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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SEMI, n. Also semie. A student in the second year of his university course, usu. applied to the Arts faculty and now only in the Universities of St. Andrews and Aberdeen. Also in full semi-bachelor, semi-bajan, -bejant, see Bajan and note below. Also attrib. Comb. semi-poudering, appar. a student's jollification at St. Andrews University to celebrate his entry into the semi-class when the students were allowed to powder their hair [′sɛme].Sc. 1702 Munim. Univ. Gsw. (M.C.) II. 374:
John Dunlop a semi his being found drinking in an alehouse.
Sc. 1708 Univ. Edb. Charters (Morgan 1937) 164:
It shall be lawfull for any student to enter to the Semie Class or any superior Class, albeit he was not a Begen.
Sc. 1713 Two Students (Dickinson 1952) 76:
Of expences for Alexr. at the Semi-poudering. £2. 8. 0.
Sc. 1787 Session Papers, Anderson v. Millar (20 April) 25:
It appears to have been the practice of this University [Glasgow] for time immemorial, to give the degree of Master of Arts to no Scotsman who had not studied one year or session in the Logic or Semi-class.
Sc. 1799 Stat. Acc.1 XXI. App. 84:
Semi Class. — The second year of the academical course is employed in teaching the elements of the mathematical sciences.
Sc. 1807 J. Grierson St Andrews 187:
Those [students] of the second year, who usually attend the second Greek, second Latin, second mathematics and logic, are termed Semies, probably from their being considered, as it were, half through with their course, this being four years.
Sc. 1868 G. MacDonald R. Falconer ii. xix.:
Robert must start fair with the rest of the semies.
Sc. 1891 College Echoes (15 Jan.):
The present designations [at St Andrews] — Second-year man, Third-year man, and Fourth year man are colourless and awkward. Why should not Bejants become Semis, then Tertians, and close their career with the melancholy glory of Magistrand?
Sc. 1946 R. G. Cant Univ. St Andrews 17:
By the third year the student had normally attained to the dignity of bachelor, and in the intermediate stage before this, he tended to be referred to as a semi-bachelor or semi. . . . At St Andrews semi-bajan had replaced semi-bachelor as the full title of the second year early in the eighteenth century.
Sc. 1954 Bulletin (15 Nov.):
Bejants (first year students) of St Andrews University last night claimed that they had kidnapped some of the leaders of their traditional rivals, the Semi-Bejants.
Sc. 1956 Edb. Univ. Calendar xxxviii.:
The “Bajans”, the “Semi-Bajans”,' the “Bachelors”, and the “Magistrands”, as the Students of the first, second, third, and fourth year were respectively styled.
ne.Sc. 1980 James Fowler Fraser Doctor Jimmy 43:
First year students were bajans and bajanellas, second year students were semis and semolinas, third year students were tertians and tertianas, and fourth year honours students were known as magistrands. The only class that had a name at Marischal was the first year medicals, i.e. lambs.

[O.Sc. semi, 1626, (Latin) semi-bejanus, id., later taken to mean semi-baccalaureus, one half-way to his bachelor's degree, where such a degree was given at the end of the third year. Semi-bejane is found in 1647.]

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"Semi n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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