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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

KIRSTEN, v., adj. Also kirs(s)(e)n, kers'n (Jam.), kyrsn (Abd. c.1910 G. Greig Folk-Song cxxxviii.), cirsen, cristin. Cf. Cursen. Also in n.Eng. dial. [′kɪrsn]

I. v. To christen, baptise, to give a name to at christening (Sc. 1818 Sawers). Gen.Sc., lit. and fig. Freq. as vbl.n. = christening. For kirstenin wad see Wad, n.1, 1.Ayr. 1786 Burns Ep. J. Lapraik xix.:
The four-gill chap, we'se gar him clatter, An' kirs'n him wi' reekin water.
Lth. 1809 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 846:
Your kindness kirsten'd wi' a gill Might gi'et [poverty] the fling.
Dmf. 1822 A. Cunningham Trad. Tales (1874) 304:
Away — else I'se kirsen ye with a cupful of scalding water.
Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth viii.:
Cakes of that rare and delicious condiment which men call sugar, that have gone thither to help out a bridal banquet, or a kirstening feast, or such-like.
Ags. 1845 Montrose Review (2 May) 7:
Though kirsened ne'er in kingly mint . . . A crouse auld carline spinnin' lint Adorns thy side.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes xxxi.:
Here's a glass o' whisky I got frae my mither to kirsten the boat. Fling 't at the name o' her.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 118:
But this nicht I'll sit doun an' write The kirs'nen o' the bairn.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick iii.:
There wasna his maik at waddins an' kirsenins, he was that joky an' pleesant.
Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 79:
To be invited to a cirsening, as it was termed, was esteemed a high honour.
Sh. 1924 T. Manson Peat Comm. III. 62:
Wine! Wine is only fur cristins [sic], an dir no come dat lent yet. No, no. Gie dem [wedding guests] somethin' daecent ta begin wi.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.:
A cam tae seek the len o' the kirsenin trochie faar a' yours his been kirsent.

Ppl.adj. kirsened, kirsint, decent, proper, fitting (Sh. 1960); hallowed, dedicated. Also in comb. ill-kirsent, unearthly, preternatural, as if unhallowed (n.Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 112).Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 589:
Am shüre itts no lek nethin kirsint.
Ork. 1854 D. Vedder Poems 11:
Far, far beyond the haly sound O' the Abbey's kirsened bell.

II. adj. Decent, clean, proper, respectable, suitable, in order, as it should be, fit to eat, wear, etc. (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 125, 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1960). Often used ironically. Also adv.Sh. 1906 T. P. Ollason Spindrift 44:
Is hit ony disgrace or wrang fir ta mak' da baest kirsen?
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Rod 17:
Yon deevil's dirt o' marjereen is . . . a kirsen morsel ta gie onybody for butter.
Sh. 1948 New Shetlander (Oct.–Nov.) 22:
Da wark ats bune wi dem ta get dem kinda half-kirsen dried, an da hay!
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 94:
We hed to be kind o' kirsin gyaan ta Hillsook.
Sh. 1956 Sh. Community Mag. No. 2. 17:
Tünns no drawn be kirsten bow A'm heard aboot da trowie knowe.

[Met. forms, in I. of Eng. christen, in II. of Norw. dial. kristen, Christian, seemly, decent.]

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"Kirsten v., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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