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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.

EE, n., v.1 Gen.Sc. form of Eng. eye, n., v. [i, pl. in Sc., Cai. + ei, em.Sc. (b) + æ, s.Sc. + ɛi.]

I. n.

1. Variant forms.

(1) Sing.: ee, e'e (Gen.Sc.); eie (Sc. 1887 Jam.6; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).m.Sc. 1982 Douglas Fraser in Hamish Brown Poems of the Scottish Hills 8:
At mean pursuits, while reek pollutes
The grey, unhailsome lift.
But whiles I see afore my ee
A vision of the glens.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 12:
In fact, fin they'd bare seen the licht o day, they kent that 'twis important tae tak tent, first in ae ee, syne in the tither, tae see gin there war ferlies tae ett, or ferlies tae ca-cannie ower.

(2) Pl.: een, e'en (Gen.Sc.); ein (Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 6; s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 158); †eien (Bnff. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 38); †eyen (n.Sc. 1714 R. Smith Poems 5); eyn(e); eens (Crm. 1911 M. A. Paterson W.-L.; Per. 1915 J. Wilson L. Strathearn 63); ehs, ehz (Dundee); also rarely ees (Fif. 1814 W. Tennant Trottin Nanny xxxvi.).Dmf. 1979 Ron Butlin in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 35:
An yince I keeked intae anither's saul
an seen massel, an I kent fine weel
I'd seen the warld wi anither's een.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 3:
Lukkin' oot thae big blue een and never blinkin'-
Ah bet your daddy's never shair whit you're thinkin'.
Dundee 1990 Sheila Stephen in Joy Hendry Chapman 60 51:
" ... Meh ehz nearly popped ootah meh heed! ... "
Abd. 1991 George Bruce in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 21:
Sudden his preen-heid een on stalks stare oot.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 187:
He raises his hand to shield his dark-weakened een fae the glare. And instead o the foosim Caliban? A large, cheery gentleman in a white suit, ...
Dundee 1994 Matthew Fitt in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 175:
Drugs. The buddies aa noddit til each anuthir whan thai sein him breengin oot intil the street. Ehs poppin oot his heid. Drugs an Vice.
Highl. 1996 Timothy Neat ed. The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland 229:
Asked where he'd find a place to sleep for the night he replied 'I aye claese my een when I sleep - if I can lift me heid come the morn, I'll not complain where I foond it!'
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 14:
A swine squeals atour the yerd
Trotters clicking on corbled tiles
Dirt fear flashin in its een.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 33:
'It's no for your een. Come awa noo.'
But the boy struggled harder, echoing back the minister's own words. 'I delivered him up tae God. Let me see where they're takin him.'

(3) Dim. forms: eekie, (see 4 (8)); eenie (ne.Sc. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 59; Bnff. and Abd. correspondents 1942) and eenickie (Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 64), formed from the pl., are also found in ne.Sc.(1) and (2) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 63:
Love 'midst her Locks did play, And wanton'd in her Een.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 22:
His full of looking, he could never get, For on sick looks his eyn he never set.
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 5:
Blythness, I trow, maun lighten ilka eie, An' ilka canty callant sing like me.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To a Mouse viii.:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e, On prospects drear!
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xii.:
I kenna muckle about women's een, Laird.
Sc. 1936 D. Rorie Lum Hat 20:
But ae ee on the smiddy door As the Auld Ane sidled in.
Sc. 1950 Proverbial Saying:
Yer ee's bigger nor yer wame — you have helped yourself to more than you can eat.

2. Sc. usages.

(1) Fig.: regard, liking, craving, covetousness, anxious expectation, used in phrs., e.g. to have one's ee(n) in something, to covet something, or with epithets (Sc. 1887 Jam.6; Uls.4 1949), e.g. clear (Sh.10 1949), hingin' (Kcb.10 1942), kindly (Bnff.2, Ags.17, Fif.10 1942), lang (Abd.15 1880–1950; Bnff.2, Fif.10 1942; wm.Sc.1 1949), lang-tailed (Ags.6 c.1880).Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb viii.:
She'll luik wi' clear een ere she see that again, I doot.
Kcb. 1909 S. R. Crockett Rose of the Wilderness xii.:
Maybe it ran through my head that ye had a kind o' hingin' e'e for the young lad Fitzger —!
Abd. 1944 C. Gavin Mountain of Light iii. ix.:
You wi' a lang e'e till anither lad.
Bwk.2, Arg.3 1949:
That's a nice knife. Ay, is yer ee(n) in't?

(2) An opening in general: (a) The entrance to a valley.Gall. 1930 A. M'Cormick in Gallov. Annual 14:
An' there's a hoose, “Carlock”, sittin' richt in the e'e o' this bonnie glen lookin' oot on the peacefulness that broods o'er the bosky woods and purple heather.

(b) In mining: an opening into a shaft (see Ingaun). Hence border-ee (see second quot.).Sc. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Orkney (1883) 72:
There is a hole in the Hill above, like the Eye of a Coal-pit, which is terrible to look down into.
Lth. 1887 P. MacNeill Blawearie 186:
The water . . . not only had completely swamped the entire workings of that pit, but had risen up the shaft some feet above the “border-ees” — that is above the extreme height of the roof at the pit-bottom.

(c) The spaces between the upright posts of a hayshed (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

(d) An orifice through which water passes, the mouth of a culvert (Sh.10 1949); the archway of a bridge (Ork.5 1949). See also Wall, n., 6 (2).Ags. 1794 Session Papers, Arbuthnott v. Scott (25 Feb.) 19:
The floodgate, at the eye of the intake of the mill of Murphy, was lowered down considerably.
Per. 1843–5 Trans. High. and Agric. Soc. 111:
An eye with iron gratings, fixed in stone, is also to be formed between every two doors, to carry off surface and waste water.
Ork.1 1942:
The eye o' the drain's clean chockit wi' gress.

(e) The hole in the centre of a mill-stone (Sh.10 1949; Abd.27 1950); see also mill-ee s.v. Mill.Sc. 1724–27 Lady G. Baillie in T. T. Misc. (1762) 337:
Nor dribles of drink rins throw the draff, Nor pickles of meal rins throw the mill-eye.
Ork. 1795 G. Low in Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 326:
Helping their poorer neighbours, both at the mills eye, and at their own houses.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 147:
They got a long and stout stick which was called “the spar,” put through the eye of the millstone, and firmly wedged there.

†(f) A hole in a drinking vessel above which it could not be filled.Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize III. 162:
Who again filled it to the flowing eye.

(g) The eye-shaped hole in the head of a pick or hammer into which the shaft is fitted (Kcb.1 1931; wm.Sc.1, Arg.3 1949). Hence phr. as fou's the e'e o' a pick, extremely intoxicated (Kcb.10 1942).Id.:
In the modern pick the hole is tapered inwards and the shaft is hammered in from the outside and keeps itself tight. This is called a “slip-e'e”. In the old smithy-made picks the shaft was driven from the inside and wedged.

(h) A hole in cheese; also found in n.Eng. dial. but now obs. in St.Eng.Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 455:
Whey-springs or eyes, are seldom met with in the cheeses of Ayrshire.

‡(i) One of the succession of loops in the straw rope forming the kishie (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Sh.11 1951). Cf. Hyog.Sh. 1923 Shetlander No. 3. 2:
I laid up da een, an' whin I wis dune I tied a shaef-baand aboot dem.

(j) The loop in a snare (Sh., Abd. 1975). m.Lth. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 25:
Nae strings [war then] wi' een to catch their feet.

(k) The orifice from which a running sore discharges matter (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 43; Sh. 1975).

†(3) The surface of a puddle.Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' (1794) xxv.:
The chapman lad wi' gab sae free, Comes in and mixes i' the glee, After he's trampet out the e'e O mony dub.
Lnk. 1818 A. Fordyce Country Wedding 133:
Thy mistress, snug on thee enthron'd, The e'en frae monie a dub has scon'd. And erst beneath M — M — he groaned The spail horse that's dead.

(4) pl. Globules of fat seen in soup, milk, etc. (Abd.15 1880–1949; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.).s.Sc. c.1830 T. Wilkie in Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club XXIII. 81:
If colewort that has been boiled have the appearance of eyes or round globules of fat or water glancing upon them, these are called e'en, and thought lucky.
Abd.9 1942:
Puir broth the day; the only een upon them is the pair lookin' on.

3. Phrs.: (1) a drap(pie) in the ee, just enough drink to make one mildly intoxicated; (2) ee in one's neck, power of foresight, prudent anticipation; †(3) ee o' simmer, midsummer; †(4) ee o' (the) day, noon, midday (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); (5) ee o' the morn, dawn; (6) to be one's ae ee, to be the apple of one's eye, one's chief delight (Abd. 1825 Jam.2; Abd.15 1880–1949); cf. tae ee, id., s.v. Tae, adj.; (7) to lick the white out of a person's eye, to obtain an advantage over, supplant (Lnk.11 1942); (8) to put out a person's eye, id.; Gen.(exc. I.)Sc.; †(9) to say black is (the white of) one's e'e, to speak ill of one; †(10) to see between the eyes, to meet; (11) to show ee, to begin to take notice, “used of a sheep-dog pup when he first gives signs of his nature and aptitude by crouching down and watching poultry or the like” (Knr. 1949 in Broadcast; Rxb. 1951); (12) yer een is mair muckle nor yer kyte, your eyes are bigger than your stomach. (Bnff., Ags. 2000s).(1) Ayr. 1790 Burns Willie brew'd. . . . Chorus:
We are na fou, we're nae that fou, But just a drappie in our e'e!
m.Lth. 1816 J. Aikman Poems 221:
Gin I but taste the barley bree, An' get a drappie in my e'e, Beneath my feet I think I see, The universe.
Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Inglismill 44:
Though Inglis kent a bull's fit frae a B, He had mair than a wee drap in his ee.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 83:
An' plink my strings mair slowly, Because da drappie in my ee Maks rims aboot da collie.
(2) Ayr. 1838 Galt in Tait's Mag. (Jan.) 40–41:
I have an ee in my neck, and can spae some fortunes. . . . I saw, by the ee in my neck, that it would be an unspeakable advantage to me to have a connection with Mr Thristles of the Moorlands' family.
(3) Sh. 1898 Shet. News (23 July):
Dark! Man, doo's doitin'. As fir dark i' da e'e o' simmer. . . .
(4) Sc. 1818 Ballad in Edb. Mag. (Oct.) 327:
An' the ee o' day gies power to me O' Mays to tak my will.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 75:
It was the vera ee o' the day, What time the carefu' kimmers keek Aneath the kail-pat's lid to sey The boilin' o' the beef.
(5) Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 18:
Ere the e'e o' the morn tak's a glint o' the day.
(6) Lnk. 1893 J. Crawford Sc. Verses 41:
But young Tam the wee birkie's his faither's ae ee.
(7) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 253:
O'er lang, in Troth, have we By-standers been, And loot Fowk lick the White out of our Een.
(8) Lnk. 1882 A. L. Orr Laigh Flichts 30:
Wee Mungo' who cam' on the scene, Put oot the Sailor's e'e.
Fif.10 1942:
When a new baby arrives the kimmers will say to the older child: “Ye've hid yer ee pitten oot noo.”
(9) Sc. 1843 N. McLeod Crack aboot the Kirk (2nd ed.) 3:
The folk jist say they'll no ha'e him, wi'oot gien rhyme or reason, . . . wi'oot sayin' black's yer e'e or ought against him.
Dmb. 1846 W. Cross Disruption xix.:
Wad ye offer for to go to insinuate ony thing against my character? . . . I defy you to say black is the white o' my e'e.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxx.:
An' fa's a better jeedge, Dawvid, nor Mrs Birse — ye winna say that black's the fite o' her e'e.
Per. 1900 E.D.D.:
I'll no say black's yer e'e = I'll say nothing.
(10) Sc. 1819 Scott L. Montrose iv.:
I wish I had never seen them between the een, for they're come to harry us out o' house and ha'.
Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (6 March) 364:
It's nae easy job to undergang an examination by a man ye never saw atween the een afore.
(12) Ags. 1992:
Yer een is mair muckle nor yer kyte.

4. Combs.: (1) blin' e'e, a dogfish, Scillium canicula (Abd. 1880–84 F. Day Fishes II. 310; ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna ofDee” 272); (2) ee-bree, eebrie, eyebrow, phs. more correctly: eyelash (Fif.10, Kcb.10 1942); pl. form een-breen (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); see Bree, n.3; also used fig. in phrs. e.g. sky's eebree; (3) eebrier, eyelash (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Bnff.2, Abd.2, Abd.9 1942); also in pl. = eyebrows (Sh.10 1949); cf. Breers; (4) e'e-broo', eyebroo = (2); Gen.Sc.; see Broo, n.2; (5) ee-feast, (a) “a rarity, anything that excites wonder” (Ayr. 1825 Jam.2); (b) “a satisfying glance, what gratifies one's curiosity” (Rnf., Ayr. Ib.); (6) eegrip, the rope handle on each side of a cassie [straw basket] to which the band is attached (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.); (7) eehole, an eyesocket (Ags.19, Fif.10, m.Lth.1, Bwk.2, wm.Sc.1 1945); (8) eekie peeker, eyelid; (9) eelight, light, radiance; (10) eenbright, adj., “shining, luminous” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); (11) eesicht, eyesight, sight, vision; Gen.Sc.; †at eesicht, to all appearances; (12) ee-stehn, a stone supposed to have the power of curing diseases of the eye; (13) eye-stern, a corrupt form of eestring (s.Sc. 1824 J. Telfer Border Ballads 79); (14) eestring, an eye muscle; obs. in Eng. since 1776; used in Sh. quot. to mean eyelid (Sh.10 1949, obsol.); (15) eye-wharm, ee-, eyelash (Sh. 1825 Jam.2; 1866 Edm. Gl.); “the edge of the eyelid” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., ee-; Sh.10 1949); cf. Whaarm, id.; (16) eewink(er), eyelash (Sc. 1808 Jam., -winker; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., e(i)e-wink(er); Bwk.2 1949); eyelid (Watson); known to Fif.10, wm.Sc.1 1942; (17) ee winkie, (-ey), the eye; in children's rhyme (ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 14; Sh., Ags., Abd. correspondents 1949).(2) Sc. 1724–27 Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1762) 430:
And the sweat it dropt down Frae my very eye-brie.
Sc. 1808 J. Finlay Sc. Ballads I. xxxi.:
There's no a bird in a' this foreste Will do as meickle for me As dip its wing in the wan water An' straik it on my e'e-bree.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck II. 134:
Down comes a great . . . eagle . . . frae about the e'e-bree o' the heavens.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxiv.:
His e'e-bree . . . became as green as a docken leaf.
Per. a.1837 R. Nicoll Poems (1842) 80:
They jewels seem o' meikle price Aneath the dark e'ebree.
Abd. 1847 W. Thom Rhymes 150:
Her ee-bree creepin' on my cheek Betrays her pawkie smile.
Ayr. 1847 J. Paterson (ed.) Ballads and Songs 94:
An darker far than Burchill taps, That touches the star's e'ebree.
Knr. 1917 J. L. Robertson Petition to the Deil 64:
But the far flung curve o' the Lang Whang Road, Wi' the mune on the sky's eebree.
Sc. 1994 Pete Fortune in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 154:
Onywey, there we wur haein a bit drink an a blether, when in wanners big Alex - wi a wumman! Oor eebries juist aboot shot aboon oor heids.
(4) Ags. 1893 F. Mackenzie Cruisie Sk. (1894) v.:
She's but a young lass, an' a foolish forbye, that wad mak' an outcry ower a singit e'e-broo.
Slg. 1991 Janet Paisley in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 130:
The wan wi the eebroos.
She's sut there, wan up an wan doon,
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 15:
Then Ma taks a wee pincers an pous and pous oot her eyebroos and it's affa sair, bit Ma says, "Nae pain, nae gain!" an her ee-broos luik aa bauld efter yon, jist a wee thin line in blue styew peinted abuin her een,
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 44:
Stomach cocks an anxious eebroo.
Whit's he shovellin doun ti me noo ?
Dhal, wi curry an vindaloo, ...
(7) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 396:
I'll give you a Fluet on the Cheek blade, 'till the Fire flee from your Een Holes.
Rxb. c.1811 G. Ballantyne in Vagabond Songs (ed. R. Ford 1904) 313:
And as for Peggie Duncan, She is a bonnie lass, And I'll leave her my e'e-holes To mak' a keekin' glass.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxvi.:
In the nicht watches when sleep sealed up my eeholes an' steeped my senses in deep forgetfulness.
Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1912) i.:
I had juist got it [a sheep's-head] balanced on the rim o' the pot to see doon the e'enholes.
(8) Kcd. 1899 W. F. McHardy Bonnie Montrose 71:
But their wee eekie peekers begin tae blink.
(9) Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck II. 345:
Wha met wi' fair Lady Rosline By the ee light o' the moon!
(10) Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man II. 190:
The bacon . . . was so juicy that even the brown bristly skin . . . was all standing thick o' eenbright beaming drops like morning dew.
(11) Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 61:
As she wasna very gude o' the eesicht, she had a muckle pair o' horn spartikles.
Abd. 1863 G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod i. xiii.:
But ye seem at eesicht to come o' a guid breed.
Lnk. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Lilts 11:
Nor mune nor star Blink't on the eesicht, near or far.
(12) ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 39:
A small perforated ball, made of Scotch pebble, which has been in the possession of the present family for at least six generations, has the virtue of curing diseases of the eye. It goes by the name of the “ee-stehn,” and is thought to contain all the colours of the eye. . . . When put into a mixture of milk and water, a lotion is formed capable of curing every kind of disease of the eye.
(14) Sc. 1825 Aberdeen Censor 155:
He held the stane till his een-strings crackit, when he was as blin' as a moudiwort.
Sh. 1901 Shet. News (10 Aug.):
A'm no firgat . . . in [and] niver will, as lang as me e'e strings is open.
(16) Ayr. 1817 D. McKillop Poems 120:
E'e-winkers black as ony brace.
Edb. ?1850 J. Smith Hum. Sc. Stories (14th ed.) 18:
Jenny had a thumpin' fat laddie, wi' the very e'e-winkers o' his mither.
(17) Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 181:
Brow, brow, brenty, Ee, ee, winkey, Nose, nose, nebbie.

II. v.

1. To open one's eyes after sleep.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 69:
Their day time toil had wrought them sick a wrack, That or they ee'd the sun bet o' their back.

2. To ooze, well up — of liquids.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 43:
The water's eein' out at that holie.

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"Ee n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jul 2024 <>



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