Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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AY, AYE, int.(adv.) = Yes. [ɑɪ]

1. Used very much as in St.Eng. yes in answer to an affirmative or negative question. Aye is also common in English dial. It is considered an archaism in modern educated English speech or writing unless in nautical language or in voting in the House of Commons. Abd.(D) 1909 G. Greig Mains's Wooin' 17:
“Are they a' beddit, Maggie?” “Ay.”
Edb. 1879 Stevenson and Henley Deacon Brodie (1924) Act I. Tab. i. Sc. 2:
Brodie. “You are more fortunate than you deserve. What do you say, Procurator?” Lawson. “Ay is he!”

2. Followed often by rebutting, strengthening or sarcastic statement. Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xi.:
“Is his health so much deranged?” “Ay, and his affairs an' a'.”
Edb. 1893 W. G. Stevenson Wee Johnnie Paterson 1:
An' when a wummin's been mairrit for three-an'-twenty year — ay, it's a lang time! though I couldna wish a kinder or a better man than John.
Kcb. 1912 A. Anderson Surfaceman's Later Poems 5:
Ay Tam, puir Tam, sae fu' o' fun He faun' this warld a fecht.
Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (17 June) 2/7:
Ay, it [golf] seems a bonnie game, a nice game, but what's the wee ba' for?

3. Introducing a statement; a form of greeting = Hullo, there ye are, sometimes sarcastically. Abd.(D) 1909 G. Greig Mains's Wooin' 9:
Ay, ay, Souter, ye're aye stickin' in?
Bch.(D) 1926 P. Giles in Abd. Univ. Rev. (March) 110:
Ay man, aye at th' buik.
m.Lth. 1811 H. MacNeill Bygane Times 44:
“Ay! Donald,” quo this sneerling Leddie, “Are you the son of John Macreddie!”

4. = Just so, that's it, in answer to a previous statement; gen. doubled. Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality viii.:
“Ay, ay,” said Cuddie, “e'en sae! I kenn'd we wad be put to our travels again whene'er you suld get three words spoken to an end.”
Bnff. 1881 W. M. Philip Kirsty MacIntosh's Scholars 49:
Ay, ay, its been my fortin to plou' the lan', and it seems to be his to plou' the sea.
m.Lth. 1811 H. MacNeill Bygane Times 25:
Aye, aye! — I guess'd how things wad end!

5. Used with rising tone to indicate doubt or question. Sc. 1886 R. L. Stevenson Kidnapped i.:
“Ay?” said Mr Campbell.

6. Phrases: (1) Ou ay = that's so. Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb viii.:
Ou ay, I ken the loon an' you's been aye haein' bits o' sharries noo an' than.
Ags. 1888 J. M. Barrie When a Man's Single xix.:
“Ay,” he said, with a chuckle, “but I've a snod bit cornery up there for mysel'. Ou ay.”

(2) Deed ay(e) = yes indeed. Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders xvi.:
Silver Sand put his hand into his pocket and poured out of a purse a full gowpenful of golden guineas, . . . “Keels remarkable profitable,” he said. “Deed aye,” I replied.
Rxb.(D) 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes an Knowes 11:
“It's a grand day!” “Deed ay!” says A.

(3) Ay, sang = a mild oath. (See Sang, int.) Abd. 1917 C. Murray A Sough o' War (1918) 26:
Ay, sang! the Shirra had the gift, an' tongued me up an' doon.

[Origin uncertain. Does not appear in St.Eng. before 1575 and at first written I as in Shakespeare. Supposed by some to be conn. with yea and by others with ay(e) = ever. For the latter cf. nay from O.N. n + ei, ever. See etym. note to Aye.]

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"Ay interj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2021 <>



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