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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

YELD, adj., n., v. Also yell'd (Ags. 1869 R. Leighton Poems 319), yeald, yeeld, yeild, yield; yell, yeal(l), yeel, y(e)il(l); ¶yal (Inv. 1777 I. F. Grant Old Highl. Farm (1924) 262); and, by formal confusion with Yuil, yule (Bnff., Abd. 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 727), yuil (wm.Sc. 1832 Fife Herald (26 July)). For other Sc. forms see Eild, adj.2 [jɛl(d), jil(d)]

I. adj. 1. Barren, not pregnant, used of a female animal that does not bear young, either from being under or over age or from accident (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rnf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 146, yell; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 276; Uls. 1953 Traynor, yell; Sh., Ork., m.Sc. 1974); also of a childless woman (Kcb. 1900, as yell as whunstane).Sc. 1705 Observator (11 June) 44:
When it will bear no more Corn, I leave it to rest a while, and feed my yeild Nol[t] and Sheep upon the Grass.
Sc. 1732 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) IV. 162:
Here's a health to a' the wives that's yell.
Sth. 1757 Caled. Mercury (10 March):
There is summer Grazing, not rentaled, for 500 yeald Cattle.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 36:
The yeal cats is never kind to kitlens.
Dmb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVII. 261:
10 yeld ewes, being such as either had not lambs, or lost them early.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 111:
Syne she may gae as yeld's a horn, And I'll hae baith the skeath an' scorn.
Sth. 1820 J. Loch Acct. Sth. App. II. 59:
They send them [yearling ewes] for eighteen months or nearly so, to land called “yell gimmer land.”
Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recoll. 441:
The farrow, or yell cows, being reckoned among the feeding stock.
Crm. 1854 H. Miller Schools 99:
A not unpalatable sort of blood-pudding, enriched with butter, and well seasoned with pepper and salt, the main ingredient of which was derived, through a judicious use of the lancet, from the yeld cattle of the farm.
Sc. 1889 H. Stephens Bk. of Farm I. 175:
After the second shearing another change is effected in all the names: a gimmer is then a ewe, if in lamb; if not in lamb, a barren gimmer or yeld ewe, and if never put to the ram, a yeld gimmer.
Ags. 1892 Brechin Advert. (29 March) 3:
Plenty o them widna ken a stirk fae a yeld coo.
Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 7:
The yeld cattle were sent to the hill.
Ayr. 1928:
The yell ewe clippin — the day on which the yell ewes are clipped generally six weeks sooner than milk ewes.
Sh. 1956 New Shetlander No. 43. 21:
Sheep and lambs, gjimmers, wedders, yield yows.
Sc. 1971 Scotsman (23 June) 11:
They again came North to win the yeld mare class.

Comb. †yell-shield, a hut or shiel where young and farrow cattle and sheep were kept during the summer months. See Shiel, n., 2.Lnk. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VIII. 131:
When the huts in the higher ground were only yell shields (or shields for yeld and young cattle).

2. Of cows, etc.: not giving milk, as before parturition or by being farrow (Kcb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 IX. 317; Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 166; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ork., Cai., Bnff., m.Sc. 1974). Also transf.Inv. 1764 Faculty Decisions III. 339:
30 milk cows, 30 yield cows, 15 stirks.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Address to Deil x.:
An' dawtet, twal-pint Hawkie's gane As yell's the Bill.
Rxb. 1801 J. Leyden Complaynt 346:
Ewes are said to keb, when their lambs die early, and they are suffered to go yeld.
n.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
A cow, although with calf, is said to gang yeld, when her milk dries up. Thus, a yeld cow is distinguished from a ferry or farrow cow, which is one that continues to give milk for a longer time, as not being pregnant.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxxix.:
Milk-cows, yeald beasts, and sheep.
Mry. 1852 A. Christie Mountain Strains 96:
An' soon their adders they made slack, An' even yeel.
Sc. 1875 J. Grant Six Hundred ix.:
The fushionless milk that cometh from a yeld bosom, sic as the kirk o' prelacy hath.
wm.Sc. 1879 J. Napier Folk-Lore 76:
During the winter, the kye became yell, and the family were consequently short of milk.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 194:
That the cow might calve during day, she was let “yeel” on Sunday.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 37:
Ye micht as weel expec' to get milk frae a yell coo.
Cai. 1921 Old-Lore Misc. IX. i. 21:
The method generally adopted in Caithness to charm away the produce of a neighbour's dairy was the trailing of a hair tether or simmon over their grazing pasture between sun and day, when the dew lay wet and heavy. When the cow crossed the track of the hair tether she became yeil or her milk yielded no butter.
Ork. 1929 Peace's Almanac 139:
Twa o' wir kye's gaen yeld.
Wgt. 1970 Scottish Farmer (22 Aug.) 16:
Yeld cows and those going dry are on silage only.

Phr. the Deil's yell nowte, a disparaging term sheriff-officers or bailiffs.Ayr. 1786 Burns Letters (Ferguson) No. 58:
That most execrable species, known by the appelation, phrase, and nickname of “The Deil's Yell Nowte”.

3. Of birds: without a mate, in a single state (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.).Sh. 1809 A. Edmonston Zetland II. 280:
A considerable number of them, which, not paring, are called yield kittiwakes.

4. Of inanimate things: not fertile, unproductive, ineffectual, lacking in substance or value, unprofitable.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 42:
Any thing is better than the Yell Kail. An Apology for having little, or bad, Flesh meat. Yell is properly what gives no Milk; here it signifies, boil'd without Meat, or having no Butter.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 496:
A rock is said to be yell when it will not quarry but with gunpowder. A field is said to be yell when nothing will grow on it.
Fif. 1825 Jam.:
Bleak, cold; applied to the weather, as denoting that it has no tendency to fruitfulness, or that it threatens sterility.
Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah lxiv. 11:
Our gear, a' sae bonie, 's gane yell.
Kcb.1 1900:
An edge tool, hard and ill to grind is said to be yell.

II. n. A barren ewe, cow, etc. (Ags. 1855 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 727; Bnff. 1926; Ork. 1974).

III. v. 1. To prevent conception in a ewe by tying a cloth round her hind-quarters. Cf. Brat, v., 1.Sth. 1831 Brit. Husbandry (Burke 1840) III. i. 81:
Those least fit for breeding be yelled off for sale. The contrivance of yelling or breeching a certain number of ewes in each herding.

2. To cease to milk a pregnant cow when the flow stops before calving.Abd. 1936:
Yeel a coo on Sunday nicht An' she'll hae her cauf in daylicht.

[O.Sc. yheld, barren, of land, 1420, ȝeld, of animals, 1482, ȝeild, unmated, of birds, 1535, yeel, not giving milk, 1670, Late O.E., Early Mid.Eng. ȝelde, barren, cogn. with O.N. geldr, id., dry of milk. See Geld, adj.]

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"Yeld adj., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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