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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.

LIKELY, adj., adv., n., v. Also leikely; likly (Abd. 1893 G. Macdonald Heather and Snow (1917) xxviii., 1929 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 130), lickly; l(a)ekly. As adv. also in form likelies, -ys (Fif. 1895 G. Setoun Sunshine and Haar viii.). Sc. forms and usages. [′ləiklɪ; Abd. + ′lɪkle, I.Sc., Cai. ′lɛk-]

I. adj. Good-looking, handsome, comely (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif. c.1850 R. Peattie MS.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Uls. 1953 Traynor, also likely-looking; Sh., Ayr., Gall., Uls. 1960); capable or competent in manner (Per., Fif., m.Lth., Ayr., sm. and s.Sc. 1960). Obsol. in Eng. Hence laekliness, good looks.Ags. 1814 J. Ross Poems 99:
She's weel-bred an' likely-like.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxiv.:
A likely lass she was then, and looked ower her southland nose at us a'.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (5 Feb.):
For laekliness, diel bit der better is ony lassies.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 14:
Thon young doctor's a rale leikely-leike fallih.

II. adv. Sc. form of Eng. likely. Also likely-like. 1. Probably, in all likelihood (Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 12). Gen.Sc. In Eng. only with most, very.Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 195:
They'll likelylike lie dark, for aftimes we Things latten alane to dwindle to naething see.
Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy G. Chalmers 198:
I'll likely hurt your tender feeling by a time.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxviii.:
Lickly Maister Gibb 'll be lea'in' 't an' biggin' a bit cottage till himsel' aboot the Broch.
Cai. 1902 J. Horne Canny Countryside 65:
“Oh, fat else! A funeral lekly” with artful carelessness.
Gsw. 1935 McArthur & Long No Mean City 314:
“Likely he winny care,” retorted the boy.
Sh. 1993 New Shetlander Sep 29:
Dey laekly lippened a lecture
But I stöd an I minded mesell
Younger as her, but dan, on a croft -
You come tae reality younger.
Sh. 1994 Laureen Johnson in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 164:
Maybe I wis just vyndless wi a saa. Joannie wid a smiled if he could a seen me. Mair laekly, da saa wis blunt. Whan wid he a been sharpened last?

2. In a likely or probable manner, plausibly.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 87:
She never minds her, but tells on her tale Right bauld an' bardoch, likely like an' hail.

III. n. Likelihood, probability, chance (Sh., Abd., Fif., Ayr., Kcb. 1960). In phrs. to loss or tine one's lickly, to lose one's chance (Kcd. 1960), to spile a guid likely, to belie appearances (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 120); also to upset the probability or prospect of a good bargain, sale, advantage or the like (Abd. 1954).Sc. 1708 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 57:
A very pretty young fellow, and who spils good likly if he be not.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 86:
In a' likely, I my jo maun tyn.

IV. v. With til. To associate (a thing) with (a person), to impute or ascribe to, to think (a thing) likely to be done by, lay to one's charge. Cf. Liken.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 105:
A wid 'a' nivver tean't inta ma hehd to ha'e lickliet it till 'im.

[O.Sc. likle, = 1., c.1470, as a n., 1680.]

Likely adj., adv., n., v.

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"Likely adj., adv., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Sep 2022 <>



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