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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SELF, pron., pref. For Sc. forms and usages see Sel, pron. Sc. combs. and phr.: 1. self-and-same, self-same, identical (Ork. 1969). Obs. in Eng. in 17th c.; 2. self-bore, a natural perforation in wood or stone, e.g. by the falling-out of a knot or by the action of a water-drip (see quot.). Hence self-bored stane; 3. self-contained, of a house: having an entry and grounds separate from those of its neighbours, detached or terraced, as opposed to a flatted or apartment house, a house within itself (see House, I. 3. (5)). Gen.Sc. The usage has recently been extended to include undivided flats with their own doors; 4. self-willy, self-willed, pig-headed. Obs. in Eng.1. Sc. 1838 Wilson's Tales of the Borders IV. 101:
At the self an' same spot where Ellen Graeme had threatened him!
Ags. 1892 A. Reid Howetoon 69:
The very next time I was here I thocht the self an same thin'.
s.Sc. 1904 W. G. Stevenson Glen Sloken ii.:
Ye can lippen to me to dae my best the self and same as if it wus for masel'.
2. Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 195:
It is said that this is the only peep-hole through which the gambols of the Fairies could be viewed with impunity. If one looked through a key-hole, the glamour could be cast over his eyes and he himself be punished. But if an inquisitive person was so fortunate as to find a self-bore, he might espy all the proceedings of Oberon and his retinue, or even of the more dangerous Hecate, and himself escape scartfree. . . . Self-bored stane. A kind of water-stone, found in a perforated state, used by the superstitious for curing or preventing the attacks of the night-mare, by being hung up within the bed in which the person sleeps.
3. Gsw. c.1760 Glasgow Past & Present (1884) 393:
This fine old edifice was the town-house of Mr. Houston of Jordanhill. In common parlance, these gentlemen's houses were distinguished from the “flats” by the very odd phrase “self-contained,” perpetuated to the present day.
Edb. 1767 Caled. Mercury (1 June):
To be Let until Whitsunday 1768, and entered on immediately, A Self-contained House, pleasantly situated.
Sc. 1829 Scott Redguantlet Note E:
Each house was, in the phrase of the appraisers, “finished within itself,” or, in the still newer phraseology “self-contained.”
Dmb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VIII. 126:
Each family in these groups occupies a separate or self-contained cottage.
Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe xxvii.:
The one nearest the church was a “self-contained house” — as the good townspeople generally termed a house which had but one tenant and one door.
Sc. 1967 Scotsman (14 March) 16:
Desirable Self-contained House, comprising 3 public 4 bed rooms, kitchen and basement.
4. Ags. 1858 People's Jnl. (5 June) 2:
Sae impatient was I o' paternal controul, sae ootrageously self-willy.

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"Self pron., prefix". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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