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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FINN, n. Also fin, pl. ¶finis. In I.Sc. folklore: a creature, sometimes thought of as human and sometimes as animal, which appeared from time to time in the islands and was credited with supernatural powers.

Combs.: Finfolk, Finfolkaheem, Fin-man.Sh. 1888 J. R. Tudor Ork. and Sh. 167:
Sea monsters are for the most part called Finns in Shetland.
Ork. 1893 W. T. Dennison in Sc. Antiquary VII. 172:
Unlike the mermaid, the selkie folk were never represented as dwelling in “Finfolk-a-heem” . . . The only home of the selkie folk was some far outlying skerry, or sea-surrounded rock. Indeed, my old informants regarded the selkie folk as a wholly different race of beings from the Finfolk.
Sc. 1896 A. Cheviot Proverbs 104:
Finn men, i.e. the sea fairies of Orkney, which are said to drive fish from the part of the sea they frequent.
Sh. 1897 Shet. News (4 Dec.):
The home of the “finns” was asserted to be Norway, and in pursuance of their visits, which were chiefly nocturnal . . . they were said frequently to assume the form of some amphibious animal.
Sh. (Fair Isle) 1931 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 340:
There is a story told of a witch who married a “trow” and who by her spells kept herself alive after their son was born, and from this unholy union there sprang a new race of “trows” known as “finis fiks [Finns folks].”

[Cf. O.N. Finnar, the Finns, the early non-Aryan inhabitants of Norway and Sweden, stray individuals of whom occasionally appeared in their canoes off Ork. and Sh. and were taken for supernatural beings.]

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"Finn n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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