Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

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

Z, n., letter of the alphabet. The twenty-sixth letter of the alphabet, denoting the voiced fore-blade fricative [z] and called zed [zɛd], †zad (see Zad), as in Eng., also dim. form Zaidie, q.v., though a dissyllabic form [′ɪzɪd, ′ɪzɪt] was also common both in Sc. and Eng., and is still heard among old speakers (Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. Gl.; Ags. 1810 J. Paterson Poems 133; Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 28). See also Izzat. Lord Glenbervie records (c.1775 Signet Lib. MS. 107) that initial z as in zeal, zenith, zone was sounded in Sc. as [dz]. This is still in use among some speakers as in e.g. zoo [dzu], and in the name of the letter [(ɪ)′dzɛd]. Its usages are substantially the same as in Eng. When the sound represents s voiced intervocalically, some writers use z as a more phonetic representation as in cruzie, Cruisie, mizzour, Measure, rooze, Ruise. In Sc. the ending -sure is pronounced [zər] as in leisure, pleasure; when the Eng. pronunciation [ȝər] is intended, this is sometimes indicated by the spelling -zh- as in pleezher. Cf. fuzhonless, Fushionless, puzhen, Pushion. c [s] is pronounced [z] in December in m.Sc. and Precentor in some areas. As explained under Y, letter, the character ȝ (yogh), representing the sound [j], came to be confused with a cursive z and the early Sc. printers freq. used z, when ȝ was not available in their founts. This sound being the second element in l and n mouillé, spellings like †bailzie, Capercailzie, Cunzie, Failzie, fenzie (Feingie), Gaberlunzie, spulzie (Spulyie) are common, and some have survived in modern arch. or hist. usage, notably in proper names like Culzean [kʌ′len], Dalziel [də(l)′jɛl], Drummelzier [′-mɛljɛr], Menzies [′mɪŋɪz], MacKenzie [†mə′kɛŋji. See Scott H. Midlothian xii., Stevenson Edinburgh v.], Benzie [†′bɛŋji], Cockenzie [†kɔ′kɛne], Lenzie [†′lɛnɪ]. Hence also in eclectic writers zit, yet (Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms cxix. 55), zung, young (Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. xxxv.). This ȝ ( > z) sometimes also represented an orig. [hj,j], which in some words developed into [ʃ(j)], and hence spellings such as Zetland, q.v., zirrie, zery, sherry, zizars, Shissors, scissors. 'Z. See His, pron., Hiz, Is, v., Us.

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Z n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 May 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: