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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.

SLEEP, v.1, n.1 Sc. forms and usages:

I. v. A. Forms. Pa.t., pa.p. sleepit (Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xlv.; Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch x.; Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxix.; w.Lth. 1892 R. Steuart Legends 205; Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle vi.). Gen.Sc.; sleeped (Dmf. 1763 Philosophical Trans. LIV. 18); †sleept (Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) II. 246, 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 321; Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 22; Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 56). [′slipət]

B. Usages. 1. As in Eng. Deriv. sleeper, (1) the dunlin, Erolia alpina (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.). Also ebb-sleeper, id. See Ebb, I. 1.(6); †(2) a hibernating animal. Cf. Eng. dial. sleeper, the dormouse.(1) Sh. 1809 A. Edmonston Zetland II. 239:
Sleeper, Dunlin. This bird frequents the more rocky shores, and is seen to be very busy feeding when the water begins to fall. On other occasions it appears dull and heavy.
(2) Inv. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIII. 382:
The sky and sandy larks, sea-magpie, lapwing, stonechatter, swallow, cuckoo, bat, and night-hawk remain here during the warm months, but disappear in winter; the 5 last are believed to be sleepers.

Combs. and phrs.: (1) sleepin-deid, adj., completely exhausted, “dropping with sleep”; (2) sleepin fevers,, a disease whose main symptom was an uncontrollable desire to sleep, sleeping sickness. Cf. Sleepy-fivvers under II. 2.; (3) sleepin maggie, (i) the night-scented stock, Matthiola tristis (Ayr., Dmf. 1970); (ii) a French spinning-top (Bnff., Abd. 1970). Cf. II. 2.; (4) sleepin-oot haar, a sea-fog which starts about mid-day and lasts till after midnight, sc. one which has to be slept out or outlasted by sleep (Fif. 1956). Cf. II. 2.; (5) sleepin-sark, a night-shirt. See Sark; (6) to be sleepit oot, to have slept till one can sleep no longer, to have slept one's fill. Gen.Sc.; (7) to sleep in, to oversleep (Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 60). Gen.Sc.; (8) to sleep in one's shoes, to die a violent death.(1) Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 26:
The doctor wisna sweer to road, Tho' sleepin' deid wi' fag.
(2) Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 24:
The sleepin' fevers, an' sic things as these.
(5) Rnf. 1875 D. Picken Poems 25:
All things are swaddled in a sleepin' sark.
(6) Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 20:
A gaed ti bed at neine an A sleepeet on till echt, gey nerr the clock roond, and still A wasna sleepeet-oot!
(7) Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce I. iii.:
Ye whiles sleep in on a morning.
Bnff. 1872 W. Philip It'ill a Come Richt iii.:
I have sleepit-in the day, lassie.
Ayr. 1883 A. Aitken Lays 58:
A'e mornin' last March, when Rab Black sleepit in.
Edb. 1897 T. Thomson Rhymes 21:
Four weans, sitting up in bed For fear o' sleepin' in!
Fif. 1914 County Folk-Lore vii. 146:
They had a' been sleepin' in ever since that dovey-heidit . . . cratur had been their first-fit.
Abd. 1955 Huntly Express (25 Feb.):
If anyone slept in the farmer fumed.
Gsw. 1965 Scotsman (16 Oct.) 5:
I have been up most of the night with my kid, and I slept in.
Uls. 1984 Bernard MacLaverty Cal 35:
On the Sunday morning Cal woke and knew that he had slept in.
Sc. 1994 Daily Record 15 Nov 8:
In Edinburgh, Chrissie McMahon, 77, of Gorgie, said: "I wanted to be the first to buy a ticket but I slept in."
m.Sc. 1994 Mary McCabe Everwinding Times 79:
"And what's the story this time?"
"Slept in!" Sadie flounced through to the back shop. Dorothy raised plucked eyebrows, gulped the rest of her coffee and followed after.
Sc. 1998 Edinburgh Evening News 15 Dec 20:
But he once famously slept in and missed the 8am tee-off, leaving Jose's manager to carry the fuming player's bag.
Sc. 2000 Aberdeen Evening Express 14 Jan 18:
6.30am. How....? Why...? "Oh my God, I've slept in!" I scraiked to my full power of scraik.
Sc. 2001 Evening Times 16 Jul 10:
These days, it only strikes when I've stolen her share of the duvet, or when I'm snoring more than usual, or when I've slept in for work.
Ayr. 2004:
Our registration teacher wouldn't believe you if you said you'd slept in - she'd just think you were being cheeky.
(8) Lnk. 1816 G. Muir Minstrelsy 108:
The dreary eighteenth day of June Made mony a ane sleep in their shoon; The British blood was split like dew Upon the field of Waterloo.

2. Fig. Of a top: to spin so fast and smoothly as to appear motionless (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Inv., Bnff., m.Sc. 1970). Also in Eng. dial. The simile to sleep like a top is earlier in Eng. Cf. Doze, v.1; of a curling stone: to move slowly and sluggishly; of milk in churning: to be slow in forming butter (Per. 1970).Sc. 1879 Thomson & Tait Nat. Phil. I. 1. § 106:
It is the case of a common spinning-top, . . . not sleeping upright, nor nodding.
Edb. 1883 J. Nasmyth Autobiography 89:
They could spin twice as long as the bought peeries. When at full speed they would “sleep”, that is, turn round without a particle of waving.
Ayr.4 1928:
Stones are said to “creep” or “sleep” when thrown with little force.
Dmb. 1945 Folklore LVI. 369:
The top “slept” when stationary and spinning silently.

3. Sc. Law usage, of an action at law: to lapse through passage of time and failure of prosecution (see quots.) (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 83). See also Wauk.Sc. 1707 Morison Decisions 12169:
It was alledged for the defender that the cause was sleeping.
Sc. 1741 Session Papers, Earl of Aboyne v. Garden (29 June) 9:
The first Process of Abstraction against the Tenants, raised in the Year 1697, has been suffered to sleep, in which Space all the Tenants and Possessors who were Parties to that Process are long ago dead.
Sc. 1773 Erskine Institute iv. i. § 62:
An action that stands upon the proper Inner-house roll cannot sleep.
Sc. 1916 J. A. Maclaren Ct. Sess. Pract. 462:
A sleeping process is one in which no procedure has taken place for a year.

4. tr. To miss (an opportune moment or the like) by sleeping or sloth, to lose (something) by negligence or inactivity.Abd. 1898 J. R. Imray Sandy Todd 28:
I'm beginnin' tae be fley't that I hae sleepit my mairriage day.
Sh. 1901 Shetland News (8 June):
Daa, is doo waukin? I said dat da streen, 'at doo wid sleep dy tide.

II. n. 1. In Combs. (1) blanket-sleep, a period of sleep or rest in bed, as opposed to a nap in a chair or the like; ¶(2) sleep-sang, a lullaby; ¶(3) sleep-stour, lit. “sleep-dust”, hence a sleepy appearance, the desire for sleep, sleepy-headedness. See also Stour, and cf. 2. (1) (vi) below.(1) Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 65:
We haena haen a blanket sleep Sin' the New Year.
(2) Lnk. 1806 J. Black Falls of Clyde 147:
Sweeter sleep-sangs sings the breeze.
(3) Sc. 1888 R. W. Buchanan Heir of Linne viii.:
I see the sleep-stour in his eyes already.

2. Deriv. sleepie, -y, (1) adj. or attrib. in combs. and phrs. (i) sleepy beasties, = (vi), used in phr. as in quot.; (ii) sleepy dose, the ragwort, Senecio Jacobaea (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 166). Cf. (2) below; (iii) sleepy fevers, -fivvers, see quot. and I. 1. Combs. (2) above; (iv) sleepy-haar, see I. 1. Combs. (4) and Haar; (v) sleepy Maggie, “a sort of rude humming-top” (Abd. 1825 Jam.). Cf. I. 1. Combs. (3) (ii); (vi) sleepy-mannies (Abd.), -men (Ayr.), -mo(t)es (Fif.),, the little specks of matter which form in the corners of the eyes during sleep. Cf. (i) and (viii); (vii) sleepy sang, the low murmuring of a child as it falls asleep (Sh., Ags. 1970); (viii) sleepy-seeds (Dmf.), -stuff (Kcd.) -things, -willies (Ags.), = (vi); (ix) to sleepy-baw, to go to “sleepy-byes”, to go “bye-bye”, to fall asleep, a phr. used to a child; (2) used as a the smooth rye brome-grass, Bromus secalinus, from its supposed soporific properties (Sc. 1808 Jam.).(1) (i) Ags. 1970:
The sleepy beasties are bitin, said to a child when it rubs its eyes.
(iii) ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 44:
There was a disease that bore the name of the sleepy fivvers. In this disease the patient was affected with a strong tendency to sleep and had no inclination to engage in any thing. Hence it was said of any one lazy at work that he had the sleepy fivvers.
(viii) Per. 1950:
A hadnae time tae rub the sleepy things oot o ma een.
(ix) wm.Sc. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days x.:
Just you lie down there, pet, and sleepy-baw.
(2) Ags. 1833 Quarterly Jnl. Agric. IV. 700:
The common brome (provincially named sleepies in that quarter, from the opinion that the bread made of its flour is conducive to sleep).
Kcd. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XI. 155:
A grass, however, here called sleepies.

[O.Sc. slepe, of a case in law, 1541.]

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"Sleep v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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