verses and chooses another player from the line. The two then join hands and go round and round, singing the remaining verses.
(7) ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 139:
The lark was sometimes called by the name of “the Queen of Heaven's Hen.” . . . Mailisons, mailisons mehr nor ten That hairries the Queen o' Heaven's hen. Blissins, blissins mehr nor thoosans That leuks on her eggies an lats them alane.
(8) Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 59:
Our border matrons say that, if smelled at too much, the Queen-of-the-Meadow will cause people to take fits. It is reckoned wholesome for cattle when amongst meadow-hay.
Knr. 1887 H. Haliburton For Puir Auld Scotland's Sake 223:
Queen o' meadow and celandine.
Cai. 1896 J. Horne Canny Countryside 18:
The fireplace in summer was dressed in heather and queen of the meadow.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iv.:
He threw himself on the banks of the river, thick with grass and flowers, mappies' mous, “lammies' lugs” and the redolent “queen o' the meeda”.
(9) Sc. 1879 Sc. Naturalist V. 96:
That warm little city, “The Queen of the South”.
Dmf. 1896 Scots Mag. (July) 137:
Leaving the “Queen of the South” behind, you reach the foot of the Whinny Hill.
Dmf. 1939 Weekly Scotsman (25 March) 11:
Miss Rogerson, a pupil of Dumfries High School, will be Queen of the South.
Dmf. 1962 Stat. Acc.3 111:
To the close of the charter ceremony at the Midsteeple there has been added the ceremony of “Crowning the Queen of the South” — a description which seems to have been first applied to Dumfries in 1866 in a poem by D. Dunbar.
(11)Edb. 1988:
You make a queen's chair by two people joining hands and a third one sitting on them.
(15) Sc. 1960 Scotsman (26 Nov.) 8:
Two of Scotland's famous regiments — the Seaforth Highlanders and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders — who amalgamate in February, held their last parades yesterday. The Queen's Own Highlanders, as the new regiment will be called, will have the Duke of Edinburgh as Colonel-in-Chief.
(16) Edb. 1819 Edb. Ev. Courant (11 Oct.) 1:
895 Yards beautiful Queen Spots, 5s. 6d.
(19) Sc. 1921 J. Mackinnon Social & Indust. Hist. 182:
In 1895 a new class of teacher students came into existence. These were known as Queen's, subsequently King's, students, who received an allowance from the [Scottish Education] Department to attend the University whilst undergoing their practical training.

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"Queen n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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