Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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STANCE, n., v. Also †stans. Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. In gen.: a standing-place, station, site, position, vantage-point, where one may stand, lit. and fig. Phrs. †at or to a stance, at or to a standstill; to take (up) a or one's stance, to take up one's stand or position. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1699 Proper Project for Scot. 35:
The Poor People, at last, are at a Stance.
Sc. 1722 W. Hamilton Wallace vi. iv.:
Their sad Misfortunes, and unlucky Chance, Which now had put their Measures to a Stance.
Sc. 1760 Invercauld Rec. (S.C.) 143:
These Highland Fir-woods are not fixed to a particular Spot, but gradually shift their Stances.
Edb. 1768 The Cry Attended 15:
Seceders better know their stance, Than to this novel spring to dance.
Sc. 1817 Scott Harold v. xii.:
Harold might see from his high stance.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost xxxiii.:
Getting out the fire-engine from its stance under the stair.
Sc. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 5:
Thou flaff't thy wings, and in a crack Flew frae th' unsicker stance!
Gsw. 1865 J. Young Homely Pictures 155:
On guard he sat Upon a stance a story's hicht.
Gall. a.1900 “Mulciber Veritatis” Gallowa' Herds 1:
Calm souch winna tine ye yer stances.
Abd. 1904 W. Farquhar Fyvie Lintie 59:
The supper past, wi' cheery looks The ball-room they took stance in.
Lnk. 1923 J. S. Martin Scottish Earth 39:
Geordie wadna niffer stance For station e'er sae grand.
Rxb. 1924 Kelso Chron. (19 Sept.) 2:
Like that chap who arrived late, took up a stance in the rank and file.
Abd. 1944 C. Gavin Mt. of Light ii. i.:
He's ta'en up his stance at her verra door.

2. Specif.: (1) a site or foundation on which anything is laid or set up, e.g. a wall, loom, dunghill, peat- or corn-stack (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Sh., Cai., Ags., Per., Bwk. 1971). Sc. 1700 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 276:
For 300 plencher naills to the stance for bottles holding.
Lth. 1761 Session Papers, Petition G. Loch (27 July) 4:
Craigleith's Half was to be occupied with the stans of the Dike.
Fif. 1801 Edb. Weekly Jnl. (22 April) 128:
Weaver's Shop, consisting of 6 Loom Stances, and Loft above the same.
Ags. 1819 Edb. Ev. Courant (14 Jan.) 4:
A Dunghill Stance, with a quantity of Dung, situate above the road, opposite to Bearhill.
Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm III. 972:
The stance [of a haystack] should be raised 1 foot above the ground.
Wgt. 1881 Good Words 402:
Gif I had ae fut i' the grave, I wad kick a peat to its richt stance wi' the ither.
Inv. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evidence I. 704:
We were every third year, for ten years, compelled to leave our own kelp stance to others. . . . Our peats stance has been taken from us to make room for crofters and cottars.

(2) a building-site for a house, etc. (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.). Combs. building-stance, id. Gen.Sc.; stance-holder, one who possesses a stance, esp. in Highland crofting counties, one who took a piece of land with the intention of building a croft-steading on it. Sc. 1707 Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine Families II. 84:
I went to Nairn, wher I was employed to determine the stance of a house.
Sth. 1730 C. D. Bentinck Dornoch 271:
The said new building, which is to be built by consent foresaid upon the stance commencing from the Cross eastward.
Abd. 1774 Abd. Journal (14 Nov.):
The Seventh and Eighth Stances for Houses upon the West-side of Marischal Street.
Kcd. 1813 G. Robertson Agric. Kcd. 199:
There are already 150 houses built, and 50 more feus, or stances taken.
Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. iii.:
Cutting up the Saints-well-haugh into building-stances.
Arg. 1878 Trans. Highl. Soc. 84:
Long leases were offered to any one who would erect a house . . . 2s. 6d. a stance being the common rate.
s.Sc. 1880 Border Counties' Mag. I. 91:
The stance o' ma granfaither's hoose an' smiddy in the'45.
Rs. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evidence III. 1992, 2015:
There are at present twenty heads of families who have no lands whatever, except certain strips or “stances” adjoining their houses. . . . In 1862, as no rent could be got from the stance-holders, the grazings some of them held were taken from them.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 12:
Oor hoose'll be whaur God pinned aff the stance.

(3) a site for an open-air market, fair or the like. Gen.Sc. See also Mercat, 1. (12); the space for any single stand or side-show, a street-trader's pitch. Gen.Sc.; the place where an animal stands for sale in a market (Abd. 1930). Edb. 1814 Farmer's Mag. (Nov.) 466:
If they are not in the market the night before, it is not often that a stance can be got after day-light in the morning.
n.Sc. 1827 Inverness Courier (26 Sept.):
Two of the greatest market stances in the North of Scotland.
Rnf. 1884 N.B. Daily Mail (5 Aug.) 6:
Paisley Race Meeting. A few stances of Ground for Tents are still to let.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister xi.:
At the top of the roads there is a stance for circuses.
Rxb. 1924 Kelso Chron. (25 July) 4:
This old-established Border fair was held on the usual stance on St Boswells Green on Friday.
Sc. 1933 Session Cases 69:
A street trader shall not carry on business on any stance . . . unless he holds a permit from the chief constable for such stance.
Sc. 1937 St Andrews Cit. (7 Aug.) 7:
The showmen's vehicles and caravans ready to enter the city and take up their stances in South Street.
Abd. 1970 Deeside Field No. 6. 26:
Posts fixed by those in charge of the market to mark next day's stances for horses, different classes of cattle and sheep.

(4) a stage or overnight stopping-place for a drove of cattle on the way to a market. Now hist. Sc. 1846 Session Cases (1846–47) 211–2:
It was the practice for drovers to travel them [cattle] only at the rate of ten miles a-day; and to rest them during the night on stances at the road side. . . . They were called drove-stances, or stages.
Abd. 1961 J. Buchan Short Hist. Abd. 89:
During the night, the droves were allowed to stay, free of charge, in special stopping-places known as Stances. . . . For those which crossed from the headwaters of the River Don to Braemar there were stances at Inchrory and Loch Builg.

(5) a place where public vehicles stand waiting for passengers at the beginning of a run, a station or terminus for buses, etc. Gen.Sc.; occas. a halt or stop on a bus route. Edb. 1931 A. A. Macgregor Last Voyage 24:
The erection of stance poles [for trams] along Princes St.
Sc. 1938 St Andrews Cit. (8 Oct.) 3:
The boating stance at the Step Rock.
Sc. 1947 Scotsman (7 Feb.):
The establishment of a municipal bus stance in Charlotte Square.

(6) a stall or place for an animal in a stable (Cai. 1904 E.D.D., Cai. 1971); the spot where a grazing animal is tethered. Abd. 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 13:
As Jock gae'd shoudin' up the road Te shift the sheltie's stance.

(7) a witness-box or -stand. Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man xlix.:
With my Damascus sword by my side I went to the stance.

3. In Golf: the position of a player's feet when about to strike the ball. Now in St. Eng. Sc. 1783 C. Smith Abd. Golfers (1909) 18:
No person shall be at Liberty to vary or better his Stance in playing, by breaking the Surface of the Green.
Edb. 1887 W. G. Simpson Art of Golf 45:
The player may experiment about his swing, his grip, his stance.

4. The “home” or base in children's games (n., em.Sc. (a) 1971).

II. v. 1. To station, place on a certain spot, assign a position to; to exhibit (an animal) for sale at a market (ne.Sc., Ags. 1971). Sc. 1715 D. Herd Sc. Songs (1776) I. 108:
For he ne'er advanc'd From the place he was stanc'd.
Sc. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 169:
Upon the champions twa, Stanc'd ilka ane to guard his wa'.
Sc. 1887 Scottish Leader (19 Oct.) 4:
Three thousand head of cattle of all breeds were stanced at Dalkeith yesterday.
Rxb. 1929 Kelso Chron. (23 Aug.). 5:
Perhaps they [police] are too busy stancing and directing the numerous cars which appear on market days.
Rs. 1936 C. Macdonald Echoes of Glen 132:
Each lot was stanced and the battle of buying and selling began.

2. Of cattle: to stop for the night at a stance. See I. 2.(4). Sc. 1951 A. R. B. Haldane Drove Roads 154:
The cattle ‘stanced' for the night in the meadow or beside the drove road.

[O.Sc. stance, a site, 1553, in a market, 1659, a standstill, 1649, to site, 1661, O.Fr. estance, residence, situation, pause, existence, Ital. stanza, room, place, stay, station, post, Late Lat. stantia, room, dwelling.]

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"Stance n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Sep 2021 <>



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