Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

THAN, conj., adv. Also thaun (Dmf. 1875 G. Anderson Two Angels 69); tan (wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 282). See T, letter, 1.; †then (= Eng. than in comparisons) (Slk. 1714 V. Jacob Lairds of Dun (1931) 240; Wgt. 1715 G. Fraser Lowland Lore (1880) 72; Sc. 1728 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) IV. 16; Mry. 1747 Lord Elchies' Letters (MacWilliam) 271; Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 55; Sc. 1825 Jam.); also in sense II. 3. thans(e), thance; See also An, conj.2, An, adv., and for I.Sc. forms Dan, adv. Sc. usages. [ðɑn, unstressed ðən; ðɑns]

I. conj. 1. = Eng. that in phr. nae winder than, no wonder that, prob. from a conflation of that and An, conj.1, 3.wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 263:
Nae wonder than you're like to gang dementit for perfect vexation.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 71:
Nae winder than your knees were knockin' thegither.

2. In imprecative phr. Deil than, would to the devil that . . . . See Nor, conj.1, 3., for which than is substituted (see Ib., 1.).Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 10:
Deil than your tongue were hookit neb and root.
Ayr. 1873 A. Glass Tales 18:
Deil than she may break her neck.

II. adv. = Eng. then (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 151; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc.

1. At that time, thereupon, thereafter. Used subst. in (1) and (5) below.Kcb. 1747 Kcb. Testaments MS. (Record Office) 10 July:
Another bill accepted by Robert Gordon payable to me against Martinmess then first.
Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 38:
Naebody than is heard to blaw, On chaunter, or on aiten straw.
Ork. 1795 P. Fea MS. Diary (25 Sept.):
And than it came a heavy Rain.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 131:
My conscience! when my han's were fu', Whaur were ye than?
Abd. 1926 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 112:
We wiz i' the box bed i' the kitchie an' suppost t' be asleep or than.

Phrs.: (1) noos an' thans, now and then (I., n. and em.Sc.(a), wm.Sc., Dmf. 1972). See also Noo, adv., 4.; (2) than-an-awa, in the past, in the days that are gone (Abd. 1972); (3) than-a- or -o-days, in those days, at that time (ne.Sc. 1972). See also Dan, adv. Rare and obs. in Eng. Cf. nowadays; ¶(4) then and now, used attrib. = spasmodic, irregular in time; (5) wi' than, with that, thereupon.(1) Mry. 1914 H. J. Warwick Tales 44:
Mebbe a bit mair kitchie noos an' thans.
Ags. 1926 J. M. Smith House in West End 13:
He's a wee thing foolish nows an' thans.
(3) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 99:
But then was then, my lad, and now is now; Bout then-a-days, we never met wi' cross, Nor kend the ill of conters or of loss.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 132:
They had a queer custom then o' days.
Lnl. 1896 Poets Lnl. (Bisset) 96:
Nae clud thanadays cuist a gum ower oor glory.
Ork. 1907 Old-Lore Misc. I. ii. 63:
The Johnstans aa'd Ootbrecks than-a-days.
Abd. 1967 Buchan Observer (21 Nov.) 7:
There was some stir at Biffie then-a-days.
(4) Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song 28:
He farmed his bit land in a then and now way.
(5) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 113:
Whan naething mair fra it dis seep, Wi' than they move the shankie.

2. Used inferentially: then, in that case, freq. as a particle in conversation. Gen.Sc. Phr. weel than, id.; also indicating emphatic agreement: yes indeed, very true, very much so. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc.Ayr. 1703 Session Bk. Dundonald (1936) 546:
To which Margrat Sands answered, What than?
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxvi.:
Mr. Balderstone! than the castle's gane out like an auld wife's spunk?
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb vii.:
It wasna neen o' the fisher tribe 't ye bade wi' than?
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders xxxii.:
“Weel than!” said Silver Sand for all answer.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 74:
But than, ye see, women's ay mair resoursefu' nor men.
Mry. 1927 E. B. Levack Lossiemouth 9:
“Did you fall, Jane?” “Weel than!”

3. Else (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Also in forms thans(e), thance, by assimilation to else. Gen.Sc. See also Ense. Phrs. or than or else; or than no, used with ironic force implying that the opposite of what has been said is the case, = colloq. Eng. “and I don't think,” nothing of the sort. See Else, Ense.Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 266:
Ah, Jamie lad, ye sair misken yoursel', Or thans ye wadnae tell me sic a tale.
Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 59:
Keep frae the town, or thence a knock Ye're sure to get.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Come hame sure, or than I'll be angry.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xx., xxxviii.:
“He has a gweed hantle o' poo'er fae the laird.” “Haud yer tongue, Peter Birse! Poo'er or than no.” . . . “Was't a hurt; or fat?” “Augh! A hurt or than no!”
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 124:
They maun do something, or thanse dee o' hunger.
Abd. 1925 Greig and Keith Last Leaves 117:
Your mare she is a rank rank witch, Or than yoursel Auld Clinkie Bell.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 2:
A fair durstna, or thance A micht never heh gotten off the bit aa day.
Abd. 1940:
Sit aye doun fan ye gang intil a house or than ye tak the luck wi you — an old superstition.

[O.Sc. than, then, else, 1375.]

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

"Than conj., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Apr 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: