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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.

TABLE, n., v. Also †tebell, tebill; teeble (Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 44). See P.L.D. § 164.

Sc. forms of Eng. table.Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie in Neil R. MacCallum Lallans 51 (1998) 10:
"Yin Ferryloupers indeed!" said the Horse. "Am I no tae be speired?"
"Weel," said the Aald Man, kindo sheemed like, "I wad askid thee teu, bit thee teeble mainners is no cheust aa they might be for meetan yin Men fae the sooth."
Dundee 1994 Matthew Fitt in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 175:
"Wha's goat ten pence?" He come stoarmin oot fae the phone buckie. "Gei's ten pence," he demandit aff an aald boy, setting oan his lane at a tebill.

Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. As in Eng. Combs. and phr.: (1) table-bass, a table-mat; (2) table-cloot, a table-cloth. Gen.Sc.; (3) table-cross, a stand of wood or metal shaped in the form of a cross on which to rest a hot dish on a table; (4) table-heid, the surface of a table, a table-top (Cai., Abd., Ags., Fif., w.Lth., Lnk. 1972). See Heid, I. 5.; (5) table-kiver, a table-cover; (6) table-rangers, a nonsense word found in children's rhyme quoted. The more common form of the rhyme is April rainers of which this is appar. a corruption; (7) table-seat, (i) a church pew constructed in a square with a table in the centre, still seen in some 18th c. churches (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (ii) see 2.; (8) table-(tomb)-stane, a flat gravestone (Abd. 1964, -steen). Gen.Sc. Cf. Thruchstane; (9) table-whaukie, a children's game (see quot.); (10) to coup the tables, to turn the tables, give tit for tat. For Green Tables see Green, II. 1. (19) (b).(1) Sc. 1781 Caled. Mercury (17 Jan.):
Plate-warmers, table-basses, cork-screws.
(2) Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 28:
I had clean forgotten the table-cloot.
(3) Sc. 1781 Caled. Mercury (1 Jan.):
Plated Tea-pots, Table crosses.
(4) Ags. 1891 Arbroath Guide (5 Sept.) 3:
She laid her wee basket on the table-heid.
Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 105:
The tea things on the table-heid.
(5) s.Sc. 1818 J. Affleck Waes o' Whisky 12:
First comes butt a table-kiver Bleach'd as white as virgin snaw.
(6) Sc. c.1825 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes (1870) 46:
What will our eight, boys? Eight's the table rangers.
(8) Lnk. 1858 G. Roy Generalship 92:
We had jumped the dyke and were seated on a table tombstone.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 93:
It's here our Merren lang has lain, A wee bewast the table-stane.
Edb. 1900 E. Strain Elmslie's Drag-net 165:
It's a wee like a table-tombstane.
Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 100:
On a table-stane in the kirkyard.
Fif. 1931 J. Wilkie Bygone Fife 275:
Still certain old graves are to be found covered with “table-stones”.
(9) Fif. c.1850 Peattie MS.:
A game of cards played by boys and youths in which the loosers suffer the penalty of laying their hands open on the table and get so many whacks with a twisted handkerchief.
(10) Ayr. 1896 H. Johnston Dr Congalton vii.:
I coupit the tables by saying it would be wicer like if she got her ain guid-brither to pit a halter on sic vicious bruits.

2. In Sc. Church usage, with the def. art. and freq. in pl.: the Communion Table, the Communion, one of a series of dispensings of the Sacrament by relays on a Communion Sunday, now obsol. Comb. table-seat, the pew next to the Communion Table in a church. Phrs. to fence the tables, see Fence, I. 4.; to gang to the Tables, to partake of the Communion (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 188); to serve the tables, of a clergyman: to administer the Sacrament; of the elders: to distribute the elements to the tables.Sc. 1709 W. Steuart Collections ii. iv. § 21:
While the tables are dissolving and filling, there be always singing of some portion of a psalm.
Sc. 1726 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) III. 268:
We have great numbers of communicants . . . ordinarily a thousand, at our tables.
Sc. 1730 T. Boston Memoirs (1853) 150:
Going out in time of serving the tables, and finding the meeting without wanting a minister.
Sc. 1800 A. Carlyle Autobiog. (1860) 212:
It is the custom for elders to serve tables in sets and by turns, that all may serve and none be fatigued.
Sc. 1819 J. G. Lockhart Peter's Letters lxxv.:
After the address was terminated, those who had been its immediate objects withdrew, and left their seats free for the occupation of another company, and so in the same manner did company succeed company throughout the whole of the day — minister succeeding minister — in the duty of addressing them — which is called in their language serving the tables.
Ayr. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 V. 235:
It was the original intention that the table-seats should be free.
Wgt. 1870 Gall. Gazette (18 June):
All the members will communicate at once, instead of at a series of “tables”.
Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Kincaid's Widow vi.:
Serving the tables or addressing the congregations from the tents.
Kcb. 1901 R. D. Trotter Gall. Gossip 8:
There wus usually three services at the tables, an three sermons till them by three different ministers.

3. Sc. Church Hist.: (1) gen. in pl.: the tour boards or committees which were formed early in 1638 from the supporters of Presbyterianism to resist the policy of Charles I, and which later in the year framed the National Covenant. Hist.Sc. 1828 Scott Tales Grandfather xli.:
More than thirty peers, and a very great proportion of the gentry of Scotland, together with the greater part of the royal burghs had agreed not merely to oppose the Service-book, but to act together in resisting the further intrusions of Prelacy. They were kept in union and directed by representatives appointed from among themselves and forming separate Committees, or, as they were termed, Tables or Boards of Management.
Sc. 1848 J. Aikman Hist. Scot. III. 441:
The Tables, a designation which originated in the division of the commissioners into separate bodies or tables. A standing committee of four from each table was appointed to reside in Edinburgh.
Sc. 1909 A. Lang Hist. Scot. III. 28:
Here, in these four bodies of representatives, called “The Tables” was the nucleus of an organisation, revolutionary, so far as it resisted Government.
Sc. 1928 J. Buchan Montrose 80:
The Committee of the Tables asked for the withdrawal of the obnoxious canons and service book.

(2) the table below the Moderator's chair in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at which the officials and conveners of committees sit; hence the official element in the Church.Sc. 1888 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 315:
The Assembly are . . . justly proud of the ability, the wisdom, and the eloquence which “The Table” brings to bear upon the important matters entrusted to them.

4. (1) Appar. a scaffold, high platform.Slg. 1702 Burgh Rec. Stirling (1889) 96:
They ordain the great bell to be taken doun, and in order theirto appoint the treasurer to send a man and horse to Borrowstounes for ane tebell.

(2) A platform or plate on which coals are screened and picked (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 66; Fif., w.Lth., wm.Sc. 1972).

5. In hedging: an inverted sod, placed round the roots of a tree on a bank or ditch side from which the soil has been displaced in weeding, and so serving to re-cover the exposed roots. Also in Eng. dial.Sc. 1829 Quarterly Jnl. Agric. I. 605:
The hedger then takes them and inverts them, with the grass-side downwards, upon the upper edge of the sod, and beats them even with it, and pushes them quite in contact, and below the root. This sod is called the “table”.

6. A flat surface formed by one or more stones on which the target stone is placed in the game of duckstone. Cf. II. 2.w.Lth. 1920:
Some flattish stones are raised up and the “deukie” or keeper of the table puts his stone or “deuk” on the top of them. The others are gathered each with a stone at a throwable distance in front of the table. One throws his stone at the call of “Deuk” from the “Deukie”. He may miss and retrieve his stone to take his turn again later. Another may knock the “deuk” off the table when the “deukie” has to get it back on to the table before the other can get his stone and run back to the others.

II. v. 1. To lay a matter for consideration before a meeting or other authoritative body. Now St. Eng. but first attested in Sc.Ayr. 1702 Mun. Irvine (1891) II. 115:
The Queens business being tabled nothing ought to justle it out.
Wgt. 1715 Session Rec. Whithorn MS. (2 June):
The whole process be extracted and tabled before the Presbytrie.

2. Sc. Law: to lodge a summons before a court as a preliminary to its being called. See Tabulate.Sc. 1785 Session Papers, Buchanan v. Buchanan (8 April) App. 8:
To lybelling and tabling at the instance of Miss Buchanan against George Black.

3. In phr. table the deuk, the game of duck-stone, in which the players have to throw stones to dislodge another stone already placed on the “table” (w.Lth. 1972). See I. 6.

[O.Sc. tabill (at Communion), 1578, table, = II. 2., 1528.]

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"Table n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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