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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

DASS, Daiss, Das, Dess, n. A stratum or layer of natural or artificial formation. [dɑs, dɒs, des, dɛs]

1. A shelf or ledge on a hillside, cliff-face, etc.Sc. 1884 C. Rogers Soc. Life I. 378:
On the slopes of ancient daisses or hill terraces have been picked up bronze swords.
Slg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 327:
Then 15 strata of muirstone rise above each other to the summit of the Fells, where they jut out; in the face of the braes, they go by the name of dasses or gerrocks.
Gall. 1930 H. Maxwell Place Names 50:
Dass is still used in the hill districts of Galloway to express a shelf or ledge on a cliff. “Yon sheep's clinted on a dass” I've heard said when the animal had fed along a ledge till it could not turn.
Kcb. 1895 S. R. Crockett Men of the Moss-Hags xxxi.:
Ye shallna try the unkindly dasses o' the Linn yet awhile.
s.Sc. 1851 R. Chambers in P.S.A.S. (1st Series) I. 127:
In Scotland they [ancient terraces of cultivation] are chiefly to be found in the vale of the Tweed and neighbouring districts, and there they are called Daisses, i.e. bench seats.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Brownie of Bodsbeck, etc. II. 60:
They soon reached a little dass in the middle of the linn, or what an Englishman would call a small landing place.

2. A layer or section in a slowly accumulating pile of hay, corn, peats, clothing (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein, daiss; Ayr.4 1928, dass); “a ledge formed by hay, etc. being put into or taken out of a shed” (Kcb.10 1940).Fif. 1808 Jam.:
When a quantity of corn in the sheaf is left in the barn, after part is removed, what is left is called the dass. In the same manner, in Fife, the hay left in the stack, when part is cut off, receives this designation.
Kcb. 1828 P. McKinnell (ed.) Mountain Dew 22:
A peat stack . . . was built against one of the gables of the house, and upon a daiss of it . . . the . . . triumvirate slyly perched themselves.
Uls. 1895 S. F. Bullock Thrasna River 30:
Then he stuck the knife into the face of the rick, peeled the layer off the das, tumbled it down to the man below who gathered it, tied it in bundles, weighed it and threw it on the carts.

3. A cut of hay, corn, coal, etc. (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 23; Lth. 1808 Jam.; Edb.6 1944 (of mining), obsol.; Ayr.4 1928; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 161; Dmf. 1894 J. Shaw in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 145; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., dess, obsol.); “a rectangular block of hay, gen. about 2½ feet square, cut from a stack for immediate use; also used of corn” (E.D.D.). Also in n.Eng. dial. (E.D.D.). Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. II. 17:
Hay in the stack is always cut with a knife, in cakes, or cubical pieces, (breasts or desses as they are called in Scotland), by which its flavour is best preserved.

[Cf. O.Sc. dais, das, a dais, n.Fr. dial. dais, id., Dask and Deas, n.2 Conn. with Gael. and Ir. dais, pile, rick, O.N. des, hay-rick, is doubtful.]

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"Dass n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jun 2024 <>



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