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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GIN, conj.2 Also geen (Sc. 1711 Speech for Mr Dundasse 10). [Sc. gɪn, ne.Sc. + gin, gen]

1. If (condit. and interrog.), whether. Also gien (wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 441; Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie xiv.; Mry. 1926 Bnffsh. Jnl. (5 Oct.) 5), ¶gehn (Bnff. 1881 Gregor Folk-Lore 80), gane; †gaen (Mry. 1828 “J. Ruddiman” Tales & Sk. 133), gen (Abd. 1867 Mrs Allardyce Goodwife at Home xxiv.), †gyn (Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 113). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial.Sc. 1721 in Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 116:
Let modern Poets bear the Blame Gin they respect not Ramsay's Name.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 60:
Say ye, red gowns! that aften here Hae toasted bakes to Kattie's beer, Gin 'ere thir days hae had their peer.
Ayr. 1796 Burns Comin thro' the Rye ii.:
Gin a body meet a body Comin thro' the rye.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xliii.:
Follow me, gin ye please, sir, but tak tent to your feet.
Gall. c.1870 in Bards of Gall. (1889) 21:
Quo' the elf, “Wad ye gie me twa fou's o' a wilk, In my can, gane ye please, o' a Kylie coo's milk!”
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 34:
An' a' bothy ran for the banks as gin the Trow been chasin' them.
Cai. 1909 D. Houston 'E Silkie Man 8:
Gin she's human, A'll pit speech ipo'r. She'll surely ken far she is.
Ags. 1921 D. H. Edwards Fisher Folks 14:
Gen the tide had been rinnin' hard, ye micht . . . hae been run to destruction.
Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (21 Oct.) 4:
Gin ye dinna play it exactly as I want it I'll pit ye on the fire an' roast ye like a herrin'.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 7:
"Noo, here's a tasty pick, dinna let the plate pass
And gin Tartuffe should rift it's, "My! God bless you."
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 23:
And noo ye come rantin at my door
as gin I wis less a Scot acause
I see nae point in braakin the Union?
wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 100:
' ... gin it's mutton you crave I'll bid them kill the finest sheep for your sup.'
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web iv:
I dinna recollect ae relation, stoppin mid-ben a spikk an wheekin oot a dictionar tae see gin a wird wis richt standart Scots or nae!
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 21:
"Gin there wis yin in aw ma kingrik
Mair weill-cum nor ye wis yersel,
Wudna yer jealousy an envy
Lunt in God's hoose the fires o Hell? ... "
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 13:
... Willie's job is murder,
for, gin ye ask,
his hardest task
is tryin ti keep order.

2. After verbs of wishing or desiring and in excls. of longing = that, O that! (Ork., Abd., Ags., m.Lth. 1954).Sc. 1787 W. Taylor Sc. Poems 100:
Whan cryin Lasses thrice cry O gen.
Abd. 1827 J. Imlah May Flowers 73:
O! Gin I were whare Gadie rowes, By the fit o' Bennochie!
Rnf. 1846 Rnf. Mag. (Sept.) 15:
I wish gin ilka ane was hauf sae wise.
Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie li.:
Gien I cud but ance see an' speyk till her — ance — jist ance!
Kcd. 1899 W. F. McHardy Bonnie Montrose 56:
The slushy sleet and snaw, Sae waesome and sae dreary, Oh! gin they were awa.

3. = as if. Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 46:
Ae awfu' shot brook it i' twa gin it had been a bit swine-saem.

[O.Sc. has gane, if, 1590, gin, id., 1622. It is generally supposed to be a reduced form of gien, given (see Gie, v.1) used absol. in its concessive meaning, influenced by the assumption that Gif, q.v., if, was derived from give (cf. O.Sc. geve, give, if). Some of the phonetic forms would support this, though examples to show the historical development are lacking and the interrog. use is less easy to explain, unless by analogy with Gif. Alternatively gin might be a reduction of Gif and An', conj.1, 3, 4. (cf. arch. Eng. an if), though again proof cannot be adduced. A third alternative is to take the word as an extended use of Gin, conj.1, arising from temporal clauses like gin he were here, which approximate to a conditional expression.]

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"Gin conj.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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