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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

COMPLEEN, v. Also complean. Sc. form of Eng. complain, which is here illustrated only in a Sc. sense. [kəm′plin]

1. To complain, as in Eng. (Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy vi., 1894 Stevenson W. of Hermiston v.).Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 101:
A' compleen o' want o' siller; nane, o' want o' sense.

2. To be ailing, to “complain” of feeling unwell. Also complain on. Often as ppl.adj. compleenin', complainin(g), ailing, unwell. This sense is now obs. in Eng. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1815 Scott Familiar Letters (1894) I. 337:
We were rather a complaining family, as the Scotch say.
ne.Sc. 1824 William Mackie compiler, ed. David Stevenson The Diary of a Canny Man (1991) 16:
6th November, 1824
Bell Wallace, our servant lass, has taken in her bed today complaining on a sore throat.
Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xviii.:
Mrs Birse . . . informed Johnny Gibb that he “hedna been vera stoot, an' was compleenin' war nor eeswal the nicht.”
Fif. 1895 “S. Tytler” Macdonald Lass vii.:
But you know, Ewan, my mother is often complaining (sickly), and I ought to be with her as soon as I can.
Edb. 1894 W. Grant Stevenson Puddin' iv.:
I'm no' sae strong as I've been . . . an' Mrs Inglis is kind o' complainin' too.

[O.Sc. complene, complein, c.1480, variant of complain (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Compleen v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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