The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Proverbs of Scotland, by Alexander Hislop

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Title: The Proverbs of Scotland

Author: Alexander Hislop

Release Date: July 29, 2008 [EBook #26150]

Language: English

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"I am of opinion, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "that there is no proverb which is not true, because they are all sentences drawn from experience itself, the mother of all the sciences."


Proverbs of Scotland





Transcriber's Note: Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Dialect spellings and inconsistent hyphenation have been retained. The following table has been added for convenience.





"One deeply versed in proverb lore,"








he gathering together of the Proverbs of Scotland has occupied the attention of several collectors. The earliest work on the subject which has been traced is that of Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow, who, about the time of the Reformation, made a small collection. The definite information which we have of this work is so very slight, however, that it has been of little or no value to subsequent collectors and writers on the subject. The first collection of importance is the well-known one made by the Rev. David Fergusson, minister of Dunfermline, who was a contemporary of Archbishop Beaton. Fergusson's collection, which numbered 940 proverbs, was, all circumstances considered, a very commendable one; and it has served as a foundation to the labours of subsequent workers in the same field. The next is that of James Kelly, published in London in 1721. This volume contains nearly 3000 proverbs, and is very carefully arranged, with notes[viii] and parallel illustrations. The collection of Kelly is an able and valuable one, as he was perfectly conversant with the subject of proverbs generally; but we are compelled to agree with Motherwell, when he says that this writer's rendering of the Scottish dialect is "most barbarous;" nor do we wonder that it excited the profound contempt of Allan Ramsay, who, from his thorough knowledge of the Scottish vernacular, was openly indignant at the reputation gained by Kelly's work, and made a collection himself, which was published at Edinburgh in 1763. In a sensible but pedantic preface, which he addressed to the "Tenantry of Scotland, Farmers of the Dales, and Storemasters of the Hills," he states his reasons for issuing a work on the subject, and strongly recommends the use of proverbs, particularly among the agricultural portion of the community. After alluding to the work of Kelly as a "late large book of them, fou of errors, in a style neither Scots nor English," he goes on to say:—"As naething helps our happiness mair than to hae the mind made up with right principles, I desire you, for the thriving and pleasure of you and yours, to use your een and lend your lugs to these guid auld says, that shine with wail'd sense, and will as lang as the world wags. Gar your bairns get[ix] them by heart; let them hae a place among your family books; and may never a window-sole through the country be without them. On a spare hour, when the day is clear, behind a rick, or on the green howm, draw the treasure frae your pouch and enjoy the pleasant companion. Ye happy herds, while your hirdsels are feeding on the flowery braes, you may eithly mak yoursels maisters of the hale ware! How usefou it will prove to you (wha hae sae few opportunities of common clattering) when you forgather with your friends at kirk or market, banquet or bridal! By your proficiency, you'll be able, in a proverbial way, to keep up the soul of a conversation, that is baith blythe and usefou."

Nearly a hundred years elapsed before a new collection appeared, although, during that period, many editions of the works which we have mentioned were brought out to supply the demands of a proverb-loving public. In 1832, the collection formed by Andrew Henderson was published at Glasgow. It is based upon the previous books, and is a very extensive one, although in arrangement it is defective. This collection, which is more ample than the former ones, has the advantage of an elaborate historical and literary disquisition on the general subject, in[x] the form of an introduction by the poet Motherwell, which is allowed to be one of the most interesting and comprehensive papers on proverbs which has yet appeared.

The present collection of Scottish Proverbs, the first edition of which appeared in 1862, while it is the most extensive and systematic that has yet appeared, claims to be little more than a mere mechanical compilation. It was suggested by the work of Henderson, and has been carefully collated with it, and also with the previous collections of Fergusson, Kelly, and Ramsay. Large additions have been made from various sources, such as the works of Sir Walter Scott, Galt, Hogg, and other national writers, while not a few have been picked up and registered as they fell from the lips of friends and strangers with whom the compiler came in contact.

Throughout the volume, a considerable number of notes are introduced. These notes the compiler had some hesitation in inserting, from a feeling that many of them were mere literal explanations or illustrations, conveying generally but a very poor idea of the deeper meaning which the proverbs themselves are capable of yielding; and also in deference to opinions which have been expressed as to the propriety of[xi] adding notes to a collection of proverbs at all, as every reader of intelligence is competent to put an individual construction upon each, suited to circumstances; while the very wide inferences and applications which can be extracted from many of them, render the adapting of a brief and satisfactory note, in many cases, an impossibility. As it is, however, little merit is claimed for them; and if they are found to be of no aid in facilitating an interpretation, they will, at least, tend to relieve the monotonous or catalogue effect, so to speak, which is apt to be felt by many readers when perusing works arranged in alphabetical order. In all cases where the compiler could adapt a quotation or parallel proverb, he did so in preference to inserting an original note. To apply a proverb from the collection, it is hoped that, after all, the notes will be found no worse than "Like a chip among parritch—little gude, little ill." A simple but comprehensive Glossary is appended, containing and explaining the meaning of the Scottish words to be found in the book.

Of course, in a work of this nature, it is impossible to prevent redundancies and repetitions; and when it is mentioned that the gathering and arrangement of the first edition of this little work occupied the leisure[xii] hours of six years, and a similar period during the preparation of the present, it will be readily understood that many of the faults are to be attributed to the length of time which elapsed during its compilation.

In conclusion, the compiler begs to state that the present edition of this little work differs very considerably from its predecessor. Upwards of 2000 additions, alterations, and corrections have been made upon it, most of which he is of opinion are improvements; so that the book is, practically speaking, a new one. He has also to thank the members of the press for the very flattering reception accorded to the first edition, and hopes that the new one will be found equally worthy of their commendation. To several private friends, and very many total strangers, he desires to express his acknowledgments for many valuable hints and important additions. As he is anxious that this collection should be as complete as possible, he will be most happy to receive any suggestion or addition which may occur to readers, and would respectfully solicit such with a view to their incorporation in a subsequent edition, should such be required.

Edinburgh, May 1868.


Scottish Proverbs.


' ae oo'.

Literally, "all one wool." "A proverbial phrase, equivalent to all one, all to the same purpose."—Jamieson.

A' ae oo', a' ae price.

A' are gude lasses, but where do the ill wives come frae?

"All are good maids, but whence come the bad wives?"—Spanish.

A' are no friends that speak us fair.

"All are not friends who smile at you."—Dutch.

A' are no thieves that dogs bark at.

A bad wound may heal, but a bad name will kill.

A bairn maun creep afore it gangs.

A bald head is sune shaved.

A bark frae a teethless dog is as gude as a bite.

A bauld fae is better than a cowardly friend.

A bawbee cat may look at a king.[14]

A beggar's wallet is a mile to the bottom.

Because it generally contrives to contain all he gets.

"A begun turn is half ended," quo' the wife when she stuck the graip in the midden.

A jocular beginning of work, which, if it went no further, would be long enough ere it were finished.

A beltless bairn canna lee.

"I suppose it means a child before it be so old as to wear belted truese, will not have the cunning to invent a lie."—Kelly.

A bird in the hand's worth twa fleeing by.

A bit but and a bit ben maks a mim maiden at the board end.

"A jocose reflection upon young maids when they eat almost nothing to dinner, intimating that if they had not eaten a little in the pantry or kitchen, they would eat better at the table."—Kelly.

A bit is aften better gi'en than eaten.

A black hen can lay a white egg.

A black shoe maks a blythe heart.

"Whan a man's shoe is blackened and bedaub'd with industry, it will procure him such a supply as will make him cheerful."—Kelly.

A Blainslie lawin'—there's mair for meat than drink.

A blate cat maks a proud mouse.

When discipline is not enforced, subordinates are apt to take advantage of it.

A blind man needs nae looking-glass.[15]

A blind man's wife needs nae painting.

A blythe heart maks a bloomin' look.

A body's no broke while they hae a gude kail stock.

"When all is not lost, all can be recovered."—English.

A bonnie bride is sune buskit, and a short horse is sune wispit.

"For little adornment is required to set forth the bride's charms; and the smaller the horse, it is the sooner 'wispit' or cleaned."—Kelly.

A bonnie gryce may mak an ugly sow.

"Fair in the cradle may be foul in the saddle."—English.

A borrowed len' should gae laughing hame.

When we return an article which has been borrowed, to its owner, we should do it with a good grace.

About the moon there is a brugh: the weather will be cauld and rough.

"The halo seen round the moon, being a consequence of the humidity of the atmosphere, may well betoken wet weather."—Robert Chambers.

A bow o'erbent will weaken.

Abundance o' law breaks nae law.

A careless watch invites the thief.

A' cats are grey in the dark.

A clean synd's better than a dirty dry.

"A clean thing's kindly," quo' the wife when she turned her sark after a month's wear.

A close mouth catches nae flees.

"A shut mouth keeps me out of strife."—Portuguese.


A cock's aye crouse on his ain midden-head.

"A cock is valiant on his own dunghill."—Danish.

A' complain o' want o' siller, but nane o' want o' sense.

A coward's fear maks a brave man braver.

A crackit bell will never mend.

A' cracks mauna be trew'd.

All that is heard must not be believed.

A crafty man's ne'er at peace.

A' craiks a' bears.

"Craik," to complain: great complainers wish to make others believe that their own lot is a very hard one.

A crammed kyte maks a crazy carcase.

"A full belly sets a man jigging."—French.

A craw will no wash white.

A crooked man should sow beans, and a woad man peas.

"The one agrees to be thick sown, the other thin."—Kelly.

A crookit stick will throw a crookit shadow.

A croonin cow, a crawin hen, and a whistlin maid, were ne'er very chancy.

"The two first are reckoned ominous, but the reflection is on the third, in whom whistling is unbecoming."—Kelly.

A cuddy's gallop's sune done.

A cumbersome cur is hated in company.

A daft nurse maks a wise wean.

A day to come seems langer than a year that's gane.[17]

A dear ship lies lang in the harbour.

A dink maiden aft maks a dirty wife.

A "dink," neat or trim, maiden often forgets her "dinkness" after marriage.

A dish o' married love grows sune cauld.

A dog's life—muckle ease, muckle hunger.

"We have dogs' days, hunger and aise, through the blue month."—Irish. The "blue month" being the interval between the failure of the old crop of potatoes and the coming on of the new one, commonly the month of July.

A dog winna yowl if ye fell him wi' a bane.

"Pelt a dog with bones, and you will not offend him."—Italian.

A doucer man ne'er brak warld's bread.

A saying expressive of unqualified respect.

A drap and a bite's but a sma' requite.

Used to induce a friend to sit down to dinner or tea, meaning that such is but a poor requital of the friend's past services.

A dreigh drink is better than a dry sermon.

A drink is shorter than a tale.

An excuse for drinking during the telling of a story.

A drudger gets a darg, and a drucken wife the drucken penny.

A willing labourer gets a day's work, and people fond of drink, however poor they are, contrive to get it some way or other.

A dry summer ne'er made a dear peck.

"Drought never bred dearth."—English.

A duck winna dabble aye in ae hole.[18]

A dumb man hauds a'.

That is, figuratively, makes no disclosures.

A dumb man ne'er got land.

A dumb man wins nae law.

A loquacious advocate is more likely to gain his case than a taciturn one.

Ae beggar's wae that anither by the gate gae.

He is sorry that another beggar should overtake him while pursuing his calling. This feeling is not strictly confined to the begging fraternity.

Ae fine thing needs twa to set it aff.

Ae gude friend is worth mony relations.

Ae gude turn deserves anither.

Ae gude turn may meet anither, an' it were at the brig o' London.

Meaning that a favour done may be returned at a time when least expected, and perhaps when very much required.

Ae half o' the warld disna ken how the ither half lives.

Ae hand winna wash the ither for nought.

Ae hour in the morning is worth twa at night.

Ae hour's cauld will drive oot seven years' heat.

Ae lawsuit breeds twenty.

Ae man may tak a horse to the water, but twenty winna gar him drink.

"'Reuben Butler! he hasna in his pouch the value o' the auld black coat he wears—but it doesna signify.' And, as he spoke, he (the Laird of Dumbiedikes) shut successively, and with vehemence, the drawers of his treasury. 'A fair[19] offer, Jeannie, is nae cause o' feud—ae man may bring a horse to the water, but twenty wunna gar him drink. And as for wasting my substance on other folks' joes——'"—Heart of Midlothian.

Ae man may steal a horse where anither daurna look ower the hedge.

A man with a bad character is liable to be blamed for any misdeed which may be done; while a person who is not open to suspicion may commit depredation without challenge.

Ae man's meat is anither man's poison.

Ae scabbit sheep will smit a hirsel.

One bad character may pollute a whole company.

Ae scone o' that baking's enough.

Ae shook o' that stook's enough.

One specimen of a bad article is sufficient.

Ae swallow disna mak a summer.

Ae word before is worth twa behint.

Ae year a nurse and seven years a daw.

Does this very old proverb mean, that if a woman nurses for one year, it takes seven years to recover from the effects of it? Ray has a very ungallant note on the English version of this: "Because, feeding well and doing little, she becomes liquorish, and gets a habit of idleness."

A' fails that fools think.

A fa'ing maister maks a standin' man.

A fair maid tocherless will get mair wooers than husbands.

A fair offer is nae cause o' feud.[20]

A' fellows, Jock and the laird.

"Spoken when unworthy fellows intrude themselves into the company of their betters."—Kelly.

A fey man and a cursour fearna the deil.

Meaning literally, that a predestined man and a war-horse (or stallion, as the word "cursour" more immediately implies) fear not the devil.

Affront your friend in daffin', and tine him in earnest.

Affront him not in jest, lest you lose him in earnest.

A fidging mare should be weel girded.

"A thief does not always steal, but always be on your guard against him."—Russian.

A findsilly bairn gars his faither be hang'd.

A fisherman's walk—twa steps and overboard.

A fleyer wad aye hae a follower.

This proverb illustrates a song of Allan Ramsay's, after an ode by Horace, referring to a girl running out of the room, in the hope that her lover would follow her.

A fool and his money are sune parted.

A fool at forty will ne'er be wise.

A fool is happier thinking weel o' himself, than a wise man is o' others thinking weel o' him.

A fool may earn money, but it taks a wise man to keep it.

A fool may gie a wise man a counsel.

"'Fair and softly gangs far,' said Meiklehose; 'and if a fule may gie a wise man a counsel, I wad hae him think twice or he mells with Knockdunder.'"—Heart of Midlothian.


A fool may speer mair questions than a wise man can answer.

A fool's bolt is sune shot.

A fool winna gie his toy for the Tower o' London.

A foul foot maks a fu' wame.

"Industry will be sure of a maintenance. A man that carefully goes about his business will have foul feet."—Kelly.

A foul hand maks a clean hearthstane.

A friend at court is worth a penny in the purse.

Kelly's note on this proverb is not favourable to the court usances of his time (1721). "A purse seems to be the only friend at court, for, without that, there is nothing there but neglect and empty promises."

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

A friend to a' is a friend to nane.

"Everybody's friend is nobody's friend."—Spanish.

A friend's dinner's sune dished.

That is, a true friend is easily served, and will not readily take offence.

A friend's ne'er ken't till he's needed.

Aft counting keeps friends lang thegither.

"Short accounts make long friends."—English.

After a sort, as Costlet served the king.

"One Captain Costlet, boasting much of his loyalty, was asked how he served the king when he was a captain in Cromwell's army, answered, 'After a sort.' Spoken when a thing is done slightly."—Kelly.

After a storm comes a calm.

After cheese, naething.[22]

After clouds comes fair weather.

After dinner sit a while, after supper walk a mile.

This advice is unfitted for the dining practices of the present day; but when our ancestors breakfasted at six, dined at eleven, and supped at four or five, the counsel may have been good enough.

After joy comes annoy.

After Lammas, corn ripens by day and night.

After that comes a cow to be shod.

After words come weird: fair fa' them that ca' me "Madam."

After libel comes proof: let those who speak ill of me look to themselves.

After you is gude manners.

"Spoken when our betters offer to serve us first."—Kelly.

Aft ettle, whiles hit.

Often try, occasionally succeed.

Aft times the cautioner pays the debt.

A fu' cup is ill to carry.

A fu' heart is aye kind.

A fu' heart never lee'd.

Intimating that the truth generally comes out under the impulse of the feelings.

A fu' man and a hungry horse aye mak haste hame.

A fu' man's a true man.

A man under the influence of drink, if he speak at all, speaks truth, and often more of that than is pleasant.


A fu' purse maks a haverin merchant.

A man with a full purse engaged in commercial transactions is apt to "haver," or gossip freely.

A fu' purse never lacks friends.

A fu' sack can bear a clout on the side.

A man in prosperous circumstances can afford to listen to the envious remarks of those who have not been so fortunate.

A fu' wame maks a straught back.

A full stomach makes a man walk erectly.

A gaun fit's aye getting, were it but a thorn or a broken tae.

"A man of industry will certainly get a living; though the proverb is often applied to those who went abroad and got a mischief, when they might safely have stayed at home."—Kelly.

A gentle horse should be sindle spurr'd.

A gi'en game was ne'er won.

A voluntary concession may be no tribute to the skill of the opponent.

A gi'en horse shouldna be looked i' the mouth.

A gi'en piece is soon eaten.

A gowk at Yule 'll no be bright at Beltane.

He that is a fool at Christmas will not be wise in May.

A great rooser was ne'er a gude rider.

A great boaster is rarely a great performer.

A greedy e'e ne'er got a fu' wame.

A greedy e'e ne'er got a gude pennyworth.

This and the preceding proverb signify that a covetous or greedy man is never satisfied.


A green wound is half hale.

A green Yule maks a fat kirkyard.

"Ance I wrought a simmer wi' auld Will Winnet, the bedral, and howkit mair graves than ane in my day; but I left him in winter, for it was unco cauld wark; and then it cam a green Yule, and the folk died thick and fast."—The Antiquary.

A groat is ill saved that shames its master.

A grunting horse and a graneing wife seldom fail their master.

People that are constantly in the habit of complaining how ill they are, generally contrive to live as long as their neighbours.

A gude beginning maks a gude ending.

A gude calf is better than a calf o' a gude kind.

The one is good already, while it is possible that the other may turn out bad.

A gude cause maks a strong arm.

A gude conscience is the best divinity.

A gude day's darg may be done wi' a dirty spade.

A gude dog ne'er barkit about a bane.

A gude face needs nae band, and an ill ane deserves nane.

A gude fellow is a costly name.

A gude fellow ne'er tint but at an ill fellow's hand.

A gude goose may hae an ill gaiflin.[25]

A gude green turf is a gude gudemother.

A mother-in-law is best in the churchyard.

A gude grieve is better than an ill worker.

A gude ingle maks a roomy fireside.

A gude lawyer may be an ill neighbour.

A gude man maks a gude wife.

A gude name is sooner tint than won.

"Good repute is like the cypress; once cut, it never puts forth leaf again."—Italian.

A gude pawn never shamed its master.

"It is no shame for a man to borrow on a good pawn; though I think it would be more for his honour to be trusted without one."—Kelly.

A gude paymaster ne'er wants hands to work.

A gude steel is worth a penny.

A gude tale's no the waur o' being twice tauld.

"It's very true the curates read aye the same words ower again; and if they be right words, what for no?—a gude tale's no the waur o' being twice tauld, I trow; and a body has aye the better chance to understand it."—Old Mortality.

A gude tongue's a gude safeguard.

A gude wife and health is a man's best wealth.

A gude word is as easy said as an ill ane.

A gude year winna mak him, nor an ill year mar him.

"A beggar will ne'er be a bankrupt."—English.

A guilty conscience self accuses.

A hadden tongue maks a slabbered mou'.[26]

A hairy man's a geary man, but a hairy wife's a witch.

A half burn'd peat is easily kindled.

A hanfu' o' trade is worth a gowpen o' gold.

Literally, the knowledge of a trade is worth a handful of gold.

A hantle cry Murder! and are aye upmost.

Many that are least hurt cry loudest

A hasty man is never lusty.

A hasty man never wanted wae.

A hearty hand to gie a hungry meltith.

A hen that lays thereout should hae a white nest-egg.

Some attractions should be provided at home for those who are not naturally attached to it.

A' his buz shakes nae barley.

All his talking does no good, or, vice versa, all his stormy temper does no harm.

A hook is weel tint to catch a salmon.

"Throw sprats to catch whales."—Spanish.

A horn spoon hauds nae poison.

The humble rank indicated by the horn spoon is one in which simplicity and contentment are so general that no poisoning need be feared. "No hemlock is drunk out of earthenware."—Latin.

A horse broken and a wife to break, is a horse made and a wife to make.

A horse hired never tired.[27]

A horse wi' four feet may snapper.

Snapper, to stumble. Even the best of men may err.

A houndless hunter and a gunless gunner aye see routh o' game.

Applied to those who are always boasting of what they can do, when they know that there is no fear of their powers being tested.

A house built and a garden to grow never brought what they cost.

A house fu' o' folk, and a pouch wi' three fardens i' the corner o't, dinna sort weel thegither.

Poverty and a desire to keep up appearances do not "sort weel."

A house in a hastrie is downright wastrie.

A house wi' a reek and a wife wi' a reard will mak a man rin to the door.

"Smoke, a dripping roof, and a scolding wife, are enough to drive a man out of his life."—Spanish.

A hungry louse bites sair.

"Spoken when the needy are importunate in their cravings, or exacting."—Kelly.

A hungry man has aye a lazy cook.

A hungry man's an angry man.

A hungry man smells meat far.

A hungry stomach is aye craving.

A hungry wame has nae lugs.

A hungry man is deaf to reason.


A' I got frae him I could put in my e'e, and see nane the waur for't.

A satirical way of expressing that some service has been allowed to go unrewarded.

A' ills are gude untried.

Air day or late day, the fox's hide finds aye the slaying knife.

Sooner or later justice overtakes evil-doers.

A Januar' haddock, a Februar' bannock, and a March pint o' ale.

"This semi-metrical proverb expresses the season at which the haddock and some other articles of aliment are supposed to be at their best. This, however, as far as the haddock is concerned, would appear questionable, as there is an almost universal notion that the young of this fish at least are best after a little of May has gone. It is said in the Mearns,—

"'A cameral haddock's ne'er gude
Till it get three draps o' May flude.'"
—Robert Chambers.

Formerly, brewers made ale only twice a year,—the summer ale in March, and the winter in October.

A Kelso convoy—a step and a half ower the door-stane.

"Ye ken in this country ilka gentleman is wussed to be sae civil as to see the corpse aff his ain grounds. Ye needna gang higher than the loan-head—it's no expected your honour suld leave the land—it's just a Kelso convoy, a step and a half ower the door-stane."—The Antiquary.

A kindly word cools anger.[29]

A kiss and a drink o' water mak but a wersh breakfast.

Spoken disapprovingly of those who marry for love, without due regard to means.

A landward lad is aye laithfu'.

A country or rustic lad is always bashful.

A lang gather'd dam soon runs out.

A lang tongue has a short hand.

"They who are lavish in their promises, are often short in their performances."—Kelly.

A lass that has mony wooers aft wails the warst.

A laughing-faced lad often maks a lither servant.

A layin' hen is better than a standin' mill.

A standing mill is profitless, whereas a laying hen is not.

A leaky ship needs muckle pumping.

A leal heart never lied.

Ale-sellers shouldna be tale-tellers.

They hear everybody's story, but prudence demands that they should keep it to themselves.

A liar should hae a gude memory.

A light-heeled mother maks a heavy-heeled dochter.

A light purse maks a heavy heart.

Alike every day maks a clout on Sunday.

A little wit ser's a lucky man.

A' law's no justice.[30]

A loving heart and a leal within, are better than gowd or gentle kin.

A lucky man needs little counsel.

A maid aft seen and a gown aft worn, are disesteemed and held in scorn.

"Amaist" and "Very near" hae aye been great liars.

Amaist was ne'er a man's life.

A man at five may be a fool at fifteen.

A man at forty is either a fool or a physician.

A man canna bear a' his ain kin about on his back.

A man canna wive and thrive the same year.

Amang you be 't, priest's bairns: I am but a priest's oe.

A man has nae mair gudes than he gets gude o'.

A man is a lion for his ain cause.

"No man so zealous for, or assiduous in, a man's business as himself."—Kelly.

A man maun spoil ere he spin.

A man may be kind, yet gie little o' his gear.

A man may haud his tongue in an ill time.

A man may keep silent at a time or under circumstances where it is an injury to himself.

A man may lose his ain for lack o' craving.[31]

A man may see his friend in need, that wouldna see his pow bleed.

That is, a friend may be willing to do anything, even to fight for him, except, and as is too generally the case, to give him pecuniary assistance.

A man may speer the gate he kens fu' weel.

A man may spit in his neive and do but little.

He may make a great show of working, but still do very little.

A man may woo where he will, but maun wed where his weird is.

A man o' mony trades may beg his bread on Sunday.

"Jack of all trades, master of none."—English.

A man o' straw is worth a woman o' gold.

"It seems that the men contrived these proverbs, they run so much in their favours."—Kelly.

A man o' words, and no o' deeds, is like a garden fu' o' weeds.

A man's aye crouse in his ain cause.

A man's hat in his hand ne'er did him ony harm.

A man's mind is a mirk mirror.

A man's weel or wae as he thinks himsel sae.

A man was ance hang'd for leaving his drink.

"It took its rise from the villain that assassinated the Prince of Orange. Spoken when men proffer to go away before their drink be out."—Kelly.

A man wi' ae ee, can see mair than you wi' your twa.[32]

A master's ee maks a fat horse.

"No eye like the master's eye."—English.

A mear's shoe will fit a horse.

"Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."—English.

A Merse mist alang the Tweed, in a harvest morning's gude indeed.

"Because it generally precedes a fine, warm, and breezy harvest-day—excellent for the winnowing and in-bringing of the precious grain."—G. Henderson.

A midge is as big as a mountain, amaist.

The latitude afforded in the meaning of the word "almost," furnishes the point in this and several other proverbs.

A mind that's scrimpit ne'er wants care.

"But aiblins, neibour, ye hae not a heart,
And downa eithly wi' your cunzie part.
If that be true, what signifies your gear?
A mind that's scrimpit never wants some care."
—Gentle Shepherd.

A misty morning may be a clear day.

A morning's sleep is worth a fauld o' sheep to a hudderin dudderin daw.

"A reflection upon lazy, sleepy drabs, who prefer nothing to soaking in their bed in the morning."—Kelly.

A mouthfu' o' meat may be a tounfu' o' shame.

"That is, if it be stolen—intimating that a little thing picked will procure a great disgrace."—Kelly.

A muckle mouth has aye gude luck for its meat.

A muffled cat was ne'er a gude hunter.

An Aberdeen man ne'er stands to the word that hurts him.[33]

A nag wi' a wame and a mare wi' nane are no a gude pair.

An air winter maks a sair winter.

A naked man maun rin.

A man that is destitute must exert himself.

An auld dog bites sicker.

An auld horse may dee ere the grass grow.

"While the grass is growing the steed is starving."—German.

An auld knave's nae bairn.

"An old fox needs learn no new tricks."—English.

An auld man's a bedfu' o' banes.

An auld mason maks a gude barrowman.

An auld pock is aye skailing.

An auld pock needs muckle clouting.

Old things, generally, are often in need of repair.

An auld tout on a new horn is little minded.

An old story or complaint receives little attention even although it may be told in a different form.

Ance awa, aye awa.

When people once go away from home for a time, there is always a feeling among those left that the bond which binds them to home is weakened, and very little persuasion is required to take them away again.

Ance is nae custom.

Ance paid, never craved.

Ance Provost, aye My Lord.

Ance wud, and aye waur.[34]

Ance wud, never wise.

A person once "wud," or deranged, is always suspected of being so, in the event of anything strange taking place.

Ane at a time is gude fishing.

An eating horse ne'er foundered.

An excuse for taking a hearty meal, meaning that plenty of food will injure neither man nor beast.

Ane beats the bush, and anither grips the bird.

Ane does the skaith, anither gets the scorn.

Ane gets sma' thanks for tineing his ain.

Ane is no sae soon healed as hurt.

An elbuck dirl will lang play thirl.

Ane may like a haggis weel enough that wouldna like the bag bladded on his chafts.

Ane may like the kirk weel enough, and no aye be riding on the rigging o't.

Ane would like to be lo'ed, but wha would mool in wi' a moudiewort?

The three preceding proverbs mean, that although a man may be very fond of his relations, property, and what not, still there are certain extremes to be avoided, for if even approached, they verge into the ridiculous.

Ane may think that daurna speak.

Ane never tines by doing gude.

Ane o' the court, but nane o' the council.

Meaning that although your presence and advice may on certain occasions be requested, it is only for form's sake.

Ane's ain hearth is gowd's worth.

Ane will gar a hundred lee.[35]

A new pair o' breeks will cast down an auld coat.

A new article of dress will make the others look much more worn than they really are. The acquisition of a new friend may tend to lower our esteem for those of longer standing.

Anger's mair hurtfu' than the wrang that caused it.

Anger's short-lived in a gude man.

An honest man's word's his bond.

An idle brain is the deil's workshop.

"He that labours is tempted by one devil; he that is idle by a thousand."—Italian.

An ilka-day braw maks a Sabbath-day daw.

He that wears his best at all times will have nothing to suit extraordinary occasions.

An ill cook should hae a gude cleaver.

An ill cow may hae a gude calf.

An ill custom is like a gude bannock—better broken than kept.

An ill lesson is easy learned.

An ill life maks an ill death.

An ill plea should be weel pled.

An ill servant ne'er made a gude maister.

An ill shearer ne'er got a gude heuk.

"And now some learner tries to shear,
But comes right little speed, I fear;
'The corn lies ill,' and aye we hear
'The sickle's bad:'
The byeword says, 'Ill shearer ne'er
A gude hook had.'"
—The Har'st Rig.

An ill turn is soon done.

An ill wife and a new-kindled candle should hae their heads hadden down.

"But both must be done with care, caution, and discretion; otherwise you may put the candle out and make the wife worse."—Kelly.

An ill-willy cow should hae short horns.

"It were a pity that a man of ill-nature should have much authority, for he'll be sure to abuse it."—Kelly.

An ill-won penny will cast down a pound.

An inch breaks nae squares.

"A little difference ought not to occasion any contests among good neighbours."—Kelly.

An inch o' a nag is worth a span o' an aiver.

"A little man, if smart and stout, is much preferable to an unwieldy lubber, though much bigger."—Kelly.

An inch o' gude luck is worth a faddom o' forecast.

A nod frae a lord is a breakfast for a fool.

A nod o' honest men's eneugh.

A nod's as gude's a wink to a blind horse.

An olite mother maks a dawdie dochter.

An only dochter is either a deil or a daw.

An ounce o' mither-wit is worth a pound o' clergy.

An ounce o' wit is worth a pound o' lear.

"An ounce of mother-wit is worth a pound of school-wit."—German.

An unlucky fish taks bad bait.

An unlucky man's cart is eithly coup'd.[37]

An ye loe me look in my dish.

A delicate request for a second supply of soup.

A' owers are ill, but ower the water and ower the hill.

"All owers are repute to be vyce,
Ower heich, ower law, ower rasch, ower nyce,
Owre het or zit ower cauld."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

A' owers spills.

A party pot ne'er plays even.

An interested or prejudiced individual cannot be an impartial judge of both sides of a question.

A penny hain'd's a penny clear, and a preen a-day's a groat a-year.

A penny hain'd's a penny gained.

A penny in my purse will gar me drink when my friends winna.

A penny in the purse is a gude friend.

A penny in the purse is better than a crown awa.

A pennyweight o' love is worth a pound o' law.

A pickle's no miss'd in a mickle.

A poll parrot thinks weel o' itsel.

A poor man is fain o' little.

A poor man's debt maks muckle din.

A pound o' care winna pay an ounce o' debt.

Care here means sorrow, or trouble of mind, and must not be associated with care in the sense of frugality or economy, which has paid many an ounce of debt.

A pound o' woo' is as heavy as a pound o' lead.[38]

A primsie damsel maks a daidlin' dame.

A proud heart in a poor breast has muckle dolour to dree.

A proud mind and an empty purse gree ill thegither.

"A true proverb! and the worst is, they meet often."—Kelly.

A raggit coat was ne'er a mote in a man's marriage.

A raggit cowte may be a gude gelding.

An uncouth, unpromising colt may turn out a fine horse. An ignorant, dull boy may ultimately prove a very clever man.

"Yet aft a ragged cowte's been known
To mak a noble aiver;
So, ye may doucely fill a throne,
For a' their clish-ma-claver."

A reckless house maks mony thieves.

A red nose maks a raggit back.

A reeky house and a girnin' wife, will lead a man a fashious life.

A reproof is nae poison.

"No, indeed! but a wholesome medicine, which whosoever refuseth is brutish!"—Kelly.

A rich man has mair cousins than his faither had kin.

A rich man's wooing's no lang doing.

A rough bane maks a fu' wame.[39]

As a carl riches he wretches.

"Wretch, a covetous or niggardly person."—Jamieson. As a man becomes rich he also becomes more parsimonious.

A safe conscience maks a sound sleep.

A saft aiver was ne'er a gude horse.

As ane flits anither sits, and that keeps mailins dear.

As brisk as bottled ale.

As broken a ship's come to land.

"'I fear,' said Morton, 'there is very little chance, my good friend Cuddie, of our getting back to our old occupation.' 'Hout, stir; hout, stir,' replied Cuddie, 'it's aye gude to keep up a hardy heart—as broken a ship's come to land.'"—Old Mortality.

A's but lip-wit that wants experience.

A scabbed horse is gude enough for a sca'd squire.

A sca'ded cat dreads cauld water.

As canker'd as a cow wi' ae horn.

"As proud as a hen with one chick."—English.

A scar'd head is eith to bleed.

A scar'd head is soon broken.

A reputation already questionable is easily lost altogether.

As coarse as Nancie's harn sark,—three threads out o' the pound.

A Scotch mist will weet an Englishman to the skin.[40]

A Scotsman and a Newcastle grindstane travel a' the world ower.

Alluding to the wandering propensities of the one and the good qualities of the other.

A Scotsman is aye wise ahint the hand.

"It is too late to throw water on the cinders when the house is burned down."—Danish.

As dark as a Yule midnight.

As day brake, butter brake.

"Spoken when a person or thing that was wanting comes opportunely."—Kelly.

A seven years' maiden is aye at the slight.

As fain as a fool o' a fair day.

A's fair at the ba'.

"All's fair in war."—English.

As fause as Waghorn.

"Waghorn, a fabulous personage, who, being a liar nineteen times greater than the devil, was crowned King of liars."—Jamieson.

A's fine that's fit.

A's fish that comes to the net.

As fu' o' mischief as an egg's fu' o' meat.

As gentle as Gorman's bitch, that lap ower the ingle and ate the roast.

As gude a fellow as ever toom'd a bicker.

As gude eat the deil as sup the kail he's boiled in.

As gude fish in the sea as e'er cam out o't.[41]

As gude gie the lichtly as tak it.

"Lichtly, an expression of contempt or insult: to undervalue, to slight, to despise."—Jamieson.

As gude may haud as draw.

As gude may haud the stirrup as he that loups on.

As gude merchants tine as win.

As gude ne'er a bit, as ne'er the better.

"Unless you make a thing the better for you, you had as good let it alone."—Kelly.

A's gude that God sends.

A shave aff a new cut loaf's never missed.

A shor'd tree stands lang.

"Men do not die of threats."—Dutch.

A short grace is gude for hungry folk.

A short horse is sune wispit.

A sight o' you is gude for sair een.

"'Wha's this o't?' again exclaimed Madge Wildfire. 'Douce Davie Deans; the auld doited whig body's daughter, in a gipsy's barn, and the nicht setting in! this is a sight for sair een!—Eh, sirs, the falling off o' the godly!—and the t'other sister's in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

A sillerless man gangs fast through the market.

A silly man will be slily dealt wi'.

"He that makes himself a sheep, shall be eaten by the wolf."—English.

A sinking maister maks a rising man.

A skelpit bum breaks nae banes.[42]

Ask the tapster if his ale be gude.

Ask your purse what you should buy.

Ask nae questions, and I'll tell nae lees.

"'What needs ye be aye speering then at folk?' retorted Effie. 'I'm sure, if ye'll ask nae questions, I'll tell ye nae lees. I never ask what brings the Laird of Dumbiedykes glowering here like a wull cat (only his een's greener, and no sae gleg), day after day, till we are all like to gaunt our chafts aff.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

As lang as a dog would be bound wi' a bluidy puddin'.

As lang as the bird sings before Candlemas he greets after it.

As lang as ye serve the tod ye maun carry his tail.

As lang as ye stand ye dinna stay.

"It is enough to make it appear that you did not stay, if you can say you never sate down; an argument to make our friend, who is in haste, to stand and chat awhile."—Kelly.

As lang lasts the hole as the heel leather.

"Spoken to them that quarrel with a hole in your coat or shoe: often applied otherways."—Kelly.

As lang lives the merry man as the sad.

As lang rins the tod as he has feet.

A slow hand maks a sober fortune.

A slow fire maks a sweat maut.

A sma' leak will sink a great ship.

As menseless as a tinkler's messan.[43]

As merry's a mautman.

A smith's house is aye lowin'.

As mony heads as mony wits.

As muckle upwith as muckle downwith.

A's no gowd that glitters, nor maidens that wear their hair.

"It was the fashion some years ago (1721) for virgins to go bareheaded. The proverb means that everything is not so good as it appears."—Kelly.

A's no help that's at hand.

A's no ill that's ill like.

A's no part.

A's no tint that fa's bye.

A's no tint that's in hazard.

A sorrowfu' heart's aye dry.

"Spoken when widows or widowers drink liberally, alledging it was to quench their sorrow."—Kelly.

A sooth bourd is nae bourd.

"'D'ye hear that, Provost?' said Summertrees. 'Your wife's a witch, man; you should nail a horse-shoe on your chamber door. Ha, ha, ha!'

"This sally did not take so well as the former efforts of the laird's wit. The lady drew up, and the Provost said, half aside, 'The sooth bourd is nae bourd; you will find the horse-shoe hissing hot, Summertrees.'"—Redgauntlet.

As poor as a kirk mouse.

A spunefu' o' stink will spoil a patfu' o' skink.

"Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour; so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour."—Ecclesiastes, x. 1.


A spur in the head's worth twa in the heel.

As sair fights the wren as the crane.

As sair greets the bairn that's paid at e'en as it that gets its paiks in the morning.

As sib as sieve and riddle that grew in ae wood.

"Spoken of them who groundlessly pretend kindred to great persons."—Kelly.

As sune comes the lamb's skin to the market as the auld tup's.

"Of young die many, of old 'scape not any."—English.

As sure's death.

An emphatic assertion that the truth had been told. At school we had a pious faith in these words. Any narrative clenched with them was invariably believed. If anything was said of a questionable nature, the listener would say, "Say sure's death to that, then." If repeated, confidence was fully restored.

A steek in time saves nine.

As the auld cock craws the young cock learns.

As the day lengthens the cauld strengthens.

As the fool thinks the bell clinks.

As the market gangs the wares sell.

As the sow fills the draff sours.

As the wind blaws seek your beild.

That is, endeavour to suit yourself to circumstances. Kelly pawkily remarks, This is "a politick proverb! advising us to make our interest as the times change. This proverb some act very dexterously, and others cannot get acted."

A still sow eats a' the draff.[45]

A's tint that's put in a riven dish.

All is lost that is put into a broken dish. Favours bestowed on ungrateful persons are thrown away.

As tired as a tyke o' langkail.

"Are ye fou already, Watty Walkinshaw? If ye mudge out o' that seat again this night, I'll mak you as sick o' pies and puddings as ever a dog was o' langkail."—The Entail.

As true as Biglam's cat crew, and the cock rocked the cradle.

"Spoken when we hear one call that true that we know to be a lye."—Kelly.

A' Stuarts are no sib to the king.

Although all of the same name, we are not of the same family. "There is some distance between Peter and Peter."—Spanish.

A sturdy beggar should hae a stout nae-sayer.

As wanton as a wet hen.

As weel be hang'd for a sheep as a lamb.

As weel be sune as syne.

Used as a suggestion that a thing had better be done at present than put off till a future time, or vice versa. "Ae wise body's eneugh in the married state. But if your heart's ower fu', take what siller will serve ye, and let it be when ye come back again—as gude syne as sune."—Heart of Midlothian.

As weel be out o' the warld as out o' fashion.

As wight as a wabster's doublet, that ilka day taks a thief by the neck.

As ye are stout be merciful.[46]

As ye brew sae ye maun drink.

"Some will spend, and some will spare,
And wilfu' folk maun hae their will;
Syne as ye brew, my maiden fair,
Keep mind that ye maun drink the yill."

As ye brew weel ye'll drink the better.

"'So ye hae gotten your auld son married? I hope it's to your satisfaction.'

"'An he has brewed good yill, Mr Keelevin, he'll drink the better,' was the reply; 'but I hae come to consult you anent a bit alteration that I would fain make in my testament.'"—The Entail.

As ye mak your bed sae ye maun lie on't.

A's yours frae the door out.

"A jest upon those who pretend that such and such things in the house are theirs. As if you would say, all the household goods without the doors are yours."—Kelly.

A taking hand will never want, let the world be e'er sae scant.

A tarrowing bairn was never fat.

A child that refuses or is slow in taking its food. People who will not take advantage as opportunities offer, cannot expect to prosper so well as those who do.

A tale never tines in the telling.

A' that's said in the kitchen shouldna be tauld in the ha'.

A' that's said shouldna be sealed.

A' that ye'll tak wi' ye will be but a kist and a sheet, after a'.

In allusion to the death of persons who may be proud of their possessions.


A' the claes on your back was ance in clues.

A' the corn's no shorn by kempers.

To kemp, to strive. All do not strive alike. All cannot equally excel in work. This proverb supports the claims of those who do not excel, by suggesting that even the "kempers" cannot overtake all the work that is to do.

A' the keys of the country hang na in ae belt.

All the influence or power is not in one man's possession.

A' the men i' the Mearns can do nae mair than they may.

No man can do more than he has strength to do. There is an Aberdeenshire saying of similar import, "I can dee fat I dow: the men in the Mearns can dee nae mair."

A' the speed's no in the spurs.

A' the winning's in the first buying.

A' the wit o' the world's no in ae pow.

A'thing angers ye, and the cat breaks your heart.

A' things thrive at thrice.

A'thing wytes that no weel fares.

A thoughtless body's aye thrang.

A thrawn question should hae a thrawart answer.

A thread will tie an honest man better than a rope will do a rogue.

At my leisure, as lairds dee.

"Fair and softly, as lawyers go to heaven."—English.

A tocherless dame sits lang at hame.[48]

A tocher's nae word in a true lover's parle.

"Oh wae on the siller, it is sae prevailing!
And wae on the love that is fixed on a mailen!
A tocher's nae word in a true lover's parle,
But gie me love, and a fig for the warl!"

A toolying tike comes limping hame.

"Toolying tike," quarrelsome dog.

A toom hand is nae lure for a hawk.

A toom pantry maks a thriftless gudewife.

A toom purse maks a thrawn face.

At open doors dogs gae ben.

A travelled man has leave to lee.

A tree's no a mast till its hewn.

"I like the lassie, Mundy, wi' my heart,
An' as she's bonny, dootna but she's smart;
The creature's young, she'll shape to ony cast—
Nae tree till it be hewn becomes a mast."
—Ross's Helenore.

A tricky man's easiest tricket.

A turn weel done is sune done.

A twalpenny cat may look at a king.

Auld chimes and auld rhymes gar us think on auld times.

Auld folk are twice bairns.

Auld moon mist ne'er died o' thrist.

"Foggy weather in the last quarter of the moon is supposed to betoken moisture."—Robert Chambers.

Auld sins breed new sairs.

Auld sparrows are ill to tame.[49]

Auld springs gie nae price.

Things out of fashion are valueless.

Auld stots hae stiff horns.

Auld use and wont hings about the fire.

Old manners and customs are difficult to be got rid of.

Auld wives and bairns mak fools o' physicians.

Auld wives were aye gude maidens.

A vaunter and a liar are near akin.

A wa' between best preserves friendship.

Meaning that friends are best separate.

A wad is a fule's argument.

"Fools, for argument, lay wagers."—Butler.

A waited pat's lang o' boiling.

A wamefu's a wamefu' wer't but o' bare cauf.

A bellyful is a bellyful, no matter what kind of meat is taken. A variation occurs in St Ronan's Well:—"A wamefu's a wamefu' whether it be o' barley meal or bran."

A wee bush is better than nae beild.

"Dame Elspeth is of good folk, a widow, and the mother of orphans,—she will give us house-room until something be thought upon. These evil showers make the low bush better than no beild."—The Monastery.

A wee house has a wide throat.

A wee house weel fill'd, a wee piece land weel till'd, a wee wife weel will'd, will mak a happy man.

A wee mouse will creep beneath a muckle corn stack.[50]

A wee spark maks muckle wark.

A wee thing fleys cowards.

A wee thing puts your beard in a bleeze.

A wee thing ser's a cheerfu' mind.

A wet May and a winnie, brings a fu' stackyard and a finnie.

"Implying that rain in May and dry winds afterwards produce a plentiful crop, with that mark of excellence by which grain is generally judged of by connoisseurs—a good feeling in the hand."—Robert Chambers.

A whang off a cut kebbuck's never miss'd.

A wife is wise enough when she kens her gudeman's breeks frae her ain kirtle.

Kelly gives a very indifferent version of this proverb, and says, "This is old, and a good one if rightly understood: that is, she is a good wife who knows the true measure of her husband's authority and her obedience."

A wight man ne'er wanted a weapon.

A wild goose ne'er laid tame eggs.

A wilfu' man maun hae his way.

"'Reuben Butler! Reuben Butler!' echoed the Laird of Dumbiedykes, pacing the apartment in high disdain,—'Reuben Butler, the dominie at Liberton—and a dominie-depute too!—Reuben, the son of my cottar!—Very weel, Jeanie, lass, wilfu' woman will hae her way—Reuben Butler! he hasna in his pouch the value o' the auld black coat he wears.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

A wilfu' man ne'er wanted wae.

"It has been said, and may be sae,
A wilfull man wants never wae,
Thocht he gets little gains."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

A wilfu' man should be unco wise.

A willing mind maks a light foot.

A winking cat's no aye blind.

A winter day and a wintry way is the life o' man.

A winter night, a woman's mind, and a laird's purpose, aften change.

"Women, wind, and luck soon change."—Portuguese.

A wise head maks a close mouth.

A wise lawyer ne'er gangs to law himsel.

A wise man carries his cloak in fair weather, an' a fool wants his in rain.

"An encouragement to care, caution, and foresight, and especially not to leave your cloak, be the weather e'er so encouraging."—Kelly.

"Chiels carry cloaks, when 'tis clear,
The fool when 'tis foul has nane to wear."

A wise man gets learning frae them that hae nane o' their ain.

A wise man wavers, a fool is fixed.

A woman's gude either for something or naething.

A word is enough to the wise.

A working mither maks a daw dochter.

Another rendering of "A light-heeled mother," &c.

Aye as ye thrive your feet fa's frae ye.

"Unexpected interruptions occur in business."—Kelly.

"The farther you go, the farther behind."—English.

Aye flether away;—since I'll no do wi' foul play, try me wi' fair.[52]

A yeld sow was never gude to gryces.

This more expressive than elegant proverb means that those people who have no family of their own are rarely inclined to be kind to the children of others.

Aye takin' out o' the meal pock and ne'er puttin' in't soon comes to the bottom.

Aye tak the fee when the tear's in the ee.

Aye to eild, but never to wit.

That is, he is always growing older, but never any wiser.

A' you rin you win.

"Taken from playing at bowls: applied to endeavours about a project that seems not feasible, where what you can make is clear gain."—Kelly.

A Yule feast may be done at Pasche.



achelors' wives and auld maids' bairns are aye weel bred.

Bad legs and ill wives should stay at hame.

Bairns are certain care, but nae sure joy.

Bairns speak i' the field what they hear i' the ha'.

Baith weal and woe come aye wi' world's gear.

"'And I positively must not ask you how you have come by all this money?' said the clergyman.... 'Is it anything that distresses your own mind?' 'There is baith weal and woe come wi' warld's gear, Reuben: but ye maun ask me naething mair.—This siller binds me to naething, and can never be speered back again.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

Baked bread and brown ale winna bide lang.

Bannocks are better than nae bread.

"Half a loaf is better than no bread."—English.

Barefooted folk shouldna tread on thorns.

"Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones."—English.

Bare gentry, bragging beggars.

Bare words mak nae bargain.

Bastard brood are aye proud.

Be a friend to yoursel, and others will.

Bear and forbear is gude philosophy.[54]

Bear wealth weel, poortith will bear itsel.

Beauty, but bounty's but bauch.

Beauty is but skin deep.

Beauty's muck when honour's tint.

Beauty is worthless when honour is lost.

Be aye the thing you would be ca'd.

"Because" is a woman's reason.

"I have no other but a woman's reason: I think him so, because I think him so."—Shakespeare.

Beds are best, quo' the man to his guest.

We presume he said so on the score of economy, i.e., to evade supplying supper.

Beefsteaks and porter are gude belly mortar.

Bees that hae honey in their mouths hae stings in their tails.

Before an ill wife be gude, even if she was a' turned to tongue.

Before, I ween'd; but now, I wat.

Before, I only suspected; now, I am certain. "Spoken on the full discovery of some malefice, which before we only suspected."—Kelly.

Before the deil gaes blind, and he's no blear e'ed yet.

Before ye choose a friend, eat a peck o' saut wi' him.

Be gaun, the gate's before you.

Be going, the road lies before you. A jocose or surly hint to go.


Beg frae beggars and you'll ne'er be rich.

Beggars breed, and rich men feed.

Beggars downa bide wealth.

Beggars shouldna be choosers.

Begin wi' needles and preens, and end wi' horn'd nowte.

That is, beginnings apparently trifling may lead to very great results. Used here as a caution against dishonesty.

Be it better, be it worse, be ruled by him that has the purse.

Be it sae, is nae banning.

Used in yielding a point in dispute because you are either unwilling or unable to argue further; but also indicating that you do not admit yourself to be in the wrong.

Be lang sick, that ye may be soon hale.

Believe a' ye hear, an' ye may eat a' ye see.

Belyve is twa hours and a half.

A jocular allusion to the fact that if a person says he will be back, or done with anything "belyve," that is, immediately, or in a little, the probability is he will be longer than expected.

Be ready wi' your bonnet, but slow wi' your purse.

Be slow in choosing a friend, but slower in changing him.

Best to be off wi' the auld love before we be on wi' the new.[56]

Be thou weel, or be thou wae, yet thou wilt not aye be sae.

Better a bit in the morning than a fast a' day.

Better a clout in than a hole out.

That is, a patched garment is better than one with holes in it.

Better a dog fawn on you than bark at you.

Better ae e'e than a' blind.

Better ae wit bought than twa for nought.

Better a finger aff as aye wagging.

"The first night is aye the warst o't. I hae never heard o' ane that sleepit the night afore the trial, but of mony a ane that sleepit as sound as a tap the night before their necks were straughted. And it's nae wonder—the warst may be tholed when it's kend: Better a finger aff as aye wagging."—Heart of Midlothian.

Better a fremit friend than a friend fremit.

Better have a stranger for your friend than a friend turned stranger.

Better a gude fame than a fine face.

Better alane than in ill company.

Better a laying hen than a lying crown.

Better a lean horse than a toom halter.

Better a poor horse than no horse at all.

Better a mouse in the pat than nae flesh.

Better an auld man's darling than a young man's warling.

"Used as an argument to induce a young girl to marry an old man, to the doing of which no argument should prevail."—Kelly.


Better an even down snaw than a driving drift.

Better an ill spune than nae horn.

Better a saft road than bad company.

"'I redd ye, Earnscliff' (this Hobbie added in a gentle whisper), 'let us take a cast about, as if to draw the wind on a buck—the bog is no abune knee-deep, and better a saft road than bad company.'"—The Black Dwarf.

Better a sair fae than a fause friend.

Better a shameless eating than a shamefu' leaving.

Better a sma' fish than an empty dish.

Better at a time to gie than tak.

Better a thigging mither than a riding father.

Better a tocher in her than wi' her.

That is, better that a wife have good qualities without money than vice versa.

Better a toom house than an ill tenant.

Better auld debts than auld sairs.

Better a wee bush than nae beild.

Better a wee fire to warm you than a big fire to burn you.

Better bairns greet than bearded men.

Better be a coward than a corpse.

"Discretion is the better part of valour."—English.

Better be at the end o' a feast than at the beginning o' a fray.

Better be before at a burial than ahint at a bridal.

Better be blythe wi' little than sad wi' naething.[58]

Better be envied than pitied.

Better be friends at a distance than enemies at hame.

Better be happy than wise.

Better be idle than ill doing.

Better be John Tamson's man, than Ring and Dinn's, or John Knox's.

"John Thomson's man is he that is complaisant to his wife's humours; Ring and Dinn's is he whom his wife scolds; John Knox's is he whom his wife beats."—Kelly.

Better be kind than cumbersome.

Better belly burst than gude meat spoil.

A plea for gluttony on the score of economy.

Better bend than break.

Better be out o' the warld than out o' fashion.

Better be sonsy than soon up.

Better be the head o' the commons than the tail o' the gentry.

"To reign is worth ambition, though in hell;
Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven."

Better be the lucky man than the lucky man's son.

Better bow to my faes than beg frae my friends.

Better buy than borrow.

Better cry "Feigh, saut," than "Feigh, stink."

The first can be remedied or improved in cooking; but a putrid article cannot.

Better day the better deed.

Better do it than wish it done.[59]

Better eat brown bread in youth than in eild.

Better fed than bred.

Better find iron than tine siller.

Better fleech a fool than fight him.

"'I have as much mind as ever I had to my dinner, to go back and tell him to sort his horse himself, since he is as able as I am.' 'Hout tout, man!' answered Jasper, 'keep a calm sough: better to fleech a fool than fight with him.'"—The Monastery.

Better gang about than fa' in the dub.

Rather a long road and safety than a short one attended with danger.

Better gang to bed supperless than rise in debt.

Better gie the slight than tak it.

Better greet ower your gudes than after your gudes.

Meaning that it is better not to sell goods at all than to sell and not be paid for them.

Better gude sale than gude ale.

Better guide weel than work sair.

Better hae than want.

Better hain weel than work sair.

Better half egg than toom doup.

"Better half an egg than empty shells."—German.

Better half hang'd than ill married.

Better hand loose nor bound to an ill bakie.

"Bakie, the stake to which an ox or cow is bound to the stall."—Jamieson.


Better hands loose than in an ill tethering.

Better happy at court than in gude service.

Better haud at the brim than at the bottom.

Better haud by a hair than draw by a tether.

Better haud out than put out.

"Prevention is better than cure."—English.

Better haud wi' the hounds than rin wi' the hare.

The policy of the Vicar of Bray. It is better to side with the strongest or winning party.

Better keep the deil out than hae to put him out.

Better keep weel than make weel.

Better lang little than soon naething.

Better late thrive than never do weel.

Better laugh at your ain pint stoup, than greet and gather gear.

It is better to be merry spending money, than sorrowful acquiring it.

Better learn frae your neebor's skaith than frae your ain.

Learn experience rather from the misfortunes of others than from your own.

Better leave to my faes than beg frae my friends.

Better leave than lack.

That it is better to have too much of some things than too little.

Better live in hope than die in despair.[61]

Better marry ower the midden than ower the muir.

Rather marry among those whom you know than go among strangers for a wife. "Marry over the mixon, and you will know who and what she is."—German. "Your wife and your nag get from a neighbour."—Italian.

Better master ane than fight wi' ten.

Better my bairns seek frae me than I beg frae them.

Better my friends think me fremit than fashious.

Better visit friends seldom than so often as to prove troublesome.

Better nae ring nor the ring o' a rash.

Better ne'er begun than ne'er ended.

Better ower 't than in 't.

Better beyond the fear of danger than in it.

Better plays the fu' wame than the new coat.

A man may be well dressed but still have a hungry belly, and vice versa. He that has the "fu' wame" is the more likely to be in good spirits.

Better rough an' sonsy than bare an' donsy.

It is better to be rough in manners, if coupled with prosperous circumstances, than be "genteel" and at the same time poverty stricken.

Better rue sit than rue flit.

Better not remove at all than do so and then regret it.

"Didna I see when gentle Geordie was seeking to get other folk out of the Tolbooth forby Jocky Porteous? but ye are of my mind, hinny—better sit and rue, than flit and rue—ye needna look in my face sae amazed. I ken mair things than that, maybe."—Heart of Midlothian.


Better saucht wi' little aucht than care wi' mony cows.

Better comfort and peace of mind with little, than care and contention with much.

Better saut than sour.

Better say "Here it is" than "Here it was."

Better short and sweet than lang and lax.

Better sit idle than work for nought.

Better sit still than rise an' fa'.

Better skaith saved than mends made.

Better that offence should not be given than committed and then apologized for.

Better sma' fish than nane.

Better soon as syne.

"I tell'd your honour a while syne, that it was lang that I hae been thinking o' flitting, may be as lang as frae the first year I came to Osbaldistone Hall; and now I'm o' the mind to gang in gude earnest—better soon as syne—better a finger aff as aye wagging."—Rob Roy.

Better spared than ill spent.

Better speak bauldly out than aye be grumphin'.

If a complaint requires to be made, make it openly and straightforwardly, instead of continuing to fret about it in an indirect manner.

Better the barn filled than the bed.

Because a full barn denotes prosperity, a full bed trouble.

Better the end o' a feast than the beginning o' a fray.[63]

Better the mother wi' the pock, than the faither wi' the sack.

"The mother, though in a low condition, will be more kindly to, and more careful of, orphans, than the father can be, though in a better."—Kelly.

Better the ill ken'd than the gude unken'd.

Better the nag that ambles a' the day than him that makes a brattle for a mile and then's dune wi' the road.

Better thole a grumph than a sumph.

Be troubled rather by an intelligent, though surly man, than by a stupid one.

Better tine life than gude fame.

"I might hae fled frae this Tolbooth on that awfu' night wi' ane wha wad hae carried me through the warld, and friended me, and fended for me. But I said to them, Let life gang when gude fame is gane before it."—Heart of Midlothian.

Better tine your joke than tine your friend.

Better to haud than draw.

Better to rule wi' the gentle hand than the strang.

Better twa skaiths than ae sorrow.

"Losses may be repaired, but sorrow will break the heart and ruin the constitution."—Kelly.

Better unkind than ower cumbersome.

Better unmarried than ill married.

Better wade back mid water than gang forward and drown.

Rather withdraw from a bargain or position found likely to prove bad or dangerous than proceed with either in hopes of improvement.


Better wait on cooks than leeches.

Better wear shoon than wear sheets.

Better you laugh than I greet.

Meaning, I would rather be ridiculed for not doing a thing, than do it and be sorry for it.

Better your feet slip than your tongue.

Between Martinmas and Yule, water's wine in every pool.

Between the deil and the deep sea.

Between two extremes equally dangerous.

"I fell into Claverhouse's party when I was seeking for some o' our ain folk to help ye out o' the hands o' the whigs; sae, being atween the deil and the deep sea, I e'en thought it best to bring him on wi' me, for he'll be wearied wi' felling folk the night, and the morn's a new day."—Old Mortality.

Between three and thirteen, thraw the woodie when it's green.

Train the minds and principles of children when young.

Between you and the lang day be'it.

Be what ye seem and seem what ye are.

Bid a man to a roast and stick him wi' the spit.

Pretend to show kindness to a man while your intention is to injure him.

Bide weel, betide weel.

Wait well or patiently and you will fare well; or at least as well as those who are hasty.

Biggin and bairns marrying are arrant wasters.

"Building is a sweet impoverishing."—Spanish.

Bind the sack ere it be fou.

Do not tax any person or thing to the utmost.


Birds o' a feather flock thegither.

Birk will burn be it burn drawn; sauch will sab if it were simmer sawn.

Literally, wood will burn even if drawn through water, and the willow will droop if sown out of season. Figuratively, natural will and inclination will predominate and exhibit themselves, although submitted to the most antagonistic influences.

Birth's gude but breeding's better.

Bitter jests poison friendship.

Black's my apron, and I'm aye washing 't.

When a man has got a bad character, although he may endeavour to redeem it, he will find great difficulty in doing so.

Black will tak nae ither hue.

Blaw the wind ne'er sae fast, it will lown at the last.

Blind horse rides hardy to the fecht.

"Who so bold as blind Bayard?"—French.

Blind men shouldna judge o' colours.

Blue and better blue.

"That is, there may be difference between things of the same kind and persons of the same station."—Kelly.

Blue's beauty, red's a taiken, green's grief, and yellow's forsaken.

Examples of the "Poetry of colour."

Blue is love true.

Bluid's thicker than water.

"'Weel, weel,' said Mr Jarvie, 'bluid's thicker than water; and it liesna in kith, kin, and ally, to see motes in ilk other's een if other een see them no.'"—Rob Roy.


Bode a robe and wear it, bode a pock and bear it.

According as our aspirations are high or low, so do we succeed or fail. "As you make your bed, so you must lie on it."

Bode for a silk gown and ye'll get a sleeve o't.

That is, if we "bode" or earnestly wish for an article or result, we will get at least something approaching to it. An Aberdeenshire parallel to this is, "They never bodet a house o' gowd, but aye got a caber o't."

Bode gude and get it.

Boden gear stinks.

The theory of the fox and grapes.

Bonnet aside! how sell you your maut?

Bonny birds are aye the warst singers.

Bonny sport, to fare weel and pay nothing for't.

"Diogenes is said to have thought that the best wine which cost him nothing."—Kelly.

Bourdna wi' bawty lest he bite ye.

Bourdna wi' my e'e nor wi' mine honour.

Do not jest or trifle with subjects of delicacy, character, &c.

Bread and cheese is gude to eat when folk can get nae ither meat.

Bread and milk is bairns' meat: I wish them sorrow that loe it.

Bread's house skail'd never.

A full or hospitable house never wants visitors.

Break my head and syne draw on my how.

Breeding wives are aye beddie.[67]

Bridal feasts are soon forgotten.

Broken bread maks batet bairns.

Broken friendships may be souther'd, but never sound.

Burnt bairns dread the fire.

Busy folk are aye meddling.

But middlin' bonny, like Boles' gudemither.

Butter and burn trouts are kittle meat for maidens.

Butter's king o' a' creesh.

Butter to butter's nae kitchen.

Like to like is no improvement or relish.

Buy a thief frae the widdie and he'll help to hang ye.

"Save a rogue from the gallows, and he will hang you up."—French.

Buy friendship wi' presents, and it will be bought frae you.

Buy in the market and sell at hame.

Buy what you dinna want and ye'll sell what you canna spare.

By chance a cripple may grip a hare.

By doing naething we learn to do ill.



a' a cow to the ha' and she'll rin to the byre.

"Set a frog on a golden stool;
Off it goes again to the pool."

Ca' again: you're no a ghaist.

An intimation that your visits are agreeable.

Ca' canny and flee laigh.

Ca' canny, and ye'll break nae graith.

Literally, drive slowly, and you will not overstrain the harness.

Ca' canny, lad, ye're but a new-come cooper.

A caution to those who are new or inexpert at an occupation,—a hint that more experience or information is desirable.

Cadgers are aye cracking o' creels.

Cadgers hae aye mind of lade saddles.

The conversation of most men turns more or less on their own business.

Caff and draff is gude eneuch for aivers.

Chaff and draff, i.e., brewers' grains, are good enough for horses. Common food suits common people.

Can do is easily carried.

"At this moment the door opened, and the voice of the officious Andrew was heard,—'A'm bringin' in the caunles—ye can light them gin ye like—can do is easily carried about wi' ane.'"—Rob Roy.


Ca'ing names breaks nae banes.

"Sticks and stanes 'll break my banes,
But names will never hurt me."
—Schoolboy Rhyme.

Ca' me what ye like, but dinna ca' me ower.

Canna has nae craft.

To an unwilling person, or one who will not learn, instruction is of little or no use.

Canny stretch, soon reach.

Care will kill a cat, yet there's nae living without it.

Careless folk are aye cumbersome.

Carena would hae mair.

"Carena" refers here to an answer that may be construed into either "yes" or "no," and is treated accordingly. "'I don't want it, I don't want it,' says the friar; 'but drop it into my hood.'"—Spanish.

Carles and aivers win a'; carles and aivers spend a'.

"Servants' wages, buying and keeping of horses, and purchasing other utensils, eat up the product of a farm."—Kelly.

Carrick for a man, Kyle for a cow, Cunningham for corn and ale, and Galloway for woo'.

"This old rhyme points out what each of the three districts of Ayrshire, and the neighbouring territory of Galloway, were remarkable for producing in greatest perfection. The mountainous province of Carrick produced robust men; the rich plains of Kyle reared the famous breed of cattle now generally termed the Ayrshire breed; and Cunningham was a good arable district. The hills of Galloway afford pasture to an abundance of sheep."—Robert Chambers.


Carry saut to Dysart and puddings to Tranent.

This proverb, the meaning of which is obvious enough, is paralleled in all languages. The English say, "To carry coals to Newcastle." The French and German suggest that it is not necessary "To send water to the sea." The French also say, "To carry leaves to the wood;" and the Dutch are wise enough not "To send fir to Norway." Neither will the Asiatic "Carry blades to Damascus."

Cast a bane in the deil's teeth.

Cast a cat ower the house and she'll fa' on her feet.

Cast nae snawba's wi' him.

That is, do not trust him too much; he is churlish or dangerous.

Cast not a clout till May be out.

Cast the cat ower him.

"It is believed that when a man is raging in a fever, the cat cast ower him will cure him; applied to them whom we hear telling extravagant things, as if they were raving."—Kelly.

Cast ye ower the house riggin', and ye'll fa' on your feet.

"Throw him in the Nile, and he will rise with a fish in his mouth," says the Arab; and we have met somewhere with this saying, that "If he lost a penny he would find a ducat."

Castna out the dowed water till ye get the clean.

Cat after kind.

Cats and carlins sit i' the sun, but fair maidens sit within.

A rhyming intimation that exposure to the sun is not favourable to beauty.


Cats eat what hussies spare.

Cauld grows the love that kindles ower het.

Cauld kail het again is aye pat tasted.

Cauld kail het again, that I liked never; auld love renewed again, that I liked ever.

Cauld parritch are sooner het than new anes made.

Cauld water scauds daws.

Chalk's no shears.

"Taken from tailors marking out their cloth before they cut it, signifying that a thing may be proposed that will never be executed."—Kelly.

Change o' deils is lightsome.

Change your friend ere ye hae need.

Changes are lightsome, and fools like them.

Changes o' wark is lightening o' hearts.

Charge nae mair shot than the piece 'll bear.

Charity begins at hame, but shouldna end there.

Cheatery game will aye kythe.

"Kythe," to appear. That is, cheatery or evil-doing will almost invariably come to light. A qualified version of the English saying, "Murder will out."

Choose your wife on Saturday, not on Sunday.

This saying suggests that a wife should rather be chosen for her good qualities and usefulness, which are seen in her daily labours, than for her fine dress or her Sunday manners.


Claw for claw, as Conan said to the deil.

"In the Irish ballads relating to Fion (the Fingal of MacPherson), there occurs, as in the primitive poetry of most nations, a cycle of heroes, each of whom has some distinguishing attribute; upon these qualities, and the adventures of those possessing them, many proverbs are formed, which are still current in the Highlands. Among other characters, Conan is distinguished as in some respects a kind of Thersites, but brave and daring even to rashness. He had made a vow that he would never take a blow without returning it; and having, like other heroes of antiquity, descended to the infernal regions, he received a cuff from the archfiend who presided there, which he instantly returned: hence the proverb."—Sir Walter Scott, Note to Waverley.

Claw me and I'll claw thee.

Speak well of me and I will speak well of thee, whether, we presume, it is deserved or not.

Clawing and eating needs but a beginning.

Clean pith and fair play.

Clear in the south beguiled the cadger.

Cadgers (beggars, or gipsy pedlars), from their out-of-door experience, are allowed to be good judges of coming weather. The proverb means that even the best judges may be occasionally mistaken in their opinions. The one following is of similar import.

Clear in the south drown'd the ploughman.

Clecking time's aye canty time.

Good cheer and mirth in the house when a birth has taken place.

"'Perhaps,' said Mannering, 'at such a time a stranger's arrival might be inconvenient?' 'Hout, na, ye needna be blate about that; their house is muckle enough, and clecking time's aye canty time.'"—Guy Mannering.


Clippet sheep will grow again.

Clout upon a hole is gude gentry, clout upon a clout is gude yeomanry, but clout upon a clouted clout is downricht beggary.

"Facetiously spoken to those who quarrel with a patch about you."—Kelly.

Come a' to Jock Fool's house and ye'll get bread and cheese.

Spoken sarcastically of those who invite every person indiscriminately to dine or sup with them.

Come day, go day, God send Sunday.

"Spoken to lazy, unconscionable servants, who only mind to serve out their time, and get their wages."—Kelly.

Come it air, or come it late, in May will come the cow-quake.

Come not to council unbidden.

"Thair is a sentence said be sum,
Let nane uncalled to counsell cum,
That welcum weins to be;
Zet I haif hard anither zit,
Quha cum uncallt, unserved suld sit,
Perhaps, sir, sae may ze."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

Come unca'd, sits unserved.

Come when ye are ca'd and ye'll no be chidden.

Come wi' the wind and gang wi' the water.

Common saw sindle lies.

Common fame seldom lies; but another proverb says, "Common fame is a common liar."

Condition makes, condition breaks.[74]

Confess and be hang'd, and syne your servant, smith.

Confess debt and crave days.

Confess'd faut is half amends.

Content's nae bairn o' wealth.

Contentibus, quo' Tammy Tamson, kiss my wife, and welcome.

"Spoken facetiously when we comply with a project."—Kelly.

Corbies and clergy are kittle shot.

Corbies dinna gather without they smell carrion.

"Where the carrion is, there do the eagles gather."—Danish.

Corbies dinna pike out corbies' een.

One rogue does not wrong another. "Crows do not peck out crows' eyes."—Portuguese.

Corn him weel, he'll work the better.

Counsel is nae command.

"Quod Danger, Sen I understand
That counsell can be nae command,
I have nae mair to say,
Except gif that he thocht it good;
Tak counsell zit or ze conclude
Of wyser men nor they."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

Count again is no forbidden.

Count like Jews and 'gree like brithers.

Count siller after a' your kin.

Courtesy is cumbersome to him that kens it na.

Crabbit was and cause hadna.[75]

Crab without a cause, mease without mends.

That is, if you are peevish and ill-pleased without cause, you must regain your good nature without amends.

Craft maun hae claes, but truth gaes naked.

Credit is better than ill-won gear.

Credit keeps the crown o' the causey.

Creep before ye gang.

"Ye will never make your bread that way, Maister Francie. Ye suld munt up a muckle square of canvass, like Dick Tinto, and paint folk's ainsells, that they like muckle better to see than ony craig in the haill water; and I wadna muckle objeck even to some of the Wallers coming up and sitting to ye. They waste their time war, I wis—and, I warrant, ye might mak a guinea a-head of them. Dick made twa, but he was an auld used hand, and folk maun creep before they gang."—St Ronan's Well.

Cripples are aye better planners than workers.

Cripples are aye great doers—break your leg and try.

People who are always very ready to give advice are generally slow in giving assistance.

"Crookit carlin," quo' the cripple to his wife.

"Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
And foolish notion."

Cry a' at ance, that's the way to be served.

Curses mak the tod fat.

So long as he is cursed only, not hunted, does he thrive; for "A curse will not strike out an eye unless the fist go with it."—Danish.

Cut your coat according to your cloth.



affin' and want o' wit maks auld wives donnart.

"Daffin'" is defined by Ramsay as "folly in general;" so the proverb means that foolish conduct in the aged is inconsistent or "donnart," i.e., stupid.

Daffin' does naething.

Playing accomplishes nothing.

Daily wearing needs yearly beiting.

Literally, clothes that are worn daily, require to be renewed annually.

Dame, deem warily, ye watna wha wytes yoursel.

"Deemer," one who judges.—Jamieson. That is, judge other people cautiously; we know not who blames ourselves.

Dammin' and lavin' is gude sure fishing.

"'Dammin' and lavin',' a low poaching mode of catching fish in rivulets, by damming and diverting the course of the stream, and then laving or throwing out the water, so as to get at the devoted prey."—Jamieson.

Danger past, God forgotten.

Daughters and dead fish are kittle keeping wares.

A suggestion that daughters should be married, and dead fish eaten, otherwise they will both spoil on the hands of their possessors. "Daughters are brittle ware."—Dutch. "Marry your son when you will, and your daughter when you can."—Spanish.


Daughters pay nae debts.

Dawted bairns can bear little.

Dawted daughters mak daidling wives.

Daughters who have been too much indulged or petted at home before marriage make but indifferent wives.

Daylight will peep through a sma' hole.

Dead men are free men.

Dead men do nae harm.

Deal sma' and ser' a'.

Death and drink-draining are near neighbours.

In allusion to the drinking usages formerly common at burials.

Death and marriage break term-day.

Death at ae door and heirship at the other.

Death comes in and speirs nae questions.

"Death does not blow a trumpet."—Danish.

Death defies the doctor.

Death pays a' scores.

Death's gude proof.

Deil be in the house that ye're beguiled in.

A compliment, meaning that a person is so shrewd that no less a person than his Satanic majesty can deceive him.

Deil be in the pock that ye cam in.

Deil mend ye if your leg were broken.

The two last sayings are directly opposed to the preceding one, as they wish all manner of evil to the agencies that bring any particular person, whose presence is disagreeable.


Deil speed them that speir, and ken fu' weel.

That is, shame befall those who ask questions upon subjects with which they are perfectly well acquainted; and who, by cross questioning, &c., lead people to commit themselves.

Deil stick pride—my dog died o't.

Deil's in our bairns: they'll no bed when their belly's fu'.

"Spoken with indignation, when people who are already well enough cannot hold themselves so, or be satisfied."—Kelly.

Delays are dangerous.

Did ye ever fit counts wi' him?

Do not boast of your friend, or consider his friendship too stedfast, until you have had money transactions with him.

Diet cures mair than doctors.

Ding doon Tantallan, and big a road to the Bass.

Ding down the nest, and the rooks will flee away.

"Destroy the places where villains shelter, and they will disperse. This proverb was unhappily apply'd at the Reformation to the destroying of many stately cathedrals and collegiate churches."—Kelly.

Dinna bow to bawtie, lest he bite.

Be careful how you are familiar with your superiors. "Too much familiarity breeds contempt."

Dinna cast awa' the cog when the cow flings.

Do not throw away the milking pail if the cow should kick it over: do not be discouraged if a misfortune should occur.


Dinna dry the burn because it may wat your feet.

Do not remove a public good or convenience because of an individual objection.

Dinna empty your ain mouth to fill other folk's.

Dinna gut your fish till ye get them.

This saying is common to many countries. "Don't cry herrings till they are in the net."—Dutch. "Don't sell the bearskin before you have caught the bear."—Italian. "Unlaid eggs are uncertain chickens."—German.

Dinna lee for want o' news.

Dinna lift me before I fa'.

"'Weel, I've keepit a house this mony a year, and I never heard o' warm plates to a hot dinner before.' 'Then you refuse to give us them?' 'By no manner o' means, Dr Seggie, so ye needna lift folks before they fa'—you're welcome to any plates you please; and a' that I have to say is, that the langer a body lives they see the mair ferlies.'"—Laird of Logan.

Dinna meddle wi' the deil and the laird's bairns.

Dinna scaud your mouth wi' other folk's kail.

Be cautious in interfering with the affairs of neighbours or strangers.

Dinna sigh for him, but send for him: if he's unhanged he'll come.

Do not speak about a thing, or wish it done, but do it. "Talking is easier than doing, and promising than performing."—German.

Dinna speak o' a raip to a chield whase father was hanged.[80]

Dinna straik against the hair.

"Ony way, I wadna hae liked to have offended Mr Treddles; he was a wee toustie when you rubbed him again the hair—but a kind, weel-meaning man."—The Highland Widow.

Dinna stretch your arm farther than your sleeve 'ill let ye.

"'I'll no let ye rest if ye dinna mak me a bailie's wife or a' be done.' I was not ill pleased to hear Mrs Pawkie so spiritful; but I replied, 'Dinna try to stretch your arm, gudewife, farther than your sleeve will let you; we maun ca' canny mony a day yet before we think of dignities.'"—The Provost.

Dinna tell your fae when your foot sleeps.

Dinna touch him on the sair heel.

Do not speak to him on a subject on which he is known to be sensitive.

Dirt bodes luck.

Dirt defies the king.

Dirt parts gude company.

Dit your mouth wi' your meat.

"Dit," close. A suggestion intended to put a stop to idle conversation.

Do a man a good turn, and he'll never forgie you.

"'Are you mad?' cried Bryce Snailsfoot, 'you that lived sae lang in Zetland to risk the saving of a drowning man? Wot ye not, if you bring him to life again, he will be sure to do you some capital injury?'"—The Pirate.


Do as the cow o' Forfar did, tak a stannin' drink.

"A cow in passing a door in Forfar, where a tub of ale had been placed to cool, drank the whole of it. The owner of the ale pursued the proprietor of the cow for the value of the ale; but a learned bailie, in giving his decision, decreed, that since the ale was drank by the cow while standing at the door, it must be considered deoch an dorius, or stirrup cup, for which no charge could be made, without violating the ancient hospitality of Scotland."—Sir Walter Scott, Note to Waverley.

Do as the lasses do—say No, but tak it.

"Maids, in modesty, say 'No' to that which they would have the profferer construe 'Ay.'"—Shakespeare.

Do as the miller's wife o' Newlands did—she took what she had and she never wanted.

Dogs and bairns are fain o' fools.

That is, fools attract the attention of children and dogs.

Dogs bark as they are bred.

Dogs will redd swine.

"Redd," is here used in the sense of to put in order.

Dolour pays nae debts.

Dool and an ill life soon mak an auld wife.

"Sorrow and an evil life maketh soon an old wife."—English.

Do on the hill as ye wad do in the ha'.

Let your private character be consistent with your public one.

Do't by guess, as the blind man fell'd the dog.

Do the likeliest and hope the best.[82]

Double charges rive cannons.

That is, surfeits are dangerous; but the proverb which follows shows, as usual, that there is no rule without an exception.

Double drinks are gude for drouth.

Do weel, an' doubt nae man; do ill, an' doubt a' men.

Do weel and dread nae shame.

Do weel and hae weel.

Do what ye ought and come what can; think o' ease, but work on.

The first clause of this is common to many countries; but as the second only occurs in Henderson's collection, we suspect it is an addition of his own.

Do what ye ought, and let come what will.

Do your turn weel, and nane will speir what time ye took.

Meaning, that work should rather be done well than quickly.

Draff he sought, but drink was his errand.

That is, while pretending to ask for one thing, his great object was to get another.

Draff is gude enough for swine.

Dree out the inch when ye have tholed the span.

Since you have suffered patiently, or submitted to injustice for a long time, bear on quietly when there is a prospect of early relief.

Driest wood will eithest lowe.

Drink and drouth come na aye thegither.[83]

Drink little, that ye may drink lang.

Drive the swine through't.

"You should sift Jamie's tender passion—that's the novelle-name for calf-love; and if it's within the compass o' a possibility, get the swine driven through't, or it may work us a' muckle dule, as his father's moonlight marriage did to your ain, worthy man!"—The Entail.

Drunk at e'en and dry in the morning.

Drunk folk seldom tak harm.

The French say, "God helps three kinds of people: fools, children, and drunkards;" and another of our own states that "God's aye kind to fu' folk and bairns."

Dry bargains bode ill.

A bargain in times gone by was not "lucky," unless ratified by a drink.

Dummie canna lee.

Dunse dings a'.

"It may be mentioned that this is only the opinion which the people of Dunse entertain of the town, as their neighbours, in general, scout the idea with great indignation."—Robert Chambers. There are several local additions to this saying, such as "Dunse dings a' for braw lads and drucken wives;" "for gude yill and bonnie lasses," &c.



agles catch nae fleas.

Spoken of conceited people who affect disdain for petty details.

Eagles flee alane, but sheep herd thegither.

Early birds catch the worms.

Early crooks the tree, that good cammock should be.

Early maister, lang servant.

Early sow, early mow.

East or west, hame is best.

East and wast, the sign o' a blast; north and south, the sign o' a drouth.

Easy learning the cat the road to the kirn.

When the natural inclination tends towards any particular subject, it assists the learner greatly.

Eat and welcome—fast and twice as welcome.

Eaten meat is ill to pay.

"Eaten bread is soon forgotten."—Italian.

Eating, drinking, and cleaning need but a beginning.

Eat in measure and defy the doctor.

Eat peas wi' the prince and cherries wi' the chapman.[85]

Eats meat, an's never fed; wear claes, an's never cled.

Of some people it may be said, that "they put their meat in an ill skin;" for, notwithstanding that they live well, they appear always thin and hungry, and not at all, to use a Scotticism, "like their meat." Some people are equally unfortunate with regard to their clothing; always amply dressed, they seem the very reverse.

Eat till ye sweat and work till ye freeze.

Eat-weel's Drink-weel's brither.

Signifying that good drinking must necessarily go hand in hand with good eating.

Eat your fill and pouch nane, is gardener's law.

E'en as ye won't, sae ye may wear't.

As you won it, so you may wear it; applied either in a good or bad sense.

E'ening grey and a morning red, put on your hat or ye'll weet your head.

E'ening orts are gude morning's fodder.

"Orts," rejected provender. Meaning that a thing which is rejected or despised at present may be acceptable or valuable at another time.

E'ening red an' a morning grey is taiken sure o' a bonnie day.

E'en pickle in your ain pock-neuk.

"'Ye'll find the stane breeks and the iron garters—ay, and the hemp cravat, for a' that, neighbour,' replied the bailie. 'Nae man in a civilised country ever played the pliskies ye hae done; but e'en pickle in your ain pock-neuk—I hae gi'en ye warning.'"—Rob Roy.


Eident youth maks easy age.

"Industry is the parent of fortune."—German.

Eild and poortith are a sair burden for ae back.

"Eild and poortith," age and poverty. "Poverty on an old man's back is a heavy burden."—English.

Eild and poortith's sair to thole.

This saying is of similar import to the preceding one. Literally, age and poverty are hard to bear.

Eild should hae honour.

Either live or die wi' honour.

Either prove a man or a mouse.

Either win the horse or tine the saddle.

Win the horse or lose the saddle. "Neck or nothing."

Eith keeping the castle that's no besieged.

"It is easy to sit at the helm in fair weather."—Danish.

Eith learned soon forgotten.

"Easy come, easy go."—English.

Eith to that thy ain heart wills.

Eith working when will's at hame.

The two preceding maxims have a similar meaning to the French sayings, that "Will is power;" and "A willing heart helps work." "Where the will is ready the feet are light."—German.

Ell and tell is gude merchandise.

Ell and tell is ne'er forgotten, and the best pay's on the peck bottom.

"Ell and tell," if we mistake not, refers to good measure and prompt payment; and the latter saying may be construed thus:—The grain is emptied from the "peck" measure, the measure is inverted, and payment for the grain is "told" on the bottom of it.


Enough's as gude as a feast.

Enough's enough o' bread and cheese.

Meaning, that too much of one thing is not good. The French and Dutch say, "Enough is better than too much," while the Italians are of opinion that "Enough is enough, and too much spoils."

Envy shoots at a high mark.

Even stands his cap the day, for a' that.

"It took its rise from a minister in our country, who, in a sermon preached most fiercely against the supremacy of the Pope, at the conclusion said, 'Even stands his cap for all that I have said, drinking good Romany wine this day.' Applied when we signify that all we can say against any great man can do him no harm."—Kelly.

Ever busy, ever bare.

"Great cry and little wool."—English.

Every ane loups the dyke where it's laighest.

Every one leaps the wall at the lowest part,—a man may "loup the dyke" by oppressing those who are unable to resist.

Every bird thinks its ain nest best.

Every cock craws crousiest on his ain midden head.

"Every cock crows loudest on his own dunghill," is a saying common to all nations.

Every craw thinks his ain bird whitest.

All think well of their own offspring. "Every mother's child is handsome," say the Germans. They also have, "No ape but swears he has the finest children."


Every day is no Yule day; cast the cat a castock.

The first half of this proverb is used literally by the Italians and Dutch. A "castock" is the stalk or core of a cabbage.

Every dog has its day.

Every dud bids anither gude-day.

Every fault has its fore.

Every flow has its ebb.

Every Jack will find a Jill.

"'Never you fash your thumb about that, Maister Francie,' returned the landlady with a knowing wink, 'every Jack will find a Jill, gang the world as it may; and, at the warst o't, better hae some fashery in finding a partner for the night, than get yoked with ane that you may not be able to shake off the morn.'"—St Ronan's Well.

Every land has its laigh; every corn has its ain caff.

Meaning that everything may be found fault with; and silly objections be raised against the most valuable and useful things.

Every man bows to the bush he gets beild frae.

"Every one pays court to him who gives him protection."—Jamieson.

Every man buckles his belt his ain gate.

Every man does his work after his own fashion.

Every man can guide an ill wife weel but him that has her.

Every man can tout best on his ain horn.

"Tout," to blow. Meaning, that every man knows best how to tell his own story.

Every man for himself, and God for us a'.[89]

Every man for his own hand, as Henry Wynd fought.

"Two great clans fought out a quarrel with thirty men of a side, in presence of the king, on the North Inch of Perth, on or about the year 1392; a man was amissing on one side, whose room was filled by a little bandy-legged citizen of Perth. This substitute, Henry Wynd—or, as the Highlanders called him, Gow Chrom, that is, the bandy-legged smith—fought well, and contributed greatly to the fate of the battle, without knowing which side he fought on;—so, 'To fight for your ain hand, like Henry Wynd,' passed into a proverb."—Sir Walter Scott, Note to Rob Roy.

Every man has his ain bubbly-jock.

Every man has his ain draff poke, though some hang eider than others.

The two last sayings are similar in meaning, viz., that every man has his imperfections or faults. The latter qualifies the proverb by admitting that in some these appear more prominently than in others.

Every man kens best where his ain sair lies.

Every man kens best where his ain shoe binds him.

Every man's blind to his ain cause.

Every man's man had a man, and that gar'd the Threave fa'.

"The Threave was a strong castle belonging to the Black Douglases. The governor left a deputy, and he a substitute, by whose negligence the castle was taken."—Kelly.

Every man's no born wi' a siller spoon in his mouth.[90]

Every man's nose winna be a shoeing horn.

Certain things can only be used for certain purposes.

Every man's tale's gude till anither's tauld.

Every man thinks his ain craw blackest.

"Every man to his ain trade," quo' the browster to the bishop.

Every man to his taste, as the man said when he kiss'd his cow.

Every maybe hath a may not be.

Every miller wad weise the water to his ain mill.

"Every miller draws the water to his own mill."—English.

Every play maun be played, and some maun be the players.

Every shoe fits not every foot.

Every sow to her ain trough.

People should keep their own place; or, according to Ray, "Every man should support himself, and not hang upon another."

Everything has a beginning.

Everything has an end, and a pudding has twa.

Everything has its time, and sae has a rippling-kame.

"Rippling-kame," a coarse comb used in the preparation of flax. The proverb means that there is a time proper for everything.

Everything is the waur o' the wear.

That is, worse for wearing.


Everything wad fain live.

Every wight has his weird, and we maun a' dee when our day comes.

Evil words cut mair than swords.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in nae ither.



acts are chiels that winna ding.

Faint heart ne'er wan fair lady.

Fair an' foolish, black an' proud, lang an' lazy, little an' loud.

How far this proverb is borne out by fact is certainly open to question. It appears in Ray's collection as English, and as a remark upon it he says, "Beauty and folly do often go hand in hand, and are often matched together."

Fair and softly gangs far.

"Who goes softly goes safely, and he that goes safely goes far."—Italian.

Fair exchange is nae robbery.

Fair fa' gude drink, for it gars folk speak as they think.

"Fair fa'," well betide; good luck to. This is the Scotch version of the common saying, "When the wine is in, the wit is out;" or, "What is in the heart of the sober man is on the tongue of the drunken man."—Latin.

"Leeze me on drink! it gi'es us mair
Than either school or college,
It kindles wit, it waukens lair,
It pangs us fu' o' knowledge:
Be't whisky gill, or penny wheep,
Or ony stronger potion,
It never fails, on drinking deep,
To kittle up our notion,
By night or day."

Fair fa' the wife, and weel may she spin, that counts aye the lawin' wi' a pint to come in.

Literally, good luck to the hostess who includes a pint still to come when the reckoning is called for. This saying, so far as we can discover, is exclusively Scottish.

Fair fa' you, and that's nae fleaching.

"Fleach," to flatter. A good wish sincerely expressed.

Fair folk are aye foisonless.

Kelly says of the word "foisonless," that it means "without strength or sap; dried up; withered." Scott, in Old Mortality, uses it in the moral sense, "unsubstantial."

Fair gae they, fair come they, and aye their heels hindmost.

Meaning that they go and come regularly, decently, and in order.

Fair hair may hae foul roots.

Fair hechts mak fools fain.

"Hope puts that haste into zour heid,
Quhilk boyls zour barmy brain;
Howbeit fulis haste cums huly speid,
Fair hechts will mak fulis fain."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

Fair in the cradle may be foul in the saddle.

Fair maidens wear nae purses.

Fair words are nae cause o' feuds.

Fair words hurt ne'er a bane, but foul words break mony a ane.

Fair words winna mak the pat boil.

Falkirk bairns dee ere they thrive.

Falkirk bairns mind naething but mischief.[94]

Fa' on the feeblest, the beetle among the bairns.

"Spoken when we do a thing at a venture, that may be good for some and bad for another; and let the event fall upon the most unfortunate. Answers to the English 'Among you blind harpers.'"—Kelly.

Fancy flees before the wind.

Fancy was a bonnie dog, but Fortune took the tail frae't.

Fann'd fires and forced love ne'er dae weel.

Far ahint maun follow the faster.

Far ahint that mayna follow, an' far before that canna look back.

Far awa fowls hae fair feathers.

"She wad vote the border knight,
Though she should vote her lane;
For far-off fowls hae feathers fair,
And fools o' change are fain."

Far frae court far frae care.

Far frae my heart's my husband's mother.

Far sought and dear bought is gude for ladies.

Farewell frost, fair weather neist.

Fare-ye-well, Meg Dorts, and e'en's ye like.

A jocose adieu to those who go away in the sulks.

Farmer's fauch gars lairds laugh.

Farther east the shorter west.

Farthest frae the kirk aye soonest at it.

In contradistinction to those who are "near the kirk but far frae grace."


Fashious fools are easiest flisket.

Troublesome or fretful persons are easily offended.

Fast bind, fast find.

This saying is very old, and common to many countries. Shakespeare terms it "a proverb never stale to thrifty minds."

Fat flesh freezes soon.

Fat hens are aye ill layers.

Fat paunches bode lean pows.

Ray explains this by adding, "Full bellies make empty skulls."

Fause folk should hae mony witnesses.

Fausehood maks ne'er a fair hinder-end.

Meaning, that falsehood is sure to be exposed in the long run.

Favours unused are favours abused.

Feather by feather the goose is plucked.

February, fill the dike, be it black or be it white; if it's white, it's the better to like.

Feckfu' folk can front the bauldest wind.

"I own 'tis cauld encouragement to sing,
When round ane's lugs the blattran' hailstanes ring;
But feckfu' folk can front the bauldest wind,
An' slunk through muirs, an' never fash their mind."
—Allan Ramsay.

Feckless folk are fain o' ane anither.

"Feckless folk," silly people. Fools are fond of one another.

Feckless fools should keep canny tongues.

Silly or mischievous people should be cautious what they say.


Feed a cauld, but hunger a colic.

Feeding out o' course maks mettle out o' kind.

Feeling has nae fellow.

Few get what they glaum at.

Fiddlers, dogs, and flesh-flies come aye to feasts unca'd.

Fiddler's fare—meat, drink, and money.

Fiddler's wives and gamester's drink are free to ilka body.

Fight dog, fight bear; wha wins, deil care.

Fill fu' and haud fu', maks the stark man.

Plenty of meat and drink makes a strong man.

Fine feathers mak fine birds.

Fine to fine maks a bad line.

Or, "Butter to butter's nae kitchen," q. v.

Fire and water are gude servants but ill maisters.

Fire is gude for the fireside.

All things are good in their proper places.

First come, first ser'd.

Fish guts an' stinkin' herrin' are bread and milk for an Eyemouth bairn.

"The small seaport town of Eyemouth was formerly distinguished for its 'ancient fishlike smells,' its narrow, intricate streets, and smuggling trade."—G. Henderson.

Fish maun soom thrice.

First in water, second in sauce, third in wine.

Fleas and a girning wife are waukrife bedfellows.[97]

Flee as fast as you will, your fortune will be at your tail.

Fleying a bird is no the way to grip it.

To frighten a bird is not the way to catch it; severity or constant threatening do not tend to make children or servants better.

Fling at the brod was ne'er a gude ox.

Flit an auld tree and it'll wither.

Flitting o' farms mak mailens dear.

See "As ane flits," &c., of which this is merely a variation.

Folk are aye free to gie what's no their ain.

Folk maun grow auld or dee.

Folk's dogs bark waur than themsels.

Folk should never ask for mair than they can make a good use o'.

Follow love and it will flee thee: flee love and it will follow thee.

Folly is a bonnie dog, but a bad ane.

Fools and bairns shouldna see half-dune wark.

Fools are aye fond o' flittin', and wise men o' sittin'.

Fools are aye fortunate.

Fools are aye seeing ferlies.

Fools are fain o' flattery.

Fools are fain o' naething.

Fools are fond o' a' they forgather wi'.[98]

Fools aye see ither folk's fauts and forget their ain.

Fools big houses and wise men buy them.

Fools' haste is nae speed.

Fools laugh at their ain sport.

Fools mak feasts and wise men eat them.

"This was once said to a great man in Scotland, upon his giving an entertainment. He readily answered, 'Wise men make proverbs, and fools repeat them.'"—Kelly.

Fools ravel and wise men redd.

Literally, fools entangle affairs and circumstances, and require "wise men" to assist them out of their troubles.

Fools set far trysts.

Fools shouldna hae chappin-sticks.

For as gude again, like Sunday milk.

"A precise woman in the country would not sell her milk on the Sunday, but would give it for as good again. Spoken when we suspect people's kindness to be mercenary."—Kelly.

For a tint thing, carena.

Do not fret about a thing or opportunity which has been lost.

For better acquaintance' sake, as Sir John Ramsay said when he drank to his father.

"Sir John Ramsay had been long abroad, and coming home he accidentally met with his father, who did not know him; he invites his father to a glass of wine, and drinks to him for more acquaintance."—Kelly.

Forbid a fool a thing, an' that he'll do.

Force without foresight aften fails.[99]

Forewarned is forearmed.

For fashion's sake, as dogs gae to market.

For faut o' wise men fools sit on binks.

Forgotten pain, when follows gain.

For gude cheese and cheer mony haunt the house.

Many frequent the house for the sake of what they get to eat.

For my ain pleasure, as the man thrashed his wife.

For puir folk they seldom ring.

Fortune and futurity are no to be guessed at.

Fortune favours the brave.

Fortune gains the bride.

Fortune helps the hardy.

"For I haif aft hard suith men say,
And we may see oursells,
That fortune helps the hardy aye,
And pultrones aye repels."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

For want o' a steek a shoe may be tint.

"A stitch in time saves nine." The old nursery lines fully explain the philosophy of this doctrine. "For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the man was lost."

Foster the guest that stays—further him that maun gang.

Foul fa' nought, and then he'll get naething.

Used in satirical allusion to those who expect a legacy from a very improbable source.


Foul water slockens fire.

Frae saving comes having.

Frae the teeth forward.

He speaks from the lips only, not from the heart.

Freedom's a fair thing.

Fresh fish and poor friends soon grow ill-faur'd.

Fresh fish and unwelcome friends stink before they're three days auld.

Friday flit, short time sit.

Meaning that to remove on a Friday is unlucky.

Friday rules Sunday.

Friends are like fiddle-strings, they mauna be screwed ower ticht.

Friends gree best separate.

Friendship canna stand aye on ae side.

Frost and fausehood hae baith a dirty wa' gang.

Fry stanes wi' butter and the broo will be gude.

Fu' o' courtesy, fu' o' craft.



ae shoe the goose.

Gae hap and hang yoursel, then you'll dee dancing.

Gae kiss your Lucky—she lives in Leith.

"A cant phrase, from what rise I know not, but it is made use of when one thinks it is not worth while to give a distinct answer, or think themselves foolishly accused."—Allan Ramsay.

Gae to bed wi' the lamb and rise wi' the laverock.

Gae to the deil, and he'll bishop you.

Meaning, that the person addressed is so well versed in evil ways as to be able to occupy a high position in the service of the Evil One.

Gae to the deil, for his name's sake.

Gane is the goose that laid the muckle egg.

Gang farther and fare waur.

Gardener's law—Eat your fill, but pouch nane.

Gar wood's ill to grow; chuckie stanes are ill to chow.

Gather haws before the snaws.

Gathering gear is weel liket wark.

Acquiring wealth is pleasant employment.


Gaunting bodes wanting ane o' things three—sleep, meat, or gude companie.

Yawning is proverbially supposed to indicate the want of one of the three things mentioned.

Gaunting gaes frae man to man.

Gawsie cow, gudely calf.

Handsome mother, goodly daughter.

Gaylie would be better.

When a person says he is "gaylie," Anglice, middling, he is understood not to be so well as he would like to be.

Gear is easier gotten than guided.

Gentlemen are unco scant when a wabster gets a lady.

The "wabster," or weaving profession, seems to have stood very low in the estimation of proverb makers.

Gentle partans hae lang taes.

Gentle servants are poor men's hardships.

Gentle servants are rich men's tinsel.

Gentry's dowff wi' an empty purse.

Get the word o' soon rising, an' ye may lie in bed a' day.

Obtain a reputation for early rising, and you may lie in bed all day. The Spanish say, "Get a good name, and go to sleep."

Get and save, and thou wilt have.

"Get and saif and thou salt haif,
Len and grant and thou salt want;
Wha in his plenty taks not heid,
He sall haif falt in time of need."
—The Evergreen.

Get weel, keep weel.

Get what you can, and keep what you hae, that's the way to get rich.

Get your rock and spindle ready, God will send the tow.

"Let us do our duty, and refer the rest to God's providence."—Ray.

Gibbie's grace—Deil claw the clungiest.

This saying of the graceless Gibbie means literally, "Devil take the hungriest."

Gie a bairn his will, and a whelp its fill, and nane o' them will e'er do weel.

Gie a beggar a bed, and he'll pay you wi' a louse.

Gie a carl your finger, and he'll take your haill hand.

Gie a gaun man a drink, and a rising man a knock.

Gie a greedy dog a muckle bane.

Gie a thing, tak a thing, and that's the ill man's ring.

"Gie her her will, or she'll burst," quo' the man when his wife kamed his head with the three-legged stool.

Gie him a hole, and he'll find a pin.

That is, give him an opportunity, and he will take advantage of it.


Gie him an inch, and he'll tak an ell.

Gie him tow enough, and he'll hang himsel.

Gie is a gude fellow, but he soon wearies.

Meaning, that one tires of giving at all times.

Gie losin' gamesters leave to talk.

Giff gaff maks gude friends.

Gie my cousin kail enow, and see my cousin's dish be fu'.

We presume that this is an ironical signification that the cousin's "room" is preferred to his company.

Gie ne'er the wolf the wedder to keep.

Gie ower when the play's gude.

Gie't about, it will come to my faither at last.

Gie the deil his due, and ye'll gang to him.

Gie ye a use, and ye'll ca't a custom.

Gie ye meat, drink, and claes, and ye'll beg among your friends.

Applied to unreasonable people, who get everything they want, and still are not satisfied.

Gie your heart to God, and your alms to the poor.

From the remarkable paucity of proverbs relating to religion in the older collections, we infer that this saying is Henderson's own, as it only appears in his collection.

Gie your tongue mair holidays than your head.

Girn when you knit, and laugh when you louse.

Meaning, that while enforcing discipline we should do so with firmness, and relax it freely when occasion requires.


Glasgow for bells, Lithgow for wells, Falkirk for beans and pease.

Glasgow people, Greenock folk, and Paisley bodies.

"These words imply gradations of dignity, the Paisley bodies being (how far deservedly would admit of much question) at the bottom of the scale. Some years ago, when a public dinner was given to Professor Wilson, of Edinburgh, in Paisley, which is his native place, on his speaking of it as a town containing such and such a number of souls, his friend, Thomas Campbell, who sat by his side, whispered, 'Bodies, you mean.'"—Robert Chambers.

Glasses and lasses are brittle ware.

Glib i' the tongue is aye glaiket at the heart.

A smooth tongue betokens a deceitful heart.

Glowering is nae gainsaying.

Glum folk's no easily guided.

"Glum" or morose people are difficult to manage.

God be wi' the gude Laird o' Balmaghie, for he ne'er took mair frae a poor man than a' that he had.

God comes wi' leaden feet, but strikes wi' iron hands.

God helps them that help themselves.

God help the rich, for the poor can beg.

God help you to a hutch, for ye'll never get a mailing.

Spoken of an incompetent person, that he may succeed in making a bare living, for his abilities will never secure him a fortune.


God keep ill gear out o' my hands; for if my hands ance get it, my heart winna part wi't,—sae prayed the gude Earl of Eglinton.

God keep the cat out o' our gate, for the hens canna flee.

God ne'er measures men by inches.

God ne'er sent the mouth, but he sent the meat wi't.

God's aye kind to fu' folk and bairns.

As instanced by the marvellous manner in which men escape injury while under the influence of drink.

God sends fools fortunes.

God sends meat and the deil sends cooks.

God sends men claith as they hae cauld.

God send us siller, for they're little thought o' that want it.

God send water to that well that folk think will ne'er be dry.

"Spoken when our poor kin and followers are always asking of us; as if we should never be exhausted."—Kelly.

God send ye mair sense, and me mair siller.

God send ye readier meat than running hares.

God send ye the warld you bode, and that's neither scant nor want.

God shapes the back for the burden.

God's help is nearer than the fair e'en.[107]

Gold's gude, but it may be dear bought.

Go to Hecklebirnie.

"This term is used in a strange sort of imprecation. If one say, 'Go to the d——l!' the other often replies, 'Go you to Hecklebirnie!' which is said to be a place three miles beyond hell!"—Jamieson.

Graceless meat maks folk fat.

Grass grows nae green in the common road.

Gratitude preserves auld friendships and begets new.

Great barkers are nae biters.

Great pains and little gains soon mak a man weary.

Great tochers makna aye the greatest testaments.

Great winning maks wark easy.

Greed is envy's auldest brither: scraggy wark they mak thegither.

Greedy folk hae lang arms.

Gree, like tykes and swine.

Greening wives are aye greedy.

Grey-eyed, greedy; brown-eyed, needy; black-eyed, never blin', till it shame a' its kin.

Gude advice is never out o' season.

Gude ale needs nae wisp.

"A wisp of straw stuck upon the top of a country house is a sign that ale is to be sold there; but if the ale be good, people will haunt the house though there be none."—Kelly.

Gude bairns are eith to lear.[108]

Gude bairns get broken brows.

For they are as liable to injury as bad ones.

Gude be wi' auld langsyne, when our gutchers ate the trenchers.

Gude breeding and siller mak our sons gentlemen.

Gude cheer and cheap gars mony haunt the house.

Gude claes open a' doors.

Gude counsel is abune a' price.

Gude-enough has got a wife and Far-better wants.

Gude folk are scarce, tak care o' me.

Gude foresight furthers wark.

Gude gear gangs into little bouk.

Gude gear's no to be gaped at.

Gude health is better than wealth.

Gude kail is half meat.

Gude night, and joy be wi' you a'.

Gude reason and part cause.

Signifying that a person has both good reason and cause to complain.

Gude to fetch sorrow to a sick wife.

Gude! ye're common to kiss your kimmer.

Gude wares may come frae an ill market.

Gude wares mak a quick market.

Gude watch hinders harm.[109]

Gudewill ne'er wants time to show itsel.

Gudewill should be ta'en in part payment.

Gude wit jumps.

Gude words cost naething.

Guessed work's best if weel done.

"Gulp!" quo' the wife when she swallowed her tongue.

Gunpowder is hasty eldin.

Gust your gab wi' that.

"He's no ill boden,
That gusts his gab wi' oyster sauce,
An' hen weel soden."

Gut nae fish till ye get them.



a' binks are sliddry.

"Great men's favours are uncertain."—Kelly.

Had I fish was never gude to eat mustard.

"An answer to them that say, Had I such a thing, I would do so or so."—Kelly.

"Had I wist," quo' the fool.

Had you sic a shoe on ilka foot, you would shochel.

Or, had you my sorrows to bear, you would look equally miserable.

Hae! gars a deaf man hear.

Hae God, hae a'.

Hae, lad,—rin, lad; that maks an olite lad.

Hae you gear or hae you nane, tine heart and a' is gane.

Hain'd gear helps weel.

"Hain'd gear"—saved money—is of great assistance.

Hair by hair maks the carl's head bare.

Hale sale is gude sale.

Hale claith's afore cloutit.

Half acres bear aye gude corn.

Meaning that when people have but little property, they take good care of it.


Half a tale is enough for a wise man.

Hallowe'en bairns see far.

"And touching the bairn, it's weel kent she was born on Hallowe'en was nine years gane, and they that are born on Hallowe'en whiles see mair than ither folk."—The Monastery.

Hame's a hamely word.

"Hame's hamely," quo' the deil when he found himsel in the Court o' Session.

Hand in gear helps weel.

Hand in use is father o' lear.

The constant practice of our profession is the surest road to "lear" or affluence.

Handle your tools without mittens.

Hand ower head, as men took the covenant.

"Alluding to the manner in which the covenant, so famous in Scottish history, was violently taken by above sixty thousand persons about Edinburgh, in 1638; a novel circumstance at that time, though afterwards paralleled by the French, in voting by acclamation."—Fielding.

Handsome is that handsome does.

Hang a thief when he's young, and he'll no steal when he's auld.

Hang him that has nae shift, and hang him that has ower mony.

Hang hunger and drown drouth.

Hanging gaes by hap.

Hanging's nae better than it's ca'd.

Hanging's sair on the eesight.[112]

Hankering an' hinging-on is a poor trade.

Hands aff is fair play.

Hap an' a ha'penny is world's gear enough.

Happiness and moderate means in this world are enough.

Happy for the son when the dad gaes to the deil.

"For commonly they who first raise great estates, do it either by usury and extortion, by fraud and cozening, or by flattery, and by ministering to other men's vices."—Ray.

"Alas for the son whose father goes to heaven!"—Portuguese.

Happy is the bride that the sun shines on; happy is the corpse that the rain rains on.

Happy is the wooing that's no lang o' doing.

Happy man be his dool.

A good wish,—that happiness may be the greatest affliction sent him.

Happy man, happy kavel.

Happy the man that belongs to nae party, but sits in his ain house, and looks at Benarty.

"Sir Michael Malcolm, of Loch Ore, an eccentric baronet, pronounced this oracular couplet in his old age, when troubled with the talk of the French Revolution. As a picture of meditative serenity and neutrality, it seems worthy of preservation."—Robert Chambers.

Happy's the maid that's married to a mitherless son.

Hard fare maks hungry bellies.

Hardships seldom come single.

Haste and anger hinder gude counsel.[113]

Haste maks waste, and waste maks want, and want maks strife between the gudeman and the gudewife.

Hasty meet, hasty part.

"An observation upon marriage suddenly contracted, as if it were ominous, and portended a sudden separation."—Kelly.

Hasty was hanged, but Speed-o'-foot wan awa.

Haud the hank in your ain hand.

Do the difficult part of your work yourself, or retain every advantage you can.

Haud your feet, Lucky Dad, auld folk's no fiery.

Literally, look to your feet, as you are not nimble: applied when people stumble.

Haud you hand, your father slew a whaup.

Haud your hands aff ither folk's bairns till ye get some o' your ain.

Hawks winna pike out hawks' een.

"It was an unco thing to see hawks pike out hawks' een, or ae kindly Scot cheat anither."—Rob Roy.

Hearken to the hinder-end, after comes not yet.

Hearts may 'gree though heads may differ.

He begs frae them that borrowed frae him.

He bides as fast as a cat does to a saucer.

Meaning that a person will "bide" or stay only so long as he can get anything, or serve his own purpose.

He blaws in his lug fu' brawly.

"Blaw his lug," to praise a person in an extravagant or fulsome manner.

He blushes at it like a beggar at a bawbee.[114]

He breeds o' the gowk that casts a' down at e'en.

He brings a staff to break his ain head.

He can do ill, and he may do gude.

He can haud the cat and play wi' the kitten.

He can ill rin that canna gang.

He can lee like a dog licking a dish.

He canna see an inch before his nose.

He can say "My Jo," and think it no.

That is, he can be complimentary in his speech, but not in his intentions.

He can suck the laverock's frae the lift.

"In relation to one who possesses great power of wheedling. It evidently alludes to the idea of the fascinating power of serpents by means of their breath."—Jamieson.

He can wile the flounders out o' the sea.

"'Heard ye ever the like o' that, laird?' said Saddletree to Dumbiedikes, when the counsel had ended his speech. 'There's a chiel can spin a muckle pirn out o' a wee tait o' tow!... And he's cleckit this great muckle bird out o' this wee egg! He could wile the very flounders out o' the Firth.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

He caresna wha's bairns greet if his ain laugh.

He ca's me scabbed because I winna ca' him sca'd.

Meaning that a man has endeavoured to make his opponent in a particular transaction lose his temper, but failing to do so, he loses his own.


"Hech!" quo' Howie, when he swallowed his wife's clue.

"Hech!" is here used as an expression of surprise and relief that a disagreeable operation has been performed. A "clue" is a ball of worsted.

He comes oftener wi' the rake than the shool.

"Spoken of a poor friend whose business is not to give us, but to get from us."—Kelly.

He comes o' gude, he canna be ill.

A satirical expression applied to persons who are vain enough to suppose that they can do no wrong.

He complains early that complains o' his parritch.

He counts his ha'penny gude siller.

Meaning that a person may confer a very small favour, and have a greatly exaggerated idea of his own generosity.

He cuts near the wood.

To "cut near the wood" is to be very keen in driving a bargain.

He daurna say "Bo" to your blanket.

He doesna aye ride when he saddles his horse.

He doesna ken a B frae a bull's foot.

A saying denoting that a person is extremely ignorant.

He doesna ken what end o' him's upmost.

He doesna like his wark that says "Now!" when it's done.

He doubles his gift that gies in time.

He eats the calf i' the cow's wame.

Which means, in other words, he has spent his fortune before he received it; that "He has eaten his corn in the blade."—French.


Heedna says, or ye'll ne'er sit at ease.

He fells twa dogs wi' ae bane.

"Pate disna fend on that alane;
He can fell twa dogs wi' ae bane,
While ither folk
Must rest themselves content wi' ane,
Nor farer trock."

He flings the helve after the hatchet.

He fyles his neighbour's cog to get the brose himsel.

Meaning that a person has been wicked enough to injure the character of another that he might supplant him in influence or position.

He gaed for oo' but came hame shorn.

"A camel going to seek horns lost his ears."—Arabic.

He gangs awa in an ill time that ne'er comes back again.

He gangs far aboot seeking the nearest.

He gangs frae the jilt to the gellock.

To "jilt," to throw or dash water on a person; "gellock" (gavelock), an iron lever or crowbar. Meaning, perhaps, that a man's temper is such that he passes from the extreme of playfulness to that of passion very quickly.

He gangs lang barefoot that waits for dead men's shune.

He gaes nae whitings without banes.

Or, if he confers an obligation, it is sure to have some condition attached to it.

He girns like a sheep's head in a pair o' tangs.

"Little Andrew, the wratch, has been makin' a totum wi' his faither's ae razor; an' the pair man's trying to shave himsel yonder, an' girnan like a sheep's head on the tangs."—Hugh Miller.


He got his mother's malison the day he was married.

Spoken of a man who has a bad wife.

He had gude skill o' horse flesh wha bought a goose to ride on.

He harps aye on ae string.

He has a bee in his bonnet-lug.

Applied when a person is very much occupied with a project of his own.

He has a cauld coal to blaw at.

"A' things o' religion hae settled into a method that gies the patronless preacher but little chance o' a kirk. Wi' your oye's ordinar looks, I fear, though he were to grow as learned as Matthew Henry himsel, he would hae but a cauld coal to blaw at."—Sir Andrew Wylie.

He has a crap for a' corn.

He has a gude judgment that doesna lippen to his ain.

He has a hearty hand for a hungry meltith.

He bestows charity liberally.

He has a hole beneath his nose that winna let his back be rough.

Meaning that his extravagance in the matter of food is such that it prevents his back being "rough" or well clothed.

He has a lang clue to wind.

"I might hae been in a state and condition to look at Miss Girzy; but, ye ken, I hae a lang clue to wind before I maun think o' playing the ba' wi' Fortune, in ettling so far aboun my reach."—The Entail.

He has an ill look among lambs.[118]

He has a saw for a' sairs.

That is, a salve or "balm for every wound."

He has a slid grip that has an eel by the tail.

"Spoken to those who have to do with cunning fellows whom you can hardly bind sure enough."—Kelly.

He has been rowed in his mother's sark tail.

Synonymous with being "tied to his mother's apron-string," i.e., kept too strictly under parental authority.

He has brought his pack to a braw market.

He has come to gude by misguiding.

He has coosten his cloak on the ither shouther.

He has coup'd the muckle pat into the little.

Sarcastically applied to those who claim to have executed extraordinary deeds.

He has drowned the miller.

Meaning that in mixing liquids, as in mixing toddy, too much water has been added. The English say, "He has put the miller's eye out."

He has faut o' a wife that marries mam's pet.

He has feathered his nest, he may flee when he likes.

He has gane without taking his leave.

He has gi'en up a trade and ta'en to stravaigin'.

A humorous way of expressing that a man has retired from business to live comfortably. To "stravaig" is to walk about idly.

He has got a bite o' his ain bridle.

He has gotten his kail through the reek.

"To meet with severe reprehension. To meet with what causes bitterness or thorough repentance as to any course that one has taken."—Jamieson.


He has gotten the boot and the better beast.

This saying has evidently emanated from the stable. When persons wish to exchange horses, he who has the poorest animal gives a "boot" or compensation in addition to the horse, to make the exchange equal. The proverb is applied to a person who has over-reached his neighbour.

He has gotten the whip hand o' him.

He has got the heavy end of him.

Meaning that in an argument or struggle he has the best of it.

He has help'd me out o' a deadlift.

Or rendered very great assistance in an emergency.

He has hit the nail on the head.

He has it o' kind, he coft it not.

Meaning that a person's bad qualities are inherited from his parents; equivalent to the saying, "What's bred in the bone won't out of the flesh."

He has left the key in the cat-hole.

He has licket the butter aff my bread.

To "lick the butter," in proverbial phraseology, is to supplant a person in business, or so interfere with his arrangements as to injure them.

He has made a moonlight flitting.

To "shoot the moon," as the English say, is to decamp from a house without paying the rent.

He has mair floor than he has flail for.

Or more work than he can overtake.

He has mair jaw than judgment.

He has mair wit in his wee finger than ye hae in your hale bouk.

He has muckle prayer, but little devotion.[120]

He hasna a bauchle to swear by.

He hasna a hail nail to claw him wi'.

He hasna as muckle sense as a cow could haud in her faulded nieve.

He has nae clag till his tail.

"A vulgar phrase, signifying that there is no stain on one's character, or that no one can justly exhibit a charge against him."—Jamieson.

He has nae mair mense than a miller's horse.

Vide, "As menseless as a tinkler's messan."

He has naething to crave at my hand.

He has need o' a clean pow that ca's his neighbour nitty now.

"A man ought to be free of those faults that he throws up to others."—Kelly.

He has neither stock nor brock.

He has neither money nor meat.

He has ower many greedy gleds o' his ain.

Meaning that a man has too many family claims upon his generosity to meet, to be able to attend to those of strangers.

He has skill o' roasted woo—when it stinks it's ready.

He has some sma' wit, but a fool has the guiding o't.

He has soon done that never dought.

He has spur metal in him.

He has swallowed a flee.[121]

He has ta'en the country on his back.

A proverbial expression of the fact that a man has run away.

He hastit to his end like a moth to a candle.

He has the best end o' the string.

He has the gift o' the gab.

"'I wish,' said Dumbiedikes, 'I were as young and as supple as you, and had the gift o' the gab as weel.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

He has wit at will that wi' an angry heart can sit still.

He hauds baith heft and blade.

That is, he has a thing entirely at his own option.

He hearsna at that ear.

He hears wi' his heels, as the geese do in hairst.

"That is, he heard, had he been pleased to answer."—Kelly.

He hid a bodle and thought it a hoard.

He hides his meat and seeks for mair.

"Spoken when covetous people pretend poverty, and conceal their wealth to plead pity."—Kelly.

He is not a merchant bare, that hath either money, worth, or ware.

"A good merchant may want ready money."—Kelly.

He jump'd at it, like a cock at a grossart.

"'I had quite forgotten,' said Tyrrel, 'that the inn was your own; though I remember you were a considerable landed proprietor.' 'Maybe I am,' replied Meg, 'maybe I am not; and if I be, what for no? But as to what the laird, whose grandfather was my father's landlord, said to the new doings yonder—he just jumped at the ready penny, like a cock at a grossart.'"—St Ronan's Well.


He keeps his road weel enough wha gets rid o' ill company.

He kens a'thing that opens and steeks.

He kens his ain groats amang other folk's kail.

He kens how many beans mak five.

He kens how to butter a whiting.

The import of the two preceding sayings is, that a man is very sharp in looking after his own interests.

He kens how to turn his ain cake.

"'Never fash your beard, Mr Bide-the-Bent,' replied Girder; 'ane canna get their breath out between wives and ministers. I ken best how to turn my own cake. Jean, serve up the dinner, and nae mair about it.'"—Bride of Lammermoor.

He kens muckle wha kens when to speak, but far mair wha kens when to haud his tongue.

He kens nae a mavis frae a madge-howlet.

He kens nae a selgh frae a salmon.

He kens nae the pleasures of plenty wha ne'er felt the pains o' poverty.

He kens whilk side his bannock's buttered on.

"There was a set of ancient brethren of the angle from Edinburgh, who visited St Ronan's frequently in the spring and summer, a class of guests peculiarly acceptable to Meg, who permitted them more latitude in her premises than she was known to allow to any other body. 'They were,' said she, 'pawky auld carles, that kend whilk side their bread was buttered upon.'"—St Ronan's Well.

He kicks at the benweed.

Benweed, ragwort. That is, he is headstrong, or unreasonable.


He lay in his scabbard, as mony a gude sword's done.

Meaning that he prudently allowed an insult or slight to pass without notice.

He left his siller in his ither pocket.

A sarcastic allusion to those who seek to evade paying their share of the reckoning. It was remarked of a friend of ours, that on such occasions he "was the first to put his hand in his pocket, but the last to draw it out."

He likes nae beef that grows on my banes.

He'll claw up their mittans.

Metaphorically, "He will kill them, or give the finishing stroke."—Jamieson.

He'll either win the horse or tine the saddle.

He'll gang mad on a horse wha's proud on a pownie.

Spoken of those who take undue advantage of the slight authority they possess.

He'll gang nae farther than his tether's length.

He'll gang to hell for house profit.

He'll get the poor man's answer, "No."

He'll gie his bane to nae dog.

He'll gie you the whistle o' your groat.

He'll hae enough some day, when his mouth's fu' o' mools.

"Spoken of covetous people, who will never be satisfied while they are alive."—Kelly.

He'll hing by the lug o't.

"Keep a firm hold of it, as a bull-dog does of his prey."—Jamieson.


He'll hing that ower my head.

"'She would haud me nae better than the dirt below her feet,' said Effie to herself, 'were I to confess I hae danced wi' him four times on the green down by, and ance at Maggie Macqueen's; and she'll maybe hing it ower my head that she'll tell my father, and then she wad be mistress and mair.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

He'll kythe in his ain colours yet.

"He'll appear without disguise; he'll be known for the man he is."—Jamieson.

He'll lick the white frae your e'en.

"This phrase is always applied when people, with pretence of friendship, do you an ill turn, as one licking a mote out of your eye makes it blood shot."—Allan Ramsay.

He'll mak a spune or spoil a horn.

"Ay, ay, we're a' subject to a downcome. Mr Osbaldistone is a gude honest gentleman; but I aye said he was ane o' them wad mak a spune or spoil a horn, as my father, the worthy deacon, used to say."—Rob Roy.

He'll mend when he grows better, like sour ale in summer.

"The young laird of Balmawhapple, ... he had no imperfection but that of keeping light company at a time; such as Jinker the horse-couper, and Gibby Gaethroughwi't, the piper o' Cupar; 'O' whilk follies, Mr Saunderson, he'll mend, he'll mend,' pronounced the bailie. 'Like sour ale in summer,' added Davie Gellatley, who happened to be nearer the conclave than they were aware of."—Waverley.

He'll need to dree the dronach o't.

He'll ne'er send you awa wi' a sair heart.

He'll neither dance nor haud the candle.

Like the dog in the manger, he will neither enjoy himself, nor allow others to do so.


He'll neither dee nor do weel.

Sarcastically applied to people who may be peevish or fretful through ill health.

He'll neither haud nor bind.

"'Then, if ye maun hae't, the folk in Lunnun are a' clean wud about this bit job in the north here.' 'Clean wood! what's that?' 'Ou, just real daft—neither to haud nor to bind—a' hirdy girdy—clean through ither—the deil's ower Jock Wabster.'"—Rob Roy.

"A proverbial phrase expressive of violent excitement, whether in respect of rage, or of folly, or of pride; borrowed, perhaps, from the fury of an untamed beast, which cannot be so long held that it may be bound with a rope."—Jamieson.

He'll neither hup nor wine.

Of similar import to the preceding. Hup and wine are two words used in guiding plough and cart horses.

He'll never rue but ance, and that'll be a' his life.

"Ride down to Portanferry, and let nae grass grow at the nag's heels; and if ye find him in confinement, ye maun stay beside him night and day for a day or twa, for he'll want friends that hae baith heart and hand; and if ye neglect this, ye'll never rue but ance, for it will be for a' your life."—Guy Mannering.

He'll no gie an inch o' his will for a span o' his thrift.

That is, regardless of expense, his wishes must be gratified.

He'll no gie the head for the washing.

To "keep the head for the washing" is to retain possession of an article which has been made to order or repaired until all charges upon it are paid.

He'll no let the grass grow at his heels.[126]

He'll no sell his hen on a rainy day.

He will not sell his wares at an unpropitious time.

He'll rather turn than burn.

He'll shoot higher that shoots at the moon, than he that shoots at the midden, e'en though he may miss his mark.

He'll soon be a beggar that canna say "No."

He'll tell it to nae mair than he meets.

He'll wag as the bush wags.

That is, he will do as circumstances compel him.

He loes me for little that hates me for nought.

His love has never been very strong if it turns for a trifle.

He'll wind you a pirn.

"An my auld acquaintance be hersel, or onything like hersel, she may come to wind us a pirn. It's fearsome baith to see and hear her when she wampishes about her arms, and gets to her English, and speaks as if she were a prent book—let a-be an auld fisher's wife."—The Antiquary.

He lo'ed mutton weel that lick'd where the ewie lay.

"Spoken to them who will sip the bottom of a glass where good liquor was, or scrape a plate after good meat."—Kelly.

"He loved mutton well that dipped his bread in wool."—English.

He looks as if he could swallow a cow.

This saying and the four which follow are expressive of peculiarities in the appearance of persons.

He looks as if the wood were fu' o' thieves.[127]

He looks like a Lochaber axe fresh frae the grundstane.

He looks like the far end of a French fiddle.

"Gin ye wad thole to hear a friend,
Tak tent, and nae wi' strunts offend,
I've seen queans dink, and neatly prim'd
Frae tap to middle,
Looking just like the far-aff end
O' an auld fiddle."
—The Farmer's Ha'.

He looks like the laird o' fear.

He loses his time that comes sune to a bad bargain.

Help for help in hairst.

Farmers in time of harvest occasionally give each other a "day's shearing," or the use of the whole reaping staff for a day. Of course, the favour is returned, and the benefit rendered mutual.

Help is gude at a'thing, except at the cog.

"At the cog," signifies in taking our food.

He maks nae bairn's bargains.

He maun be a gude friend when you dinna ken his value.

He maun be soon up that cheats the tod.

He maun hae leave to speak that canna haud his tongue.

Addressed to people who talk foolishly or without purpose.

He maun lout that has a laigh door.

He maun rise soon that pleases a'body.[128]

He may be trusted wi' a house fu' o' unbored millstanes.

Meaning that such a person cannot be trusted at all.

He may find fault that canna mend.

He may laugh that wins.

He may tine a stot that canna count his kine.

"The man may ablens tyne a stot
That cannot count his kinsch,
In zour awin bow ze are owre-schot
Be mair than half-an-inch."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

He may weel soom wha has his head hauden up.

Meaning that a task is easy when assistance is given.

He needs a lang-shanket spoon that sups kail wi' the deil.

"He that has to do with wicked and false men had need to be cautious and on his guard."—Kelly.

He needs maun rin that the deil drives.

He ne'er did a gude darg that gaed grumbling about it.

"A gude darg" means here a good day's work.

He ne'er tint a cow that grat for a groat.

Literally, he never lost a cow who cried for the loss of a groat.

He never lies but when the holly's green.

The holly being an evergreen, that is to say, a person never speaks truth at all.

He picked it up at his ain hand, as the cow learned flinging.[129]

He puts his meat in an ill skin.

Meaning that although a person takes plenty of food and nourishment, his appearance belies it.

He puts in a bad purse that puts in his pechan.

He reads his sin in his punishment.

Henry Clark never slew a man till he come at him.

"A ridicule upon them that threaten hard and dare not execute."—Kelly.

Hen's are aye free o' horse corn.

Hen scarts and filly tails, make lofty ships wear lowly sails.

"Certain light kinds of clouds are thus denominated, from their supposed resemblance to the scratches of hens on the ground and the tails of young mares. They are held as prognosticative of stormy weather."—Robert Chambers.

Here-awa, there-awa, like the Laird o' Hotch Potch's lands.

"Castle fa'an?—na', but the sute's fa'an, and the thunners come right down the kitchen-lumm, and the things are a' lying here-awa, there-awa, like the Laird o' Hotch Potch's lands."—Bride of Lammermoor.

Here's the wine, but where's the wa-nuts?

He reives the kirk to theek the quire.

To "steal from the church to roof the choir," is "to rob Peter to pay Paul."

He rides on the riggin' o't.

That is, he goes to a very great extreme.

He rides sicker that never fa's.

He rides well that never falls: he is a perfect man who never errs.


He rules easier wi' a saugh wand than wi' a sharp brand.

He's aftener there than in the parish kirk.

He's a bodie o' the nick-stick kind.

"One who proceeds exactly according to rule; who will not dine a second time with any person till he has made a return in kind."—Jamieson.

He's a cake and pudding courtier.

He's a causey saint and a house deil.

One whose outward deportment towards strangers is not in unison with the harshness which he exercises at home.

He's a' fair gude e'en, and fair gude-day.

He's a fool that asks ower muckle, but he's a greater fool that gies it.

He's a fool that forgets himsel.

He's a fool that marries at Yule; for when the bairn's to bear the corn's to shear.

He's a gude horse that never stumbled, and a better wife that never grumbled.

"Both so rare, that I never met with either."—Kelly.

He is a gude piper's bitch; he's aye in at meal-times.

He's a gude shot that hits aye the mark.

He's a hardy man to draw a sword at a haggis.

He's a hawk o' a right nest.

He's a man o' wise mind that o' a foe can mak a friend.[131]

He's an auld horse that winna nicher at corn.

He's ane o' snaw-ba's bairntime.

"That is, such as wealth and prosperity make worse, or who insensibly go behind in the world."—Kelly.

He's a poor beggar that canna gang by ae door.

He's a poor man that's never missed.

He's a proud beggar that maks his ain awmous.

That is, he is proud or well pleased who succeeds in realising his own expectations or wishes.

He's a proud horse that winna carry his ain corn.

He's a sairy cook that canna lick his ain fingers.

He's as bare as the birk at Yule.

He's as bauld as a Lammermuir lion.

"A sheep is called a Lammermuir lion; and the proverb is applied, in a sarcastic way, to a boasting or assuming person, or to a braggadocio fellow, who is a coward at bottom."—G. Henderson.

"As fierce as a lion on Cotswold."—English.

He's as gleg as a gled.

He's as happy as a dead bird.

He's a selfish skyte that cares but for his ain kyte.

He's as fu' as a fiddler.

Equivalent to being as "drunk as a lord."

He's as gleg as M'Keachen's elshin, that ran through sax plies o' bend-leather into the king's heel.

Quoted in the Heart of Midlothian when Sharpitlaw, accompanied by Ratcliffe and Madge Wildfire, go to Muschat's Cairn in search of Robertson.


He's as hard wi' me as if I had been the wild Scot o' Galloway.

He's a silly chield that can neither dae nor say.

He's as stiff as if he had swallowed the poker.

He's as welcome as snaw in hairst.

He's as welcome as water in a riven ship.

He's auld and cauld, and ill to lie beside.

He's awfu' big ahint the door.

To be "big ahint the door," is to be very courageous when there is no occasion for it.

He's a wise man that can tak care o' himsel.

He's aye for out o' the cheese-fat he was moulded in.

"'Keep back, sir, as best sets ye,' said the bailie, as Andrew pressed forward to catch the answer to some question I had asked about Campbell; 'ye wad fain ride the forehorse an ye wist how. That chield's aye for being out o' the cheese-fat he was moulded in.'"—Rob Roy.

He's aye wise ahint the hand.

"Ye noo hae hit the nail upo' the head,
I better wi' less travel micht hae deen,
Had I been tenty as I sud hae been;
But fouks, they say, are wise ahint the han',
Whilk to be true unto my cost I fan."
—Ross's Helenore.

He's as wise as Wudsie's calf, that kent milk frae water.

He's been at the kirk o' Crackabout, whaur the kail pat was the minister.

He's better fed than bred.[133]

He's blind that eats marrow, but far blinder that lets him.

He's but Jock the laird's brither.

"The Scottish lairds concern and zeal for the standing and continuance of their families, makes the provision for their younger sons very small."—Kelly.

He's cooling and supping.

"That is, he has nothing but from hand to mouth."—Kelly.

He's cowpet the crans.

"It's a great misery to me that I hae nae books to let you look ower to see my losses; but what gude, when I think on't, would the sight o' losses do to you? It wouldna put a plack in your pouch—aiblins every twa or three pages ye wad see this ane or that ane cowpet the crans, and deep in my debt."—Laird of Logan.

He seeks nae mair than a bit an' a brat.

Meaning that he is content with little.

He's either a' honey or a' dirt.

He is either exceedingly affectionate and kind, or vice versa.

He sell't his soul for a cracket saxpence.

He's failed wi' a fu' hand.

When a man "fails wi' a fu' hand," he defrauds his creditors with the assistance of the Bankruptcy Act.

He's frae the tap o' the wing, but ye're a grey-neck quill.

Meaning, we presume, that a man is not so good as he would like to be thought, or as some person he may have compared himself with.

He's free o' fruit that wants an orchard.[134]

He's fond o' barter that niffers wi' Auld Nick.

He's gane aff at the nail.

Or "destitute of any regard to propriety of conduct; mad; wrongheaded; tipsy."—Jamieson.

He's gane a' to pigs and whistles.

"Hech, sirs, what a kyteful o' pride's yon'er! and yet I would be nane surprised the morn to hear that the Nechabudnezzar was a' gane to pigs and whistles, and driven out wi' the divors bill to the barren pastures of bankruptcy."—The Entail.

He's gane ower the buss taps.

"To behave extravagantly; to go over the tops of the bushes."—Jamieson.

He's gane to seek his faither's sword.

He's gane to the dog-drave.

He's got his leg ower the harrows.

He's got his nose in a gude kail pat.

Meaning that a person has been well provided for. Generally applied to a poor man who has married a rich wife.

He's gude that never failed.

He's his faither's better, like the cooper o' Fogo.

"Fogo is a small decayed village near Dunse. It appears that each generation of its coopers improved upon the plans or workmanship of their ancestors, and the son became better than the father."—G. Henderson.

He's horn deaf on that side o' his head.

That is, he has already made up his mind upon that matter.

He should be seldom angry that has few to mease him.

He's idle that might be better employed.[135]

He's ill-faur'd that dogs bark at.

"'I have had that wad sober me or ony ane,' said the matron. 'Aweel, Tib, a lass like me wasna to lack wooers, for I wasna sae ill-favoured that the tikes wad bark after me.'"—The Monastery.

He's in the wrang when praised that glunshes.

He sits fu' close that has riven breeks.

"This elegant speech was made by the Earl of Douglas, called Tineman, after being wounded and made prisoner at the battle of Shrewsbury, where

"'His well-labouring sword
Had three times slain the semblance of the king.'"
—Fortunes of Nigel.

He sits wi' little ease wha sits on his neighbour's coat tail.

He's John Tamson's man.

"'Atweel, Cuddie, ye are gaun nae sic gate,' said Jenny, coolly and resolutely. 'The deil's in the wife!' said Cuddie, 'd'ye think I am to be John Tamson's man, and maistered by women a' the days o' my life?' 'And whase man wad ye be? And wha wad ye hae to maister ye but me, Cuddie, lad?'"—Old Mortality.

He's laid down the barrow.

That is, "he's cowpet the crans," q. v.

He sleeps as dogs do when wives sift meal.

Meaning that a person is very sharp, and that he, figuratively, sleeps with one eye open.

He's lifeless that's faultless.

Implying that no one is without fault.

He's like a bagpipe, ne'er heard till his wame's fu'.[136]

He's like a chip amang parritch—little gude, little ill.

He's like a cow in a fremit loaning.

That is, strange, or out of place. "Fremit loaning," strange lane.

He's like a flea in a blanket.

He's like a singet cat—better than he's bonny.

He's like the craws, he eats himsel' out o' ply.

He's like the smith's dog—so weel used to the sparks that he'll no burn.

Spoken of people who are so much accustomed to tipple, that they never seem any the worse of it.

He's like the wife's bawty—kens naething about it.

He slippet awa like a knotless thread.

He's loose in the heft.

He's mair buirdly i' the back than i' the brain.

He's mair fleyed than hurt.

He's mair worth hanging than hauding.

He's nae gude weaver that leaves lang thrums.

No good workman who wastes material, or leaves work in a slovenly state.

He's nae sma' drink.

He's ne'er at ease that's angry.

He snites his nose in his neighbour's dish to get the brose himsel.

This rude but expressive saying is used when a person has done another an injury in order to benefit himself.


He's no a man to ride the water wi'.

"A phrase applied to one who, it is believed, cannot be depended on."—Jamieson.

He's no a stirk o' the right stock.

"I was a friendless lad, and ye took me by the hand,—and could I sit still and see scathe befa' my benefactor, I wouldna be a stirk o' the right stock, that's bred on the land o' Scotland."—Sir Andrew Wylie.

He's no gude to creel eggs wi'.

"Not safe or easy to deal with."—Jamieson.

He's no nice but needfu'.

He's no sae daft as he lets on.

He's no steel to the bane.

He's no the best wright that casts maist spails.

He's no the fool that the fool is, but he that wi' the fool deals.

He's no the happiest wha has maist gear.

He's no worth kissing caps wi'.

To "kiss caps wi'," is to keep company with, to associate together in drinking.

He's out and in, like a dog at a fair.

He's ower auld a cat to draw a strae before.

"The rents and the lands are but a sair fash to me," re-echoed Ailie; "and I'm ower failed to tak a helpmate, though Wylie Mactrickit, the writer, was very pressing, and spak very civilly; but I'm ower auld a cat to draw that strae before me—he canna whilliwhaw me as he's done mony a ane."—Old Mortality.

He's ower-shot wi' his ain bow.

Overreached with his own weapons.


He's ower soon up that's hanged ere noon.

He's soger bred but major minded.

He's ta'en a start and an owerloup.

"The usual expression for a slight encroachment on a neighbour's property."—Sir Walter Scott.

He speaks like a prent book.

He speaks in his drink what he thinks in his drouth.

He spoke as if every word would lift a dish.

In allusion to a person who has addressed another in a very pompous or affected manner.

He's poor enough that's ill faur'd.

He's poor that canna promise.

He's rich that has nae debt.

He's sairest dung that's paid wi' his ain wand.

That is, he suffers most who injures himself by his own folly, or by means which may have been intended to injure another.

He's silly that spares for ilka speech.

He's sometimes i' the air, but ye're aye on the grund.

He's the bee that maks the honey.

He's the best spoke o' your wheel.

He's the slave o' a slaves wha ser's nane but himsel.

He's twice fain that sits on a stane.

"That is, glad to sit down, because he is weary, and glad to rise, because the stone is hard."—Kelly.


He starts at straes, and lets windlins gae.

This saying is, we think, exclusively Scotch. It very briefly but pithily applies to those who, while anxiously correcting trifling errors, allow greater ones to pass unheeded: who strain at gnats, and swallow camels.

He streaks reem in my teeth.

"Spoken when we think one only flattering us, and not earnest or sincere in what they pretend."—Kelly.

He struts like a craw in the gutter.

He stumbles at a strae and loups ower a linn.

He's unco fond o' farming that wad harrow wi' the cat.

He's unco fu' in his ain house that canna pick a bane in his neighbour's.

Satirically applied to those who are unwilling to partake of a meal in a friend's house.

He's waur to water than to corn.

Fonder of his meat than his drink.

He's weel boden there ben that will neither borrow nor lend.

Meaning that a person must be very well off indeed who can afford to dispense with all assistance.

He's weel eased that has o' his ain.

He's weel worthy o' sorrow that buys it wi' his ain siller.

He's wise that kens when he's weel enough.

"This is a pitch of wisdom to which few attain."—Kelly.

He's wise that's timely wary.

He's worth gowd that can win it.[140]

He's worth nae weel that can bide nae wae.

He that ance gets his fingers i' the dirt can hardly get them out again.

He that bides weel betides weel.

He that bids me to meat wishes me to live.

He that blaws best bears awa the horn.

He that blaws in the stoor fills his ain een.

He that borrows and bigs, maks feasts and thigs, drinks an's no dry,—nane o' these three are thrifty.

He that buys a house that's wrought has mony a pin and nail for nought.

He that buys land buys stanes; he that buys beef buys banes; he that buys nuts buys shells; he that buys gude ale buys naething else.

He that can hear Dumbuck may hear Dumbarton.

Dumbuck Hill, in Argyleshire, is farther from Glasgow (the locale of this saying) than Dumbarton: proverbially applied to those who are better acquainted with circumstances than they pretend to be, but who, in their anxiety to gain more information, betray themselves.

He that canna do as he would maun do as he may.

He that canna gie favours should seek nane.

He that canna mak sport should mar nane.

He that cheats in daffin winna be honest in earnest.[141]

He that cheats me ance, shame fa' him; he that cheats me twice, shame fa' me.

He that comes first to the ha' may sit where he will.

He that comes o' hens maun scrape.

He that counts a' costs will ne'er put plough i' the grund.

"He that forecasts all difficulties that he may meet with in his business will never set about it."—Kelly.

He that counts without his host may have to count twice.

He that deals in dirt has aye foul fingers.

He that does as he's bidden deserves nae bannin'.

He that does his turn in time sits half idle.

He that doesna mind corn pickles never comes to forpits.

"Get a large sheet of paper, man, and make a new pen, with a sharp neb, and a fine hair-stroke. Do not slit the quill up too high, it's a wastrife course in your trade, Andrew. They that do not mind corn pickles never come to forpits. I have known a learned man write a thousand pages with one quill."—Fortunes of Nigel.

He that does you an ill turn will ne'er forgie you.

He that drinks when he's no dry will be dry when he has nae drink.

He that eats a boll o' meal in bannocks eats a peck o' dirt.[142]

He that eats but ae dish seldom needs the doctor.

He that fa's in a gutter, the langer he lies the dirtier he is.

He that fishes before the net, fishes lang or he fish get.

He that gapes till he be fed may gape till he be dead.

He that gets forgets, but he that wants thinks on.

He that gets gear before he gets wit is but a short time maister o't.

He that gies a' his gear to his bairns, tak up a beetle and ding out his harns.

"Taken from the history of one John Bell, who, having given his substance to his children, was by them neglected. After he died there was found in his chest a mallet with this inscription,—

"'I, John Bell, leave here a mell, the man to fell,
Who gives all to his bairns, and keeps nothing to himsel.'"

He that grapes in the dark may fyle his fingers.

He that hains his dinner will hae the mair to his supper.

He that has a bonnie wife needs mair than twa een.

He that has a dog at hame may gang to the kirk wi' a clean breast.[143]

He that has ae sheep in a flock will like a' the lave the better for't.

"Spoken when we have a son at such a school, university, army, or society, we will wish the prosperity of these respective bodies upon his account."—Kelly.

He that has a goose will get a goose.

Or, he that is rich already has legacies left him; as, "The fat sow's tail's aye creash'd."

He that has a gude crap may thole some thistles.

He that has been very fortunate can easily put up with slight drawbacks.

He that has a muckle nose thinks ilka ane speaks o't.

"People who are sensible of their guilt are always full of suspicion."—Kelly.

He that has a wide wame ne'er had a lang arm.

That is, a corpulent person is never very active.

He that has a wife has a maister.

"He that's not sensible of the truth of this proverb may blot it out or pass it over."—Kelly.

He that has but ae ee maun tent it weel.

He that has gall in his mouth canna spit honey.

He that has his hand in the lion's mouth maun tak it out the best way he can.

Meaning that he who has willingly jeopardized himself must extricate himself without assistance.

He that has horns in his bosom needna put them on his head.

He that has just enough can soundly sleep; the owercome only fashes folk to keep.[144]

He that has muckle wad aye hae mair.

He that hasna purse to fine may hae flesh to pine.

"'It will be nonsense fining me,' said Andrew, doughtily, 'that hasna a grey groat to pay a fine wi'—it's ill taking the breeks aff a Hielandman.' 'If ye hae nae purse to fine, ye hae flesh to pine,' replied the bailie, 'and I will look weel to ye getting your deserts the tae way or the tither.'"—Rob Roy.

He that hasna siller in his purse should hae silk on his tongue.

He that has routh o' butter may butter his bread on baith sides.

He that has siller in his purse may want a head on his shouthers.

He that has twa hoards can get a third.

He that hath and winna keep it, he that wants and winna seek it, he that drinks and is not dry, siller shall want as well as I.

He that hews abune his head may get a spail in his ee.

He who aims at things beyond his power may be injured by his projects.

He that hides kens whaur to seek.

He that ill does never gude weens.

He who is in the habit of ill-doing himself always has a bad opinion of others.

He that invented the maiden first handselled her.

James, Earl of Morton, who invented the "maiden" or guillotine, was the first who suffered by it.


He that isna handsome at twenty, strong at thirty, wise at forty, rich at fifty, will never be handsome, strong, wise, or rich.

He that keeks through a keyhole may see what will vex him.

"He who looks through a hole will discover his dole."—Spanish.

He that keeps the cat's dish keeps her aye crying.

He that kens what will be cheap or dear, needs be a merchant but for half-a-year.

As the exercise of his foresight will enable him to acquire a competency in that time.

He that kisses his wife at the market cross will hae mony to teach him.

He that lacks my mare may buy my mare.

Used when a person disparages an article that he may secure it to himself.

He that laughs alane will mak sport in company.

He that lends his pot may seethe his kail in his loof.

He that lends money to a friend has a double loss.

Because he loses both his money and his friend.

He that lends you hinders you to buy.

He that lippens to chance lippens his back to a slap.[146]

He that lippens to lent ploughs may hae his land lang lea.

He that relies on favours being granted is liable to disappointment.

He that lives on hope has a slim diet.

He that lo'es law will soon get his fill o't.

He that looks not ere he loup will fa' ere he wat.

He that looks to freets, freets will follow him.

"He that notices superstitious observances (such as spilling of salt, Childermass day, or the like) it will fall to him accordingly."—Kelly.

He that maks friends fear'd o' his wit should be fear'd o' their memories.

He that marries a beggar gets a louse for a tocher.

He that marries a daw eats muckle dirt.

He who is connected with a "daw," or drab, has many troubles to put up with.

He that marries a widow and twa dochters has three back doors to his house.

Or, as Kelly quotes, "three stark thieves; because his wife will put away things to them, or for them."

He that marries a widow will hae a dead man's head often thrown in his dish.

He that marries before he's wise will dee ere he thrive.[147]

He that middles wi' tulzies may come in for the redding stroke.

To "middle with tulzies" is to interfere with quarrelsome people; the chances are that a person who does so will come off at a loss.

He that never eats flesh thinks harigals a feast.

Parallel to the English proverb, "He who never eats flesh thinks pudding a dainty."

He that never rade never fell.

He that never thinks will ne'er be wise.

He that oppresses honesty ne'er had ony.

He that pays his debt begins to mak a stock.

He that pays last ne'er pays twice.

He that pities another minds himsel.

He that plants trees lo'es ithers beside himsel.

He that plays wi' fools and bairns maun e'en play at the chucks.

When a man mixes with children, or fools or rogues, he must adapt himself to them.

"What signifies what I desired, man? when a wise man is with fules and bairns, he maun e'en play at the chucks. But you should have had mair sense and consideration than to gie Babie Charles and Steenie their ain gate; they wad hae floored the very rooms wi' silver, and I wonder they didna."—Fortunes of Nigel.

He that pleads his ain cause has a fool for his client.

He that puts the cat in the pock kens best how to tak her out.[148]

He that puts on the public gown maun aff the private person.

A maxim of proverbial philosophy which many persons in petty authority might practise with advantage—to the public.

He that rides ahint anither doesna saddle when he pleases.

That is, he who is dependent on another must submit to his superior's authority.

He that rides or he be ready wants aye some o' his graith.

He that's angry opens his mouth and steeks his een.

That is, vents himself in abuse without looking into the details of the case.

He that's aught the cow gangs nearest the tail.

He that has most interest in an undertaking or property is willing to run a greater risk than he that has none.

He that says what he likes will hear what he doesna like.

He that's born to a plack 'll ne'er get a pound.

He that's born to be hanged will never be drowned.

He that's crabbit without cause should mease without amends.

He that seeks alms for Godsake begs for twa.

He that seeks motes gets motes.

He that seeks trouble 'twere a pity he should miss it.[149]

He that sells his wares for words maun live by the loss.

He that's far frae his gear is near his skaith.

A man who is away from his property, or not sufficiently careful of it, is liable to be wronged in his absence.

He that's first up's no aye first ser'd.

He that shames, let him be shent.

"An old Scottish proverb not now used, scarcely understood: a wish that he who exposes his neighbour may come to shame himself."—Kelly.

He that shows his purse tempts the thief.

He that's ill o' his harboury is gude at the way-kenning.

He that is unwilling that a visitor or friend should remain in his house, is very ready to give information as to the way home, and the advantages of following it.

He that's ill to himsel will be gude to naebody.

He that sleeps wi' dogs maun rise wi' flaes.

Or, he who keeps bad company will be contaminated by it.

He that's mann'd wi' boys and hors'd wi' colts will hae his meat eaten and his wark ill done.

In sarcastic allusion to those who entrust matters of importance to youthful or inexperienced persons. "Because," as Kelly says, "the boy will neglect his business, and the colt will throw him."

He that's no my friend at a pinch is no my friend at a'.

He that spares to speak spares to speed.

That is, he who is afraid to speak for his own advancement when an opportunity occurs, does injury to himself.


He that speaks the thing he shouldna will hear the thing he wouldna.

He that speaks to himsel speaks to a fool.

He that speaks wi' a draunt an' sells wi' a cant, is right like a snake in the skin o' a saunt.

This humorous but withal libellous expression of opinion literally means, that they who speak in drawling, canting terms are wolves in sheep's clothing.

He that speers a' gets wit but o' pairt.

He that speers a' opinions comes ill speed.

He that spends before he thrives will beg before he thinks.

He that spends his gear before he gets 't will hae but little gude o't.

He that spits against the wind spits in his ain face.

He that's poor when he's married shall be rich when he's buried.

He that's rede for windlestraes should never sleep on leas.

Equivalent to the English saying, "He that's afraid of the wagging of feathers must keep from among wild fowl;" and the Dutch one, "He who is afraid of leaves must not go to the wood."

He that's scant o' wind shouldna meddle wi' the chanter.

A "chanter" is the drone of a bagpipe, and a good supply of wind is required to fill it. Proverbially applied to those who undertake more than they are able to accomplish.


He that steals a preen may steal a better thing.

He that steals can hide.

He that strikes my dog wad strike mysel if he daur'd.

He that stumbles twice at ae stane deserves to break his shin bane.

For not removing the stumbling-block at first.

He that's welcome fares weel.

He that thinks in his bed has a day without a night.

He that tholes owercomes.

To "thole" is to suffer or endure.

He that tigs wi' a stranger pays the smart.

He that tigs wi' the tailor gets a button in his sleeve.

He that tines his siller is thought to hae tint his wit.

Meaning that he who willingly loses or risks money is readily supposed to be a fool.

He that wants content canna sit easy in his chair.

He that wants to strike a dog ne'er wants stick.

He that wears black maun wear a brush on his back.

He that will be angry for onything will be angry for naething.[152]

He that will to Cupar maun to Cupar.

Applied to foolish or reckless persons who persist in carrying on projects in the face of certain failure, of which they have been duly advised. Why Cupar, the capital of the kingdom of Fife, should have been selected as typical of such "pig-headedness," we are unable to say.

He that winna be counselled canna be helped.

He that winna hear Mother Hood shall hear Stepmother Hood.

"That is, they who will not be prevailed upon by fair means, shall meet with harsher treatment."—Kelly.

He that winna lout and lift a preen will ne'er be worth a groat.

That is, he who despises trifles will never be rich.

He that winna thole maun flit mony a hole.

He who will not bear the crosses of the world patiently only increases his sorrows in trying to evade them.

He that winna use the means maun dree the moans.

He that winna when he may, shanna when he wad.

"Spoken of him who has refused a good offer, and then would have it again."—Kelly.

He that woos a maiden maun come seldom in her sight: he that woos a widow maun ply her day and night.

He that would climb the tree maun tak care o' his grip.

He that would eat the kernal maun crack the nut.[153]

He that would pu' the rose maun sometimes be scarted wi' the thorns.

He thinks himsel nae sheepshank.

Spoken of conceited persons who think themselves of great consequence.

He tines bottles gathering straes.

A variation of "He starts at straes, and lets windlins gae." "Ye hae found it to your cost, that she is a most unreasonable, narrow, contracted woman, and wi' a' her 'conomical througality—her direction-books to mak grozart wine for deil-be-licket, and her Katy Fisher's cookery, whereby she would gar us trow she can mak fat kail o' chucky-stanes and an auld horse-shoe—we a' ken, and ye ken, laird, warst o' a', that she flings away the pease, and maks her hotch-potch wi' the shawps, or, as the auld byeword says, tynes bottles gathering straes."—The Entail.

Het kail cauld, nine days auld, spell ye that in four letters.

The key to this childish puzzle is to be found in the word that: it has no deeper meaning.

Het love, hasty vengeance.

Het sup, het swallow.

He wad gang a mile to flit a sow.

"Spoken of sauntering persons, who would take any pretence to go from their proper business."—Kelly.

He was miss'd by the water, but caught by the widdie.

He has escaped drowning only to be hanged, as "He that is to be hanged will never be drowned—unless the water goes over the gallows."—Dutch.

He wasna the inventor o' gunpowder.

Meaning that a person is very timid or cowardly.


He was ne'er a gude aiver that flung at the brod.

"Spoken of them who spurn at reproof or correction, whom Solomon calls brutish."—Kelly.

He was scant o' grey cloth that soled his hose wi' dockens.

"The return of a haughty maid to them that tell her of an unworthy suitor."—Kelly.

He was scant o' news that tauld his faither was hang'd.

"They're scarce of news who speak ill of their mother."—Irish.

He was the bee that made the honey.

He watsna whilk end o' him's upmost.

He does not know whether he stands on his head or his heels.

He wears Langton's coat o' mail.

"Once, in a skirmish with the English, the Laird of Langton, being unarmed, turned his coat inside out, to make his opponents believe he had on a coat of mail, and so rushed on to the fray. By 'Langton's coat of mail,' is meant a presumptuous but brave man."—G. Henderson.

He wears twa faces aneath ae cowl.

He wha mair than his worth doth spend, aiblins a rape his life will end.

He wha marries a maiden marries a pockfu' o' pleasure; he wha marries a widow marries a pockfu' o' pleas-sure.

"These two are always joined together, and are a dissuasive from marrying a widow, because she is often involved in law suits."—Kelly.


He wha marries for love without money, hath merry nights and sorry days.

He wha tells his wife a' is but newly married.

He winna send you away wi' a fair heart.

Or, he will not grant you the favour you are going to seek.

He woos for cake and pudding.

He would fain be forward if he wist how.

He would fain rip up auld sairs.

That is, gladly rake up old grievances, to enable him to pick a quarrel.

He would gar you trow that the mune's made o' green cheese.

Applied to simple, credulous people, who readily believe the most absurd statements.

He wouldna lend his gully,—no! to the deil to stick himsel.

In sarcastic allusion to those who decline to oblige borrowers, and who carry their principles so far that they "would not lend the devil a knife to cut his throat."—Italian.

He would need to be twice sheeled and ance grund that deals wi' you.

He would rake hell for a bodle.

He would skin a louse for the tallow o't.

In allusion to greedy, parsimonious people, who would rather be put to a great deal of trouble than incur a trifling expense.

He would tine his lugs if they were not tacked to him.

He is so careless and forgetful, that he would lose his ears were they not attached to his head.


He's horn deaf on that side o' his head.

That is, he is wilfully deaf on that subject.

Highest in the court, nearest the widdie.

Highlanders—shoulder to shoulder.

High trees show mair leaves than fruit.

In disparaging allusion to tall persons.

His absence is gude company.

His auld brass will buy her a new pan.

Spoken of young maidens who marry wealthy old men, meaning that when the husband dies his money will help her to a younger one.

"Though auld Rob Morris be an elderly man,
Yet his auld brass it will buy you a new pan;
Then, doughter, you shouldna be so ill to shoo,
For auld Rob Morris is the man ye maun loo."
—Tea-Table Miscellany.

His bark's waur nor his bite.

"'Hout, mother,' said Hobbie, 'Elshie's no that bad a chield; he's a grewsome spectacle for a crooked disciple, to be sure, and a rough talker; but his bark is waur than his bite.'"—The Black Dwarf.

His corn's a' caff.

"I'll lay my lugs that's the true reason, and brawly does he ken his corn's a' caff, or he wadna keep the sack mouth tied, and try to put us aff wi' bletheration."

His e'ening sang and his morning sang are no baith alike.

His eggs hae a' twa yolks.

His geese are a' swans.

Or, his stories are all of a Munchausen order, told more for the sake of effect than of truth.


His head will never fill his faither's bonnet.

His head's in a creel.

"My senses wad be in a creel,
Should I but dare a hope to speel
Wi' Allan, or wi' Gilbertfield,
The braes o' fame;
Or Ferguson, the writer chiel,
A deathless name."

His heart's in his hose.

His meal's a' daigh.

His purse and his palate are ill met.

As the first is light, while the second is heavy.

His room's better than his company.

His tongue's nae slander.

For his bad character or motives are so well known that none would believe him were he to speak ill of a person.

His wame thinks his wizen's cut.

This humorous saying is expressive of the most extreme hunger, when the belly has come to the conclusion that the throat has been cut, and all further supply of food stopped.

His wit gat wings and would hae flown, but pinchin' poortith pu'd him down.

Honest men marry soon, wise men never.

Honesty hauds lang the gate.

To "haud the gate" is to "maintain the even tenor of your way."

Honesty may be dear bought, but can ne'er be an ill pennyworth.

Honesty's the best policy.[158]

Honours change manners.

Hooly and fairly gangs far in a day.

"Working constantly, though soberly (slowly), will despatch a great deal of business."—Kelly.

Hooly and fairly men ride far journeys.

Hope hauds up the head.

Hope is sawin' while death is mawin'.

Hope weel and hae weel.

Horns an' grey hair dinna aye come o' years.

Horses are gude o' a' hues.

"A good horse ne'er had a bad colour."—English.

Hotter war sooner peace.

Hout your dogs and bark yoursel.

"A sharp return to those that say 'Hout' to us, which is a word of contempt; in Latin, apage!"—Kelly.

Humble worth and honest pride gar presumption stand aside.

Hunger is hard in a hale maw.

Or, to a healthy stomach.

Hunger me, and I'll harry thee.

"If servants get not their meat honestly and decently, they will neglect their master's business, or embezzle his goods."—Kelly.

Hunger never fails of a gude cook.

Hunger's gude kitchen.

"Hunger is the best sauce."—English.

Hunger's gude kitchen to a cauld potato, but a wet divot to the lowe o' love.

That is, hunger is good sauce for common meat, but a wet turf (vulgariter, "a damper") to love.


Hunger will break through stane wa's.

The English add to this, "or anything except a Suffolk cheese."

Hungry dogs are blythe o' bursten puddins.

"To him who is hungry any bread seems good, or none comes amiss."—Ray.

Hungry folk are soon angry.

Hungry stewards wear mony shoon.



ance gied a dog his hansel, an' he was hanged ere night.

Used as a reason for not giving a gratuity, intimating that it would harm rather than benefit a person.

I bake nae bread by your shins.

Or, I am not indebted to you for any obligation.

I brought him aff the moor for God's sake, and he begins to bite the bairns.

"Spoken when they whom we have supported make unhandsome and unthankful returns."—Kelly.

I canna afford ye baith tale and lugs.

Spoken to a person who is inattentive to what has been said to him, and who asks to have it repeated.

I canna baith spin an' rin.

I canna sell the cow an' sup the milk.

"He cannot eat his cake and have it."—English.

I can scarce believe ye, ye speak so fair.

I can see as far into a millstane as he that pick'd it.

I carena whether the fire gae about the roast, or the roast gae about the fire, if the meat be ready.

That is, no matter what means are employed to accomplish an end, so that it be done.


I carena whether the tod worry the goose, or the goose worry the tod.

I could hae done that mysel, but no sae weel.

I deny that wi' baith hands and a' my teeth.

Expressive of the most emphatic denial.

Idle dogs worry sheep.

Idle young, needy auld.

If a' be weel I'll be wyteless.

"Spoken with a suspicion that all will not be well, and if so, I have no hand in it."—Kelly.

If a' bowls row right.

"Ye are right, Mr Owen—ye are right; ye speak weel and wisely; and I trust bowls will row right, though they are awee ajee e'enow."—Rob Roy.

If ae sheep loup the dyke, a' the rest will follow.

If a gude man thrive, a' thrives wi' him.

If a lee could hae chokit you, ye wad hae been dead langsyne.

An indirect or jocular manner of intimating to a person that he is guilty of falsehood.

If a man's gaun down the brae ilka ane gies him a jundie.

"If" an' "an" spoil mony a gude charter.

If ane winna, anither will; sae are maidens married.

If ane winna, anither will—the morn's the market day.[162]

If a' thing's true, that's nae lee.

A saying expressive of unbelief of some improbable story.

If a' things were to be done twice, ilka ane wad be wise.

If a' your hums and haws were hams and haggises, the parish needna fear a dearth.

"To 'Hum and Haw,' to dally or trifle with one about any business by indefinite and unintelligible language."—Jamieson.

If better were within better wad come out.

If Candlemas day be dry and fair, the half o' winter's to come and mair; if Candlemas day be wet and foul, the half o' winter's gane at Yule.

If e'er you mak a lucky puddin' I'll eat the prick.

"That is, I am much mistaken if ever you do good."—Kelly.

If grass does grow in Janiveer, 'twill be the worse for't a' the year.

If he be na a souter, he's a gude shoe clouter.

If he cannot make new shoes well, he is very good at repairing old ones.

If he binds his pock she'll sit down on't.

"Spoken when a niggardly man is married on a more niggardly woman."—Kelly.

If he gies a duck he expects a goose.

If I canna do't by might I can do't wi' slight.

If I canna keep my tongue I can keep my siller.[163]

If I canna kep geese I can kep gaislins.

"If I cannot work my revenge upon the principal author of my injury, I will upon his children, relations, or friends."—Kelly.

If I come I maun bring my stool wi' me.

For, as I am not properly invited, there will be no seat allotted to me.

If "ifs" an' "ans" were kettles an' pans there would be nae use for tinklers.

"Were it not for 'if' and 'but,' we should all be rich for ever."—French.

If I had a dog as daft, I wad shoot him.

Signifying that mischievous or silly doings should be put a stop to.

If I had you at Maggy Mill's house, I would get word about wi' ye.

Used when, in argument or dispute, a man has not a proper opportunity to defend himself.

If I hae done amiss, I'll mak amends.

If I live anither year, I'll ca' this fern-year.

If I'm no kind I'm no cumbersome.

If it be a faut it's nae ferlie.

Or, it is no wonder, as any other result should not have been expected.

If it be ill it's as ill rused.

"Spoken of those who discommend what we have."—Kelly.

If it can be nae better, it's weel it's nae waur.

If it sair me to wear, it may sair you to look at.

A pertinent reply to those who find fault with a person's dress.


If it werena for hope the heart would break.

If it werena for the belly the back wad wear gowd.

If it winna be a gude shoe we'll mak a bauchel o't.

If it winna sell it winna sour.

Meaning that an article is good, and will not spoil by keeping.

If marriages are made in heaven, you twa hae few friends there.

If ony body speir at ye, say ye dinna ken.

Meaning that a person is unwilling to give another some information.

"'Madge,' said Ratcliffe, 'have ye ony joes now?' 'An ony body ask ye, say ye dinna ken. Set him to be speaking of my joes, auld Daddie Ratton!'"—Heart of Midlothian.

If she was my wife I would mak a queen o' her.

If strokes be gude to gie they'll be gude to tak.

If that God gie the deil daurna reive.

If the auld wife hadna been in the oven hersel, she ne'er wad hae thought o' looking for her dochter there.

That is, if a person had not been guilty of a particular crime himself, he would never have suspected another of it. Kelly inserts this proverb, but says it is English; and Henderson makes it the subject of an illustration.

If the badger leave his hole the tod will creep in.

If the deil be laird, ye'll be tenant.

If the deil find ye idle, he'll set ye to wark.

For "An idle brain is the devil's workshop."—English.


If the deil were dead, folk would do little for God's sake.

If the laird slight the leddie his menyie will be ready.

Menyie—the servants or followers will be ready to follow the example.

If the lift fa' the laverocks will be smoored.

Literally, if the sky falls the larks will be smothered. Spoken when people are anticipating some very improbable occurrence.

If the mare has a bald face the filly will hae a blaze.

Equivalent to saying, that if the mother is of one complexion the child will be the opposite.

If this be a feast, I hae been at mony.

The inference is, that he is not pleased with the treatment he is receiving.

If we canna preach in the kirk, we can sing mass in the quire.

If we haena the warld's wealth, we hae the warld's ease.

If wishes were horses beggars wad ride, and a' the warld be drowned in pride.

If you be angry, claw your wame, an' cool i' the skin ye het in.

"Spoken to them whose anger we value not."—Kelly.

If you be angry, sit laigh and mease you.

If ye be na gall'd ye needna fling.

Synonymous with the English saying, "If the cap fits, wear it."


If ye dinna haud him he'll do't a'.

Spoken of lazy people, meaning, that if not restrained they will do too much. Applied tauntingly of course.

If ye dinna like what I gie ye, tak what ye brought wi' ye.

If ye dinna see the bottom, dinna wade.

If you do not see your way clearly through an undertaking, do not venture on it at all.

If ye do nae ill, dinna be ill like: if ye steal na my kail, breakna my dike.

"He that would no evil do, must do nought that's like thereto."—English.

If ye gang a year wi' a cripple, ye'll limp at the end o't.

For "Evil communications corrupt good manners."

If ye had as little money as ye hae manners, ye would be the poorest man o' a' your kin.

If ye'll blaw your ain whistle, ye maun uphaud the win'.

If you had been anither, I would hae denied you the first word.

Meaning that you are granted more indulgence than another would be if similarly situated.

If ye had stuck a knife in my heart it wadna hae bled.

He was so much surprised by some information.

If ye hae little gear ye hae less care.

If ye're nae better, ye're snoder like, quo' the wife, when she cut off the doggie's lugs.[167]

If you laugh at your ain sport, the company will laugh at you.

If you lo'e me, let it kythe.

That is, if you love me let it appear.

If ye like the nut, crack it.

If ye sell your purse to your wife, gie her your breeks to the bargain.

"For if your wife command your purse, she will certainly have the mastery in everything else."—Kelly.

If you spend muckle, put mair to the fore.

If you want your business weel done, do't yoursel.

If you win at that you'll lose at naething.

"Spoken to them that are about an ill thing, which will undoubtedly prove to their damage."—Kelly.

"If you winna come you'll bide," quo' Rory to his bride.

It was a matter of perfect indifference whether Rory got her or not.

If you would be a merchant fine, beware o' auld horses, herring, and wine.

Because, proverbially speaking, the first will die, the second stink, and the third sour.

I gaed through the bear-land wi' him.

"This is a phrase used by a person who has gone through all the particulars of a quarrel with another, or told him all the grounds of umbrage at his conduct."—Jamieson.


I gied his birn a hitch.

Or, assisted him in a strait.

"Though he bans me, I wish him well,
We'll maybe meet again;
I'll gie his birn a hitch, an' help
To ease him o' his pain."
—Poems in the Buchan Dialect.

I had but little butter, an' that I coost on the coals.

Said by a person who has been reduced either in circumstances, or in the possession of a particular article, signifying that even the little that was left had been allowed either by carelessness or accident to slip through his fingers.

I had nae mind that I was married, my bridal was sae feckless.

Meaning that a circumstance was of so little importance that no notice was taken of it.

I hae a gude bow, but it's i' the castle.

Satirically remarked of those who pretend that they could do great things if they had some article by them, but which they know very well is not near at hand.

I hae a Scotch tongue in my head—if they speak I'se answer.

I hae baith my meat and my mense.

I hae gi'en a stick to break my ain head.

Engaged in an undertaking which will be to my own disadvantage.

I hae gotten an ill kame for my ain hair.

I hae had better kail in my cog, and ne'er gae them a keytch.


"The return of a haughty maid to them that tell her of an unworthy suitor. It alludes to an art among the Scottish reapers, who, if their broth be too hot, can throw them up into the air, as they turn pancakes, without losing one drop of them."—Kelly.

I hae ither fish to fry.

I hae ither tow on my rock.

That is, I have other work to do.

I hae mair dogs than I hae banes for.

I hae mair to do than a dish to wash.

That is, I have work of importance to do.

I hae muckle to do, and few to do for me.

I hae my back to the wa': if I dinna slip I'll no fa'.

A saying expressive of a feeling of confidence or security.

I hae seen as fu' a haggis toom'd on the midden.

Or as good an article thrown away. Applied disparagingly to any article in question.

I hae seen mair snaw on ae dike, than now on seven.

I hae seen mair than I hae eaten, else ye wadna be here.

A sharp retort to those who doubt a statement of which the narrator has had ocular demonstration.

I hae taen the sheaf frae the mare.

I hae the Bible, an' there's no a better book in a' your aught.

I hae tint the staff I herded wi'.

I have lost the support I depended upon.

I hae twa holes in my head, an' as mony windows.[170]

"I hate 'bout gates," quo' the wife when she haurl'd her man through the ingle.

Meaning that she approves of straightforward conduct. Kelly says that the second part is "added only to make it comical."

I ken a spune frae a stot's horn.

"I had the honour to visit his late gracious Majesty, at his palace of Holyrood, where, I can assure you, I was as civilly entreated as the first in the land, not excluding the Lord Provost of Glasgow, tho' he and his tounfolk tried to put themselves desperately far forrit; but the king saw thro' them brawly, and kent a spoon frae a stot's horn as well as the maist of his liege subjects."—Motherwell.

I ken by my cog how the cow's milk'd.

That is, I know by the appearance of a thing when it is properly done.

I ken by your half-tale what your hale tale means.

Having told me so much I can guess the rest. Applied to those who come to borrow money.

I ken him as weel as if I had gane through him wi' a lighted candle.

I ken how the warld wags: he's honour'd maist has moniest bags.

I ken your meaning by your mumping.

Ilka bean has its black.

"Ye hae had your ain time o't, Mr Syddall; but ilka bean has its black, and ilka path has its puddle; and it will just set you henceforth to sit at the board end, as weel as it did Andrew langsyne."—Rob Roy.

Ilka bird maun hatch her ain egg.[171]

Ilka blade o' grass keps it's ain drap o' dew.

Ilka corn has its shool.

Ilka dog has its day.

"'You have made a most excellent and useful purchase, Cuddie. But what is that portmanteau?' 'The pockmantle?' answered Cuddie: 'It was Lord Evandale's yesterday, and it's yours the day. I fand it ahint the bush o' broom yonder. Ilka dog has its day—ye ken what the auld sang says,

"'"Take turn about, mither," quo' Tam o' the Linn.'"—Old Mortality.

Ilka land has its ain land-law.

"Jeannie Deans, writing from London to Reuben Butler, says,—'Ye will think I am turned waster, for I wear clean hose and shoon every day; but it's the fashion here for decent bodies, and ilka land has its ain land-law.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

Ilka land has its ain leid.

"Leid," language.—Jamieson.

Ilka man as he likes—I'm for the cook.

Ilka man buckles his belt his ain gate.

"'Oh but, sir, what seems reasonable to your honour will certainly be the same to them,' answered Jeanie. 'I do not know that,' replied the Duke; 'ilka man buckles his belt his ain gate—you know our old Scots proverb?'"—Heart of Midlothian.

Ill bairns are aye best heard at hame.

I'll big nae sandy mills wi' you.

Or I will not join with you in any project.

Ill comes upon waur's back.

Parallel to the saying, "Misfortunes never come single." In this case it is more forcibly expressed, and means literally, a great misfortune is followed by a greater one.


Ill counsel will gar a man stick his ain mare.

I'll do as the man did when he sell't his land.

"That is, I will not do it again, for selling of an estate is a fault that few are twice guilty of."—Kelly.

Ill doers are aye ill dreaders.

Ill flesh ne'er made gude broo.

Bad meat never made good soup; or, a bad man cannot be expected to do a good act.

I'll gar him draw his belt to his ribs.

Meaning that a person will be compelled to defend himself.

I'll gar his ain garters bind his ain hose.

"That is, what expense his business requires I will take it out of his own money."—Kelly.

I'll gar ye blairt wi' baith your een.

I'll gar ye claw where its no yeuky.

"Ye bardy loon, gae but the house and mind your wark. Ye thought and they thought; but if it wasna mair for ae thing than anither, I hae a thought that wad gar baith you and them claw where it's no yeuky."—Sir Andrew Wylie.

I'll gar you sing Port-youl.

That is, cry, weep:—

"I'll make them know they have no right to rule,
And cause them shortly all sing up Port-yeull."
—Hamilton's Wallace.

I'll get a better fore-speaker than you for nought.

Ill getting het water frae 'neath cauld ice.

I'll gie ye a bane to pike that will haud your teeth gaun.

I will give you work to do which will keep you busy for a time.


I'll gie ye a sark fu' o' sair banes.

A shirtful of sore bones: vulgariter, a thrashing.

I'll gie ye let-a-bee for let-a-bee, like the bairns o' Kelty.

That is, he will give as good as he gets. "Let-a-bee for let-a-bee," generally speaking, is expressive of mutual forbearance; but the "bairns o' Kelty" reversed the usual meaning.

Ill got gear ne'er prospered.

I'll haud the grip I've got.

"'When ye hae gotten the better o' the sore stroke o' the sudden removal of the golden candlestick o' his life from among us, ye'll do everything in a rational and just manner.'

"''Deed, I'll do nae sic things, mother,' was the reply; 'I'm mindit to haud the grip I hae gotten.'"—The Entail.

Ill hearing maks wrang rehearsing.

Ill herds mak fat tods.

I'll keep my mind to mysel, and tell my tale to the wind.

Ill laying up maks mony thieves.

Answered by people who are blamed for breach of confidence.

I'll learn you to lick, for suppin's dear.

Ill-less, gude-less, like the priests' holy water.

I'll mak a shift, as Macwhid did wi' the preachin'.

"Macwhid was a knowing countryman, and a great stickler for the king and the church. At the Restoration, clergymen being scarce, he was asked if he thought he could preach; he answered that he could make a shift; upon which he was ordained, and got a living."—Kelly.


I'll mak the mantle meet for the man.

"That is, I'll pay you according as you serve me."—Kelly.

I'll neither mak or mar, as the young cock said when he saw the auld cock's neck thrawn.

I'll ne'er brew drink to treat drinkers.

Applied to those who are slow to partake of anything which is offered to them, and signifying that although the article is good, still, if unwilling, they will not be "treated," i.e., urged or forced to take it.

I'll ne'er buy a blind bargain, or a pig in a pock.

I'll ne'er dirty the bannet I'm gaun to put on.

I'll ne'er keep a cow when I can get milk sae cheap.

I'll ne'er keep a dog and bark mysel.

To "keep a dog," &c., is to keep servants and do their work for them.

I'll ne'er lout sae laigh an' lift sae little.

That is, I will never put myself to so much trouble for such a small remuneration.

I'll ne'er put the rogue aboon the gentleman.

I'll no slip my dog afore the game's afoot.

I'll no tell a lee for scant o' news.

Ill payers are aye gude cravers.

I'll pay you, and put naething in your pouch.

Intimating that a person will give another a flogging.

I'll put daur ahint the door, and do't.

Or carry my threats into execution. Used when in a dispute one person "daurs" another to do such a thing.


I'll rather strive wi' the lang rigg than the ill neighbour.

Meaning that a person would rather conduct a large business himself than be troubled with a disagreeable partner.

Ill's the gout, an' waurs the gravel, but want o' wit maks mony a travel.

I'll say naething, but I'll yerk at the thinking.

He will keep his sorrows to himself, but the recollection of them will make him "yerk," i.e., writhe, or start with pain—applied in a mental sense.

I'll see the stars gang withershins first.

"Bid Iceshogels hammer red gauds on the studdy,
And fair simmer mornings nae mair appear ruddy:
Leave thee, leave thee, I'll never leave thee;
The starns shall gang withershins ere I deceive thee."
—Tea-Table Miscellany.

I'll sell my lad, quo' Livistone; I'll buy't, quo' Balmaghie.

"If a man have a good pennyworth to sell, he will still find a buyer."—Kelly.

I'll serve ye when ye hae least to do.

I'll take nae mair o' your counsel than I think fit.

I'll tak the best first, as the priest did o' the plooms.

I'll tell the bourd, but no the body.

That is, I will tell the jest or story, but cannot mention the name of the person to whom it refers.

Ill to tak and eith to tire.[176]

Ill weeds wax weel.

A saying common to all nations. "Ill weeds grow apace."

Ill will ne'er spak weel.

Ill won gear winna enrich the third heir.

Ill won, ill wair'd.

Ill workers are aye gude onlookers.

I'm as auld as your auncient.

I maun do as the beggars do; when my wame's fu', gang awa.

Spoken jocularly when a person who has been partaking of a meal with another rises to go away.

"I'm but beginning yet," quo' the wife when she run wud.

I'm flytin' free wi' you.

That is, on terms of familiarity with you.

I'm forejidged, forefoughten, and forejeskit.

An alliterative saying of those who are very much fatigued.

I might bring a better speaker frae hame than you.

I'm neither sma' drink thirsty, nor grey bread hungry.

Spoken when a person is not so freely entertained as he would like to be. Applied generally by those who do not get what they expect, and are offended thereat.

I'm no every man's dog that whistles on me.

I'm no obliged to simmer and winter it to you.[177]

I'm no sae blind as I'm blear-e'ed.

That is, I am not so blind as unwilling to see.

I'm no sae scant o' clean pipes as to blaw wi' a brunt cutty.

I'm no that fu', but I'm gayly yet.

I am not fully satisfied, though I am nearly so.

I'm ower auld a dog to learn new tricks.

I'm speaking o' hay and you o' horse corn.

That is, I am talking on one subject, while you are talking on another.

In a frost a nail is worth the horse.

Because it may save the horse from falling, and perhaps losing its life. A mere trifle may, at an opportune moment, be of very great service.

In a thousand pounds o' law there's no an ounce o' love.

Industry maks a braw man and breaks ill fortune.

I ne'er lo'ed meat that craw'd in my crappie.

Metaphorically, I do not like to interfere with matters which may injure me.

I ne'er lo'ed water in my shoon, and my wame's made o' better leather.

Spoken when a drink of water is offered to a person who is not so fond of it as he is of something stronger.

I ne'er sat on your coat-tail.

That is, I never interfered with or impeded your progress in any way.

In ower muckle clavering truth is tint.

Anglice, In too much gossiping truth is lost.


It comes to the hand like the bowl o' a pintstoup.

"It's been the gipsies that took your pockmanky, when they fand the chaise stickin' in the snaw; they wadna pass the like o' that: it wad just come to their hand like the bowl o' a pintstoup."—Guy Mannering.

I prick'd nae louse since I darned your hose, and then I might hae prick'd a thousand.

Kelly attaches a meaningless remark to this proverb—"An answer of a tailor to him that calls him pricklouse." Is it not meant as a reply of one who may have been under the evil influence of another, and who, having shaken himself free of it, can say honestly that since he has done so he has been perfectly free, however much he may have been under it before?

It canna be worse that's no worth a tinkler's curse.

It doesna set a sow to wear a saddle.

Or vulgar people to wear fine dress.

It gangs as muckle into my heart as my heel.

Ither folk are weel faur'd, but ye're no sae vera.

To be "weel faur'd" is to be good-looking; and the proverb is a jocular allusion to the fact that the person addressed is not an Apollo.

I think mair o' the sight than the ferlie.

I think mair o' your kindness than it's a' worth.

I think you hae taen the grumple-face.

Applied to persons who make a show of displeasure at anything which may be said or done to them.

It keeps his nose at the grundstane.[179]

It maun e'en be ower shoon ower boots wi' me now.

That is, since I have gone so far in the matter, I must go through with it. "In for a penny in for a pound."—English.

It may be that swine may flee, but it's no an ilka day's bird.

An emphatic expression of incredulity at an extraordinary, or what may be deemed improbable, statement.

It may be true what some men say; it maun be true what a' men say.

It may come in an hour what winna gang in seven years.

It's a bare moor that ye gang through an' no get a heather cow.

A "heather cow," a twig or tuft of heath. Equivalent to the English saying, "It is a long lane that has no turning."

It's a bauch brewing that's no gude in the newing.

"It's a bauld moon," quo' Bennygask—"Anither pint," quo' Lesley.

This saying has nothing to recommend it but its antiquity. It expresses the reluctance of a convivial party to break up.

"'Hout, awa, Inverashalloch,' said Galbraith;—'Mind the auld saw, man—It's a bauld moon, quo' Bennygask—Anither pint, quo' Lesley;—we'll no start for anither chappin.'"—Rob Roy.

It's a cauld stamach that naething hets on.

It's dry tale that disna end in a drink.[180]

It's a far cry to Lochow.

That any speaking or application is useless. The person addressed either will not or cannot hear.

It's a friend that ruses you.

It's a gude goose that draps aye.

It's a gude maut that comes wi' will.

It's a gude poor man's blade; it will bend ere it break.

"Spoken of an ill-tempered knife, that will stand as it is bent, or the like."—Kelly.

It's a gude tongue that says nae ill, but a better heart that thinks nane.

It's a gude tree that has neither knap nor gaw.

That is, a good thing that is without fault.

It's a gude enough warld if it haud.

A jocular reply to those who complain that this world is a "weary" one.

It's a gude warld, but it's ill divided.

"It's hardly in a body's pow'r
To keep at times frae being sour,
To see how things are shar'd,—
How best o' chiels are whiles in want,
While coofs on countless thousands rant,
And kenna how to wair't."

It's a gude warld, but they're ill that are in't.

It's a gude wood that hath ne'er a withered branch in it.

It's a lamb at the up-takin', but an auld sheep or ye get it aff.

In allusion to the unconscious contraction of bad habits.


It's an ill bargain where nane wins.

It's an ill bird that files its ain nest.

"Where's the use o' vilifying ane's country, and bringing a discredit on ane's kin, before Southrens and strangers? It's an ill bird that files its ain nest."—Rob Roy.

It's an ill cause that the lawyer thinks shame o'.

It's an ill fight where he that wins has the warst o't.

It's an ill kitchen that keeps the bread awa.

Or an ill master that starves his servants.

It's an ill pack that's no worth the custom.

It's an ill thow that comes frae the north.

It's an ill turn that patience winna owercome.

It's an ill wind that blaws naebody gude.

It's a' outs an' ins, like Willie Wood's wife's wame.

It's a pity fair weather should e'er do harm.

It's a poor tongue that canna tell its ain name.

"'Nane o' your deil's play-books for me,' said Lucky Dods; 'it's an ill world since sic prick-my-dainty doings came into fashion. It's a poor tongue that canna tell its ain name, and I'll hae nane o' your scarts upon pasteboard.'"—St Ronan's Well.

It's a poor world that winna gie a bit and a brat.

It's a rare thing for siller to lack a maister.

It's a sair dung bairn that mayna greet.

It's a sair field where a's dung down.[182]

It's a sair time when the mouse looks out o' the meal barrel wi' a tear in its ee.

It's a sairy collop that's ta'en aff a chicken.

It's a sairy flock where the ewie bears the bell.

That is, a "sairy," uncomfortable, or poor house where the wife commands, "though," as Kelly slily remarks, "there are some such houses in the world."

It's a sairy mouse that has but ae hole.

It's a shame to eat the cow an' worry on the tail.

To "eat the cow," &c., is to overlook very great faults, and make a severe example of a trifling one.

It's a silly hen that canna scrape for ae bird.

It's a sin to lee on the deil.

It's a sma' sheil that gies nae shelter.

It's as plain as a pike staff.

"Na, na, gudeman, ye needna be sae mim; every body kens, and I ken too, that ye're ettling at the magistracy. It's as plain as a pike staff, gudeman, and I'll no let ye rest if ye dinna mak me a bailie's wife or a' be done."—The Provost.

It's a sooth dream that's seen waking.

It's a sour reek when the gudewife dings the gudeman.

"A man in my country coming out of his house with tears on his cheeks, was asked the occasion; he said, 'There was a sour reek in the house;' but, upon further inquiry, it was found that his wife had beaten him."—Kelly.

It's a staunch house that there's never a drap in.

It's as true as Biglam's cat crew, and the cock rock'd the cradle.[183]

It's a thrawn-fac'd wean that's gotten against the father's will.

It's a' tint that's done to auld folk an' bairns.

"It's aye gude to be ceevil," quo' the auld wife when she beckit to the deevil.

A dying Spaniard was being exhorted by his confessor, who told him that the wicked were sent to hell and subjected to all manner of torments by the devil. "I hope," said the Spaniard, "my lord the devil is not so cruel." His confessor reproved the levity of the wish. "Excuse me," said the Don, "I know not into whose hands I may fall; and if I happen to fall into his, I hope he will use me the better for giving him good words."

It's best travelling wi' a horse in your hand.

Simply, that it is better to travel on horseback than on foot.

It's better sheltering under an auld hedge than under a new planted wood.

It's better to drag soon than draw late.

"Signifying that it is preferable to use strong measures in proper season, than such as are more feeble when it is too late."—Jamieson.

It's better to sup wi' a cutty than want a spoon.

It's but a year sooner to the begging.

"Facetiously spoken when we design to be at a little more expense than we thought."—Kelly.

It's but kindly that the pock savour of the herring.

Literally, it is but natural that the bag should bear traces of what it has contained.


It's by the mouth o' the cow that the milk comes.

According to the meat given, or means employed, is the quality of milk, or the result obtained.

It's clean about the wren's door when there's nought within.

It's dear coft honey that's licked aff a thorn.

It's drink will you, but no drink shall you.

That is, a person's hospitality is not very warm. For courtesy's sake he offers refreshments, but does not press them.

It's easier to big lums than keep them reeking.

It's easier to forgie than to forget.

It serves naething to strive wi' cripples.

"'Aweel, aweel,' said Hobbie, mounting his horse, 'it serves naething to strive wi' cripples,—they are aye cankered; but I'll just tell you ae thing, neighbour, that if things be otherwise than weel wi' Grace Armstrong, I'se gie you a scouther if there be a tar barrel in the five parishes.'"—The Black Dwarf.

It sets a haggis to be roasted.

It sets you weel to gab wi' your bannet on.

It's far to seek an' ill to find.

It's folly to live poor to dee rich.

It's gane the thing I lo'ed you for.

It's God that feeds the craws, that neither till, harrow, nor saw.

It's growing to the grund, like a stirk's tail.

Meaning that a person, or project, is not progressing favourably.

It's gude baking beside the meal.[185]

It's gude fighting under a buckler.

It's gude fishing in drumly waters.

It's gude fish when it's gripp'd.

It's gude game that fills the wame.

It's gude gear that pleases the merchant.

It's gude sleeping in a hale skin.

It's gude to begin weel, but better to end weel.

It's gude to be in your time; ye kenna how lang it may last.

"It's gude to be merry and wise," quo' the miller when he mouter'd twice.

The miller must have been more rogue than fool when he thus took advantage of his customers, for to "mouter," as he did, is to take the fees twice over.

It's gude to be out o' harm's gate.

It's gude to be sib to siller.

To be "sib to siller," is to be related to rich persons.

It's gude to dread the warst, the best will be the welcomer.

"Expect the worst, hope for the best, and bear whatever happens."—English.

It's gude to hae friends baith in heaven and in hell.

It's gude to hae your cog out when it rains kail.

That is, it is good to take advantage of any opportunities of benefit or advancement which may come in our way: to "make hay while the sun shines."

It's gude to nip the briar in the bud.[186]

It's hard baith to hae and want.

It's hard for a greedy ee to hae a leal heart.

Or for a covetous person to be honest.

It's hard for an auld mare to leave aff flinging.

It's hard to be poor and leal.

It's hard to keep flax frae the lowe.

It's hard to sit in Rome and strive wi' the pope.

It's ill ale that's sour when it's new.

It's ill baith to pay and to pray.

It's ill bringing but what's no ben.

The meaning of this proverb is, that it is ill to produce what we are not possessed of.

"'Swith roast a hen, or fry some chickens,
And send for ale to Maggy Pickens,'—
'Hout I,' quoth she, 'ye may weel ken,
'Tis ill brought but that's no there ben;
When but last owk, nae farder gane,
The laird got a' to pay his kain.'"
—Allan Ramsay.

It's ill limping before cripples.

It's ill meddling between the bark and the rind.

"It is a troublesome and thankless office to concern ourselves in the jars and outfalls of near relations, as man and wife, parents and children, &c."—Kelly.

It's ill praising green barley.

Because it is hard to tell how it will turn out.

It's ill speaking between a fu' man and a fasting.

"I have been waiting this hour for you, and I have had a snack myself; and, as they used to say in Scotland in my time—I do not ken if the word be used now—there is ill talking between a full body and a fasting."—Heart of Midlothian.


It's ill taking corn frae geese.

It's ill to be ca'd a thief, an' aye found picking.

"It is ill to have a bad name, and to be often found in a suspicious place or posture."—Kelly.

It's ill to mak an unlawful oath, but waur to keep it.

It's ill to put a blythe face on a black heart.

It's ill to quarrel wi' a misrid warld.

It's ill to say it's wrang when my lord says it's right.

It is ill or dangerous to speak against those who are in authority.

It's ill to tak the breeks aff a Hielandman.

Highlanders proper wear none, so it means it is difficult to take from a person that which he does not possess.

It's ill waur'd that wasters want.

It's kittle for the cheeks when the hurlbarrow gaes ower the brig o' the nose.

It's kittle shooting at corbies and clergy.

"As for your priesthood, I shall say but little,
Corbies and clergy are a shot right kittle;
But under favour o' your langer beard,
Abuse o' magistrates might weel be spared."

It's kittle to wauken sleeping dogs.

It's lang ere ye saddle a foal.

It's lang or four bare legs gather heat in a bed.

Applied to young people who get married before they have all that is necessary for housekeeping.

"It's comfort to hae a frugal woman for a helpmate; but[188] ye ken now-a-days it's no the fashion for bare legs to come thegether. The wife maun hae something to put in the pot as weel as the man."—The Entail.

It's lang or Like-to-dee fills the kirkyaird.

Spoken of those who are always complaining how ill they are, and likely to die; but who, nevertheless, generally contrive to live as long as other people.

It's lang or the deil dees at the dike side.

That is, it will be long ere we hear of the removal or death of a particular person who is a cause of annoyance to us.

It's lang or ye need cry "Schew!" to an egg.

It's lang to Lammas.

"Spoken in jest when we forget to lay down bread at the table, as if we had done it designedly, because it will be long ere new bread come."—Kelly.

It's like Truffy's courtship, short but pithy.

It's little o' God's might that makes a poor man a knight.

It's muckle gars tailors laugh, but souters girn aye.

It's nae laughing to girn in a widdy.

To "girn in a widdy" is to laugh or girn when a halter is round the neck—meaning that it is no joke to be placed in a difficult or dangerous position.

It's nae play when ane laughs and anither greets.

It's nae shift to want.

It's nae sin to tak a gude price, but in gieing ill measure.[189]

It's nae mair ferlie to see a woman greet than to see a goose gang barefit.

"Mattie had ill will to see me set awa on this ride, and grat awee, the silly tawpie; but it's nae mair ferlie to see a woman greet than to see a goose gang barefit."—Rob Roy.

It's nae wonder wasters want and lathrons lag behint.

It's needless pouring water on a drowned mouse.

It's neither a far road nor a foul gate.

It's neither here nor there, nor yet ayont the water.

It's neither rhyme nor reason.

It's no aye gude i' the maw what's sweet i' the mouth.

It's no easy to straucht in the oak the crook that grew in the sapling.

It's no for nought that the gled whistles.

"'I think,' said John Gudyill, while he busied himself in re-charging his guns, 'they hae fund the falcon's neb a bit ower hard for them—it's no for nought that the hawk whistles.'"—Old Mortality.

It's no lost what a friend gets.

It's no safe wading in unco waters.

It's no the burden, but the owerburden, that kills the beast.

It's no the cowl that maks the friar.[190]

It's no the gear to traike.

"'Wha kens what would be the upshot o' a second marriage?'

"'That's looking far ben,' replied the laird; 'my wife, to be sure, is a frail woman, but she's no the gear that 'ill traike.'"—The Entail.

It's no the rumblin' cart that fa's first ower the brae.

It is not the oldest or most likely person that dies first.

It's no tint that comes at last.

It's no "What is she?" but "What has she?"

It's no what we hae, but what we do wi' what we hae, that counts in heaven.

It's ower far between the kitchen an' the ha'.

It's ower late to lout when the head's got a clout.

"It is too late to throw water on the cinders when the house is burnt down."—Danish.

It's ower late to spare when the back's bare.

It's ower weel hoardet that canna be found.

It's past joking when the head's aff.

It's sair to haud drink frae drouth.

It spreads like muirburn.

"Muirburn," furze on fire. Said of ill news.

It's stinking praise comes out o' ane's ain mouth.

It stinks like a brock.

"Our gentry care sae little
For delvers, ditchers, and sic cattle;
They gang as saucy by poor folk,
As I would by a stinking brock."

It's the barley pickle breaks the naig's back.

It's the best feather in your wing.

It's the best spoke in your wheel.

It's the laird's commands, an' the loon maun loup.

Orders from those in authority, no matter how ridiculous or unreasonable, must be obeyed. "There's nae bailie-courts among them.... But it's just the laird's command, and the loon maun loup; and the never anither law hae they but the length o' their dirks."—Rob Roy.

It's the life o' an auld hat to be weel cocket.

It's the wanton steed that scaurs at the windlestrae.

"Ghaist! my certie, I shall ghaist them—if they had their heads as muckle on their wark as on their daffing they wad play na sic pliskies—it's the wanton steed that scaurs at the windlestrae. Ghaists! wha e'er heard of ghaists in an honest house!"—St Ronan's Well.

It's the waur o' the wear.

It's time enough to mak my bed when I'm gaun to lie down.

It's time enough to skreigh when ye're strucken.

It's weak i' the wow, like Barr's cat.

It's weel that our fauts are no written in our face.

It's weel won that's aff the wame.

Or well saved that is won from the belly.

It was but their claes that cast out.

"That is, the quarrel was not real, but only with design, in order to accomplish some end."—Kelly.


It was my luck, my leddy, and I canna get by it.

It wasna for naething that the cat licket the stane.

It were a pity to put a foul hand on't.

It were a pity to refuse ye, ye seek sae little.

It will aye be a dirty dub between them.

"A dirty dub," a puddle of foul water. That is, it will always be a cause of contention between them.

It will be a feather in your cap.

It will be a feather out o' your wing.

It will be a het day gars you startle.

It will be an ill web to bleach.

It will be lang ere you wear to the knee lids.

It will be the last word o' his testament.

That is, he will delay doing a thing as long as possible.

It will come out yet, like hommel corn.

"Hommel corn," grain that has no beard. The meaning of the proverb is, that on account of particular circumstances, a certain result may be expected in due time.

It will haud out an honest man, but naething 'll haud out a rogue.

It will mak a braw show in a landward kirk.

Spoken when a person is asked to give an opinion of something which is considered vulgar—that a gaudy article of dress will look well in a country church—but only there.

It would be a hard task to follow a black dockit sow through a burnt muir this night.[193]

It would be a pity to hae spoilt twa houses wi' them.

"Spoken when two ill-natured people are married."—Kelly.

It would do a blind man gude to see't.

I will add a stane to his cairn.

A "cairn" is a heap of stones thrown together in a conical form to mark the grave, or in memory, of a person. To add a stone may mean, proverbially, that a person will bear testimony to the good qualities of another.

"I winna mak a toil o' a pleasure," quo' the man when he buried his wife.

"A man going under his wife's head to the grave was bid go faster, because the way was long and the day short; answered, 'I will not make a toil of a pleasure.'"—Kelly.

I wat weel how the world wags; he's best lik'd wha has maist bags.

I winna mak fish o' ane an' flesh o' anither.

I will favour no one, but will treat all alike.

I wish I had a string in his lug.

I wish it may be the first sight ye'll see.

An expression used when a person is telling that he has received a promise of something welcome—it may be payment of an outstanding account.

I wish you had brose to lay the hair o' your beard.

I wish you had wist what you said.

I wish you may hae as muckle Scotch as tak you to your bed.


"Spoken when our companions, beginning to take with the drink, begin to speak Latin, ... believing that by and by they will be at that pass that they will be able to speak no language."—Kelly.

I wish you may lamb in your lair, as mony a good ewe has done.

I wish you readier meat than a rinnin' hare.

I wish you the gude o't that the dogs get o' grass.

I wish you were able, e'en though you didna do't.

I wish you were laird o' your word.

I would as soon see your nose cheese and the cat get the first bite o't.

I would hae something to look at on Sunday.

The reply of a man who is asked of what use a wife would be to him.

I wouldna be deaved wi' your keckling for a' your eggs.

That is, your services do not compensate for the annoyance you cause.

I wouldna ca' the king my cousin.

Expressive of contentment.

I wouldna fodder you for a' your muck.

Of similar import to "I wouldna be deaved," &c.

I wouldna hae kent ye if I had met ye in my parritch.

A phrase to express that a person whom you had not seen for a long time had so much altered in appearance as to be scarcely recognisable.


I would rather see't than hear tell o't, as blind Pate said.

I would sooner be your Bible than your horse.

A jocular allusion to the fact that a person neglects the one, but overworks the other.

I would sooner gae by his door than ower his grave.

"Nothing but a wish that our sick friend may recover."—Kelly.

I would sooner hear the lark sing than the mouse cheep.

Or abroad early in the morning than late at night.

I would sooner my bannock burn than that you should turn't.

That is, I would rather allow an article to spoil than be indebted to you for assistance in keeping it right.

I would sooner see ye fleipeyed, like a French cat.

"A disdainful rejection of an unworthy proposal; spoken by bold maids to the vile offers of young fellows."—Kelly.



eddart justice—first hang a man, syne try him.

"According to Crawford, in his Memoirs, the phrase Jedburgh justice took its rise in 1574, on the occasion of the Regent Morton there and then trying and condemning, with cruel precipitation, a vast number of people who had offended against the laws, or against the supreme cause of his lordship's faction. A different origin is assigned by the people. Upon the occasion, say they, of nearly twenty criminals being tried for one offence, the jury were equally divided in opinion as to a verdict, when one who had been asleep during the whole trial suddenly awoke, and, being interrogated for his vote, vociferated, 'Hang them a'!'

"The English phrase 'Lidford Law,' commemorated by Grose, bears the same signification."—Robert Chambers.

Jock's a mislear'd imp, but ye're a run deil.

That is, "Jock," although very mischievous, is a quiet and well-behaved person compared to you.

Joke at leisure; ye kenna wha may jibe yoursel.

Jouk, and let the jaw gang by.

Literally, stoop, and let the rush of water go over your head; meaning, yield to adverse circumstances, and their effects will pass away.

"Just as it fa's," quo' the wooer to the maid.

"A courtier went to woo a maid: she was dressing supper with a drop at her nose. She asked him if he would stay all night; he answered, 'Just as it falls:' meaning, if[197] the drop fell among the meat, he would be off; if it fell by, he would stay."—Kelly.

Just enough and nae mair, like Janet Howie's shearer's meat.

Just, father, just; three half-crowns mak five shillings; gie me the money and I'll pay the man.



ail hains bread.

Kame sindle, kame sair.

If the hair is seldom combed it soon becomes a difficult and painful operation to perform. Proverbially applied when simple but necessary matters of business are neglected to such an extent that they become troublesome.

Kamesters are aye creeshy.

"Kamesters," or wool-combers, are always greasy. People are always like their work.

Katie Sweerock, frae where she sat, cried, "Reik me this, and reik me that."

"Applied to lazy people, who ask others to do this or that for them which they ought to do for themselves."—Kelly.

Keek in the stoup was ne'er a gude fellow.

"Spoken when one peeps into the pot to see if the liquor be out; whereas a jolly good fellow should drink about, and when the pot's empty call for more."—Kelly.

Keep a calm sough.

That is, keep your own counsel on matters of danger or delicacy.

"'Thir kittle times will drive the wisest o' us daft,' said Neil Blane, the prudent host of the Howff; 'but I'se aye keep a calm sough.'"—Old Mortality.

Keep aff and gie fair words.

Or promise much, but perform little.

"The assets he carried off are of nae mair use to him[199] than if he were to light his pipe wi' them. He tried if MacVittie & Co. wad gie him siller on them—that I ken by Andro Wylie; but they were ower auld cats to draw that strae afore them—they keepit aff and gae fair words."—Rob Roy.

Keep a thing seven years, and ye'll find a use for't.

Keep gude company, and ye'll be counted ane o' them.

Keep hame, and hame will keep you.

Keep out o' his company that cracks o' his cheatery.

Shun the company of him who boasts of his cunning.

Keep something for a sair fit.

"Keep something for a rainy day."—English.

Keep the feast till the feast day.

Keep the head and feet warm, and the rest will tak nae harm.

Keep the staff in your ain hand.

Keep woo, and it will be dirt; keep lint, and it will be silk.

"Lint mellows and improves by keeping, but wool rots."—Kelly.

Keep your ain fish-guts to your ain sea-maws.

"'Why, Mrs Heukbane,' said the woman of letters, pursing up her mouth, 'ye ken my gudeman likes to ride the expresses himsel—we maun gie our ain fish-guts to our ain sea-maws—it's a red half-guinea to him every time he munts his mear.'"—The Antiquary.


Keep your ain cart-grease for your ain cart-wheels.

Of similar meaning to the preceding proverb.

Keep your breath to cool your parritch.

Applied to people who are angry without cause, or exercising undue authority.

"The only wiselike thing I heard ony body say, was decent Mr John Kirk of Kirk-knowe, and he wussed them just to get the king's mercy, and nae mair about it. But he spak to unreasonable folk—he might just hae keepit his breath to hae blawn on his porridge."—Heart of Midlothian.

Keep your gab steekit when ye kenna your company.

Be silent or cautious in speaking when in the company of strangers.

Keep your kiln-dried taunts for your mouldy hair'd maidens.

"A disdainful return to those who are too liberal with their taunts."—Kelly.

Keep your mocks till ye're married.

Keep your mouth shut and your een open.

Keep your tongue a prisoner, and your body will gang free.

Keep your tongue within your teeth.

Kenn'd folk's nae company.

Ken when to spend and when to spare, and ye needna be busy, and ye'll ne'er be bare.

Ken yoursel, and your neighbour winna misken you.[201]

Kindle a candle at baith ends, and it'll soon be done.

Kindness comes o' will; it canna be coft.

Kindness is like cress-seed, it grows fast.

Kindness will creep where it canna gang.

Kings and bears aft worry their keepers.

"Witness the tragical end of many courtiers."—Kelly.

Kings are kittle cattle to shoe behint.

"'Kittill to scho behind,' not to be depended on; not worthy of trust."—Jamieson.

King's cheese gaes half away in parings.

For a greater part of the income is absorbed in the expenses of collecting it.

King's cauff's worth ither folk's corn.

"'I am sure,' said Ritchie, composedly, 'I wish Laurie a higher office, for your lordship's sake and for mine, and specially for his ain sake, being a friendly lad; yet your lordship must consider that a scullion—if a yeoman of the king's most royal kitchen may be called a scullion—may weel rank with a master-cook elsewhere; being that king's cauff, as I said before, is better than ——.'"—Fortunes of Nigel.

Kings hae lang hands.

Kiss and be kind, the fiddler is blind.

Kiss a sklate stane, and that winna slaver you.

"'Ah! bonny lass,' says he, 'ye'll gies a kiss,
An' I sall set ye richt on, hit or miss.'
'A hit or miss I'll get, but help o' you,
Kiss ye sklate-stanes, they winna weet your mou'.'
An' aff she gaes, the fallow loot a rin,
As gin he ween'd wi' speed to tak her in,
But as luck was, a knibblich took his tae,
An' o'er fa's he, an' tumbled doun the brae."
—Ross's Helenore.

Kissing gaes by favour.

Kissing is cried down since the shaking o' hands.

Kelly says (1721), "There is a proclamation that nobody should kiss hereafter, but only shake hands." Spoken by a woman who is asked for a kiss, but who is unwilling to allow it.

Kiss my foot, there's mair flesh on't.

A sharp reply to those who obsequiously ask permission to kiss the hand.

Kiss ye me till I be white, an' that will be an ill web to bleach.

Knock a carle, and ding a carle, and that's the way to win a carle; kiss a carle, and clap a carle, and that's the way to tine a carle.

"Both these are joined together, and signify that people of mean breeding are rather to be won by harsh treatment than civil."—Kelly.

Kythe in your ain colours, that folk may ken ye.



acking breeds laziness, but praise breeds pith.

"Discommend a boy, and you discourage him; but commend him, and it will spur him on."—Kelly.

Lads will be men.

Laith to bed, laith oot o't.

Laith to drink, laith frae't.

Meaning that although some people are slow or "laith" to begin a thing, still, when they do commence, it is difficult to get them to leave off.

Lang and sma', gude for naething ava.

Jocularly applied to those who are tall and of "genteel" build.

Langest at the fire soonest finds cauld.

Lang fasting gathers wind.

Lang fasting hains nae meat.

Lang leal, lang poor.

Lang lean maks hamald cattle.

That is, poorly kept cattle makes homely, domestic, or common meat.

Lang look'd for come at last.

Lang mint, little dint.

"Much ado about nothing."

Lang noses are aye taking till them.[204]

Lang or ye saddle a foal.

Lang or you cut Falkland wood wi' a pen-knife.

Spoken when people enter into extensive undertakings without sufficient preparations or means.

Lang sick, soon weel.

Lang sport turns aft to earnest.

Lang standing and little offering maks a poor priest.

"Lang straes are nae motes," quo' the wife when she haul'd the cat out o' the kirn.

Lang tarrowing taks a' the thanks awa.

"He loses his thanks that promises, but delays."—English.

Lang-tongued wives gang lang wi' bairn.

"Applied to those who discover their projects, designs, and intentions long before they are put in execution."—Kelly.

Lasses and glasses are bruckle ware.

Lassies are like lamb-legs: they'll neither saut nor keep.

Lassies now-a-days ort nae God's creatures.

"The proverbial reflection of an old woman, as signifying that in our times young women are by no means nice in their choice of husbands."—Jamieson.

Last to bed, best heard.

Laugh and lay't down again.

Laugh at leisure, ye may greet ere night.[205]

Laugh at your ain toom pouches.

"'The japanned tea-caddie, Hannah—the best bohea—bid Tib kindle a spark of fire—the morning's damp—draw in the giggling faces of ye, ye d—d idle scoundrels, or laugh at your ain toom pouches—it will be lang or your weel-doing fill them.' This was spoken, as the honest lawyer himself might have said, in transitu."—St Ronan's Well.

Law licks up a'.

"The Laird has been a true friend on our unhappy occasions, and I have paid him back the siller for Effie's misfortune, whereof Mr Nichil Novit returned him no balance, as the Laird and I did expect he wad hae done. But law licks up a', as the common folk say. I have had the siller to borrow out o' sax purses."—Heart of Midlothian.

Law-makers shouldna be law-breakers.

Law's a deadly distemper amang friends.

Law's costly: tak a pint and gree.

"How easy can the barley bree
Cement the quarrel!
It's aye the cheapest lawyer's fee,
To taste the barrel."

Lay a thing by and it'll come o' use.

Lay the head o' the sow to the tail o' the grice.

Or place the profit against the loss.

"An' I am to lose by ye, I'se ne'er deny I hae won by ye mony a fair pund sterling—sae, an' it come to the warst, I'se e'en lay the head o' the sow to the tail o' the grice."—Rob Roy.

Lay the sweet side o' your tongue till't.

"An answer to them that ask what they will get to their hasty pudding."—Kelly.

Lay up like a laird, and seek like a lad.[206]

Lay your wame to your winning.

That is, let your housekeeping expenses be in unison with your income.

Laziness is muckle worth, when it's weel guided.

Lazy youth maks lousy age.

Leal folk ne'er wanted gear.

Leal heart leed never.

"A' was toom, a' heartless-like, an' bare;
Her dowie pain she culdna mair conceal—
The heart, they'll say, will never lie that's leal."
—Ross's Helenore.

Lean on the brose ye got in the morning.

Spoken facetiously to a person who leans heavily on another.

Leap year was never a gude sheep year.

Learn the cat the road to the kirn, and she'll aye be lickin'.

Learn young, learn fair; learn auld, learn mair.

Learn your gudewife to mak milk kail.

That is, "Teach your grandmother to suck eggs."

Learn you an ill habit and ye'll ca't a custom.

Least said soonest mended.

Leave aff while the play's gude.

Leave a jest when it pleases you best.

Leave the court ere the court leave you.

Leave welcome aye behint you.

Prolong your stay only so long as you find your company approved of, so that you may not be considered tedious.


Lee for him and he'll swear for you.

Leein' rides on debt's back.

Lend your money and lose your friend.

"It is not the lending of our money that loses our friend; but the demanding of it again, and that will lose a friend to my certain knowledge. They have a proverbial rhyme to this purpose:—

"'I had a}penny{and a}friend{as many of this land,
I lent myto mywhen he did it demand,
I sought myfrom mywhen he had kept it long,
I lost myand myand was not that a wrong?
Had I aand aas I have had before,
I wo'd keep myand myand play the fool no more.'"

Let-a-be for let-a-be.

"Mutual forbearance."—Jamieson.

Let ae deil dang anither.

An expression of indifference at two bad persons quarrelling.

Let a horse drink what he will, but no when he will.

Let alane maks mony a loon.

"Let a' trades live," quo' the wife when she burnt her besom.

Let aye the bell'd wether break the snaw.

A "bell'd wether" is a ram with a bell round its neck; and the proverb means that a difficult or dangerous undertaking should be led by a person of experience.

Let folk bode weel, and do their best.

Let him cool in the skin he het in.

Let him drink as he has brewen.[208]

Let by-ganes be by-ganes.

"'Hout, ay,' said Elliot, 'just let by-ganes be by-ganes, and a' friends again; deil ane I bear malice at but Westburnflat, and I hae gi'en him baith a het skin and a cauld ane.'"—The Black Dwarf.

Let him haud the bairn that's aught the bairn.

Let him ride his ain horse wi' his ain hauding.

Let him tak a spring on his ain fiddle.

Let him tak his fling, and he'll find oot his ain weight.

Let him that's cauld blaw the ingle.

Let him that pays the lawin' choose the lodging.

"'I dinna ken, sir,' she replied in a dry revêche tone, which carried me back twenty years, 'I am nane of thae heartsome landleddies that can tell country cracks, and make themsells agreeable; and I was ganging to pit on a fire for you in the red room; but if it is your will to stay here, he that pays the lawing maun choose the lodging.'"—The Highland Widow.

Let his ain wand ding him.

Let ilka ane roose the ford as they find it.

That is, let every one speak of a thing as he finds it.

Let ilka ane soop before their ain door.

Let ilka cock fight his ain battle.

Let ilka herring hing by its ain head.

Let ilka man soop the ice wi' his ain besom.

Let ilka sheep hang by its ain shank.

Let ilka tub stand on its ain bottom.[209]

Let na the plough stand to kill a mouse.

Do not quit or neglect an important matter to look after trifles.

Let ne'er your gear owergang ye.

Never let your wealth make you give way to pride, or forget your old friends.

Let never sorrow come sae near your heart.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

Let that flee stick to the wa'.

"'Hout tout, man! let that flee stick in the wa',' answered his kinsman; 'when the dirt's dry it will rub out.'"—Rob Roy.

Let the eird bear the dike.

"Eird and dike" are earth and stone wall. The proverb means that heavy or important undertakings should have a solid basis.

Let the horns gang wi' the hide.

The horns bearing but insignificant value in comparison with the hide, they should be thrown into the purchase of the latter free of charge.

Let the kirk stand i' the kirkyaird.

That is, let everything be in its proper place.

Let them care that come behint.

Let the morn come and the meat wi't.

Let the muckle horse get the muckle windlin.

Let the tail follow the skin.

Let the tow gang wi' the bucket.

Let your meat dit your mouth.[210]

Liars should hae gude memories.

Lick and lay down.

A proverbial form of expression of a man's being able to pay his way.

"And what for suld I no have a corpus delicti, or a habeas corpus, or ony other corpus that I like, sae lang as I am willing to lick and lay down the ready siller?"—St Ronan's Well.

Lick your loof and lay't in mine, dry leather jigs aye.

"This signifies no more but kiss your hand and give it. Spoken facetiously upon some good fortune unexpected."—Kelly.

Lie in your bed and lippen to that.

Life's life ony gate.

"'And now we're settled ance mair,' said Cuddie to his mother, 'and if we're no sae bein and comfortable as we were up yonder, yet life's life ony gate, and we're wi' decent kirk-ganging folk o' your ain persuasion, mither; there will be nae quarrelling about that.'"—Old Mortality.

Light burdens break nae banes.

Light lades mak willing horses.

Lightly come, lightly gang.

Light maidens mak langing lads.

"Light's heartsome," quo' the thief to the Lammas mune.

Lightsome sangs mak merry gate.

"Ratcliffe, speaking apart to Madge, asked her 'whether she did not remember ony o' her auld sangs?' 'Mony a dainty ane,' said Madge; 'and blithely can I sing them, for lightsome sangs make merry gate.'"—Heart of Midlothian.


Light suppers mak lang days.

Like a sow playing on a trump.

"Trump," a Jew's harp. Typical of extreme awkwardness.

Like Bauldy's wedding, there's nae meat but muckle mirth.

Like blood, like gude, like age, mak the happy marriage.

Like butter in the black dog's hause.

That is, a dangerous position, as butter in the embrace of a dog certainly is.

Like Cranshaws kirk—there's as mony dogs as folk, and neither room for reel nor rock.

"In a remote pastoral region, like that of Cranshaws, lying in the midst of the Lammermoor hills, it is or was usual for shepherds' dogs to accompany their masters to the church; and in times of severe stormy weather, few people except the shepherds, who are accustomed to be out in all weathers, could attend divine service; and in such circumstances, it may have occurred that the dogs may have equalled in number the rational hearers of the Word. We have heard the saying applied by bustling servant girls to a scene where three or four dogs were lounging about a kitchen hearth, and impeding the work."—G. Henderson.

Liked gear is half-bought.

"When wares please, a bargain is soon made."—English.

Like draws aye to like, like an auld horse to a fell dike.

Persons of similar tastes draw towards and sympathize with each other. "Like will to like—a scabbed horse and a sandy dike."—Danish. "Like will to like, as the devil said to the coal-burner."—German.


Like hens, ye rin aye to the heap.

Spoken jocularly to those who help themselves to what there is most of on the table.

Like Hilton kirk, baith narrow and mirk, and can only haud its ain parish folk.

"Hilton kirk was a very small edifice in Berwickshire, and it would seem from the saying not very well lighted. When any number of strangers came as hearers, the accommodation was deficient; the saying is used when many persons assemble in a small house, and there is little room to stir about."—G. Henderson.

Like Lamington's mare, ye break brawly aff, but sune set up.

Likely lies i' the mire, and unlikely gets ower.

Meaning that many undertakings which promise favourably at first often fail; while those of which no great hopes are entertained are successfully carried through.

Like maister, like man; like priest, like offering.

Like Moses' breeks, neither shape, form, nor fashion.

Like Orkney butter, neither gude to eat nor creesh woo.

"A minister having in these words compared the covenant, made it a proverb. Applied to a thing that is useful no way."—Kelly.

Like paddy's ghost, twa steps ahint.

Like's an ill mark amang ither folk's sheep.

Like the bairns o' Falkirk, they'll end ere they mend.

"This is a proverbial saying of ill-doing persons, as expressive of there being no hope of them. How the children[213] of Falkirk came to be so characterized, it would be difficult now to ascertain. The adage has had the effect of causing the men of Falkirk jocularly to style themselves 'the bairns;' and when one of them speaks of another as 'a bairn,' he only means that that other person is a native of Falkirk."—Robert Chambers.

Like the cat, fain fish wad ye eat, but ye are laith to weet your feet.

"The cat is fain the fish to eat, but hath no will to wet her feet."—English.

"Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would,' like the poor cat i' the adage."—Macbeth.

Like the cowts o' Bearbughty, ye're cowts till ye're best's by.

Like the cur in the crub, he'll neither do nor let do.

A Scottish version of the dog in the manger.

Like the dam o' Devon, lang gathered and soon gane.

Like the fiddler o' Chirnside's breakfast, it's a' pennyworth's thegither.

"This is said of people who buy very small quantities of any article. Fiddlers are proverbially poor, and the one of Chirnside was no exception to the rule. One morning he sent his boy for materials for breakfast, and the order was delivered to the shopkeeper in the following measured terms:—

"'A pennyworth o' tea,
A pennyworth o' sugar,
Three penny loaves,
And a pennyworth o' butter;
And a pennyworth o' he herring,
For my faither likes melts!'"
—G. Henderson.

Like the gudeman o' Kilpalet, ye're ower simple for this warld, and hae nae broo o' the next.

Like the laird o' Castlemilk's foals—born beauties.

Like the lassies o' Bayordie, ye learn by the lug.

Like the man o' Amperly's coo, she's come hame routin', but no very fu', wi' the tow about her horns.

"The cow came home unsold; and the rhyme is applied to a young woman who comes home from a fair or market without a 'jo' or sweetheart."—G. Henderson.

Like the man wi' the sair guts—nae getting quat o't.

Like the smith's dog, sleep at the sound o' the hammer, and wauk at the crunching o' teeth.

Like the tod's whalps, aye the aulder the waur.

Like the wabster, stealing through the warld.

Another insult to the weaving profession. The reply of a person who is asked how he is getting on.

Like the wife that ne'er cries for the ladle till the pat rins o'er.

That is, never asks for an article until it is too late.

Like the wife wi' the mony dochters, the best's aye hindmost.

Or, at least, she would have the lover of the last believe so.

Like the wife's tongue, aften better meant than timed.[215]

Like the witches o' Auchencrow, ye get mair for your ill than your gude.

"That is, people sometimes grant an individual a favour through fear of malevolence, or to get rid of his importunity."—G. Henderson.

Like to like.

"I'll tell ye, Ratton, blithe will Nicol Muschat be to see ye, for he says he kens weel there isna sic a villain out o' hell as ye are, and he wad be ravished to hae a crack wi' ye—like to like, ye ken—it's a proverb never fails; and ye are baith a pair o' the deevil's peats, I trow—hard to ken whilk deserves the hettest corner o' his ingleside."—Heart of Midlothian.

Like water to leather—the langer the tougher.

"Although my mither has been, past the memory o' man, in a complaining condition, I ken nae odds o' her this many a year; her ail's like water to leather, it makes her life the tougher."—The Entail.

Lippen to me, but look to yoursel.

Lips gae, laps gae, drink and pay.

"If you put your lips to the cup to drink, put your hand to your lap to take out your purse."—Kelly.

Listen at a hole, and ye'll hear news o' yoursel.

List to meat's gude kitchen.

Little and aften fills the purse.

Little can a lang tongue layne.

Little does the puir gude, and as little get they.

Little dogs hae lang tails.

Little folk are soon angry.

A frequent addition gives the reason—for their heart gets soon to their mouth.


Little gear, little care.

Little Jock gets the little dish, and that hauds him lang little.

"Poor people are poorly served, which prolongs their poverty."—Kelly.

Little kens the auld wife, as she sits by the fire, what the wind is doing on Hurley-Burley-Swire.

"Hurle-Burle-Swire is a passage through a ridge of mountains that separate Nithsdale from Twadale and Clydsdale: where the mountains are so indented one with another that there is a perpetual blowing. The meaning is that they who are at ease know little of the trouble that others are exposed to."—Kelly.

Little kent, the less cared for.

Little may an auld horse do if he maunna nicher.

Little meddling maks fair pairting.

Little mense o' the cheeks to bite aff the nose.

It is bad policy for a person to injure another with whom he is intimately connected, or upon whom he is depending.

Little odds between a feast and a fu' wame.

Little said is soon mended, little gear is soon spended.

Little's the light will be seen far in a mirk night.

"'But the flame!' demanded Ravenswood; 'the broad blaze which might have been seen ten miles off—what occasioned that?' 'Hout, awa! it's an auld saying and a true, "Little's the light will be seen far in a mirk night"—a wheen fern and horse litter that I fired in the courtyard, after sending back the loon of a footman.'"—Bride of Lammermoor.


Little to fear when traitors are true.

Little troubles the ee, but less the soul.

Little wats the ill-willy wife what a dinner may haud in.

Although a wife be very angry and "ill-willy" with her husband in private, still in public she should be cautious for obvious reasons, one of which is, Kelly says, "That a handsome treat may secure good friends and great interest."

Little winning maks a light purse.

Little wit in the head maks muckle travel to the feet.

People of few resources, or poor imagination, are apt to be put about by trifles.

Little wit in the pow that lights the candle at the lowe.

Live in measure, and laugh at the mediciners.

Live upon love, as laverocks do on leeks.

Living at heck and manger.

To live at "heck and manger" is to fare sumptuously every day, even beyond our income.

Lock your door, that you may keep your neighbours honest.

Lo'e me little an' lo'e me lang.

Look before ye loup, ye'll ken better how to light.

"Luke quhair thou licht befoir thou lowp,
And slip na certainty for howp,
Quha gyds thee but begess."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

Loud coos the doo when the hawk's no whistling; loud cheeps the mouse when the cat's no rustling.

That is, subordinates take advantage when superiors are out of the way. "When the cat's away, the mice will play."—English.

Loud i' the loan was ne'er a gude milk cow.

Noisy people, or those who are always boasting of what they can do, are seldom so clever even as their neighbours. Kelly says this is "a reprimand to noisy girls."

Love and jealousy are sindle sindry.

Love and lairdship's like nae marrows.

"Marrow," that is, an equal, match, or antagonist.

Love and light winna hide.

Love has nae lack, be the dame e'er sae black.

Love has nae law.

Love is as warm amang cottars as courtiers.

"The rose blooms gay on shairney brae,
As weel's in birken shaw;
And love will lowe in cottage low,
As weel's in lofty ha'."

Love ower het soon cools.

Love your friend and look to yoursel.



aidens should be mild and meek, quick to hear, and slow to speak.

Maidens should be mim till they're married, and then they may burn kirks.

"Spoken often, by way of reflection, when we say that such a one is a good-humoured girl, as if you would say, 'Observe how she'll prove when she is married.'"—Kelly.

Maidens' tochers and ministers' stipends are aye less than ca'd.

Maidens want naething but a man, and then they want a'thing.

Mair by luck than gude guiding.

That is, a person has been successful by mere force of circumstances, and by no particular merit of his own.

Mair hamely than welcome.

"Mair haste the waur speed," quo' the tailor to the lang thread.

Mair nice than wise.

Mair pride than pith.

Mair than enough is ower muckle.

Mair than the deil wear a black manteel.[220]

"Mair whistle than woo," quo' the souter when he sheared the sow.

The saying, "Great cry and little wool," is common to all nations; the Scottish version, however, is the most expressive and humorous we have met with.

Maister's will is gude wark.

For the master himself is sure to be pleased with it.

Maistry maws the meadows doun.

"The captain's a queer hand ... he keeps a high hand ower the country, and we couldna deal with the Hielandmen without his protection, sin' a' the keys o' the kintray hings at his belt; and he's no an ill body in the main; and maistry, ye ken, maws the meadows doun."—Heart of Midlothian.

Mak ae wrang step and down ye gae.

Mak ae pair o' legs worth twa pair o' hands.

"He freed Rashleigh from my hold, and securing me, notwithstanding my struggles, in his own Herculean gripe, he called out, 'Take the bent, Mr Rashleigh—make ae pair o' legs worth twa pair o' hands; ye hae done that before now.'"—Rob Roy.

Mak a kiln o't, and creep in at the logie.

We surmise that this is intended as an advice to a person who has become possessed of an article, and does not know what to do with it, like the old lady who won the principal prize in the lottery, said prize consisting of a live elephant! A "killogie" is, says Jamieson, "a vacuity before the fireplace in a kiln for drawing air."

Mak a kirk or a mill o't.

Similar to the preceding proverb. Equivalent to saying such a thing is entirely in your own control; you may do what you please with it.

Mak friends o' fremit folk.[221]

Mak hay while the sun shines.

Mak nae bauks in gude bear-land.

To "bauk" is to leave small strips of land unturned in ploughing. Kelly says of this proverb that it is "spoken when it is proposed to marry the youngest daughter before the eldest."

Mak nae orts o' gude hay.

Literally, do not throw aside good hay.

Mak nae toom ruse.

"Toom ruse" means empty praise, and the proverb signifies that we should not praise indiscriminately, or without knowledge of the subject.

Mak the best o' a bad bargain.

Mak your wife a gowdspink, and she'll turn a water-wagtail.

That is, if you indulge a person freely to a certain extent, the probability is he will exceed the limits.

Malice is aye mindfu'.

Man proposes, God disposes.

Man's twal is no sae gude as the deil's dizzen.

No, because "man's twal" is twelve, while the "deil's dizzen" is thirteen.

March comes like a lion and gangs like a lamb.

March comes wi' adders' heads and gangs wi' peacocks' tails.

March dust and March win', bleaches as weel as simmer's sun.

March dust and May sun mak corn white and maidens dun.[222]

March water and May sun makes claes clear and maidens dun.

The explanation of this saying, which belongs to the Mearns, is, that water in the month of March is supposed to be of a more cleansing quality than in any other month. The same idea is also expressed in the following saying:

March water's worth May soap.

March whisquer was ne'er a gude fisher.

Marriage and hanging gae by destiny.

Married folk are like rats in a trap—fain to get ithers in, but fain to be out themsels.

Marriage wad tame the sea, if a match could be got for her.

"Of all comforts I miscarried,
When I played the sot and married:
'Tis a trap, there's none need doubt on't;
Those that are in would fain get out on't."
—Tea-Table Miscellany.

Marry abune your match, and get a maister.

Marry for love, and work for siller.

Marry in haste, and repent at leisure.

Marry your son when you will, but your dochter when you can.

Maun-do is a fell fallow.

"Necessity is a hard master."—German.

May-be's are no aye honey bees.

"An answer to them that say, 'Maybe it will fall out so or so.'"—Kelly.

May-be's flee na at this time o' the year.[223]

Maybe's a big book.

Maybe your pat may need my clips.

Perhaps some day you will be glad of my assistance, although you despise it just now.

May birds are aye cheeping.

This refers to the popular superstition against marrying in the month of May, the children of which marriages are said to "die of decay."

May he that turns the clod ne'er want a bannock.

Mealy mou'd maidens stand lang at the mill.

Measure twice, cut but ance.

Meat and mass ne'er hindered wark.

"'Happy will I be to serve you, my gude auld acquaintance,' said the clerk; 'but sit you down—sit you down—sit you down, Mrs Dods,—meat and mass never hindered wark. Ye are something overcome wi' your travel—the spirit canna aye bear through the flesh, Mrs Dods.'"—St Ronan's Well.

Meat and measure mak a' men wise.

Meat feeds, claith cleeds, but breeding maks the man.

Meat is gude, but mense is better.

Men are no to be mete by inches.

Men speak o' the fair as things went there.

Mettle's kittle in a blind mare.

Michaelmas mune rises nine nights alike sune.

Mills and wives are aye wanting.

Mind me to a' that ask for me, but blad me in naebody's teeth.[224]

Mind thysel, the warld will mind the lave.

Mint before you strike.

Minting gets nae bairns.

Mischief's mother's but like midge's wing.

Mister makes a man o' craft.

Misterfu' folk maunna be mensefu'.

"Beggars should not be choosers."—English.

Mist in May and heat in June mak the harvest right soon.

Mistress before folk, gudewife behint backs; whaur lies the dishclout?

A jocular manner of addressing those who are very particular in their manner of speaking.

Mocking's catching.

Money's aye welcome, were it even in a dirty clout.

Money's better than my lord's letter.

Money's like the muck midden, it does nae gude till it be spread.

Money makes and money mars.

"He who hath gold hath fear, and he who hath none has sorrow."

Money maks a man free ilka where.

Money maks the mare to go whether she has legs or no.

Mony a dog has dee'd sin' ye were whelped.

Mony a dog will dee ere you fa' heir.[225]

Mony a frost and mony a thowe, sune makes mony a rotten yowe.

Mony a gude tale is spoilt in the telling.

"Applied often when a good sermon is ill delivered, to my certain knowledge."—Kelly.

Mony ane for land taks a fool by the hand.

That is, many marry only for the sake of money and possessions.

Mony ane kens the gude fellow that disna ken the gude fellow's wife.

The reason being that he is a "gude fellow" only when abroad or in the taproom, and not when he is at home.

Mony ane kisses the bairn for love o' the nurse.

"That is, show their kindness to the companions, friends, or relations of those upon whom they have a design, which they hope by their influence to effect."—Kelly.

Mony ane lacks what they would fain hae in their pack.

Mony ane maks an errand to the ha' to bid my leddy good day.

Or, many occupy themselves with trifles.

Mony ane opens his pack and sells nae wares.

Mony ane's coat saves their doublet.

"Spoken when clergymen use you saucily, whom, in deference to their profession, you will not beat."—Kelly.

Mony ane ser's a thankless maister.

Mony ane's gear is mony ane's death.[226]

Mony ane speaks o' Robin Hood that ne'er shot wi' his bow.

"Doctor Luther's shoes do not fit every parish priest."—German.

Mony ane tines the half-merk whinger for the ha'-penny whang.

This nearly obsolete saying means, literally, loses a sixpenny dagger for the sake of a halfpenny thong. "Spoken," says Kelly, "when people lose a considerable thing for not being at an inconsiderable expense."

Mony ane wad blush to hear what he wadna blush to dae.

Mony ane wad hae been waur had their estates been better.

Mony an honest man needs help that hasna the face to seek it.

"Mony a thing's made for the penny," as the wifie said when she saw the black man.

Mony a true tale's tauld in jest.

Mony aunts, mony emes, mony kin, but few friends.

The word "eme" signifies uncle, and the saying—its claims as a proverb are small enough—means that a person may have many relations but very few friends among them.

Mony care for meal that hae baked bread enough.

"Spoken against whining, complaining people, who have enough, and yet are always making a moan."—Kelly.

Mony cooks ne'er made gude kail.[227]

Mony fair promises at the marriage-making, but few at the tocher-paying.

A man may "promise like a merchant and pay like a man-of-war's-man;" that is, promise anything that may be asked, for the sake of concluding a bargain, but which, once made, he is in no haste to perform.

Mony gude-nights is laith away.

"He shakes hands often who is loath to go."—French.

Mony hands maks light work.

Mony hawes, mony snawes.

"When there is a great exhibition of blossoms on the hedgerows, the ensuing winter will be a remarkable one for snow storms."—Robert Chambers.

Mony hounds may soon worry ae hare.

Mony kinsfolk but few friends.

Mony 'll sup wi' little din, that wadna gree at moolin in.

Mony littles mak a muckle.

Mony purses haud friends lang thegither.

Mony rains, mony rowans; mony rowans, mony yewns.

"Yewns being light grain. The rowans are the fruit of the mountain ash, which never are ripe till harvest. It is a common observation, that an abundance of them generally follows a wet season."—Robert Chambers.

Mony sae "weel" when it ne'er was waur.

"Spoken to them that say 'well' by way of resentment."—Kelly.


Mony time I hae got a wipe wi' a towel, but ne'er a daub wi' a dishclout before.

Or reprimanded by a person who had authority to do so, but never roughly handled by one who had no right to interfere. Kelly says this is "spoken by saucy girls when one jeers them with an unworthy sweetheart."

Mony ways to kill a dog though ye dinna hang him.

Mony words dinna fill the firlot.

A "firlot" is a fourth part of a boll, dry measure. Equivalent to the proverb, "Many words go to a sackful."—Dutch.

Mony words, muckle drouth.

Mony wyte their wife for their ain thriftless life.

That is, many persons blame others for what are the consequences of their own faults. Kelly says, "I never saw a Scottish woman who had not this at her finger's end."

Mouths are nae measure.

The Irish are not of this opinion, for it is recorded that one of them said his mouth held exactly a glass of whisky—that is, if he could have retained it; but there was a hole in the bottom of it which continually prevented him from proving the fact.

Mows may come to earnest.

"To 'mow,' to speak in mockery."—Jamieson.

Moyen does muckle, but money does mair.

Influence or interest does much, but money will do more.

Muck and money gae thegither.

Muckle corn, muckle care.

"Muckle din about ane," as the deil said when he stole the collier.[229]

Muckledom is nae virtue.

Muckle fails that fools think.

Muckle gifts mak beggars bauld.

Muckle gude may it do you, and merry go doun, every lump as big as my thoom.

A bad wish—that every bite may choke you.

Muckle head, little wit.

Muckle maun a gude heart thole.

Muckle meat, mony maladies.

Muckle mou'd folk are happy at their meat.

Muckle musing mars the memory.

Muckleness has nae mair, or else a cow could catch a hare.

Muckleness is no manliness.

Muckle pleasure, some pain.

Muckle power maks mony faes.

Muckle skaith comes to the shae before the heat comes to the tae.

Muckle spoken, part spilt.

So much was said on a subject that a great deal was lost.

Muckle wad aye hae mair.

The more a person has the more he would have.

Muckle water rins by that the miller watsna o'.

Muckle wi' thrift may aye be mair.

"Must" is for the King to say.[230]

My market's made, ye may lick a whup-shaft.

The saucy reply of a maid already betrothed, to a would-be wooer.

My neighbour's skaith's my ain peril.

My son's my son till he's got him a wife; my dochter's my dochter a' the days o' her life.

My tongue's no under your belt.



aebody daur say Straa to him.

Naebody is riving your claes to get you.

Or going out of their wits for your sake.

Nae butter will stick to my bread.

That is, good fortune follows nothing I do.

Nae carrion will kill a craw.

Nae cows, nae care.

Nae curb will tame love.

Nae equal to you but our dog Sorkie, and he's dead, so ye're marrowless.

Applied to boasters, meaning sarcastically that in their own peculiar faculty they are unequalled.

Nae faut; but she sets her bannet ower weel.

The only fault is, she is too good-looking.

Nae fleeing frae fate.

Nae fleeing without wings.

Nae fools like auld anes.

Nae faut that the cat has a clean band, she sets a bannet sae weel.

"Ironically spoken to them who pretend to do, have, or wear what does not become them."—Kelly.

Nae friend like the penny.[232]

Nae gain without pain.

Nae great loss but there's some sma' 'vantage.

Nae man can baith sup and blaw at ance.

That is, sup his soup and cool it together; or, plainly, do two things at once.

Nae man can live langer in peace than his neighbours like.

"For an ill neighbour, with his scolding noise, complaints, lawsuits, and indictments, may be very troublesome."—Kelly.

Nae man can mak his ain hap.

Or plan his own destiny.

Nae man can seek his marrow i' the kirn sae weel as him that has been in't himsel.

"Spoken to those who suspect us guilty of a thing in which they take measure of us by their practices and inclinations."—Kelly.

Nae man can thrive unless his wife will let him.

Nae man has a tack o' his life.

Nae man is wise at a' times, nor on a' things.

Nae mills, nae meal.

Nae penny, nae paternoster.

Nae plea is the best plea.

Nae rule sae gude as rule o' thoom—if it hit.

Nae service, nae siller.

Nae sooner up than her head's in the aumrie.

Applied to lazy or greedy servants; implying that the first thing they do in the morning is to go to the "aumrie" or cupboard for something to eat.


Nae swat, nae sweet.

Naething but fill and fetch mair.

A philosophic way of meeting troubles. If a thing be wrong done, do it over again; or if it be lost, procure another.

Naething comes fairer to light than what has been lang hidden.

Naething comes out o' a close hand.

Naething freer than a gift.

Naething is got without pains but an ill name and lang nails.

Naething is ill said if it's no ill ta'en.

Naething is ill to be done when will's at hame.

Naething like being stark dead.

Meaning there is nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. "A vile, malicious proverb," says Kelly, "first used by Captain James Stewart against the noble Earl of Morton, and afterwards applied to the Earl of Strafford and Archbishop Laud."

Naething's a bare man.

"A jocose answer to children when they say they have gotten nothing."—Kelly.

Naething's a man's truly but what he comes by duly.

Naething sae bauld as a blind mear.

"Who so bold as blind Bayard?"—English.

"Ignorance breeds confidence; consideration, slowness and wariness."—Ray.

Naething sae crouse as a new wash'd louse.

"Spoken of them who have been ragged and dirty, and are proud and fond of new or clean clothes."—Kelly.


Naething sooner maks a man auld-like than sitting ill to his meat.

"To sit ill to one's meat, to be ill fed."—Jamieson.

Naething to be done in haste but gripping fleas.

In his introduction to Henderson's Proverbs, Motherwell relates a humorous anecdote in connection with this proverb. An indefatigable collector of "rusty sayed saws," a friend of his, was in the habit of jotting down any saying new to him on the back of cards, letters, &c., and thrusting them into his pocket. On one occasion he had an altercation with a stranger at a friend's house. The quarrel becoming warm, ended by Motherwell's friend excitedly handing the other (as he thought) his card. On the gentleman's preparing to vindicate his honour next morning, it occurred to him to learn the name of his antagonist. On looking at the card he found no name, but, in place of it, traced in good legible characters, "Naething should be done in a hurry but catching fleas." The effect of this was irresistible, and the result an immediate reconciliation.

Naething to do but draw in your stool and sit down.

Everything is so far advanced that the finishing stroke only is wanting. Applied to a man who is courting a widow or spinster already in possession of a well-furnished house.

Naething venture, naething win.

Nae weather's ill an the wind be still.

Nae wonder ye're auld like, ilka thing fashes you.

That is, because you allow every little trifling occurrence to vex you.

Nane are sae weel but they hope to be better.[235]

Nane but fools and knaves lay wagers.

Henderson, in his Proverbs, reads "poets" for "fools," possibly as a hit upon some of his friends, several of whom were poets of local celebrity.

Nane can mak a bore but ye'll find a pin for't.

Meaning that none can find fault with you but you will be able to give an excuse for it. "As soon find hare without a mense as you without excuse."—English.

Nane can play the fool sae weel as a wise man.

Nane can tell what's i' the shaup till it's shelt.

That is, in the husk until it is shelled.

Nane kens whaur a blister may light.

Narrow gathered, widely spent.

Nature passes nurture.

Nearer e'en the mair beggars.

Nearer God's blessing than Carlisle fair.

"You need but go to your closet for the one, but you must go out of the kingdom for the other."—Kelly.

Nearer the bane, sweeter the flesh.

"And for eating—what signifies telling a lee? there's just the hinder end of the mutton-ham that has been but three times on the table, and the nearer the bane the sweeter, as your honours weel ken; and—there's the heel of the ewe-milk kebbuck, wi' a bit o' nice butter, and—and—that's a' that's to trust to."—Bride of Lammermoor.

Nearer the rock, the sweeter the grass.

Nearest the heart, nearest the mou.

"Spoken to them who, designing to name one person, by mistake names another, perhaps a sweetheart."—Kelly.


Nearest the king, nearest the widdy.

"Widdy," rope or gallows. Meaning that those who occupy political or subservient positions do so only during the pleasure of their superiors.

Near's my kirtle, but nearer's my sark.

Near's my sark, but nearer's my skin.

The two last sayings are common to many nations. "Some friends are nearer to me than others—my parents and children than my other relations, those than my neighbours, my neighbours than strangers; but, above all, I am next to myself."—Ray.

Near the kirk, but far frae grace.

This fact is so well ascertained that there is another to the same effect. "Farthest frae the kirk aye soonest at it;" and the English are of a similar opinion, for Spenser writes:

"At kirke the narre from God more farre,
Has been an old sayed sawe."

Necessity has nae law.

Necessity's the mither o' invention.

Neck or naething, the king lo'es nae cripples.

"A prophane jest upon those who are like to fall, wishing that they may either break their neck or come off safe; for breaking a limb will make them useless subjects."—Kelly.

Need gars naked men run, and sorrow gars wabsters spin.

"Hunger drives the wolf out of the wood."—Italian. In the second clause we have another discreditable imputation on the weaving fraternity, implying that they only work when compelled by hunger, and are not naturally industrious.

Need gars the auld wife trot.

"'This is your mother, is it not?' (Cuddie nodded.) 'What can have brought your mother and you down the[237] water so late?' 'Troth, stir, just what gars the auld wives trot—neshessity, stir. I'm seeking for service, stir.'"—Old Mortality.

Need maks a man o' craft.

Need maks greed.

Need maks the naked quean spin.

Ne'er break out o' kind to gar your friends ferlie at you.

Do not do strange acts merely for the sake of astonishing your friends.

Ne'er count the lawin' wi' a toom quaich.

"Quaich," a small and shallow drinking-cup with two ears. The proverb has a similar meaning to "Fair fa' the wife," &c., q. v.

Ne'er do ill that gude may come o't.

Ne'er draw your dirk when a dunt will do.

That is, do not resort to extreme measures when mild means will suffice.

Ne'er fash your beard.

"'Tell them all this, and hear what they say till't.'

"'Indeed, mistress, I can tell ye that already, without stirring my shanks for the matter,' answered Nelly Trotter; 'they will e'en say that ye are ae auld fule, and me anither, that may hae some judgment in cock-bree or in scate-rumples, but maunna fash our beards about onything else.'"—St Ronan's Well.

Ne'er fash your thoom.

"Ne'er mind her flytes, but set your heart at ease:
Sit down and blaw your pipe, nor fash your thoom,
An' there's my hand, she'll tire, and soon sing dumb."

Ne'er find faut wi' my shoon, unless you pay my souter.

Addressed to impertinent persons who find fault with the personal appearance or dress of others.

Ne'er gang to the deil wi' the dishclout on your head.

"If you will be a knave, be not in a trifle, but in something of value. A Presbyterian minister had a son who was made Archdeacon of Ossery; when this was told to his father, he said, 'If my son will be a knave, I am glad that he will be an archknave.' This has the same sense, 'As good be hanged for an old sheep as a young lamb.'"—Kelly.

Ne'er gie me my death in a toom dish.

This means, jocularly, if you wish to kill me, do it not by starvation; in other words, give me something to eat.

Ne'er gude, egg nor bird.

Ne'er kiss a man's wife, or dight his knife, for he'll do baith after you.

Ne'er let on, but laugh in your sleeve.

Ne'er let the nose blush for the sins o' the mouth.

Ne'er let your feet rin faster than your shoon.

"'But you must recollect, that before taking such a step you ought to be pretty well provided with means.'

"'Ou', fegs! I hae nae trick o' letting my feet rin faster than my shoon. I'll no forget the means, ye may be sure; and as for Jean hersel, I hae nae skill o' women folk, if she's no just as willing as me.'"—The Disruption.

Ne'er lippen ower muckle to a new friend or an auld enemy.[239]

Ne'er marry a penniless maiden that's proud o' her pedigree.

Ne'er marry a widow unless her first man was hanged.

Ne'er misca' a Gordon in the raws o' Stra'bogie.

The Gordons were the ruling clan in Strathbogie; and the proverb means that we should never speak ill of a man on his own property.

Ne'er put your arm out farther than you can draw it easily back again.

"The deacon used to say to me, 'Nick—young Nick' (his name was Nicol as well as mine, sae folk ca'd us, in their daffin, young Nick and auld Nick)—'Nick,' said he, 'never put out your arm farther than ye can draw it easily back again.'"—Rob Roy.

Ne'er ower auld to learn.

Ne'er put a sword in a wudman's hand.

Ne'er put the plough before the owsen.

Ne'er quit certainty for hope.

Ne'er rax abune your reach.

That is, do not exert yourself beyond your strength.

Ne'er say gae, but gang.

Ne'er say "Ill fallow" to him you deal wi'.

Ne'er shaw me the meat, but the man.

"If a man be fat, plump, and in good liking, I shall not ask what keeping he has had."—Kelly.

Ne'er shaw your teeth unless ye can bite.

Ne'er speak ill o' the deil.

Ne'er speak ill o' them whase bread ye eat.[240]

Ne'er spend gude siller looking for bad.

"John had never before taken any debtor to law, his motto being, 'Never spend gude siller looking for bad;' but in this case, he said, he was determined to roup them to the door, although it shouldna put a penny in his pouch."—Roy's "Generalship."

Ne'er strive against the stream.

Ne'er tak a forehammer to break an egg.

Ne'er tell your fae when your fit sleeps.

Ne'er throw the bridle o' your horse ower a fool's arm.

Ne'er use the taws when a gloom will do.

Of similar import to "Ne'er draw your dirk," q. v.

Ne'er was a wife weel pleased coming frae the mill but ane, and she brak her neck bane.

Kelly says this is "commonly said to wives when they come from the mill, but the occasion, sense, or meaning I know not." Is it not because they are always dissatisfied with the "mouter" which the miller takes?

Ne'er waur happen you than your ain prayer.

Neither fish, flesh, fowl, nor gude red herring.

Used to signify that an article is good for nothing.

Neither sae sinfu' as to sink nor sae holy as to soom.

Never's a lang word.

New lairds mak new laws.

"They were decent, considerate men, that didna plague a puir herd callant muckle about a moorfowl or a mawkin, unless he turned common fowler—Sir Robert Ringhorse used to say, the herd lads shot as mony gleds and pyots as[241] they did game. But new lords new laws—naething but fine and imprisonment, and the game no a feather the plentier."—St Ronan's Well.

Next to nae wife, a gude ane's best.

Nineteen naesays o' a maiden is half a grant.

"Her laugh will lead you to the place,
Where lies the happiness ye want;
And plainly tell you to your face,
Nineteen nae-says are half a grant."
—Tea-Table Miscellany.

Nipping and scarting's Scotch folk's wooing.

"It may be Scotch folk's wooing; but if that's the gait Betty Bodle means to use you, Watty, my dear, I would see her, and a' the Kilmarkeckles that ever were cleckit, doon the water, or strung in a wuddy, before I would hae onything to say to ane come o' their seed or breed. To lift her hands to her bridegroom!"—The Entail.

Now-a-days truth's news.

Now's now, and Yule's in winter.



' ae ill come mony.

O' a' fish i' the sea, herring is king.

O' a' ills, nane's best.

O' a' little tak a little; when there's nought tak a'.

O' a' meat i' the warld the drink gaes best down.

O' a' sorrow, a fu' sorrow's the best.

"Spoken when friends die and leave good legacies."—Kelly.

O' a' the months o' the year curse a fair Februar.

O' bairns' gifts ne'er be fain; nae sooner they gie than they tak it again.

O' gude advisement comes nae ill.

O' ill debtors men get aiths.

"Aith," or oath, is here used in the sense of promise, signifying that from "ill debtors" men get not money but promises, which, of course, are never performed.

Oh for a drap o' gentle blude, that I may wear black abune my brow.

"In Scotland no woman is suffered to wear a silk hood unless she be a gentlewoman; that is, a gentleman's daughter, or married to a gentleman. A rich maid having the offer of a wealthy yeoman, or a bare gentleman, wished for the last, to qualify her to wear a black hood. It is since spoken to such wealthy maidens upon the like occasion."—Kelly.


O' little meddling comes muckle care.

On painting and fighting look abeigh.

On the sea sail, on the land settle.

Onything for ye about an honest man's house but a day's wark.

"Onything sets a gude face," quo' the monkey wi' the mutch on.

Open confession is gude for the soul.

Oppression will mak a wise man wud.

O' the marriages in May, the bairns die o' decay.

O' twa ills choose the least.

Our ain reek's better than ither folk's fire.

Our sins and debts are aften mair than we think.

Our sowens are ill sour'd, ill seil'd, ill sauted, ill sodden, thin, an' little o' them. Ye may stay a' night, but ye may gang hame if ye like. It's weel kenn'd your faither's son was ne'er a scambler.

This proverb is, we think, fairly entitled to rank as the second longest on record, the first being, as recorded by Trench, the German one, "Folk say there is a lack of four people on earth," &c. Kelly says that "this was a speech of a countrywoman of mine to a guest that she would gladly have shaken off, and being so oddly expressed it became a proverb, which we repeat when we think our friend does not entertain us heartily."

Out o' debt, out o' danger.

Out o' God's blessing into the warm sun.[244]

Out o' Davy Lindsay into Wallace.

"Davy Lindsay and Wallace" were two books formerly used in schools; and the proverb is used when a person changes, or, more properly, advances from one thing to another.

Out on the highgate is aye fair play.

Out o' sight, out o' languor.

"Long absent, soon forgotten."—English.

Out o' the peat pot into the gutter.

"Out of the frying pan into the fire."—English.

"Out of the mire into the brook."—Spanish.

Out o' the warld and into Kippen.

Kippen, in Stirlingshire, was formerly so very remote and little frequented by strangers, that a visit to it was jocularly deemed equivalent to going out of the world altogether; and the remark passed into a proverb, used when a person is going to a strange place. The feudal lord of this district was formerly styled King of Kippen.

Own debt and crave days.

Ower braw a purse to put a plack in.

That is, externally grander or more showy than internal means justify. "Spoken when one builds a magnificent house upon a small income."—Kelly.

Ower high, ower laigh, ower het, ower cauld.

That is, from one extreme to the other.

Ower holy was hanged, but rough and sonsy wan awa'.

Ower mony cooks spoil the broth.

Ower mony grieves hinder the wark.

Ower mony irons in the fire, some maun cool.

Spoken when a person has too many projects in hand; meaning that some must fail.


"Ower mony maisters," quo' the puddock to the harrow, when ilka tooth gied her a tug.

Ower muckle hameliness spoils gude courtesy.

"Too much familiarity breeds contempt."—English.

Ower muckle loose leather about your chafts.

A rude but expressive way of saying that a person is not looking well, or is, Scotice, "thin."

Ower muckle cookery spoils the brochan.

Ower muckle o' ae thing is gude for naething.

Ower narrow counting culyes nae kindness.

To "culye" is to gain, to draw forth. "When people deal in rigour with us we think ourselves but little obliged to them."—Kelly.

Ower reckless may repent.

Ower sicker, ower loose.

Or, you are either too harsh and stringent, or the very reverse.

Ower strong meat for your weak stamack.

Ower sune is easy mended.



atch and lang sit, build and soon flit.

A slow and gradual rise is likely to prove a permanent one; but a rapid or sudden one merely temporary; or, as the Irishman said, "Up like a rocket, and down like its stick."

Paterson's mare aye goes foremost.

Pay-before-hand's never weel ser'd.

The tradesman is said to be troubled with two kinds of bad customers, viz., those who pay in advance, or "before-hand," and those who do not pay at all.

Pay him in his ain coin.

Pennyless souls maun pine in purgatory.

Penny-wheep's gude enough for muslin-kail.

"Penny-wheep," says Jamieson, "is the weakest kind of small beer, sold at a penny per bottle;" and muslin-kail is a common kind of broth. The proverb expresses that poor service merits poor reward.

Peter's in, Paul's out.

"Spoken when, after we had wanted a necessary person a long time, upon his arrival, another equally necessary is gone."—Kelly.

Pigs may whistle, but they hae an ill mouth for't.

Applied when an awkward person is attempting to perform some work of which he is incapable.

Penny wise and pound foolish.[247]

Pint stoups hae lang lugs.

For a great deal is said over them, which, but for their influence, would not be heard.

Pith's gude at a' play but threading o' needles.

Plack aboot's fair play.

Placks and bawbees grow pounds.

Plaister thick and some will stick.

Play carle wi' me again if you daur.

"Do not dare to offer to contest with me. Spoke by parents to stubborn children."—Kelly.

Play's gude while it's play.

Pleading at the law is like fighting through a whin bush—the harder the blows the sairer the scarts.

The knowledge that "whin bush" is the furze renders this saying easily intelligible.

Please your kimmer, and ye'll easy guide your gossip.

Please yoursel and ye'll no dee o' the pet.

Plenty is nae plague.

Plenty maks dainty.

Poets and painters are aye poor.

This appears in no collection preceding Henderson's, and is probably a record of his own experience and that of his friends, he being a painter himself by profession, and on intimate terms with Motherwell and others.

Poets and painters hae liberty to lo'e.

Poor folk are fain o' little.

Poor folk maun fit their wame to their winning.[248]

Poor folk seek meat for their stamacks, and rich folk stamacks for their meat.

Poor folk's friends soon misken them.

Poortith pairts gude company.

Poortith's better than pride.

Poortith's pain, but nae disgrace.

Poortith taks awa pith.

"'I tell you, Master Moniplies,' said Jenkin, 'I am as poor as any Scot among you. I have broken my indenture, and I think of running the country.' 'A-well-a-day!' said Ritchie. 'But that maunna be, man. I ken weel, by sad experience, that poortith takes away pith, and the man sits full still that has a rent in his breeks.'"—Fortunes of Nigel.

Poortith wi' patience is less painfu'.

Possession's worth an ill charter.

Poverty's a bad back friend.

Praise without profit puts little i' the pat.

Prayer and practice is gude rhyme.

Pretty man, I maun say; tak a peat and sit down.

We are unable to make much either of this proverb or of Kelly's note to it—"An ironical expression to a mean boy who would gladly be esteemed."

Pride and grace ne'er dwell in ae place.

Pride an' sweer'dness need muckle uphaudin.

"Sweer'd," lazy or unwilling. Pride and laziness require much to support them.

Pride finds nae cauld.

"Spoken heretofore to young women when, in compliance with the fashion, they went with their breasts and[249] shoulders bare; and may now (1721) be applied to ladies with their extravagant hoops."—Kelly.

Pride ne'er leaves its maister till he get a fa'.

Pride prinks her brow for the deil to pouse.

That is, pride bedecks herself, and the devil despoils.

Pride's an ill horse to ride.

Pride that dines wi' vanity sups wi' contempt.

Pride will hae a fa'.

Provision in season maks a bien house.

Prudence should be winning when thrift is spinning.

Puddins and paramours should be hetly handled.

"Puddings when cold are uneatable; and love when coldrife is near the breaking off."—Kelly.

Put a coward to his mettle, and he'll fight the deil.

"A baited cat is as fierce as a lion."—English.

Put anither man's bairn in your bosom, and he'll creep oot at your sleeve.

"That is, cherish or love him, he'll never be naturally affected towards you."—Ray.

Put nae force against the flail.

Put on your spurs and be at your speed.

Put twa pennies in a purse, and they'll creep thegither.

Put your finger in the fire, and say it was your fortune.

Spoken of a person who has wittingly placed himself in difficulties, and who attributes his bad position to fortune.


Put your hand in the creel, tak out an adder or an eel.

"In buying horses and taking a wife, shut your eyes and commend yourself to God."—Italian.

Put your hand nae farther oot than your sleeve will reach.

Put your hand twice to your bannet for ance to your pouch.

"Put your hand quickly to your hat, and slowly to your purse, and you will take no harm."—Danish.

Put the man to the mear that can manage the mear.

Put the saddle on the right horse.

Put your shanks in your thanks and mak gude gramashes o' them.

Literally, put your legs in your thanks and make good gaiters of them. A sharp remark on those who pay in thanks only, when a more substantial reward is expected.

Put your thoom upon that.

"Conceal it carefully—keep it secret."—Jamieson.



uality without quantity is little thought o'.

Quey calves are dear veal.

A "quey calf" is a female calf. They are generally kept to replenish the stock; it is bull calves that are principally fattened for killing young.

Quick at meat, quick at wark.

Quick, for you'll ne'er be cleanly.

"That is, do a thing nimbly, for you'll never do it neatly."—Kelly.

Quick returns mak rich merchants.

Quietness is best.



ab Gibb's contract,—stark love and kindness.

Raggit folk and bonny folk are aye ta'en haud o'.

Spoken jocularly when a person has rent or caught his clothes upon a nail or other projection.

Raise nae mair deils than ye are able to lay.

"Raise no more spirits than you can conjure down."—German.

Rather spoil your joke than tine your friend.

Raw dads mak fat lads.

Raw leather raxes weel.

"Raw leather will stretch."—English.

Reavers shouldna be ruers.

Literally, robbers should not repent.

Reckless youth maks ruefu' eild.

"People who live too fast when they are young will neither have a vigorous nor a comfortable old age."—Kelly.

Reckon up your winning at your bed-stock.

Red brackens bring milk and butter.

"In October, the bracken or fern on hill pastures becomes red with the first frosty nights, and about that time the autumnal herbage is very rich, and productive of the good things in question."—Robert Chambers.


Red wood maks gude spindles.

"'Red wood,' the name given to the reddish or dark-coloured and more incorruptible wood found in the heart of trees."—Jamieson.

Refer my coat and lose a sleeve.

"Rejoice, bucks," quo' Brodie, when he shot at the buryin' and thought it was a weddin'.

Remember, man, and keep in mind, a faithfu' friend is hard to find.

Remove an auld tree an' it'll wither.

Riches are got wi' pain, kept wi' care, and tint wi' grief.

Rich folk hae routh o' friends.

"Routh o' friends," that is, many of them.

Rich folk's wit rives poor folk's jaws.

Rich mixture maks gude mortar.

Ride fair and jaup nane.

"Taken from riding through a puddle, but applied to too home jesting."—Kelly.

Right, Roger, sow's gude mutton.

A proverbial expression, meaning that a person is totally mistaken about a matter.

Right wrangs nae man.

Ripe fruit is soonest rotten.

Rise when the day daws, bed when the night fa's.

Robin, that herds on the height, can be blithe as Sir Robert the Knight.

Rome wasna built in a day.[254]

Rot him awa' wi' ham and eggs.

Rowan-tree and red thread mak the witches tine their speed.

These particular articles were formerly supposed to have a controlling power over witches.

Royt lads may mak sober men.

To "royt" is to go about idly or dissolutely.

Rue and thyme grow baith in ae garden.

Rule youth weel, for eild will rule itsel'.

Ruse the fair day at e'en.

"Commend not a thing or a project till it has had its full effect."—Kelly.

"It is not good praising the ford till a man be over."—English.

Ruse the ford as ye find it.

Speak only of things as your experience has found them.

Rusted wi' eild, a wee piece gate seems lang.

Literally, decayed by age, a short road seems a very long one.



ae mony men, sae mony minds.

"Saft beddin's gude for sair banes," quo' Howie when he streekit himsel on the midden-head.

"Saft's your horn, my friend," quo' the man when he grippit the cuddy's lug.

"Sail," quo' the king: "Haud," quo' the wind.

Sair cravers are ill-payers.

"This proverb, and the reverse, viz., 'Ill payers are sore cravers,' I have never yet seen fail."—Kelly.

Sairs shouldna be sair handled.

That is, delicate or painful subjects should be cautiously alluded to.

Sair wark and poortith downa weel be joined.

Sairy be your meal-pock, and aye your nieve i' the neuk o't.

An uncharitable saying, expressing literally a wish that the meal bag may be empty when the hand is put in to take some.

"Saut," quo' the souter, when he had eaten a cow a' but the tail.

"Spoken to them that flag when they have almost finished a difficult task."—Kelly.


Save yoursel' frae the deil and the laird's bairns.

"A caution of poor people to their children, how they meddle with their superiors; for, if they hurt the laird's bairns, they will be sure to be punished, but, if hurt by them, they will get no right."—Kelly.

Saw thin, shear thin.

Saw wheat in dirt and rye in dust.

Saw ye that and shotna at it, and you sae gleg a gunner.

A satire upon a boaster who is telling of some extraordinary thing which he pretends to have seen.

Say aye "No," and ye'll ne'er be married.

A jocular remark to a person who has refused something which has been offered to him.

Saying gangs cheap.

"Talking pays nae toll."—English.

Say weel and dae weel, end wi' ae letter: say weel is gude, but dae weel is better.

Say what you will, an ill mind will turn't to ill.

Scant-o'-grace hears lang preachings.

Or, at least, thinks them so.

Scanty cheeks mak a lang nose.

Scart-the-cog wad sup mair.

To "scart the cog" is to scrape the inside of the dish.

Scorn comes wi' skaith.

Scornfu' dogs eat dirty puddin's.

"'Hout, fye—hout, fye—all nonsense and pride,' said the Laird of Summertrees, 'scornful dogs will eat dirty puddings, cousin Crosbie. Ye little ken what some of your friends were obliged to do yon time for a sowp of brose or a bit of bannock.'"—Redgauntlet.


Scorn not the bush ye get beild frae.

Scotsmen aye reckon frae an ill hour.

Scotsmen aye tak their mark frae a mischief.

That is, always reckon from the date of some untoward event, such as a death, an accident, or a fire.

See for love and buy for siller.

Seein's believin' a' the world ower.

Seek muckle, and get something; seek little, and get naething.

Seek till you find, and ye'll never lose your labour.

Seek your sa' where you got your ail, and beg your barm where you buy your ale.

The surly reply of a person who has been shunned for some trivial or mistaken reason by one who is compelled by circumstances to apply to him for information or assistance.

Seil ne'er comes till sorrow be awa.

Seldom ride tines his spurs.

Seldom seen, soon forgotten.

Self-praise comes aye stinking ben.

Self-praise is nae honour.

Sel, sel, has half-filled hell.

"Sel, sel," that is, the sin of selfishness.

Send a fool to France, and a fool he'll come back.

Send your gentle blude to the market, and see what it will buy.

A reproach upon those who boast of their gentle birth, but who possess nothing of greater value.


Send your son to Ayr: if he do weel here, he'll do weel there.

Send you to the sea, and ye'll no get saut water.

"Spoken when people foolishly come short of their errand."—Kelly.

Ser' yoursel', and your friends will think the mair o' ye.

An answer of those who are asked to do a favour when they would rather not oblige.

Ser' yoursel' till your bairns come o' age.

Set a beggar on horseback, he'll ride to the deil.

Set a stout heart to a stey brae.

"Delay not,
And fray not,
And thou sall sie it say;
Sic gets ay,
That setts ay,
Stout stomaks to the brae."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

Set a thief to grip a thief.

Set him up and shute him forward.

"'A lord!' ejaculated the astonished Mrs Dods: 'a lord come down to the Waal!—they will be neither to haud nor to bind now—ance wud and aye waur—a lord!—set them up and shute them forward—a lord!—the Lord have a care o' us!—a lord at the hottle! Maister Touchwood, it's my mind he will only prove to be a Lord o' Session.'"—St Ronan's Well.

Set that doun on the backside o' your count-book.

That is, I have done you a service, see that you repay it.


Set your foot upon that, an' it winna loup in your face.

Shallow waters mak maist din.

"Shame fa' the couple," as the cow said to her fore feet.

Shame fa' the dog that, when he hunted you, didna gar you rin faster.

Shame fa' them that think shame to do themsels a gude turn.

Shame's past the shed o' your hair.

Sharp sauce gies a gude taste to sweetmeats.

She brak her elbow at the kirk door.

"Spoken of a thrifty maiden when she becomes a lazy wife."—Kelly.

She frisks about like a cat's tail i' the sun.

She has an ill paut wi' her hind foot.

She has gi'en them green stockings.

Spoken when a young woman marries before her elder sisters.

She hauds up her gab like an aumos dish.

"And aye he gies the touzie drab
The tither skelpin' kiss,
While she held up her greedy gab
Just like an aumos dish."

She hauds up her head like a hen drinking water.

The two last sayings are applied to persons who behave in an impudent or forward manner.


She'll keep her ain side o' the house, and gang up and down yours.

"Spoken to dissuade our friend from marrying a woman whom we suspect to be too bold."—Kelly.

She'll wear like a horseshoe, aye the langer the clearer.

She lookit at the moon, but lichtit i' the midden.

Applied to young women who have boasted, before marriage, of the "fine match" which they will get, but who afterwards are allied to common every-day people.

She looks as if butter wadna melt in her mou.

She looks like a leddy in a landward kirk.

This means that a person may appear very conspicuous on account of a peculiar dress or manner.

She pined awa like Jenkin's hen.

"To die like Jenkin's hen is to die an old maid."—Jamieson.

She's a bad sitter that's aye in a flutter.

She's a drap o' my dearest blude.

She's a wise wife that wats her ain weird.

That is, who knows her own destiny.

She's better than she's bonny.

A Highlander, in speaking favourably of his wife, is reported to have misquoted this, and characterized her as being "bonnier than she was better."

She's black, but she has a sweet smack.

That is, she is not very beautiful, but she is rich.

She's dinket out, neb and feather.

"Dressed completely; from top to toe."—Jamieson.

She's grown gatty that was ance a dautie.[261]

She's no to be made a sang about.

"An abatement of a woman's commendation to beauty."—Kelly.

She that fa's ower a strae's a tentless taupie.

She that gangs to the well wi' an ill will, either the pig breaks or the water will spill.

She that taks a gift, hersel she sells; and she that gies ane, does naething else.

She wadna hae the walkers, and the riders gaed by.

"It is recorded of a celebrated beauty, Becky Monteith, that being asked how she had not made a good marriage, having replied, 'Ye see, I wadna hae the walkers, and the riders gaed by.'"—Ramsay's Reminiscences.

Shod i' the cradle, and barefit i' the stubble.

Applied to people who dress out of keeping with their work.

Shored folk live lang, an' so may him ye ken o'.

"'Force our way with the king's keys, and break the neck of every living soul we find in the house, if ye dinna gie it ower forthwith!' menaced the incensed Hobbie. 'Threatened folks live lang,' said the hag, in the same tone of irony; 'there's the iron gate—try your skeel on't, lads—it has kept out as good men as you or now.'"—The Black Dwarf.

Short accounts mak lang friends.

Short rents mak careless tenants.

Shouther to shouther stands steel and pouther.

Show me the man and I'll show you the law.[262]

Sic a man as thou wad be, draw thee to sic companie.

Sic as ye gie, sic will you get.

Sic faither, sic son.

Sic reek as is therein comes out o' the lum.

Sic things maun be if we sell ale.

"This was the good woman's reply to her husband when he complained of the exciseman's too demonstrative gallantry."—W. K. Kelly.

Silence and thought hurt nae man.

Silence grips the mouse.

Silly bairns are eith to lear.

Sins and debts are aye mair than we think them.

Sit down and rest you, and tell us how they drest you, and how you wan awa.

A jocular way of asking a person about people whom he has been to see.

Sit on your seat, and nane will rise you.

"Sit in your place, and none can make you rise."—English.

Skill is nae burden.

Slander leaves a sair behint.

Slighted love is sair to bide.

Slipshod's no for a frozen road.

Slow at meat, slow at wark.

A reverse of this saying is common to many countries—"Quick at meat, quick at work."

Sma' fish are better than nane.[263]

Sma' winnings mak a heavy purse.

Smooth water rins deep.

"Tweed said to Till,
'What gars ye rin sae still?'
Till said to Tweed,
'Though ye rin sae wi' speed,
And I rin slaw,
Where ye drown ae man,
I drown twa.'"
—Berwickshire Rhyme.

Sober, neighbour! The night's but young yet.

A remonstrance with a person who is doing a thing too hurriedly, signifying that there is plenty of time to spare for the purpose.

Sodgers, fire, and water soon mak room for themsels.

Some ane has tauld her she was bonny.

Some are gey drouthy, but ye're aye moistified.

An insinuation that a person is very much addicted to tippling. "'Moistify,' a low word, generally used in a ludicrous sense in regard to topers."—Jamieson.

Some are only daft, but ye're red-wud raving.

Somebody may come to kame your hair wi' a cutty stool.

"Spoken by mothers to stubborn daughters, intimating they will come under the hands of a stepmother, who, it is likely, will not deal too tenderly with them."—Kelly.

Some can stand the sword better than the pintstoup.

Some folk look up, and ithers look down.

And, we presume, the proverb would have the reader to understand they prosper or fail accordingly.


Some fork low, but ye fork ower the mow.

That is, some people do not do their work sufficiently, but you overdo it.

Some hae a hantel o' fauts, ye're only a ne'er-do-weel.

Some, though very bad, still have some redeeming qualities; the party addressed has none.

Some hae hap, and some stick i' the gap.

Meaning that some have and some have not good fortune.

Some hae little sense, but ye're aye haverin'.

Some show a gliff o' the gowk, but ye're aye goavin.

To "show a gliff of the gowk" is to behave foolishly.

Some strake the measure o' justice, but ye gie't heapit.

Some tak a', but ye leave naething.

Some that hae least to dree are loudest wi' "waes me."

"Those who are least hurt cry loudest."—English.

"So on and accordingly," quo' Willie Baird's doggie.

Soon enough if well enough.

Soon enough to cry "Chuck" when it's out o' the shell.

Soon gotten, soon spent.

Soon ripe, soon rotten.

"Soor plooms," quo' the tod when he couldna climb the tree.[265]

Sorrow an' ill weather come unca'd.

Sorrow be on your hands that held sae well to your head.

An imprecation on a person who has surpassed another in an undertaking.

Sorrow is soon enough when it comes.

Sorrow shake you out o' the wabster's handiwark.

Literally, sorrow shake you out of your clothes.

Sorrow's sib to a' body.

Souters and tailors count hours.

That is, tradesmen and commercial persons are aware of the value of time.

Souters shouldna gae ayont their last.

Spare at the spigot, and let out at the bunghole.

"Spoken to them who are careful and penurious in some trifling things, but neglective in the main chance."—Kelly.

Spare to speak, spare to speed.

Spare weel and hae weel.

Spare when ye're young, and spend when ye're auld.

Speak gude of pipers, your faither was a fiddler.

Speak o' the deil and he'll appear.

Jocularly applied to a person who approaches those who have just been inquiring for him.

Speak when ye're spoken to, and drink when ye're drucken to.[266]

Speak when ye're spoken to, do what ye're bidden, come when ye're ca'd, an' ye'll no be chidden.

A sharp remark to those who join in the conversation of others unsolicited or impertinently.

Speir at Jock Thief if I be a leal man.

Spoken by rogues, who, when their respectability is questioned, refer to persons equally bad.

"Ask my comrade, who is as great a liar as myself."—French.

Spend, and God will send; spare, and be bare.

Spilt ale is waur than water.

Spit in your loof and haud fast.

This means, simply, take a firm hold of a thing.

Spit on a stane and it will be wat at last.

Stable the steed, and put your wife to bed when there's night wark to do.

"'Am I no gaun to the ploy, then?' said Maggie, in a disappointed tone. 'And what for should ye?' said her lord and master; 'to dance a' night, I'se warrant, and no to be fit to walk your tae's-length the morn, and we have ten Scots miles afore us? Na, na. Stable the steed, and pit your wife to bed when there's night wark to do.'"—Redgauntlet.

Standers-by see mair than gamesters.

Staunin' dubs gather dirt.

"Standing pools gather filth."—English.

Stay and drink o' your ain browst.

"Take a share of the mischief that you have occasioned."—Kelly.


"But gae your wa's, Bessie, tak on ye,
And see wha'll tak care o' ye now;
E'en gae wi' the Bogle, my bonnie—
It's a browst your ain daffery did brew."
—Old Ballad.

Stay nae langer in a friend's house than ye're welcome.

Step by step climbs the hill.

Stickin' gangsna by strength, but by the right use o' the gully.

Stretching and gaunting bodes sleep to be wanting.

Strike as ye feed, and that's but soberly.

Strike the iron while it's hot.

Stuffing hauds out storms.

"Advising men to take some good thing before they travel in a bad day."—Kelly.

Sturt pays nae debt.

"Spoken with resentment to them who storm when we crave of them our just debts."—Kelly.

Sudden friendship's sure repentance.

Sue a beggar and gain a louse.

Sunday wooin' draws to ruin.

Supp'd out wort ne'er made gude ale.

"Spoken when one asks us for a drink of our wort, for what is drunk in wort will never be ale, good or bad."—Kelly.

Suppers kill mair than doctors cure.

Surfeits slay mair than swords.[268]

Swear by your burnt shins.

Sweet at the on-taking, but soor in the aff-putting.

In allusion to the contraction of debt and other liabilities.

Sweet i' the bed and sweer up i' the morning was ne'er a gude housewife.

"A jocose reproof to young maids when they lie long a-bed."—Kelly.



ak a hair o' the dog that bit you.

This is a familiar rendering of the great law of Homœopathy, Similia similibus curantur; but is usually interpreted thus: Sober yourself by taking another glass.

Tak a piece; your teeth's langer than your beard.

Addressed to children who are diffident in accepting a "piece."

Tak a seat on Maggie Shaw's Crocky.

"Maggy Shaw's Crocky is a broad flat stone, near to the brink of a precipice, overhanging the sea-shore, about a mile to the north of Eyemouth. This stone was placed over the remains of an old woman who had hanged herself, and who is said to be frequently seen at night sitting upon it, in the shape of a white sea-mew—sitting lonely on the

"'glitty stane,
Green wi' the dow o' the jauping main.'"
—G. Henderson.

Tak a tune on your ain fiddle; ye'll dance till't afore it's dune.

"'I can hear no remonstrances,' he continued, turning away from the Bailie, whose mouth was open to address him; 'the service I am on gives me no time for idle discussions.' 'Aweel, aweel, sir,' said the Bailie, 'you're welcome to a tune on your ain fiddle; but see if I dinna gar ye dance till't afore a's dune.'"—Rob Roy.


"But sen ze think it easy thing
To mount aboif the mune,
Of our awin fidle tak a spring,
And daunce quhen ze haif done."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

Tak care o' that man whom God has set his mark upon.

"I went once to a conventicle on a mountain side, in company of a very sage intelligent gentleman, who, seeing the preacher want two joints of each ring finger, having a nail upon the third, he immediately took horse and rode away. I asked him what ailed him? He said, 'God had set a mark upon that man, and he was sure it was not for nothing.' This man proved a great plague to his country, was the death of a great many, and came to a violent end himself."—Kelly.

Tak a man by his word and a cow by her horn.

Tak him up on his fine eggs, and ane o' them rotten.

Tak nae mair on your back than ye're able to bear.

Tak pairt o' the pelf when the pack's dealing.

Tak the bit and the buffet wi't.

"What tho' sometimes, in angry mood,
When she puts on her barlik hood,
Her dialect seems rough and rude,
Let's ne'er be flee't,
But tak our bit, when it is gude,
An' buffet wi't."
—Allan Ramsay.

Bear patiently taunts and ill usage, if advantages come with them.

Tak the head for the washing.[271]

Tak the readiest to serve the needfu'ist.

Tak the will for the deed.

Tak time ere time be tint.

"Tak tyme, in tyme, or tyme be tint,
For tyme will not remain."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

Tak your ain will and ye'll no dee o' the pet.

Tak your ain will o't, as the cat did o' the haggis—first ate it, and then creepit into the bag.

This and the preceding proverb, Kelly says, "are spoken to them who obstinately persist in an unreasonable design."

Tak your meal wi' ye an' your brose will be thicker.

Used sarcastically by those who take a good meal before they go to partake of one with a friend; signifying that they do not expect to be too well treated.

Tak your thanks to feed your cat.

Tak your venture, as mony a gude ship has done.

Tak your will, you're wise enough.

Tak wit wi' your anger.

Tam-tell-truth's nae courtier.

Tappit hens like cock-crowing.

Tarry breeks pays nae freight.

Persons in the same trade are generally willing to oblige one another. "Pipers don't pay fiddlers."—English. "One barber shaves another."—French.

Tarry lang brings little hame.[272]

Tell nae tales out o' schule.

Tell the truth and shame the deil.

Thank ye for cakes, I have scones in my pocket.

That bolt came ne'er out o' your bag.

That is, such a thing is better done or told than you could do it.

That'll be a sap out o' my bicker.

Or will injure me by reducing my income or prospects.

That's abune your thoom.

Spoken to a person who is about to attempt a thing of which he is considered incapable.

That's a piece a stepmother never gied.

A hearty expression accompanying a substantial "piece" or meal.

That's a sair hair in my neck.

"I canna but think I maun hae made a queer figure without my hat and my periwig, hanging by the middle like bawdrons, or a cloak flung ower a cloakpin. Bailie Grahame wad hae an unco hair in my neck an he got that tale by the end."—Rob Roy.

That's as ill as the ewes in the yaird and nae dogs to hunt them.

The "yaird" being the safest place where the ewes could be, the proverb means that a thing is quite right.

That's a tale o' twa drinks.

That's a tee'd ba'.

That's but ae doctor's opinion.

That's equal aqual.

"Mr Novit, ye'll no forget to draw the annual rent that's due on the yerl's band—if I pay debt to other folk, I think[273] they suld pay it to me—that equals aquals.—Jock, when ye hae naething else to do, ye may be aye sticking in a tree; it will be growing, Jock, when ye're sleeping. My father tauld me sae forty years sin', but I ne'er fand time to mind him."—Heart of Midlothian.

That's felling twa dogs wi' ae stane.

That's for that, as butter's for fish.

Meaning that such a thing is exactly what is wanted.

That's for the faither, and no for the son.

"Spoken when a thing is done with slight materials, and, consequently, will not be lasting."—Kelly.

That's Halkerston's cow, a' the ither way.

Halkerston, a lawyer and landed proprietor, gave permission to one of his tenants to graze an ox. The tenant's ox was gored to death by a heifer belonging to the lawyer. The tenant went to Halkerston, and told the story the reverse of what had occurred. "Why, then," said the lawyer, "your ox must go for my heifer—the law provides that." "No," said the man, "your heifer killed my ox." "Oh," said Halkerston, "the case alters there," and forthwith reversed his tactics.

That's ill paid maut siller.

"Metaphorically, a benefit ill requited."—Jamieson.

That's like seekin' for a needle in a windlin o' strae.

That's my gude that does me gude.

That's my tale, whaur's yours?

Spoken by a person who has forestalled another by telling the same news or story which the other was about to do.

That's no a heel to my shoe.

That's the ane the souter killed his wife wi'.[274]

That's the best gown that gaes up and down the house.

That's the way to marry me, if ere you should hap to do it.

A sharp reply to those who presume to be too familiar.

That's waur and mair o't.

That which God will gie the deil canna reeve.

"Spoken when we have attained our end in spite of opposition."—Kelly.

That will be when the deil's blind, and he's no bleer-ee'd yet.

That winna be a mote in your marriage.

The ass that's no used to the sunks bites his crupper.

"'Sunks,' a sort of saddle made of cloth, and stuffed with straw, on which two persons can sit at once."—Jamieson.

The back and the belly hauds ilka ane busy.

The ba' maun aye row some way.

The banes bear the beef hame.

The banes o' a great estate are worth the picking.

The best is aye the cheapest.

The best laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft agley.

The best o' wabs are rough at the roons.

The best that can happen to a poor man is that ae bairn dee and the rest follow.


Kelly is democratically angry at the questionable sentiment of this proverb,—"A cursed distrustful proverb!" he says. "God is able to maintain the poor man's child as well as the young master or young miss, and often in a more healthy and plump condition."

The better day the better deed.

The jocular answer of a person who is blamed for doing something on Sunday.

The biggest horse is no aye the best traveller.

The biggest rogue cries loudest out.

The bird maun flicher that has but ae wing.

The bird that can sing, an' winna sing, should be gar'd sing.

The black ox ne'er trod on his foot.

"The black ox is said to tramp on one who has lost a near relation by death, or met with some severe calamity."—The Antiquary.

"Auld Luckie cries, 'Ye're o'er ill set,
As ye'd hae measure, ye sud met;
Ye ken na what may be your fate
In after days,
The black cow has nae trampet yet
Upo' your taes.'"
—The Farmer's Ha'.

The blind horse is aye the hardiest.

The blind man's peck should be weel measured.

The blind mear's first in the mire.

The bonny moon is on her back, mend your shoon and sort your thack.

"When the new moon is in such a part of the ecliptic as to appear turned much over upon her back, wet weather is expected."—Robert Chambers.

The book o' may-be's is very braid.[276]

The breath o' a fause friend's waur than the fuff o' a weasel.

The cart doesna lose its errand when it comesna hame toom-tail.

"To come back toom-tail is to go away with a load and come back empty."—Jamieson.

The proverb is applied to those who accomplish more than their errand.

The cat kens whase lips she licks.

The cat's oot o' the pock.

The cause is gude, and the word's "fa' tae."

A profane grace of hungry persons who sit down to a good meal.

The clartier the cosier.

Literally, the dirtier the more comfortable. Whether true or not we cannot say.

The cost owergangs the profit.

The cow may dee ere the grass grow.

"While the grass is growing the steed is starving."—German.

The cow may want her tail yet.

"You may want my kindness hereafter, though you deny me yours just now."—Kelly.

The cow that's first up gets the first o' the dew.

Used as an incentive to diligence and industry.

"The early bird catches the worm."—English.

The cure may be waur than the disease.

The day has een, the night has lugs.

Prudence and caution are necessary at all times.


The day you do weel there will be seven munes in the lift and ane on the midden.

The inference is, that the person addressed has a very remote chance indeed of ever doing well.

The death o' ae bairn winna skail a house.

The death o' his first wife made sic a hole in his heart that a' the lave slippit easily through.

"It is supposed that he who has lost the wife of his youth and love will easily bear the loss of a second or third, who are commonly married rather for convenience than love."—Kelly.

The deil and the dean begin wi' ae letter; when the deil gets the dean the kirk will be better.

The deil aye drives his hogs to an ill market.

The deil bides his time.

The deil doesna aye show his cloven cloots.

The deil gaes awa when he finds the door steekit against him.

The deil gaes ower Jock Wabster.

"The deil gaes ower Jock Wabster, hame grows hell;
And Pate misca's ye mair nor tongue can tell."
—Gentle Shepherd.

The deil gae wi' ye and a sixpence, and ye'll neither want money nor company.

The deil made souters sailors that can neither steer nor row.

Applied to those who undertake work of which they are incapable.


The deil ne'er sent a wind out o' hell but he sail'd wi't.

The deil's a busy bishop in his ain diocese.

The deil's aye gude to his ain.

The deil's cow calves twice in ae year.

The deil's greedy, but ye're mislear'd.

The deil's greedy, sae are ye.

The deil's gude when he's pleased.

The deil's journeyman ne'er wants wark.

The deil's no sae black as he's ca'd.

"'Hout tout, neighbour, ye maunna tak the warld at its word,' said Saddletree; 'the very deil is no sae ill as he's ca'd; and I ken mair than ae advocate that may be said to hae some integrity as weel as their neighbours; that is, after a sort o' fashion o' their ain.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

The deil's ower grit wi' you.

"Ower grit," too familiar.

The deil's pet lambs lo'e Claverse's lads.

A saying of the Covenanters, that the followers of Graham of Claverhouse were on affectionate terms with the favourites of the Evil One.

The deil was sick, the deil a monk wad be; the deil grew hale, syne deil a monk was he.

Meaning that promises of amendment made on a sick-bed are seldom kept.

"All criminals preach under the gallows."—Italian.

The deil will tak little or he want a'.

The dorty dame may fa' in the dirt.

"Dorty," says Jamieson, "is applied to a female who is saucy with her suitors." That she may have to marry a more ineligible person than the one refused is here implied.


The drucken sot gets aye the drucken groat.

The e'ening brings a' hame.

The Englishman greets, the Irishman sleeps, but the Scotchman gangs till he gets it.

"A pretended account of the behaviour of these three nations when they want meat."—Kelly.

The farther ben the welcomer.

The farther in the deeper.

The farthest way aboot is aft the nearest way hame.

The fat sow's tail's aye creeshed.

Those who have sufficient money or property already are always getting additions to their stores.

The feathers carried awa the flesh.

The feet are slow when the head wears snaw.

The first dish is aye best eaten.

The first fuff o' a fat haggis is aye the bauldest.

Or the first threat of a boaster or coward is always the worst.

The first gryce and the last whalp o' a litter are aye the best.

The fish that sooms in a dub will aye taste o' dirt.

The flesh is aye fairest that's farthest frae the bane.

However, although fairest, it is not the best, for another proverb of our own says, "Nearer the bane the sweeter."


The foot at the cradle and the hand at the reel, is a sign that a woman means to do weel.

The foremost hound grips the hare.

The fu'er my house, the toomer my purse.

The goat gies a gude milking, but she ca's ower the cog wi' her feet.

Spoken of useful people who are, however, as troublesome as they are useful.

The grace o' a grey bannock is in the bakin' o't.

The grace o' God is gear enough.

The grandsire buys, the faither bigs, the son sells, and the grandson thigs.

Alluding to the uncertainty of earthly things; meaning, literally, that the grandsire buys estates on which the father builds, the son sells the property, and forces the grandson again in turn to beg.

The gravest fish is an oyster; the gravest bird's an ool; the gravest beast's an ass; an' the gravest man's a fool.

The greatest burdens are no the maist gainfu'.

The greatest clerk's no aye the wisest man.

The greedy man and the cook are sure friends.

The greedy man and the gileynour are weel met.

The gude dog doesna aye get the best bane.

The gude man's mither is aye in the gait.

"The husband's mother is the wife's devil."—Dutch.

The gude man's no aye the best man.[281]

The gude or ill hap o' a gude or ill life, is the gude or ill choice o' a gude or ill wife.

"He who has a good wife can bear any evil; he who has a bad wife can expect no happiness that can be so called."—Spanish.

The happy man canna be herried.

The haughty hawk winna stoop to carrion.

The height o' nonsense is supping soor milk wi' an elshin.

This is equalled by a saying of another country, which has "keeping the sea back with a pitchfork" as its type of nonsense.

The hen's egg gaes to the ha' to bring the goose's egg awa.

"Spoken when poor people give small gifts to be doubly repaid."—Kelly.

The higher climb the greater fa'.

The higher the hill the laigher the grass.

The higher the tree the sweeter the plooms; the richer the souter the blacker his thooms.

The king lies doun, yet the warld rins round.

Applied to persons who have an exaggerated idea of their own importance.

The king may come in the cadger's gait.

This proverb, which is exclusively Scottish, means that a person who has been slighted, or whose services have been despised, may have an opportunity of retaliating at a future time.


The king may come to Kelly yet, and when he comes he'll ride.

"It signifies that the time may come that I may get my revenge upon such people, and then I will do it to purpose."—Kelly.

The kirk's aye greedy.

The kirk's muckle, but ye may say mass i' the end o't.

"Spoken when people say something is too much, intimating that they need take no more than they have need for."—Kelly.

The laird may be laird, and still need the hind's help.

The laird's brither's an ill tenant.

The langer we live we see the mair ferlies.

The langest day has an end.

The lass that has ower mony wooers aft wales the warst.

The lass that lightlies may lament.

To "lightlie" is to despise or treat with contempt.

The lazy lad maks a stark auld man.

The lean dog is a' fleas.

The leeful man is the beggar's brither.

The less debt the mair dainties.

"The less I lee."

This is merely a phrase, but a very expressive one. It implies emphatically that "the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," has been told.


The less wit a man has, the less he kens the want o't.

The loudest bummer's no the best bee.

The lucky pennyworth sells soonest.

The mair cost the mair honour.

The mair dirt the less hurt.

The mair mischief the better sport.

The mair the merrier; the fewer better cheer.

The mair ye steer the mair ye'll sink.

The maister's brither's an ill servant.

The maister's ee maks the horse fat.

A fat man riding upon a lean horse was asked how it came to pass that he was so fat while his horse was so lean? "Because," said he, "I feed myself, but my servant feeds the horse."

"The master's eye puts meat on the horse's ribs."—Irish.

The maister's foot's the best measure.

The man may eithly tine a stot that canna count his kine.

Or the man who does not know his business cannot look properly after it.

The man wha sits on the silk goun-tail o' the wife wha's tocher bought it, never sits easy.

The maut's abune the meal.

"Donald Bean Lean, being aware that the bridegroom was in request, and wanting to cleik the cunzie (that is, hook the siller), he cannily carried off Gilliewhackit ae night when he was riding dovering hame (wi' the maut rather abune the meal), and with the help of his gillies he[284] gat him into the hills with the speed of light, and the first place he wakened in was the Cove of Vaimh an Ri."—Waverley.

"The meal cheap and shoon dear," quo' the souter's wife, "I'd like to hear."

The miller mouters best wi' his ain hand.

The morn's the morn.

"When northern blasts the ocean snurl,
And gars the heights and hows look gurl,
Then left about the bumper whirl,
And toom the horn;
Grip fast the hours which hasty hurl,
The morn's the morn."
—Allan Ramsay.

The moudiwart feedsna on midges.

Them that canna get a peck maun put up wi' a stimpart.

A "stimpart" is the fourth part of a peck. They who cannot obtain luxuries must content themselves with necessaries.

Them that canna ride maun shank it.

"'To shank,' to travel on foot."—Jamieson.

Them that likesna water brose will scunner at cauld steerie.

"'Cauld steerie,' sourmilk and meal stirred together in a cold state."—Jamieson.

Used as a taunt to those who complain of common food.

Them that winna work maun want.

Them that's ill fleyed are seldom sair hurt.

Them that's slack in gude are eydent in ill.

The muck midden is the mither o' the meal kist.[285]

Them wha gae jumpin' awa aft come limpin' hame.

Them wha stand on a knowe's sure to be noticed.

Or they who elevate themselves to a public position are sure to be conspicuous.

Then's then, but noo's the noo.

"'Weel, Lindy man,' says Colin, 'that's a' true,
But then was then, my lad, an' noo is noo;
'Bout then-a-days, we'd seldom met wi' cross,
Nor kent the ill o' conters or a loss.
But noo, the case is altered very sair.'"
—Ross's Helenore.

The name o' an honest woman's muckle worth.

The nearer e'en the mair beggars.

A jocular salutation to those who drop in to visit a friend.

The next time ye dance, ken wha ye tak by the hand.

"Spoken to them who have imprudently engaged with some who have been too cunning or too hard for them."—Kelly.

The peasweep aye cries farthest frae his ain nest.

The piper wants muckle that wants the nether chaft.

"Spoken when a thing is wanting which is actually necessary."—Kelly.

The poor man is aye put to the warst.

The poor man pays for a'.

The poor man's shilling is but a penny.

The post o' honour is the post o' danger.[286]

The proof o' the pudding's the preein' o't.

The proudest nettle grows on a midden.

And a very proud person may have sprung from a poor family.

The rain comes scouth when the wind's in the south.

To rain "scouth," is to rain abundantly or heavily.

There are great stots in Ireland, but they canna get here for horns.

There are mair foxes than there are holes for.

There are mair knaves in my kin than honest men in yours.

There are mair maidens than maukins.

Literally, there are more maidens than young hares. Figuratively, he has lost one sweetheart, but he'll soon get another.

There are mair married than gude house hauders.

Or more persons in the capacity of householders than are competent for the duties of the position.

There are mair wark-days than life-days.

There are nane sae weel shod but may slip.

There belangs mair to a bed than four bare legs.

Spoken to persons about to marry, signifying that more expenses are incurred in housekeeping than they are aware of.

There belangs mair to a ploughman than whistling.

There grows nae grass at the market cross.

There ne'er came ill frae a gude advice.[287]

There ne'er was a bad that couldna be waur.

There ne'er was a fair word in flyting.

There ne'er was a fire without some reek.

There ne'er was a poor man in his kin.

There ne'er was a slut but had a slit, or a daw but had twa.

There ne'er was a five pound note but there was a ten pound road for't.

Such was the reply of a respected lady friend of ours when asked what she did with all the money she got. It does not appear in any previous collection, but it is too good to be lost.

There's a day coming that'll show wha's blackest.

There's a difference between fen o'er and fair well.

"There is a great difference between their way of living who only get a little scrap to keep them alive, and theirs who get every day a full meal."—Kelly.

There's a difference between the piper and his bitch.

There's a difference between "Will you sell?" and "Will you buy?"

There's a dub at every door, and before some doors there's twa.

A "dub" is a pool or puddle of water. Proverbially, there is a skeleton in every house.

There's ae day o' reckoning and anither day o' payment.[288]

There's a flee in my hose.

"That is, I have some trouble of mind or body about me that takes up my thought."—Kelly.

There's a gude and a bad side to everything; a' the airt is to find it out.

There's a gude shape in the shears' mouth.

But it requires talent and skill to bring it forth.

There's a het hurry when there's a hen to roast.

"There's a mote in't," quo' the man when he swallowed the dishclout.

There's an act in the Laird o' Grant's court, that no abune eleven speak at ance.

A jocular remark when too many speak at once: that it is founded on fact is questionable.

"There's an unco splutter," quo' the sow i' the gutter.

There's a reason for ye, an' a rag about the foot o't.

The meaning of this is, that a very trifling or lame reason has been given for something having been done.

There's as gude fish in the sea as ever came out o't.

"I jalouse it's neither siller nor the Kirk o' Scotland that's fashing him. If I'm no mista'en, he's vexing himsel' a hantle mair about Miss Migummerie; but he needna be sic a fule—there's as gude fish in the sea as ever yet cam oot o't—that's a' that I'll say."—The Disruption.

There's a sliddery stane before the ha' door.

"Signifying the uncertainty of court favour, and the promises of great men."—Kelly.


There's as mony Johnstones as Jardines.

Meaning that there are as many on the one side as there are on the other; that the chances are equal.

There's a storm in somebody's nose, licht where it like.

Spoken when we see a person angry, and about to break into a passion.

There's a time to gley and a time to look straught.

There's a tough sinew in an auld wife's heel.

There's a whaup i' the raip.

There is a knot in the rope—there is something wrong.

There's a word in my wame, but it's ower far down.

Spoken by a person who is at a loss for a particular word to express himself.

There's aye a glum look where there's cauld crowdy.

Glum looks when there is cold shoulder of mutton for dinner, in England, are proverbial.

There's aye a wimple in a lawyer's clew.

"'The judge didna tell us a' he could hae tell'd us, if he had liked, about the application for pardon, neighbours,' said Saddletree; 'there is aye a wimple in a lawyer's clew; but it's a wee bit o' a secret.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

There's aye enough o' friends when folk hae ought.

"Daft Will Speirs was sitting on the roadside picking a large bone, when the Earl of Eglinton came along. 'Weel, Will,' said the Earl, 'what's this you've got noo?'[290] 'Ay, ay,' said Will, 'anew o' friends when folk has ocht; ye gaed by me a wee sin', an' ne'er loot on ye saw me.'"—The Scotch Haggis.

There's aye ill-will among cadgers.

Synonymous with "Two of a trade seldom agree."—French.

There's aye life in a living man.

There's aye some water where the stirkie drowns.

There's aye sorrow at somebody's door.

"There's baith meat and music here," quo' the dog when he ate the piper's bag.

There's beild beneath an auld man's beard.

Beild, that is, shelter or protection.

There's brains enough ootside his head.

There's but ae gude wife in the warld, and ilka ane thinks he has her.

"This rule admits large exceptions, for some are fully apprised of the contrary."—Kelly.

There's life in a mussel as lang as it cheeps.

There's little for the rake after the shool.

"There is little to be gotten of such a thing when covetous people have had their will of it."—Kelly.

There's little wit in the pow that lichts the candle at the lowe.

He has little wit who does a thing in a dangerous or extravagant manner. There is an addition to this saying common in the north, "And as little in the croon, that kindles 't ower far doon."

There's little sap in a dry pea-shaup.[291]

"There's little to reck," quo' the knave to his neck.

There's mair ado than a dish to lick.

There's mair knavery among kirkmen than honesty amang courtiers.

There's mair knavery on sea and land than all the warld beside.

"A facetious bull, upon mentioning of some knavish action."—Kelly.

There's mair room without than within.

A churlish remark of one who thinks his company is not wanted.

There's mair ways o' killing a dog than hanging him.

There's mair ways than ane o' keeping craws frae the stack.

There's mair ways to the wood than ane.

There's mair whistling wi' you than gude red land.

Or more play than work.

"'Red land,' ground turned up with the plough."—Jamieson.

There's measure in a' things, even in kail supping.

"There is reason in roasting of eggs."—English.

There's mirth among the kin when the howdie cries "A son."

There's mony a true tale tauld in jest.[292]

There's mony a tod hunted that's no killed.

"'Oh, I hae nae friend left in the warld!—O, that I were lying dead at my mother's side in Newbattle kirkyard!'—'Hout, lassie,' said Ratcliffe, willing to show the interest which he absolutely felt, 'dinna be sae dooms doon-hearted as a' that; there's mony a tod hunted that's no killed. Advocate Langtale has brought folk through waur snappers than a' this, and there's no a cleverer agent than Nichil Novit e'er drew a bill o' suspension.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

There's mony chances, baith o' gude and ill, befa' folk in this warld.

There's muckle ado when dominies ride.

When people engage in a thing to which they are unaccustomed the necessity must be urgent. A Peeblesshire couplet embodies the same meaning:—

"There's muckle ado when muirland folk ride—
Boots and spurs, and a' to provide!"

There's muckle between the word and the deed.

There's muckle hid meat in a goose's ee.

There's muckle love in bands and bags.

"There's meikle good love in bands and bags,
And siller and gowd's a sweet complexion;
But beauty and wit, and virtue in rags,
Have tint the art of gaining affection."
—Tea-Table Miscellany.

There's my thoom, I'll ne'er beguile thee.

This is the name of an old Scottish song, but is often used as a proverb.

There's nae breard like middling breard.

Applied to low-born people who suddenly come to wealth and honour; in allusion to the stalks of corn which spring up on a dunghill.


There's nae birds this year in last year's nest.

There's nae corn without cauf.

There's nae fey folk's meat in my pat.

There's nae friend like the penny.

There's nae friend to friend in mister.

There's nae fules like auld fules.

"Your auntie's no past the time o' day yet for jumping at a man if she just had the offer. There's no fules like auld fules; and tak ye my word for't, Maister James, neither your lass nor mines cares half as muckle about mautrimony as your aunty."—The Disruption.

There's nae hair sae sma' but has its shadow.

There's nae hawk flees sae high but he will fa' to some lure.

"There's nae ill in a merry mind," quo' the wife when she whistled through the kirk.

There's nae iron sae hard but rust will fret it; there's nae claith sae fine but moths will eat it.

There's nae lack in love.

There's nae reek but there's some heat.

There's nae remede for fear but cut aff the head.

There's nae sel sae dear as our ainsel.

There's nae sport where there's neither auld folk nor bairns.

There's naething for misdeeds but mends.

There's naething sae gude on this side o' time but it might hae been better.[294]

There's naething ill said that's no ill ta'en.

There's naething sae like an honest man as an arrant knave.

There's nae woo sae coorse but it'll take some colour.

There's nane sae blind as them that winna see.

There's nane sae busy as him that has least to do.

There's nane sae deaf as them that winna hear.

There's ne'er a great feast but some fare ill.

There's ower mony nicks in your horn.

That is, you are too knowing or cunning for me.

There's plenty o' raible when drink's on the table.

To "raible" is to speak in a riotous, careless, or loose manner.

There's remede for a' but stark dead.

"For ony malledy ze ken,
Except puir love, or than stark deid,
Help may be had frae hands of men,
Thorow medicines to mak remeid."
—The Evergreen.

There's skill in gruel making.

"There's sma sorrow at our pairting," as the auld mear said to the broken cart.

"'If ye dinna think me fit,' replied Andrew, in a huff, 'to speak like ither folk, gie me my wages, and my board-wages, and I'se gae back to Glasgow—there's sma sorrow at our pairting, as the auld mear said to the broken cart.'"—Rob Roy.


There's steel in the needle point, though little o't.

"Spoken when a thing, commendable for its kind, is found fault with for its quantity."—Kelly.

There's the end o' an auld sang.

Or, all the information I can give you.

There's tricks in a' trades but honest horse-couping.

There's twa enoughs, and ye hae got ane o' them.

"That is, big enough and little enough; meaning that he has gotten little enough. An answer to them who, out of modesty, say they have enough."—Kelly.

There's twa things in my mind, and that's the least o' them.

Spoken by a person who declines to give a reason for a thing which he does not wish to do.

There was anither gotten the night that you was born.

"If one won't another will."—English.

There was mair lost at Sherramuir, where the Hielandman lost his faither and his mither, and a gude buff belt worth baith o' them.

Spoken jocularly when a person meets with a trifling loss. Sheriffmuir is the name of the field between Stirling and Dunblane, where a disastrous battle between the Scots and English was fought during the rebellion of 1715.

There was ne'er a gude toun but there was a dub at the end o't.

Or never a thing so perfect as to be faultless.


There was ne'er a height but had a howe at the bottom o't.

There ne'er was a silly Jocky but there was a silly Jenny.

There was ne'er a thrifty wife wi' a clout about her head.

There was ne'er enough when naething was left.

The scabbit head loesna the kame.

The scholar may waur the maister.

The shortest road's the nearest.

The shortest road's where the company's gude.

The silliest strake has aye the loudest "hech."

This means, literally, that the silliest stroke is accompanied by the loudest exclamation: those who pretend to do most perform least.

The slothfu' man maks a slim fortune.

The smith has aye a spark in his throat.

The smith's mear and the souter's wife are aye warst shod.

The snail is as sune at its rest as the swallow.

The souter gae the sow a kiss; "grumph," quo' she, "it's for a birse."

"Spoken of those whose service we suppose to be mercenary."—Kelly.

The stoup that gaes often to the well comes hame broken at last.

"The pitcher that goes often to the well leaves either its handle or its spout."—Spanish.


The stoutest head bears langest oot.

"The broadsword's pursuer, or plaintiff, as you Englishers ca' it, and the target is defender; the stoutest head bears langest out;—and there's a Hieland plea for ye."—Rob Roy.

The strongest side taks aye the strongest right.

The sun is nae waur for shining on the midden.

The thatcher said unto his man, "Let's raise this ladder if we can."—"But first let's drink, maister."

"Spoken when one proposes something to be done, and another proposes to take a drink before we begin."—Kelly.

The thiefer-like the better sodger.

The thing that liesna in your gait breaksna your shins.

The thing that's dune's no to do.

The thing that's fristed's no forgi'en.

The third time's lucky.

The thrift o' you and the woo o' a dog wad mak a braw wab.

A sarcastic manner of informing a person that he is lazy.

The thrift o' you will be the death o' your gudewife.

The time ye're pu'in' runts ye're no setting kail.

The tod keeps aye his ain hole clean.

"'Hout-tout, Dame Elspeth,' said Tibb, 'fear ye naething frae Christie; tods keep their ain holes clean. You kirk-folk make sic a fasherie about men shifting a wee bit for their living!'"—The Monastery.


The tod ne'er sped better than when he gaed his ain errand.

"Every man is most zealous for his own interest. Spoken to advise a man to go about such a business himself."—Kelly.

The tod ne'er fares better than when he's bann'd.

"Spoken when we are told that such people curse us, which we think is the effect of envy, the companion of felicity. The fox is cursed when he takes our poultry."—Kelly.

The tod's whalps are ill to tame.

The tree doesna aye fa' at the first strake.

The warld is bound to nae man.

The warst may be tholed when it's kenn'd.

The warst warld that ever was some man won.

The water will ne'er waur the widdie.

The water will never cheat the gallows; of similar meaning to "He that's born to be hanged," q. v.

"A neighbour of mine was so fully persuaded of the truth of this proverb, that being in a great storm, and dreadfully afraid, espies in the ship a graceless rake whom he supposed destined to another sort of death, cries out, O Samuel, are you here? why then, we are all safe, and so laid aside his concern."—Kelly.

The waur luck now the better anither time.

The weakest gangs to the wa'.

The wife's aye welcome that comes wi' a crooked oxter.

That person is always welcome who brings presents. The "oxter" is crooked because the arm is engaged carrying them.


The wife's ae dochter and the man's ae cow, the taen's ne'er weel and the tither's ne'er fu'.

The willing horse is aye worked to death.

The wolf may lose his teeth, but ne'er his nature.

The word o' an honest man's enough.

The worth o' a thing is best kenned by the want o't.

The worth o' a thing is what it will bring.

The wyte o' war is at kings' doors.

"You and me, Gilhaize, that are but servants, needna fash our heads wi' sic things; the wyte o' wars lie at the doors of kings, and the soldiers are free o' the sin o' them."—Galt's Ringan Gilhaize.

They are eith hindered that are no furdersome.

They who are unwilling to do a thing are easily hindered.

They are sad rents that come in wi' tears.

They buy gudes cheap that bring hame naething.

They craw crouse that craw last.

Because they who "craw" last exult that a matter is definitely known to be in their own favour.

They hae need o' a canny cook that hae but ae egg to their dinner.

They draw the cat harrow.

"That is, they thwart one another."—Kelly.

"For every lord, as he thought best,
Brocht in ane bird to fill the nest;
To be ane watcheman to his marrow,
They gan to draw at the cat-harrow."
—Sir David Lyndsay.

They'll flit in the Merse for a hen's gerse.

"They will flit for a matter of very small importance. Formerly in Berwickshire every hind was allowed to keep a few hens; and some of them actually removed for the sake of the hen's keep. Hence the saying."—G. Henderson.

They gang far aboot that never meet.

They'll gree better when they gang in by ither kirk doors.

Spoken of two persons who have quarrelled, meaning that they should avoid each other.

They maun be sune up that cheat the tod.

They maun hunger in frost that winna work in fresh.

They may dunsh that gie the lunch.

"Dunsh" is a word for which there is no perfect equivalent in English. It means to jog or thrust in a violent manner; but those who know its proper application will see how feeble these meanings are. Jamieson approaches it when he says it is to "push as a mad bull." The proverb here means that they upon whom we depend can do with us as they please.

They may ken by your beard what ye had on your board.

They need muckle that will be content wi' naething.

They ne'er baked a gude cake but may bake an ill ane.

They ne'er gie wi' the spit but they gat wi' the ladle.

Or they never confer a small favour, or give a trifling gift, but they expect a greater in return.


They ne'er saw great dainties that thought a haggis a feast.

They're a' ae sow's pick.

Or all one kind—all bad alike.

"They're a bonny pair," as the craw said o' his feet.

"They're a bonny pair," as the deil said o' his cloots.

They're a' gude that gies.

They're a' gude that's far awa.

They're a' tarr'd wi' ae stick.

"'For my part,' said Macwheeble, 'I never wish to see a kilt in the country again, nor a red coat, nor a gun, for that matter, unless it were to shoot a paitrick. They're a' tarr'd wi' ae stick.'"—Waverley.

They're aye gude will'd o' their horse that hae nane.

"He's free of his fruit that wants an orchard."—English.

They're as thick as three in a bed.

"They're curly and crookit," as the deil said o' his horns.

They're fremit friends that canna be fash'd.

That is, they are strange or false friends who will not allow themselves to be troubled in the least about their relations.

They're keen o' company that taks the dog on their back.

They're lightly harried that hae a' their ain.[302]

They're like the grices, if ye kittle their wame they fa' on their backs.

Synonymous with "Give him an inch and he'll take an ell."—English.

They're no a' saints that get the name o't.

They're no to be named in the same day.

Or they are so different that there is no room for comparison.

They're queer folk that hae nae failings.

They're scant o' horseflesh that ride on the dog.

They're weel guided that God guides.

They rin fast that deils and lasses drive.

They should kiss the gudewife that wad win the gudeman.

They speak o' my drinking, but ne'er think o' my drouth.

"They censure my doing such a thing who neither consider my occasions of doing it, or what provocations I have had."—Kelly.

They that bourd wi' cats may count upon scarts.

They that burn you for a witch will lose their coals.

Applied to stupid people who pretend to be very clever. "Nobody will take you for a conjuror."—English.

They that come wi' a gift dinna need to stand lang at the door.

They that deal wi' the deil get a dear pennyworth.[303]

They that drink langest live langest.

They that get neist best are no ill aff.

"'Well, my good friend,' said Tyrrel, 'the upshot of all this is, I hope, that I am to stay and have dinner here?' 'What for no?' replied Mrs Dods. 'And that I am to have the Blue room for a night or two—perhaps longer?' 'I dinna ken that,' said the dame. 'The Blue room is the best—and they that get neist best are no ill aff in this warld.'"—St Ronan's Well.

They that get the word o' sune rising may lie a' day.

They that hae maist need o' credit seldom get muckle.

They that herd swine think aye they hear them grumphin'.

They that hide ken where to seek.

"What! the siller?—Ay, ay—trust him for that—they that hide ken best where to find—he wants to wile him out o' his last guinea, and then escape to his ain country, the landlouper."—The Antiquary.

They that laugh in the morning will greet ere night.

They that lie down for love should rise up for hunger.

They that like the midden see nae motes in't.

They that live langest fetch wood farthest.

They that lose seek, they that find keep.

They that marry in green, their sorrow is sune seen.


"It is rather strange that green, the most natural and agreeable of all colours, should have been connected by superstition with calamity and sorrow.... To this day, in the north of Scotland, no young woman would wear such attire on her wedding day."—Robert Chambers.

They that love maist speak least.

They that never filled a cradle shouldna sit in ane.

"Because such will not consider whether there may be a child in it; whereas they who have had children will be more cautious."—Kelly.

They that rise wi' the sun hae their wark weel begun.

They that see but your head dinna see a' your height.

"Spoken to men of low stature and high spirits."—Kelly.

They that see you through the day winna break the house for you at night.

This ungallant proverb signifies that the person addressed is not very good-looking.

They that sin the sin maun bear the shame.

They that stay in the howe will ne'er mount the height.

They walk fair that naebody finds faut wi'.

They were never fain that fidged, nor fu' that lickit dishes.

"Spoken when people shrug their shoulders, as if it was a sign that they were not content."—Kelly.

They were never first at the wark wha bade God speed the wark.[305]

They were scant o' bairns that brought you up.

They wha are early up, and hae nae business, hae either an ill wife, an ill bed, or an ill conscience.

They wist as weel that didna speir.

There are those who are more concerned for my welfare than you are, but do not make so many outward protestations of it.

They wyte you an' you're no wyteless.

Things maun aye be someway, even if they're crookit.

Thirteen o' you may gang to the dizzen.

This and better may do, but this and waur will never do.

This world's a widdle as weel as a riddle.

"'A widdle,' a wriggling motion; metaphorically, a struggle or bustle."—Jamieson.

Thole weel is gude for burning.

"Patience and posset-drink cure all maladies."—English.

Though auld and wise still tak advice.

Thoughts are free, and if I daurna say I may think.

Thoughts beguile maidens.

Though ye tether time and tide, love and light ye canna hide.

Three can keep a secret when twa are awa.

Three failures and a fire make a Scotsman's fortune.[306]

Thrift's gude revenue.

Time and thinking tame the strongest grief.

Time and tide for nae man bide.

Time tint is never found.

Time tries a', as winter tries the kail.

Time tries whinstanes.

Tine heart, tine a'.

"'I couldna maybe hae made muckle o' a bargain wi' yon lang callant,' said David, when thus complimented on his valour; 'but when ye deal wi' thae folk, it's tine heart, tine a'.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

Tine needle, tine darg.

If you lose your needle you lose your day's work. Spoken to shiftless persons who complain loudly on the least trifle going wrong with them.

Tine thimble, tine thrift.

Tit for tat's fair play.

To fazarts hard hazards are death ere they come nigh.

"Then feir nocht, nor heir nocht,
Dreid, danger, or despair,
To fazarts hard hazarts
Is deid or they cum thair."
—Cherrie and the Slae.

To hain is to hae.

Toom barrels mak maist din.

Toom be your meal pock, and mine ne'er hang on your pin.

Toom stalls mak biting horses.[307]

Touch a gaw'd horse on the back an he'll fling.

"Spoken when you have said something to a man that intrenches upon his reputation, and so have put him in a passion."—Kelly.

To work for naething maks folk dead-sweer.

"'Dead-sweer,' extremely averse to exertion."—Jamieson.

Traitors' words ne'er yet hurt honest cause.

Tramp on a snail, and she'll shoot oot her horns.

Tramp on a worm and she'll turn her head.

Tramping straw makes trottin' owsen.

Travell'd men are sindle trow'd.

Trot faither, trot mither; how can the foal amble?

"It is hard for those who have had a bad parentage, and, consequently, an ill education, to be good."—Kelly.

True blue will never stain, but dirty red will dye again.

True love is aye blate.

True love kythes in time o' need.

"Kythes," that is, shows itself.

True love's the waft o' life, but it whiles comes through a sorrowfu' shuttle.

Truth and honesty keep the crown o' the causey.

Truth and oil come aye uppermost.

Truth hauds lang the gate.

Try before you trust.

Try your friend ere you need him.[308]

Twa blacks winna mak ae white.

Twa cats and ae mouse, twa mice in ae house, twa dogs and ae bane, ne'er will agree in ane.

Twa fools in ae house are a pair ower mony.

Twa gudes seldom meet—what's gude for the plant is ill for the peat.

Twa hands may do in ae dish, but ne'er in ae purse.

"Twa heads are better than ane," as the wife said when she and her dog gaed to the market.

Twa heads are better than ane, though they're but sheep's anes.

Spoken when a person offers a suggestion to another who is considering how he will do a thing.

Twa heads may lie upon ae cod, and nane ken whaur the luck lies.

"Spoken when either husband or wife is dead, and the sorrowing party goes back in the world after."—Kelly.

Twa hungry meltiths makes the third a glutton.

Twa things ne'er be angry wi'—what ye can help and what ye canna.

Twa words maun gang to that bargain.

Addressed to a person who is in too great a hurry to conclude a bargain, indirectly implying that the speaker is not quite satisfied with the article or terms.

Twine tow, your mother was a gude spinner.

"Spoken to those who curse you or rail upon you, as if you would say, take what you say to yourself."—Kelly.



nco folk's no to mird wi'.

"Ye ken yoursel best where ye tint the end—
Sae ye maun foremost gae the miss to mend.
'Tis nae to mird wi' unco folk, ye see,
Nor is the blear drawn easy o'er their e'e."
—Ross's Helenore.

Under water dearth, under snaw bread.

If a field has been inundated with water the crop will be spoiled; but if covered with snow it will be improved, as the soil is warmed and nourished thereby.

Unseen, unrued.

"Unsicker, unstable," quo' the wave to the cable.

"'Unsicker,' not secure, not safe, unsteady."—Jamieson.

Upon my ain expense, as the man built the dyke.

"Taken from an inscription upon a churchyard in Scotland—

"'I, John Moody, cives Abredonensis,
Builded this kerk-yerd of fitty (Foot-dee?) upon my own expenses.'"

Untimeous spurring spoils the steed.

Up hill spare me, doun hill tak tent o' thee.

Use maks perfyteness.

The Scottish version of the very common saying, "Practice makes perfect."



ad ye gar us trow that the mune's made o' green cheese, or that spade shafts bear plooms?

That is, Would you really try to make us believe anything so false or absurd as we know such a thing to be?

Waes the wife that wants the tongue, but weel's the man that gets her.

Waes unite faes.

Wae tae him that lippens to ithers for tippence.

Or, who trusts to another for a small obligation.

Wae tae the wame that has a wilfu' maister.

"Wae worth ill company," quo' the daw o' Camnethan.

"Spoken when we have been drawn by ill company into an ill thing. A jack-daw in Camnethan (Cambusnethan) learned this word from a guest in the house when he was upon his penitentials after hard drinking."—Kelly.

Walk as your shoes will let ye.

Waly, waly! bairns are bonny; ane's enough and twa's ower mony.

Want o' cunning's nae shame.

Wanton kittens mak douce cats.

Want o' warld's gear aft sunders fond hearts.

Want o' wit is waur than want o' gear.[311]

Want siller, want fish.

Wark bears witness wha does weel.

War maks thieves and peace hangs them.

War's sweet tae them that never tried it.

"'A soldier! then you have slain and burnt, and sacked, and spoiled?' 'I winna say,' replied Edie, 'that I have been better than my neighbours—it's a rough trade—war's sweet to them that never tried it.'"—The Antiquary.

Waste water, waste better.

Watch harm, catch harm.

Wealth has made mair men covetous than covetousness has made men wealthy.

Wealth, like want, ruins mony.

Wealth maks wit waver.

"'Weel, weel,' said the banker, 'that may be a' as you say, sir, and nae doubt wealth makes wit waver; but the country's wealthy, that canna be denied, and wealth, sir, ye ken——' 'I know wealth makes itself wings,' answered the cynical stranger; 'but I am not quite sure we have it even now.'"—St Ronan's Well.

Weapons bode peace.

We are a' life-like and death-like.

We are aye tae learn as lang as we live.

We are bound to be honest, and no to be rich.

We can live without our kin, but no without our neighbours.

We canna baith sup and blaw.

That is, we cannot do two things at once.

We can poind for debt, but no for unkindness.[312]

We can shape their wylie-coat, but no their weird.

Literally, we can shape a person's article of clothing, but cannot foretell his destiny.

Wedding and ill wintering tame baith man and beast.

Wee things fley cowards.

Weel begun is half done.

Weel is that weel does.

Weel kens the mouse when pussie's in.

"When the cat's away the mice will play."—English.

"The farmer now comes ben the house,
Whilk o' their gabbin' makes a truce,
The lads and lassies a' grow douce,
And spare their din;
For true's the tale, 'Weel kens the mouse
When pussie's in!'"
—The Farmer's Ha'.

"Weel!" quo' Willie, when his ain wife dang him.

We presume that this was intended by Willie as an expression of indifference at the punishment which was being administered to him.

Weel's him and wae's him that has a bishop in his kin.

"Because such may be advanced, and perhaps disappointed."—Kelly.

Weel won corn should be housed ere the morn.

"'Won corn,' corn dried by exposure to the air."—Jamieson.


Weel worth a' that gars the plough draw.

Anglice, Good luck to everything by which we earn money.

"We hounds slew the hare," quo' the messan.

Welcome's the best dish in the kitchen.

We'll bark oursels ere we buy dogs sae dear.

Addressed to persons who ask exorbitant prices for their wares: meaning that sooner than agree to their terms, we will do without the article altogether.

We'll bear wi' the stink when it brings in the clink.

We'll meet ere hills meet.

"Men may meet: but mountains never."—English.

We'll ne'er big sandy bourochs thegither.

"This refers," says Jamieson, "to the custom of children building houses in the sand for sport." The proverb means, after such an occurrence we need never expect to be on terms of intimacy again.

We maun a' gang ae gate.

"'Ay—and is it even sae?' said Meg; 'and has the puir bairn been sae soon removed frae this fashious world? Ay, ay, we maun a' gang ae gate—crackit quart-stoups and geisen'd barrels—leaky quaighs are we a', and canna keep in the liquor of life—Ohon, sirs!'"—St Ronan's Well.

We maun live by the living, and no by the dead.

We maun tak the crap as it grows.

We may ken your meaning by your mumping.

"To mump, to hint, to aim at."—Jamieson.

"Ye may speak plainer, lass, gin ye incline,
As, by your mumping, I maist ken your mind."

We ne'er ken the worth o' water till the well gae dry.

Were it no for hope the heart wad break.

Wersh parritch, neither gude to fry, boil, or sup cauld.

West wind north about never hauds lang out.

Wet your wizen or else it'll gizen.

Spoken to a person who is telling a story. It may be either meant kindly or as a signification that the story is too "long-winded."

Wha burns rags will want a winding-sheet.

Wha can haud wha will awa?

Wha can help misluck?

"Wha can help sickness?" quo' the wife when she lay in the gutter.

Wha canna gie will little get.

Wha comes oftener, and brings you less?

Spoken jocularly by a person who is in the habit of visiting a friend frequently.

Wha daur bell the cat?

In addition to the fabulous illustration of the mice and the cat, this proverb has also an historical fact attached to it, which is well known in Scotland. The Scottish nobles of the time of James the Third proposed to meet at Stirling in a body, and take Spence, the king's favourite, and hang him. At a preliminary consultation, Lord Gray remarked, "It is well said, but wha will bell the cat?" The Earl of Angus undertook the task—accomplished it—and till his dying day was called Archibald Bell-the-cat.

Wha may woo without cost?[315]

Wha never climbs never fa's.

What a'body says maun be true.

For "There's never much talk of a thing but there's some truth in it."—Italian.

What better is the house where the daw rises soon?

"Spoken often by mistresses to their maids when they have been early up, and done little work."—Kelly.

"Early up, and never the nearer."—English.

What carlins hain, cats eat.

What fizzes in the mou' winna fill the wame.

What is pleasant to the palate may be very unsubstantial for the stomach.

What maks you sae rumgunshach and me sae curcuddoch?

Literally, why are you so rude or unkind to me when I am so anxious to please or be kind to you?

What may be done at ony time will be done at nae time.

What may be mayna be.

What puts that in your head that didna put the sturdy wi't?

"Spoken to them that speak foolishly, or tell a story that you thought they had not known."—Kelly.

What's gotten ower the deil's back is spent below his belly.

What's gude for sick John's gude for hail Janet.

What's in your wame's no in your testament.

An injunction to a person to eat more: if they eat what is before them they will not leave it in their will.


What's like a dorty maiden when she's auld?

"'Dorty,' applied to a female who is saucy to her suitors."—Jamieson.

What's my case the day may be yours the morn.

What's nane o' my profit shall be nane o' my peril.

That is, I must decline to run any risk if I do not share the profit.

"What's no i' the bag will be i' the broo," quo' the Hielandman when he dirked the haggis.

What's pleasure to you bodes ill to me.

An epitome of Æsop's "Boys and the Frogs."

What's waur than ill luck?

What's your horse the day, may be his mare the morn.

What's yours is mine, what's mine's my ain.

A maxim occasionally adopted by a selfish husband to enable him to distinguish his own property from that of his wife.

What we first learn we best ken.

What will ye get frae an oily pat but stink?

What winna do by might do by slight.

What winna mak a pat may mak a pat lid.

What ye do when you're drunk ye may pay for when you're dry.

What ye gie shines aye, what ye get smells ill next day.[317]

What ye want up and doun you hae hither-and-yont.

"'Hither-and-yont,' topsy turvy; in a disjointed state."—Jamieson.

If you have not the thing complete, you have everything necessary for making it so.

What ye win at that ye may lick aff a het girdle.

The inference is that his prospect of success is very poor.

What your ee sees your heart greens for.

When ae door steeks anither opens.

As one door shuts another opens: as one opportunity is lost another occurs.

When a ewie's drowned she's dead.

"Spoken when a thing is lost and past recovery."—Kelly.

When a fool finds a horseshoe he thinks aye the like to do.

When a' fruits fail, welcome haws.

When a hundred sheep rin, how mony cloots clatter?

When a' men speak, nae man hears.

When ane winna, twa canna cast out.

When a's in, and the slap dit, rise herd and let the dog sit.

"'Slap dit,' gate shut. Jocosely spoken to herd boys after harvest, as if there was no further use for them."—Kelly.

When death lifts the curtain it's time to be startin'.

When drink's in wit's out.[318]

When folk's missed then they're moaned.

When friends meet hearts warm.

When gude cheer is lacking friends go a-packing.

When he dees of age ye may quake for fear.

When I did weel I heard it never; when I did ill I heard it ever.

"A reflection of servants upon hard and passionate masters, who are liberal in their reproofs, but sparing in their commendations."—Kelly.

When ilka ane gets his ain the thief will get the widdie.

When lairds break carls get lands.

"When the tree falls every one gathers sticks."—Danish.

When love cools fauts are seen.

When my head's doun my house is theiked.

"Spoken by those who are free from debts, concerns, or future projects: as common tradesmen, day labourers, and servants, who work their work and get their wages, and commonly are the happiest part of mankind."—Kelly.

When petticoats woo breeks come speed.

"Time to marry when the maid wooes the man; parallel to that Cheshire proverb, 'It is time to yoke when the cart comes to the caples,' i.e., horses."—Ray.

When poverty comes in at the door love flies out at the window.

When pride's in the van, begging's in the rear.

When she doesna scold she shores.

That is, when she does not scold directly, she threatens to do it.

When the bag's fu' the drone gets up.[319]

When the barn's fu' ye may thresh afore the door.

When the burn doesna babble, it's either ower toom or ower fu'.

When the cow's in the clout she soon runs out.

Meaning that when the cow has been sold and converted into money, the proceeds soon come to an end, as "Ready money will away."—English.

When the craw flees her tail follows.

When the gudeman drinks to the gudewife a' wad be weel; when the gudewife drinks to the gudeman a's weel.

This will give English readers but a poor opinion of conjugal courtesy in Scotland—that when a man drinks to the good health of his wife, it is more from fear than from affection—more from a desire that she should have things properly done when they are not so.

When the gudeman's awa the board claith's tint; when the gudewife's awa the keys are tint.

Kelly prints this as two sayings, and says of them respectively—First, "Because the commons will then be short." Second, "For if she be not at home you'll get no drink."

When the heart's fu' o' lust the mou's fu' o' leasing.

When the heart's past hope the face is past shame.

When the hen gaes to the cock the birds may get a knock.

"Spoken when widows, who design a second marriage, prove harsh to their children."—Kelly.


When the heart's fu' the tongue canna speak.

When the horse is at the gallop the bridle's ower late.

When the man's fire and the wife's tow, the deil comes in and blaws't in lowe.

When the pat's fu' it'll boil ower.

When the pea's in bloom the mussel's toom.

Where the pig's broken let the sherds lie.

"A proverbial phrase, applied to death, as expressive of indifference with respect to the place where the body may be interred."—Jamieson.

Where the scythe cuts, and the sock rives, hae done wi' fairies and bee-bykes.

"Meaning that the ploughing, or even the mowing, of the ground tends to extirpate alike the earth-bee and the fairy. In various places, the fairies are described as having been seen on some particular occasion to gather together and take a formal farewell of the district, when it had become, from agricultural changes, unfitted for their residence."—Robert Chambers.

When the tod preaches tak tent o' the lambs.

"When the fox preaches, take care of the geese."—English.

When the tod wins to the wood he caresna how mony keek at his tail.

When the wame's fu' the banes wad be at rest.

When the wame's fu' the tongue wags.

"Wi' spirit bauld they work, I trow,
And mony a strange tale they tell now,
Of ilka thing that's braw or new,
They never fag;
[321] Auld proverb says, 'When wames are fu'
The tongues maun wag.'"
—The Har'st Rig.

When the will's ready the feet's light.

When we want, friends are scant.

When wine sinks words soom.

When ye are poor, naebody kens ye; when ye are rich, a'body lends ye.

When ye are weel, haud yoursel sae.

When ye ca' the dog out o' your ain kail-yaird, dinna ca't into mine.

When ye can suit your shanks to my shoon ye may speak.

When you are placed in a position similar to mine you will be competent to speak on the subject.

When ye christen the bairn ye should ken what to ca't.

When you're gaun and comin' the gate's no toom.

When you're ser'd a' the geese are watered.

When your hair's white, ye wad hae it lockering.

"'Locker,' curled. Spoken of one who is immoderate in his desires."—Jamieson.

When your neighbour's house is in danger tak tent o' your ain.

Where drums beat laws are dumb.

Where the buck's bound there he may bleat.

"Men must bear these hardships to which they are bound either by force or compact."—Kelly.


Where the deer's slain the blude will lie.

Where the head gaes the tail will follow.

Where there are gentles there are aye aff-fa'in's.

There is such abundance of good prepared, that something may be reasonably expected for the poor. It may also be a delicate allusion to the failings of the aristocracy.

Where there's muckle courtesy there's little kindness.

Where there's naething the king tines his right.

While ae gab's teething anither's growing teethless.

Whiles you, whiles me, sae gaes the bailierie.

"Spoken when persons and parties get authority by turns."—Kelly.

White legs wad aye be rused.

Whitely things are aye tender.

White siller's wrought in black pitch.

Wi' an empty hand nae man can hawks lure.

"If you would have anything done for you, you must give something, for people will not serve you for nothing."—Kelly.

Wide lugs and a short tongue are best.

Wide will wear, but tight will tear.

Addressed to those who complain that a new article of dress is too wide for them.

Wiles help weak folk.

Wilfu' waste maks woefu' want.

Will and wit strive wi' you.

Wink at sma' fauts, ye hae great anes yoursel.[323]

Winter thunder bodes summer hunger.

Wipe wi' the water and wash wi' the towel.

Wiser men than you are caught by wiles.

Wishers and woulders are poor house hauders.

Wit bought maks wise folk.

Wit is worth a weel-turned leg.

Wives maun be had whether gude or bad.

Wives maun hae their wills while they live, for they mak nane when they dee.

Women and bairns layne what they ken na.

That is, conceal what they know not.

Women and wine, dice and deceit, mak wealth sma' and want great.

Women laugh when they can, and greet when they will.

Women's wark is never dune.

Wood in a wilderness, moss on a mountain, and wit in a poor man's pow, are little thought o'.

Woo sellers ken aye woo buyers.

"Roguish people know their own consorts."—Kelly.

Wonder at your auld shoon when ye hae gotten your new.

A pert reply to persons who say they wonder how you could have done so and so.

Words are but wind, but seein's believing.

Words gang wi' the wind, but dunts are out o' season.[324]

Work legs and win legs, hain legs and tine legs.

Worth may be blamed, but ne'er be shamed.

Wrang count is nae payment.

Wrang has nae warrant.

Wyte your teeth if your tail be sma'.



e breed o' auld maids, ye look high.

Ye breed o' gude maut, ye're lang o' comin'.

Ye breed o' Lady Mary, when you're gude ye're ower gude.

"A drunken man begg'd Lady Mary to help him on his horse, and having made many attempts to no purpose, he always reiterated the same petition; at length he jumped quite over. 'O, Lady Mary,' said he, 'when thou art good, thou art ower good.'"—Kelly.

Ye breed o' our laird; ye'll no do right, and ye'll tak nae wrang.

Ye breed o' Saughton swine, ye're neb's never oot o' an ill turn.

Ye breed o' the baxters, ye loe your neighbour's browst better than your ain batch.

Ye breed o' the chapman, ye're aye to handsel.

"Spoken to those who ask us hansel (that is, the first bit in the morning, the first money for their parcels of wares, or the like). Taken from pedlars who, coming into a house, will say, 'Give us hansel.'"—Kelly.

Ye breed o' the chapman, ye're never oot o' your gate.

Spoken to those who do business wherever they go.

Ye breed o' the craw's tail, ye grow backwards.[326]

Ye breed o' the gowk, ye hae ne'er a rhyme but ane.

Or you are always talking on one subject.

Ye breed o' the gudeman's mither, ye're aye in the gate.

Ye breed o' the herd's wife, ye busk at e'en.

Ye breed o' the miller's dochter, that speir'd what tree groats grew on.

"Spoken when saucy fellows, bred of mean parentage, pretend ignorance of what they were bred with."—Kelly.

Ye breed o' the tod's bairns, if ane be gude, they're a' gude.

Ye breed o' the tod, ye grow grey before ye grow gude.

Ye breed o' the witches, ye can do nae gude to yoursel.

Ye breed o' water-kail and cock-lairds, ye need muckle service.

Used by servants whose employers are troublesome.

Ye ca' hardest at the nail that drives fastest.

Meaning that a person pretends to work much harder than is really required.

Ye cangle about uncoft kids.

Literally, quarrel about unbought goods.

Ye canna do but ye ower-do.

Ye canna fare weel but ye cry roast-meat.

"Bolt thy fine meal, and eat good paste without report or trumpet blast. They that are thirsty drink silently."—French.


Ye canna gather berries aff a whinbush.

Ye canna get leave to thrive for thrang.

Literally, you are so busy that you have no time to get rich.

Ye canna mak a silk purse out o' a sow's lug.

Ye canna preach oot o' your ain pu'pit.

Applied to persons who are diffident in the house of a stranger, or who are backward in describing an article out of their usual way of business.

Ye canna put an auld head upon young shouthers.

Ye canna see the wood for trees.

On a par with the man who went to London, but could not see the town for houses!

Ye come o' the house o' Harletillem.

"To 'harle,' to draw to one's-self by gripping or violent means."—Jamieson.

Ye come o' the M'Taks, but no o' the M'Gies.

That is, you take all you can get, but take care to give nothing.

Ye come to the gait's house to thig woo.

Or, you come for a thing which I have not to give. "You beg of him who is ready to steal."—English.

Ye crack crousely wi' your bannet on.

A hint to a person that his conduct is too familiar.

Ye cut before the point.

Ye cut lang whangs aff ither folk's leather.

Spoken to persons who are very liberal with things which do not belong to them.

Ye daur weel but ye downa.

Or try to do well, but cannot.


Ye didna draw sae weel when my mear was in the mire.

You did not assist me so much as I now assist you.

Ye didna lick your lips since ye leed last.

Ye drive the plough before the owsen.

Ye fand it where the Hielandman fand the tangs.

That was, in their proper place, at the fireside. A proverbial manner of saying that a thing has been stolen, in reply to those who say they found it.

Ye fike it awa, like auld wives baking.

"'To fike,' to dally about a business; to lose time by procrastination while appearing to be busy."—Jamieson.

Ye gae far about seeking the nearest.

Ye gang round by Lanark for fear Linton dogs bite you.

Ye gae gude counsel, but he's a fool that taks 't.

Ye glower like a cat oot o' a whinbush.

Ye got ower muckle o' your ain will, and ye're the waur o't.

Ye had aye a gude whittle at your belt.

Ye hae a conscience like Coldingham common.

"Coldingham moor, or common, was an undivided waste of above 6000 acres. The saying is applied to persons of lax principles, who can accommodate their consciences to all circumstances."—G. Henderson.

Ye hae a lang nose, and yet ye're cut lugget.

In appearance you have an advantage in one way, but not in another.

Ye hae a ready mou' for a ripe cherry.[329]

Ye hae a saw for a' sairs.

Ye hae a streak o' carl hemp in you.

Figuratively this means that a person possesses firmness, or strength of mind.

Ye hae aye a foot oot o' the langle.

Ye hae as muckle pride as wad ser' a score o' clergy.

Ye hae baith your meat and your mense.

Applied to a person who has invited another to dine with him, but who has refused, or failed to make his appearance; meaning that you have both the meat he would have eaten, and the honour of having invited him.

Ye hae been gotten gathering nits, ye speak in clusters.

Ye hae been lang on little eird.

Ye hae to be pitied and prayed for, either to end ye or mend ye.

Ye hae been smelling the bung.

That is, you have been tippling.

Ye hae brought the pack to the pins.

"You have dwindled away your stock."—Kelly.

Ye hae ca'd your pigs to an ill market.

Ye hae come aff at the loupin-on-stane.

"'Loupin-on-stane,' a stone, or several stones, raised one above another, like a flight of steps, for assisting one to get on horseback. Metaphysically, to leave off any business in the same state as when it was begun; also, to terminate a dispute without the slightest change of mind in either party."—Jamieson.

Ye have fasted lang, and worried on a midge.[330]

Ye hae come in time to tine a darg.

To "tine a darg," is to lose a day's work: you have arrived too late.

Ye hae found a mear's nest, and laugh at the eggs.

Ye hae gien the wolf the wedders to keep.

"You have entrusted a thing to one who will lose it, spoil it, or use it himself."—Kelly.

Ye hae got a stipend—get a kirk when ye like.

Ye hae got baith the skaith and the scorn.

Ye hae gotten a ravelled hesp to redd.

That is, you have a very difficult matter to arrange.

"Ance let a hizzy get you in the girn,
Ere ye get loose, ye'll redd a ravell'd pirn."
—Allan Ramsay.

Ye hae gotten the chapman's drouth.

"From the severe exercise of a pedlar who travels on foot, the chapman's drouth is a proverbial phrase for hunger."—Jamieson.

Ye hae grown proud since ye quatted the begging.

Applied satirically to persons who pass their acquaintance in a proud manner.

Ye hae gude manners, but ye dinna bear them about wi' you.

Ye hae little need o' the Campsie wife's prayer, "That she might aye be able to think enough o' hersel'."

A reflection upon conceited or selfish people.

Ye hae mind o' yer meat though ye hae little o't.[331]

Ye hae missed that, as ye did your mither's blessing.

Ye hae nae mair need for't than a cart has for a third wheel.

Ye hae nae mair sense than a sooking turkey.

"I ken I hae a gude deal o' the cuddy in me, when I'm straikit against the hair; and my mother used to say, I had mair than eneuch o' the sookin' turkey in me!"—The Disruption.

Ye hae ower foul feet tae come sae far ben.

Spoken jocularly to persons who, when they go to visit a friend, ask, "Will they come in?"

Ye hae ower muckle loose leather about yer chafts.

"Spoken to them that say the thing they should not."—Kelly.

Ye hae put a toom spune in my mouth.

A country farmer complained of having been fed with a "toom spune," when he had listened to the exhortations of a very poor preacher.

Ye hae run lang on little ground.

Ye hae sew'd that seam wi' a het needle and a burning thread.

Spoken facetiously when an article of clothing, which has been hurriedly mended, gives way soon.

Ye hae sitten your time, as mony a gude hen has done.

Ye hae skill o' man and beast and dogs that tak the sturdy.

Addressed satirically to persons who pretend to be very wise by those who do not admit their pretensions.


Ye hae stayed lang, and brought little wi' ye.

Ye hae ta'en the measure o' his foot.

Ye hae ta'en't upon you, as the wife did the dancin'.

Ye hae the best end o' the string.

Or the best of the argument.

Ye hae the wrang sow by the lug.

Ye hae tied a knot wi' your tongue you winna loose wi' your teeth.

Ye hae tint the tongue o' the trump.

"That is, you have lost the main thing."—Kelly.

Ye hae tint yer ain stamach an' found a tyke's.

Applied to those who, when very hungry, eat a great deal.

Ye hae wrought a yoken and loosed in time.

You have wrought a day's work in proper time.

Ye ken naething but milk and bread when it's mool'd into ye.

Or you know or care about nothing but your meat.

Ye kenna what may cool your kail yet.

Ye live beside ill neebors.

"Spoken when people commend themselves, for if they deserved commendation, their neighbours would commend them."—Kelly.

Ye'll beguile nane but them that lippen to ye.

Ye'll be hang'd and I'll be harried.

Ye'll break your neck as sune as your fast in this house.

Ye'll dee without amends o't.[333]

Ye'll cool and come to yoursel, like MacGibbon's crowdy when he set it oot at the window-bole.

Ye'll dee like a trooper's horse—wi' your shoon on.

Ye'll do onything but work and rin errands.

Ye'll follow him lang or he'll let five shillings fa'.

Ye'll gang a grey gate yet.

"You will take a bad, evil, or improper course, or meet an evil destiny."—Jamieson.

Ye'll gar him claw a sair haffit.

"'Haffit,' the side of the head."—Jamieson.

Metaphorically, you will do something to injure or annoy him.

Ye'll gar me seek the needle where I didna stick it.

"That is, send me a-begging. Spoken to thriftless wives and spending children."—Kelly.

Ye'll gather nae gowd aff windlestraes.

Ye'll get as muckle for ae wish this year as for twa fernyear.

"Fern" signifies the preceding year. The proverb means that wishing begets nothing.

Ye'll get nae mair o' the cat but the skin.

Ye'll get waur bodes ere Beltane.

Addressed to a person who refuses the price offered for an article, meaning that, as worse offers will be made, the seller will be sorry he did not accept the present one.

Ye'll get your gear again, and they'll get the widdie that stole't.[334]

Ye'll get your head in your hands and your lugs to play wi'.

Ye'll get your kail through the reek.

"The fact is, everybody about the house kens o' the muirburn that the mistress rais'd on you yestreen, for takin' up wi' Miss Migummery. Ye see when your auntie's in an ill key, she gars folk hear that's no hearknin'; an' ye ken yoursel', if she didna gie you your kail through the reek, Maister James."—The Disruption.

Ye'll hae the half o' the gate and a' the glaur.

Spoken facetiously when we make a friend take the outside of the footpath.

Ye'll hang a' but the head yet.

Ye'll let naething tine for want o' seeking.

Yellow's forsaken, and green's forsworn, but blue and red ought to be worn.

In allusion to the superstitious notions formerly held regarding these colours.

Ye'll ne'er be auld wi' sae muckle honesty.

Ye'll ne'er cast saut on his tail.

Ye'll ne'er craw in my cavie.

This means that such a person will never be welcomed in my house.

Ye'll ne'er grow howbackit bearing your friends.

From this we can infer that the person addressed does not allow himself to be troubled by his friends.

Ye'll ne'er harry yersel wi' your ain hands.

Ye'll ne'er mak a mark in your testament by that bargain.

That is, you will lose money by that transaction.


Ye'll ne'er rowte in my tether.

Of similar meaning to "Ye'll ne'er craw in my cavie."

Ye'll neither dance nor haud the candle.

Ye'll neither dee for your wit nor be drowned for a warlock.

A saying used to signify that a person is neither very wise nor very clever.

Ye'll no dee as lang as he's your deemster.

Ye'll no let it be for want o' craving.

Ye'll no mend a broken nest by dabbing at it.

Ye'll play a sma' game before you stand out.

Ye'll see the gowk in your sleep.

"When you awake in the morning you will see matters differently."—Jamieson.

Ye'll sit till ye sweat and work till ye freeze.

Ye'll tak mair in your mou' than your cheeks will haud.

Ye'll worry in the band like M'Ewen's calf.

"In plain English, you'll be hanged."—Kelly.

Ye loe a' ye see, like Rab Roole when he's ree.

Addressed to covetous, greedy persons. When Rab Roole was "ree," he was crazy with drink.

Ye look as bauld as a blackfaced wedder.

Ye look as if butter wadna melt in your mou', but cheese will no choke ye.

"I am beginning to think ye are but a queer ane—ye look as if butter wadna melt in your mouth, but I sall warrant cheese no choke ye.—But I'll thank ye to gang your ways into the parlour, for I'm no like to get muckle mair out o' ye."—St Ronan's Well.


Ye look as if ye had eaten your bedstrae.

"Ye look like a rinner," quo' the deil to the lobster.

"Spoken to those who are very unlikely to do what they pretend to."—Kelly.

Ye look like Let-me-be.

That is, very quiet and inoffensive.

Ye look liker a deil than a bishop.

Ye look liker a thief than a horse.

Yelping curs will raise mastiffs.

Ye maun be auld ere ye pay sic a gude wad.

Literally, you will be very old ere you can perform such a promise; proverbially, of course, that you look upon that promise as of no value.

Ye maun hae't baith simmered and wintered.

"'To simmer and winter,' to spend much time in forming a plan; to ponder; to ruminate."—Jamieson.

It also means, to trifle, to dilly-dally, to go round about a subject.

"'His heart was amaist broken.' 'It maun be unco brittle,' said Claud, with a hem. 'But what's the need o' this summering and wintering anent it? Tell us what has happened.'"—The Entail.

Ye maun redd your ain ravelled clue.

That is, you must extricate yourself from your difficulties without assistance.

Ye maun spoil or ye spin.

Ye maun tak the will for the deed.

Ye maunna throw awa the cog, tho' Crummie fling't.

Ye may be godly, but ye'll ne'er be cleanly.[337]

Ye may be greedy, but ye're no greening.

Ye may dight yer neb and flee up.

An expression of indifference, addressed to a person whose opinion we consider of no value.

Ye may be heard where ye're no seen.

Ye may dance at the end o' a raip yet without teaching.

Ye may drive the deil into a wife, but ye'll ne'er ding him oot o' her.

Ye may end him, but ye'll ne'er mend him.

Ye may gang farther and fare waur.

Ye may gape lang enough ere a bird flee into your mou'.

Ye may live and no pree the tangs.

Ye may tak a drink out o' the burn when ye canna tak a bite out o' the brae.

Ye may tine the faither looking for the son.

Ye may wash aff dirt, but never dun hide.

Ye mete my peas wi' your ain peck.

Ye needna mak a causey tale o't.

That is, I have told you so-and-so, but do not speak of it—do not publish it.

Ye ne'er see green cheese but your een reels.

Meaning that the person spoken to is very covetous of everything he sees.

Ye rave unrocked, I wish your head was knocked.

"Spoken to them that speak unreasonable things, as if they raved."—Kelly.


Ye're a' blawin' like a burstin' haggis.

Ye're a day after the fair.

Ye're a deil and nae cow, like the man's bull.

"Ye're a fine sword," quo' the fool to the wheat braird.

Ye're a foot behint the foremost.

Ye're a' grease, but I'm only grushie.

Ye're a gude seeker but an ill finder.

Ye're a' made o' butter, an' sew'd wi' soor milk.

Ye're a maiden marrowless.

Satirically applied to conceited maidens who hold high opinions of themselves, that they are unequalled.

Ye're a man amang geese when the gander's awa.

Ye're ane o' Cow-Meek's breed, ye'll stand without a bonoch.

Ye're ane o' snaw-ba's bairn time.

"That is, such as health and prosperity make worse, or who insensibly go behind in the world."—Kelly.

Ye're ane o' the tender Gordons—you daurna be hang'd for ga' in your neck.

Ye're an honest man, and I'm your uncle—that's twa big lees.

Ye're a' out o't and into strae.

That is, you are quite mistaken about the matter.

Ye're a queer fish no to hae fins.

Ye're as braw as Bink's wife,—like the sun on shairney water.[339]

Ye're as daft as ye're days auld.

Ye're as fu' o' maggots as the bride o' Preston, wha stopt half way as she gaed to the kirk.

"We have not been able to learn who the bride o' Preston really was; but we have frequently heard the saying applied to young women, who are capricious and changeable.

"'The bride took a maggot, it was but a maggot,
She wadna gang by the West Mains to be married.'"
—G. Henderson.

Ye're as fu' o' mischief as an egg's fu' o' meat.

Ye're as lang tuning your pipes as anither wad play a spring.

Ye're as mim as a May puddock.

Ye're as sma' as the twitter o' a twined rash.

Ye're as souple sark alane as some are mither naked.

Ye're as stiff as a stappit saster.

"'Stappit saster,' a crammed pudding."—Jamieson.

Ye're a widdiefu' gin hanging time.

Ye're aye in a hurry, and aye behint.

Ye're best when ye're sleeping.

Ye're black aboot the mou' for want o' kissing.

"A jest upon a young maid when she has a spot about her mouth, as if it was for want of being kissed."—Kelly.

Ye're bonny enough to them that loe ye, and ower bonny to them that loe ye and canna get ye.

"Spoken as a comfort to people of an ordinary beauty."—Kelly.


Ye're busy to clear yoursel when naebody files you.

Ye're buttoned up the back like Achmahoy's dog.

Ye're but young cocks—your craw's roupy.

Ye're cawking the claith ere the wab be in the loom.

Or plucking your geese before they are caught.

Ye're come o' blude, and sae's a pudding.

A taunt upon those who boast of their gentle blood.

Ye're Davy-do-little and gude for naething.

Ye're either ower het or ower cauld, like the miller o' Marshach mill.

Ye're feared for the day ye never saw.

"You are afraid of far-enough."—English.

Ye're fit for coorse country wark—ye're rather strong than handsome.

Ye're gude to be sent for sorrow.

Ye're gude to fetch the deil a priest.

The two last sayings are applied to persons who take a long time to do anything about which they are sent.

Ye're like a bad liver—the last day there's aye maist to do wi' ye.

Ye're like a hen on a het girdle.

Ye're like an ill shilling—ye'll come back again.

Jocularly addressed to a person who is about to go away.

Ye're like a singed cat—better than ye're bonny.[341]

Ye're like a Lauderdale bawbee, as bad as bad can be.

"The obnoxious Duke of Lauderdale, who was at the head of affairs in Scotland's 'persecuting times,' had, it appears, a principal hand in some detested coinage. The bawbee, or halfpenny so issued, soon became base money, and these Lauderdale bawbees were branded with a bad name."—G. Henderson.

Ye're like a rotten nit—no worth cracking for the kernel.

Ye're like Macfarlane's geese—ye hae mair mind o' your play than your meat.

"Macfarlane (of that ilk) had a house and garden upon the island of Inch-Tavoe. Here James VI. was on one occasion regaled by the chieftain. His majesty had been previously much amused by the geese pursuing each other on the loch. But when one, which had been brought to table, was found to be tough and ill fed, James observed, 'That Macfarlane's geese liked their play better than their meat,'—a proverb which has been current ever since."—Note to The Monastery.

Ye're like a sow—ye'll neither lead nor drive.

Ye're like Brackley's tup—ye follow the lave.

Ye're like laird Moodie's greyhounds—unco hungry like about the pouch lids.

Ye're like me, and I'm nae sma' drink.

Ye're like Piper Bennet's bitch—ye lick till ye burst.

Ye're like the cooper o' Fogo, ye drive aff better girs than ye ca' on.

"Said of those who attempt to reform anything, but who, instead of that, make matters worse."—G. Henderson.


Ye're like the corbie messenger—ye come wi' neither alms nor answer.

"He send furth Corbie Messingeir,
Into the air to espy
Gif he saw ony mountains dry.
Sum sayis the Rauin did furth remane,
And com nocht to the ark agane."
—Sir David Lyndsay.

Ye're like the cow-couper o' Swinton, ye'll no slocken.

Ye're like the dead folk o' Earlstoun—no to lippen to.

"This is founded on a popular story, kept up as a joke against the worthy people of Earlstoun. It is said that an inhabitant of this village, going home with too much liquor, stumbled into the churchyard, where he soon fell asleep. Wakening to a glimmering consciousness after a few hours, he felt his way across the graves; but taking every hollow interval for an open receptacle for the dead, he was heard by some neighbour saying to himself, 'Up and away! Eh, this ane up an away too! Was there ever the like o' that? I trow the dead folk o' Earlstoun's no to lippen to!'"—Robert Chambers.

Ye're like the dog o' Dodha', baith double an' twa-faced.

Ye're like the dogs o' Dunraggit—ye winna bark unless ye hae your hinder end to the wa'.

Spoken to persons who will not complain or "make a noise" about a thing, unless they are guaranteed against any consequences that may ensue.

Ye're like the Kilbarchan calves—like best to drink wi' the wisp in your mou'.[343]

Ye're like the lambs—ye do naething but sook and wag your tail.

Ye're like the man that sought his horse, and him on its back.

Ye're like the miller's dog—ye lick your lips ere the pock be opened.

"Spoken to covetous people who are eagerly expecting a thing, and ready to receive it before it be proffered."—Kelly.

Ye're like the minister o' Balie, preaching for selie.

Ye're like the swine's bairns—the aulder ye grow ye're aye the thiefer like.

Ye're like Towy's hawks—ye eat ane anither.

"I was ance gain to speir what was the matter, but I saw a curn o' camla-like fallows wi' them, an' I thought they were a' fremit to me, an' sae they might eat ither as Towy's hawks did, for onything that I cared."—Journal from London.

Ye're looking ower the nest, like the young craws.

Ye're minnie's milk is no out o' your nose yet.

Ye're mista'en o' the stuff; it's half silk.

"Jocosely spoken to them that undervalue a person or thing, which we think indeed not very valuable, yet better than they repute it."—Kelly.

Ye're nae chicken for a' ye're cheepin.

Ye're never pleased, fu' nor fasting.

Ye're new come ower—your heart's nipping.[344]

Ye're no light where you lean a'.

Ye're no worth ca'ing out o' a kail-yaird.

Ye're o' sae mony minds, ye'll never be married.

Ye're out and in, like a dog at a fair.

Ye're ower auld farrant to be fley'd wi' bogles.

Ye're ower het and ower fu', sib to some o' the laird's tenants.

Ye're queer folk no to be Falkland folk.

Falkland, in Fife, was formerly a Royal residence; and the court manners, contrasted with those of the surrounding country, gave rise to the saying.

Ye ride sae near the rump, ye'll let nane loup on ahint you.

Ye rin for the spurtle when the pat's boiling ower.

That is, take precautions when it is too late.

Ye're sae keen o' clockin', ye'll dee on the eggs.

"Spoken to those who are fond of any new place, condition, business, or employment."—Kelly.

Ye're sair fashed hauding naething thegither.

Ye're sair stressed wi' stringing the milsey.

"A proverb addressed to those who make much ado about nothing, or complain of the weight of that work which deserves not to be mentioned. It refers to the cloth through which the milk is strained, being taken off the wooden frame, wrung out, and tied on again."—Jamieson.

Ye're seeking the thing that's no tint.

Ye're sick, but no sair handled.

Ye're the weight o' Jock's cog, brose and a'.[345]

Ye're there yet, and your belt hale.

"Spoken when people say, 'They will go to such a place, and there do thrive and prosper,' &c., which we think unlikely."—Kelly.

Ye're thrifty and thro' thriving, when your head gangs doun your bottom's rising.

Ye're unco gude, and ye'll grow fair.

Ye're up in the buckle, like John Barr's cat.

Ye're very foresighted, like Forsyth's cat.

Ye're weel awa if ye bide, an' we're weel quat.

Ye're welcome, but ye'll no win ben.

Ye rin awa wi' the harrows.

"To run on with a great flow of language, assuming what ought to be proved, or totally disregarding what has been said on the opposite side."—Jamieson.

Ye seek grace wi' a graceless face.

Ye ser'd me as the wife did the cat—coost me into the kirn, and syne harl'd me out again.

That is, you have placed me in a good position merely to take me from it again.

Ye'se get your brose out o' the lee side o' the pot.

A promise of the best that the pot contains.

Ye shanna be niffered but for a better.

Ye shanna want as lang as I hae, but look weel to your ain.

Ye shape shune by your ain shauchled feet.

You judge of others by yourself.

Ye shine like a white gir about a shairney cog.[346]

Ye shine like the sunny side o' a shairney wecht.

"A ridicule upon people when they appear fine."—Kelly.

Ye sit like craws in the mist.

That is, in the dark.

Ye sleep like a dog in a mill.

That is, with one eye open.

Ye sleep like a dog when the wife's baking.

Ye soon weary o' doin' weel.

Ye tak a bite out o' your ain buttock.

Ye tak but a foal's share o' the harrow.

Ye tak the first word o' flyting.

"'Wheelie, I'll be as plain as I'm pleasant—mind you're no to expect me to dance with you.' 'It's verra weel o' you, Miss Mary,' replied Andrew pawkily, 'to tak the first word o' flyting; but ye should first ken whether ye're come up to my mark or no.'"—Sir Andrew Wylie.

Ye tak mair in your gab than your cheeks can haud.

Ye wad be a gude Borrowstone sow—ye smell weel.

"Spoken when people pretend to find the smell of something that we would conceal."—Kelly.

Ye wad be a gude piper's bitch—ye smell out the weddings.

Ye wad clatter a cat to death.

"'Clatter,' to prattle, to act as a tell-tale."—Jamieson.

Ye wad gar me trow my head's cowed, though there's no shears come near't.

That is, you would make me believe a thing which I know to be quite false.


Ye wad mak a gude wife, ye haud the grip ye get.

Ye wad mak muckle o' me if I was yours.

Ye wad marry a midden for the muck.

Ye wad steal the pocks frae an auld wife, and syne speir where she got them.

Ye was bred about the mill, ye hae mooped a' your manners.

"Spoken to inferiors when they show themselves rude in their speech or behaviour."—Kelly.

Ye was ne'er born at that time o' the year.

"Spoken to them that expect such a place, station, or condition which we think above their birth."—Kelly.

Ye was put out o' the oven for nipping the pies.

With the same meaning, we once heard a vulgar little boy say to another, that he was "Put out of the workhouse for eating the number off his plate!"

Ye was sae hungry ye couldna stay the grace.

Ye watna what's behint your hand.

Ye watna what wife's ladle may cog your kail.

Ye watna where a blessing may light.

Ye winna craw trade.

That is, you will never admit that trade is good.

Ye winna put out the fire wi' tow.

Ye work by Macfarlane's lantern.

"The clan of MacFarlane, occupying the fastnesses of the western side of Loch Lomond, were great depredators on the Low Countries, and as their excursions were made usually by night, the moon was proverbially called their lantern."—Note to Waverley.


Ye yirr and yowl—ye bark, but daurna bite.

Young cowtes will canter.

"Meg, on her part, though she often called them 'drunken neer-do-weels, and thoroughbred High Street blackguards,' allowed no other person to speak ill of them in her hearing. 'They were daft callants,' she said, 'and that was all—when the drink was in, the wit was out; ye could not put an auld head upon young shouthers; a young cowt will canter, be it up hill or down—and what for no?' was her uniform conclusion."—St Ronan's Well.

Young ducks may be auld geese.

"A man at five may be a fool at fifteen."

Young folk may dee, auld folk maun dee.

Young saints, auld sinners.

"'I hae played wi' him mysel at Glennaquoich, and sae has Vich Ian Vohr, often of a Sunday afternoon.' 'Lord forgie ye, Ensign MacCombich,' said the alarmed Presbyterian; 'I'm sure the colonel wad never do the like o' that.' 'Hout! hout! Mrs Flockhart,' replied the Ensign, 'we're young blude, ye ken; and young saints, auld deils.'"—Waverley.

Your bread's baked, you may hing up your girdle.

Your een's greedier than your guts.

This is applied to persons who leave a "rough" plate—who, having asked for a dish, are unable to finish it.

Your een's no marrows.

Your een's your merchant.

Your fortune's coming wi' the blind carrier.

"Deed, Mr Stimperton, I'm no sae daft. Whaur wad the profit o' that be, I wonder? I trow, the principal and[349] interest wad come back to me wi' the blind carrier. Set my nevo up wi' my hard won siller, truly!"—The Disruption.

Your head canna get up but your stamach follows.

Your mind's aye chasing mice.

Your mou's beguiled your hands.

Your purse was steekit when that was paid for.

A polite manner of intimating that the article in question has not been paid.

Your tongue is nae scandal.

Your tongue rins aye before your wit.

Your tongue wags like a lamb's tail.

Your thrift's as gude as the profit o' a yeld hen.

"Your will's law," quo' the tailor to the clockin' hen, when she pick'd oot his twa een, and cam for his nose.

Your wit will ne'er worry you.

Yule is young on Yule even, and auld on Saint Steven.




A', all.

A-be, to let alone.

A'body, every person.

Aboon, abune, above.

Aboot, about.

Adreich, askant.

Ae, one.

Aff, off.

Afore, before.

Aft, oft, frequently.

Aften, often.

Agley, aside, askant.

Ahint, behind.

Aiblins, perhaps.

Ail, injury, hurt.

Ain, own.

Air, soon, early.

Airn, iron.

Airt, art, direction.

Aith, an oath.

Aiver, a cart-horse, an old horse.

Ajee, to one side, askant.

Alane, alone.

Amaist, almost.

Amang, among.

An, if.

An', and.

Ance, once.

Aneath, beneath.

Anither, another


Aqual, equal.

A'thing, everything.

Atweel, very well, just so.

Atween, between.

Aucht, to own, possession.

Auld, old.

Auld-farrant, sagacious, shrewd, "old-fashioned."

Aumrie, a cupboard.

Auncient, ancient.

Ava, at all.

Awa, away, out of sight.

Awfu', awful.

Awmous, alms.

Ayont, beyond.

Ba', ball, the game of ball.

Backfriend, one who supports another.

Baillierie, the magistracy.

Bairn, a child.

Baith, both.

Baken, baked.

Bane, a bone.

Bann, to knock, to malign.

Bannet, a bonnet.

Bannock, home-baked flour cakes, or "scones."

Bardy-loon, mischievous or impertinent fellow.

Barefit, barefooted.

Barlikhood, obstinacy, ill-nature.


Batch, a baking.

Bauch, insipid, tasteless, useless.

Bauchle, an old shoe.

Baudrons, a cat.

Bauk, to baulk, to disappoint.

Bauld, bold, courageous.

Bawbee, a halfpenny.

Bawty, a dog.

Baxters, bakers.

Bear, barley.

Beck, to bow, to curtsy.

Bedral, a beadle, church-officer.

Beetle, a heavy wooden mallet.

Behint, behind.

Beild, a shelter, protection, a house.

Bein, in comfortable circumstances, well-to-do.

Beit, to renew.

Beltane, the first of May, O. S.

Belyve, immediately, by-and-by.

Ben, inwards.

Bend-leather, thick leather, such as is used for soles of boots.

Besom, a broom, a brush.

Bicker, a small wooden dish or basin.

Bide, to stay, to endure.

Big, to build.

Biggin, a small house, a building.

Bink, a bench, a seat.

Birk, birch.

Birn, a burden.

Bit, a piece.

Blad, a blow or slap; cast or throw.

Blate, bashful, shy.

Blattran, rattling.

Blaw, to blow, to flatter.

Bleer-ee'd, bedimmed with tears, weak-sighted.

Bleeze, a blaze, to blaze.

Bletheration, nonsense, foolish language.


Blirt, to gush forth.

Blude, blood.

Board-claith, a table-cloth.

Bode, an offer, a portent.

Bodle, an ancient Scottish coin, value one-sixth of the English penny.

Bogle, bugbear, an object of terror.

Bonnie, bonny, pretty, beautiful, handsome, good-looking.

Bonoch, a cake or bannock.

Bore, a hole.

Bouk, bulk, compass.

Bourd, a jest, to jest.

Bourdna, do not jest.

Bowrock, cluster, heap, clump.

Brachens, ferns.

Brae, side of a hill, an inclined road.

Braid, broad.

Braird, blade of grass.

Brak, broke, did break.

Brat, a coarse apron.

Brattle, a rattle.

Braw, brawly, finely, gaily dressed.

Bree, broth.

Breed, to resemble, to take after.

Breeks, breeches, trousers.

Brig, bridge.

Brither, brother.

Brod, goad to drive oxen.

Brogue, bradawl.

Broke, kitchen refuse, pigs meat.

Broo, the fluid part of soup, juice.

Broose, a race at a country wedding.

Brose, a dish of oatmeal and boiling water.

Browst, a brewing.

Browster, a brewer.

Brunt, burned.

Bubbly-jock, a turkey-cock.


Buirdly, strongly made, stout.

Bum, to buzz like a bee.

Bummer, a bee.

Burn, a running stream, a brook.

Bursten, bursting.

Buskit, dressed, bedecked.

But-and-ben, two adjoining apartments.

But, without.

Buz, talk, ado, noise.

By, over, past.

By-gane, what has passed.

Byre, cowhouse.

Ca', to call, to name, to drive.

Caber, a rafter.

Cadger, a pedlar, gipsy, beggar.

Cairn, a heap of stones.

Callant, a boy, a youth.

Cam', did come.

Cangle, quarrel, differ.

Cankered, fretful, ill-natured.

Canna, cannot.

Canty, happy, cheerful.

Carl, carle, old man.

Carlin, old woman.

Castock, the core of a cabbage.

Cauff, chaff.

Cauld, cold.

Causey, the causeway.

Cawk, chalk

Ceevil, civil.

Chafts, the chops.

Chancy, lucky, fortunate.

Chanter, the drone of a bagpipe.

Chapman, a pedlar.

Chappin, a quart measure.

Chapping-sticks, dangerous tools or weapons.

Cheatery, fraud, deceit.

Cheep, to chirp, to squeak.


Cheil, a fellow, a person, a young man.

Chow, to chew.

Chuck, to toss, to play marbles.

Chuckie-stanes, pebbles, such as are used for garden walks.

Claes, clothes.

Claith, cloth.

Clarty, dirty, bespattered with mud.

Claver, to gossip, to talk foolishly.

Claw, to scratch.

Cleaving, a cleft.

Cleck, to hatch.

Cled, clad.

Cled-like, well clad.

Cleed, to clothe.

Clink, money, a blow, to throw down.

Clips, tongs for lifting or hanging up a pot.

Clishmaclaver, idle talk.

Clockin', clucking of hens.

Cloot, a hoof.

Clout, a patch, a rag, a slap with the hand.

Clue, a ball of worsted.

Clung, empty, collapsed, drawn together.

Cock-laird, a small landed proprietor who farms his own ground.

Cod, a pillow.

Coft, bought.

Cog, a wooden dish.

Come-speed, to succeed.

Coof, a simpleton, a stupid person.

Coorse, coarse.

Coost, to cast, to throw.

Coostin, thrown, cast off.

Corbie, a raven.

Corn, to feed a horse.

Cowed, frightened, coerced.

Cowp, fall, overturn.

Cowte, a colt, young horse.


Crab, to be angry, peevish.

Crabbit, angry, ill-natured.

Crack, a chat, a familiar conversation, to chat.

Crans, iron rods for supporting the pot while on the fire.

Crap, crop.

Crappie, the craw or crop of a fowl.

Craw, a crow.

Craw, to crow, exult, boast.

Creel, a basket carried on the back.

Creesh, grease, oil.

Creeshy, greasy, oily.

Croon, to hum a tune, to moan.

Crouse, courageous, lively.

Crowdy, gruel, thin brose, q. v.

Crummie, the cow.

Crunsh, to break with the teeth.

Cuddy, a donkey.

Cumbersome, troublesome.

Cunzie, property, money.

Curcuddoch, fond, familiar, warm in attentions.

Curly, curled.

Cursour, a stallion, a war-horse.

Cutty, a short spoon, a short clay pipe.

Cutty-stool, a small stool.

Dab, dabble, to peck.

Dad, a violent knock, a dash with the hand.

Dae, to do.

Daffin', sport, folly in general.

Daft, foolish, merry, idiotical.

Daigh, dough.

Daidle, to dilly-dally, to do a thing in a slow, sluggish manner.

Dang, did ding, q. v.

Darg, a day's work.

Darn, to mend stockings, to conceal.


Daur, to dare.

Daurna, dare not.

Dautie, a pet, fondling.

Daw, a drab, slattern.

Dead-lift, an emergency.

Dead-sweer, very unwilling, extremely averse to exertion.

Deave, to deafen with noise.

Dee, to die.

Deem, to judge, condemn.

Deil, deevil, devil.

Dight, to wipe, rub, to make ready.

Ding, to push, knock over, to surpass, excel.

Dink, to dress neatly, neat, trim.

Dinna, do not.

Dint, opportunity, chance.

Dirk, a Highland dagger, to stab with a dagger.

Dirl, a sharp stroke, the tremulation caused by a stroke.

Dish-clout, dish-towel, washing-cloth.

Disna, does not.

Dit, to close, to stop a hole.

Divot, a turf.

Dizzen, dozen.

Dochter, daughter.

Dock, to cut the hair, to shorten.

Docken, the dock herb.

Doited, stupid.

Dolour, sorrow, grief.

Donnart, stupid, dull.

Donsy, unlucky.

Doo, a dove, pigeon.

Dool, sorrow, woe.

Dorty, proud, saucy, easily offended.

Dosen, to settle down, to become cold.

Douce, grave, thoughtful, sober.

Dought, strength, power.

Doun, down.


Dounwith, downwards.

Doup, the end of a candle, the bottom of an egg.

Dovering, stupid, slumbering.

Dow, to wither, to decay, dirty.

Dowff, humble.

Downa, are unable, cannot.

Draff, brewer's grains.

Drap, a drop, to drop, a small quantity of liquor.

Draunt, a drawl.

Dree, to suffer, endure.

Dreigh, slow, tedious, dry.

Dronach, penalty, punishment.

Drouth, thirst, drought.

Drouthy, thirsty, fond of tippling.

Drucken, drunken.

Drudger, a plodding, industrious person.

Drumly, muddy.

Dub, a puddle, a pool of water.

Dummie, a dumb person.

Dune, done.

Dung, overcome, ill-used.

Dunsh, to jog, to thrust violently.

Dunt, a blow, a large piece.

Dyke, dike, a stone wall.

Ee, eye.

Een, eyes, even so.

E'en, e'enin', evening.

E'enow, even now, at present.

Eider, more prominently.

Eild, age, old age.

Eird, earth.

Eith, easy.

Eithly, easily.

Elbuck, the elbow.

Eldin, fuel, coal, peat.

Elshie, cor. of Alexander.

Elshin, shoemaker's awl.

Eme, uncle.


Eneugh, enough, sufficient.

Ettle, to endeavour, aim, an intention.

Ewie, a ewe.

Eydent, eident, thrifty, diligent.

Fa', to fall.

Fa'an, has fallen.

Fae, foe.

Fair-fa', well betide, good luck to.

Faither, father.

Fallow, fellow.

Fand, found.

Farden, a farthing.

Fash, trouble, annoyance, to vex.

Fashery, trouble, vexation.

Fashious, troublesome.

Faugh, fallow land.

Fauld, to fold, embrace; a sheepfold.

Fause, false.

Fausehood, falsehood.

Faut, fault.

Fazart, a coward, dastard.

Fearsome, fearful, awful.

Februar, February.

Feckfu, strong, courageous.

Feckless, feeble, silly, weak—mentally or physically.

Feigh! an expression of disgust.

Fend, to work.

Ferlie, a wonder, to wonder at.

Fernyear, the preceding year.

Fey, predestined, fatality.

Fiddle, violin.

Fidge, to fidget.

Fidging, anxious, skittish, fidgeting.

Findsilly, apt to find.

Fit, foot.

Fiz, to hiss.

Flae, a flea.

Flee, a fly, to fly.

Fleech, to flatter.


Flether, to persuade, to influence.

Fley, to frighten.

Fleyer, a coward.

Flicher, to flatter.

Fling, to jilt, kick, throw off.

Flisket, easily annoyed, fretful.

Flit, to remove from one house to another.

Flounders, soles, plaice.

Flyte, to rage, quarrel, scold.

Fog, moss.

Foisonless, insipid, tasteless.

Foot-rot, a disease affecting the feet of sheep.

Forecast, forethought, premeditation.

Foregather, to meet with, to overtake.

Forfoughten, fatigued.

Forgie, forgive.

Forejeskit, jaded, worn out.

Forejidged, prejudged.

Forpit, the fourth of a peck.

Fou, drunk.

Founder, stumble.

Frae, from.

Freets, superstitious omens.

Fremit, foreign, not akin, strange.

Fresh, a thaw after frost.

Frist, to delay.

Fu', full.

Fuff, to puff, boast, threaten.

Furdersome, industrious, pushing.

Fyke, to trifle.

Fyle, to soil, defile, dirty.

Gab, the mouth; to speak.

Gae, go.

Gate, gait, road, way.

Gaislin', gosling; a stupid child.

Gane, gone.

Gang, to go.

Gar, to cause, force, compel.


Gat, did get.

Gatty, old-like, ill-natured.

Gaud, a rod or goad.

Gaun, going.

Gaunt, to yawn.

Gaw, to gall.

Gawsie, plump, jolly, stately.

Gaylie, middling.

Gear, wealth, property, goods.

Geary, having riches or wealth.

Gellock, gavelock, an iron crowbar or lever.

Ghaist, a ghost.

Gien, given.

Giff-gaff, exchange of gifts, mutual obligations.

Gileynour, a deceiver, a cheat.

Gillies, followers.

Gin, if.

Gir, girth, hoop.

Gird, to keep fast.

Girdle, a circular iron plate used for baking bread.

Girn, a snare.

Girnin', grinning, fretful.

Gizen, to become leaky from drouth.

Glaiket, wanton, foolish, playful, trifling.

Glaum, to snatch at, to aspire to.

Glaur, mud, mire.

Gled, a kite.

Gleg, smart, sharp-sighted, ready-witted, acute.

Glib, quick, ready in speaking.

Gliff, a fright; a passing sight.

Glitty, smooth, glossy.

Gloom, frown.

Glower, to stare.

Glum, morose, sour, sulky.

Glunshes, glooms.

Goavin', staring, looking intently.


Gowd, gold.

Gowdspink, goldfinch.

Gowk, a simpleton, one easily imposed on; a cuckoo.

Gowpen, the two hands joined to contain anything, as grain; also the quantity so contained.

Graip, a dung fork.

Graith, harness, horse-clothing.

Gramashes, riding hose, gaiters.

Grane, to groan.

Grape, to grope, search.

Grat, did weep, cry.

Gree, to agree.

Green, to covet, long for, desire.

Greet, to cry, weep.

Greive, overseer, steward, factor.

Grewsome, sullen, quarrelsome.

Grip, to catch, take hold of; a hold, a grip.

Grit, intimate, familiar.

Groat, fourpence.

Groats, milled oats.

Grosset, gooseberry.

Grumph, to grunt.

Grund, the ground, to be ground on a grindstone.

Grundstane, grindstone.

Grushie, thick, flabby, frowsy.

Gryce, a pig.

Gude, good.

Gudely, comely, handsome.

Gudes, goods, possessions.

Gudeman, husband, master of the house.

Gudemither, mother-in-law.

Gudewife, wife, mistress of the house.

Gully, a large pocket knife.

Gutcher, grandfather.

Guts, the stomach, belly.


Ha', a hall.

Hadden, held, kept.

Hae, have, take.

Haffit, the cheek, side of the head.

Haggis, a pudding peculiar to Scotland.

Hail, hale, whole, sound, healthy.

Hain, to economize, to use sparingly.

Hairst, harvest.

Haly, holy.

Hamald, homely, poor.

Hame, home.

Hamely, homely, frank, affable.

Handfu', handful.

Hansel, the first money received for goods, a present at a particular season of the year.

Hantle, a number or quantity.

Hap, to cover; chance.

Harn, coarse linen cloth.

Harns, brains.

Harigals, the heart, liver, &c., of a sheep.

Hastrie, reckless haste.

Haud, to hold, keep.

Haurl, to drag.

Hause, the throat; to embrace.

Haver, to gossip, to talk foolishly.

Haws, the fruit of the hawthorn.

Hech! an expression of surprise, sorrow, or fatigue; an exclamation.

Hecht, a promise.

Heft, the handle of a knife.

Here-awa, hereabout.

Herry, to plunder.

Hersel, herself.

Hesp, reeled yarn.

Het, hot.

Hetly, hotly.

Heuk, hook.

Hieland, Highland.

Himsel, himself.


Hing, to hang, to suspend.

Hirdy-girdy, a state of confusion.

Hirsel, a flock.

Hommel-corn, grain that has no beard.

Hooly, slowly, steadily.

Horse-couper, horse-dealer.

Hottle, hotel.

Houssie, a housewife; diminutive of house.

Hout! exclamation, fy! tut!

Howdie, a midwife.

Howe, a hollow.

Howkit, dug, hollowed.

Hudderin-dudderin, slovenly, flabby, loose.

Hurlbarrow, wheelbarrow.

Hutch, a poor cottage.

I', in.

Iceshogels, icicles.

Ilka, every, each.

Ill-faured, ill-favoured.

Ill-willy, ill-natured, malicious, spiteful.

Ingle, the fireside.

Ither, other; not the same.

Itsel, itself.

Januar, January.

Jauping, plashing.

Jaw, a wave or dash of water.

Jawp, to throw water upon a person, to bespatter.

Jig, to creak.

Jilt, a slight dash of water.

Joe, a sweetheart.

Jouk, to stoop, to avoid a blow; to yield to circumstances.

Jundie, a passing thrust.

Kail, colewort; broth is commonly termed kail; but, properly speaking, it is not kail until the second day.


Kail-yaird, a kitchen garden.

Kame, to comb, a comb.

Kamester, a woolcomber.

Kavel, a mean fellow.

Kebbuck, a cheese.

Kekle, to cackle, to be noisy.

Keek, to peep.

Kemper, a diligent worker.

Ken, to know.

Kent, known, did know.

Kep, to catch.

Keytch, to throw up, to turn over.

Kimmer, a female gossip.

Kirk, a church.

Kirkyaird, churchyard.

Kirn, a churn.

Kirtle, a petticoat, a short-gown.

Kist, a chest, a coffin.

Kith, acquaintance.

Kittle, to tickle; ticklish, difficult.

Kittlen, a kitten.

Knibblich, a small stone.

Knowe, a hillock.

Kyte, the belly.

Kythe, to appear.

Lack, to depreciate, discommend.

Laddie, diminutive of lad.

Lade, a load, laden.

Laigh, low.

Laird, landlord, proprietor, lord of the manor.

Laith, loth, reluctant.

Laithfu', shy, modest, bashful.

Landward, rustic.

Landlouper, an unsettled, changeable person.

Lang, long.

Langle, a rope by which the fore and hinder feet of a horse or cow are fastened together.


Langing, longing, wishing.

Lang-kail, boiled coleworts.

Lang-shanket, long-handed or shafted.

Langsyne, long ago, old times.

Lap, did leap.

Lassie, girl, diminutive of lass.

Lathron, a lazy, idle person.

Lave, the rest, others, remainder.

Laverock, a lark.

Lawin', a tavern reckoning.

Layne, conceal.

Leal, true, honest, faithful.

Lear, to learn, learning.

Leddy, lady.

Lee, to lie.

Leear, liar.

Len', lend, a loan.

Let-a-bee, to let alone.

Licht, alight.

Lichtit, alighted.

Lightlie, to undervalue, decry; to make light of.

Lift, the firmament.

Linn, a waterfall between two rocks.

Lint, flax.

Lippen, depend upon, trust to.

List, agile, active.

Lither, sleepy, lazy.

Loan, a lane; an open space near a farm or village where the cows are milked.

Loe, to love, to be in love.

Loof, the palm of the hand.

Loon, a clown, a rogue.

Loup, to leap.

Lout, to stoop, submit.

Lowe, a flame.

Lowin', flaming.

Lown, calm, sheltered.

Loose, to loose.

Lug, the ear; the handle of an article.

Lumm, a chimney.


Lunnun, London.

Madge-howlet, an owl.

Mailin', a farm.

Mair, more.

Maist, most.

Maister, master; an over-match.

Maistry, management, superiority.

Mak, make.

Makna, make not.

Malison, malediction, curse.

Manteel, a mantle.

Marrow, an equal, a match.

Maukin, a hare.

Maun, must.

Maunna, must not.

Maut, malt.

Mavis, a thrush.

May be, perhaps.

Mayna, may not.

Mease, to settle; to appease.

Mear, a mare.

Meltith, a meal.

Mends, amends, satisfaction.

Mense, manners, discretion.

Menseless, unmannerly, ill-bred, forward.

Menyie, the follower of a chieftain.

Messan, a mongrel dog.

Midden, a dunghill.

Middlin', moderately.

Midge, a gnat.

Mim, primness, affectation.

Mint, to aim, to endeavour.

Mird, jest.

Mirk, dark, obscure.

Misca', to abuse, to nickname.

Misken, neglect, overlook.

Mislear'd, mischievous, wild.

Misluck, misfortune.

Misrid, entangled, confused.


Misterfu', needy, begging.

Mither, mother.

Moaned, lamented.

Moistify, to moisten, to drink.

Mony, many.

Mool, to crumble; the earth of a grave.

Moop, to mump, to impair.

Mou, the mouth.

Moudiewart, a mole.

Mouter, grist; a miller's perquisite for grinding.

Mow, a heap, as of hay, fuel, &c.

Mows, jests.

Moyen, influence, interest.

Muck, dung.

Muckle, great, tall, much.

Muckledom, muckleness, greatness in size.

Muir, a moor, a heath.

Mump, to hint, to aim at.

Mune, moon.

Muslin-kail, a very poor broth.

Mutch, a woman's cap.

Mysel, myself.

Na, nae, no, not.

Naesay, a refusal.

Naething, nothing.

Naig, a nag.

Nancie, Agnes.

Nane, none.

Neb, a point, a bird's bill; the nose.

Neeboor, neighbour.

Needna, need not.

Neist, next.

Neuk, a nook, a corner.

Nicher, to neigh, to laugh.

Nieve, the fist, the hand.

Niffer, to barter, to exchange.

Nip, to pinch.

Nit, a nut.

Nitty-now, a lousy-head.


No, not.

Nowte, black cattle.

O', on, of.

Oe, a grandchild.

Olite, active, nimble, ready.

Ony, any.

Oo, wool.

Ool, an owl.

Oot, out.

Ort, to reject, throw aside; select.

Orts, that which is rejected or set aside.

Ou, very well; an expression of surprise or indifference.

Oursel, ourself.

Oursels, ourselves.

Ower, owre, over, across, too much, too.

Owercome, overcome; the issue, the surplus.

Owergang, to overrun, to exceed.

Owk, meek.

Owsen, oxen.

Oxter, the armpit.

Paiks, chastisement.

Pairt, part.

Paitrick, a partridge.

Parritch, oatmeal porridge.

Partan, the common sea-crab.

Pasche, Easter.

Pat, pot.

Patfu', a potful.

Peasweep, the lapwing.

Peat, turf, vegetable fuel.

Pechan, the stomach, the crop.

Penny-wheep, a common kind of beer; small beer.

Perfyteness, perfection.

Pick, to choose, to select.

Pickle, a small quantity.

Pig, an earthen pitcher.


Pike, to pick, to scratch with the finger nails.

Pintstoup, a pint measure.

Pirn, a reel, a bobbin.

Pit, to put.

Plack, two bodles, one-third of the English penny.

Pliskie, a mischievous trick.

Ploom, a plum.

Ploy, a merry meeting, an excursion.

Pock, a bag, a sack.

Poind, to distrain for rent.

Poortith, poverty.

Pouch, the pocket.

Pouse, to despoil.

Pow, the head.

Powther, gunpowder.

Pree, to taste.

Preen, a pin.

Prent, printed.

Primsie, precise, demure.

Puddin, pudding.

Puddock, a frog.

Pund, a pound weight.

Quaich, a small, shallow, drinking cup of wood or metal, with two handles.

Quat, to quit, to relinquish, to give over.

Quey, a young cow.

Quire, the choir of a church.

Quo', quoth, said.

Raible, a rhapsody of nonsense.

Raggit, ragged.

Raip, a rope.

Rash, a rush.

Ravelled, confused.

Raw, a row or line.

Rax, to stretch.

Reavers, robbers, thieves.

Red-wud, stark mad.


Redd, to put in order, to counsel, to caution.

Rede, afraid.

Ree, half-drunk, tipsy.

Reek, smoke.

Reeky, smoky.

Reem, cream, froth.

Reik, to reach, to stretch out the hand.

Reird, a scolding or noisy tongue.

Remede, remedy.

Reive, reeve, to rob, to steal.

Riggin', the ridge of a house.

Rin, to run.

Rip, a handful of unthrashed corn.

Rippling-kame, a flax-comb.

Rive, a tear, a rent.

Rock, a distaff.

Roon, a selvedge, a shred.

Rooser, a boaster.

Roupy, hoarse.

Routh, plenty, abundance.

Row, to roll up.

Rowan tree, the mountain ash.

Rowte, a roar, a lowing of cattle.

Royt, forward, rude, disorderly.

Ruse, to praise, to commend.

Sab, to sob.

Sae, so.

Saft, soft.

Sair, sore, sorely.

Sairy, poor, silly.

Sang, a song.

Sap, a sop.

Sark, a shirt.

Sauch, saugh, a willow-tree.

Saucht, peace, ease.

Saunt, a saint.

Saut, salt.

Saw, a proverb, an old saying; salve, plaster.

Sawn, sown.


Sax, six.

Sca'd, scabbed, scared.

Scambler, "a bold intruder upon one's generosity at table."

Scant, scarcity, want.

Scart, a scratch, to scratch.

Scaur, to scare, to be scared.

Schule, school.

Sclate, a slate.

Scone, a common flour cake.

Scouth, ease, liberty, freedom to say or do anything.

Scouther, to scorch, to singe, to burn slightly.

Scrimpit, straitened, oppressed.

Scunner, to be disgusted, to loathe.

Sea-maw, a sea-gull.

Seil, happiness, salvation.

Sel, self.

Selgh, a seal.

Ser', to serve.

Shae, a shoe.

Shairney, befouled with dung.

Shank, to travel on foot.

Shanks, the legs, the feet.

Shanna, shall not.

Shauchle, to go slip-shod, to walk lazily.

Shaup, a husk.

Shaw, to show.

Shear, to reap, to cut close.

Shearer, a reaper.

Shears, scissors.

Sheeled, shelled.

Shent, confounded, blamed, disturbed, ashamed.

Shoo, force, persuade.

Shool, a shovel.

Shoon, shune, shoes.

Shore, to threaten.

Shot, a stroke in play, a move in chess or draughts.

Shouther, shoulder.


Shute, to push.

Sib, akin, related.

Sic, such.

Sicker, sure, certain.

Siller, silver, money.

Simmer, summer.

Sindle, seldom.

Sindry, separately.

Skail, to disperse, to scatter.

Skaith, harm, injury.

Skeel, skill.

Skelp, to whip, to slap.

Skink, a strong soup made of cows' hams.

Skreigh, to shriek.

Skyte, to shy, to fly off or against anything.

Slabber, to besmear.

Slid, slippery; wheedling, cunning.

Sliddry, slippery.

Slocken, to quench.

Sma', small.

Smit, to infect.

Smoor, to smother.

Snapper, to stumble, to err.

Snaw, snow.

Snawba', snowball.

Snite, to blow the nose.

Snodder, neater, tidier.

Sodger, a soldier.

Sonsy, stout, healthy, thriving.

Sooking, sucking.

Soom, to swim.

Soop, to sweep.

Soor, sour.

Sooth, true.

Souck, wile, persuade.

Sough, the low, mournful sound of wind.

Souter, a shoemaker, a cobbler.

Souther, to solder.

Sowens, pottage made of the dust in oatmeal seeds steeped and soured.


Sowp, a little (applied to liquids), a spoonful.

Spail, a chip of wood.

Spak, spoke.

Speir, speer, to inquire, to ask a question.

Spring, a cheerful tune.

Spune, a spoon.

Spurtle, a short stick for stirring porridge.

Stamach, the stomach.

Stane, a stone.

Stannin', standing.

Stark, strong.

Starns, stars.

Steek, to close, to shut; a stitch.

Steer, to stir, to trouble.

Stey, steep, precipitous.

Stimpart, the fourth part of a peck.

Stipend, the salary of a clergyman, a benefice.

Stirk, a young cow or bull.

Stock, a head of cabbage.

Stook, a stack of corn, consisting of twelve sheaves.

Stoor, dust.

Stot, a young bull or ox.

Stoup, a jug with a handle, a wooden water pitcher.

Straa, an expression of defiance.

Strae, straw.

Strake, to stroke; a stroke, a blow.

Strang, strong.

Straught, straight, to straighten.

Stravaig, to stroll about idly.

Streek, to stretch.

Strunt, to offend, sullenness.

Sturdy, a disease among sheep.

Sturt, rage, anger, trouble.

Sumph, a blockhead.

Sune, soon.


Sunks, a pad used in place of a saddle.

Suld, should.

Sute, soot.

Swat, did sweat, to perspire.

Sweer, sweird, averse, slow, unwilling, indolent.

Swith, quickly.

Synd, to rinse.

Syne, since, after that, then, late.

Tack, a lease.

Tacked, nailed to, attached.

Tae, to, too; the toe.

Taen, one, correlative of tither, the other; taken.

Taiken, a mark, a token.

Tait, a small quantity.

Tak, to take.

Tam, Thomas.

Tangs, the tongs.

Tap, the top.

Tappit-hen, a hen with a tuft of feathers on her head.

Tarrow, to take a loathing at meat; to be nice, particular.

Tauld, told.

Taury, tarry.

Tawpie, a foolish or idle woman.

Taws, the leather scourge used by schoolmasters.

Tee, the goal in such games as curling, quoits, &c.

Tent, to take care of, to observe.

Tentless, careless, incautious.

Tether, to tie up, to restrict.

Thae, those.

Theek, to thatch.

Theekit, thatched.

Thegither, together.

Thereout, without.

Thig, to borrow, to beg.


Thir, these, these here—used only of things at hand.

Thole, to suffer, to endure, to bear.

Thoom, the thumb.

Thow, a thaw.

Thrang, throng, busy.

Thraw, to twist, to oppose, to anger, to form.

Thrawart, cross-tempered.

Thrawn, obstinate.

Thrist, thirst.

Thrums, waste threads.

Thunner, thunder.

Ticht, tight.

Tig, to jest or trifle.

Till, to.

Tine, to lose.

Tinkler, a tinker.

Tint, lost.

Tippence, twopence.

Tither, the other.

Tocher, a dowry, fortune.

Tocherless, without a dowry.

Tod, a fox.

Tooly, to fight.

Toom, empty, to empty.

Toun, a town.

Toustie, cross.

Tout, to blow a horn; the blast of a horn.

Touzie, disordered, dishevelled.

Tow, a rope; hemp or flax in a prepared state.

Trewed, believed, trusted.

Trow, to believe, to credit.

Tryst, a fair, an appointment.

Tulzie, a quarrel; to quarrel, to fight.

Tup, a ram.

Twa, two.

Twal, twelve.

Twalpenny, a Scots shilling, of value one penny English.


Tyke, tike, a dog, a clumsy person.

Unco, strange, unknown, very, extremely.

Uncoft, unbought.

Unsicker, not secure, unsafe.

Untimeous, untimely, unseasonable.

Uphaud, to support, to uphold.

Upwith, upwards, elated.

Wa', a wall.

Wab, a web.

Wabster, a weaver.

Wad, would; a pledge, a wager.

Wae, sorrow, woe, sadness.

Waft, woof.

Wa'gang, a departure, going away.

Wair, spend.

Wail, wale, to choose.

Waly, an exclamation of grief.

Wame, the womb, the belly.

Wampish, to brandish, to flourish.

Wan, won.

Wark, work.

Warld, the world.

Warling, a worldling.

Warlock, a witch.

Warst, worst.

Wast, the west.

Wat, wet; addicted to tippling.

Watna, wot not, know not.

Wastrie, waste, prodigality.

Wauk, to awake, to watch.

Waukin, to awake.

Waukrife, wakeful.

Waur, worse.

Wean, a child.

Wee, little.

Weel, well, properly.

Ween, to suspect.


Weet, to wet.

Weird, fate, destiny; proof, confirmation.

Weise, beguile, attract.

Wersh, insipid, tasteless.

Wha, who, who?

Whalp, a whelp.

Whang, a thong, a large slice.

Whase, whose.

Whaup, a curlew.

Whaur, where.

Wheen, a number.

Whilk, which.

Whilliwha, to cheat, to influence, to cozen.

Whinger, "a short hanger, used as a knife at meals, and as a sword in broils."

Whins, furze.

Whisquer, windy, blustering.

Whittle, a knife.

Whupshaft, a whip handle.

Wi', with.

Widdie, a rope; a gallows.

Widdle, to wriggle, bustle; to attain by violent exertion.

Wight, courageous, stout.

Wimple, a curl, an undulation.

Window-bole, "the part of a cottage-window that is filled by a wooden blind, which may occasionally be opened."

Windlin, a bottle of straw or hay.


Wink, an instant, a twinkling.

Windlestrae, a stalk of ryegrass.

Winna, will not.

Wist, wished.

Wisp, to clean; to tie up with straw; a handful of straw.

Withershins, the contrary direction.

Wizen, weasand, the throat.

Woad, mad.

Woo, wool.

Woodie, diminutive of wood.

Worry, to strangle, to suffocate.

Wow, the cry of a cat.

Wrang, wrong, injury, hurt.

Wud, mad.

Wuss, to wish.

Wylie-coat, a flannel vest.

Wyte, to blame, to find fault with.

Yaird, a yard, a kitchen garden.

Yeld, barren.

Yer, your.

Yerk, to writhe, to start with pain.

Yeuky, itchy.

Yewns, "the refuse of grains blown away by the fanners."

Yirr, to snarl like a dog.

Yokin, the time that a horse should be in a cart.

Yoursel, yourself.

Yowl, to howl; the cry of a dog.

Yule, Christmas.

Commercial Printing Company, Edinburgh.

End of Project Gutenberg's The Proverbs of Scotland, by Alexander Hislop


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