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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LIB, v. Also libb, lybb. [lɪb]

1. To castrate, emasculate, gen. of farm animals (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Inv. 1902 E.D.D.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson). Gen.Sc. Hence libber, one who castrates, a gelder (Sc. 1825 Jam., sow-libber; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); libbert, a eunuch, of men or animals (Per. 1960); lib(b)et, gelded, castrated, of eunuchs and animals; castrato, of a singer; ¶libster, a castrater; fig. in quot. = pruning.Sc. 1702 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 305:
To jonie telfer the herd for libbing 3 lams … 3s. 6d.
Edb. 1712 W. Mitchel Speech against Bishops 4:
What ever any Sou-liber gets ye shall have no less.
Sc. c.1714 Jacobite Minstrelsy (1829) 47:
And we've the trenching blades o' wier, Wad lib ye o' your German gear.
Arg. 1716 F. F. Mackay Carskey Jnl. 49:
I bought from Malcolm Mc … in Ballinacuissag ane tuo year old bull qch he is to lybb on his own hazard.
Sh. a.1725 T. Gifford Hist. Descr. Zetland (1879) 78:
That none libb any beast upon Sunday, under the pain of 20 pounds Scots.
Sc. 1775 Weekly Mag. (21 Sept.) 399:
He'll never die in battle, I'se be bound, But hae his craig cut by some libbet hound.
Ayr. 1790 Burns To a Gentleman 16:
How libbet Italy was singing.
Abd. 1817 J. Christie Instructions 153:
The first six years that they [trees] hae life, Just then, apply your libster knife.
Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 193:
Into bed they nimbly jumped, Mair blyth than ony Roman libet.
Sc. 1874 G. Outram Lyrics 111:
An' he grumbled like a ewe 'Mang libbit rams.
Per. 1898 C. Spence From the Braes of the Carse 163:
The horse … He'll whup and spur and dock and lib.
Ork. 1909 Old-Lore Misc. II. i. 29:
He uised tae geong aa' roond libben foks' grises, calves, lambs, ey an even staigs; de staig libben wis a gret day.
Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song (1937) 232:
They drove Chae Strachan's sheep to the buchts and the libbing of the lambs went on till it nearly drove her mad.
Sc. 1947 D. Young Braird o Thristles 18:
On a North British Devolutionary. They libbit William Wallace, he gart them bleed. They dinna libb MacFoozle, they dinna need.
wm.Sc. 1996 Robin Jenkins Lunderston Tales 13:
Moreover she was pregnant again. Rab, she reflected bitterly, could do with libbing himself.
'She should have told the boy long ago that Rab isn't his real father.'

2. Fig.: (1) “To expose the privy parts (esp. of a boy) forcibly” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

(2) To mutilate, curtail, deprive in gen. (Dmf. 1960).Sc. 1700 J. Maidment Pasquils (1868) 359:
It is no reflectione That F — did libb our voluntar collectione.
Dmf. 1805 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 701:
Ne'er was a tale by lucky docket, Nor story libbit i' the tellin'.
Rnf. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 44:
The greazy volume lib'd its might, By virtue o' the tally.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 286:
I would raither hae them brunt than libbet by the fleems of an ill-natur'd critic.
Kcb.4 1900:
We'll sune be geyly libbit o' our milk if the frost hauds on as it is like to dae.

(3) To grope in the soil and remove growing potatoes without disturbing the tops (Fif. c.1850 R. Peattie MS.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd.4 1928; Per., Fif., Kcb. 1960). Cf. Pirl; also to cut both ends of a potato before boiling it (Ork.5 1960).Rxb. 1836 A. Jeffrey Acct. Rxb. 333:
Gipsies … libbing the potatoes.
Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (14 Jan.) 3:
His potatoes were ready to howk by the time the rest of the village thought of libbing theirs.

[O.Sc. lib, = 1., from c.1500, Mid.Eng. libben, Mid.Du. lubben, to geld, Flem. dial. libbe, a steer, Du. lubbert, a eunuch.]

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"Lib v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Apr 2024 <>



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