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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).

Labour, Laubour, v. Also : labor, -owr, -ure, laebour, laubor, -owr, -ur(e, lawbour(e, -or, -ur, laubir, -yr, -eir, lawber, lawbre, leber, lebr-. [ME. labor(e (1362), -orie, labre, laboure, F. labourer, early -orer, L. labōrāre.]

1. tr. To spend labour on. a. To till, cultivate (land), esp. with plough and harrow; also, to cultivate (corn). Also, to plough up or out.(1) 1423 Chart. (Reg. H.) C.O. No. 37.
Full power … to labor teill manur & occupy … the landis of West Lochtrysk
1456 Hay I. 240/6.
Thame that labouris thair landis with mulis
1483 Acta Conc. II. cxxxiii.
Samekle as the men that laboris the grund will suere … that was sawin
1537–8 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 151.
To hef wrangus occupeit manvrat and laborat certaine peissis of rigis of the landis foirsaidis
c 1585 Echt-Forbes Chart. 123.
The tennentis … sall nocht labour nor manur be earing or sawing the saidis landis
1590 Reg. Great S. 810/2.
To wyn fewall … in the commoun of Dyffyn … and uthir pairtis … quhilkis nocht usit to be teylit and laborit
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii. 14.
All husband men, quha hes … lesse nor foure kye, albeit they can not labour and teill land, ȝit with hand and foote they sall delue the land
1614 Orkney Rentals ii. 118.
Newbigging … and Archdeanis Quoy, labowrt in ane bow
1629 Justiciary Cases I. 135.
It nather bure kaill … for the space of foure ȝeiris albeit the samyn was double labouret and sawin
1640 Misc. Abbotsf. C. 167.
Comeing to James Traill, he being labouring his land
1672 Hist. Kinloss A. xvi.
To labor the said yeards and put them in a new frame
1686 Cunningham Diary 26.
He … laboured the land and sold the growing cropt
(b) 1450 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 127.
[He] lattis the inhabitantis off the citte of Brechine til ois and laubur thar commone
c1475 Wall. viii. 1607.
The abill ground [he] gert laubour thryftely
a1500 Henr. Fab. 9.
Throw the busteous eird, Swa it be laubourit with greit diligence, Springis … the corne abreird
1502 Acta Conc. III. 177.
Thre hors that he had til laubour the sade maling
1513 Doug. iii. i. 27.
A weirly cuntre … With large feildis lauborit ful of fens
Ib. vii. xii. 107.
All enarmyt laubour thai thar land
1542 Reg. Cupar A. II. 210.
The said Georde sall laubour and graith in all sortis our garding
1549 Compl. 24/21.
The oncoutht … pepil sal eyt the frute of the eyrd that thou hes lauborit
1591 Lennox Mun. 334.
I … laubowrit the said meidow thre ȝeir with my awin pluiche
1627 Rep. Parishes 57.
Blakcastell is ane husband land … belanging to Adame Wachope … and is lawborit be himselff with his awin maynes
(c) 1493 Acta Aud. 176/1.
The lordis … ordinis him to lawbre and manvre the saidis landis
1549 Compl. 123/30.
The malis … of the grond that I laubir is hychtit to sic ane price [etc.]
(2) 1580 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 163.
The hie passages … ar … in many places incloseit, dyket vp and haillie labourit and teillit up
1612–13 Misc. Spald. C. V. 91.
Past with James Davidsone, nottar, … and maid interruptione to Robert Simsone in Gulcilmstone, laboring out the tounis land
(3) 1456 Hay I. 114/1.
The Knychtis ar nouthir ordanyt to labour cornis, na grouve the wynis, na to kepe bestis
1549 Compl. 96/32.
That the Scottis men … suld … laubeir the cornis on the grond

b. To work (a quarry, a mine, a fishing, etc.), to work at, with or upon (a raw material, a particular job, etc.); also to produce by work (a finished product).(a) 1428 Wemyss Chart. 55.
To wyn and ger laboure … turfe, pete, and hathir, quarale, and fyschyne … wythin the said landis
Ib. 56.
Gyf the said Robert or Dauid lykis to ger mak or laboure a saltpan of thaire awne
Sauffande … suylk lyke profyte as hym selfe has in the … cole and quarale, als lange and quhat tyme that ony are labowrid or wonyn
1479 Acta Conc. I. 24/1.
Quhill the said day that the said fisching be labourt be the persouns that labouris it now
1622 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 201.
Ten thousand stane of woll quhilk is all wroght and labored heir
1630 Ib. 334.
That salmond fischengis hes bene labouret fischeit and occupyit on the sabboth day
1716 Stirling B. Rec. II. 147.
To send the most part of the malt … to the Kersemilns … to be laboured thereat
transf. 1540 Lynd. Sat. 1324 (B).
It is half a yeir almaist Sen evir that loun laborit [Ch. laborde] my leddir
fig. 1562-3 Winȝet II. 59/30.
It is lesum that the auld doctrine … be proces of tyme be labourit, trimmit, and polisit
(b) 1474 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 29.
That the said penny be rasit wolkly on the Monundaye … of al personis lauborand thair awin werk
1498 Acta Conc. II. 280.
[The hay and peats were his own and] lauborit be his servituris on his maling
1501 Ib. MS. X. 169.
Ane continuale coleheuich liand & laubourit within the saidis boundis
1538–9 M. Works Acc. (ed.) 261.
Swa restis in the said Robertis handis to be lauborit be him to the fontane ane fydder [of lead]
1559 Ib. 297.
To cum heir and laubour the fut of wrocht glas werk als gud chaip as he laubouris the samin in his awin bwth in Edinburgh
The otheris tymmer werk … I sall reform and is lauborand
1567 Dundee B. Laws 368.
In working and lauboring sufficientlie barkit lether in making of bwteis
(c) 1549 Compl. 43/18.
The maist anciant nobilis … desirit … to be scheiphirdis, or to laubir rustic ocupation on the hoilsum feildis
(d) 1641-8 Skipper's Acc. (Smettone) 19 b.
For the menes met quhen they lebert the shepe

2. To work for or procure by negotiation. 1533 Bell. Livy II. 147/9.
Thay wald haue rasit Ethruria aganis ws and ȝit laubouris the samyn sa fer as thai may
1543 Corr. M. Lorraine 44.
And this be nocht providit and lawborit or the parliament it will mak impassemant … for the commoun weill of this realme
1545 Ib. 132.
Your graice is prinsipall mediatrix to lawbour concord betuix all lordis … that cummis to this conventioun
1612 Marischal Coll. Rec. I. 125.
It shall be labourit after my deceass that everie seage in the Colledge have ane bursar

3. To impose considerable or fatiguing labour upon. b. To work (animals). 1562-3 Winȝet II. 81/13.
That … monstre of man … quha labouris al his wittis and ryueis his heid studiing to thraw … the … honor of his father to be a vyce
b. 1686 Rothesay B. Rec. 410.
That the owner of the cornes take the horse and labour them till the skaith be payd

4. intr. To perform work, to work or toil. More often said of manual work and work for one's living.(1) 1456 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I. 14.
Thair sall na man … be maid … freman without … that it sall be sene that he be worthie and sufficient to labour, and that he haif cunnying and power to labour
1456 Hay II. 125/20.
Eftir souper the mannis persone … reposis in the nycht, and the membris and the wit … labouris nocht … bot restis
1521 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 204.
All maner of beggares … that ar habill persouns to wirk and labour for thair leving
1540 Lynd. Sat. 2687 (B).
To men that labowris with thair handis
a1568 Scott v. 70.
Weit ȝour lippis & labor hully
1562-3 Winȝet I. 6/13.
Albeit it chance that he … be gevin to pastyme quhen he sulde maist diligentlie labour
1572 Sat. P. xxxiii. 271.
Now mon thay wirk and labour, pech and pant, To … Ryue out the mures, the bestialls gers intak
(b) c1460 Wisd. Sol. (S.T.S.) 144.
Quhat profetis it a man to lawbore thus all his tyme, and neuir to tak reste
1489 (1528) Reg. Great S. 120/1.
Outlandis folkis … lauborand and usand ther craft in this toune
1513 Doug. xiii. iv. 67.
Lyke as … emottis … That ithandly laubouris and byssy be
1516 Reg. Privy S. I. 417/1.
To put and hald xxiiij werkmen … to lawboure in the mynd
1516 Edinb. Hammermen 92.
In drinksiluer to … the tailȝour quhilk lauborit at the vpputtin xij d
1532 M. Works Acc. II. 74.
[In] the heycht of the dais quhen the hors mycht nocht laubour for hete
a1538 Abell 70 b.
The jakmen at laubouris leist faris best in nobilis howsis
1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 249.
All nycht our greit artallȝery lawborit, and has dong the tolbutht
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1089.
[Adam,] Sore laubouryng, tyll thy browis sweit, Frome thyne furth sall thow wyn thy meit
1562-3 Winȝet I. 28/12.
Sex dayis to laubour
1558-66 Knox II. 198.
The children of the Ministeris must have the liberties of the citeis next adjacent, quhair thair fatheris lawbored, frelie granted
1566 Reg. Privy C. I. 460.
His barneman being threscheand and laubourand sark allane
(c) c1475 Wall. vii. 345.
Lawberand [1570, Laubourit] in mynd thai had beyne all that day, Off ayle and wyne yneuch chosyne haiff thai
1549 Compl. 123/13.
I laubyr nycht and day vitht my handis to neureis … idil men
Quhen i laubyr be marchandres or be mecanik craftis
(d) 1641-8 Skipper's Acc. (Smettone) 9.
For drink quhen they lebrid, 3li. 6s.
(2) a1500 Henr. Fab. 1845.
Thair is na corne, ȝe laubour all in vane
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lx. 54.
Thocht ane man all science can And it to vtheris dois nocht reid … In vane he laubouris as ane be
c1475 Wall. (1570) iv. 642.
Than Wallace said We laubour all in vane, To slay commounis it helpis vs richt nocht

b. Applied to work on the land. 1416 Liber Melros 539.
[They are to] put agayne thair plwis to the saide land and to laboure as it may mast profite thaim
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5528.
Sum on the feild sal be lauborand
1568 Lyndesay Pref.
Quhen ane pure man with his haill raice … hes laubourit thair lyfis on ane lytill peice of ground and brocht it to sum … perfectioun

5. With complements: To exert oneself, strive (to bring something about, for some end, etc.).(a) 1456 Hay II. 85/25.
All princis suld laboure and travail here to … wyn gude renoun
1537 Lynd. Depl. Magd. 101.
Thow saw the peple labouring for thair lyuis To mak triumphe with trump and clarioun
1545 Douglas Corr. 155.
That I sal labour to soliste the Queyne … to send ane harot for ane salfe condoyt
a1568 Scott i. 15.
To laboure that this lyfe among ws lest
a1578 Pitsc. I. 55/6.
Sa he dieit … in ane goode actioun, laborand to put Christiane men to peace and rest
1587-99 Hume Tr. Consc. vi.
Sometime labouring to delait it out of his mind, by giving himselfe to warldly pleasures
1596 Dalr. I. 135 marg.
Ferleg labouris to put doune Ferithar throuch proditione
Ib. II. 60/5.
Tha labour hail quhen the Kingis authoritie war anulit … the vther mycht rigne
1655 Mouswald Kirk S. MS. 9 Dec.
That everie ruling elder … shall labour … to performe the deuties
(b) 1559 Knox VI. 100.
Such as laebour in this caus
(c) 1490 Irland Mir. I. 16/3.
To emples thi hienes I sall lauboure sua … that, … studeand this werk, thou sal be richt perfit in theologi
Id. Asl. MS. I. 17/26.
A persone is oblist … to laubour for his saluacon
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxi. 10.
Is nane of ws … Bot laubouris ay for vthiris distructioun
1533 Boece vi. ii. 188.
Natholok … lauborit diligentlie be … witchis to affray his inemyis
1533 Gau 28/1.
The dewil our ald innime lauburs nycht and day to draw ws fra the faith
a1538 Abell 75 b.
Ptolome … lauborit dissaitfullie for the kinrik … quhilk brukit Alexander his neuo
1529 Lynd. Complaynt 215.
Thus lauborit thay within few ȝeris, That thay become no pagis peris
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8292.
I sall ay laubour For to vphald ȝour weilfair and honour
a1578 Pitsc. I. 18/17.
Hes he nocht lauborrit also to … drywe all matteris … lyk as he haid beine suppreme magistratt
c1590 Fowler II. 45/13.
Be the word Byschop they onlie vnderstuid tha quha lauborit in preaching the Word
(d) 1494 Reg. Cupar A. I. 243.
He sall laubir to wyn a schot in the wattir of Tay for salmond

b. To exert oneself upon or about (a charge or undertaking). 1424 Acts II. 5/1.
The costs of all officiars that sall laubour about this ȝeilde raysing
1439 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 6.
The schersuris sall ilk day certiefie the gouernance in Leyth, and ane of the thre baillies sall laboure heirvpoun in Leith

6. Commonly, To exert oneself, by way of persuasion, negotiation, solicitation or using influence. With various complements.(a) c1500-c1512 Dunb. lvii. 18.
Sum at the mes levis all devotioun, And besey labouris for promotioun
1518 Armstrong Hist. Liddesdale I. 211.
I am laborand and traistis to gett thare plegis
1535 Stewart 31953.
Quhilk labourit hes … With diligence … Quhill he brocht thame in gude concord agane
1562-3 Winȝet I. 61/22.
The erroneous … pleidaris quha … ithanlie labouris to subuert the sillie semple anis
1588 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 40.
Labour all that ye can to purches commissioun to serch and seik the throt cutters
1641 Acts V. 338/1.
Whither by laboureing to … foment divisione betuixt the King and his people [etc.]
(b) 1490 Irland Mir. 122/23.
Dame Pes, that lauborit sa gretly in the concord of the hevinly wertuis
1496 Douglas Chart. 160.
Gif ony dignite or benefice wakis … he sall lawbur … for his promotione
1551 Corr. M. Lorraine 343.
I beseik your grace to laubour affectuouslie … that I may have ane commissioun of the Kyngis grace
1557 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 303.
To lawbour and solist to gett remytt and discharge of ane pairt of this … taxatioune
1558-66 Knox II. 29.
Some that … laubor to mak me odius in ȝour eyes
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xxi. 64.
Quhen our nychtbour we ourgang We laubour iustice to delay
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 46.
Making every ane of thame beleif that he laubourit onelie for thame
1585 Acts III. 386/2.
That na … persoun … pretend to argun, impung, trauell … or lawbour for the … abrogatioun or derogatioun thairof [sc. of the statute]

b. To make solicitation, exert persuasion or influence to, with or at a person; to negotiate betwix (also betwine) persons. 1528 Acts II. 325/1.
Lauborand & persuadand be his lettres and with his engyne to our souerane lords baronis … to invaid our souerane lords persoune
1536 Douglas Corr. 143.
I pray ȝow that ȝe wyll lawbor to hym all ȝour wysdoum thynkis expedyent, for frendis trowis that ȝe may lawber weyll with hym
1555 Edinb. Hammermen 200 b.
Certane nobill … cratismen … manfullye … laborit at the actorite and causit the samyn [common weal of the crafts] being brocht to the auld usit maner
a1578 Pitsc. I. 281/31.
The said Mr. Gawin desyrit the said bischope James Bettone to tak sum panis to labor betuix thir tuo pairties
Ib. II. 200/16.
The Lord Lyndesay … was lauborand betwine the laird of Wauchtoun quha gave it [Dunbar] ovir bag and baggage

7. To suffer in, into or of an illness. 1535 Stewart 7837.
This Roman legat … Into the fluxis laborit to the deid
1562 Crim. Trials I. i. 422.
[He] labouris in ane hevy and continewell sicknes
1686 Bonckle Kirk S. 86.
A poor widow with 5 orphans, one whereof laboures of the stony gravell

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"Labour v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Aug 2022 <>



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