Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WARN, v. Also wairn (e.Lth. 1708 J. Paterson Musselburgh (1857) 81; Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 115; m.Sc. 1893 A. S. Swan Homespun xiv.; Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 16; Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 169), wern (Edb. 1891 R. F. Hardy Tibby's Tryst xx.).

1. To summon (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Ork., Cai. 1973); specif.: “to notify tenants to come to pay the rent” (Uls. 1953 Traynor); to call (a meeting) (Cld. 1880 Jam.); to invite, as to a funeral (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 207), also with in (Ib.). Vbl.n. warning, an invitation to a funeral (Gall. 1905 E.D.D.). Comb. Warnin-bell, the church bell, which summons the congregation to church. Sc. 1833  St Andrews Cit. (23 Jan. 1937) 7:
The officer is to be appointed by the Society. His duties are: Keeping in charge the Society's property, warning all meetings.
ne.Sc. 1874  W. Gregor Olden Time 142:
The people had been invited to the funeral, or warnt, by a special messenger a few days before the funeral took place.
e.Lth. 1883  J. Martine Reminisc. 299:
It used to be the practice in Morham parish for the warning-bell for public worship to be rung at half-past nine o' clock summer and winter.
Dmb. 1894  D. MacLeod Past Worthies 26:
A hale day was wasted warnin' freens to the funeral.
Uls. 1953  Traynor:
The tenants was all warned against Saturday. I'll be away all the morra warnin' the tenants.

2. Of a clock: to make a clicking or whirring noise preparatory to striking, usu. to warn (for) nine, ten, etc. (Ork., Abd., Per. 1973). Also in Eng. dial. Rxb. 1846  M. A. Richardson Borderer's Table-Bk. VI. 116:
Just as the clock warned for twal' the hin'most game was concludet.
Slg. 1885  W. Towers Poems 189:
Hark! the clock is warning ten.
Knr. 1886  H. Haliburton Horace 11:
At last it comes, the warnin' click The auld clock gies afore it strik'.
Ayr. 1890  J. Service Notandums 58:
The knock has warned for twal' o'clock.
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick ii.:
Aal Methooslem warned ‘half nine'.

3. Vbl.n. warnin(g), (1) a premonition, sign or portent (I.Sc., Cai., Ags. 1973). Also in Eng. dial.; (2) in Sc. Law phr. precept of warning, a written instruction given by a landlord to his agent to notify a tenant to remove from his property within 40 days (Sc. 1752 J. Spotiswoode Stile of Writs 65). Obs. (1) Ayr. 1889  H. Johnston Glenbuckie i.:
Deaths seldom occurred, according to the shrewd gossips, without some remarkable “warning” being received of the sad event. The howling of a dog, the ticking of the death watch, or some mysterious knock, was generally heard.
Edb. 1900  E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-net 232:
The stroke upon her window was of supernatural origin, and a ‘warning' to her of the death of her son.
(2) Sc. 1707  Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 464:
To wm broune, Patrick jonstounes last tack to raise a precept of wairning agst his wife and childrein.
Ork. 1766  P. Fea MS. Diary (4 Aug.):
I wrot a Precept of Warneing against most of them.
Sc. 1773  Erskine Institute ii. vi. § 45:
The landlord should sign a precept of warning, commanding his officer to intimate to the tenant, forty days before Whitsunday at or immediately preceding the term of the ish, to remove at that term from his possession.

4. In deriv. warney, a children's game (see quot.). Also in Eng. dial. Kcb. 1898  A. B. Gomme Trad. Games II. 342:
Warney — I'm the wee mouse in the hole in the wa', I'm come out to catch you a'. One of the players starts with clasped hands to catch another. When this is done they join hands — each one, on being caught, going into the number to form a chain. If the chain breaks no one can be caught.

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"Warn v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 May 2019 <>



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