Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WILL, v.1 [wɪl, wʌl. See P.L.D. § 59; reduced form (ə)1]

A. Forms. Pr.t. will, vill (Sc. 1701 Seafield Corresp. (S.H.S.) 337). See V, letter; wull (Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1885) I. 18; Abd. 1874 N. Maclean Life Nth. Univ. 1; Edb. 1893 W. G. Stevenson Wee J. Paterson 4; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai), see P.L.D. § 76.1., I, letter, 2.; and reduced forms 'ill, 'ull. See W, letter, 1. Neg. forms with suff. -na, wil(l)na, wullna, wullen (Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 66), gen. assimilated to winna (Gen.Sc.), wunna (Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality iv.; Per. 1896 I. Maclaren Auld Lang Syne 28; Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood i.; Rxb. 1942 Zai); †wanna (Sc. 1887 Jam.), †wonna (Ayr. 1826 J. Hetrick Poems 55); and reduplic. forms wunnan (Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick vi.), wunnin (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xi.); winnae (Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 113), -ie (Sc. 1796 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 770), -y (Gsw. 1935 McArthur & Long No Mean City xx.). See Na, adv.2; also anglicised forms wonnot (Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel v.), wonit (Sc. 1745 S.C. Misc. (1841) 281); wullent (Gsw. 1935 McArthur & Long No Mean City iii.). In 2nd. pers. sing. interrog. enclitic forms with pers. pron. wil(l)tu (Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 63; Rnf. 1815 W. Finlayson Rhymes 103), wilto (Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 65), wilta (Abd. (Upper Donside) 1900 Scots Mag. (March 1934) 431), wulta (Dmf. 1912 J. Hyslop Echoes 43); wilter (Sc. 1743 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 525), wiltir (Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 159), wulter, -ir. See Thou, pers. pron. Neg. wiltuna (Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 136). Pa.t. and conditional: wad (Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. iv. i.; Ayr. 1792 Burns Here's a health to them that's awa iii.; Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxviii.; s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 216; Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders ii.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Gen.Sc., now somewhat liter.), 2nd pers. sing. wad (Ayr. 1786 Burns Auld Mare viii., xii., xiv.), mixed Sc.-Eng. form wadst (Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 243; Edb. 1869 J. Smith Poems 64), wald (Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 227, 1822 Scott F. Nigel iii.); wid (Abd. 1874 N. Maclean Life Nth. Univ. 165; Sh., Ork., Ayr. 1889 Ellis E.E.P. V. 744, 813, 820; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Sh. 1931 Shetland Times (21 March) 7; Gen.Sc.), widd (Abd. 1884 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 27); wud (Abd. a.1809 J. Skinner Amusements 89; Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie ii.; Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 29; Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Auld Clay Biggin' 5; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Rxb. 1942 Zai; m.Sc. 1974). Neg. forms with -na, etc. (see Na, adv.2), wadna (Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 37; Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 12; Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality vii.; Kcb. 1893 Crockett Stickit Minister 9; Ags. 1927 V. Jacob Northern Lights 39; wm.Sc. 1950 Scots Mag. (July) 284), wadnae (Sc. 1818 S. Ferrier Marriage xxv.; Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) VI. 337); wudna (Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 31; Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster 332; m.Sc. 1973), †wudan (Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 48), widna (Bnff. 1887 G. G. Green Gordonhaven 79; Abd. 1926 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 115; Gen.Sc.); widnin (Abd. 1923 Swatches o' Hamespun 70), wudnin (Abd. 1882 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 44); enclitic forms with Hae, have, in conditional perf. tenses: wida (Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 46), wudda (Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 46), neg. ¶wudny-un (Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xxi.). Hae is very freq. omitted. See Hae, v.1, B. 3.

B. Sc. usages. The distinctions between the Sc. and Eng. uses of shall and will so frequently noted by 18th and 19th c. writers have become less marked owing to the fact that the prescriptive rules in St. Eng. are being less and less adhered to, esp. in colloq. speech. The usages of shall and will which were established in Mid.Eng. in the 14th and 15th c. became blurred in Sc. and dial. Eng. early on, with will gradually encroaching on the province of shall, and Modern St. Eng. is now following this development, already well established in Irish, and U.S.A. as well as Sc. See Sall, v. The following are still in the main characteristically Sc.: 1. used in the 1st pers. to express mere futurity, not, as in Eng., will or intention, which in Sc. is often expressed by shall, Sall, q.v. Conversely, in the 2nd and 3rd pers., will can be used to express determination on the part of the speaker, which in Eng. is usu. expressed by shall. In questions will freq. appears for Eng. shall, in the sense of “do you wish me to?” Would is correspondingly used in indirect speech or thought in past time for the 1st pers. Sc. 1719 in Scott Rob Roy App. to Intro.:
I will not write any more till I have more account.
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (1884) 231:
If you will carry it I will be very obliged to you.
Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 107:
Will I help you to a bit of beef?
Sc. 1800 Monthly Mag. I. 323:
We will go to our dinner whenever the clock strikes two.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
One says to his neighbour “ you will stay a' nicht,” when resolved that he will not part with him.
Slk. 1835 Hogg Tales (1874) 704:
I wadnae wonder that they lay in that strong place until they eat up every cow and sheep in Ettrick Forest.
Edb. 1891 R. F. Hardy Tibby's Tryst xxi.:
Then I will be quite ready on Friday, or any day you wish.
Sc. 1900 R. Masson Use of English 41:
I wrote Elizabeth that I would likely be on Monday first, but I might be behind my time as I would need to see John off first.
Rnf. 1922 G. Blake Clyde-Built 26:
When do you sail, Harry? Will I be able to see you and wave to you?
Abd. 1926 M. Argo Makkin o' John 4:
We winna be deaved wi her for a filie.
Bnff. 1969:
We thocht we wid be late.

2. (1) = Eng. should, ought. and in various conditional and modal usages. Sc. 1798 Monthly Mag. II. 438:
We would be much to blame to do so.
Bnff. 1887 G. G. Green Gordonhaven 79:
Fu widna wimmen pray as weel's men?
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters vi.:
Ou, we wouldna be the waur o't.
Ags. 1908 Barrie What every Woman Knows i:
James, I would n't sit on the fine chair.

¶(2) with the perfect inf. instead of the pres. = used to, appar. by confusion with the usage under Sud, v., (1), and poss. 3. below. s.Sc. 1857 Wilson's Tales of the Borders XIII. 163–7:
Love did not communicate itself to my heart till I was well up in years till Margery Johnson would have come across my path again like a bonny blink o' sunshine and presently the dying embers would glow. . . . Frequently when I have delivered myself o' a few long-nebbed words, she would have slapped me on the shoulder in encouragement.

3. Used periphrastically and freq. with continuous forms of the verb in place of the pr.t. in tentative or conjectural statements or speculations (also in Eng. dial.), sometimes as a polite way of asking a question or making a request, and often used as a liter. device to indicate a Highland speaker. Cf Eng. must sim. used. Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xiii.:
Ye will be the same lad that was for in to see her yestreen?
Per. 1891 R. Ford Thistledown xiv.:
A female acquaintance, following a common Scotch idiom, said one day — “Jock, how auld will you be?” “I ken weel enough how auld I am . . . but dinna ken how auld I'll be.”
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona i.:
Indeed, it will be a very unusual thing for strangers to be speaking to each other on the causeway.
Sc. 1896 Stevenson W. Hermiston vi., ix.:
‘Will I have gotten my jo now?' she thought with a secret rapture. . . . I see somebody will have been talking to ye.
Sc. 1929 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 359:
It's to the Gray Lad you will be going.
Cai. 1934 N. M. Gunn Butcher's Broom iii. iii.:
You'll be thinking I'm mournful?
Abd. 1936 D. Bruce A Cheengefu' Wordle 24:
If you would be yoking the cart, I'm ready to go.
Sc. 1973:
It will be about forty miles from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

4. With the verb be followed by the gerund or to with the inf.: (is or was) bent on, very inclined to. Ayr. 1803 A. Boswell Poet Wks. (1871) 14:
When she sat doun, then he sat doun, And till her wad be gabbin'.
ne.Sc. 1888 D. Grant Keckleton 133:
When she cam' back frae Edinboro' she wud be to ca' her faither an' me ‘Papa' and ‘Mamma.'

5. Combs.: (1) wad-be-at, a “would-be,” a pretender or aspirant to social consequence or the like (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); †(2) will-ye-hae house, a house in which the guests are merely offered hospitality as opposed to one in which everything is spontaneously laid on by the host; (3) wunnawork, a work-shy, a loafer (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). (2) Lth. 1860 J. Locke Tweed & Don 99:
We were not in a ‘Will ye hae house,' but in an inner chamber; all was provided and ready for us.

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"Will v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Jun 2021 <>



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