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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

QUEIR, n. Also qui(e)r, queer; quair; quheir, quhair; and whire (Sh.), koir, representing the Eng. form. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. choir, the part of a church east of the nave, the body of choristers, etc. The Sc. form survives only as a prop. name applied to a pre-Reformation cruciform church or part of it still remaining either in use or ruinous.

Phr. kirk and queer, a tug-of-war (Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. vii. 248). [kwi:r, n.Sc. kɔir, kəir, Sh. hwəir = choir.]Sc. 1705 W. Forbes Church-Lands 208:
The Patron or Intrometter with the Parsonage-Tithes is bound to uphold the Quire; and to pay the third of the Stent impos'd, where the Quire is not distinctly known from the rest of the Body of the Church.
Sc. 1713 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 495:
The oppen or vaccuum betuixt the Outer High Kirk and the quier above the stone wall.
Rxb. 1718 J. J. Vernon Par. Hawick (1900) 144:
For avoiding confusion, the communicants are to go out att the Queer door.
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 173:
I but heard fine musick going on in the queir.
Sc. 1765 Lord Thomas & Fair Annet in Child Ballads No. 73 A. 29:
Lord Thomas was buried without Kirk-wa, Fair Annet within the quiere.
Mry. 1804 R. Couper Poetry II. 212:
An aged priest, frae Elgin's queir.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie x.:
Would you like to see the Queer and the King's seat?
Edb. 1816 J. Smith Merry Bridal 1:
Apollo, king o' a' the quair.
Ayr. 1883 A. R. Adamson Rambles 160:
In the centre stands a meagre remnant of Loudoun Kirk, consisting of one gable and a portion called the “queir”, which has been used as the Loudoun family sepulchre from a very early date.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xvi.:
He roostit an' sang till the bit lassies i' the very koir lookit aboot akinda feard like.
Sh. 1900 Manson's Sh. Almanac:
Its “quier” or vault, still fairly well preserved, formed the burial place of the Mitchells of Westshore . . . Quier and voolt in the east end of the church of Tingwall.
w.Lth. 1914 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VII 129:
That part of the Preceptory [of Torphichen] which remains today is the transept, or “quhair”, as it is known locally.
Rxb. 1961 F. G. Peake Change at St. Boswells 56:
Jutting out from one of the side walls of this church was a smaller building known as a Queer.

[O.Sc. queyr, from 1375, Mid.Eng. quere, O.Fr. cuer, Lat. chorus. The development of the diphthong which takes place in Eng., as also in briar, friar, does not occur in Sc.]

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"Queir n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Apr 2024 <>



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