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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

YAIR, n.1 Also ya(i)re; ¶yaar (Mry. 1798 Grant and Leslie Survey Mry. 155); yaird by confusion with Yaird, n.1; †zeir. An enclosure, gen. built of stones or occas. of wattle-work in an estuary or in a bay on the sea-shore, to trap fish, esp. salmon, in nets or by hand, as the tide recedes (Gall. 1974). [je:r]Dmb. c.1710 Sheriffdom Lnk. & Rnf. (M.C.) 143:
Some of them [herring] coming to the freshes near Dumbarton, and are taken in the yairs.
Sc. 1723 W. Macfarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 326:
There is good salmon fishing in Carron by Zeirs and Weirs and leisters for a great many miles.
Rs. 1732 N. Macrae Romance Royal Burgh 215:
The yair belonging to the town, near the Ness of Dingwall.
Clc., Dmb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VIII. 597, XVII. 217:
Upon the point of these inches, they erect what are called yares, a sort of scaffold projecting into the water; upon which they build little huts to protect them from the weather; from these scaffolds they let down, at certain times of the tide, their nets, and are often very successful in taking the smaller fish. . . . A yare is built of stones . . . about four feet in height, and of considerable length, and stretches out into the river in the form of a crescent, or of three sides of a square; but to give it a probability of succeeding, it must proceed from a point of land, so as to inclose a bay.
Sth., Rs. 1817 Scots Mag. (July) 488:
Myriads of fry are destroyed by yares, (a mode of fishing tolerated in the Frith of Cromarty, Beauly, and Dornoch).
Sc. 1864 P. F. Tytler Hist. Scot. I. 242:
We find in the Cartularies innumerable grants of yairs.
Inv. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Report Evid. I. 39:
There was a yair in the loch which was good for catching herring.
Dmb. 1957 Scotland's Mag. (June) 15:
The south-east corner of the Colgrain yair is still clearly marked by weed covered stones on the sand.

Combs.: yair-fishing, fishing by means of yairs; yair-net, a fish-net extended into the bed of a river and fixed by poles so as to form a yair (Gall. 1974).Dmb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVII. 217:
Yair fishings, so productive in this parish [Cardross], seem to be almost peculiar to it.
Rs. 1819 Edb. Ev. Courant (11 Oct.) 1:
The Salmon Yair Fishings belonging to the estate of Ferrintosh.
Slg. 1835 Trans. Highl. Soc. 13:
All the principal stake, yare, and drag-net fishing stations, from Hopeton to Stirling.
Gall. 1969 Galloway News (11 April):
Fisherman for Yair Salmon Nets at Kirkcudbright.

[O.Sc. ihara (Latin), Id., 12th c., yare, 1424, O.E. -ȝear in mylenȝear, an enclosure on a millstream.]

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"Yair n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Feb 2023 <>



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