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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

SWIRE, n. Also swyre, sweire; sweyer (Dmf. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales I. 260); sware, swair(d) (Sc. 1826 Broom of Cowdenknows in Child Ballads No. 217 F. xiv., N. xxvii.); squair, square, squyre. A hollow or declivity between hills, freq. one through which a road runs, a hollow or level place near the top of a hill (s.Sc. 1702 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Lth. 1808 Jam.; Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 156; Peb., Lnk., s.Sc. 1972). Freq. in place-names in Peb. and s.Sc. [′swəi(ə)r]Sc. 1724 Ramsay Ever Green II. 224–6:
At the Reid-Squair the Tryst was set . . . He rewd the Raid of the Reid-squyre.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 267:
Then from Dewar's swair I tripp'd on my shanks.
Sc. c.1800 Jamie Telfer in Child Ballads No. 190 A. ii.:
The first ae guide that they met with Was high up in Hardhaugh swire.
Slk. 1824 Hogg Confessions (1874) 474:
He approached the swire at the head of the dell.
Sc. 1902 P. H. Brown Hist. Scot. II. 163:
The Borderers, when they took refuge in their swires or passes, could safely defy the terrors of the law.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 44:
Wi' its ballants fillin' a' the swyre.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 17:
Ti the sooth, ayownt the sweire, stuide Black Law.
Slk. 1962 Stat. Acc.3 370:
Over the pass known as the “Swire” to the village of Ettrick Bridge End.

[O.Sc. swyr, id., 1375, O. North. swīra, the neck, O.N. svíri, neck, ridge of land.]

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"Swire n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Feb 2024 <>



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