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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.

SEE, v. Also †sie; sey, sei. Sc. forms and usages. [si; e. coast and s. Sc. səi]

A. Forms: Pres.t. see, sey, sei (s.Sc.). The 2nd pers. sing. compounded with the pron. thou has given the forms seest(o)u, -ow; sistdu, sista (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), sestu, suistoo, susta, sustdoo (I.Sc.), ¶siskie (Ork. 1877 Jam.). Pa.t. strong saw, neg. sawna; weak seed, †seid, also in dial. or colloq. Eng. (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 83); pa.p. seen, sein, sin, also used as the pa.t. in ungrammatical speech, as in Eng.Sc. 1700 S.C. Misc. (1846) 186:
He seed about twelve men, with a piper.
Arg. 1746 Trans. Gael. Soc. Inv. XXI. 169:
The Landlord came in then and seid the miserable situation I was in.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween xvii.:
Sometime when nae ane see'd him.
wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 80:
After this I sawna his face for twa-three days.
Slk. 1899 C. M. Thomson Drummeldale 12:
Sei that 'e dinna spil her amang 'e.
n.Sc. 1906 Rymour Club Misc. I. 173:
If any man seet 'im syn I seet 'im.
Bnff. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 10:
Bit I sawna nae sign o' that.
wm.Sc. 1994 Sheila Douglas in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 54:
"Sandy, man, it's guid ti sei ee!" he cried; then, staring at his brother's face, he added, "But what ails ee? Ee're lookin puirly!"
Dundee 1994 Matthew Fitt in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 174:
"Waatch whar ye're gaein, ya eejit." The aippul seller wis fumin bit the young lad didnae sei him, didnae even heer him. He wus doon an alang the street afore the first aippul hud tummilt intae the cundie.

Pa.p. used as pa.t.Lth. 1886 J. W. M'Laren T. Catchiron 11:
For gettin' ower near the side o' the gless, the guidwife seen me staunin' as stout as hersel'.
Dmf. 1929 Scotch Readings (Paterson) 12:
D'ye ken a piano when ye sin yin?
wm.Sc. 1949 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 128:
I seen ye at it!
Dmf. 1979 Ron Butlin in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 35:
An yince I keeked intae anither's saul
an seen massel, an I kent fine weel
I'd seen the warld wi anither's een:
m.Sc. 1992 Claire MacRae in Janice Galloway and Hamish Whyte New Writing Scotland 10: Pig Squealing 120:
I'd forgotten about her. She seen everything they done.
Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 4:
I feel that Ferguslie went down the hill when they took away the sanitary lady, because when everybody seen the sanitary lady, they went up and cleaned their house.
wm.Sc. 1998 Alan Warner The Sopranos (1999) 12:
Aye, ah seen her in the Mantrap, she's really pretty ... says Fionnula.

B. Usages: 1. (1) Used in the imper., parenthetically, as a kind of particle of asseveration or emphasis, = Eng. you there, mark you, here, look here (Abd., Ags. 1969). Freq. in phr. look see, see Leuk, I. 1. (2); (2) used in imper. to draw attention to a thing or person, not necessarily present.(1)Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 50:
Come awa, noo sey, Marget.
(2)Edb. 1998 Gordon Legge Near Neighbours (1999) 129:
I wanted to stop and look at her. I'd never seen anybody or anything so content. I'd never seen anybody so pleased with theirselves, so satisfied, so at ease with theirselves. See the smile on her face, just beautiful.

2. Used interrog. with second pers. sing. pres. indic. in the form seestu (see A.): (1) with somewhat sim. force to 1. above, = “you understand, let me tell you” (Dmf 1920; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh., Ork., Dmf. 1969). Hence seestuna, expressive of admiration = “would you have thought it?”, or after refusing a request (I.Sc. 1866 Edm. Gl., I.Sc. 1969). See Na, adv.3Rnf. 1846 Rnf. Mag. (Dec.) 139:
Verra true, mistress; but, seestu, byeganes are byeganes.
Rnf. 1873 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 43:
Contrair tae the hale tenour o' Scripture, seestu.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 235:
Seest'ou, I lay an' quakit for hauf an oor.
Ork. c.1893 W. R. Mackintosh Peat-fires 138:
A grand hat mead oot o' dog hair, an me auld breeks, sistdu.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
I's skow da skult a dee, ta learn dee, susta!

(2) as a nickname for the town of Paisley, the freq. use of seestu as above being considered to be once characteristic of Paisley speech (wm.Sc. 1969).Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 177:
Weel, Seestu', west kintry name, Will shine in after times in fame.
Rnf. 1846 W. Finlay Poems 92:
In the good town of “Seestu”, to which we belong.
Rnf. 1990 Herald (22 Nov):
It's a fine wee place is Seestu [heading] ... Seestu, forgive me if you know already or have not failed to guess, is the other name for Paisley.
Sc. 1992 Herald (17 Sep) 12:
In the fond belief of the residents of Seestu, which is what Paisley people call their place when in poetic mood, the great power they have to keep themselves separate and different from the rest of the world is to fend off Glasgow and avoid a city takeover.
Sc. 1995 Herald (12 Sep) 12:
It is clear what Hymie meant. The spelling is immaterial, which is a big enough lesson for any Tuesday day school. (Davie Lapsley is a former mighty captain of St Mirren. Telling how Paisley became Seestu would take the whole page.)

3. To look at, behold, examine, inspect (Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., Kcb. 1969), freq. in imper.Sc. 1703 Acts Parl. Scot. XI. App. 34:
The persuers process is not sein and returned as is appoynted by the act of Parliament 1695.
Rnf. 1754 Session Papers, Cumming v. Cross (8 Dec.) 4:
John Cumming said to the Deponent, See my Eye now Lad; and the Deponent thereupon looked to his Eye, and saw it pretty much swelled.
Sc. 1964:
Oh, see the cat wi a bird in its mouth.

4. (1) Followed by inf.: to take measures or steps to, to contrive (Ork., Abd., Ags. 1969). In Eng. followed by a noun clause or about with gerund, or by and; (2) see'n, make sure that you ...(1)Kcd. 1796 J. Burness Thrummy Cap (1887) 14:
I'll gae an' see to get some mair.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxxviii.:
As to this same pardon, I must see to get it passed through the proper forms.
Dmf. 1823 D. A. Wilson Life of Carlyle (1923) I. 308:
See to put your skill in force on this occasion.
(2)m.Sc. 1994 Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay Forever Yours, Marie-Lou 3:
LEOPOLD ... Jist dae us anither two slice ae toast ...
LEOPOLD And see'n no burn thum!

5. In deriv. seein(g), (1) looking. Hence ‡seeing-glass, a looking-glass, mirror (Gall. 1904 E.D.D.; Abd., Per., Slg., Ayr. 1969). Now only dial. in Eng.; (2) glittering, gleaming, glancing, having the appearance of eyes, applied to (i) a type of brightly-burning coal (see quot.); (ii) broth with blobs of grease on its surface. See Eeny.(2) (i) Ayr. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 II. 93:
The fire, or seeing-coal, (so called from the light it gives), is of a rich and caking quality, resembling the English coal.
(ii) m.Sc. 1934 Chambers's Jnl. (Jan.) 4:
They had said the Fisher's Grace, which begins: For flukes and partans, cakes and ale, Salty beef and seein' kale.

6. In combs. with preps. and advs., freq. in usages where Eng. prefers look: (1) nae to see by, to be unable to see a person's faults: (2) see about, to look after, inquire for (a person) (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 24; ne.Sc., Per., Lth., Ayr. 1969). In Eng. only of things; (3) see at, (i) to look at, observe, usu. in imper. (ne.Sc. 1969); (ii) to consult, to inquire of (ne., em., wm.Sc. 1969); (4) see efter, to look after (a person), attend to the wants of, care for. Gen.Sc.; also, to take steps to obtain, make inquiries for (Inv., ne. Sc., Ags., Lth., Dmb., Ayr. 1969); (5) see out afore (oneself), to have foresight, see or plan ahead (Abd. 1969); (6) see thegither, to see eye to eye, to agree (ne., em.Sc. 1969); (7) see til, also spelt as one word seetle, = (3) (i); “an exclamation calling attention to one doing a childish or contemptible action” (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; I., ne. and em.Sc. (a) 1969). Cf. (8); (8) see to, = (3); (9) see wi, to agree with (Abd. 1969).(1)Abd. 1993:
When it cam tae somebody tae mairry, she couldna see by him.
Edb. 1994:
She cannae see by him.
(3) (i) Bnff. 1887 G. G. Green Gordonhaven 55:
Sey't the vera mast booin' wi' the force o' the win'.
Ags., Per. 1901 N.E.D. s.v. It:
See at the cat pittin up it paw and clawin it head.
(ii) Ags. 1858 People's Journal (6 Feb.) 2:
The baker promised to see at his men how the affair had happened.
Abd. 1964:
I'll awa up an see at 'im fan he's comin.
(4) m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 266:
The offisher's awa tae see after yer maister.
Abd. 1877 G. MacDonald Marquis of Lossie xlix.:
It'll be the marchioness hersel' 'at's comin' to see efter her fowk!
Sc. 1880 Jam.:
I'm gaun to see after a servant. He's auld noo' and needs somebody to see after him.
(5) Abd. 1962 Huntly Express (5 Oct.):
John never seems tae ken the day fit he'll be at the morn. He couldna see oot afore 'im ava.
(6) Per. 1903 H. MacGregor Souter's Lamp 205:
Maister Carment and you winna see thegither aboot Saunie.
(7) Sc. 1829 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 252:
See till them — the bit chickenies.
Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken 106:
Juist see til the dub ye're stanin' in!
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 140:
Seetle the bonnie wee cattie there.
Cai.9 1946:
Seetle i' geese myarteran' in i' gutter 'ere.
Abd. 1967 Buchan Observer (21 Feb.) 2:
But see till a' his dargins noo!
(8) m.Lth. 1759 Session Papers, Fiscal v. Gledstanes (3 Dec.) 11:
See to the thievish Dog, how he is laying down Apples.
Abd. 1777 R. Forbes Ulysses 26:
See to my bleedy sarks.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxvii.:
See to him wi' his badge.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 143:
See to the twaesome, how they hug and squeeze.
(9) Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 16:
A'm inclined tae see wi' ye, Benjie.

7. In various idiomatic phrs.: (1) I've seen me or mysel, I saw me (Uls.), followed by the inf. without to or gerund, introducing a reminiscence of some frequent experience or habit: I can remember, I have often . . ., I have seen the day when . . . etc. Gen.Sc.; (2) I think I see . . ., used ironically = there is no chance, likelihood or fear . . . etc. Gen.Sc.; (3) to see day about wi', to be even with, to get one's own back on (Cai. 1969). See also Day, 3. (18); (4) to see her ain, of a woman: to menstruate (Fif. 1969).(1) Sc. 1900 R. Masson Use of Eng. 42:
I've seen myself have to sit with the window open.
Uls. 1930 P. O'Donnell The Knife xiii.:
I used to have a great shot with a sling: I saw me taking down a hawk.
Sc. 1970:
I've seen me do this hole in two.
Slg. 1991 Janet Paisley in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 127:
Ah've seen me go in a shoap an jist hoap naebody wid talk tae me.
Sc. 2002 Scotsman (5 Jan) 5:
"Ah've seen me runnin' up the back o' a guy six feet tall. He didnae say nothin' - he was too busy tryin' tae get a job hissel ..."
(2) Sc. 1893 Scots Mag. (March) 242:
“Wull ye no wait till I get ma dividends frae the company?” “No likely. I think I see them. The hale affair's jist a swindle.”
(3) Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller vii.:
Did I no prophesy that ye wad see day about wi' Jenny Cauldwell yet?
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 5:
The Dooglas an the Scott wrait off a wheen auld scores an saw day-aboot wui the auld enemy.
(4) Fif. 1904 Caled. Med. Jnl. V. 180:
The commencement of menstruation is described as . . . “seein' her ain.”

8. (1) In imper. expressions: to hand or pass, to give into one's hand, let one have. Gen.Sc. The usage began with let me, him, us, etc. see (a haud, hauds o) = hand me, etc. (see Haud, II. 1.), this being reduced later to see, which is then construed as Eng. give, etc. (Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 58; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 204; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 72). Gen.Sc.; (2) introducing a person or thing about to be discussed.(1)Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1873) 29:
Lat's see in o'er the ladle, Pate.
Rnf. 1861 J. Barr Poems 132:
Let's see a glass, or haud your tongue.
Per. 1881 D. Macara Crieff 163:
“Here's a book, Duncan”. “Lat's see a haud o't, Tibbie”.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums iii.:
‘See haud o' the besom,' she said to Leeby.
Sc. 1891 J. G. McPherson Golf & Golfers 49:
Suddenly the professional turned to his caddy, “See ma lang spune, laddie!”
Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie x.:
“It is that,” says the porter; “sees a haud o' yer bag.”
Rnf. 1925 G. Blake Wild Man xx.:
Your glass is empty. See's it here an we'll have anither wee dram.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 19:
Let's sei the saat!
Gall. 1947 A. McCormick Galloway 50:
On his wey hame [he] ca'ed on a gentleman an' said, ‘See us a hauf'.
ne.Sc. 1969:
Lat 'im see the haimmer, i.e. pass it to him.
Gsw. 1970 George MacDonald Fraser The General Danced at Dawn (1988) 36:
"Haw, Wully see a ba'."
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 95:
"See's here your blade, James, you're a' thumbs at that job," he said, then he took the knife to show how it should be done and wondered briefly at the faint smile on James's face as he handed over the hedging knife.
Edb. 1983:
See's yer pen for a minute.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 61:
see 2 To pass or give to someone else: 'See me ower that spanner, will ye?' 'Da says ye've tae see me a shot on yer bike.' 'See's a wee kiss, hen.'
Fif. 1991 Tom Hubbard in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 142:
Hei, coallege lawd, you, maister Raskauldnickov!
A'll tell ye ma feelawsophie o life.
Nou listen ti me - see's anither hauf -
Gin A were the heid-bummer, A'd dae this ...
(2)wm.Sc. 1977 William McIlvanney Laidlaw (1985) 6:
'See ma wife, son.' He was speaking towards where you should be standing. 'See when Ah go in here the night? ...'
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 61:
see 2 Used in constructing sentences that refer the listener to someone or something that is the subject of the statement to follow: 'See this weather? Would it no sicken ye?' This is sometimes taken to ludicrously involved lengths: 'See me, see ma man, see chips? We hate them.'
m.Sc. 1989 James Meek McFarlane Boils the Sea 113:
See me the sloganwriter eh but.
Sc. 1990 Scotsman (5 Feb):
See culture? See a rise in nationalism.
Gsw. 1991 John Burrowes Mother Glasgow 330:
'Oh, aye. We're best without it in Kearny. See me, I just treat the game as a big laugh. ... '
Gsw. 1991 Herald (8 Nov):
The Scottish TV croft was ablaze with flowers and more than a few tatties. But when the all-woman production crew (See Scottish TV? See idealogically sound?) returned to do the final bit of filming, they discovered that their Gaelic garden had been visited by the cows from the next croft.
wm.Sc. 1995 Alan Warner Morvern Callar 63:
Coll says, See me the other night. I come in the house full as a whelk and hung my overcoat on the post at the banister-bottom with my cap on the top. I was so crammonded I had to get on my knees to do the toilet.
Edb. 1998 Gordon Legge Near Neighbours (1999) 190:
As my mother always says, 'See you,' she says, 'you're nothing but a clipe.'

9. In pa.p., qualified by an adj. or adv.: visible, showing, apparent, -looking. Obs. in Eng. Phr. weel to be seen, having a neat, handsome or well-dressed appearance (Sh., ne.Sc., Kcb. 1969). See Weel.Per. 1704 Atholl MSS. (11 July):
A buck that hes ben an out lyer thes severall years and the tenands compleand much of which is well sein on him, being so fat.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Farewell Ballochmyle i.:
The Catrine woods were yellow seen.
Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 328:
He is a water-drinker — and it's weel seen on him.
Abd. 1969 Huntly Express (31 Oct.) 2:
It's weel seen ye canna ken Jamie Lobban.

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



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