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Obsolete or Unusual Scottish Words

Vocabulary of archaic or unusual Scots Words



adoowson, the right of patronage or presentation to a church benefice.

amerced, fined, mulcted.

amerciament, a penalty inflicted.

argentier, treasurer.

assizor, a Juror.

band, a written agreement or promise.

beddell. Inferior officer of a court. See the name in the Dictionary of names.

bedeswoman, an alms woman, a licensed beggar. Cf. beidman.

beldman, beidsman, a public almsman or licensed beggar.

blue-gown, one of a class of former privileged mendicants, so named from the blue gown or cloak he had to wear. Same as beidsman.

boll, a measure of capacity for grain, malt, etc.

bon-accord, the French motto of the city of Aberdeen, used as the name of the city itself.

bond of manrent, a written agreement whereby a free person becomes follower of a patron or defender.

bore-brieve, a formal certificate of descent given to a person who had settled or intended to settle on the continent, granted under the great seal or seal of a burgh. It secured his social position in his new abode.

borowis, pl., a borow or borrow was one who became surety for another.

bovate, an ancient land measure.

brasiator, brewer.

brew caldron, a large kettle used in brewing.

brieve, a Judicial writ or brief.

broche, burgh, town.

burgage, a tenure in royal burghs under nominal service of watching.

bwgageship, the status or privileges by which property within a royal burgh is held of the king.

cagger, cadger, a traveling pedler. See also surname Cadger.

calcearius (ML.), shoemaker.

calsay, causeway.

carbonarius, charcoal maker

carucate, originally an amount of land such as one team of oxen could plough in a season.

caution, bail, security.

cautioner, one who stands surety for another.

cellarer, officer in a monastery who looked after the provisions.

clachan, a hamlet, small village.

clare constat (L.), "it is clearly established," the opening words of a precept of seisin granted to an heir by the superior.

coarb, com(h)arb, the successor in an ecclesiastical office. Irish comharba.

collation, presentation to a benefice.

comburgess, fellow burgess, a member of the same burgh.

Commissariat record, the record of the commissary court which had jurisdiction over domestic relations.

compear, to appear in court.

composition, an agreement or settlement of a dispute.

conservator, guardian, custodian.

corcliner, cordinar, a worker in cordwain, a shoemaker.

creelman, one who carries goods or wares, or brings them to market, in a creel.

crewkit, lamed.

croft, a small piece of arable land adjoining a dwelling.

cruwes, pl., wattled hedges built on tidal flats for catching fish.

Culdee, one of an order of monks in the early Middle Ages.

culveriner, a soldier who fired or used a culverin.

curator, one appointed by law as guardian.

custumar, a collector of customs. See the surname in the Dictionary of names.

dag maker, pistol maker.

dapifer, a steward in a royal or noble house.

daoach, davoch, davat, a measure of land. Gael. dabhach.

decreet arbitral, the final Judgment or pronouncement of a competent judge or arbiter.

deforced, deforce in Scots law is resistance to an officer of the law in the execution of his duty.

delated, accused or charged (ecclesiastical term).

dempsier, one who pronounced Judgment, doomster. See the surname Dempster in the Dictionary of Names

dinging, beating, striking, assaulting.

disorderly person, a non-conformist, one who refused to conform or subscribe to the established church of the period.

disponed, law term, made over or conveyed to another.

distraint, seizure of goods.

dittay, indictment, charge. OF. ditte.

dominus, in the pre-Reformation church this was the title of the inferior clergy in Latin, rendered sir in English. Many of these minor clergy in the new order found employment as readers and teachers and gradually became known as dominies (cf. "Dominie Sampson" in Scott's Guy Mannering). See also Pope's knight.

dominus ejusdem , of that ilk.

doomster. See under dempster.

engager, a follower in the Engagement between the Scots Presbyterians and Charles I.

escheat, forfeiture.

esdieator, an official appointed yearly to take notice of the escheats in the county to which he is appointed, and to certify them into the Exchequer.

excambed, exchanged.

fermourer, Scots form of firmarius, q.v.

ferry-louper, the name given in Orkney to a settler or incomer from the mainland.

fethelar, a fiddler.

feu, a possession held on payment of a certain yearly rent in grain or money.

feuar, one who holds a feu.

feu-farme (or ferine), a mode of possessing land.

fiar, one who had reversion of property.

firmarius (ML.), a farmer. In Scotland one who farmed the revenue. See Farmer in Dictionary of names.

flesher, a butcher.

forespeaker, an advocate, a pleader in court.

forestall, to buy up the whole stock of goods before they are brought to the market ( = cornering in U. S.).

forestaller, one who buys up the whole stock of goods before they are brought to market (= cornerer in U. S.)

forcthought felony, premeditated serious crime.

fruictman, a man who sold fruit.

gowk (1) cuckoo; (2) fool, stupid person.

groat, a silver English coin. nominally worth 4d., current until 1662.

gudger, gudser, grandfather; a corruption of gudsyr.

hamesucken, feloniously assaulting a man in his own house.

harathor for arathor, a Gaelic corruption of Latin aratrum, a plough, formerly used as a land-measure. The place name Arrochar is a Gaelic adaptation of the Latin term.

herd, a herdsman.

hereyeld, the fine payable to a superior on the death of his tenant. = English "heriot."

heritor, a landholder in a parish.

hership, a foray, a carrying off of cattle by force.

hortulanus, gardener.

husband land, a division of land containing twenty-six acres.

ilk, the same; of that ilk, one whose surname is same as that of his estate.

indweller, an inhabitant.

infeft, to give possession of heritable property.

infeftment, the symbolical giving possession of land, the completion of the title,

inquest, a judicial inquiry before a Jury.

inquisition, investigation, Judicial enquiry.

instrument, a written document given in proof of any deed of a court; To ask an instrument, to demand a legal document with respect to a deed.

intromission, a law term, the assumption of authority to deal with the property of another.

intromitting, (1) intermeddling with goods which belonged to one deceased; (2) intermeddling with the goods of a living party.

joges, an iron neck-ring the old Scots pillory.

kerrowan, kerrowrane, an old local measure of land in Islay.

kirk-master, a deacon in a church; (2) a deacon of an incorporated trade.

knaiffscheipe, a certain quantity of grain, the due of the under miller.

knok, a clock.

lawborrowis, a writ requiring a person to give security against doing violence to another.

lawman, one with magisterial powers; in Orkney and Shetland formerly the presiding officer in a court.

lawting, formerly the supreme court of judicature in Orkney and Shetland.

letter of horning, a letter directed to a messsenger-at-arms to enforce payment by a debtor of the debt for which he is prosecuted within a limited time.

liferenter, one who enjoyed a tenancy for life on payment of rent.

llmmer, a scoundrel, a thief.

lineator, surveyor, measurer.

litster, a dyer.

lykewake, the watching of a dead body.

mair, an official attending a sheriff for arrestment or executions.

mair of fee, a hereditary officer under the Crown holding certain powers.

maltster, one who makes malt.

manrent. See bond of manrent.

march, a boundary.

mairifeodus, in Scots mair of fee, a hereditary officer whose power resembled that of a sheriff-substitute.

mart, a cow or ox fattened, killed, and salted for winter provision.

messuage, a dwelling and offices with the adjoining lands appropriated to the household.

miles, a knight. LL.

moneyer, one who coins money, a mintmaster.

mortified, bequeathed.

moyane, means.

multure, the fee paid to the miller for grinding grain.

nonentres, the fine payable to a superior on the failure of an heir to renew investure on the death of his ancestor.

noneschankis, afternoon repast.

nonganging, not going, being absent from.

odaller, a holder of land by uninterrupted succession under no feudal superior. See udal-land.

opponed, opposed.

orloge, clock, Fr. horologe.

ourman, overseer, master.

oxgang, as much land as could be tilled by the use of an ox.

particate, a rood of land.

petarie, a peat bog from which peat is dug. LL. petaria.

pellipanus, skinner.

perambulator, one who attested the bounds of a land by walking round the boundaries.

pertinent, anything pertaining to land, generally used in the plural.

pikar, piker, a petty thief.

poinded, seized, distrained.

polentarius, a malt maker.

Pope's knight, a title formerly applied to clerics who had not taken the proper academical degree of master of arts, so as to entitle them to use the higher prefix of master or magister.

portioner, one who possesses part of a property which had been originally dividea among co-heirs.

precept, an order subscribed by the king or under his signature.

prepositus, provost, answering to mayor in England.

presentation, the right of presenting to a benefice.

procurator, a lawyer, advocate.

proditor, a traitor (Latin).

purparty, the share of an estate held by coparceners and allotted to them in partition.

put to the horn, the proclamation of outlawry after the formality of blowing three blasts of a horn at the town cross.

querrell, stone quarry.

quhinzeare, a dirk.

quit-claim, n. a renunciation of all claim; v. to renounce all claim.

reddendo, the clause of a charter which specifies what duty the vassal is to pay to the superior.

reidare, a reader, one in minor orders in the Scottish Church after the Reformation. See dominus.

reiver, robber, thief.

remission, a pardon.

resetter, a receiver or concealer of stolen goods.

respite, a prorogation of punishment or of prosecution.

retour, an extract of the service of an heir to his ancestor.

rude, rood(s), land measure, 16.5 feet.

sasine, the act of giving legal possession of property; 2, the instrument by which such possession is proved.

scatland, in Shetland a land paying a tax for rights of pasture and peat.

sclater, occupation, a slater. See the surname in the Dictionary.

seisin, same as sasine.

seized, given possession of property by legal authority.

sept, a subdivision of a clan.

seriand, a constable, bailiff.

servitor, clerk, secretary, attendant.

sib, related by blood.

sir, see under dominus.

socage, a form of tenure of agricultural land.

spuilzeit, laid waste, carried off as prey.

spidzie, spoil, plunder.

squarewright, a worker in the finer kinds of furniture.

stane, stone, a weight of fourteen pounds.

steked naiff, closed fist.

stokkis, an obsolete instrument of punishment in which the ankles of offenders were confined.

stouthreif, theft attended with violence.

strang, urine long kept and smelling strongly.

sword sliper, one who made sword-slips or sheaths.

tack, a lease.

tacksman, one who holds a lease.

tailzeor, tailor.

tannator, tanner.

teind, a tythe.

tenement, in law, that which is held by tenure, the possessor of which is a tenant, hence lands, houses, etc., held of another for a term of years.

Test, The, an act passed in the Scots parliament, 1681, which was practically a repudiation of the Covenant, and an acknowledgement that the king was supreme in all causes "as well ecclesiastical as civil."

theke, n. and v., thatch, to thatch.

tochdoreschip, the office or dignity of a mair of fee, q.v. Gael. toiseadracht + Eng. -ship.

toft, a messuage with right of common.

tolune, toll, custom.

transumpt, a copy, a transcript.

udal-land, land in Orkney and Shetland held solely by uninterrupted succession, under no feudal superior. See odaller.

umquhile, deceased, the late.

vabster, wobster, a weaver.

vendition, the act of selling.

vestiarius, keeper of the wardrobe.

wadset, a contract under which the lender got actual possession of certain lands, and continued to occupy them, virtually as proprietor, until the money was repaid, sometimes after generations had passed.

wisag, face.

wrecker, one who lured vessels to destruction that he might share in the plunder; (2) a plunderer of a wreck.

yokis, in yokis = in harness.


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last updated on: April 3rd, 2017

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