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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STEID, n., v. Also steed, stede, sti(e)d, steead; staed, sted(d), stedt; steeth(e), stethe, steith, stieth. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. stead, a place. [stid; stɛd; Ork., Cai. sti:ð]

I. n. 1. A site, foundation, base, on which something is erected, esp.: (1) the site of a building or wall (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, s.v. stede; Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 213; Ork. 1929 Marw., steethe; Sh., Ork., Cai. 1971), or of a dunghill. Combs. midden-stead, -steeth, see Midden, 2.(42) and 1916 quot.; steethe-stane, foundation-stone; sted-yard, a yard attached to a house or other building.Ork. 1738 P. Ork. A.S. V. 65:
Upon old Gaistys or the Steith of an old Dyke.
Cai. 1770 Session Papers, Petition G. Bean (13 Jan.) Map:
The steith of a house, interrupted in building.
Ork. c.1836 Old-Lore Misc. I. vii. 264:
Guid hour upon this buirdly biggan; Frae the steethe stane to the riggan.
Sh. 1888 B. R. Anderson Broken Lights 83:
His crü, in raabin' ta da steead, Laid Stiff an' stark his yearald rül.
Ayr. 1909 P. C. Carragher Saltcoats 74:
A space thereabouts was oceupied as a “stedyard.”
Ork. 1912 Old-Lore Misc. V. iii. 119:
The old ale-house is not yet quite “oot o' the steeth,” and the remaining ruins still remind us of the “guid old times.”
Cai. 1916 John o' Groat Jnl. (14 April):
A few loads of black peat were usually put under the dung heap and made a fine manure known as the midden “steeth.”
Ork. 1951 R. Rendall Ork. Variants 12:
I'll bigg apae the green a steethe o' stanes.

(2) Of a corn- or hay-stack or scroo, or of a peat-stack (Sh., Ork., Cai. 1971). Also of a stack of seaweed. Comb. stead-sheaf, one of the sheaves forming the foundation of a corn-stack (see 1930 quot.) (I.Sc. 1971).Ork. 1747 P. Ork. A.S. XII. 53:
The moddel of a Corn Stack steeth.
Ork. 1772 P. Fea MS. Diary (Jan.):
Took in the Steeth and proof of the Otts.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (22 Oct.):
I lifted up da stead shaef.
Ork. 1907 Old-Lore Misc. I. iv. 132:
The tenants therefore were very careful that the “steeth” (bottom) measurement should be correct but after that, the stack was built with outward slopes.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 128:
I rakid da hidmist o' da koll staed tagedder.
Ork. 1930 Orcadian (13 Feb.):
First, set one sheaf upright. Then lean one at this on the north side. Then another on the south side. Then two sheaves leaned at this on the east side. Then two sheaves leaned on the west side. This formed the steethe of seven sheaves.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 19. 35:
Afore he got da stead levelled kirsin enoff for da neist years stack.
Ork. 1989 Scotsman 3 Jun 21:
When he has as many tangles as he can carry, he takes them up to dry on prepared bases placed along the bank above the foreshore out of reach of the sea. These are known as steethes.

(3) Fig. basis, condition, footing.Ayr. 1766 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (18 June):
They were entirely satisfied to take his Declaration upon that stead.

2. A farmhouse and its outbuildings, a Steading (sm.Sc. 1971). Also in n.Eng. dial.Dmf. 1763 Caled. Mercury (10 Sept.):
The farm consists of several rigs and houses, or straths [sic].
Sc. 1776 Outlaw Murray in Child Ballads No. 305 lxxi.:
The Tinnies and the Hangingshaw, My leige, are native steeds of mine.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 14:
Drousy sleep had steek't the steeds O' neighbours far an' near.
Bwk. 1809 J. Kerr Agric. Bwk. 503:
A set of farm buildings is called a stead, or steading.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 115:
Then to their hames at toun or stead The lads an' lassies hameward speed.

3. A mark or imprint of the pressure of one object on another, an impression, track (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 127; Kcb., Dmf. 1971).Gall. 1742 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) II. 397:
The steds of his nails would not be out of her leggs for eight days.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of the Lairds iv.:
He nippit my twa lugs till he left the stedt o' his fingers as plainly upon them.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan III. ix.:
The steds o' Lord Roldan's feet were often seen in the snow.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 137:
In the wat clay at the pit boddom, were the stead of the tackets and sparribles of the auld coal-hewers of langsyne.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man v.:
There were the steads of naked feet.

4. A heavy stone used as a sinker for a fishing-line, esp. the one attached to a buoy-rope and dropped first as the main anchor weight (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 213), also the spot where the stone is dropped (Sh. 1971). Combs. steid huke; steed-stane, -sten, id. (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928)).Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Description 510:
They sink at certain distances what they call ‘Cappie-stanes,' the first that is let down being called the ‘Steeth'. These keep the tows properly fixed to the ground.
Sh. 1892 Manson's Sh. Almanac:
Da first dat comes upo da steid huke wis a muckle skate.

5. A dense stationary shoal of fish, esp. one crowded into small areas in shallow water near rocks (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1971).Sh. 1888 Edmonston & Saxby Home of a Naturalist 297:
A great ‘steethe' of piltacks set in at Muness.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (17 June):
Da year 'at da muckle steed o' sillicks wis at Bersinjuba.

6. In prep. phr. ste(a)d o(f), instead of (m. and s.Sc. 1971). Now only dial. in Eng.Sc. c.1750 Hogg Jacob. Relics (1821) II. 4:
'Stead of going to Perth, he crossed the Firth.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 54:
Gin we bauk her, 'stead of being kind, What we already hadd o' her we'll tyne.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. ix.:
If, stead o' that, ye wad but dine wi' them at the change-house.
Lnk. 1876 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 70:
'Stead o' his guid hat an' wig.
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie Poems 23:
Steed o' heathenish country roamin'.

7. Avail, profit, service (Ork. 1971). Phr. to come in stead, to stand in good stead, to be of service. Arch. or obs. in Eng.m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 260:
He can be nane the waur o' the bit dirdum, and it may come instead [sic] when he's needin' ane some ither day.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 5:
Sheu wus a writin o muckle stead; for sheu wus no' paper, bit skin.

II. v. 1. To put, place, set (Slk. 1950). Obs. in Eng. Ppl.adj. sted, set, placed, established, esp. in a position of difficulty or stress, bested, beset.Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xix.:
O father, we are cruelly sted between God's laws and man's laws.
Dmf. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (May) 161:
I was never sae hard sted but I minded thee.
Bwk. 1823 A. Hewit Poems 88:
Wow Patie lad ye hae been hardly sted.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms xciii. 1:
The warld forby 's fu' sikker sted.

2. tr. and absol. To lay a foundation (for), make the base (of) (a peat or corn stack, stone building or the like) (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., steed, steethe; Sh., Ork. 1971).Ork. 1766–8 P. Fea MS. Diary (26 July, 26 Oct.):
Had my Grive and Jo. Swanay steething a part of the day. . . . My Masons steethed the Stircks house.

3. Of fish: to gather in swarms or shoals. Hence steethin, a shoal of fish (Sh. 1971). Cf. I. 5.Sh. 1897 J. Jakobsen Dial. Sh. 88:
De sillock was steeded in to de very stane.

[O.Sc. stede, place, site, in various senses, from 1375. The v. form is from the n., O.E. stede, with normal lengthening of vowel and no subsequent shortening as in Eng. Cf. Dreid, Heid, Leid, etc. The [ɛ] forms are after Eng. Cf. O.Sc. staid, a foundation, 1563. The I.Sc. usages s.v. I. 4. and 5. have assimilated to the Sc. form from Norw. støde, fishing-ground, støda, crowded mass, Icel. stœði, site, foundation.]

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"Steid n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jun 2024 <>



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