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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HE, pron., n., adj. Sc. forms and usages:

A. Forms: nom. he; hei (s.Sc.), hie (Rxb. c.1811 in Vagabond Songs (Ford 1904) 312). See also 'E, pron.1; accus. him, unstressed 'im, (h)um. For the poss.adj. see His. [Sc. hi, hɪ, s.Sc. həi, Bwk. he]

Sc. form of Eng. he.wm.Sc. 1994 Sheila Douglas in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 58:
"Threi," grinned Rob proudly. "Mind oo hed another yin? Hei's caaed efter yow."

B. Sc. usages:

I. pron. 1. Used as in Eng., and also, esp. under Scand. influence in I.Sc. and Cai., and in pseudo-Highl. Sc., to refer to inanimate objects, natural phenomena, etc., where it is the Gen.Sc. usage. Him is often used for he, when conjoined with another subject, esp. in very colloq. or semi-literate speech, as in Eng., e.g. “me an him's no friends” (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 84). Poss.adj. hims, only in pseudo-Highl. Sc.m.Lth. 1786 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) lxxix.:
Then does auld highland Malcom say, That they shud also mind the strae, To cut him laigh.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxxi.:
To coup the ill-faured loon of ta red-coat Captain, and hims corporal Cramp . . . into the loch.
Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Shet. 512:
Da least tide is rinning, and we'll sail wast by sooth upon him.
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainshie Pilgrimage 151:
After him and his billy gaed up to Mossgiel.
wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 79:
He wanted ta moon to gang till hims ped.
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 590:
A gude munt o' deys efter dat, whinn hee wiz draan him weel up ta Jonsmis.
Ork. a.1840 Sc. Antiquary V. 69:
The course of the ship lay right under the moon; and she was sailing fast under a squally wind. Says the captain to the mate, “We won't weather him.” (The moon is masculine in the old dialect).
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 4:
He wus low water whin Ayrie geed i' the geo.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 204:
Marchlan' Jock an' Davie, him an' him differed continually.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (9 July):
Yon ane is a midder. Huve him by.
Cai. 1909 D. Houston 'E Silkie Man 3:
Weel, he wis a bonny mornan, in barlan.
Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. I. 23:
I hae a splendid Faimily Bible wi picters in him.
Sh. 1950 New Shetlander No. 21. 19:
He wis a sair feycht dan in days ta maak a livin.

2. Used by a wife to refer to her husband, or a servant to his master. Gen.Sc. Cf. similar use of Himsel.Sc. 1833 Chamber's Jnl. (Aug.) 233:
I lost him that's away just the Lammas before.
Sc. 1862 in Queen Victoria More Leaves (1885) 145:
When he was ta'en, it made sic a hole in my heart that a' other sorrows gang lichtly through.
Abd. 1874 W. Scott Dowie Nicht 28:
I hae haen three offers sin' he slippit awa'.

II. n. A man, male person (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Abd. 1956). Now gen. only of animals in Eng.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 11:
Nor was't a fairly, for she well meith be, Gentle or semple a wife to ony he.
Ayr. 1796 Burns Here's to thy Health iii.:
For I'm as free as any he — Sma' siller will relieve me!
Ayr. 1821 Galt Ann. Par. i.:
There was na a he within the bounds of Scotland more willing to watch the fold.

III. adj. Male; having masculine manners or appearance, esp. applied to a woman. Gen.Sc. In Eng. now only of animals.Cld. 1825 Jam.:
She's an unco he wife.
Abd. 1920:
A great muckle he-deem.

Combs.: 1. he-broom, a name given to laburnum, Laburnum cystisus (Fif. 1825 Jam.; Per. 1956); 2. he-heather, see Heather, 6. (8); 3. he-plooin, a tongue or tenon on a board; 4. he-wood, see quot.4. Nai. 1886 Folk-Lore Journal IV. 10:
Fishermen (Nairn) speak of “he-wood” and “she-wood,” and they say that a boat built of “she-wood” sails faster during night than during day.

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"He pron., n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Feb 2024 <>



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