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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.

NEARHAND, adv., prep., adj. Also -han, -haun(d), neer-. Compar. nearer han(d), superl. nearest —. [′nir′hǫn(d), ′-hɑn]

I. adv. 1. Close at hand, close by (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 205; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Obs. exc. dial. in Eng. Comb. neerhan' by, id.Sc. 1727 P. Walker Six Saints (Fleming) I. 214:
Hearing of no sermon near-hand upon Sabbath.
Abd. 1770 Session Papers, Gordon v. Gordon (7 March) 10:
Some of the poor folks, that cast [peats] behind the others, and where they can get them nearest hand.
Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 195:
A' the hirstle neerhan' by.
Sc. 1858 J. W. Carlyle Letters II. 373:
There is no other place nearer hand where I could get any good.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
We keept the twa boats closs for company, and crap in nearer hand.
Per. 1899 C. M. Stuart Pitcoonans 21:
As he gets near-hand, says I to mysel', “I dinna ken ye.”

2. Nearly, almost (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 46:
Till baith the Haves were near hand done.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Death Poor Mailie 9:
He saw her days were near hand ended.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxix.:
His race is near-hand run.
Cai. 1829 J. Hay Poems 24:
That night she near han' fainted.
Abd. 1863 G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod viii.:
The minister, honest man, near-han' gart me disbelieve in't a'thegither.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Merry Men (1925) ii.:
It was puir Sandy Gabart's deid skreigh, or near-hand, for he was deid in half an hour.
Uls. 1908 Traynor (1953):
I was near-han' starvin'. It's not nearhan' as good as the last.
Lth. 1928 S. A. Robertson With Double Tongue 20:
The hearst for me is nearhaun by.
Edb. 1998 By Word of Mouth: Scottish Oral History Group newsletter 9:
In thae days, you were only a serf. If ye looked at the gaffer the wrang wey, ye near haund got the seck!"
Ags. 1944 Scots Mag. (May) 87:
There had been a Deuchars on the croft . . . near hand as far back as records go.

II. adj. 1. Close, near, neighbouring (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 205, 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Gen.Sc. Freq. attrib. as in near-han(d) cut (ne.Sc., em.Sc. (a), Lnk., Kcb., Uls. 1963), -gate, -road, -way, a short cut. Cf. near cut s.v. Near, adj. Hence near-hanness, nearness, proximity (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 117).Ayr. 1756 Session Papers, Montgomery v. Francis, Proof (21 May) 1:
He always observed People pass to and fro by this Road, as a near-hand Cut.
Lnk. 1816 G. Muir Minstrelsy 10:
Those wha took nearhan' roads across the green.
Sc. c.1825 Broom of Cowdenknows in Child Ballads No. 217 E. v.:
Go ye doun to yon meadow, And they'll show you the near-hand way.
Lnk. 1827 J. Watt Poems 53:
The nearhaun' gate to hell.
Lnk. 1883 W. Thomson Leddy May 29:
Bairns frae the near-haun' streets.
e.Lth. 1908 J. Lumsden Th'Loudons 194:
Some near-haun' day!
Lnk. 1928 W. C. Fraser Yelpin' Stane 106:
The Glenbirnie shooters tak' a near-han' cut ayont the hill yonder.

2. Niggardly, close-fisted (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1963). Hence near-handness, stinginess (Cld. 1880 Jam.).

III. prep. Near, close to, beside (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc.Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' (1801) 20:
And mind the thing that's nearer hand's.
Sc. 1792 New Year's Morning 13:
They fill'd it near han' the brim.
Abd. 1795 Session Papers, Leslie v. Fraser (29 March 1805) 118:
[He] told them not to go nearhand the planting.
Sc. 1829 E. Logan Restalrig xiv.:
I am happier in this muckle, clarty, reeky hole, now that I'm near hand yoursel.
Sc. 1849 M. Oliphant M. Maitland i.:
A sampler which had no equal in the parish, nor near hand it.
Gsw. 1879 A. G. Murdoch Rhymes 76:
Five fishermen of fame, Belangin' near haun' Inveraray.
Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore ii.:
They . . . thocht when they were sae near-han' oor aul' royal burgh they would brak their journey for a day.
Edb. 1894 J. W. MacLaren Tibbie and Tam 39:
Near haun' nicht Tam managed to ease her a bit.
Rxb. 1915 Kelso Chron. (10 Dec.) 4:
The folk nearer han the place.
Fif. 1954 Fife Herald (27 Oct.) 2:
We were near haund the bottom o' Hill Street.

[O.Sc. neirhand, adv., prep., from 1375, Mid.Eng. ner hand. From Near + Hand. CF. Backhand, Efterhan, Forehand.]

Nearhand adv., prep., adj.

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"Nearhand adv., prep., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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