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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SAY, v., n. Sc. forms and usages:

I. v. A. Forms. Pr.t. say; sey, seh (Dundee);  pa.t. said, sayd; pa.ppl. weak: said; strong: sain, ‡sayen (Sh., Ork., Abd., Ags. 1969), sen (Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 74).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 88:
They've been but say'n to please a fool like you.
Dmf. 1873 A. Anderson Song of Labour 78:
I never said wrang was the word he had sain.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) 110:
Afore ye cudda sain Jeck Robison.
Ork. 1911 Old-Lore Misc. IV. iv. 184:
Evan ither Birsa fok at sad kent better wad sain at hid was meed late on a Setterdae night. When used as a ppl.adj., said is inflected in the pl. in arch. legal usage till the middle of the 18th c.
Sc. 1700 Acts Gen. Assembly 27:
The Saids Probationers are to be sent on the same Terms and Conditions.
Abd. 1715 Hist. Papers Jacobite Period (S.C.) 56:
They were taken prisoners by the saids parties.
Slg. 1729 Proc. Slg. Arch. Soc. (1925) 137:
A petition or representation given in to the saidis magistrats and councill be James Baird.
Edb. 1736 Edinburgh Council Reg. in Edinburgh Guilds and Crafts (B.R.S.) 207:
The said lord provost, magistrats, and council, with the saids deacons of crafts.
Slg. 1990 Janet Paisley in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 8: The Day I Met the Queen Mother 120:
Ah wantit tae sey 'Whey?' 'Whey ur ye daen this?' Bit ah kent whey. Ah wantit tae sey 'She's no fur you, she's a cauld stick an she'll bring ye nuthin an ye'll nivir be fu an gled an warum in yer bed till ye're deid.' Ah wantit tae sey a million an wan things an thur wis nae pint.
Slg. 1994 Janet Paisley in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 29:
She sayd she heard vices. No the Joan o Arc kind, bit in hur heid. Ah wance asked hur whit they sayd, these vices, an wha did she think they wur.
Dundee 1996 Matthew Fitt Pure Radge 10:
elaine sehs she's awa doon the murraygait

B. Usages: 1. With advs. and preps. (1) say again, to speak against, object to; (2) say awa(y), (i) to say on, hold forth, speak one's mind (Sh., Cai., Abd., Ags., Per. 1969). As a n. sayawa', ¶seawa, loquacity (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 147; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); a long, voluble, rambling discourse, a rigmarole (ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Ayr., sm. and s.Sc. 1969); a loquacious person (Watson; s.Sc. 1969); (ii) to say grace before a meal (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 204; Ork., Bnff., Abd. 1969); hence to begin to eat, fall to (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 34); (3) say for, to vouch for, warrant (Sc. 1904 E.D. D.; Sh., ne. and em.Sc. (a), Ayr., Slk. 1969); (4) say ower, to recite, repeat from memory. Gen.Sc. Obs. in Eng.; (5) say thegither, to agree, concur, to be of one mind or on good terms (ne. and em.Sc. (a) 1969); (6) say til, to speak to, to command. Also in Eng. dial. Phr. to be easy said til, to be of a facile or amenable disposition (Abd., Kcd., Ags. 1969); (7) say wi, to agree with. concur with. Gen.Sc.(1) Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie 43:
I wouldna say again' a body o' men takin' pikes and guns . . . just to fricht the government.
(2) (i) Abd. 1813 D. Anderson Poems 85:
Twould be owre lang a seawa, To tell a' said and done.
Sc. 1821 Scott Kenilworth viii.:
Say away, therefore, as confidently as if you spoke to your father.
Rnf. 1877 J. M. Neilson Poems 51:
Weel, jist say awa.
Ayr. 1880 J. Tannock Poems 57:
The sayaway of Kirsty Gray, About some famous tea, sir.
Kcd. 1958 Mearns Leader (11 April):
It's my job tae keep my lugs wirkin', an' I hae heard mony queer say-awas.
Abd. 1967 Buchan Observer (10 Jan.):
An various spicy tit-bits o' hooses big an' sma' She'd store ablow her bonnet for a later say-awa'!
(ii) Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1813) 17:
Now, say awa', and fa' to it.
Rnf. 1846 W. Finlay Poems 145:
With solemn face, then, ane and aw, Begged Archie just to say awa.
Edb. 1881 J. Smith Habbie and Madge 69:
Say away yersel', ye've far mair need o't [rum], my woman, than me.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 226:
Noo say awa tae yoursels, like guid callans, an' fa' tae.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 113:
Say ye awa onywye an' tak' yer denner.
(4) Sc. 1884 W. C. Smith Kildrostan 47:
Doris made a comic rhyme of it, And said it over to me.
m.Lth. 1897 P. H. Hunter J. Armiger xvi.:
He . . . says ower his sermon like a laddie sayin' the multiplication table.
(6) Abd. 1880 G. Webster Crim. Officer 117:
They tormentit the creatur aboot's wife bein' unco easy said till.
(7) Abd. 1926 Abd. Univ. Review (July) 227:
A wull say wi' 'e i' that.
Abd. 1957 People's Jnl. (6 April):
Ah c'u'd dae nae ither than say wi' 'em.

2. Phrs.: (1) I winna say, I wadna say (but (what)), I daresay, I won't or wouldn't deny (that), I agree or admit (that) (Ork., n.Sc., Per., Ayr., Kcb. 1969); (2) said-sae, a report, piece of gossip. Cf. Eng. dial. say-so, a person's word; (3) said wird, a saying, proverb; (4) to say ae wey (wi), to agree, be in harmony (with) (ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Ayr. 1969); (5) to saystraw”, to raise an objection; (6) to say (a body) wrang, to speak ill of (someone) (ne.Sc., Ags. 1969).(1) Sc. 1859 C. S. Graham Mystifications (1911) 48:
“Your son is a young thief, and deserves to be hanged”. “I winna say”.
Ags. 1905 A. N. Simpson Bobbie Guthrie 209:
I widna say but we'ill hae a shour.
Abd. 1930:
I wadna say but fat ye're richt.
(2) Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 157:
It's nae ca'd aboot clype nor teethless said-sae.
(3) Sh. 1897 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd (1922) 15:
“Dey maun drink da brü, at canna better dü,” as dey say in a auld said wird.
(4) Ags. 1906 Arbroath Guide (21 April) 3:
We hadna been just sayin ae wey.
Abd. 1920:
Na, I dinna say ae wey wi' ye there.
(5) Fif. 1900 S. Tytler Logan's Loyalty ii.:
You and I will have fine times and grand fun with not a creature to say “straw” to us.
(6) ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 12:
I maunna say the carlie wrang, He's lost the vital spark.

3. intr. To talk, speak. In somewhat illiterate use. Occas. still in m.Sc.m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 291:
The house the shepherd was sayin' aboot.

4. Agent n. sayar, a poet, story-teller. Arch.Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 17:
Ilk comic scene of ilka age, Glean'd out of ilka sayar's page.

II. n. 1. What is said, a remark, a piece of conversation or tittle-tattle, an expression of one's thoughts or opinions (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Lth., Ayr. 1969); a story. Comb. say-say [ < sae], id. Cf. 2. (2) above.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 42:
And fat care I? let fouk say what they please. Gin we heed says, we'll never sit at ease.
Slk. 1811 Hogg Poems (1865) 373:
Ae wee say that chanced to pass 'Tween his auld wife an' only lass.
Ags. 1823 Scots Mag. (June) 685:
What car'd I about their says.
Abd. 1878 J. C. Hutchieson Village Voices 166:
An' muckle say-say hae they printit.
Ags. 1886 A. Willock Rosetty Ends 10:
A' that heard the story had their ain say aboot it, and ilka ane's say was different frae anither.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (14 Oct.):
Dat was juist a ill-toughtid say.

2. A saying, proverb, a saw, dictum (I. and n.Sc. 1969).Bnff. 1792 Trans. Soc. Antiq. Scot. 444:
Wi' routh of gabby saws, an' says, An' jokes, an' gibes of uther days.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 7:
A'to' hid's an' auld say an' a true say.
Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert xii.:
A' the says o' her deid midder wud come back tull her.

3. Talk, converse, speech. Dial. in Eng.Sc. 1786 A. Gib Sacred Contempl. II. 206:
To this Say he was most graciously attentive.
Abd. 1844 W. Thom Rhymes 37:
I kenn'd her meet wi' kindly say, A lov'd, a lowly name.
Dmf. 1875 A. Anderson Two Angels 187:
When I heard them speak lown their bit say.
Abd. 1929 Abd. Uni. Review (March) 129:
Kirks wiz kirks fin I wiz a loon, an' hid nae say wi' lads 'at brook the laws o' God an' man.

[O.Sc. say, = 1., 1571, sayar, poet, 1513.]

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"Say v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2024 <>



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