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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

NEIBOUR, n., v. Also nee(gh)bour, neebar, -er, -ir, -or, -ur, n(e)iber, -o(u)r, niebor, naebor; niechbour; neiper, -o(u)r, neeper, -our, nipour (ne.Sc.); and reduced form neeb (see I. 2.). The O.Sc. form nychbur has been revived in connection with the Guid Nychburris festival at the Riding of the Marches in Dumfries since 1932. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. neighbour. [′nibər; ne.Sc., ‡Ags. ′nipər]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., freq. in attrib. usage. Hence neibourly, neebo(u)r-, neiper-, neighbourly, friendly, neeborliness. Used pred. in pl., in phr. to be neighbours to, — neipours wi', to have (someone) as neighbour (Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 19; ne.Sc. 1964).Ayr. 1718 R. Lawson Maybole (1885) 64:
The last criminal put to death here was one Thomas Nilson, hanged in 1718, for “killing his neebor with ane dike-spade.”
Abd. 1739 Caled. Mag (1788) 501:
His Niepor was a man o' might, Was few there cou'd ha quell'd him.
Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Journal 25:
I might hae . . . gotten a ride on her agen, gin she had been neiperly.
Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter 1 -2:
When chapmen billies leave the street, And drouthy neebors neebors meet.
Per. c.1820 Lady Nairne Caller Herrin vii.:
Neebour wives, now tent my tellin', When the bonny fish ye're sellin'.
Bwk. c.1830 Minstrelsy Merse (Crockett 1893) 151:
Mony a happy day I spent wi' neebour callants.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xv.:
I ance was neepours wi' a chap 't could 'a deen that.
Fif. 1905 S. Tytler Daughter of the Manse 81:
I dinna waste words like my neebours that I shouldna be sure of my meaning when I div speak.
Lnk. 1923 G. Rae 'Mang Lowland Hills 60:
A neeghbour lass was bringin' hame the kye.
Rxb. 1919 Hawick Express (7 Feb.) 4:
Wantin' tae bei as neeborly as aw could.
Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 30:
A jist cried in oot o' neeborliness.
Dmf. 1939 Weekly Scotsman (25 March) 11:
An innovation at the Guid Nychburris festival at Dumfries in June this year will be the participation in the Riding of the Marches of a Cornet's Lass.
Bnff. 1957 Banffshire Jnl. Xmas. Annual:
He drappit in a fylie o' an evenin' at a neeper craft.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 4:
Hell's bells, if a neebor draps by fur tea
Or Missis asks visitors in for a wee swaree,
Where's the herm?
wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 23:
Then yer coo's cronached, I dout. Ane o yer neibours wi an ill will at ye maun be castin a spell ower it.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 56:
Wha kens us nou forbye the forester
... the bonnie rowan frae hir neebor hawbuss
hingin wi berries bi a burn in hairst?
m.Sc. 1994 Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay Forever Yours, Marie-Lou 15:
So who's shoutin thir heid aff noo then?! D'ye waant me tae open the windaes so's the neebors kin hear ye an spread it roond ah starve ye?!
wm.Sc. 1995 Herald 25 Nov 19:
Haein the richt tae be oorsels disnae mean turnin inwards an only carin aboot oorsels, but in learnin tae respect, tolerate an byde in peace wi oor fella Scots an ither folk, stertin wi oor neebours, especially fae sooth o the Border.
ne.Sc. 1996 W. Gordon McPherson in Sandy Stronach New Wirds: An Anthology of winning poems and stories from the Doric Writing Competitions of 1994 and 1995 20:
"Nor the jeely naidder, Queen; a kizzen o mine pued the berries - brobbit ersel sair in the dein o't! - anidder wife gyaa's the aipples an a neiper made the jeely."
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 56:
Wi neebors mishaunlin oor purse,
lost language seems no worth a curse.
Uls. 2001 Belfast News Letter 15 Sep 22:
The storie begins in the reign o the King James I (VI o Scotlann) an haes its mids on the turbulent mairches airt atween Scotlann an Inglann. For centuries this airt haed been the 'buffer zone' atween twa neibours stanndin agin ane anither.

2. Specif. A husband or wife, a bedfellow, a partner, a close companion (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 117; w.Sc. 1880 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Lth., Bwk., Kcb. 1964); a mate at work (Fif. 1960, neeb).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 118:
She's awa noo, an' for fifty years she's been a gueede neiper t' me.
Sc. 1869 R. Leighton Scotch Words 9:
Me and my neiber lassie lies on cauff.
Dmf. 1962 J. C. I. McConnel Upper Nithsdale Coalworks:
56 A Place is where two miners work as “neighbours”, generally an older and a younger man.
Sc. 1991 T. S. Law in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 34:
In thae days whuin a collier man
was crusht an killt alow a stane,
... the neebor wurkin wi him was
the yin wuid gan til's hoose because
altho laich-spreitit as be laith,
he'd hae tae tell the relict daith
haed whummelt-oot her paer man's braith.

3. Of persons or things: a match, an equal, one of the same kind, one of a set or pair (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Hence adj. neiper-like.Abd. 1768 in A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 6:
Our sells are neiper-like, I warran, For sense and smergh.
Edb. 1827 M. & M. Corbett Busy-Bodies III. viii.:
There's no your neighbour for singing in a' the country side.
Dmb. 1844 W. Cross Disruption ii.:
If onybody thinks me a fule for that, I'm no sure Maister Jimes but they might ca' you my neebour.
Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
A'm lookin' for the neighbour of ma shai.
Ags. 1897 W. G. Tarbet In Oor Kailyard 66:
Thae's the maidie's ain words, Snod, so ye'll need to rax yer brains to gie me back an answer that'll be neighbour to them.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (9 Sept.):
Dis is a saeson 'at we may live a' wir lives an' never see da neebir o' again.
Fif. 1909 R. Holman Char. Studies 34:
Tam —, man, ye're een are no' neebors.
Sc. 1958 Scotsman (22 May):
He . . . exposed the back of another shoe, which appeared to be the neighbour of the other shoe.
Ayr. 1999:
It's an auld sock. A cannae fin it's neebour. That car - That's the neebor o Andy Smith's [very similar to it].

4. Combs. and derivs.: (1) below-neibor, in a tenement house: one who lives in the flat below (Arg. 1964); (2) grey neebors, the fairies. Cf.(3); (3) guid neibours, id. (Sc. 1948 L. Spence Fairy Tradition 123). See Guid, adj., 7. (20); (4) neibo(u)rheid. neeb(e)r-, -o(u)r, -ir, niber-, neeper-, neepour-, neiper-, -heid, -head, -heed, -hude, -haed, -(i)d, -hood, neighbourhood, neighbourly relations. esp. in phr. (good) neighbourhood, specif. among the tenants on an estate, the observance of agreed rules for carrying out common duties and obligations of the tenancy, the opposite being bad or ill neighbourhood, bad relations with one's neighbours, enmity (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 118). Gen.Sc. See -Heid, suff.; (5) neibourless, of (one of) a pair: lacking one or the other member, not matching (Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 357; Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., Arran, Ayr., Kcb., Uls. 1964; (Sh., Ork., Ags., Edb., Dmf. 2000s); (6) neeber-like, -laek, (i) friendly, sociable, neighbourly (Sc. 1880 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Also adv.; (ii) in a somewhat pejorative sense: emulating or aping one's neighbours, keeping up appearances socially in one's milieu, pretentiously striving to be respectable (Uls. 1953 Traynor; Fif., Lnk. 1964). Also adv.; (7) neeperty. -portrie, neighbourliness, companionship, partnership (Abd. 1825 Jam., Abd. 1933), specif. in wrong-doing (Mry.1 1925); sexual intercourse (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 118). Comb. gude neeportrie, see (2) above.(1) Lnk. 1895 A. G. Murdoch Readings I. 21:
She lived in the top flat of a five-story East-end tenement, and had for a “belowneibor” a certain Mrs Sooty.
(2) Sh. 1894 Sc. Fairy Tales (Douglas) 123:
His grey neebors wis apon da watch for da helpless infant or midder, or baith.
(4) Sc. a.1714 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) 472:
He leived for a while in good neighbourhead with the King's subjects.
Gsw. 1718 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 22:
Severallis of the neighbourhead there do gather middens upon the streets and in the gutters and sayres.
Sh. a.1725 T. Gifford Hist. Descr. Zetland (1879) 75:
That all within one deck keep good neighbourhood to others, by tethering, herding, and folding, as well by day as by night.
Gall. 1732 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) II. 193:
He was not sensible of anything wrong or offensive in that in regard she had no legal tittle to that possession, as also said he was under tentation thereto by her bad neighbourhood.
Ags. 1758 Session Papers, Ogilvie v. Nicol (6 Aug.) 28:
The Defender quarrelled one of his Tenants for doing a piece of neighbourhood to the Pursuer.
Sc. 1829 Scott Rob Roy VII. Intro. lxxvii.:
MacGregor took an opportunity to conjure Stewart, by all the ties of old acquaintance and good-neighbourhood, to give him some chance of an escape from an assured doom.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxiv.:
There's never been nae ill neepourheid amo' the fowk roon' hereaboot.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life iii.:
The overlords had rules of “good neighbourhood” established, under which the several tenants were bound to perform their respective shares of the farm labour at the sight of “birley men” chosen by themselves.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Stickit Minister 32:
Twa ither lads frae the neebourhood.
Knr. 1894 H. Haliburton Furth in Field 19:
Some vain or cantankerous ploughman would only settle into what was called “good neighbourhood” after he had endured one or two “good lickings.”
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) x.:
The noise . . . wud fair deave a hale neeperhude.
Sh. 1958 New Shetlander No. 48. 25:
So dere was nothin for it bit ta git a searchpairty going and hunse da neebrid for him.
(5) Hdg. 1886 J. P. Reid Facts and Fancies 117:
For, aft as he'd turn'd it, his een ne'er sae gleg, Could only discover ae neeborless leg.
Ayr. 1999:
There's the sock that's neebourless.
Gall. 1901 Gallovidian III. 114:
Murdered . . . by a left-hand straik frae a man wi' neibourless een.
(6) (i) Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xliv.:
He'll be glad to carry me through, and be neighbour-like.
Per. 1831 Perthshire Advert. (16 June):
At a late public meeting here, where there was plenty of all kinds of good cheer, some of the members of this [Temperance] society were present, and as far as could be seen, just took their share neebor like.
Abd. 1898 J. Milne Poems 38:
Me! what a canty warl' it were Gin fowk war wyss an' neebor like.
Sh. 1912 J. Nicolson Hame-Spun 91:
I saw 'at I needed a wife, an' it wouldna been very neebor like for me ta pass by her door.
(ii) Sc. 1723 Present State of Scot. 8:
There is hardly a Gentleman who has an Estate of Two hundred a-year, but, in order to be Neighbourlike, will drink Claret.
Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 157:
To gar our bed look hale and neighbourlike, Wi' gleesome speed last week I span a tike.
Mry. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XX. 226:
There are not a few who will spend, what they can ill afford, in vying to be neighbourlike, with others who are either more rich, or more inconsiderate than themselves.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Gathering of West 42:
Properly rigged out to appear before royalty neighbour like.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Neighbourlike ruins half the world.
Sc. 1831 Fife Herald (22 Sept.):
Mrs A. must give up her dinner and tea parties, because B's wife, without a tythe of the purse, has to get up parties equally splendid for the sake of being “neighbourlike”.
Sc. 1833 Chambers's Jnl. (Dec.) 364:
In the article of furniture, they are at considerable expense, not considering their dwellings even decently furnished (neighbourlike), without a neat oaken table, and chairs, good beds.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (27 Oct.):
Doo canna gang 'ithoot bein' a kind o' daecent an' neeber laek.
(7) Ags. 1890 Brechin Advertiser (25 Feb.) 3:
Ye mauna think . . . 'at gude neeportrie nae longer exists.

5. Also neebs. Familiar form of address to a man, esp. a stranger (Fif. 1990s).Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 49:
neebur Neighbour, often used as a friendly term of address: 'How's it gaun, neebur?' Even more friendly is the shortened form neebs: 'Want a run up the road, neebs?'

II. v. 1. intr. (1) Of persons or things: to be situated near; to consort with, associate with. Also fig. Rare or mainly dial. in Eng. Ppl.adj. neebrin', neibrin, neep'rin, = Eng. neighbouring.Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xviii.:
It isna for your father's son to be neighbouring wi' the like o' him.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms Introd.:
Our ain word Lilt . . . neibors weel wi' the name as it suld be.
Sc. 1910 D. G. Mitchell Sermons 52:
The folk oot-by are oure black for him to neibour wi'.
Ayr. 1999:
Auld James' house neeborin the kirk.

(2) To co-operate with one's neighbour(s), esp. in agricultural jobs (w.Sc. 1880 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., 1953 Traynor; ne.Sc., Lth., Ayr., Kcb., Uls. 1964). Also with in wi' (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 118). Vbl.n. neighbouring, neeperin, working in conjunction with one's neighbour(s) (Abd.4 1929; Uls. 1947 J. M. Mogey Rural Life 234; ne.Sc., Lth., Ayr., Kcb., Uls. 1964).Kcd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XI. 451:
In this number, those who have small pieces of ground, and neighbour, as they call it, with others in plowing, are not included.
Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recollections 258:
They could neighbour, one with another, with their horses or oxen to draw the plough.
Highl. 1954 Scotsman (23 July) 4:
The changing times are bringing about the slow death of the old Highland custom known as “neighbouring”, I hear. Under this system the neighbours co-operated at the clippings and other big events which demand a big labour force.

2. tr. (1) To live beside, to be neighbour to (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); to associate with at work, or by way of being sociable, to consort with a member of the opposite sex. Gen.Sc. Also fig.Gall. 1872 E. J. Irving Fireside Lays 228:
But, Maggie, there's Jocky an' Jamie, Twa lads that I neiboured lang syne.
Lnk. 1887 A. Wardrop Midcauther Fair 13:
She's the very ane I'd like to neighbour either oot or in.
Edb. 1900 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 15:
It was waur to me than the dooncome to hae to neebour the like o' her.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 19:
She gaed to her bed, and keepit it a' the time we neibored them.
Rxb. 1922 I. Thomson Lays of Ancrum 17:
Yet, dour dangers an' death tho, ye neebor, Alas, ye are just like us a'.
Kcb., Dmf. 1964:
I neighbourt him means “I worked beside him at a certain farm.”

(2) To match, form one of a pair or part of a set (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., Per., Lth., Ayr., Rxb. 1964).Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 15:
A think A'll gang an buy that vaiz; it nate neebers thon yin on the brace at hyimm.

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"Neibour n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jul 2024 <>



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