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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LISPUND, n. Also l(e)ispo(u)nd; lispband (Sh. 1772 J. Mill Diary (S.H.S.) 37); lispun, lespon, -un. A measure of weight, orig. used in the Baltic region and thence adopted in Sh. and Ork., esp. for weighing grain, malt or butter (Sh. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VII. 477; I.Sc. 1808 Jam., 1866 Edm. Gl.). The measure seems to have been about 12 lb. Scots (16.3 lbs. avoirdupois) but from its freq. use in weighing rent in kind payable to landlords, it was gradually increased as a means of extortion to 30 lbs. Scots or more by the 18th c. (see Old-Lore Misc. IX. 234 sqq.). Also called a Setten, q.v. Now only hist. [′lɪspʌn(d)]Ork. 1701 J. Brand Descr. Ork. 42:
They … weigh their Corns on Pismires or Pundlers. The least quantity is called a Merk, which is 18 Ounces; 24 Merks make a Leispound or Setten.
Sh. 1732–5 Old-Lore Misc. IV. iii 120:
Bear, 1s. per lispund; meal, 2s. per lispund; malt, 1s. 8d. per lispund; butter, 4s. 10d. per lispund.
Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Sh. 319:
The amount of butter required from each lease-holder from the Crown, was in lispunds and marks. A lispund was originally of 12 lb. weight; and it was farther divided into 24 marks, each of 8 oz. This weight was fraudulently raised during the tyranny of Earl Robert from 12 to 15 lb. Earl Patrick clandestinely advanced it to 18 lb. In the year 1690, under the oppressive exactors of the Crown-rents, and needy farmers, the lispund had further increased from 18 to 24 lb. weight. In 1710 it was again advanced to 26 lb. Mr. Gifford of Busta, in 1734, found that it was 28 lb. It is now said to be 32 lb.
Ork. 1826 P. Ork. A.S. XV. 11:
The Lispund which was sworn to as the standard weight, was fixed at 29 lb. 10 oz. 12 dr. Imperial, instead of 35 lbs. as I made it.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 259:
I dunna believe it took mair den a lespon o' groats ta mak my gruel da hael ten days I wis dis wiy.
Sh. 1931 J. Nicolson Tales 48:
Each tenant had to give the landlord 2 “lispunds” of butter.

[O.Sc. leis pund, id., 1502, L.Ger. lispund, M.L.Ger. lispunt < lives(ch)punt, a Livonian pound, from Livonia on the Gulf of Riga in Latvia.]

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"Lispund n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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