Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

STEP, n., v. Sc. usages. For other Sc. forms see Stap, n.1, v.1

I. n. 1. As in Eng. Phr. to take a step, to walk, stroll, make a short journey. Gen.Sc. Obs. in Eng. Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 51:
I'll take a step up to High Street.

2. A short portion (of a highway), a patch (of road) (ne.Sc., Ags., Kcb. 1971). Kcb. 1745 Kcb. Testaments MSS. (18 July):
Twintie pound to help bad steps in the roads through the said paroch.
Sc. 1876 S. Smiles Sc. Naturalist 61:
Edward did not know a step of the road.

3. A stepping stone in a river (Per., Kcb. 1971). Gall. 1702 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) I. 93:
He fell severall tymes at the Mill damm and Steps of Cree.
Gall. 1722 Session Bk. Minnigaff (1939) 408:
To mending the Steps of Pollkill five groats.
Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 339:
In stoppin' at the steppin'-stanes, I bode to back her o'er; But no, she'd tak' the steps her lane.

4. In Mining: a fault or slip in the strata of the mine, a hitch (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 64; Ayr. 1971). Ayr. 1776 Session Papers, Sir A. Fergusson v. Earl of Cassilis (11 Jan.) 3:
There is a Step which cut off the coal.
Dmf. 1824 G. Chalmers Caledonia III. 53:
This bed [of coal] when clear of steps and dikes, which frequently occur.
Ayr. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 V. 213:
Various “steps” cross and derange the strata.
Ayr. 1912 G. Cunningham Verse 70:
'Boot up steps and doon steps, and veezes and lypes.

II. v. As in Eng. Phrs. and Comb.: afore ye, etc., could step ower a strae, = Eng. “before you could say Jack Robinson,” in a flash; step-over, a small plank- or footbridge over a stream; to step and cast, to sow corn seed by hand in an even rhythmical manner by synchronising one's steps with the movements of the arms. Hence step and cast, adv., sowing in this manner; to step aside, to err morally, to commit a fault, go astray. Hence step-aside, a moral fault, a deviation from rectitude, a misdemeanour; to step in leather shoon, = Eng. “to step in shoe-leather,” to exist, live. Sc. 1748 Caled. Mercury (5 April):
If he return to his Business, he shall be civilly used, without Challenge for the past Step aside.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To Unco Guid vii.:
To step aside is human.
Rxb. 1820 Scots Mag. (June) 534:
“Afore the twa lads could hae steppit owre a strae,” the deil exploded like a bombshell.
Sc. c.1825 Carlyle Works (1872) VI. 290:
Now hands to seedsheet, boys, We step and we cast . . . Measure of stroke and step we keep.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xv.:
A bonnier quean never steppit in leather shoon.
e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 308:
The little step-over which spanned the brook.
Sc. 1943 C. Macdonald Highl. Journey 69:
Initiating his son to the sowing “step and cast”, with sand from the shore as “seed”.

[O.Sc. to step aside, to err, a.1653.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Step n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Oct 2021 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: