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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.

WISE, adj. Also Sc. forms wice (Sc. 1834 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) IV. 162; Lnk. 1888 R. Young Love at Plough 25; Sh. 1892 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 85; Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 180; Mry. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 26; Sc. 1953 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 170), wyce (Sc. 1923 R. McRailt Hoolachan 7), wyss (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1835 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) IV. 227, Arg. 1917 A. W. Blue Quay-Head Tryst 218), wyse (s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell St Matthew ii. 16; Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 77), wyss (Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 65), weiss, weise (Abd. 1935 M. C. Wilson Souter's Sujaistions 8), weice-, weys-. [wəis. The St. Eng. spelling is freq. used though the Sc. pronounciation is intended as in rhymes with advice, mice, nice, twice, etc. Eng. waiz is from the oblique cases.]

1. Clever, knowing, well-informed (Ork., Cai., Ags., Per. 1974). Obs. in Eng. since 16th c.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Ye want ay to be sae wyss, you are so anxious to know everything.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 188:
Thae ministers, they will aye pretend to be wicer nor ither fouk.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 76:
Ta redd oot kin ye mann be wice.
Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 292:
Ane o' they by-ordinar wice fowk that come frae the North-side to learn hiz Fifers hoo t' draw wir breath.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 1:
Fairmer's fingers - braid, an hakkit, an roch, an swalled o the jynts, far seeventy winters dellin the grun in the Howe at the fit o the fite glimmers o Morven hid scoored an wheeped an birssled him inno the wyce nippick o grissle an smeddum that he wis.

2. In one's right mind, sane, rational, compos mentis (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 54; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 275; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ork., Cai., Ags., Per. 1974), freq. in neg. phr. no wise, no wyce, off one's head, insane. Also no wise eneuch, id. (ne.Sc. 1974). For phr. wise and warld-like, see Warld, 3.(1).Fif. 1704 P.S.A.S. LVI. 59:
She thought Mr Logan was not wise when he was speaking against the witches.
Sc. 1758 Session Papers, Petition G. Lawrie (1 March) 10:
She tore her Cloaths; and she the Deponent judged she was not very wise.
Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 365 note:
The country people then said I was not wise enough.
Ags. 1825 Jam.:
That's like a no-wyss body.
Ags. 1840 G. Webster Ingliston xxxv.:
I wish he binna feay, and, as sure as death, I turned feared, for I thoucht he wasna ower wise.
Per. 1897 C. M. Stuart Sandy Scott's Bible Class 33:
His reason comes back til him, and he's as wyss as the lave.
Uls. 1931 Northern Whig ( 11 Dec.) 13:
He's no half wice.
Kcd. 1933 L. G. Gibbon Cloud Howe 223:
A queer-like loon, not right in the head, folk that were wice weren't near so polite.
Bwk. 1937 A. Hepple Heydays 208:
I've been chased all over the town as a lunatic mysel' and I'm as weiss a woman as I dare say ye are yourself.
Rnf. 1972 Bill Bryden Willie Rough 19:
PAT: Holy Willie. He's a Wee Free or something. He disnae drink or onything!
HUGHIE: Some folk's no wise.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 3:
Ah've to let this rammy a' go by me and no worry?
The wey you clan cairry oan is far from wyce.
There's nae respect. Ah try to gie advice,
But naw! There's that much argie-bargie it
's [sic] like nae place on earth but Paddy's Market.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 35:
The warl's nae wyce.
The boot's in on the harns
on Empty Street.
ne.Sc. 1991 Ken Morrice in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 60:
Quait and wyce we sat aa aifterneen,
bein jist bit loons
and daith cam ower seen.
Sc. 1991 Roderick Watson in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 105:
This is the thrittieth year o my age
Whan I've puked my shame an boozed again
No wice no sage,
An mind the mony scarts I've taen
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 244:
'I ken,' he said. 'But they're no hingin ye for that, Jean.'
'Aye they are. The Major dee'd for the ither things. But they want me deid for a witch, and I'm no yin. Am I no wyce?'

3. Skilled in magic, possessing powers of witchcraft. Gen. in combs. wise wife, wise woman, a witch, sorceress (Sc. 1808 Jam., wyss-wife; Arg. 1936 L. McInnes S. Kintyre 16, wice woman; Ork. 1974). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial.Bnff. 1787 W. Taylor Poems 92:
Maukin skippit aff in fun. To a sma' cot wharein did won, A wife ca'd wise.
Wgt. 1878 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 99:
They sent for Bella Lynn, the wise-woman, to come and see what should be done.
Edb. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar xlviii.:
Ye needna gang to a wise-wife to come at that.
Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Trad. Lore 175:
A good “wise-woman” could counteract suffering by “rinnin' da hert.”

4. Sc. combs. and derivs.: ( 1) wyssheid, wisdom. Obs. in Eng. in 15th c. Arch.; (2) wis(e)like, wice-, wyce-, -le(i)k(e), adj., (i) prudent, sensible, reasonable Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 275; Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1974). Also used adv.; (ii) seemly, respectable, proper, decent, decorous (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai., m.Sc. 1974), well-mannered (Fif. 1950). Also adv.; (iii) comely, of good appearance, handsome (Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 275; Cai., Kcd., e.Lth. 1974) of persons or things; (iv) suitable, fitting, appropriate (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (3) wice-lookin, handsome, good-looking, becoming (I.Sc., Cai., Ags., Per. 1974); ¶(4) wyss-redde, a counseller, one who gives good advice. Arch. Cf. Rede, v.1, n.; (5) wise-saying, a proverb (Sh. . 1974); (6) wice-spoken, wise, sensible in speech (I.Sc., Ags., Per. 1974); (7) wisock, a wise man, a sage. See -Ock, suff.(1) Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah 1:
Anent the wyssheid o' the wyss intil this our time.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ i. iv. 9:
This is grit wyssheid, no tae be ramstam in ackin'.
(2) (i) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
It wad hae been lang or my Leddy Margaret wad hae fund out sic a wise-like doctrine in the Bible!
Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. ( 1855) I. 11:
A mair natural and wise-like catastrophe.
Sc. 1851 G. Outram Lyrics (1874) 72:
'Twere wiserlike than drink.
Knr. 1886 H. Haliburton Horace 84:
A buirdly, business, wice-like chiel.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 24:
Weice-leike, hei hed eis-sul weel inshaird.
Edb. 1931 E. Albert Herrin' Jennie iii. iv.:
He's no wise-like. He michtna ken ye.
wm.Sc. 1949 Scots Mag. (May) 133:
Yon young Mickey took it canny that time onywey. Rale wiselike, he was.
Kcd. 1971 W. Christie Paucae Micae 11:
Ye'll live mair wise-like, Andra, man, if ye'll yersel but hain.
(ii) Per. 1815 A. Porteous Crieff (1912) 347:
A very wiselike tea. I was deputed to make it.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xxv.:
Tak tent that the lad gangs over wiselike to Kilmarkeckle, in order to see Miss Betty anent the wedding.
Sc. 1834 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) IV. 60:
“How were you dressed, James?” “Wiser-like than you in your ordinar.”
Hdg. 1848 A. Somerville Autobiog. 167:
Hoot aye, they're decent young men, dinna fear. They're weys-like young lads.
Lnk. 1885 F. Gordon Pyotshaw 39:
Ay, ye're ay muckle aboot it, if ye'd dee wise like I'd hae some peety for ye.
Dmf. 1895 Scots Mag. (April) 391:
Did a bride want anything to go off wis-like?
Ags. 1899 Barrie W. in Thrums vii.:
There's no one 'at's better behaved at a burial, being particularly wise-like in's blacks.
Sc. 1947 Scots Mag. (May) 124:
Frustrated in their hopes of seeing something wise-like — say a model yacht!
Ags. 1959 People's Jnl. (9 May):
Mind yer mainners and speak up when ye're spoken to, and answer wyse-like.
wm.Sc. 1979 Robin Jenkins Fergus Lamont 75:
I had not known either that Jessie, bonny as ever, had apparently at long last caught up with her runaway wits, like a boy his girr. Kissing Smout she looked, in the Scots phrase, as 'wice-like' as any lass whose lad is off to war.
Abd. 1993:
A wyce-like bairn bit aafa fite faced.
(iii) Ags. 1845 P. Livingston Poems 68:
And if a wise-like chiel' you see You'll no forget to tell us.
Edb. 1872 J. Smith Jenny Blair 67:
A' lookin' sae clean, hale, an' wiselike in their Aberdeen winceys.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 24:
Gie me a guid square gutsy hoose, wi' a wysse-like but and a ben.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 24:
Hei's mairreet a weice-leike lass.
Sc. 1947 Scots Mag. (June) 176:
The slope below the inn had been transformed into an expanse of wiselike rig-and-fur [after a ploughing match].
Cai. 1961 “Castlegreen” Tatties an' Herreen' 8:
An' so we get 'e Kaitness fowk, Fine wice-lek men an' weemen.
(iv) Sc. 1820 The Smugglers I. i.:
Thomson pressed them with all the hearty frankness of a sailor; and honest Enaes said, it really did him good to see a man tak' a wise-like morning-piece.
Ayr. 1895 H. Ochiltree Redburn vi.:
If I get a wiselike siller for her I'll let her gang, but no onless.
wm.Sc. 1917 H. Foulis Jimmy Swan 63:
There's surely a more wise-like train than that, Mr. Macaskill?
(3) Sc. 1838 Chambers's Jnl. (29 Dec.) 389:
He was by far the wysest-looking man in the set.
Lnk. a.1870 W. Miller Willie Winkie (Ford 1902) 60:
Our son wal'd a wise-lookin hizzie.
Dmf. 1920 J. L. Waugh Heroes 70:
A big, wice-lookin' falla he was.
(4) Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah ix. 6:
The Ferlie, the Wyss-redde, sal e'en be his name.
(5) Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's ii. 6:
To ken for yer ainsel a wyse-sayin, An' to grup what may be the ettlin o't.
(6) Abd. 1865 G. MacDonald Alec Forbes lxxix.:
Ye're a wice-spoken lass and a bonnie.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 102:
She's a bit braw takin' lass yon, and a wise-spoken thing forbye.
(7) Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 130:
He was passive to priests, he was partial to kings, Tho' counted a wisock in a ither things.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 42:
Ae day the wisock tuik his gate, Intill a wud to meditate.

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"Wise adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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