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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

LAD, n., v. Also laud, lawdlodd (m.Sc.), laad.

Sc. usages. See also Laddie. [lɑ(:)d, lǫ(:)d]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., a youth, a young male, usu. of adolescent age or in early manhood, a man, chap, fellow in gen. Hence laud-like(ness), boyish(ness) (Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Kincaid's Widow iii.). Combs. and phrs.: (11) lad-bairn, a male child, a young son; (2) lad in black, a clergyman, minister; (3) lad o' pairts, see Pairt; (4) lad's (or lads')-love, -luve, southernwood, Artemisia abrotanum (Abd. 1825 Jam.). Also in Eng. dial.; (5) lad-wean, = (1); (6) the auld (black) lad, the Devil (Lth., Uls. 1960); (7) to send a lad on a man's eerand, at whist: to play too low a trump-card and have it topped by an opponent (Ags. 1960).(1) Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 149:
This maiden had a braw lad-bairn.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxxix.:
If she had been but a lad-bairn, they couldna hae sell'd the auld inheritance for that fool-body's debts.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xix.:
There was a greater christening of lad bairns than had ever been in any year during my incumbency.
Abd. 1875 G. Macdonald Malcolm xxiv.:
The bairn's deid . . . as bonny a ladbairn as ye wad see.
Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Lady Jean's Son iv.:
She's seekin' her son — her lad-bairn, wha was stealt frae her mair than twenty years syne.
Fif. 1986 Harry D. Watson in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 164:
"He was a wild laud, was Geordie," murmured another.
(2) Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 142:
The masked stings About the lads in black that hings.
(4) Fif. 1845 T. C. Latto Minister's Kailyard 49:
That fine lad's-luve — yon flowers sae little.
Sc. 1896 L. Keith Indian Uncle iii.:
A fainter suggestion of . . . lad's-love in the old china caudle-cup.
Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lads' Love Intro. note:
I have taken the title, “Lads' Love,” from the old name for the Scented Wormwood, or Southern-wood, a sprig of which wooers used to wear when they went courting, and our grandmothers to carry with them in their Bibles to church.
(5) Gall. 1810 R. H. Cromek Remains 199:
I hae nocht left me ava, . . . But bonnie orphan lad-weans twa.
(6) Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums xi.:
The Auld Lad cam ben wi' a veesage o' wunner And speered them the cause o' that horrible yell.
Sc. 1891 R. Ford Thistledown xvii.:
The auld black lad may hae my saul, if I ken but o' ae Macnab.

2. A young male servant or employee, esp. on a farm (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Abd., Ags., sm. and s.Sc., Uls. 1960).Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 240:
Lay up like a Laird, and seek like a Lad.
Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1813) 35:
Syne he'll gang forth and look about, An' raise the lads, . . . To yoke them to the flail.

3. In Heriot's Hospital: the highest class in the school (see quot.).Edb. 1906 C. B. Gunn G. Heriot's Hospital 75:
At the top of the whole system came the outgoing boys; they were called “lads,” a distinction achieved only during their last six months' residence in the Hospital.

4. Specif.: an unmarried man, a bachelor (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D., Cai. 1960).Ags. 1825 Jam.:
Auld lad, an old bachelor.

5. A male sweetheart. Freq. in phr. lad and lass, of a pair of sweethearts. Gen.Sc. See also Lass, n., 5.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. v. ii.:
And am I then a match for my ain lad?
Ayr. 1786 Burns Dream xiv.:
Ye royal Lasses dainty, Heav'n . . . gie you lads a-plenty!
m.Sc. 1827 A. Rodger P. Cornclips 57:
[He] ne'er wad let her tak a man, Tho' mony lads had sought her.
Ags. 1834 A. Smart Rhymes 207:
Gudeman, when we were lad an' lass, Your tongue was like a honey kaim.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders iii.:
The blush that comes over a young maid's face when one that is not her lad, but who yet may be, comes chapping at the door.
Abd. 1905 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 144:
There were always present one or more would-be “lads” of Nancy's.
m.Sc. 1928 O. Douglas Ann and her Mother xxiv.:
Pretty Mysie has got a “lawd”.
Gsw. 1972 Molly Weir Best Foot Forward (1974) 65:
'Ah'm gaun doon the toon,
Ah know wha's gaun wi' me,
Ah've a wee laud o' ma ain,
An' they ca' him Bonnie Jimmy. ... '
wm.Sc. 1991 Bill Sutherland in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 146:
Gaun, cleek yer new lodd, show him aff,
make gled eyes it his gallus chaff,
fur Ah've clockt he's a sleekit nyaff -
bit don't come runnin back tae me.
Fif. 1994 Nellie Watson in Joan Watson Memories and Reflections: An East Neuk Anthology 15:
I mind the time when first I brocht
A LAUD up tae the door,
Her head popped oot the wundae, and -
Afore I cid coont fower-

6. With def. art.: a taboo substitute on the East Fife coast for the surname Marr which is considered unlucky because of its associations of meaning with Mar, v., e.g. Auld Charlie the Lad, Young Charlie the Lad, for Charles Marr, senior and junior (Fif. 1957).

7. One of its kind, freq. an outstanding or extreme example, a “dinger” (Sh., ne. and em.Sc.(a), Ayr., sm. and s.Sc., Uls. 1960).s.Per. 1902 E.D.D.:
“It's a lad”, it's a very rainy, windy, or warm day. “Ye're a lad,” an extreme instance of your class. “Mary's a lad”, a remark made of a very bad little girl.
Ags. 1936 A. Fleming Christina Strang xvii.:
Hae a real fruit depairtment an' fancy bags instead o' plain white lads.
Ayr. 1999:
Is that no a laud! [expression of frustration when something turns out wrong]. It'll be a laud if he breaks down on that hill [i.e. an awful job or too bad]. It's a laud A hae ti dae this aw the time [i.e. a terrible bother/annoyance].

8. A young unmarried man who plays the chiefrole in various annual local festivals, gen. with some prefix as Braw Lad (Galashiels), Honest Lad (Musselburgh). Cf. Laddie, n., 2.Slk. 1932 Border Mag. (Aug.) 117:
The Braw Lad and Party fording the Tweed for Abbotsford.
Fif. 1959 Scotsman (9 June) 5:
Installed as the Lang Toon Lad and Lass in the Adam Smith Hall, Kirkcaldy. The ceremony marks the beginning of pageant week in the town.
m.Lth. 1960 Ib. (7 May) 4:
This year's Honest Lad and Honest Lass of Musselburgh.

II. v. Of a woman: to go sweethearting.Rnf. 1837 Crawfurd MSS. X. 106:
There are two nights in this parish in the week for lassing, Tuesday and especially Friday. The term lassing used by the lads — and the term ladding used by the lasses.

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"Lad n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Dec 2023 <>



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