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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

POLICY, n. Sc. usages:

1. The improvement or development of a town, estate or the like, amenity; the houses and other property improvements involved in this.Sc. 1712 Sc. Courant (12–14 March):
The whole Tenement being near to 100 Yards from East to West, and near to 60 from North to South, capable of many Policies and Improvements.
Bte. 1746 Rothesay T.C. Rec. (1935) 787:
Highways defective . . . to the great prejudice of the Policy of the Burgh.

2. Now gen. in pl., the enclosed ornamental grounds in which a large country house is situated, the park of an estate, pleasure ground (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 191, 1808 Jam., 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 65). Gen.Sc. Also joc. an ordinary garden (Sh., Edb., Ayr. 2000s). Also attrib. in comb. policy ground, id.Sc. 1724 W. MacFarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 339:
A large fine new house with a great deall of new policy about it.
Sc. 1737 J. Drummond Memoirs Locheill (1842) 28:
A good dwelling-house, with a hall, kitchine, office-houses, pigeon-house, orchard, garden incloseurs, and other policys, agreeable to the nature of the ground.
Sc. 1764 Caled. Mercury (30 June) 314–5:
He has had a long tract of experience in planning and laying out of gardens, hot-houses for pine apples, hot-walls for forcing grapes, with policies in the modern taste, &c. . . . There is a handsome modern house on the estate, with very good offices. and a great deal of natural wood, planting, and policy.
Rxb. 1778 Session Papers, Memorial W. Dickson (26 Feb.) 31:
155 acres of land or thereby, exclusive of roads, strips of policy , and stances of houses.
Per. 1804 T. Thornton Sporting Tour (1896) 67:
His lordship's policy surrounds the house, which stands in the park, and is one of the few in which fallow-deer are seen.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie xxiv.:
I'll just dauner about in the policy till the earl comes in.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Letter vii.:
Instead of murdering botanical names, I will rather conduct you to the policy, or pleasure-garden.
Fif. 1832 Fife Herald (14 June):
It is highly embellished, and completely sheltered on all sides by thriving clumps and strips of planting, tastefully disposed so as to form policy ground and walks.
Sc. 1871 Trans. Highl. Soc. 425:
Being engaged making extensive improvements in the policies and pleasure-grounds.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxv.:
He stepped about Balquhidder like a gentleman in his own walled policy.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xix.:
If ye tak awa the minister's glebe frae him, div ye think the laird wull get leave to keep his gress parks an' his policies?
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 7:
Bye the policies o Ancrum Hoose.
m.Sc. 1954 J. D. Scott The End of an Old Song (1990) 32:
On our visits to Kingisbyre we did not always enter the house. Captain Keith had given us the freedom of the policies - as the grounds surrounding a house are called in Scotland ...
Sc. 1961 Scotsman (19 July):
A dignified and lovely residence, modernised with central heating and finely laid out policies.
wm.Sc. 1979 Robin Jenkins Fergus Lamont 50:
I was the son of an earl's son, but a shipyard joiner was my father. I should have been living in a castle with large policies; instead I was living in a two-room-and-kitchen with a shared back court.
Abd. 1980 David Toulmin Travels Without a Donkey 13:
The gardens and policies of this family have gone completely to seed, one man now doing the work of six in a vast walled garden so like a wilderness.
Edb. 2003:
When my dad tended his lettuces in the gairden he always said he was away for a walk round the policies.

[O.Sc. polici, = 1., 1473, polecy, = 2., 1531, mid. Eng. policie, O.Fr. policie, Lat. politia, Gk. πολιτεία, citizenship, constitution. N.E.D. suggests further influence from Late Lat. polities, elegance, polish, but there is no evidence to support this.]

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"Policy n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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