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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

REGENT, n., v. Sc. usages:

I. n. †1. In the four older Scottish Universities: a member of the senior academic staff who took a class of students through the full four year course of instruction in language, physics and philosophy in the Arts curriculum. In the 18th century, this system of teaching was replaced by a professoriate, each professor specialising in his own subject. Now only hist.Sc. 1708 Acct. Govt. Ch. Scot. 22:
The next Year, which is the Fourth and Last, in order to commence Master of Arts, they remove to another School, still retaining the same Regent or Professor.
Abd. 1761 Session Papers, Thom v. Dalrymple (1 Oct.) 28:
There now remain, upon Bishop Elphinston's foundation, only the principal, sub-principal, three regents, the civilist, mediciner, as he is called, and grammarian, together with some bussars.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 192:
Whan regents met at common schools.
Sc. 1840 Edb. Acad. Annual xxv.:
In Edinburgh, for instance, there were four regents, every one of whom had charge of a class, from the period of its first enrolment till the termination of the fourth session, and it was his duty to teach in succession, the several branches of Logic, Rhetoric, Moral Philosophy, Natural Philosophy, and such kindred studies as were most intimately connected with these branches of learning.
Sc. 1895 R. S. Rait Univ. Abd. 201:
The beginning of the eighteenth century had seen regenting abolished in the two Southern Universities — in Edinburgh, by the Town Council, in 1708; and, in Glasgow, by a Royal visitation, in 1727. St. Andrews had organised a professoriate in 1747, and the change was made in Marischal College in 1753. But the King's College authorities retained the old system.
Sc. 1956 Edb. Univ. Calendar xxxviii.:
The Regents of Philosophy taught in rotation the four classes in the Curriculum of Arts, the “Bajans”, the “Semi-Bajans ”, the “Bachelors”, and the “Magistrands ”, as the Students of the first, second, third, and fourth year were respectively styled. Each regent therefore taught every subject in the Curriculum — the Regent of Humanity being subordinate to the Regent of Philosophy, and being employed as a tutor in Classics for Unmatriculated Students.

2. In modern usage in the Universities of St. Andrews and Aberdeen (a revival of 1.): a member of the teaching staff who acts as an adviser and consultant to students assigned to him. Hence regentee, a student so assigned.Sc. 1965 St. Andrews Univ. Cal. (1965–6) 157:
There is a system of Regents whereby Professors and Lecturers in all the Colleges are available to give friendly advice and assistance to students placed in their charge.

3. A variety of potato. Also attrib.Per. 1868 Trans. Highl. Soc. 171:
Regents and hens' nests became the kinds that were cultivated.
e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 271:
I . . . felt as if a haill regent tattie had gotten into an' stuck fast in my hause!

II. v. To hold the office of regent in a Scottish university. Vbl.n. regenting, the system of teaching by regents, also attrib. Hist.Fif. 1846 Lives of A. Henderson and J. Guthrie 142:
He regented in the University of St. Andrews and there taught as Professor of Philosophy.
Sc. 1884 Edb. Review (April) 427:
The comparative economy of the plan of regenting.
Gsw. 1927 D. Murray Old College 20:
Instruction in the Faculty of Arts was given in accordance with what is known as the “regenting” system.
Sc. 1946 R. G. Cant Univ. St. Andrews 89:
What happened in 1747 was more than a mere amalgamation of colleges. It marked the end, at long last, of the ancient system of regenting.

[O.Sc. regent, = n., 1., 1415, in Latin text, to act as regent, 1631, Lat. magister or doctor regens.]

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"Regent n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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