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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.

DEY, n.1 Also †dee, dei, dai, deigh. A dairymaid (Cai.7 1940, dei; n.Sc. 1808 Jam., Per. 1855 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 722, Lth., Twd. 1825 Jam.2, dee); “the person who has the superintendance of a dairy, whether that person be male or female” (Abd. 1770 N. & Q. (7th Series) IV. 22, dai, dei). [daɪ, †di:]Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 168:
Blythsome Swains, Wha rant and dance, with kiltit Dees, O'er mossy Plains.
Ork. 1767 P. Fea MS. Diary (5 Sept.):
Engadged a Dey and Bowman.
Ork. 1931 in Orcadian (7 May):
Stinko waas rightly croos at dis bit o' neouse cis 'e waas trang after Divity's deigh.
Cai. 1872 M. Maclennan Peasant Life II. 169:
Ye'd make a faimous dey.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 70:
As they drew near, they heard an eldren dey, Singing fu' sweet at milking o' her ky.
Mearns a.1826 Lizzie Lindsay in Ballads (ed. Child) No. 226B. ix.:
My father, he is an auld shepherd, My mither, she is an auld dey.
Peb. 1793 R. Brown Carlop Green (1817) ii. iii.:
And dees, wi' snoods, and kirtles blue, As glaiked as their tykes.

Comb.: dey-girl, -woman, idem.Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth xxxii.:
The dey-girl . . . discovered that some one had taken away her grey frieze cloak.
The dey-woman . . . goes into the pantler's office with the milk.

[O.Sc. has dey-wyff, 1598, dey, 16 . . ; Mid.Eng. daie, deie, dairymaid, maidservant; O.N. deigja, dairymaid (Norw. bu-dei(gj)a, id.), cogn. with O.E. dǣge, a maker of bread: cf. the second syllable in lady (O.E. hlǣfdige). The form dee corresponds to Wee, n. (O.E. wȝe), key (O.E. ).]

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"Dey n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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