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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SYNE, adv., n.1, conj., prep. Also syn, sine, †sayn, ¶saen; sin (see also Sin), and, chiefly ne.Sc., seen. [səin; ne.Sc. + sin]

I. adv. 1. Thereupon, directly after, next, afterwards (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Gen. (exc. I.) Sc.Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 22:
Syne far ben the house I rin.
Sc. 1745 R. Mackenzie John Brown (1918) 34:
Did he do it syne?
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 61:
Twa mile she ran afore she bridle drew, An' syn she lean'd her down upon a brow.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Jolly Beggars Recit. iii.:
[He] turn'd, an' laid a smack on Grizzie, Syne tun'd his pipes wi' grave grimace.
Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (Rogers) 207:
Ye'll cross the burn syne doun the loch side.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 123:
Syne frae the ambrie braught the chiel Out cheese and bread.
Sc. 1828 Leesome Brand in Child Ballads No. 15. A. xxx.:
Till by it came that milk-white hynde And then he mind on his ladye syne.
Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays 146:
They wavered — turned — syne ran awa.
Lnk. 1885 F. Gordon Pyotshaw 258:
Breakfast first, though, syne business.
Uls. 1900 T. Given Poems 141:
Alang the pad he pip't a tune, Syne ower the auld stane brig.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick vii.:
He pat oot 'is heid an' seen put it in again. Common in phrs. in opposition to sune, as sune or syne, now or afterwards, sooner or later, sune as (good as) syne, sune nor syne.
Sc. 1700 J. Clark Christ's Impressions 19:
Soon or syne the Believer comes to Understand.
Sc. 1722 W. Hamilton Wallace xii. iii.:
Each rogue, altho' with nick he should combine, Shall be discover'd, either soon or syne.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xviii.:
Now I am o' the mind to gang in gude earnest — better soon as syne.
Dmf. 1824 Carlyle Early Life (Froude) I. 228:
The world must be fronted some time, soon as good as syne.
Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 14:
Sin wed I maun dae, sune or syne.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Bog-Myrtle ii. ii.:
They had as lief learn sune as syne.
Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 189:
Better sune nor syne. Better soon than late.

2. Used inferentially: in that case, so, hence, then (ne.Sc., emS.c. (a) 1972).Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb vii.:
Fa did yer aunt an' you bide wi' syne?
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister xii.:
Syne he would be able to haud up his head.
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 22:
Were I “Lady Hillburn Head,” They widna brag me syne.
e.Lth. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 59:
Ha! ha! ha! Wha's sneer'd at syne!
Sc. 1920 A. Gray Songs from Heine 22:
In the nicht-time it was better, For syne the streets were toom.
Abd. 1929 Abd. Weekly Jnl. (28 Feb.) 6:
It wis idder fowk seekin' siller fae me 'at garrt ma stop cairryin' ony on ma, an' seen Aw never cairry mair nor Aw think Aw'll need.
ne.Sc. 1952 John R. Allan North-East Lowlands of Scotland (1974) 191:
First they took off their boots; and syne they took off their hose; and syne they rolled up their skirts and their petticoats till their wames were bare.
Per. 1972:
And syne, ye're no gaun.
 Sc. 1991 T. S. Law in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 34:
chap-chappin at the deid man's hoose,
gaed ben syne for tae tell his news
Edb. 1993:
Syne ye're no gaun tae that concert.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 18:
An syne ma waesome wechty fraacht
Growes licht, yer sangie warms ma veins
Like some aal ballad's liltin strains
Or like a love-brew's heidy draacht.
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 14:
Efter, bledder taen oot an
Raised tae mooth,
It swelt gin till
They tethered it wae its thairm
An let it dry fur days.
Syne kicked across the yerd
Tae the boy, seik, scunnert ...
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 73:
'A riddle is a means o disguisin a thing, syne when ye ken the answer ye see it in a different wey. ... '

3. Used retrospectively from the time of the statement: ago, since, before now (Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen. (exc. Sh.) Sc.Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 50:
Willie and Charlie is to the hill an hour syne.
Fif. 1798 R. Flockhart Sketch 8:
Sure I am they double are, Of what they twenty year syne were.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. vii.:
It was but twa days syne.
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 46:
Some years syne, baith crap and cattle Yielded nearly cent per cent.
Abd. 1829 A. Cruickshank Poems 25:
The tither night nae langer sa'en, Fan sittin jest my leefu' lane.
Sc. 1879 Stevenson Deacon Brodie i. i. 2:
A week syne it was auld Andra Simpson's in the Lawnmarket.
Bnff. 1887 G. G. Green Gordonhaven 90:
We a' mine o' yer glorious mairchins here twinty year seen.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister xxxi.:
We saw her oursels a short year syne.
Gall. 1900 R. J. Muir Mystery of Muncraig xix.:
Naething has been heard frae the room till three months syne.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 11:
Nae further than a week syne gane.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Elder Stookie 28:
" ... Yon pub the polis closed three months syne. Try there. I mind the place and there should be plenty rubbish comin' oot o' that to burn."
wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 29:
Haurdly hauf an hour syne.

Hence (1) lang syne, long ago. See also Auld, 9., Phrs., Lang Syne; (2) short syne, a short time ago, recently. See also Short, adv., 2. (4).(1) Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xi.:
The Bertrams of Ellangowan are the auld Dingawaies lang syne.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals ii.:
Just as the witches lang syne had their sinful possets and galravitchings.
Sc. 1889 Stevenson M. of Ballantrae xii.:
I would have told ye this long syne.
Abd. 1917 E. S. Rae War Poems 83:
It's nae sae verra lang seen sin' they a' waur at the skweel.
(2) Slk. a.1800 Hogg Mountain Bard (1807) 180:
Short syne we war wonderfu' canty.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems I. 54:
Man, Nature's prince, short syne right proud.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 64:
Ye were as thrang short syne as twa creel heads.
Dmf. 1894 R. Reid Poems 43:
Short syne, in the gray o' the dawin'.

4. Used prospectively (1) from a time in the past: from then, since, thereafter (ne., em.Sc. (a), sm.Sc. 1972).Per. 1897 C. M. Stuart Sandy Scott's Bible Class 77:
He was never so thrawn afore or syne.
Rxb. 1897 J. C. Dibdin Border Life 61:
I hadna selt ony fruit there for some years syne.
Fif. 1899 E. Heddle Marget 8:
I've been a' o' a tremble ever syne.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 54:
I've had back-sets syne, as ony chiel may ha'e.
Abd. 1935 D. Rorie Poems 85:
Gie't ye on tick? I ken ye fine An' whustle on my fingers, syne!

(2) from the moment of speaking: from now, hereafter.Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 210:
It maun be shortly sin if he dis.

5. Before, previously, on an earlier occasion.Sc. 1880 L. B. Walford Troublesome Daughters I. ix.:
Ye'll tak' us as we are, as ye did syne.

6. Now, the present time.m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 97:
Ye're at the lug o' the law noo, an' nae dou't ye'll ha' heard a' aboot it or syne.

II. Construed as a n., governed by preps. afore, frae, sin = that time, then. Cf. similarly Eng. then. See also Frae, prep., 1., Sin, prep., Comb.Per. 1899 C. M. Stuart Sabbath Nights 20:
Aforesyne I didna see how it was possible for me to love the Lord wi' a' my heart.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl. 31:
He never da'd a gud day frae syne.
Sh. 1970 New Shetlander No. 93. 15:
Tho' a while fae syne noo.

III. conj. 1. Since, from the time that (Gall. 1972).Sc. 1805–7 Mother's Malison in Child Ballads No. 216 A. addition. xv.:
It's na the space of haf an hour Sayn he gade fra your hall.
Lnk. 1887 A. Wardrop Mid-Cauther Fair 196:
I've made galores [o' siller] syne you were here.
Kcb. 1890 A. J. Armstrong Musings 19:
A towmond's gane syne my lad set sail.

2. If, whether. Prob. due to confusion with Gin, conj.2, 1.Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe i.:
I wadna wunner syne ye baith get mates that'll gang up the lum like a tap o' tow.
s.Sc. 1896 J. C. Dibdin Cleekim Inn i.:
Syne ye dae come back, I'll hae yer dinner het.

IV. prep. Since, since the time of.Ags. 1826 Drama of John o' Arnha' (1878) 28:
I hae born My honours brawly syne this morn.
Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 155:
Ever syne that 'tillery ball.

[O.Sc. syne, thereafter, afterwards, 1375, ago, c.1620. since, conj., 1475, North. Mid.Eng. sein, thereafter, since then, ago. The forms arise from Mid.Eng. sīn, sen, reductions, with stress accent, of O.E. siþþan, seoþþan, since then, the first giving syne, the second seen. Eng. since is from the adv. gen. si(þþa)nes. Cf. hence, thence. In unstressed position the vowel was shortened to produce Sin, adv., q.v. See also DOST syn(e adv.]

Syne adv., n.1, conj., prep.

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"Syne adv., n.1, conj., prep.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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