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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.

REIVE, v., n. Also rieve, reeve, reave; reife, reef. [ri:v]

I. v. A. Forms: pa.t. weak reived, reaved, reif'd; reft; pa.p. weak reived, reft, ¶reffet (s.Sc. 1858 H. S. Riddell Song of Songs iv. 9); strong riven.

B. Usages: 1. intr. or with at. To rob, plunder, pillage, esp. in the course of an armed foray or raid (ne., em.Sc.(a), Peb., Ayr., Dmf., Slk. 1968). Also fig. Rare or obs. in Eng. Hence reivin, ppl.adj. and vbl.n., plundering.Abd. 1733 W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 42:
You know I neither stole nor reft.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Death Poor Mailie vii.:
To slink thro' slaps, an' reave an' steal.
Peb. 1817 R. Brown Lintoun Green 51:
To sorn, reeve, steal, lift, and reset.
Sc. 1828 Scott F.M. Perth iii.:
These bottles were concealed under ground, to save them from the reiving Southron.
Abd. 1841 J. Imlah Poems 2:
The bog-turf hides the wild bee's byke, Where reevin' youth oft search'd of yore.
Sc. 1870 A. Hislop Proverbs 164:
If that God gie the deil daurna reive.
e.Lth. 1880 A. I. Ritchie Ch. St. Baldred 20:
One of the commissioners sent to arrange a treaty with England for the putting down of reiving or pillaging on the borders.
Sc. 1910 R. Borland Border Raids 184:
One of the Scotts of Buccleuch married a daughter of the house, which may help to explain the well-known reiving propensities of some branches of this famous clan.
Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 13:
To clip the reivin' eagle's claws.
Bnff. 1933 M. Symon Deveron Days 41:
Come hame, lad, come hame — or the kent kindly faces Will a' be awa' wi' the roch, reivin' years.

2. tr. To steal, remove by theft or pillage (Bnff., Ags. 1968). Ppl.adj. reived, reif'd, stolen, plundered.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 49:
As he yeed, the tract at last he found Of the reif'd gueeds upo' the mossie ground.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 131:
I will reave a kiss from your sweet lips.
Sc. 1834 Tait's Mag. (Feb.) 9:
Her bridal fal-als, and the blankets and sheets she can reive frae the Fermylees to her new hame.
Abd. 1886 G. Macdonald What's Mine's Mine 303:
A good cow was a good cow, had she been twenty times reaved.
Abd. 1955 Abd. Press & Jnl. (7 July):
Rustlers would find it an easy job to reive a sheep or lamb in The Sma' Glen, for instance.

3. To deprive of. Ppl.adj. reaved, bereft. Appar. considered by some authors as an aphaeretic form of bereave.s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 337:
He reaves his wife o' cash an' claes.
Rnf. 1804 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 244:
Bauldly stand and bang the loon, Wha'd reave her of her coggie.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Tales (1874) 300:
And now ye are reaving his sackless family out o' their last bit o' bread.
ne.Sc. 1836 J. Grant Tales of Glens 262:
My 'reaved spirit strives to hold Wi' thine communion still.
Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 170:
Ye've reft me aft o' meikle sleep.
Wgt. 1885 G. Fraser Poems 43:
Frae their hames they were driven; O' their lives they were riven.

4. Derivs.: (1) reiver, riever; reaver, reever, rever; reiffar (Ayr. 1816 A. Boswell Poet. Wks. (1871) 187), riefer, reyffar (s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell Psalms i. 18), ¶raver (Sc. 1844 H. MacNeill Poet. Wks. 273), (i) a plunderer, a robber, esp. one who rides on an armed foray or border raid. Also attrib.; (ii) specif. the chief male celebrant in the annual festival held at Duns in Bwk. Hence Reiver's Lass, his female partner; (2) reivish, thieving, plundering.(1) (i) Lnk. 1711 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 117:
That sorners be punished by the Justices as theives and reivers.
Sc. 1722 W. Hamilton Wallace ix. i.:
The Reaver's Barge came then closs by their Side.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 48:
Their reifers sail, wi' mony loads O' half stealt tea.
Sc. 1802 Scott Minstrelsy I. 130:
We go to catch a rank reiver, Has broken faith wi the bauld Buccleuch.
Sc. 1821 Scots Mag. (March) 201:
In times whan revir loons were rife.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs 137:
Reavers shoudna be ruers.
Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 109:
Death, that fell reiver, took grannie awa.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 9:
So ta'en with the sturdy reaver, that she married him oot of haun'.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders Foreword:
A set of wild cairds — cattle reivers and murderers.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 18:
Mosstrooper an reever rade bye ti foray an fecht an reipin raid.
Sc. 1954 Scots Mag. (March) 467:
Security from robbers and rievers when traversing Badenoch and Rannoch.
sm.Sc. 1979 Alan Temperley Tales of Galloway (1986) 40:
Seeking to fill his coffers once more, the laird joined a band of reivers - thieves and border raiders who acknowledged no law. He was as fierce as the best of them, and soon his chests were filled with gold and silver coin, overflowing with rich communion cups and ropes of pearl and other plunder.
Sc. 1991 R. Crombie Saunders in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 30:
The mither lat flee her Bible
Straucht at his narra face:
"An wad ye be a riever
And bring us this damned disgrace?"
Sth. 1996 Essie Stewart in Timothy Neat The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland 133:
He looked to himself and he damned us and the future. He liked to carry five hundred pounds in his shirt pocket, like a cattle-dealer. He lived the life of a reiver - for pearls! It sounds great - being a pearl-fisher - but even he made less than a fortune. I hear he lives a frugal life down there near Blair; his house has a chair and a television set!
(ii) Bwk. 1955 Abd. Press & Jnl. (26 April):
Alex Brown, of Earlsmeadow, and Anne Millar, of Easter Street, have been chosen Duns Reiver and Reiver's Lass in the 1955 festival.
(2) Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 262:
Ne'er at broken slaps thou stood Wi' reivish heed.

[O.Sc. reif, v., to plunder, 1375, reffar, robber, a.1425, reft, deprived of, a.1400, robbed, 1456; O.E. rēafian, to plunder. Cf. Reif.]

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"Reive v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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