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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WEARY, adj., n., v. Also wearie. Sc. form and usages, referring to sadness and dispiritedness rather than exhaustion as in Eng.

I. adj. 1. Sad, sorrowful, miserable, wretched, of persons.Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 22:
A weary wight am I.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Ye Banks and Braes i.:
And I sae weary fu' o' care.

2. Depressing, dispiriting, hard to bear (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1973).Abd. 1733 W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 35:
Her weary story she did close.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xi.:
I had a weary waking out of a wild dream.
Per. 1893 Harp Per. (Ford) 24:
This weary, waefu' tale o' mine.
Gall. 1900 R. J. Muir Mystery Muncraig 125:
It's a weary warl for auld folks.

3. Used quasi-imprecatively in expressions of annoyance: vexatious, troublesome, provoking, “wretched”. Also adv.Abd. 1733 W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 30:
Waeworth that weary sup of drink He lik'd so well.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 88:
'Cause I left her not the weary clink, She sell't the very trunchers frae my bink.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 262:
Poor Scota now is daz'd and auld, Her children's blood rins weary cauld.
Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (Rogers 1905) 226:
The weary gill's the sairest ill On braes o' fair Stra'bogie.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxvii.:
He was lost in the vessel gaun to that weary Holland.
Sc. 1827 Fire of Frendraught in Child Ballads No. 196 A. vi.:
The weary smoke began to rise, Likewise the scorching heat.
Lth. 1853 W. Wilson Ailieford II. ix.:
Sibby knows how late I was — dunning him for this weary siller.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xiv.:
Ye weary weirdless, ne'er-do-weel vagabond.
Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers 122:
Oh, thae weary colonies. Mony's the heart they've broken forbye mine.
Sh. 1906 T. P. Ollason Spindrift 120:
Boy, maet da fools, luek ta da grice, Or flit da weary coo.

4. Of persons and objects: puny, weak, feeble, paltry.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
A weary bairn, a child that is declining.
Abd. 1844 W. Thom Rhymes 34:
O gin I but had yon wearie wee flower That floats on the Ury sae fair.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 57:
A wearie heather housie doon near the water side.
Sc. 1879 Good Words 405:
The minister had christened Nicky Macdonald's bairn in the house, since it was far too weary a thing to be brought to the kirk.

5. Deriv. and comb.: (1) wearifu, wearyf(o)u, of persons or animals: troublesome, annoying, vexatious (Sc. 1808 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1973); sad, dismal, woeful (Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 272); of weather: harsh, inclement, trying; also freq. with expletive force as in 3. above: “darned ”, confounded; (2) wearisome, id.; (3) weary-wae, heart sick, melancholy.(1) Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 82:
She's be burnt, and he's be slain, The wearifu' Gaberlunzie-man.
s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.:
Weary, wretched, cursed; as the weary or weariful fox.
Sc. 1822 Scott Pirate xxiv.:
Mair than ae boat had been lost in that wearyfu' squall.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Steam-boat iv.:
I could hear of nothing but the bir of that wearyful woman's tongue.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan III. i.:
Striving heart and hand wi' thae wearyfou French.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxi.:
He was a wee wearifu' warroch o' a body.
m.Lth. 1864 A. Johnston Lays Edina 34:
Like a wee wounded bird in its wearyfu' nest.
Edb. 1872 J. Smith Jenny Blair 11:
Visitin' leddies that gang toddlin' about in sic wearifu' weather.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xii.:
“Ye were saying, mem? ” says he; and the wearyful wife went on.
(2) Ags. 1854 Arbroath Guide (12 Aug.) 3:
I tak my water frae that wearisome hill wal.
(3) Per. 1878 R. Ford Hame-Spun Lays 94:
I'm weary-wae sin' left alane.

II. n. 1. With indef. art.: a feeling of tiredness, a limit to one's energy. Cf. Tire, n.1Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch ii.:
Keeping half the countryside dancing in strathspey step as if they were without a weary, or had not a bone in their bodies.

2. A girls' game (see quot.).Abd. 1898 A. B. Gomme Games II. 360–1:
‘Weary, weary, I'm waiting on you, I can wait no longer on you; Three times I've whistled on you — Lovey, are you coming out? I'll tell mamma when I go home, the boys won't let my curls alone; They tore my hair, and broke my comb — And that's the way all boys get on.' The girls stand in a row, and one goes backwards and forwards singing the first four lines. She then takes one out of the row, and they swing round and round while they all sing the other four lines.

3. Used imprecatively to express exasperation, = Eng. devil, plague, etc. in phrs.: (1) weary fa (Uls. 1953 Traynor), weerie-, weary me, -on, -set, -tak, “the devil take — ”, “confound — ”; (2) the wery o't, da wery o'd (Sh.), the devil of it, the annoying thing about it (Sh., Ork. 1866 Edm. Gl.); (3) to the Wells of Weary, — Wearie's Well, to the deuce, prob. influenced by the place-name The Wells o' Wearie at Duddingston, Edinburgh; (4) to play the weary, to play the deuce, old Harry. Cf. Sorra, n.(1) Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf iii.:
O weary fa' thae evil days!
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxxix.:
“Weary on him! ” said Mrs Glass, “what for needed he to have telled that of his ain country, and to the English folk abune a'?”
Abd. 1837 J. Leslie Willie & Meggie 53:
Weeriefa' that monstrous malt tax.
Slg. 1844 Sc. Songs (Whitelaw) 106:
O weary on the toom pouch.
Lth. 1853 M. Oliphant Harry Muir xxvii.:
Ou, ay, she's aye steering, weary tak her.
Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 149:
Weary set that chiel . . . he has seerly nae taste ava'.
e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 121:
O wearie me, my heart is sair, To say fareweel to a' I ken.
(2) Ork. 1929 Old-Lore Misc. IX. ii. 77:
Da wery o'd waas 'at aince a bothy got da Beuk, he couldna ' mak' awa wi' 'er.
(3) Sc. 1828 Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight in Child Ballads No. 4 B. iii., iv.:
Then baith rede down to that water That they ca Wearie's Well. . . . Oft times I've watered my steed Wi the waters o Wearie's Well.
Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 53:
A'm nae happy, an' tae the Wells o' Weary wi' the dashen pictur's!
(4) Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Sketches 342:
Ee wud really neeed {sic] tae exerceese yersel', sir, for thae seceder bodies is playin' the weary.

III. v. 1. intr. To become bored or listless (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 95). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 103:
I weary when I walk alone.
Inv. 1905 E.D.D.:
They wearied of the long discourse.
Ags. 1918 V. Jacob Songs 15:
We've sic a wale o' Angus men That we canna weary lang.
Sc. 1928 T. T. Alexander Psalms cxxx. 6:
Atweel, I weary mair than a' That lang for dawn o' day.
Abd. 1973:
Div ye nae weary files, bidin awa there by yoursel?
Abd. 1980 David Toulmin Travels Without a Donkey 10:
The story goes that long ago, on a cold snowy Sabbath morning the minister of the parish was late for service. When he eventually arrived he found the congregation dancing among the tombstones to keep themselves warm. They had waited and wearied so long in the cold they could no longer bear the inactivity, ...

2. With on, for, to (+ inf.): to long or yearn for, to desire earnestly, esp. what one has been deprived of for some time (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; ne.Sc. 1973). Also used pass.Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xi.:
The master carried the keeper to the top of his highest tower to admire a wide and waste extent of view, and to “weary for his dinner.”
Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters III. 214:
Come awa, gudewife! We were sair wearied for you!
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 87:
I weary for ye mair and mair.
Lth. 1895 A. S. Swan Gates of Eden ii.:
Katie wearied on ye comin'.
Fif. 1806 G. Setoun R. Urquhart xii.:
She's no faur frae the hinder end, an' wearyin' for it.
Per. 1903 H. MacGregor Souter's Lamp 300:
Haste ye back! I'll be wearin' [sic] t'hear the news.
Sc. 1922 G. Blake Clyde-Built 17:
Your father's wearyin' for his tea.

3. In ppl.adj. = I. 3.Sh.9 1947:
Folk with their peats a long distance from the house might say: “We'll hae ta dad wis awa ta da wearied stack ageng fur da helly's paets.”

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"Weary adj., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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