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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).

Licht, adj.1 Also: (lichit), lych(t; light, lyght; leicht, leitht. [ME. and e.m.E. light, liȝt etc., lythe (15th c.), leyȝt (15th c.), e.m.E. lite (1531), early ME. liht (Orm. lihht), OE. léoht, lht (Northumb. lht).] Light, not weighty.

1. Of little weight or density; not heavy. Also, of land: Of light or poor soil.(1) a1500 Henr. Fab. 2161.
With that the cadgear … Come rydand on the laid, for it wes licht
1513 Doug. vii. x. 74.
Thar targettis bow thai of the lycht sauch tre
Ib. xi. xiii. 173.
The lycht downys up to the skyis glidis
1531 Bell. Boece I. viii.
Thir four bodyis elementar: Two hevy and grosse, and two ar licht and pure
1541 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 105.
That they tak na mair fraucht bot samekle as thay ar frauchtit for in the townys bukys, that is to say fra Scotis men xx s. greit the mortcharge and xxj s. greit the lycht guddis
1553 Ib. 184.1574 Ib. IV. 29. 1580 Reg. Privy C. III. 320.
Ane licht hammer
1583 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I. 310.
Ane verray lycht thak
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1060.
Licht leading maks weil drawin horse
1622-6 Bisset II. 209/1.
Licht guidis sic as lynt and hempt
(2) c1500 Crying of Play 16.
And ȝit gif this be nocht I I wait I am the spreit of Gy Or ellis go by [B. fle be] the sky Licht [B. And lycht] as the lynd
1540 Lynd. Sat. 3527.
Except God make me lichter nor ane fedder
(3) 1538 Exch. R. XVII. 140.
Et de x bollis … ordei, viz., lychtbeir et out dichtynnis
(4) 1566-70 Buch. Comm. on Virgil Georgics ii. 212.
Jeiuna … glarea, licht land

b. Of clothing or c. military arms or armour.Cf. also Licht Hors, Licht Hors(e)man, and light aix, Ax n. 3.b. a1500 K. Hart 332.
Ane courtlie cote, … A wourthy weid, weill closand, and full licht
15.. Christis Kirk 15 (M).
To dance the damisallis thame dicht, … Thair kirtillis war of the Lincum licht
15.. Clar. v. 1545.
Abuilȝeit … In licht clethings, all ordanit for the dance
c. (1) 1375 Barb. x. 62.
Men that licht … war And licht armyng had on thaim thar
c1475 Wall. iii. 85.
Gude lycht harnes … wsyt he euir
1531 Bell. Boece I. 229.
Eftir thaim followit men with licht harnes
1574 Acts III. 91/1.
Euery landit man … [to] be enarmit in harnes licht or havy
1600 Ib. IV. 235/2.
That euerie gentilman … be furnessit with ane licht corslett and pyk
(2) 1513 Doug. v. ii. 53.
[To] schute arrowis lycht
1535 Stewart 11939.
Thair waponis … Leicht as ane leif and waldin as ane wand

d. fig. Small, slight, little. a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 289.
All his will in this warld with welthis … Yit sall be licht as leif of the lynd lest

e. Gentle, light (breeze). 1513 Doug. ii. xii. 63.
The figur fled as lycht wynd or the son beym

2. Below the standard or legal weight, underweight. (Chiefly of coins and bread.) (1) 1493 Halyb. 31.
Rasauit … 10 Ryns guldins, price 4 s., … 3 ly[ch]t guldins, price 2 s. 4 g.
1518 Edinb. Hammermen 255 b.
Nyn ducattis of wecht of nyntene schillingis the pece … Item ane lycht ducat xv s. vj d.
1567 Acts III. 39/1.
The fyne money of this realme hes in tymes past bene maid lichtar be roungeing … of the samyn
1621 Edinb. B. Rec. VI. 217.
To pay to Alexander Speir … tuentie pundis for the inlaik of the licht gold upliftet be him
1649 S. Leith Rec. 88.
To chang the light money that he haith for good mony
(b) 1515 Treas. Acc. V. 29.
Thre leicht crownis
1536 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 222.
To … pay to me … the sovme of sewyntene scoire of merkis in gold of angell nobillis, crovnis of weicht, unycornis and leitht crovnis
(2) a1570-86 Dunb. Maitl. F. xxxii. 40.
The bakstar sayis [etc.] … ; The dewill said … With thy licht lewis cum wnto me
1513 Treas. Acc. IV. 491.
For caryage of the birsket and sovr breid and licht breid of quheit fra Edinburgh to Leith
1584 Edinb. D. Guild Acc. MS. 234.
For liij gret commvnyon breid … , for iii lycht breid
1638 Dumbarton B. Rec. 54.
The baxter unlawit … for selling of light bread
1656 Nicoll Diary 189.
[The Edinburgh magistrates] did tak no ordour … with fusted breid and lycht loaves
(3) 1584 Acts III. 311/1.
With allowance of viij of the said viij d. grottis … for remeid of wecht alsweill havie as licht vpoun everie merk wecht of the said money passand the irnis
1593 Ib. IV. 48/2. 1663 Cochran-Patrick Coinage II. 150.(4) 1663 Banff Ann. I. 148.
His pund weight was fund tuelf drap licht

3. a. Lightly laden, unhampered. b. Of a ship: Unladen, without cargo. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2532.
To mak him lycht, he kest the lamb him fra
1560 (c 1650) Dundee B. Laws 21.
It is statut … that na ship that is livered or light ly at the shoar
1602 Conv. Burghs II. 133.
Quither the schip be laydnit or licht

4. In the comparative: Delivered (of a child).Only north. (Cursor M.) and north midl. ME. and e.m.E. (c 1560), and latterly and in the mod. dial. only Sc.: cf. ON. (verða) léttari (barns), id. See also Lichter v. Also in the positive.(a) c1420 Wynt. i. 1521.
Off Neptwne nest scho wes lychtare
Ib. iv. 1424.
Twa hundyr wyntyr … Or lychtare wes the Madyne cleyne
Ib. vi. 1942.
At hyr tyme scho wes lychtare
Ib. i. 1514, v. 1985, vi. 1208, etc. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 869.
For it was said quhan his mother was lycht Ane thousand ladyis was lycht on that nycht
1535 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 70.
Katherein Mayne convict to deid … , executioun deferrit quhill scho wer lichter
1565 St. A. Kirk S. 241. c1575 Balfour Pract. 550. 1586 St. A. Kirk S. 578.
Deponis that sche wes nocht present quhen Begis Blak wes lichter, bot immediatle eftir sche wes lichter sche com in
1596 Dalr. II. 138/17, 150/32. 1606 Dundonald Par. Rec. 98.
That Mareoun Nicoll, fornicatrix, was lichter of hir bairne
(b) 1594 Warrender P. II. 43.
Quhil the tym of the Quenis being lighter drew neer
1639 Johnston Diary (1911) 406.
My wvfe … travailed and about 8 hours in the morning was lighter of a son
1665 Lauder Jrnl. 128.(c) c1610 Melville Mem. 159.
The Quen of Scotland was leichter of a faire sonne and … sche was bot a barren stok

5. a. Of food or drink: Light, easy of digestion. Also said of the digesting of such food. 1456 Hay II. 118/10.
Than is nedefull till him tendar metis of licht and sone degestioun and delicious thingis
Ib. 123/2. Ib. 129/2.
Gude tender metis as chekinys and eggis and syk lycht metis of degestioun
Ib. 138/34.
The gude water is … quhite and clere, wele gustit and lycht
Ib. 144/11.
A lytill licht repast of degestable mete
a1568 Bann. MS. 72 b/30.
Quha wald tak rest … The supper sowld be schort & licht
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1047.

b. fig. Of a sleep: Light, easily shaken off, not deep. 1562-3 Winȝet II. 13/6.
Wtheris … as it war in a licht slummir easelie to be walkinnit

6. fig. Easy to bear or to perform, not grievous or exacting. b. Of literature: Light, requiring little mental effort, amusing. 1375 Barb. ii. 521.
For luff is off sa mekill mycht That it all paynys makis lych
?1438 Alex. i. 1076.
It is not licht To distroy thame
1456 Hay II. 54/9.
The quhilk cheritee makis hevy birding lycht to bere
a1500 Henr. Fab. 102;
Wyfis sayis lukand werkis ar licht
1513 Doug. Direct. Æn. 116. a1500 Henr. Fab. 712.
I wald, swa it wer licht, … Tak part off pane
a1500 Bk. Chess 1299.
Throw thair lordis liberalite The laubour lichter of his men suld be
?a1500 Remembr. Passion 5.
All aduersite is lycht to that man
1562-3 Winȝet I. 23/24. 1581 Burne Disput. 150 b.
Ve affirme … that his ȝok is nocht licht, bot verie hauie
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS. No. 998.b. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 8344.
I … in my hand ane vther volume tuke, Of lychter dyte, and storyis of the ald

7. Of small consequence, not grave or serious, slight, trivial, unimportant; also, venial., 1456 Hay I. 266/33.
Ilke foule caus that unknawand man wald for lytill evin allege for fede or despyte … or othir caus of lycht evyn
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxii. 51.
I grant my seruice is bot licht
1562-3 Winȝet I. 52/9.
Breuelie considering the first part of thair titill to this thair supreme auctoritie, I fand it nocht only sclinder and licht bot planelie inglorius
Ib. II. 81/3.
The sones of Cham quha, knawing ony licht falt … in thair forefatheris, reuelis it fra hand til wtheris
1565 Instit. Ct. Sess. 5 a.
That all materis decydit … be registrat in the buikes … except small lycht materis
1571 Misc. Bann. C. III. 124.
26 Maij, I had a fitte [sc. of ague] … bot it was bot licht
a1585 Maitl. Q. lxxiii. 69.
Thai ar but licht and thingis of nane effect
1577 Reg. Privy C. II. 612.
Forsamekill as upoun licht and slendir occasioun unhappelie fallin out thair wes divers slauchteris committit betuix [etc.]
c1650 Spalding I. 75. 1588 King Cat. 40.
Thocht the dommage that can cum thairthrow be neuer so lycht
Ib. 156.
Sic sclender sinnes … albeit thay ar nocht deadly and appeirantlie licht
a1599 Rollock Wks. I. 405.
For this disestimation of him is fra that licht account and regaird that they made of him and of the gospell quhilk he teached

b. Said of skirmishes or armed conflicts involving small numbers or few casualties. 1531 Bell. Boece I. 230.
Erar to stop the Scottis fra taking of thair … strenthis be licht berganis than ony set battal
1533 Boece iii. iii. 93 b. 1596 Dalr. I. 164/9.
Betuene thame … was neuir a set battell but lycht carmushing evir
1609 Acts IV. 434/2.
These dissentionis [were] … small and weak in the beginning for … neighbourlie marches … or licht braulis

c. Used predic. or absol. in phrases: To set at licht, set licht, set licht by, let light of, to account of small value, think little of, despise, undervalue. See also Lat v.1 14 (2) and Licht adv.1 a1500 Rauf C. 635.
Be Christ, said the coilȝear, I set that bot licht
Ib. 740.
Thir lordis leuch vpon loft and lystinit to the King, How he was … set at sa licht
Ib. 936.
I rek nocht of thy riches … , Thy go[l]d nor thy grassum set I bot licht
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 25.
For thair testimonies, thocht thay twichit sum folkis schrewitly, ȝit thay wer sic as thay micht esilie set licht by
1681 Cloud of Witnesses (1714) 141.
God will be about with this generation for letting so light of such things and casting them behind their backs

8. Of persons or animals: Light on foot or of movement: agile, active, nimble, fleet. Also transf., of a person's intellect.See also Lichtfute n.(1) 1375 Barb. x. 61.
Men that licht and delyuer war
Ib. xiii. 56.
Fiff hundreth armyt weill in steill, That on licht hors war [horsyt] weill
c1420 Wynt. i. 785.
Off spede he is mare lycht Than ony foule is apon flycht
1494 Loutfut 17 a.
The tigre is a rycht licht best gangand swift as ane arow
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xlviii. 95.
Rycht strong of corpis … Lusty of schaip, lycht of deliuerance
1513 Doug. v. viii. 18.
Lychtar on fute and agil was the tane
1567 Sat. P. iii. 71.
To dance that nycht thay said sho sould not slak With leggis lycht to hald the wedow walkane
a1570-86 (Henr.) Maitl. F. lvii. 19.
Waldin I am … and wonder licht
1579, 1617 Despauter (1579).
Praepes, licht of fleing
(2) 1549 Compl. 66/12.
To behald ther lycht lopene, galmonding, stendling bakuart & forduart
(3) transf. 1456 Hay II. 78/11.
For God has givin thé wit, understanding wyth a lycht subtile engyne

9. Light of heart, free from care, cheerful, happy. c1420 Ratis R. 1142.
This eild [childhood] is lycht and innocent, Suppos it want gud jugment
?1438 Alex. ii. 3560.
Joyfull thay war with hartis licht
Ib. 6827.
The presoun [of Venus] is Licht and ioly and full of blis
a1500 Henr. III. 92/66.
Robene on his wayis went, Als licht as leif of tre; Mawkin mvrnit [etc.]
c1475 Wall. iv. 337.
Now lycht, now sadd; now blisful, now in baill
a1500 Sir Eger 68.
When we departed at yond gate, Thou was full blyth, and light of late
a1500 Bernardus 309.
Persaweis thu thé lycht of wyne and blycht? Fra company … draw thé swycht
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxvii. 23.
Na ferly thocht his hart wes licht That to sic honor grew
1513 Doug. vi. xv. 41. a1568 Scott iii. 13.
Swey as thay swey, be blyth quhen thay ar licht

10. Given to levity, frivolous, light of conduct.For examples of licht of laitis, see Late n. b (2). 1375 Barb. vii. 112.
Thai saw … thre men cumand Lik to licht men and vauerand
c1420 Wynt. v. 5567.
That knycht … lycht off all condytyowne Till allkyne folys redy bowne
1456 Hay I. 73/24.
Than suld mony licht ȝong rekles men, quhen thai wantit gude, tak bataill apon sakeles men
c1460 Thewis Gud Women 38.
Quhen scho is proud to schaw hir than Is takin of a licht woman
a1500 Colk. Sow ii. 154.
Thow lichit [sic] boy, thow menis mekle sorrow
a1500 Sir Eger 2574.
He is too light, He loves too well to sit at wine
a1570-86 Kennedy Maitl. F. lxxi. 7.
To be content … That my licht ȝoutheid is ourpassit
1551 Hamilton Cat. 91.
Wantone and licht company
1596 Dalr. I. 152/12.
Nathir was this lycht lawgyuer with … shame pricked … that he abhored … to sett out another new law evin als wicket
1661 Forfar Witches in Reliq. Antiq. Sc. 132.
Wher the divell appeared to hir alone, lik a light gentleman and convoyed hir a piece, dating hir and lay with hir
1669 Dunblane Synod 69.
Ther is great profanity committed be some light conceitted persones at night walkes
1696 Minnigaff Par. Rec. 10.
[He is accused of] drinking in light company and speaking profain … language

b. Wanton, unchaste. (Espec. of women.)attrib. a1400 Leg. S. xxxv. 3.
Thadee, that licht woman wes & richt brukil of hyre flesche
a1447 Bower Chron. II. 376.
The unlatit woman the licht man will lait
1497 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 425.
All licht weman … to decist fra thar vicis and syne of venerie
1533 Gau 16/5.
Thay … that … committis fornicatione with hwris or ony licht persons
a1568 Scott iv. 25.
Lycht wynchis luve will fawin
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1165.
Mak a licht luf of your awin sweir erss
predic. 1581 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 219.
Thair said mother quha is detenit in warde for fornicatioun … in respect that sche hes bein licht this viij yeir … to be put in Dyngwall induring the townis will

c. Licht skirt, a woman of light character.e.m.E. light skirts (1597– ). 1560 Rolland Seven S. 1706.
Licht skirt, for all thy skippis, Had I thé in my grippis, on thé I suld be wrokin

d. Of activity, conduct, words, etc.: Frivolous, wanton. 1456 Hay II. 31/35.
Nocht to play thame at playes of dice and of tables and othir licht playis
Ib. 63/35.
He that takis mare plesaunce in … fair wommen, gude wynis and spicis, lycht wordis with negligence of Goddis service
c1460 Wisd. Sol. (S.T.S.) 493.
Wnprofitable delytis … al that is bot vanite and lycht transitoure blythnes, wnwalable
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 984 (Ch.).
He askit forgiuenes For his licht laytes and his wantones
1560 Rolland Seven S. 4633.
Ȝour awin licht wilfulnes Hes causit me [etc.]
a1585 Maitl. Q. lxxx. 33.
Lo heir a toy and licht conset And loveris new devyce
1670 Kingarth Par. Rec. 69.
Young woomen … drinking in ale houses and other light cariages

e. Of an accusation: Frivolous, insincere, lying. 1521 Acts XII. 39/2.
Quhatsumever licht report is senistirly maid … for his demeritis

11. That moves or is moved easily; chiefly fig., fickle, inconstant, unstable; facile, hasty (of action, judgement etc.).(1) c1420 Ratis R. 1688.
The sevynt eild … forȝetful alsua and lycht In thingis that it gart do or dight
1456 Hay I. 302/7.
Or that he write to the Pape ony materis … for ony lycht mennis counsailis or ony small wrechit mannis
1494 Loutfut 17 a.
That he that first bure it wes a richt lycht man and wont to flee
1513 Doug. x. i. 14.
O hevynly wightis … , Quhou is betyd ȝour myndis bene sa lycht That ȝour decreit … Retretit thus … suld be?
Ib. ii. 57.
To salf Ene, hes thou not power … From Grekis handis hym to withdraw be slycht, And set in sted of that man, light as lynd, Owder a clowd or a waist puft of wynd?
1533 Boece xv. iv. 580 b.
Having experience … how mony skathtis followit apoun licht and flowand myndis
1535 Stewart 40209.
My mynd als lycht is euirmoir on flocht As woddercok or any womanis thocht
Ib. 58345.
His licht ȝouthheid without stabilitie
1558-66 Knox II. 173.
Quho mycht creditt me in ony thing gif I suld schaw my self lycht in this case
a1570-86 Arbuthnot Maitl. F. xxix. 166.
That is nocht licht lyk weddercok in wynd
(2) 1456 Hay II. 49/23.
And that he be nocht sa lycht of striking with his handis that thare be na discrecioun in his dedis
1562-3 Winȝet I. 61/5.
Finȝeit eloquence, be the quhilk the incircumspect and licht of iugement oftymes ar dissauit

12. Of animals: Frisky, skittish. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2232.
The oxin wes vnwsit, ȝoung and licht, And for fersnes thay couth the fur forfair

13. Light-headed, demented, mad. 1591 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 41.
The dene of gild to gif ... sex pund for clothing the licht man that wes in Dyngwall and for putting him ower the watter
1600 Crim. Trials II. 205.
[He] wes in his hous, quhair his wyff wes lyand seik; and giff he had cum furth, his wyff wald haue gane lycht
1604 Dundonald Par. Rec. 54.
The kov within twa thrie dayis thairefter gaid licht and tint hir milk
1615 Brechin Kirk S. 12 Sept.
Anent the great ... misordour done by ane licht woman ... the sessione thinks it expedient that sche be apprehendit
1691 Cramond Kirk S. III. 8 Oct.
Helen Hutson … confest her breach of the Sabbath, but said she could not compeir befor the session, for it would turn her light in minde, as she had been formerly

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"Licht adj.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Aug 2022 <>



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