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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.

WIRE, n., v. Also Sc. forms weyr; n.Sc. weer(e) (Rs. 1713 W. MacGill Old Rossshire (1909) I. 146; Edb. 1781 Session Papers, Petition J. Johnston (19 Jan.) Proof 13; Abd. 1928 Weekly Jnl. (20 Sept.) 6; ne.Sc. 1974), weir (Ork. 1747 P. Ork. A.S. XII. 48; Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 114), wier, wear (Inv. 1707 Inv. Kirk-Session Rec. (1902) 194); ware (Sh. 1897 Shetland News (15 May)), waer (Sh. 1974), wair (Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 6; Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 207), waire. [wəir; Sh., em.Sc. (a) wer; n.Sc., Wgt. wir]

Sc. usages: 1. As in Eng. Combs. and phr. (1) a broken weer, a widower (Abd. 1931); (2) wire-bent, the small mat-grass, Nardus stricta (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 208; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), also the heath-rush, Juncus squarrosus (Watson); (3) wire-thread, cotton thread.(3) Rnf. 1812 J. Wilson Agric. Rnf. 248:
Within these few years the manufacture of cotton thread has been carried on to considerable extent. It is called wire thread.

2. A knitting needle, gen. in pl. of a set of these (Abd., Ags., Dmf. 1905 E.D.D.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 275). Gen.Sc.; transf. a row of knitting. Phr. a stan(d) o weer, a set of knitting-needles (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxviii.).Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 90:
I wyt they are as protty hose As come frae weyr or leem: Here tak a rug, and shaw's your pose.
Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 II. 539:
Since the introduction of loom-stockings, the knitting or netting of stockings with wires, has been in the decline.
Abd. 1830 in Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) XI. 386:
Half-a-dozen of pairs of the best lambs wool stockings woven on wears by some of my old songstresses.
Abd. 1887 Bon-Accord (7 May) 17:
Lat's see a stan' o' wivin' weeres.
Sh. 1901 Shetland News (23 Feb.):
Shü cam ta da fire wi' her hap-border an' hir waers.
Abd. 1928 Word-Lore III 149:
As they hid a curn gey hallicat loons, her weirs didna roost.
Ags. 1946 D. Twitter Tales 3:
We were daein' a waire o' wir knittin'.

3. A thin metal glazing- and frame-bar in a church or similar window. Comb. wire-window, a window fitted with these.Ags. 1703 V. Jacob Lairds of Dun (1931) 6:
Ane little glass window measuring two foots and ane half and twenty inches. Eight iron cleiks for the wiers.
Abd. 1730 T. Mair Ellon Records (1898) 378:
Waterton's window, glass and ane weer case.
Sc. c.1825 Fire of Frendraught in Child Ballads No. 196 A. ix.:
He did him to the wire-window.

II. v. 1. To fit a window with metal glazing-bars. Cf. n., 3.Slg. 1702 in R. M. Fergusson Logie (1905) I. 323:
For glasing and wearing the southmost window of the Church.

2. With in, into, To eat heartily, to do something enthusiastically or energetically (Sh., Ork., Cai., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Edb., Arg., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2004).Gsw. 1977 Jimmy Boyle A Sense of Freedom 4:
By the time the fire got going, breakfast would be ready so we would all sit around the table and wire in.
Gsw. 1990 Alan Spence The Magic Flute (1991) 15:
'Anyway, we were practising up in my house. A wee jam session. Bye Bye Blackbird it was. I remember it well. We were wiring right into it. Giving it big licks. And suddenly there's a knock at the door,...'
Fif. 1991:
Wire in, ye're at yer auntie's.

[The ne.Sc. form weer corresponds with Mid.Eng. were, O.E.* wēr, an ablaut variant of wīr, wire. O.Sc. weir, wire, c.1450.]

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"Wire n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 May 2024 <>



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