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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.

LINN, n.1, v. Also lin, lyn(n). [lɪn]

I. 1. A waterfall, cataract, cascade of water (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; w.Sc. 1741 A. Macdonald Galick Vocab. 6; Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 252; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Freq. in place-names, as Corra Linn, Linn o Dee. Comb. linn-spoot, id. (Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables 236).Sc. 1710 Descr. Lnk. and Rnf. (M.C.) 67:
An old house situate upon a great linn or fall of the river Clyde.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd i. ii.:
Between twa birks out o'er a little lin The water fa's.
Bwk. 1757 G. Ridpath Diary (S.H.S.) 158:
Had a walk with him in the afternoon to the Linn.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Elegy on Capt. Henderson iv.:
Ye burnies, wimplin down your glens, … Or foaming strang, wi' hasty stens, Frae lin to lin.
Lth. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVII. 611:
Where the Esk divides it in the middle and forms a linn or leap.
Sc. 1810 Scott Lady of Lake vi. xviii.:
As Bracklinn's chasm, so black and steep, Receives her roaring linn.
Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 52:
Over Corra Linn the river rolls exultingly.
Ags. 1864 D. M. Ogilvy Poems (1873) 8:
With scarlet brawlins on the linn Where cat'racts fa' wi' echoing din.
Rxb. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. II. 200:
The wee waterfa' or the fifty-feet linn.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xx.:
There hung over the lynn a little mist of spray.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Men of Moss Hags xxvi.:
So I came down the west side of the water of Ken, by the doachs or roaring linn, where the salmon sulk and leap.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 69:
Except the sang o' Tweed in spate, Or Talla loupin' ower its linns.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 41:
An' I'll dream o' the music o' the linn Whar the rummlin' waters fa'.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 13:
Noo, frae the scrogs up near a linn That spreed its gray-tail to the sin.
Abd. 1980 David Toulmin Travels Without a Donkey 83:
And such beauty we beheld at the Falls of Shin, where we went to watch the salmon leaping on the linn.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web iv:
... ma faither niver dauchled, at the stert o a political or releegious argy-bargy, tae cheenge intae Inglis, the "cerebral language", bit gaed ram-stam inno the fray wi a fleerich o Scots that cairriet aa forrit like a linn in spate.

2. A precipice, ravine, a deep and narrow gorge (Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 117; Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; sm. and s.Sc. 1961); “two opposite contiguous cliffs or heughs covered with brushwood” (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.).Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIII. 245:
The water has, in the course of ages, hollowed out to itself a strait passage through a hill of red free stone, forming what in Scotland is called a linn, peculiarly romantic. This linn from top to bottom is upwards of 100 feet.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian l.:
If you come here again, I'll pitch you down the linn like a foot-ball.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck vi.:
The two principal murderers of the curate are lying concealed in a linn not far hence.
Dmf. 1878 R. W. Thom Jock o' the Knowe 70:
A linnet that sang in a howe in the linn.

3. A pool in a river, specif. under a fall, the pool into which a cascade gen. falls (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.(exc. I.). Sc. Combs. lin(n)-keeper, -lier, -lyar, a large fresh-water trout which haunts a particular pool (Knr. (keeper), Fif. (lyar) 1825 Jam.); lin-tree, a beam of wood used in a dam in a salmon-fishing pool. Sc. 1750 Session Papers, Robertson v. Mackenzie (27 Nov.) 1:
The Dam is constructed in the following Manner, viz. A large Tree is laid across the Water, the two Ends whereof rest each upon the Rocks on the side of the Water. On this Tree, which is called the Lin-tree, are fixed other smaller Trees, which are placed aslant up the Water.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 27:
Out-throw the mist atweesh her an' the sun, That glanc'd and shin'd in ilka pool and lyn.
Sc. 1803 Young Benjie in Child Ballads No. 86 A. 5:
He took her up in his armis, An threw her in the lynn.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize III. xxiv.:
In the clear linn the trouts shuttled from stone and crevice.
Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 347:
Trouts . . .loupin out the linns in somersets like tumblers frae a spring-brod.
Knr. 1894 H. Haliburton Furth in Field 177:
His successful angler landing the linn-lier.
Sc. 1925 “Domsie” Poems for Children:
Clitter-clatter gaed the wheel Wi' the water rin, Rum'lin, tum'lin heids ower heel Tae the caller lynn.
Per.4 1950:
There's a linn further up that's guid for fishin.

II. v. To hollow out the ground by force of water, to form a pool (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).

[O.Sc. lyn, a waterfall, a.1500, linne, a pool below a fall, 1563. In meanings 1. and 2. from O. North. hlynn, a torrent, in meaning 3. (mainly from Gaelic border-areas) from Gael. linn, a pool.]

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"Linn n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Jun 2024 <>



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