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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).

Spous(e, n. Also: spousz, spows(e, spouis, spowis, spowisse, spoues, spowus, spuis, spwse, spoiss, spoys. [ME and e.m.E. spuse (c1200), spouse (c1290), spus (Cursor M.), spowse (a1513), OF (e)sp(o)us(e.]

1. A married person, a husband or wife. Also, the consort of a pagan deity: a. Of a woman. Also, once, = a bride. b. Of a man.a. (1) 1381 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 4.
To Mergarete our spouse & to the langer lyuand of vs [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. viii 1126.
This Alysandyre efftyr that Off spows [C. spousse, Au., E.2 in spoussage] twa fayre dowchtris gat
1436 15th Rep. Hist. MSS App. viii 45.
His ayris betwex him and Elisabeth … his spows gettyn
1490–1 Acta Conc. I 175/2.
Angus Heralde and Katrine Hammiltoune his spous
1506 Glasgow Dioc. Reg. II 161, etc. 1513 Doug. ix xiii 57.
Nor … Juno … durst him minster strenth … For Jupiter had … Send dovn Iris … Onto hys spous and sister thar at hand
1513 Doug. ii x 209.
And I [sc. Creusa] vmquhile that salbe clepit thi [sc. Æneas'] spows
1513 Doug. ii xii 44.
Thar salt thou … wed to spows the douchtir of a kyng
1513 Doug. xiii ii 87.
Lavinia … of Troiane kyn with blude Italian Sammyn mydlit to me as spous … Sal ȝeld lynnage to ryng perpetualy
a1595 Cullen Chron. Aberd. 34.
c1550 Lynd. Test. Meldrum 222.
Ȝe suld haue bene my spous and paramour, With rent and riches for my recompence
1563 Montgomery Mem. 195.
I leif to … my spous … all gold and siluer, cunȝet and vncunȝeit, and all vthir jovallis
1565 Southesk MSS 17.
He left … his spows executrixt and onely intromissatrix with all his guddis and gair
1576 Edinb. Test. IV 237.
That my said spous … kepe hirself without housband or lemmane
1594 Misc. Maitl. C. I 68.
To do his dewtie to Marioun Layng his spous, leprous, in all thingis
1611-57 Mure Dido & Æneas i 200.
I, first Goddes, … Jove's spowse, and sister, heaven's arch-empresse great
(b) c1390-1434 Sc. Merchandise (ed.) 113.
Spowisse I commend me to ȝow & I wald at ȝe dwyd weyll
1491 Acta Conc. I 198/1.
Distrubling of dem Margrete Symple the spouis of vmquhile Sir James of Crechtoune
1525 Buchan Cl. II 67.
1537 Liber Dryburgh 280.
Isobell Haig his spovis
1538 Misc. Spald. C. II 32.
Besse Praitt, … spowis to Walter Cullen
1557 Inverness Rec. I 13.
His lauchfull spowus and wyf
1566–7 Crail Kirk S. MS 21 Feb.
1576 Misc. Spald. C. II 43. 1583 Anal. Scot. I 283.
1597 Fam. Rose 287.
Meriore Ros spowis to James Cuming
(c) 1478 Reg. Cupar A. I 211.
We hafe grantyt to the sade John the same tak to Jonet his spoys or to ane of his barnys quhilk he assignes
1478–9 Acta Aud. 82/2.
Pertening to Cristiain the spois of vmquhile William Bonar
(d) 1675 Kirkcudbr. Test. (Reg. H.) 3 Nov.
The frie gwdes and geer [are] to be ekewallie delt that is to say the towe part to the bairns and the thrid to Grisall Erlland my spwse
(2) 1492 Douglas Chart. 133.
The quhilk landis … the said Marioune, spous petative to the said Cuthbert, sall bruk … for hir lif tyme
1497–8 Acta Conc. II 122.
Be ressone that scho was his lauchfull spouse the tyme of his decese
1554 Reg. Cupar A. II 112.
To the said Thomas, Elizabeth, his spous futur [etc.]
1557 Stirlings of Keir 411.
Ane honorable gentill women, Jayne Cheisholme spous moderne to … James Stryueling of the Keir
1569 Riddell Tracts 158.
The said Robert … and … his spouse putative
1577–8 Inverness Rec. I 260.
Quhar he adneris nocht to hir as scho that is his mareit spous
1631 Justiciary Cases I 164.
Jonet Wylie, his first laufull spous being as ȝit leveand and nocht laufulie divorcet frome him or he frome hir
1661 Bk. Dunvegan I 57.
Marie McLeod afidat spous to the said Sir James McDonald
(3) 1456 Hay II 128/26.
As a faire and lustye spouse … anournyt with … faire clething in hir fresch ȝong age … tobe … mare fresche and lusty the day of hir mariage
b. (1) 1402 MacRae Early Sc. Texts No. 9.
Jonne the Ros the spouse qvhilom of the saide Katerine
c1420 Wynt. vi 2316.
Till Malcolme the spows off Saynt Margret
1493 Acta Conc. I 299/2.
He haid maid to hir & hir spous … a lettre of tak of the said landis
a1500 Quare Jel. 281.
And ife a spouse stant with this vyce I wys All thing is said all thing is wrocht amys In his consate
1507 Reg. Privy S. I 226/2.
With power to hir and hir sade spous in hir naim
1513 Doug. ii ix 22.
My wrachit spows and kyng
1513 Doug. ii xii 30.
Than scho … on this wys to me spak, … ‘O my sweit spows [etc.]’
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matth. xxv 1.
Ten virginis, the quhilk tuke thare lampis and went out aganes the spouse and the spouses [P. the hosebonde and the wijf]
a1530 Acta Conc. MS XXXVI 101.
We have disponit the mariage of the said erle to our spous Archibald erle of Angus
1560 Rolland Seven S. 665.
Into hir bed quhair that scho was lyand In ane morning with hir spous and husband
1564–5 Reg. Privy C. I 327.
George Kennedie, hir pretendit spous
1567 Reg. Privy S. V ii 398/2.
Henrie, hir graces spous, King of Scottis
(2) c1515 Asl. MS I 324/28.
Jubiter … spous of Venus

c. pl. Married persons, husband and wife. 1573 Glasgow Prot. VII 23.
Johne Steyne, burges of Glasgw, and Beatrix Stark, spoussis
1674 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS 9 Dec.
James Linton and Christin Poag spouses
1675 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS 24 Feb.
Johne McKittrick and Margarat McKeand spouses

d. attrib. With coffer, kist. 1502 Acta Conc. MS XII 83b.
[To] restore … & pay til the sadis Elizabeth … ane spous kyst the price [13 s. 4 d.] ane spous coffer the price [6 s.]

2. In various religious uses. a. Of the Church in relation to Christ. b. Of God or Christ in relation to the Church, or to holy men or women. c. Of the Virgin Mary in relation to God or Christ.a. 1490 Irland Mir. I 13/26.
The nobile spous of Jhesu, the halykyrk
1490 Irland Mir. II 66/17.
Gret is the dignite and lovage that Sanct Johne sais of this haly spous of Jhesu [sc. the Church] in the end of the buk callit Ypocalips
1490 Irland Mir. III 1/25.
The maner that is ordanit … be Jhesu … and gevin to the haly kyrk His lufit spous to deliuer the synnaris fra thar syn & perdicioun
1551 Hamilton Cat. 16.
The haly kirk is callit the mistike bodye and spouse of Christ
a1561 Norvell Meroure 13a.
My darrest spouse, for whome my bloode is shed … Ye are my chosen and catholike kirke
1685-8 Renwick Serm. 486.
For, it cannot be said of Christ to his spouse; as it was said in another sense, out of sight, out of langure
b. a1400 Leg. S. xxxiv 102.
We, that suld God plese maste, Oure verray spouse
a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi 9.
Sancte Johne … Of the spouse callit the lemmane [L. amicus sponsi] For gret luf God gef hym thane
a1400 Leg. S. xli 105.
My spouse [sc. Christ] … has giffine me in mariage That neuir sal falȝe, His herytage
1533 Gau 56/13.
Christ quhilk is the kirkis spousz with quhome it is spousit be faith
1560 Acts II 531/2.
The trew kirk … obeyis the voce of hir awin spous and pastour bot takis not vpon hir to be maistres ouer the samin
1562-3 Winȝet I 110/22.
For the luue of Christe ȝour spous
c. 1490 Irland Mir. I 97/17.
God … has schawin his ire and crabitnes agane synnis and synnaris, sa that He had na perfit rest, nore quiet, quhil the cummyn of his derrast spous, lady and moder, the Virgin glorius
1490 Irland Mir. I 150/15.
Dominus tecum. In thire wourdis are schawin … the haly luf and vnioune betuix the hie diuinite and this lady. Sche was His derrest spous and dochtir. Sche was His carnale and only moder

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



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