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MacBain's Dictionary

Gateway to Scotland

Online Plan for Scots Dictionary

A Scottish Genealogist’s Dictionary, by Walter Deas (see also, “Online Plans for Scots Dictionary”

Ablach – a dwarf; an undersized or insignificant person
Advocate – Solicitor
Affa clivir quine – awfully clever girl
Afore – before; in front
Agnates – an individual related through the father
Ague - used to define the recurring fever & chills of malaria
Ahint – behind; in back of
Aidle – putrid water
Aiker – acre
Airles – a deposit to secure a bargain/transaction
Airt – direction
Alienary – prevents a life rent being construed as a fee
Anent – concerning
Aphonia – laryngitis
Assedation – lease; an agreement
Assythment – compensation for an injury
Astrict – to bind legally
Atweel – in truth
Aumous – alms; a charitable gift
Availl – value
Averment – positive statement or affirmation
Avisandum – further consideration
Ayont – beyond; behind
Baile nam Beans – city of beans (Boston)
Baillie – municipal/public officer
Bairn – child
Bairned – pregnant, or made pregnant
Bawbee – halfpenny
Beadle – church officer
Beastial – animals, cattle
Beuk – book
Bield – shelter; a place of protection
Bigging – building
Biliousnes – jaundice or other symptom associated with liver disease
Birn – burden
Birlyman – parish arbiter
Bizzem – bad girl
Blanch-duty – duty paid in kind of money in lieu of rent
Bloodwite – a fine/penalty imposed for drawing blood
Blude/Bluid – blood
Bocht – bought/purchased
Bodach – an old man
Bodle – copper coin of the 16th century
Boll – a dry measure
Bond – money loaned on the security of land or buildings
Brieve – legal writ
Brose – porridge
Burgh – town having a municipal corporation
Burghal aikers – acres of ground belonging to a burgh
Busk – to dress
Byre – cow shed
Caddie – young person who ran errands
Cain – custom or rent paid in kind
Caird – a tinker
Camp fever – typhus
Candelmas – Scottish quarter day (February 2nd)
Canine madness – hydrophobia
Carle – an old man
Carlin – a strong old woman
Cauld – cold
Chapman – a pedlar or packman
Causey – a street paved with cobblestones
Cautioner – one who becomes security for another
Cess – land tax
Charge – money received
Chincough – whooping cough
Chiel – a youngster
Chlorosis – iron deficiency anemia
Closs – a close; an entrance to a tenement
Clachan – a small village or hamlet
Cleedin – clothing
Cognate – person related through the mother
Co-heir of provision – one of several heirs having the right by will or settlement
Compter – accountant
Confirmation – completion of the probate of a testament by the executors
Cooser – a stallion
Cordiner/cordwainer – shoemaker
Corruption - infection
Coryza – a cold
Costiveness - constipation
Cottar – tenant on a farm
Cramp colic – appendicitis
Craft – a croft or small farm
Creel – a wicker basket for fish, peat, etc.
Crounes – crown-pieces, money, wealth
Daith – death
Darg – work; a measure of work
Declinature – refusal; denial
Decreet arbbitral – award of an arbiter
Deid – dead
Depone – to testify
Dilate – to accuse
Displenish – to sell stock, implements, etc., on a farm
Dispone – to assign, make over a grant
Disposition – deed of conveyance and assignation of property
Dochter – daughter
Domicil – permanent home
Dropsey – swelling, often caused by kidney or heart disease
Dux boards – wooden boards on which the name of the best pupil in the school is painted, (see Affa…, Heidy… and Lad…) usually displayed prominently
Dyspepsia – acid indigestion
Dyvor – a bankrupt
Edict – a proclamation
Eik – used to indicate an addition to a legal document
Ell-wan – a measuring stick
Executor dative – executor appointed by the court and not the testator
Executor nominate – executor named by the testator
Extravasted blood – rupture of a blood vessel
Expede – to officially issue a document
Factor – an agent who manages land or house for a proprietor
Falling sickness – epilepsy
Fause fee – servant’s wage
Fencible – soldier called up for home defense
Ferme – rent
Feu – perpetual lease
Feuar – one who holds land in feu
Fiere – comrade; friend
Flit – to move from place to another
Flair – floor
Flus of humor – circulation
Forbye – in addition to
Forfault – to deprive of rights of property
French pox – venereal disease
Gabbin – talking
Gear – possessions
Geid – gave
Ghille – male servant
Girnal – large chest or box for holding meal
Glaives – swords
Goud/Gowd – gold
Graith – furnishings
Grandsher – great-grandfather
Great guidsire – great-grandfather
Grieve – farm overseer
Green sickness – anemia
Groat – an old coin
Ground annual – perpetual annual rent chargeable on land
Guid-brither – brother-in-law
Guid-father – father-in-law
Guidman – husband; master
Guid-mither – mother-in-law
Guidsire – grandfather
Guid-sister – sister-in-law
Guidwife – female head of a household
Gutcher – grandfather; relation
Hairst – harvest
Hale – healthy; well
Handfast – to make a contract by the symbolic joining of hands; to be betrothed
Handsel – a gift in token of something special
Happit – buried
Haughs – low-lying lands or meadows
Heidy knipe – brainy person
Heritable – capable of being inherited
Heritor – landowner liable to contribute to the upkeep of the Parish Church
Hip gout – osteomyelitis
Hoast – a cough
Holograph – document wholly in the handwriting of one person
Homologate – to ratify
Hosen – stockings
Ill-gotten – illegitimate
Indweller – inhabitant; occupant
Infeft – invest with legal possession of heritable property
Infeftment – the investing of a new owner with legal possession of land
Infield – the best land nearest the farm buildings
Ingle – the fireside
Intent – to bring an action in the courts against someone
Interdict – judicial prohibition
Intromit – to handle funds with or without legal authority
Investure – process by which a person is vested with a right to lands
Jail fever – typhus
Juist – just
Kebars – rafters, poles
Kenspeckle – well known; conspicuous
Kerne – a warring man; a fighting peasant
Kin – relation
Kincough/Kinhoast – whooping cough
Kings evil – tubercular infection of the throat glands
Kirkit – married in a church; churched
Kist – a box or chest
Knicht – a knight
Kye – cows; cattle
Lad (or lass) o’ pairts – outstanding scholar who goes on to do well in life.
Lair – burial plot
Laird – a landowner; landed proprietor
La grippe – flu
Lanwart – urban
Lave – the rest; the remainder
Leister – an implement for spearing fish
Lemans – lovers; paramours
Liferent – property held for a lifetime, which cannot be disposed of further by the holder
Loon – a young fellow
Luckle – a dame; middle-aged woman
Lues Venera – venereal disease
Lumbago – back pain
Lung fever - pneumonia
Lung sickness – tuberculosis
Mains – the chief farm on an estate
Mairrit – married
Mania – insanity
Manse – a minister’s house
Mercat – market
Merchat – marriage tax
Merk – Scottish coin
Miln – mill; grain manufactory
Mortification – infection
Muir – moor; a heath
Multure – duty, in the form of a proportion of grain, taken by the proprietor or tenant of a mill on all corn ground in it
Multure Court – Court that fixed the multure
Nether – lower
Neuk – a corner
Niffer – exchange
Nocht – nothing
Nonage – being under age
Notary Public – one who records deeds
Nott – required
Nostalia – homesickness
Octo – measure of arable land
Orraman – an odd job man, especially on a farm
Oy – grandchild
Parochial – pertaining to the Parish
Paughty – proud; haughty
Paukie/Pawky – sly; shrewd
Peel – tower or turret
Pend – arched entrance; covered entry
Pendicle – added property
Pirn – a spool or reel for thread
Plack – Scottish coin
Plenish – to furnish or stock
Poind – to seize and sell, in order to pay a debt
Poortith/Puirtith – poverty
Procurator-Fiscal – public prosecutor in a Sheriff Court
Protocol Book – book in which deeds were recorded
Pursuer – plaintiff, person suing in an action
Puckle – small quantity
Puir – poor
Putrid Fever – diphtheria
Qualify – to establish evidence
Quean/Queyn – a young woman; lass
Quhair – a sheaf of papers
Quinsy – tonsillitis
Ruakle – rash; fearless
Rede – to advise; to counsel
Reduce – to annul
Reeler – one who winds yard on a reel
Relict – surviving wife of a deceased man
Reivers – warrior cattle-stealers
Remitting Fever – malaria
Reparation – damages
Richt – right
Roup – sale by auction
Routh – plenty
Runt – an undersized little man; stalk of a cabbage
Ryal – Scottish coin
Sair – sore
Sark/Serk – a shirt; vest or a chemise
Sanguinous Crust – scab
Sasine – transference of property and land
Saul – soul
Scaith – damage; hurt
Scaur – a jutting cliff; a sharp rock
Schilltrom – a military formation
Screws – rheumatism
Scrofula – tubercular infection of the throat glands
Sennachie – recorder and reciter of family history
Servitor – servant; attendant
Sheltie – a pony
Sheriff – judicial and administrative officer
Ship’s Fever – typhus
Shire – a district that was much smaller than the modern county
Shaw – a wooded dell
Sheiling – a small cottage, quite often in a remote area
Sib – kin
Siller – silver; money in general
Silver Rent – rent paid in money and not in kind
Skail – to dispense
Sodger – a soldier
Sonsy/Sonsie – jolly; plump; a sow
Sooter/Soutar – a shoemaker
Soum – unit of grazing
Spae – fortune-teller
Spence – the best room
Spune – spoon
Steeked – locked
Stents – dues; assessments
Stewarty – land annexed or forfeited to the Crown
Stirk – a young bullock or heifer
Stoup – a measure; a drink container
Strangery – rupture
Streen – yesterday
Subtack – sub-let
Surety – bond; obligation
Summer Complaint – baby diarrhea
Tack – lease
Tacksman – one who holds a lease
Taen – taken
Taupie – a witless or slovenly young woman
Tailzie – entail
Teind – tithe
Tenement – a block of flats
Tenendry – tenants
Terce – the right of a widow to the life-rent of one third of her husband’s heritable estate, if no other provision has been made for her
Terce Land – land, the rent of which is assigned to the widow as her terce
Testament – will
Teuch – tough
Thirled – bound; tied
Thole – right of an owner to exact custom or payment for goods being taken through his land
Tocher – bride’s dowry
Tolbooth – an office or booth where tolls and other dues were paid
Tulzie/Tulyie – a squabble; a fight
Tume – empty
Umquhile – deceased
Vassal – tenant holding lands under a lord
Venesection – bleeding
Vennel – a narrow alley between houses
Vitiour intomission – unwarranted dealing with the moveable estate of a deceased person
Wabster – weaver
Wadset – a mortgage
Ward – enclosed piece of land
Weans – children
Weeda – widow
Whinger – short sword; a dirk
Wimple – to meander; to wander
Wynd – a narrow street
Yard – a garden
Yestreen – last night
Yett – a gate
Yin – one
Yow – you
Yowe – a ewe
Yule – Christmas

By Walter Deas, as it appeared in U. S. SCOTS Magazine, Summer 1999

Last Update: April 2005