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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.

NOURICE, n., v. Also †n(o)ur(r)ice, -is, †noorise(Abd.1768 A. Ross Helenore(S.T.S.) 30); †nur(r)ish, †norish; †ne(e)rice, †nires, †neiris(h) (ne.Sc.); and reduced forms no(a)rse (Abd. 1886 W. Robbie Glendornie xxix.; ‡ne.Sc. 1964) corresp. to Eng. nurse. [′nørɪs; ne.Sc. ′ni-; in the sense of nourish freq. pronounced by older speakers as ′norɪʃ]

I. n. A nurse (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Obs. in Eng. from early 18th c. Mainly liter. and in ballads. Also attrib.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 29:
A Fool of a Nurrish makes a wise Child.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 53:
Mony a ane kisses the bairn for love of the nurice.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 30:
Fan I was young, upo' the neirish knee.
Sc. a.1818 Queen of Elfan's Nourice in Child Ballads No. 40. ix.:
O keep my bairn, nourice, Till he gang by the hauld.
ne.Sc. 1828–9 Lamkin in Child Ballads No. 93 N. 2:
O far's the laird o this place? O neerice, tell me.
Hdg. 1844 J. Miller Lamp of Lothian (1900) 225:
Ye nourices that hae bairns to keep.
Sh. 1852 P.S.A.S. I. 86:
An eartly nourris sits and sings And aye she sings, Ba, lily wean!
Abd. 1925 Greig and Keith Last Leaves 72:
“O still my bairn, nerice” she said.
ne.Sc. 1956 Mearns Leader (9 March):
Ye'll rise in a day or twa, if yer noarse cuts oot Shauchie.

Combs.: 1. nourice-fee, nursing fee, the wages given to a wet-nurse (Sc. 1825 Jam.); 2. nourice-skep, -skap, -ship, the place or situation of a nurse (Sc. 1808 Jam.), the art of nursing; the fee given to a nurse (Sc. 1808 Jam.).1. Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 67:
A gueed nourice-fee, To nurse the King of Elfin's heir Fizzee.
ne.Sc. c.1805 Jolly Beggar in Child Ballads No. 279 A. xxv.:
Four-an-tuenty hunder mark, to pay the nires feea.
2. Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. iii.:
“What is her connexion with the former proprietor's family?” “O, it was something of a nourice-ship, I believe.”
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. v.:
I'm a car-handed man, it's true, wi' little skill in nourcie-skep, be it of bairn or body.

II. v. As in Eng. Vbl.n. nouricing, nursing, a nurse's care and attention.Sc. c.1825 Fair Janet in Child Ballads No. 64 B. viii.:
I have a babe into my arms He'll die for nouricing.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxxix.:
“Hoo's yer mistress, Jeames . . .?” “Nae that ill, but some forfochten wi' norsin' Mr. Alec.”
Dmf. 1885 F. Miller Poets Dmf. (1910) 204:
“My young babe's in my arms,” she says, “That was nouriced in shame and sin.”
Sc.(E) 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ i. xxiv.:
Blyther nor gin it hed been nouriced i' delichts.

[O.Sc. nuryse, nowrys, a.1400, Mid.Eng. nurice, O.Fr. nurice, no(u)rice, a nurse.]

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"Nourice n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Oct 2022 <>



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