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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.

TILL, prep., conj., adv. Also til; tul(l) and in reduced form 'l (Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 81). Sc. usages. Till is of Norse orig. and in many of its usages still confined to Sc. and n.Eng. dial. where St. Eng. uses to. For such parallel usages in Sc. see Tae, prep., conj. [tɪl; tʌl. See I, letter, 2.]

I. prep. 1. = Eng. to, in gen., with a person, thing or place as the object, towards, in the direction of. Gen. in I. and n. Sc., less common in m. and s.Sc. and then gen. before a vowel or h.Sc. 1702 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 307:
To the woman at the lodging till account . . . 14s 6d.
Sc. 1715 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 67:
Bauld Bess flew till him wi' a Brattle.
Abd. 1719 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. IV. 236:
A Roall of tobaco which comes till five p. and sixteen shilling Scots money.
Ayr. 1785 Burns There was a Lad iv.:
He'll be a credit till us a', — We'll a' be proud o' Robin.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xiii.:
Gang in by, and up the turnpike stair, and turn till the ward on the left hand.
Sc. 1825 Leesome Brand in Child Ballads No. 15 B. v.:
When ye see me lying still, Throw away your bow and come running me till.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 334:
What he has gien till her.
Kcb. 1882 G. Murray Poems 43:
Then til't they fa', keel great and sma' The dinmont and the tip.
Fif. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 63:
If you gang to Lunnon sae will I, and there's an end tilt.
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 228:
Bit it's sae hangt ill gettin' at that bit clachan o' yours that I ne'er could think o' comin' tult.
Edb. 190 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 18:
He hadna it in him to stick til' his price.
Ork. 1907 Old-Lore Misc. I. ii. 62:
They gaed dere-waas till the wives o' the Hillwhy.
Ags. 1928 Scots Mag. (July) 271:
He rackrentit his tenants till the uttermaist bawbee.
Cai. 1934 John o' Groat Jnl. (16 March):
'E puir wifie wid hev nae beyt but gang back til Wick.
Sh. 1944 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 418:
I kenna where we wad emigrate till.
Abd. 1966 Buchan Observer (20 Dec.) 7:
He believed in makin' a loud noise tull his Lord!
ne.Sc. 1982 Alastair Mackie in Hamish Brown Poems of the Scottish Hills 66:
wha's listenin?
Whit's there to listen till?
Sc. 1991 R. Crombie Saunders in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 28:
He fain wad front the field
An caa them til the stour:
"Let him assay the shield
Wad haud my luve a hure!"
Sc. 1991 T. S. Law in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 33:
the maist o colliers' hames were haundie
til pitheid, juist abuin the cundie;
an colliers' pieces, lyke thur myns
were juist made-up in aa thur kyns
Cai. 1991 John Manson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 78:
Pit oot the yowes and lambs
In the morning at the lambin
Bifore gaan back til wark
In Aiberdeen or Embro
Dundee 1994 Matthew Fitt in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 175:
Fowk wur trauchlin up the lang hull wi thair messages, sum aald wyfies juist staunin, pechin, haein a week brek til thairsels whan the young man cam beltin doon the brae, ...
Sc. 2000 Herald 9 Sep 15:
Your average Minister can make a mess of things till his heart's content (see Scotland, the Dome, transport, the Dome, Lords reform, the Dome, NHS waiting lists, and, er, the Dome), but he is programmed to stay on message come hell, high water, or Jeremy Paxman.

Phrs. (1) till't and fae't, of one in regard to health: so-so, up and down, in a fluctuating state; (2) til the millie, a variety of the game of marbles (Bnff. 1930).(1) Bnff. 1930:
“Foo's your mither keepin'?” “Oh, she's juist till't and fae't.”

2. As the prep. governing the inf. (Sc. 1808 Jam.), still used in Cai. In Sh. only before a ( < Hae).Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
I gave him a pen for till write with.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xviii.:
That's as muckle as till say Bark, Bawtie.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 312:
I have aye been wanting for till have an opportunity for till gie you as muckle as to buy the wedding gown.
m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 269:
If ye're keen till ken.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxiv.:
I wad 'a gi'en a bottle o' black strap till 'a been there.
Cai. 1902 J. Horne Canny Countryside 230:
It's no' coonted genteel till look at yer watch in company.
Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Auld Clay Biggin' 1:
The Bourtrie Burn comes wimplin' by, loiterin' a whilie til mak' a wee dub.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Till — Used (especially rurally) before the infinitive mood: “Hei was sweerin' at the men till work.”
Sh. 1926 Shetland Times (9 Oct.):
Tinks do could I a gotten peerie Janny till a preeved a scaar o' sookid fish.
Uls. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Ballymulcaghey 15:
It went again' William James's conscience till do away with him.
Cai. 1961 “Castlegreen” Tatties an' Herreen' 6:
Tatties an' herreen'! By faigs, 'at's a feed 'At ye'll no fin' id eisy till beit! 'At's aye been ma fav'rit denner, indeed, Since iver A kent how till eit.

3. Used elliptically with the v., gen. of motion, understood, freq. implying setting about, getting to work on (n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1972).Edb. 1720 A. Pennecuik Helicon 4:
A wither'd toothless Hag stand looking on, Who lov'd the Sport herself, crys Till her, John.
Ayr. a.1796 Burns There's News iii.:
And waly fa' the ley-crap For I maun till'd again.
Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 97:
He is till that lady's bower.
Rxb. 1808 A. Scott Poems 97:
Coost aff their upper claes An' til't that day.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xvii.:
Till her, Rat — till her without delay.
Per. 1842 R. Nicoll Poems 74:
If ony ane speer where I'm till on the yaud, I'm awa' to court Katie Carnegie.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 163:
But waur than a', whaur's Nelly till.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 82:
Fauld up yer sleeves, an' till't wi' birlin speed.
Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 70:
Faur is't tull? Aiberdeen, of coorse.

4. In various idioms and collocations where Eng. employs a different prep. or expression: (1) at.Fif. 1766 Session Papers, Ramsay v. Martin (25 Nov.) 85:
Mr Alexander had made a good offer to them and they jumped till it.

Freq. with verbs of looking, beholding, etc. (See also Leuk, See, etc.). For usages with hear, say, see Hear, v., B. 2. (5), and Say, v., B. 1. (6).Sc. 1823 Lockhart Reg. Dalton III. 101:
It's no Tay saumon neither. Just look till't.
Ags. 1833 J. S. Sands Poems 72:
The Deacon thus wi' satisfaction Looked till himsell.
Ayr. 1838 J. Morrison M'Ilwham Papers 9:
See till the very title, man.
Rxb. 1868 Trans. Hawick Archaeol. Soc. 9:
Some, pointing to the machine, would exclaim — “see till't! disna that beat a'!”
Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past and Present 26:
Tracing the words in the book after the minister and saying, “See till him.”
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet iv.:
Seein' till that hizzy Meg.

(2) by; freq. in regard to paternity: having (a certain person) as the father (Sh., n.Sc. 1972). Phrs. till one's name, by name; till (one's) trade, by trade or profession.Abd. 1794 Session Papers, Presb. Garioch v. Shepherd (App.) 5:
She said her sister Margaret was with bairn. And the deponent speir'd wha till.
Ayr. 1803 A. Boswell Poet. Wks. (1871) 11:
The first, a Captain till his trade.
Per. 1805 Session Papers, Scott v. Carmichael (1 Oct.) Proof 16:
She told the deponent that she had a lassie till him.
Sc. 1823 C. K. Sharpe Ballad Bk. (1880) 26:
Isna our kitchen lass wi' bairn! — Wha may that be till?
Sc. 1839 Court of Session Garland (1871) 107:
I see the Petitioner is a Jeweller till his trade.
Kcd. 1844 W. Jamie Muse 90:
They call'd her Eppie till her name.
Edb. 1897 C. M. Campbell Deilie Jock 133:
He was a joiner till his trade.

(3) compared with, in comparison to .Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 329:
Ye ca' Minnyhive an ill bit, but this is a Tophet till't.

(4) for, on behalf of, in the service of, for the benefit of (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1972). Phr. and time till'd, and high time too!Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Song II. 177:
Whar'l we get a cradle til'd?
Kcd. 1796 J. Burness Thrummy Cap (1819) 116:
Far better till ye gang awa, Or else ye'll maybe rue e'er day .
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 111, 137:
That'll be the end o' Sandy's Toon Cooncillin'; an' time till't. . . . I'll cut his wizand till him.
Abd. 1913 G. Greig Mains Again 19.:
Is there ony wird o' onybody [ i.e. a wife] till 'im?
Ags. 1939 Sc. Educ. Jnl. (27 Oct.):
I heard a fisher-wife say, “Lift my creel on my back till's.”
Abd.30 1966:
I ruggit their lugs till them.

(5) in addition to.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Hei'll need mair till't (enviously said of a prosperous person).

(6) of.Sh. 1897 Shetland News (4 Dec.):
I warn ye saw naethin' till him den, Magnus?

(7) with, along with, as a constituent or accompaniment of (a meal). Gen.Sc. Phr. tea and till't, tea served with a cooked dish, high tea (m.Sc. 1972). See also Tea, II. (2).Rnf. 1873 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 14:
Distributing the “promised bread” and something till't.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xi.:
Het punch wi' nae sugar till't.
Ayr. 1912 G. Cunningham Verse 150:
Your tea and your till'ts, a' your snysters o' paistry.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Take some saut till't.
Sc. 1948 M. Lochhead Sc. Household 49:
[Tea] was a mere whim-wham to the master who liked ‘something til't'.

II. conj. †1. While, during the time that (Sc. 1905 E.D.D.). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial.

2. After a neg. principal clause where Eng. would now use before or when (Sh., ne.Sc., Per., Ayr. 1972). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial. and U.S.Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journal (M.C.) 186:
I was not long set till Margaret came to see me.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags xxxi.:
It was not long till she had me cosy in bed.

3. Implying purpose: in order that (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., wm.Sc. 1972).Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 18:
Give me a match till I light the gas.
Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle iii. iv.:
Come till I give you a grand, big hug.
Abd. 1961:
Turn on the wireless till we hear the news.

III. adv. As in Eng. to: (1) with verbs implying setting to work, getting into action (Sh. 1972). Phr. to be till, to be alive and active, be to the fore (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). Cf. Norw. være til, id.Uls. 1879 W. G. Lyttle Readings 38:
She started till tae mak preparations for the weddin'.
Sh. 1892 Manson's Sh. Almanac:
I set me till an drew ower my packie o tows.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 113:
Dan ye fa' till an' lay aff aboot da wye 'at ye're traetid.

(2) in phr. till and frae, to and fro, this way and that. Obs. in Eng.Sc. 1806 Fair Annie in Child Ballads No. 62 B. xix.:
She saird them up, she saird them down, She saird them till and frae.

‡(3) in phr. dat till, so far, as far as that.Sh. 1897 Shetland News (17 July):
Shü'll no get dat till an' I here.

[O.Sc. til, as a sign of the infin., while, a.1400.]

Till prep., conj., adv.

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"Till prep., conj., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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