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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

OLD, adj. See also Owld. Sc. usages. For Sc. forms see Auld.

1. Of bread: stale (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 146, 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 44). Gen.Sc.

2. Used, esp. in ballads, with the force of a superl., = eldest. See Auld, 2. (10).Sc. 1706 J. Maidment Pasquils (1868) 370:
This her old sone, and treu born heir.
Sc. 1825 Babylon in Child Ballads No. 14 D. viii.:
The second of them she's to the wood gane, To seek her old sister.
Sc. 1825 Johnie Scott in Child Ballads No. 99 C. i.:
And Earl Percy's old daughter To Johnie goes with child.

3. Used to differentiate one thing from its more recent replacement, (1) in names of particular days according to the old style of reckoning, i.e. a.1753. See Auld, 5. ; (2) with names of civic officials before the Reform Act of 1832 (see quots.); (3) with names of religious groups, as in Old Dissenter, a Cameronian, q.v., Old Lights, see Auld, 9. (14) and Licht; Old Scots Episcopals, Old Scots Presbyterians, see Scots.(2) Edb. 1753 W. Maitland Hist. Edb. 237:
The Government of Edinburgh consists of a Provost, four Bailiffs [sic], a Dean of Gild, and a Treasurer; and a like Number of Officers of the same Denominations who served those Offices in the preceeding Year, with the additional Appellative of Old, namely, the Old Provost, Old Bailiffs, Old Dean of Gild, and Old Treasurer . . .
Edb. 1799 T. Smith Address to Town Council 6:
At Michaelmas 1796 by means of Sir James Stirling, I was appointed to the office of Old Treasurer.
(3) Sc. 1808 J. H. Thomson Martyr Graves (1903) 232:
This Monument is Erected by the Congregation of Old Presbyterian Dissenters, in Glasgow.
Sc. 1893 M. Hutchison Ref. Presb. Ch. 153:
So closely was he identified with the Societies, that throughout the wide sphere of his labours, his adherents were as well known as McMillanites, as Cameronians or Old Dissenters, which they were often designated.

4. Combs. (mainly anglicised forms of Auld-): (1) Old Dirty, a nickname for the town of Greenock (Rnf. 1889 Scots Mag. (June) 54); (2) old-farrant, old-fashioned. See Auld-farrant; (3) Old Firm, term used singly or collectively to refer to the Glasgow Football Clubs Celtic and Rangers; (4) old Grannie Witchie, a children's game (see quot.); (5)old-long-syne. See Langsyne; (6) old-make-new, n., the same thing over again, a revival; (7) old man, (i) as in Eng. Comb. old man's milk, a drink, a kind of egg-flip. See quot. and Auld, 9. (18); (ii) as a plant-name: a stone lichen, yielding a yellowish or reddish brown dye (Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Sh. 442, Sh. 1964); southernwood, Artemisia abrotanum (Dmf. 1904–5 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 406; Fif., Edb., Slk. 1964). Common in Eng. dials.; (iii) used euphemistically for the Devil in comb. old man's fold, a piece of land dedicated to the devil and left uncultivated (Sc. 1825 Jam.). See goodman's fauld s.v. Guidman, 5., and Fauld, n.2, 6. (3) and (4); (iv) in mining: “an iron apron attachment of pump rods to bell crank, used with travelling sets of pumps and rods in shaft sinkings; a rocking centre to guide pump rods at an angle” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 47); (8) Old Nick, see Nick, n.2; (9) Old Reekie, see Auld, 9. (20) and Reek; (10) Old Rock, see Rock; (11) Old Sandy, a euphemistic name for the Devil. See Sandie; (12) old stock, see Stock; †(13) old weight, see quot.; (14) old-wife, (i) in combs.: old wives' mutches, monkshood. See Mutch and cf. grannie's mutches s.v. Grannie, n, 8. (8) (c); old wife's necessary, a tinder-box (s.Sc. 1825 Jam., “gipsy language”); old wives' tongues, the aspen, Populus tremula (Rxb. 1876 Science Gossip 39); (ii) the fish, Cantharus lineatus (e.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna of “Dee” 209); the ballan wrasse, Labrus bergylta (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.); (iii) a chimney-cowl. See auld wife s.v. Auld, 9. (24), and cf. Caillich, n.; (15) oldword, a proverb (Uls. 1953 Traynor), a translation of Gael. seanfhacal; (16) old-young, see auld-young s.v. Auld adj. 9. Phrases (4).(2) Sc. 1865 R. W. Buchanan Inverburn (1882) 32:
When he [baby] crying came, With beaded een and pale old-farrant face.
(3)Sc. 1989 Richard Holt Sport and the British :
Only Rangers and Celtic made much money hence the original meaning of the term 'The Old Firm'.
Edb. 1993 Irvine Welsh Trainspotting (1994) 92:
We've no chance, I thought, you never do at Hampden against one of the Old Firm, with the crowd and the referees firmly behind the establishment clubs.
Gsw. 1998 Herald (8 May) 23:
Old Firm fans have been irate of late, with good cause. We hear of a gent of the Ibrox persuasion who was giving his team pelters as they left the field at half-time. "Boo! F***ing Boo!" he uttered most eloquently.
(4)Edb. 1969 I. & P. Opie Children's Games 127:
Old Grannie Witchie. One player stands mid-way between the two walls and the rest line up at one wall and have to run across to the other, keeping within agreed boundaries. Anyone touched while running from one wall to the other joins the catcher in the middle, as in the previous games, so that the balance gradually changes in the favour of the catchers.
(6) Per. 1830 Per. Advertiser (18 Feb.):
A list of subscribers who have been formerly duped by his artful story; — for his story is an old-make-new.
(7) (i) Sc. c.1730 E. Burt Letters (1815) II. 42:
A little brandy, water, sugar, and yolks of eggs, beat up together; which I think they call Old man's milk.
Abd. 1793 Abd. Book-Lover IV. iii. 64:
I renew the encounter with Greens. We drink “Old Men's Milk”; it is a perfect remedy. I stick better to the Drink to night.
(iii) Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XXI.148:
The old man's fold, where the druid sacrificed to the demon for his corn and cattle, could not be violated by the ploughshare.
(11) Clc. 1848 M. M. Banks Cal. Customs Scot. III. 171:
It is believed in the neighbourhood that the stone, every Hallowe'en night, is raised from its place and suspended in the air by an unseen power, while “Old Sandy”, snugly seated upon it, is swung backwards and forwards by his followers, the witches, until day-light warns them to decamp.
(13) Abd. 1778 Aberdeen Jnl. (5 Jan.):
The Scots Troy pound is what is known in Scotland by the name of Old Weight, Amsterdam Weight, or Meal Weight, indifferently.
(14) (iii) Sc. 1823 Scots Mag. (March) 289:
An “old-wife” which had lately been raised to this elevated station, with the view of causing the smoke to vent more freely. . . . An “old wife” is not an old woman, but an erection bearing some resemblance to this respectable character, in a sitting position, and intended to facilitate the escape of smoke.
(15) Arg. 1896 N. Munro Lost Pibroch 87:
Our own Gaelic old-word, “There are few lapdogs in a fox's litter.”

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"Old adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Sep 2023 <>



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