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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PRUIF, n., adj., v. Also prufe, preuf(e); ¶proffe (Lnk. 1708 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 18); prief, preef. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. proof. See also Pruive. [prøf, prɪf]

I. n. 1. As in Eng. The form in 1937 quot. is arch. Phr. to pit in prief, to prove.Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 58:
Behad a wee, till ye get better preef.
Lnk. 1863 J. Hamilton Poems 174:
Yer wee shilpit weanie's a pitifu' prufe.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 296:
Ye'll see ae preef o't.
Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 188:
But come, as words are win', let's see How ye'll pit this in prief to me.
Ork. 1907 Old-Lore Misc. i. ii. 63:
Dat waas preuf anouch 'at he waasna far awa.
Sc. 1917 D. G. Mitchell Clachan Kirk 149:
He had shown them a prief o' His pooer.
wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 7:
I took the arles of a six-month fee Frae a carl wha put me to prief.

Specif. (1) in agriculture: the act of estimating the quality and yield of a grain-crop by examining a random sample, the sample so examined, “a mode of ascertaining the amount of grain in a corn-stack when it is to change hands” (Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; Uls. 1966). Also attrib. in prief-barley, -corn, -sheaf (Mry. 1930; Abd., Per. 1966), -straw, etc., the barley, corn, etc., selected for sampling or which has been sampled (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 134). Comb. proof-man, the person appointed to carry out the testing. Phrs. to cast to (the) proof, to assess or estimate quantity from a sample. Hence comb. to proof-cast, id.; to take proof of, to carry out a sampling on, to test or assess.e.Lth. 1713 Country-Man's Rudiments 35:
The Farmer himself should also cast all his Stacks to the Proof.
Sc. 1722 Atholl MSS. (21 April):
John Davidsone in Lauhill and David Hepburn in Tullibardine proof men Chosen and appointed be his Grace the Duke of Atholl for the Casting to proof the tuenty three stacks of Corn and one stack of bear standing in his Grace barn yeard.
Ags. 1729 Arbroath T.C. Rec. MS. (18 Nov.):
The proof straw shall be given back again to Mr. Hutcheon which the Town is to satisfie the Corn Caster for.
Abd. 1740 Session Papers, Fergusson v. Arbuthnot, State of Process 3:
He . . . paid Multures therefore to the present Tacksman of the Mill of Aden, which was given by the Proof-Sheaf.
Ork. 1757 Session Papers, Galloway v. Morton (12 Nov.) 117:
John Seatter, Mason in Westray, depones, That for these several Years past, he has been employed in the Island of Westray as a Proof-man, and as such, in these Years, has Proof-cast the Corns of those who employed him . . . He has several times measured Mr. Balfour's Proof — in the Bushel Mr. Balfour had for the purpose.
Inv. 1769 I. F. Grant Old Highl. Farm (1924) 154:
10 bolls 3 firlots over and above the small proof.
Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 180:
The quantity of grain in the stack is ascertained by the proof-man, a professional character in the country, chosen mutually by the seller and buyer.
Gall. 1875 Trans. Highl. Soc. 20:
Arbitrators, who take proof of the harvest; that is, every twentieth stook is selected, stacked, and thrashed separately, the rest of the crop being computed by the produce of the proof. The thrashing of the proof takes place at Candlemas, when the one-half of the produce is valued and paid, the other half is payable at Whitsunday.

(2) a text from Scripture appended to a particular doctrine adopted by the Presbyterian Church in any of its catechisms, by way of proof or illustration giving warrant of it; in pl., esp. applied to those of the Shorter Catechism, freq. printed as a school book.Sc. 1729 A. Law Educ. Edb. (1965) 81:
I prescribe Monday nights a Generall preufe which I take an account of next morning immediately after prayers.
Sc. 1771 Shorter Catechism Title:
The Shorter Catechism, agreed upon by The Assembly of Divines at Westminster with the Assistance of the Commissioners from the Church of Scotland . . . with Proofs from the Scripture.
Lnk. 1824 Sc. Peasants xviii.:
There was a little wee creature here with his mother . . . that said away at the proofs like an auld man. I dinna expect the proofs from Johnie yet, but I do expect the Catechism.
Kcd. 1853 W. Jamie Emigrant's Family 105:
Intil his bonnet were the proofs, For weel he lo'ed to learn.
Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 86:
The “proofs”, which the dominie prided himself on having been the first in our Presbytery to compel his scholars to tackle.

(3) Sc. Law: “the method by which the disputed facts in a cause are judicially determined” (Sc. 1916 J. Maclaren Ct. of Session Practice 537), including the taking of evidence by a judge or, esp. a.1816, by a commissioner appointed by the Court, to determine the issues on which trial will take place. With the introduction of jury trial to civil cases in Scot. in 1815, proof acquired the added significance of trial before a judge only as distinct from trial by jury (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 69). Phr. to take (a) proof(s), of a judge or commissioner: to hear evidence.Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institute I. iv. 230:
Where Facts pleaded are not instantly verified, the Lord Ordinary admits the same to Proof; and determines the Manner of Proof.
Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 373:
The duties of commissioners in taking proofs, under authority of the Court of Session . . . when proof is completed, the report of the evidence, authenticated by the subscription of the commissioner and clerk, is transmitted to the clerk of the process, and reported to the judge, who is to decide on its legal effect.
Sc. 1879 A. Mackay Practice Ct. Session 10:
Under the existing practice a certain discretion is exercised by the Court in determining what cases are . . . fitted for proof before a judge and not by jury trial.
Sc. 1903 Erskine Principles (Rankine) 551:
Where the parties are agreed as to the necessity for inquiry regarding the facts, the Lord Ordinary appoints a diet of proof, or in certain cases orders issues with a view to the trial of the cause by a jury. When the Lord Ordinary takes a proof, each party adduces witnesses to prove his statements, and the proof is followed by a hearing on evidence.
Sc. 1931 Encycl. Laws Scot. XI. 576:
A further curtailment of jury trial arises from the provisions of the Evidence (Scotland) Act, 1866, by which, if both parties consent or if special cause be shewn, the Lord Ordinary may order proof instead of jury trial. This the Lord Ordinary decides at the diet for the adjustment of issues.

2. A note, jotting, memorandum.Gsw. 1931 F. Niven Paisley Shawl 51:
Make a prief of it in your note-book.

II. adj. As in Eng., in comb. proof-a-shot, impervious to, unassailable by, an adj. use of the earlier n.phr. proof of lead, -shot, “a protection, according to the notions of the vulgar, from the influence of leaden bullets, by the power of enchantment” (Jam.).Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 80:
A Heart . . . Proof-a-shot to Birth or Money.

III. v. 1. To test, try out, verify, prove, assess the value of; specif. to try out by tasting, to taste (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, preif). Cf. Pree.Sc. 1745 S.C. Misc. V. 356:
As I am not the maker of the stories, so I proof them a day or two before I write them down.

2. To assess the quality and content of a given quantity of grain by assaying a random sample (Ork., ne.Sc., Wgt. 1966). Cf. I. 1. (1).n.Sc. 1834 H. Miller Scenes (1857) 146:
He was engaged in what is termed proofing the stacks of a corn-yard.

3. To try the productivity of a fishing-ground by making a test haul (Ork. 1825 Jam.).

[O.Sc. preiff, prowe, proof, a.1400, pruf, a witness, evidence, 1456, preve, id., 1572, pruf, of grain, 1502, proof of lead, -shot, a.1700. The e forms are the orig., from O.Fr. pr(u)eve, from Lat. o in proba (4th c.) in an accented syllable, becoming obs. in Eng. in 16th but surviving later in Sc.; the o forms, which became ui [ø] in m.Sc., and ee [i] in ne.Sc., derive from the unaccented o in the Fr. verbal forms prouver, etc., Lat. probare.]

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



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