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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.

SKERRIE, n. Also skerry, skerri, skirrie (Sc. 1887 Jam.). An isolated rock or islet in the sea (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.), freq. one covered at high tide. Gen.(esp. I.)Sc. In pl. a chain or group of such rocks, a reef. Freq. in place-names, as Out Skerries in Sh. Phr. to meet the skerry-men, see 1904 quot. [′skɛre]Ork. 1774 G. Low Tour (1879) 12:
Seals are more frequent on these rocks that appear at low water and here called Skerries.
Mry. 1837 Trans. Highl. Soc. 436:
The sandstone extends a far way into the Firth, in the forms of reefs or skerries, which are very dangerous to navigation.
n.Sc. 1854 H. Miller Schools xxv.:
The fearful skerries of Shandwick, where so many gallant vessels have perished.
Wgt. 1875 W. McIlwraith Guide 65:
Plant decked cliffs, and wave worn skerries.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (13 Nov.):
If doo met nae idder body whin doo wis furt, doo's met da skerry men, as da folk wis wint ta say.
Sh. 1904 E.D.D.:
To meet the skerry-men, an evasive answer given by one that does not want to tell whom they have met. Skerry-men are seldom met; thus it signifies to meet a person whom you did not expect to see.
Sh. 1968 New Shetlander No. 85. 11:
Swimming along the shore close to a skerry near Symbister.
em.Sc. 1988 James Robertson in Joy Hendry Chapman 52 72:
An I'm no shair about thae three bodachs, juist hou lang they'll be there, wi their bairds tae the grun an growin lik sea-ware aa roun their skerry, ...

[O.Sc. skeray, id., 1549, dim. form ad. O.N. sker, a rock in the sea. See also Scaur, n.1]

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"Skerrie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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