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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WORD, n., v. Also wird (I., ne.Sc.), ¶werd (Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shep. MS. 122); ward (ne.Sc. 1891 A. Gordon Carglen 52, 158; w.Lth. 1892 R. Steuart Legends 206–8), and dim. forms wordie, -y, wirdie. Sc. forms and usages. [wʌrd; I. and ne.Sc. wɪrd]

I. n. 1.

Sc. forms of Eng. word. Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 18:
Ye're a dumb breet, nae wirds hiv ye,
Yet aa the joys by Man e'er pree'd
Yer tongue can tell; na, ye've nae need
To spiel a lang langamachie.
Abd. 1995 Sheena Blackhall Lament for the Raj 24:
His dowp, behouchie, his dock or hurdies
Are twa roon meens ower grim fur wirdies:
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 58:
Ither weel-meanin bodies
Jump oot frae ahin the curtains
Wi a speenfu o English pheesic
Tae purge the Scots spikker
O aa orra idioms,
Aa non-standard spikks
An Tom Leonard winnerfu wordies.

In various extended usages of Eng.: (1) something said, an utterance or remark (Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1974). Now arch. in Eng.; (2) as an extension of Eng. word, watchword, password: the secret formula learned by a craftsman on his full initiation into the mysteries of his craft, gen. in comb. as curler-, gardener-, horseman-, mason-word, etc. See also s.v. the first element; (3) news (I.Sc. 1974). Eng. restricts this sense to a usage without qualification, even by the article. Phr. to have word to, to have news or a message for; (4) common talk, conversation among the population at large (Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1974). Now rare or obs. in Eng.; (5) reputation, character (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ork., n.Sc., Lnk., Wgt. 1974); (6) phrs.: (i) at a word, in brief; (ii) to be at ae word, to stick to one story, to be consistent and truthful in one's dealings; (iii) to change words wi, to talk or converse with (Cai. 1974); (iv) to get (a) word o', to have converse with (Sh. 1974); (v) to mak words, (a) to talk at excessive length (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (b) to make an uproar (Ib.; Sh. 1974), to quarrel (Sc. 1880 Jam.); (vi) to pass the word to, = (iii) (Sh., Cai. 1974); (vii) to put words on, — to to describe, express adequately (I.Sc. 1974); (viii) to speak a word to, to rebuke, admonish, advise (Sh., Cai. 1974); (ix) to tak one's word, to take back or retract one's promise, to resile; (x) to tak the first word o, to begin to speak; (xi) to tak the word from, (a) to interrupt (Sh. 1974); (b) to accept a toast proposed by; (xii) word of mouth, an oral communication, a word (Sc. 1905 E.D.D.; I.Sc., Cai. 1974), communication, talk.(1) Per. a.1893 Harp Per. (Ford) 315:
“We'll tak' the sunny side.” That wordie cheer'd when grief and care Oor youthfu' looks did mar.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 31:
Aw'm aweers o' sayin' an ull wird aboot it, 'cause aw'm sae sair disappintit.
Sc. 1948 H. Henderson Elegies for Dead 20:
Minding the great word of Glencoe's son, that we should not disfigure ourselves with villainy of hatred.
(2) Gall. 1721 Session Bk. Minnigaff (1939) 373:
Samuel M'Clen . . . confessed that he proposed to William M'Dowell, wright, a helth to the man that works with the man with the cloven foot. The Session, understanding that it was an ordinary frase among those that profess the word called the meason word, by which frase they mean their rule, thought fit to rebook him for the unwarriness of his expressions.
Dmf. 1774 Dmf. Weekly Mag. (1 Feb.):
One of the oldest Curlers present being chosen preses, appointed a committee of the best qualified to examine all the rest concerning the Curler Word and Grip. Those who pretended to have them, and were found defective, were subjected to a fine, and those who made no pretensions were instructed.
Ayr. 1796 K. Hewat Little Sc. World (1894) 112:
The “Wreck Brethren” originally, judging from their “Word” (which is a strange rhythmical effusion), appear to have had a sort of freemasonry among them.
Bnff. 1887 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 65:
The mysterious powers believed to be possessed by persons who were initiated into the secret arts known as ‘words' — such as the mason word, the ‘millart' word, the horseman word, etc.
(3) Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 34:
Have you any word to him?
Dmf. 1835 Carlyle Letters (Bliss 1953) 109:
My Mother, being asked, has “muckle word to you but canna put it into words.”
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (13 Jan.):
Loard keep dee an' bliss dee dis night, fir comin' wi' dis güde wird.
(4) Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Yonderton xv.:
Aw doot there'll be word o' this day yit.
Abd. a.1900:
Ah! weel, sir, thir's little wird o Yeel bye's thir eest tae be.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 2:
Foo af'en hiv we seen a sax, aucht weeks o' close storm, and nae muckle wird o' 't?
Gall. 2000:
A've never heard word o that.
(5) Sc. 1703 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 42:
A woman brought her only son to him he geting the word of a doctour, and having skill of deseases.
Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 10:
Rose had a Word of meikle Siller, Whilk brought a hantla Woers till her.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 32:
Thou always was wont to get the word of a good rider.
Fif. 1816 A. Mercer Craw-Court 19:
Ye've had an ill word lang, I trow You mind what Virgil said o' you.
Slk. 1836 Fraser's Mag. (Oct.) 432:
He knew he was bewitched, for Eppy had a very bad word in the country.
Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 38:
Get the word o' early risin' Ye can sleep a week on end.
(6) (i) Sc. 1831 Scott Count Robert xxvi.:
So you may at a word count upon remaining prisoner here.
(ii) Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (Rogers 1905) 166:
When the bonny fish ye're sellin', At ae word be in yere dealin' — Truth will stand when a' thing's failin'.
(iii) Edb. 1900 E. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 214:
Never again would she ‘change words wi' her',.
(iv) Edb. 1737 W. Mitchel First Catechism 2:
John, said I, will I get a Word of the Devil your Master.
Abd. 1879 G. MacDonald Sir Gibbie xxix.:
I'll may be get sicht, gien I dinna get word o' him.
Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Lady Jean's Son iv.:
I was that fain to get word o' you, your lane.
(v) (a) Sc. 1823 Scott Q. Durward xxxvi.:
You make words of nothing.
(vi) Sc. 1895 S. Tytler Macdonald Lass 136:
You may thank your good father and mother if I ever pass the word to you again.
(vii) Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms cvi. 2:
Wha can put words on the warks o' the Lord?
Abd. 1882 G. MacDonald Castle Warlock I. vi.:
It's no a hair 'ayont what he deserved 'at daured put sic a word to the best man in a' the cuintry.
(viii) Ags. 1892 A. Reid Howetoon 99:
Often did he ask me to “speak a wird” to his refractory laddie.
(ix) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 151:
He's an Aberdeen's Man, he may take his Word again.
Bwk. 1801 “Bwk. Sandie” Poems 90:
His wedded wife to be? I tak' my word — I do repent — He winna do for me.
(x) Sc. 1843 N. Macleod Crack aboot the Kirk I. 8:
When the kirk passed that law she took the first word o' flyting.
(xi) (a) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (29 Sept.):
In troth, I tink da same, William, no ta tak da wird frae you.
(b) Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie ii.:
“Robert Simpson . . . we'll tak' the word from you.” Simpson stood for a second or two with his lips firmly set, looking thoughtfully into his glass.
(xii) Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 8:
For a word-o'-mouth, you might obtain A neuk to brag the shire.
Abd. 1875 G. MacDonald Malcolm xxviii.:
We're but a rouch set o' fowk for such like's yer lordship to haud word o' mou' wi'.
Kcb. 1901 Crockett Love Idylls 54:
Never let me hear of you passing word-of-mouth with any belonging to that gang.

2. A prayer, freq. in pl. and dim., and in combs. bonnie- (Ork. 1974), guid word(ie)s. Phrs. to put up a word, to say a prayer (Sh., n.Sc., Per., Slg., Lth. 1974); to say a word, to say grace (Cai. 1905 E.D.D.). For the form bonnie see Bonie-words.Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 34:
It's no a chrisen'd creature yet, for hit has neither gotten the words nor the water, nor as little do I ken how to ca't yet.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxii.:
She gathers her crowdle o' wee tottums under her fosterin' wings, listens to their “guid wordies,” an' hushes them to sleep.
Rnf. 1878 Good Words 184:
The minister will be back frae the burial, an' he'll put up a word for you.
Edb. 1881 J. Smith Habbie and Madge 17:
Habbie rises up in the bed, taks aff his Kilmarnock, an' gie's a bit short word.
Ags. 1897 Bards Ags. (Reid) 203:
We hear her say her little wirds Before she gangs to sleep.
Abd. 1912 J. Stephen Donside Lilts 41:
I'll noo in hope my wirdies say An' ask to be forgiven.
Ork. 1929 Old-Lore Misc. IX. ii 76:
Hid wad a' been mair fare for dem, body an' sowl, gin dey hed been sayan deir bonnie wirds an' gan till deir beds.

3. Faculty of speech; the sound of one's voice by which one is recognised, one's usual delivery or way of speaking (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 102; I., n.Sc., Ayr., Wgt. 1974).Gall. 1726 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) II. 48:
She thought the man was William Wilson in Garchrew by his word.
Abd. 1868 G. MacDonald R. Falconer i. v.:
It wasna that onlike yer lordship's ain word.
Kcd. 1893 Stonehaven Jnl. (2 Feb.) 2:
I didna ken ye or geather o' ye. I micht a kent yer wird.
Abd. 1920 R. L. Cassie Love Lyrics 27:
I think 'at I can hear her word thro' win's sad teen.
Abd. 1967:
I kent your word. He has a fine word for a preacher.

II. v. 1. refl. To express oneself (Sh. 1974).Sh. 1901 T. P. Ollason Mareel 28:
Hit's a plaeser to hear him, fir he wirds himsell dat boanie.

2. Only in phr. to be wordet wi or for, to be credited with, to have the reputation of being or possessing. Cf. I. 1.(5). To be wordit thegither, said of a couple thought to be starting a courtship (Kcb. 1974).Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 79:
Ye'll no get the gaet o' a mither Unless ye be wordet wi' gear.
m.Lth. 1858 Dark Night xxv.:
I ance heard that the wood was wordit for bein' no canny.

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"Word n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2022 <>



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