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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.

SERVE, v.1 Also sairve. Sc. forms and usages. For other Sc. forms and usages, see Ser, v.1 1. Sc. form of Eng. serve.m.Sc. 1979 Donald Campbell in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 67:
Sairvin under Hughie's covers,
cauldly ye repaid his feasts.
In your bed a hundred lovers
crawled athort your clairty breists.
Sc. usages:As in Eng. Phr., combs. and derivs.: (1) server, ¶-our, (i) in thatching: the assistant who passes the straw up to the thatcher (Kcb. 1970). Cf. Eng. dial. serve, to do this; (ii) one who hands round refreshments at a funeral (Ayr., Kcb. 1970). Also in Yks. dial.; (iii) a salver or tray (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 266; ne., em.Sc.(a), Rnf. 1970). Rare and obs. in Eng.; (2) servin(g)-lass, a maid-servant (Cld. 1880 Jam.); (3) to serve heir, to declare (a person) heir to an estate through legal process formerly by an inquest of a jury, then, since 1847, by petition to the Sheriff, and now, since the Act of 1964, obsol. See further under Service and Retour. Also transf. The full form of the expression, serve and retour, is found in the 1770 quot.(1) (i) Ayr. 1725 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (10 Nov.):
For twelve dayes of a thatcher & als many of a server ten pound sixteen shilling.
(ii) Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) S. 13:
In the burial Handlings in the country, the wright, or the Server, or the Master of Ceremonies, sometimes making fun, in selecting an unfit glundie, to say awa; or to be chaplain.
(iii) Sc. 1707 Edb. Courant (16–18 April):
A Server to the Value of three pound Sterling, as a Prize for a Horse Race.
Rs. 1727 W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 133:
Pewter spoons, server, basone.
Dmf. 1757 Dmf. Testaments MS. XIV. 392:
4 large glass servers 5/ -.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary iii.:
A small silver server of exquisite old workmanship.
Ayr. 1845 Ayrshire Wreath 137:
The server, heapit fou wi' wee buttered bakes.
Edb. 1877 J. Smith Canty Jock 52:
The conversation lozenges went round on a servour.
Sc. 1897 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 297:
Two brass candle-sticks, which were reflected in the pair of servers which stood against the wall.
Fif. 1916 G. Blaik Rustic Rhymes 168:
A server jist oor common tray.
Abd.1 1929:
Tak the best server an' pit oot the cheese an' breid an' a dram.
(2) Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 33:
A servin'-lass cam' wi' a cowe, an' she Soopt doon the Speeder, flimsy wab, an' a'.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood v.:
She fleyed Johnnie awa' frae the door when he was for daffin' wi' the serving lasses.
(3) Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institutes I. ii. 81:
The Inquest, if they find the Points of the Brief clear instructed, they serve the claimant Heir in special, in the Lands, etc.
Sc. 1770 Morison Decisions 14480:
Thomas Finlay having got himself served and retoured heir to his brother.
Sc. 1836 Lockhart Scott 1.:
He should act as chancellor of the jury about to serve his Grace heir (as the law phrase goes) to the Scottish estates of his family.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona i.:
Today I was served heir to my position in life.
Sc. 1899 W. K. Morton Manual 419:
To obtain a feudal or real right in the lands, he must . . . go through the judicial procedure of being decerned or served heir by a judge by a Decree of Service, and thereafter record an extract of such decree.
Sc. 1927 Encycl. Laws Scot. III. 195:
From and after that date [1847] every person desirous of being served heir, whether in general or special, and in whatever character, to a person deceased should, instead of applying as formerly for a brieve from Chancery, present a petition of service to the sheriff in the manner provided by the Act. The procedure is now regulated by the Act of 1868.

2. Of clothes: to suit, fit, be appropriate for (Bnff., Ags., Per. 1970). Also fig. Obs. in Eng. Cf. Ser, v.1, 2.Sc. 1748 Smollett Gil Blas I. ii. iii.:
A doublet and breeches that would have served a man four times as big as me.
Sc. 1790 Lockhart Scott vi.:
This character would serve most of them.
Fif. 1879 S. Tytler Bride's Pass v.:
It would better serve a pinging lassie than a bold lad.

3. To give food, etc., specif. by way of charity, to (a beggar). Also in Eng. dial.Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost xiii.:
Two bonny bairns . . . going from house to house, like the hungry babes in the wood; . . . as I was seeing them served myself at our door.

4. To satisfy or sate with food or drink. Cf. Ser, v.1, 4.m.Lth. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller 24:
A fourth (bumper) to their own healths, by which time they were all, as the reader may conjecture, pretty well served.

5. Vbl.n. serving, a beating. See Ser, v.1, 4.(3)(ii).Abd. 1847 Gill Binklets 30:
John followed up the chase, giving Dickles now and then a serving about the legs.

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"Serve v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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