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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Prof(f)it(t)abil(l, Prof(f)etabil(l, -able, adj. Also: profyt-; proffeit(t)-, profiet-; prophet-; prouffit- and -abil(l)e, -abyl(l. [ME and e.m.E. profitable (c1325), profetabile (a1340), prophitable (1362), providabille (1422), prouffuitable (1450), profightable (1528), proffectable (1562), F. profitable (prophitable, 12th c., Littré).] Yielding profit or advantage; beneficial, useful, fruitful, valuable, profitable.Chiefly predic.Also, applied to persons.

a. predic.Sometimes, esp. in early use, in the impers., or quasi-impers., construction (it) is proffitabill (to do something, also const. noun clause compl.).(1) c1420 Ratis R. 204.
For-thi is profytable to led Sa weill … thi spekinge
1490 Irland Mir. II 50/34.
And tharfor richt necessar and proffitable is to prove and found it [the faith] in haly writ
Ib. 80/5. c1460 Vert. Mess (S.T.S.) 10.
It is mar spedfull, neidful and profitabile to the manis saul-heill to her mes with … deuocioune na [etc.]
a1500 Henr. Fab. 19 (Bann.).
It is rycht proffitable Amang ernyst to myng a mirry sport
1533 Bell. Livy I 112/18.
He thocht it more proffittabill … to renewe band … with Romanis
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest 21.
In sic vechtie diseise mair profitable it war to vse preseruatiue remeid
1456 Hay I 216/15.
It is nocht expedient, na proffitable … for the Cristianitee, that he war subject to the Empire
1562-3 Winȝet II 39/16.
Bot it is weray proffetable that we explane [etc.]
(2) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii 521.
Thai … fand it [the island] rycht profytable, & to duel in gud & abile
c1420 Wynt. ii 661.
The land off Egypt … That in all thyng wes profytabille
1461 Liber Plusc. 386.
The lang lyff is nocht profitabile heire Quhill [etc.]
1489 Acts II 219/1.
Sic thingis as salbe sene proffitable be the lordis
1490 Irland Mir. I 9/6.
1513 Doug. Direct. 8.
Profytabill [Sm. prophetabill]
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I 35.
I think na besynes sa proffittabill as to [etc.]
a1538 Abell 7*a.
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest 45.
Weil lernit phisicianis, quhais conseill in tyme of sic dangeir of lyfe is baith profitable and necessar
1606 Birnie Kirk-b. iii.
The right vse of buriall is expresly profitable
(3) c1420 Wynt. iv 1765.
A gret cuntre … And that, thai said, wes profytabille [C. profetable, W. proffitable] For to ma to thame habitabylle
a1500 Bernardus 325.
Wakyr doggis ar profitabyl to fede
1518 Edinb. B. Rec. I 184.
Becaus the forsaid faculte is thocht sa honorable and proffitable to be had within this realme
1531 Bell. Boece (M) II 122.
Macolme … thocht nocht proffittabill to ieopard his army vnder sic dredoure
Id. Livy I 30/18.
Quhilkis wourdis ar richt profittable & effectuus to move the ingine of women to pleser
(4) c1390 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 20.
Syn sa lytill a thynge and at vs thynk resonable and profytable bathe for yhow and the hows of Coldyngham
1456 Hay I 120/8.
Thare is na vertu sa proffitable for mannis saule as the vertues cardinalis
Ib. 303/15.
A trety … that salbe gude and prouffitable for all men that on lukis
1490 Irland Mir. MS fol. 341.
It may happin … that the airis … of the king be nocht proffitable … for the realme
1531 Bell. Boece I 16.
1578 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I 147.
1580 Skeyne Descr. Well.
Quhilk being profitabill as it is for the stomak and melt, it must neidis spring from iryn
(5) c1420 Wynt. i 863.
Wytht hyllys hey thir landys ar … Bot profytabyll to man and best
c1450 Cr. Deyng 209.
And swa temptacione is rycht prophetable tyll ws
1466 Reg. Dunferm. 356.
To mak land stell and dame … in ony place profitable and esfull to the sayde abbot
1489 Wemyss Chart. II 113.
Becaus al the landis … are seyne maire ewys and profitable to the said knycht
a1500 MS Rawl. Qb. 4 fol. 1.
And gif faynding ware nocht profitabil To gude men [etc.]
1518 Edinb. B. Rec. I 183.
The impetracioun of quhatsumeuir priuilege or fredomes thocht to thame proffitable at our souerane lord the king
1529 Lynd. Complaynt 74.
1531 Bell. Boece II 133.
1576 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I 277.
William Abirnetheis pretendit rycht acquyrit culd neuir be profitabill nor vailȝeabill to him
1598 Dunferm. Ann. 250.
Because the saidis buikis can nocht be proffitabill to him
1632 Aberd. Council Lett. I 364.
The same [£10,000] hes lyin altogidder idle and hes nowayes bene profitable to the saids bursares
(6) 1456 Hay II 124/37.
The metis … at evyn ar mare prouffitable to the nurisching of mannis nature na [etc.]
1596 Dalr. I 7/13.
The woddes selfes nocht onlie proffitable to the vtilitie of timber [etc.]
(7) 1456 Hay II 153/16.
Gif … thy baille … be lele and trewe, just and proffitable to thé
1562-3 Winȝet I 12/34.
Quhilk sort ar les proffitabyll to Godis kirk than wes Lothis wyfe to him
a1578 Pitsc. I 36/25.
Withtout the quhilk [sc. friendship] no man … may be profietabill to himself or ȝeit to the commone weill
c1646 Craufurd Edinb. Univ. fol. 16.
Such was his holy eloquence … that he was equallie profitable to the judiciouse and to the ignorant hearers

b. attrib.(1) 14.. Acts I 357/2.
To the mar spedfull and profitabil restoring of borowys apon fresch deffors
1456 Hay II 121/28.
Syne suld thou avis prouffitable blude-lattingis for the … sesoun
c1460 Wisd. Sol. (S.T.S.) 288.
Ȝhit he na his sal neuir hafe a profytabile na esful day in al ther lyf
1535 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 150.
For … uther profitabyll varyng and disponing anent the kyrk
a1538 Abell 110a.
In it wes maid halie and proffetabill statutis for reformatioun of halie kirk
1610 Conv. Burghs II 305.
Being of guid mynd to fordure that profitabill work
(2) 1460 Newburgh B. Ct. 3b.
That the forsaid Andrev Horn wes na sufficiand na profitabyl na lawchtful nychtbur
a1538 Abell 70b.
Pray all prelatis … to … hald with thame bot proffitabill men
1586–7 St. A. Kirk S. 584.
That sche [Mary Stuart] may heir efter be ane profitabill member in Christis kirk
1623 Aberd. Council Lett. I 210.
The merchand estait a most profitabill member of the commoun welthe
(3) 1531 Bell. Boece I xxxv.
Buchquhane, ane proffitable land for scheip
1573 Reg. Privy C. II 242.
Gude and proffeittabill landis
1596 Dalr. I 34/24.
Abundeing baith in proffitable pasture, and in fertil cornes
(4) c1552 Lynd. Mon. 4791.
For Peter, Androw, nor Iohne culde neuer gett So profytable ane fysche in to thare nett
1584 Edinb. Test. XIV 24.
Foure proffitabill ky fyve forrow ky and twa ky of tua ȝeir auld
1589 Ib. XXI 160b.
xix proffitabill ky price of the pece ten merkis

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"Profitabil adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Mar 2024 <>



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