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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

SER, v.2 To preserve. Arch. in quot. Obs. in Eng.wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 2:
He sairt sweet airs o' Caledon.

Now surviving in exclam. phr. ser's, sair's, serse, sirs(s), sirce, -se, surce, -se, short for God, etc. (pre)serve us, used in expressions of surprise, pain, weariness, grief, annoyance (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; n.Sc., em.Sc.(a), wm. and sm.Sc. 1970). Also in variant forms (o) sirs (me), ah, sirse, eh sirs, (o) sirs a day (Sc. 1825 Jam.), — the day, my surse, sairs a', sircy (Gall. 1900 R. J. Muir Mystery Muncraig xix.). In 1847 quot. used as a n., the exclamation sirs, a sigh.Sc. 1704 J. Clark Picture of Present Generation 11:
O Sirs hath not this with a Witness frequently been our Guilt and gate.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 19:
Poor kindly Beast. Ah Sirs! how sic should be Mair tender-hearted mony a time than we!
Sc. 1753 R. Shirra Remains (1850) 191:
O Sirs! all the men on earth, and all the Angels in heaven, cannot supply your many and numerous wants.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Elegy on 1788 4:
A Towmont, sirs, is gane to wreck!
Rnf. a.1810 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 113:
Serse! how your tail an wings are dreepin! Ye've surely been in piteous keepin.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xvi.:
As nothing was to be got from this distracted chorus, excepting “Lord guide us!” and “Eh sirs!”
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 176:
The Lord be praised for a' his mercies, Nae mair we're grainin' whows or sirses.
Sc. 1867 N. Macleod Starling v.:
Oh! it's a pity! Sirs a day! Waes me!
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxix.:
O sirs me! that's no kind of language!
Edb. 1892 J. W. McLaren Scots Poems 13:
Hech surse the day! when dowgs protection Are forced to claim frae foul dissection.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders vii.:
But the seven bauld brithers, sirce me, but they'll be wild men when they come hame.
Ayr. 1896 H. Johnston Dr Congalton vi.:
My surce, he'll leeve a heap less than a hunner years gin he be na taught to keep a ceeviller tongue in his haed.
Arg. 1912 N. Munro Ayr. Idylls 82:
“About that period,” says I; “ah, sirse! I must allow it was a long one.”
Abd. 1941 Bon-Accord (27 Nov.) 6:
I min' aboot Luther, eh ay, fine, he had thirteen bairns. Sair's a', thirteen's eneuch.

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"Ser v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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