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

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First published 1983 (DOST Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Oxter(e, -ar(e, n. Also: oxster(e, -ar(e, oxstair, oixstar, oc(k)ster, okstar(e, okister, uxter, auxter, hokster, and Hoxstar. [North. e.m.E. oxtere (16th c.), and mod. Sc., Eng. (chiefly north.) and Ir. dial., appar. altered f. OE. óhsta, óxta.]

1. The armpit.Also, more loosely, the under part of the upper arm or of the arm as a whole.(Carried) under or in one's oxter, under one's arm. In one's oxter, in one's arms. In (utheris) oxteris, arm in arm, in one another's arms. (To leid or tak) be the oxter, by the arm. (To join) oxter to oxter, arm in arm. Ocster claith = one carried under the arm.(1) c 1420 Liber Calchou II. 449.
The hart has his clengyng plas vnder the armys that is in the hol of the oxteris
1497–8 Acta Conc. II. 103.
[He] tuke and harlit the sade Wilyeame … with ane cord under ilkane of his oxteris
1531 Bell. Boece II. 199.
With hate eggis bound under hir oxstaris
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest 14.
By the earis, under the oxstaris [etc.] … maist frequentlie apperis apostumis callit bubones
c 1563 Reg. Panmure I. xxxiv.
He had his purs vnder his oxter
1576 Reg. Privy C. II. 553.
He stoggit him … throw the oxtare
1596–7 Misc. Spald. C. I. 115.
Vnder his oksteris
1597 Ib. 131.
Be ane schot in his syde vnder his oxtar
1597 Ib. II. 136.
William Muterar … struik the said Johne in the left oxstair with ane knyfe
1598 Ib. I. 120.
That the devill … is laid agane be tacking of a dog vnder thy left oxster
1598 Crim. Trials II. 46.
And laid the blaidis thairof vndir hir bair oxsteris
1600-1610 Melvill 33. Ib. 70.
With … a staff in the an hand and … his servand halding upe the uther oxtar
1623 Crim. Trials III. 557.
Taking the hen and puting it vnder the seik womanis okstar or airme
1628 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. II. 394.
The bishops oyle him [the King] in the boughts of his armes, looffes of his hands, the toppes of his shoulder and ocksters
1662 Highland P. III. 7.
He did let her fall out of his auxter
1694 Lanark Presb. 123.
The mear … used to shut her head beneath a mans oxters
(2) 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 247.
Johne Brand, minister, … having on his gowne and a byble under his oxstare
1630 Justiciary Cases I. 145.
Haifing ane katt under his okister
1662 Highland P. III. 7.
The devill … did cary hir under his auxter unto [etc.]
1679 Welsh Alarm to Impenitent 4.
With a dish under his oxter
(3) c1500-c1512 Dunb. xiii. 17.
His fa sum by the oxstar leidis
a1538 Abell 125 a.
Othir sais at the ewill spret led him be the hokster in the see
a1568 Bann. MS. 81 a/13.
Amang my freindis I wes weill kend … Thay wald me be the oxstar tak
(4) 1528 Wemyss Chart. 276.
Presentlie ordaines them to shake hands … and to pas in oxtars togither
1532 Mill Mediæv. Plays 248.
Ane of the ta craftis & ane the tother in oixstaris as breithir & companȝonis
Ib. 249.
In otheris oixstaris
a1568 Scott xv. 31.
In oxsteris clois we kis
(5) a1568 Bann. MS. 231 b/18.
In my oxster fast I find the bowster richt
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 513 (T).
Sum in thair oxteris it cleikis [H. Some in there oxtere hard it cleekes] Lyk a bagpype
1608 Edinb. B. Rec. VI. 47.
That is carreit in anes hand or oxter
1620 Perth Kirk S. MS. 12 Sept.
With the stra quhilk his bairne hed in hir hokster
1620 Fraserburgh Kirk S. 113 (27 Sept.).
That Beatrix Douertie had lyne in ane wichis oxster
c1650 Spalding II. 297.
(b) 1597 Misc. Spald. C. I. 191.
That [scho tuik] Willame Browne his calf in hir uxter and charmit the same
(6) 16.. Row Cupp of Bon-Accord 3.
We joyne oxster to oxster and arme to arme
(7) 1575–6 Lanark B. Rec. 71.
Tua d. of ilk burding, ane penne of ilk ocster claith

2. The underside of the shoulder of an animal. 1593–4 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 110.
The flescheoures … in cutting of all bestiall … takis furth of the forder quarter thairof in the oxter of the samyn ane portioun of flesche callit the bowbreids
1618 Stirling B. Rec. I. 151.
1671 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. MS. 28 Aug.
That all fleshe presenting the mercate … shall not be shoot in the oxters as formerlie

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"Oxter n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Jun 2023 <>



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