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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.

NO, adv.

1. Not, as the adv. negativing a v., adj. or adv. (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 136; s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 228; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen. (exc. n.) Sc., though freq. adopted by n.Sc. writers as a liter. usage. More emphatic than the enclitic -Na. Freq. also in double neg. constructions. Cf. Nae, adv.Sc. 1703 Toleration Defended 18:
The Book of may-bees is no more, but just as broad as the Book of may-no-bees.
Mry. 1710 Boharm Parish Mag. (Aug. 1897):
The Session after consideration thought fitt no to refuse the offer.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. ii.:
Ye'll no let the wee thing tak the Air.
Sc. c.1770 Herd's MSS. (Hecht 1904) 183:
I can drink and no be drunk, I can fight and no be slain.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxiii.:
Bluid's thicker than water; and it liesna in kith, kin, and ally, to see motes in ilk other's een if other een see them no.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals Intro.:
I therefore counsel you, . . . no to lend your ears to those that trumpet forth their hypothetical politics.
m.Lth. 1837 Misty Morning 20:
I houp he's no nane the waur o' his doukie.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 40:
Tak' atent at ye deu no' believe some day tae your cost.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister x.:
Have you on your Sabbath shoon or have you no on your Sabbath shoon?
Sc. 1896 Stevenson W. Hermiston viii.:
Oh, my dear, that'll no dae!
Bwk. 1900 A. T. G. Ann. Thornlea 100:
A'm no bad, maister, amn't a no?
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Jooly 7):
Come no ower near a mare wi a foal at her fit.
Fif. 1929 A. Taylor Bitter Bread 151:
And I doubt ye'll no' can help that.
Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle II. xiii.:
What was't he said, “a loyal wife and devoted mother,” wasn't no?
Ags. 1964 D. Phillips Hud Yer Tongue 34:
Yer mither's brah sideboard disna' hae bonnie wee drahrs like Granny's dresser, disn't no'?
m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 115:
He put his head in his hands. "O God, what am I thinking of?" he cried. "Kill! - and am I no a priest of the Lamb of Love? God, tell me what to do!"
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 50:
I says I'm going in there, he says no, no the now, she's sleeping. Joy is exhausted.
m.Sc. 1998 Ian Cameron The Jimmy Shand Story 6:
'They often as no used tae be sea-sick!' Jimmy remembers.
wm.Sc. 1998 Alan Warner The Sopranos (1999) 44:
Cmon. That's no fair, Fionnula warned.
Gsw. 2000 Carl MacDougall Mozzarella shavings 78:
How can you no understand? he said. How can you no see what you're doing. You're no stupid. You ken, or you would ken if you thought about it.

Freq. with adjs., advs., etc., to form quasi-combs. and to give an impression of understatement or qualified admission or approval, where Eng. would use a positive construction, e.g. no bad, pretty good, no but, only, just (cf. dial. Eng. nobbut), no canny, -chancy, risky, unlucky, tempting Providence, no easy, difficult to master, smart, quick-witted (Arg. 1930), no far, near, no weel, ill (Gen.Sc.). no wise, -wice, foolish, mad. See also and for other exx. under the second element.Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xii.:
But hark, what's that? Surely my father is no weel?
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
That's like a no-wyss body.
Lnk. 1873 J. Nicholson Wee Tibbie's Garland 72:
The no-weel lassie's dream.
Lnk. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 263:
The witch's-thorn of popular superstition, which it was thought “no canny” to remove.
Sc. 1887 Jam.:
I've nobut saxpence.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums iv.:
“Yer mother's no weel,” he said to Leeby.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
She has 'er ain adaes, wi' a no-weel man.
Lth. 1930 J. Cockburn Country Love 89:
Or if some bairn should be noweel . . . They rin tae you for auld wife skeel.
Arg.2 1931:
He's that quick wi his tongue that whiles he's no canny. It's no canny tae be speakin lake that.
Arg. 1936 L. McInnes Dial. S. Kintyre 21:
She's no easy that yin: ye should hae heard her last nicht. Ye'll hae tae watch yersel' when yer dealin' wi' that lot: they're no easy.
Lnk. 1960 Stat. Acc.3 609:
Traditional country phrases (like “fair no weel”, signifying a certain stage in incipient illness).
Gsw. 1980 Christine Marion Fraser Blue Above the Chimneys (1985) 113:
'Ay, that's no' bad,' he would say gruffly. For someone like Da that was an uproarious burst of approval.
m.Sc. 1996 Christopher Brookmyre Quite Ugly One Morning (1997) 122:
'It's another stoater. The hardware's no bad, but the software? Fuck's sake. Portuguese, it is.'

2. = Do or does not, will not, with absorption of the auxiliary (s.Sc. 1887 Jam.; Edb. 1964). Rarely with omission of verb to be.s.Sc. 1835 Wilson's Tales of the Borders I. 119:
It's weel for ye that no kens what it is to be a footba' at your ain fireside.
s.Sc. 1873 D. S. C. S. 228:
He no can.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xii.:
I no' mind o' ever hearin her say onythin o' the sort.
Ags. 1895 Caledonia I. 309:
Eat her up, man, an' no haiver.
Bwk. 1906 D. McIver Eyemouth 183:
The old woman covered her eyes with one hand, saying: “A no want to see the man that put ma Wullie in prison.”
e.Lth. 1924 I. Adair Glowerower 90:
“I no want onything,” I said.

[A reduced form of Nocht, appearing first in O.Sc. c.1600.]

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"No adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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