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.
HERSEL, pron. Also hersell; hursel (pseudo-Highl.). Gen.Sc. forms and usages of Eng. herself. See P.L.D. § 70.3. [hər′sɛl]
1. Phrs.: (1) at hersel, see At, prep., A. 8.; (2) by hersell, out of her mind (I. and ne.Sc., em.Sc.(a), Kcb. 1957). For later exs. see By; (3) out of herself, id. (Ork., Ayr., Slk. 1957).(2) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 29:
Some skair he judg'd the beauty fair had got — An' thought that she e'en by her sell meith be.(3) Gall. 1728 Session Bk. Minnigaff (1939) 516:
She was out of herself and so not sensible what she said at that time.
2. Used as a liter. convention to represent a Highlander's way of referring to himself: myself, I. Cf. sim. use of She = I, and see also Nainsel.Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 90:
You need not fash to say no thing, Hersel brings you a bra' new King.Sc. 1800 Monthly Mag. (1 May) 323:
The Lowlanders often jocularly call a Highlander “her sel.”Sc. 1827 Scott Two Drovers ii.:
Ye maun come to some Highland body like Robin Oig hersell for the like of these.Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xv.:
“Five shillings mair,” said he, “and hersel' will bring ye there.”Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xl.:
“Hursel' be a puir Gregor lad, an' no doin' ony harm!” was his statement.
3. The mistress of the house (n.Sc., Ags., wm.Sc., Kcb., Uls. 1957); the proprietress (of an estate, etc.). Cf. He, B. I. 2.Sh. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evid. II. 1238:
There is no factor over the property; every tenant pays the rent to herself.Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road ii.:
Not a word of this to herself in-by.wm.Sc. 1923 H. Foulis Hurricane Jack 94:
“What way's hersel, — the mustress keepin'?” Para Handy asked.Fif. 1926 I. Farquhar Pickletillie 13:
It'll be Hersel, that's dune it .Uls. 1948 D. G. Waring Not quite so Black 189:
I had my mouth open to give Herself notice the day he come.Rs. 1991 Bess Ross Those Other Times 165:
"You can go now," Dougal Innes said around half past five. "I'll see to herself from the farm. ... " Sc. 1999 Herald 28 Aug 13:
As one said: "I'd never have got away with a trip to Dundee, but Herself didn't mind a couple of hours away in the afternoon. ..."
4. A sea-taboo word for the ling, Molva molva (Sh. 1814 Irvine MSS.).
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"Hersel pron.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Dec 2023 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/hersel>