Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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! 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.

[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 24 Jan 2022 <>



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