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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).

Nuris, -ice, -eis(e, Noris, Nourice, n. Also: nwr-, nurr-, nowr-, nourr- and -ise, -ys(e, -yis, -yce, -es, -eis, -eice. [ME. nurice (Ancr. R.), -es (c 1440), norice (c 1290), -ise, -yce, e.m.E. nouryce (Caxton), nouris, OF. nurise, -isce, nor(r)ice, nour(r)ice: cf. also Nurisch and Nurs.The (a) forms (nuris, etc.) are appar. chiefly Sc.Also plur. without inflexion.]

1. A woman employed to care for a small child; esp. one who suckles the child, a wet-nurse or foster-mother.Also freq. applied to a woman who has formerly been an adult person's foster-mother.Const. the possessive and to (also of), both of the child and of the child's parent as employer.Maistres nurice, see Maistres n. 1 b.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 47.
& gat a nuryse gud in hy The quylk hyme fosterit tendirly
1482 Wemyss Chart. 99.
With thair barnys with nwrys and famuliaris
1492 Myll Spect. 284/27, 28. a1500 Seven S. 450. 1502–3 Treas. Acc. II. 296; etc.
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxii. 61.
In ȝowth on nureis [M. nwreice] kne
1513 Doug. iv. xi. 102.
Deir nurys, quod scho, [etc.]
1525 Wigtown B. Ct. 168 a.
& the nureis McMath
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1714, 1715.
To thre nuresis to foster he him gaue, The first nureis to giue him suck and feid, The nixt him wesche [etc.]
Ib. 2014.
Mony mischeifis … Hes oft occurit be nureis negligence
1566 Treas. Acc. MS. 38.
1570 6th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 651/2.
1574 St. A. Kirk S. 391.
c1575 Balfour Pract. 378.
The mother or the nurice
1584 Edinb. Test. XIII. 274 b.
1607 Dundonald Par. Rec. 144.
Jonat Wid, nureise in Clolinand
c1616 Hume Orthog. 20.
Nurice, from nutrix, quhilk the south calles nurse
1633 Edinb. Test. LVI. 172.
Helen Boutron nureis … Issobell Steill nurreis
uninfl. pl. 1512 Household Bk. Jas. IV 26a.
For mylk to the twa nurreis
(b) 1497 Treas. Acc. I. 378.
1506 Ib. III. 168.
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3467.
The babbis vpone the noryse kne
1562 Inverness Rec. I. 91.
And ane noreis that fostrit Jannat Cuthbert
1565 Canongate Kirk S. (ed.) 21.
Quhair yit scho is noris
1566 Ib. 50.
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1710.(c) a1400 Leg. S. xxvi. 40.
One Fryday bot anys wald he The nowrys suk
1590 Crim. Trials I. ii. 193.
1638 Household Bk. M. Stewart 25.
To ane off the nourices
(2) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 169.
It tyd his noryse for to be Sitand & had hym on hyr kne
Ib. xliv. 93.
Hire nowrise
1474 Treas. Acc. I. 39.
To my lordis nurys
c1475 Wall. ii. 258.
His fyrst norys … Till him scho come
1500 Treas. Acc. II. 40. 1529 Lynd. Complaynt 83.
Thy nowreis and thy auld maistres
1546 Id. Trag. Card. 189.
That my noryce had smorde me in my cude
1538 Treas. Acc. VII. 122.
The auld Quenys nures
1564 Inverness Rec. I. 119.
My nowris haueand the barne on hyr kne
1590 Crim. Trials I. ii. 195.
1591 Ib. 252.
Jonett Drummond, sumtyme your nwrice
Your sumtyme nurrice
1597 Edinb. Test. XXXI. 254.
To ilk ane of hir tua nwreisis x li. … to the auld nureis [etc.]
1611–12 Misc. Spald. C. V. 86. 1615 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II. 177.
For burding of hir nvreis and barne
(3) 1512 Treas. Acc. IV. 340.
To Brounfeildis wyff that suld have beyne nurice to the prince
Ib. 356.
To ane nurice to the prince, callit Blakwod
1513 Doug. iv. xi. 100.
Nurys vmquhile to Sychey hir husband
Ib. v. xi. 90. ? 1552–3 Balcarres P. 313.
Jaine Syncler, nureis to our soveraine lady
1564 St. A. Kirk S. 193.
Annabell Adeson, nurice to Mr. Robert Ayrth in Couper and harlot to [etc.]
(4) 1515–16 Treas. Acc. V. 74.
To the vj rokkaris and nurisis of the Kingis and umquhill my lord dukis his brothiris
1533 Boece ii. xii. 84.
The nuris of Eder

b. (To put to) nurse. — c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 175.
Gif I him put to foster and to nurice

c. Applied more generally to the woman (or, in myths etc., female animal) who suckles or has suckled a child, including the natural mother and foster-mothers who are not hired nurses.c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 41/6. c1515 Kennedy Ib. II. 272/5.
Nurys to God and moder of fauouris
1513 Doug. i. v. 80.
Than with the glitterand wolf skyn our his aray, Cled in his nurys [Sm. nwreis, Ruddim. nuris; Comm. nuryce] talbert glaid and gay, Romulus [etc.]
1531 Bell. Boece I. lvi.
Ilk moder wes nurice to her awin barne
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest 44.
As for young barnis … thair nurissis quha giffis thame nutriment [etc.]
1578 Perth Kirk S. MS. 19 May.
And becaws sche is ane nwreis substractis hir from the ciuill pwnisment quhill the barne be fosterit
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 258.
A yeir a nurice seaven yeirs a daw

d. transf. and e. fig.d. a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 171.
Juppiter … nureis to all thingis generabill
Ib. 199.
Fair Phebus … Tender nureis and banischer of nicht
1558-66 Knox II. 283.
God … commands quenis to be nurisses unto His people
e. a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 61 (Asl.).
Fader of falset norys of iniquite
1551 Hamilton Cat. 116.
This carnal concupiscence, the mother and nuris of syn
a1568 Bann. MS. 225 b/31.
Fair weill the nvreis of gentilnes
a1568 Scott i. 221.
Noblest natour, nurice to nurtour
1594 Warrender P. (S.H.S.) II. 261.
Faith … the fosteres and nurice of a blissed marriage

2. Applied to a male person who fosters a child. a1400 Leg. S. xxviii. 85.
Scho … gefine wes to fostir & fede … Til a man … & … scho nedit for to kepe Fore faut of helpe ilke day schepe Of hyre nuryse

3. A woman who tends the sick or injured.Also e.m.E. (1590, Shakesp.) in this sense. a1568 Bann. MS. 107 a/12.
He saw him lyane allace in swoun … Syne for ane nvreis thay send belyfe Quha brocht with hir [etc.]

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



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