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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.

SCRIEVE, v.2, n.2 Also screeve, scrive, skrieve; skreef-. [skri:v]

I. v. 1. To write, esp. to write easily and copiously (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 193; Ayr. 1880 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 341; Sh., Abd., Kcd., Ags., Per., Edb. 1969). Vbl.n. scri(e)ving. Agent n. scriever, skriever, a writer, used somewhat contemptuously, a scribbler, “a mean scribe” (Lth. 1825 Jam.).Sc. 1788 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 559:
E'en now he's lauchin in his sleeve Sae carelesslie to see you scrieve.
Mry. 1872 W. Tester Poems 171:
Faith, I'm sorry to scrieve it.
Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah xxxiii. 18:
Quo ye, Whar syne is the scrie'er?
Ags. 1886 A. Willock Rosetty Ends 138:
Scrieve aff his name on a bittie paper.
Sc. 1890 Stevenson Vailima Lett. (1917) 4:
Fifty pages of solid scriving inside a fortnight.
Ayr. 1899 Poets Ayr. (Macintosh) 128:
But latterly he altered quite His story scrievin.
Abd. 1918 J. Mitchell Bydand 25:
Scrievin' doon on paper fat ye hidna spunk tae speak.
em.Sc. 1926 H. Hendry Poems 118:
Till at your door, in flocks like doos, The scrievers licht.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' Ling 71:
What sweeter tongue can ever hae A lien on me? I'll screeve awa in't, yea or nay.
Abd. 1963 J. C. Milne Poems 89:
But her — wi' her learnin and lang-nibbit pen, Kens mair aboot screevin than coortin the men!
Gsw. 1966 Archie Hind The Dear Green Place (1984) 71:
'Just been doin' a wee bit scrievin' you know.'
ne.Sc. 1969 Alexander Scott, ed. Neil R. MacCallum Sing Frae the Hert (1996) 70:
Twenty-eight years after the death of the author of Hamewith, Charles Murray, the publication of his Last Poems by Aberdeen University Press serves as a reminder that this Strathdon scriever was at one and the same time the most popular Scottish poet of his period with the public in general, and the least regarded versifier of his age among those of his younger contemporaries, who either wrote verse or wrote about it in the critical reviews.
m.Sc. 1979 Ian Bowman in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 40:
He doutna glower at me, but he bent
to scrieve wi his finger in the stour;
then his spreit cam oot to me, an I kent
he was blate at ma shame, for aa his power.
Abd. 1990 Stanley Robertson Fish-Hooses (1992) 100:
Noo, Lockie did hae een disadvantage frae Frugal. Lockie couldnae screeve.
Sc. 1991 Roderick Watson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 105:
It was screivit in the year saxty-yin
Whan I was let oot o that yerd
Atween the dour waas o Sauchton
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web iii:
Picturs hiv ay bin pouerfu tae me. I think in picturs. I screive picto-poems.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web vi:
As a Scots screiver, I sit in the mids o ma culture, like a wyver in her wab.
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 16:
Breathin oot the names
Written fae flair tae ruif
O the deid Jews.
Lines loast when Russians
"Restored" the was.
Noo wirkmen redraw wi care
These pincil guidelines,
Scrieve again the names -
History rewritten yince mair.
Lnk. 1998 Duncan Glen Selected New Poems 16:
Aneath the auld trees of Bruntsfield Links,
not one gowfer in sicht. Still an auld bauldy-heidit
man wi a beer belly is lashin at a tree for nae
kent reason.
And me sittin here scrievin at thae lines.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 121:
'Sir,' Mitchel said, 'I didna scrieve thae verses. But I'm sure I ken the target.'

Nonce pa.p. scriven, inscribed, engraved, patterned. Liter. Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms cxxxix. 16:
Intil yer buik they war scriven.
Sc. 1923 R. A. Taylor End of Fiammetta 35:
The cup scriven ower wi' jewels rare.

2. To scratch or incise a mark, specif. to incise the outline of some object on a piece of wood in order to show the shape in which it is to be made, esp. the outline of a boat, to scribe; to mark a tree for felling (Ayr., Kcb. 1969). Comb. skreefer, scrieving-knife, a sharp pointed tool for doing this (Id.), e.g. one used by coopers, a scribe (Sc. 1970 Scotland's Mag. (Jan.) 34, skreefer). In Eng. dial. or technical use in form scrive.Abd. 1888 Trans. Buchan Field Club 52:
In order to branding, the curer is required to scratch the date and method of his cure on the side of his barrel. The curious instrument used in this operation is called a “scrieve”, and the operation itself is known as “scrieving”.
wm.Sc.1 1954:
In their final form the lines of the ship are next scrieved on a scrieve-board and the board carried to the furnace blocks.

II. n. 1. A piece of writing, a letter or its contents (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., Abd., Kcd., Ags., Slg., Lnk. 1969).Sc. 1808 Jam.:
A tang scrieve, a long letter or writing.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xii.:
Satisfied that the scrive is right.
Sh. 1862 Shetland Advert. (29 Sept.):
It's mony a lang years in erst doo began ta wraet dy screeves ta da papers.
Sc. 1895 J. M. Cobban Andaman xx.:
The scrieve o' a bit clerk in an office.
Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lads' Love xxix.:
Juist gie me a screeve o' a note to that effect.
Sc. 1923 R. Macrailt Hoolachan 31:
I've a bit screeve — a bit letter for her frae my maister.

2. A banknote (Sc. 1821 D. Haggart Life 36), esp. one for a pound; hence a pound. Sc. thieves' slang, later recorded in Eng. slang but appar. of Sc. orig.Sc. 1788 Trial of Deacon Brodie (Roughead 1906) 154:
I glimed the scrive I had of him.
Sc. 1800 Edb. Advertiser (5 Aug.) 87:
When Mendham gave him the notes, he told him they were scrives.
Edb. 1821 D. Haggart Life 22:
He asked 36 guineas for the prad; Barney offered 28. He came down a screave, Barney advanced one.
m.Sc. c.1840 J. Strathesk Hawkie (1888) 19:
They received two “screeve” (pounds).

3. A sharp-pointed tool for incising a mark on wood, etc., a scribe; the mark or outline so made, specif. of a boat to be built. Comb. scrieve-board, the board on which the outline is drawn. See I. 2. above.wm.Sc. 1954 Greenock Telegraph (4 Jan.) 5:
Off the same screeve. Of the ten large tankers built in Greenock and Port Glasgow during 1953 nine were of almost the same measurements.
Arg. 1995:
They [large wheelhouses] took away the scrieve o the boat, the shape.

[The evidence for this word in colloq. usage is unclear and equivocal and it is uncertain whether in fact it is entirely a distinct word and not an extended liter. use of Scrieve, v.1, n.1, or even Screeve, with which several of its usages nearly correspond, e.g. under v. and n. 1. The notion of writing no doubt arose from a conflation with Eng. slang screeve, scribe, phs. Mid.Eng. scrive, O.Sc. scrive, to write, 1501, a writing, 1581, and, in Sh., with Norw. skriva, O.N. skrífa, all derived ultimately from Lat. scribere, to write. In all shipbuilding usages s.v. v., 2. n., 3. the form corresponds to the sim. Eng. scrive, scribe.]

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"Scrieve v.2, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Nov 2023 <>



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