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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WHA, pron., n. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. who, interrog. and relative pron.

I. pron. A. Forms. Nom. wha (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per., Fif., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; I.Sc., Cai., Inv., em.Sc. (a), wm.Sc., Gall., Uls. 1973); whae (Sc. 1788 Poet. Dialogues 2; s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of the Lairds xxxii.; Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde & Tweed 81; Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 249; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; em.Sc. (b), Lnk., Ayr., s.Sc. 1974), whay (Edb. 1790 A. Wilson Poems (1791) 102); whee (s.Sc. 1873 D.S.C.S. 91; Dmf. 1915 D. W. Beattie Oor Gate-En' 49; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); ¶whea (Rxb. 1904 Border Mag. (July) 132 [I.Sc., em.Sc. (a), wm.Sc., Gall. (h)ʍɑ:, ʍǫ:; em.Sc. (b), s.Sc. ʍe:; s.Sc. + ʍɪə. See P.L.D. §§ 34, 85, 97.1.]. For n.Sc. forms see Fa, pron. In liter. usage, esp. in I. 2. the gen. form is wha, ignoring dialect distinctions. The arch. form quha is occas. found. Accus. wham [ʍɑm]. Genit. whase (Ayr. 1787 Burns To the Unco Guid i.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 253; em.Sc. (a), wm., sm.Sc. 1974), whause (Fif. 1885 W. Wilson Echoes of the Anvil 230; Slg., Uls. 1929), wha's (Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 19; Rnf. 1840 J. Mitchell Wee Steeple's Ghaist 168); whaes (Peb. 1838 W. Welsh Poems 16; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai), whais (Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 58); ¶whizz (Arg. 1882 Arg. Herald (3 June)) [em.Sc, (a), wm., sm.Sc. ʍɑ:z, ʍǫ:z; em.Sc. (b), s.Sc. ʍe:z]. The form whase (Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 139) represents wha is. Comb. whae(v)er, whaiver, Sc. form of Eng. whoever (Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 243; Ayr. 1784 Burns Twa Herds iv.; Dmf. 1836 J. Mayne Siller Gun 44; Abd. 1884 D. Grant Keckleton 19; m.Sc. 1941 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 30).m.Sc. 1979 William J. Tait in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 37:
Nou, ayont the trees
Whase ilka branch maun be booed doon
Wi a toansil-happy franc-tireur,
There liggs a nest, an eyrie, quate
This fifteen months.
wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 29:
Fetch the lad ben, McKillop. Be cannie wi him. (Duncan McKillop goes into the room. To Janet) Hae a blanket and bowster haundie. (Janet goes to the bed and fetches a blanket and pillow) Whause ring's this?
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 53:
lowpin flingers, dancin-mad
wi fearsome adoration
o a dour god
whause send's thunner-stound.
m.Sc. 1990 Douglas Lipton in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 8: The Day I Met the Queen Mother 62:
It's whaes oil?
Och, aye, Ah ken fine.
Fif. 1998 Tom Hubbard Isolde's Luve-Daith 3:
We dreidit sicht o the kinrik whase puir king
Hochled his lane ti walcome us ashore,
Nae side ti him ava: this selsame Mark,
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 33:
'This is an uncommon bairn,' said the minister. 'Whase bairn is he?'
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 66:
'I reckoned ma income frae the Rock was nae mair than fifty pund per annum, and that was frae sendin lads ower tae lift the solans' chicks, but I tellt Lauderdale it could be doubled if there was a permanent garrison pit there, the birds managed on a proper basis, and sundry charges levied on whaiver micht be pit tae live in the place. ... '

B. Usages. 1. As an interrog. in direct or indirect speech: who.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 51:
Now wat ye wha I met Yestreen?
Ayr. 1785 Burns Halloween viii.:
Wha 't was, she wadna tell.
Sc. a.1802 Erlinton in Child Ballads No. 8 A. iv.:
Whae's this, whae's this chaps at my bower-door, At my bower-door, no at the gin?
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxiii.:
He tell't me whae ye were.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 136:
“It seems fox-hunting, too, is cruel.” “To wham? Is't cruel to dowgs?”
Rxb. 1828 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1922) 37:
Whae does he see but a little, wee creaturie?
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxix.:
And whae are ye?
m.Lth. 1894 W. G. Stevenson Puddin' 46:
Wha d'ye get yer coals frae?
Ags. 1899 Barrie W. in Thrums iii.:
In Thrums they say, ‘Wha did she get? ' and ‘Wha did he tak?'.
Bwk. 1900 A. Allan Channelkirk 245:
Whay wis yible for the menister, an' whay wisna!
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle iii.:
It wad depend a'thegether on wha wants to ken.
m.Sc. 1934 Chambers's Jnl. (Jan.) 9:
I've gotten this for your honour from ye ken whae.
m.Sc. 1947 Scots Mag. (April) 11:
'Deed? . . . An' whae micht They be?
Sc. 1993 Kathleen Jamie in Joy Hendry Chapman 74-5 80:
Sure enough: from the back of the crowd
someone growls
whae do you think y'ur?
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 22:
'Christ, I don't know,' said the drunk man. 'Thought I'd seen ye before. Thing is I was kinna hopin ye'd ken me. Cause I don't have a fuckin clue whae I am.'

2. As a relative pron., only in liter. or formal anglicised usage, At, rel. pron., That, q.v., being normally employed in ordinary conversational Sc. Wha(e) is occas. used ungrammatically for wham as in 1912 quot.Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 74:
Carles wha heard the Cock had craw'n.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 7:
A' whase regard is praise, respect you.
Edb. 1772 Session Papers, Petition J. Sibbald (28 Nov. 1777) 27:
I ould lik to kno to wham the gouds belongs tou.
Ayr. 1793 Burns Scots wha Hae i.:
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, Scots, wham Bruce has aften led.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality vii.:
There's Ane abune whase commands I maun obey before your leddyship's.
Sc. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 156:
The carls, atween the wham he squeez'd.
Gall. 1832 J. Denniston Craignilder 71:
Then louldly cheered the lads o' Ken, Wha's valour kept the fiel', man.
s.Sc. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 23:
How this weary warl' runs Wi' them wha still are living.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 30:
Wham at his birth wi' mournfu' smile The Muse has ance regairdet.
e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 50:
Whaes aft daft antics bring disgust.
Sc. 1904 J. Gillespie Humours 35:
A feckless body wha's aye chasing butterflies.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 136:
Her grandfaither and grandmither wi' whae she bided.
Abd. 1923 J. R. Imray Village Roupie 28:
Neist cam' a feow widows, whase names I forget.
Sc. 1926 H. McDiarmid Drunk Man 14:
My ain skeleton through wha's bare banes A fiendish wund's begood to whistle.
Nai. 1927 G. Bain Dauvid Main 36:
I'm jist a fisherman wha plays a little for his own diversion.
Sc. 1928 T. T. Alexander Psalms viii. 7:
Birds o' the air, a' fish whause hame Is in the troghs o' sea.
Sc. 1991 Forbes Macgregor in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 17:
Mair dowf on eird there isna ony
Nor wee MacLean the circus pownie,
Wha on the sawins o his flair
Maun dree his weird for evermair.
m.Sc. 1996 John Murray Aspen 10:
keeks doun an smiles upon her cat
whae curious tae see her wark sae late at een
wimples in atween warm limbs
an purrrrrrs sae deip an kirkielike

3. The one, who, anyone who, whoever.Sc. 1719 Ramsay Poems (S.TS.) I. 127:
Wha blaws best the Horn shall win.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 19:
Wha this tale o' truth shall read.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality vii.:
She may marry whae she likes now, for I'm clean dung ower.

4. In phrs. and combs.: (1) wha but he (him), used rhetorically as a n. phr. to denote the non-pareil, the one and only, “the cock of the walk”, of a swaggering self-assured person (ne.Sc., Ags., Lth. 1974); (2) wha daur meddle wi' me, in quot. a nonce name for the thistle as the emblem of Scotland and as a free translation of the national motto Nemo me impune lacessit; (3) wha deil, who the devil? (I.Sc. 1974); (4) wha (i)s aucht, whase —, who is the owner, parent, etc., of, to whom does — belong (Ags., Per. 1974). See Aucht, v.2, 2.; (5) wha like('s), whoever (it may be), no matter who, followed by the subjunct. or indic. (I.Sc. 1974); †(6) wha sae, who(so)ever; (7) wha say, also whaarsay [ < wha e'er], (i) as a conj.: as much as to say, as if to say (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., whaarsay, 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1974); (ii) as a n.: a rumour, a piece of hearsay, “an unfounded report not worth heeding” (Sh. 1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 228; I.Sc. 1974); something not to be taken seriously; a pretence, pretext. Also in extended forms whasapavaara [cf. Norw. på verden, on earth] (Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 156), = (i), whaarsaymeko [see Mak, v., 1. (9) (i)] (Sh. 1952 Robertson and Graham Sh. Dial. 43), = (i), (ii). See also Whassaco and cf. O.Sc. quhasay, 1584; (8) wha's like us?, in expressions of Scottishness, usually ironic. See also here's tae us (s.v. Here adv. Phr.); (9) wha to be married first, a card-game (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 458; Ork. 1974).(1) Sc. 1715 Hogg Jacobite Relics (1821) II. 44:
Brave Carnegie, wha but he, The piper o' Dundee?
Sc. c.1790 J. Maidment Ballads (1859) 45:
Proud Tammy Norie on my hill, Thinks who but him and his red bill, A jarry bird indeed.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxiv.:
Armed wi' swords and pistols, like wha but him.
(2) Mry. 1875 W. Tester Poems 35:
We've planted ower his pow a shamrock green, Abeen his tae nail — “Wha daur meddle wi' me?”
(3) Sc. 1747 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) I. 161:
Wha deel could help greeting when speaking on sic a sad subject?
(4) Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads I. 57:
Ye are thrice welcome, my lady gay, Whase aught that bairn on your knee?
Knr. 1886 H. Haliburton Horace 85:
Come, steer aboot! Wha's aucht this gear?
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 53:
But wha's aucht a' the liquor?
(5) Ayr. 1785 Burns 2nd Ep. to Davie iii.:
Sic hauns as you sud ne'er be faiket, Be hain't wha like.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (14 Oct.):
Da shaeves is awa, be taen dem wha laeks.
(6) Ayr. 1855 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage (1892) 319:
Wha sae may threep an' loud insist On Robbie's faut, I shanna list.
Sc. 1926 H. McDiarmid Penny Wheep 65:
Whasae hears them roarin'.
(7) (i) Sh. 1952 Robertson and Graham Sh. Dial. 18:
He gengs aroond aa toffed up, whaarsay he's a man o means.
(ii) Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Faebruary 2, Iktober 6):
Fowr-fitted craeturs never hoasts for a wha-say . . . A sood-aest wadder-head is no dere for a wha-say.
Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 123:
A'm leeded tae a hantle o' wheer whasays i' me time aboot id, gin I could bit mind dem on.

II. n. Used indefinitely: a person, a one.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 397:
Thou'st been I doubt, like mony a wha, Owre het ahame.
(8) Sc. 1998 Andrew Lothian in Conrad Wilson Books in Scotland 66 29:
There is much to intrigue in this book, not least the fact that John Logan, from Soutra, sometimes minister of South Leith Church, having achieved immortality with 'Oh God of Bethel' went on to write a tragedy which resulted in him having to give up his charge and move to London. Wha's like us? What a ghastly bunch they were, and are, the unco guid.
Sc. 2003 Scotland on Sunday (27 Apr) 33:
It's down to Morag/Liz to diagnose the problem ("your alternator's shot"), send the elderly bride down to the church on the back of a motorcycle and make her own late entrance in a borrowed tractor. Wha's like us, eh?
Sc. 2004 Sun (2 Feb):
There were reports that when heavy snow was forecast people were panic-buying bread. What were they going to do? Make a pathway through the snow with slices of loaf?
Wha's like us eh, damn few and they are all brown bread.
Sc. 2004 Herald (5 Apr) 13:
... I fear that there is a danger in our national psyche of perpetually toasting "here's tae us, wha's like us", which in an ever-shrinking world is a complacency and arrogance too far.
Sc. 2004 Scotsman (9 Oct) 23:
How best can the parliament address this disengagement? First, it should cut the windy visionary rhetoric of the "Wha's like us?" variety and concentrate on service delivery.

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



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