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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Def(e, Deif, a. Also: deff(e, deiff, dayf, deaf. [ME. def(e, deef, deffe, early ME. deaf, OE. déaf.]

1. Unable to hear; deaf.(a) a1400 Leg. S. Prol. 120.
To deff men gyfand herynge
Ib. xxi. 876.
Bath blynd & defe sone was [he] mad
1456 Hay I. 195/24.
Blynd men, def men, dum men
1490 Irland Mir. fol. 168 b.
And I ware blind ore deff, he mycht repaire my sicht and heryn
1516 Reg. Privy S. I. 431/2.
The said Iohne is … dum and defe and unnaturale
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 1587.
For deiff men thar gettis heryng
c1460 Wisd. Sol. 819.
Syne … sal al the dochteris of wykitnes al worth deife
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 153.
The deif men heryng, the crukit get thar feit
1506 Treas. Acc. III. 202.
To deif Andro that marshalit foure hors to the King
1535 Stewart 44579–80.
Ane dochter that … wes crukit, deif, dum, and blind
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2227.
That image, deif, and dum
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xxxv. 24.
Ane woman deif and dum
a1605 Montg. Son. lxvi. 3.
Thoght ȝe be deif, I knou ȝe ar not daft
1622-6 Bisset II. 83/17.
He that is naturallie deif or dum … may nocht mak testament
(c) 1566 St. A. Kirk S. 284.
Ane ald dayf prest … baptist the barne for ane testan

b. absol. (in sing. or plural). a1400 Leg. S. xxi. 768.
To dum he gef spekyng, & to def the herynge
c1515 Asl. MS. II. 272/5.
To leper leche, crukit, blynd, deif & dwm
1533 Gau 63/2.
The crippil gangis, … the deiff heris

c. (See quotation.) 1531 Bell. Boece I. p. xxix.
In Kyle is ane stane, … callit … the Deif Stane, … the more he standis a dreich fra it, he heris the better

2. Unwilling or refusing to hear. a1400 Leg. S. xxx. 92.
Thane wald scho … til hym len a def ere ay
c1420 Wynt. iv. 1948.
Fra reuth thai sall thare erys dyt, … Mare deffe than ony awsk yhe se
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1385.
The eir is deif, the hart is hard as stane
1533 Boece ix. xv. 326.
The pepill was rude, gros, deif, … and nocht of capacite, to resaue doctrine
1558-66 Knox II. 134.
That deaf eare that never wald hear the treuth of God
Ib. 136.
O craftie, deif, and foolische Kyngs

3. Dull; unresponsive. a1570-86 Maitl. F. lix. 13.
My curag waxis deif and deid

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"Def adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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