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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.

CRY, v. and n. Special Sc. usages.

I. v.

1. To summon, to call (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.17, Fif.13, Lnk.11, Kcb.1 1941). Found in literary Eng. in 15th cent. (N.E.D.) and still in use in Cum. dial. (E.D.D.). Also found with on, ti (= to).Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. ii. i.:
Syne frae their Washing cry the Bairns in haste.
Sc. 1799 H. Mitchell Scotticisms 29:
Was you crying on me?
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. (1817) xxxii.:
But she suld cry in Deacon Bearcliff, and if Mr. Glossin liked to tak an inventar o' the property . . .
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 28:
Syn auntie crys her dather Betty ben.
Abd.(D) 1929 J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 101:
Fin the wife comes an' cries ma in aboot to get a drap tay.
Abd. 1980 David Toulmin Travels Without a Donkey 69:
I would have pried further but the yapping dogs deterred me, and Jane kept crying me back, so we walked down to Pelter Bridge to watch the torrent on the Rothay Burn after the heavy rains.
Gsw. 1930 F. Niven Three Marys 247:
Cry ye a cab, Sir?
Rxb.(D) 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 10:
A'll heh ti cry ti thae bairns — it's teime for the skuil.

2. With back: (1) to call back, recall; (2) (see quots.).(1) Peb. 1864 W. Chambers Hist. Peb. 348:
Rin and cry back the laird.
Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 55:
He cried her back, his voice was keen.
(2) Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. x.:
There is a painful form of superstition known in that part of the country. . . . It was called "Crying back"-crying back a spirit just departed: and it ensues only on the indecent, vociferous, or frantic grief of a survivor. . . . The dead body, animated afresh by some horrid principle of vitality, will, it is said, then start up, and, with dreadful contortions and menacing gestures, utter horrible imprecations; and make awful disclosures of the new state into which the spirit has passed.
Fif. 1876 A. Laing Lindores Abbey 383:
It is firmly believed that if a child or other relative is withheld from dying by being “Cried back” (as the prayers for its continuance in life are called), it will be deprived of one or more of its faculties as a punishment to the parent or other relative who would not acquiesce in the Divine will.

3. With out, as in Eng. = to complain, but found in vbl.n. comb. crying-oot in Sc. = a misfortune.Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 140:
I never had a crying-oot, but there was sure to be anither ane or twa at the back o't.

4. To visit, call, in passing, found only in this sense followed by preps. or advs. or prep. + adv.: (1) by (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Ags.17, Fif.13 1941); (2) in (by) (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.17, Fif.10, Slg.3, Lnk.11, Kcb.10 1941); (3) tae, tee (ne.Sc. 1975); (4) (up)o(n) (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.17, Fif.13, Lnk.11 (for Rxb.) 1941; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (5) up to (Bnff.2, Ags.17 1941); (6) yont (Ags.17 1941).(1) Sc. 1926 “L. Moon” Drumorty 33:
Not one Sunday morning had he missed “crying by” for Jessie to go to morning service.
(2) Bnff.6 c.1920:
Be sure an' cry in as ye gyang by.
Abd.27 1946:
Cry in by an' lat's ken foo ye got on.
Ags.(D) 1922 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden ii.:
She's to cry in for them in the hame-gaen.
Fif. 1894 (2nd ed.) D. S. Meldrum Story of Margrédel Intro.:
Are ye a' weel? I just cried in to see.
Rxb.(D) 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 10:
A'll cry in as A gaun bye the morn's morneen.
(3) Abd. 1966 Buchan Observer (31 May) 5:
Oh, ye jist cried tee, being in the District.
(4) Abd.(D) 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 37:
Syne cry upo' the banker's wife an' leave some settin' eggs.
(5) Ags. 1893 Arbroath Herald (6 April) 2/3:
I'll juist cry up to him atween nine an' ten o'clock.
(6) Ags. 1892 F. F. Angus Susie xxi.:
You have only to cry yont for it and ye will get it at onytime.

5. To call, denominate (Fif. a.1890 (per Ags.6); Lnk.11, Kcb.10 (for Ayr.) 1941); to proclaim.Sc. 1721 R. Wodrow Sufferings i. iii. s. 5:
A little before his Death at Edinburgh, he discharged the Bell-man to cry him by the Designation of Bishop, but ordered himself to be cried late Minister of Edinburgh.
Sc. 1935 J. Connell David Go Back 83:
The words cried out the man and cried him ludicrously inappropriate to the task which he had set himself.
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 18:
A wheen o fowk fae aw the pairts
O "Cool Caledonia" as they cried it.
Walked fae aw ower the place
Tae build a wee cairn up the hill - richt up the tap.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 16:
The ba'-faced gowk they cried him
Geordie Pate o the Loan:
Dwelt aye at the back-en o his hoose
Nivver faur frae his neeps.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 94:
'I kept watch ower the Archbishop's hoose when the rebels cam oot the west in the year '66,' Tammas told him. 'The rebels - or whitiver ye'd cry them - that mairched frae Dumfries tae the Pentlands, and wis bate by mad Tam Dalyell the Muscovite.'
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 4:
You think wan thing, Ah think anither.
You cry him a saint, Ah cry him a blether.
Arg.1 1931:
I nuvver tasted that kin' o' cake afore: whut dae ye cry it?
Gsw. 1924 J. H. Bone Crystal Set 27:
Is that what you cry being quate?
Gsw. 2000 Herald 17 Aug 21:
As this is Scotland, some of the reaction will be sour, some will be perverse, and some will applaud a commitment to this strategy in year one of devolved government.
I think they cry it cultural diversity.
Lnk. 1925 G. Blake Wild Men 26:
She even selected . . . the Christian name . . . “Ye can cry him Paddy” said she.

6. In passive: to have one's banns of marriage read in church. Also used with on and up. Gen.Sc. except Sh. and Cai. Also found in Cum. dial. (E.D.D.) and in U.S.A. (D.A.E.).Sc. 1700 J. Grant Seafield Corresp. (S.H.S. 1912) 286:
Befor your returne make a fine laidy blush when cried with your Lo., lyke a maide of sixteen yeares.
Ork. c.1912 J. Omond Ork. 80 Years Ago 11:
Having been cried up or proclaimed in the parish church three times the wedding was usually fixed for the following Thursday.
Bnff.(D) 1917 E. S. Rae Private J. M'Pherson 66:
Jean telt's afore the love bit In'er usual weekly screed, Fa wis kirkit, fa wis cried on, Fa wis born, an' fa wis deid.
Edb. 1840 T. C. Latto Poems (1845) 105:
But, — Widows for ever for hookin' auld fules — Neist week she was cry'd wi' my feyther, my feyther!
Rnf. 1815 W. Finlayson Rhymes 111:
O! Ken ye that Geordie and Jean, Are cry'd in the Chapel on ither?
s.Sc. 1835–40 J. M. Wilson (ed.) Tales of the Borders (1857–59) X. 155:
“Indeed, no,” said she, “though I should never be cried, ye are to go no such way.”

Hence vbl.n. cryin', proclamation of banns, also used attrib. in comb. cryin siller, the fee paid for proclamation of the banns.Ags. 1870 Kirriemuir Observer (1 July) 1/3:
The dominie aye pouches the cryin' siller.
Fif. 1894 J. Menzies Our Town 207:
An' noo I'm aff to the schulemaster to see about the cryin' the morn.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xiii.:
The lads had aye been üsed, as faur back as I could mind, to gang to the session clerk on the Saiturday nicht, an' tak their cryin siller an' their witnesses wi' them.

7. “With such words as [clap], clyte, clytach, dab, dird, gird, to dash, accompanied with noise by the dash” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 33); to produce the noise of the action thus described. Known to Bnff.2 ( — clyte, dird), Abd.9 1941.Abd.(D) 1788 J. Skinner Christmass Bawing xxiii. in Caled. Mag. 503:
Gart him ere ever he wist cry clap Upon his nether end, And there he lay.

8. To be in labour (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Known to Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1941. Cf. obs. Eng. (17th and 18th cent.) to cry out, id. (N.E.D.). Ppl.adj. cryin'.Abd. publ. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 32:
She relieved fowk forspoken — gin wives were to cry, Haud a hough on occasions — bring back milk to kye.
Bch. 1930 P. Giles in Abd. Univ. Review (March) 105:
Bit the doctor show't little sympathy. “Haud yer tongue, ye gype. Ye'll loss a' chance wi' the queyns, roaring like a cryin' wife.”
Edb. 1876 J. Smith Archie and Bess 80:
It's maybe some o' the neebours ta'en ill, or a cryin' wife wantin' yer assistance.

9. Phrs.: (1) a cried fair, “a fair or market, the place and time of which are proclaimed some time before” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); now used only in similes to indicate anything much advertised or in a state of stir and bustle (see particularly third quot.); (2) crying fever, delirium; a raving fever; (3) to cry at the cross, to make public (Abd.9, Ags.17, Fif.10, Slg.3, Kcb.1 1941); (4) to cry (someone) names, = Eng. to call (someone) names, to abuse; Gen.Sc.; (5) to cry the kirn, see Kirn, n.2; (6) to cry the marches, to make a proclamation calling upon the citizens to attend the Magistrates for the purpose of riding the Marches.(1) Sc. 1817 Scott in J. G. Lockhart Life of Scott (1837) IV. 100:
My house has been like a cried fair, and extreme the inconvenience of having no corner sacred to my own use, and free from intrusion.
Bnff.12 1899:
His business is thriving like a cried fair: i.e. is doing very well.
Abd.(D) 1877 W. Alexander North. Rural Life in 18th Cent. 77:
The practice common in last century, of having fairs announced outside the Kirk door after service on Sundays, with a comprehensive summary given by the “crier” of the more attractive articles likely to be found thereat, gave rise to the “byeword,” that such and such a thing that seemed likely to become notoriously public was “like a cried fair.”
Kcd. 1813 G. Robertson Agric. Kcd. 407:
[Drumlithie Michael fair] is commonly followed, in two weeks after, by what is called a Cried fair, so distinguished, by being audibly proclaimed at this, by the baillie of the superior.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Calendar I. 159:
For the whole day over, and a good part of the night, from the time the proclamation was made, the Back Row of Selkirk was like a cried fair.
(2) Sc. 1893 R. L. Stevenson Catriona (1895) xv.:
Tam was in a crying fever.
(3) Sc. 1897 “L. Keith” Bonnie Lady 93:
This is not a matter to cry at the cross.
(4) Edb.3 1929:
She's cryin' me names.
Arg.1 1932:
Accused said he was very sorry, but McAlister and other men were always cryin him names.
(6) Sc. 1935 Scotsman (15 June):
The preliminary to the Riding of the Marches in Linlithgow next Tuesday was observed yesterday, when “The Crying of the Marches” took place with all the old-world romance and picturesqueness.

II. n.

1. A call, a summons (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Ags.17, Fif.10, Slg.3, Arg.1, Lnk.11, Kcb.1 1941). Also in comb. cry in.Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xi.:
Weel, jist heely till I gie a cry in't we're awa.
Arg.1 1929:
“Gie me a cry in the moarnin as yer passin,” i.e. knock me up as you're going by to work.

2. In pl.: the wedding proclamation; the banns. Found also in Eng. in 14th cent. (N.E.D.). Usually in phr. to gie (pit, put) in the cries (Cai.8 1934; Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.17, Fif.13 1941; Arg.1 1929; Kcb.1 1941; m.Dmf.3 c.1920).Ork. c.1912 J. Omond Ork. 80 Years Ago 11:
After Tam and his best man (the bride's brother) had been to the minister or registrar to “pit in the cries,” there was usually a gathering at the bride's house to celebrate the occasion.
Abd. 1924 B. R. McIntosh in Scots Mag. (July) 296:
I skelpit to the minister As fest as I could rin; The day it wasna' muckle spent Afore the cries were in.
Edb. 1882 J. Smith Canty Jock, etc. 82:
I'll gie in the cries the morn.
Dmb. 1894 D. Macleod Past Worthies of the Lennox 119–120:
At bookings, or putting in of the cries, as the initiatory step to publishing the banns was called, his habit was to say, after stating the statutory sum, “any more's your pleasure.”

3. Calling distance, viz. The distance a call can carry.Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. (1922) 71:
As there was only “a cry” between the homes of their respective brides, each couple was invited to the wedding of the other.

Phr.: a far cry, a very long distance; orig. of a situation beyond the reach of help or justice.Sc. 1785 D. Macintosh Gael. Proverbs 48:
Is fad an éigh a Locha, is cobhair o chlan O Duibhne. It is a far cry to Lochow, and so far is help from the children of Duina. Footnote. The Campbells, a great and numerous clan, are called the children of Duina from Diarmid O Duibhne. . . . A party of them had once a sharp encounter with the Gordons in the north which occasioned the saying.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxix.:
She'll speak her mind and fear naebody. . . . It's a far cry to Lochow.

4. A short visit, a visit in passing (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Ags.17, Fif.13, Slg.3, Kcb.1 1941). Usually in phr. to gie (give) a cry (in), to pay a short visit.Abd. 1921 M. Argo Janet's Choice 21:
Come awa' in-bye, Gordon. We're aye gled fin ye gie's a cry.
Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xvi.:
See an' gie's a cry in on Munanday, noo-na.
em.Sc. (a) 1898 “I. Maclaren” Afterwards 407:
Mrs. Gillespie pressed him to give her “a cry” every time he was in the street.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 66:
So, hearing she was in room 103, top flat, away I went to give her a cry in.

[O.Sc. has cry, n., a loud call or calling, from 1375; a short space of time, c.1500–12; a cry of grief or pain, c.1400; a proclamation, a summons, from 1436; also v., to call, shout, from 1375; to be in child-bed, 1695; to call out, from 1375; to announce publicly, from 1384, etc. (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Cry v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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