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

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First published 1937 (DOST Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Aw, Awe, v. Also: au, av. P.t. and p.p. aht, acht; aucht (auchtt, hauct, autht), aught; awcht (awth), awght, aw(gh)tht; auch, awch. [Northern ME. aw, agh (midl. and southern ow, ogh, ), early ME. aw, , auh, ah, OE. áh, áᵹ, p.t. áhte. As in English, the p.t. tends to supplant the present in most of the senses. The pl. form auchtin, used by Douglas and in Clariodus, is adopted from Chaucerian English.]

1. tr. To own, to possess.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xxxv. 209 (Antoyne aw it nocht). c1400 Troy-bk. i. 41 (Leamedone that aw this land). 1405 Maxwell Mem. I. 146 (but leyffe of thaime at the wod aw). 1436–7 Edinb. B. Rec. 5 (on thair cost that awe the land). 1468 Peebles B. Rec. 159 (that man that aw the hows). c1475 Wall. iv. 32 (quha aw this sowme?). 1511 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 107 (thar masteris that aw the land). 1542–3 Lanark B. Rec. 21 (that na walkaris feche wobbis bot tham that aw tham). 1560 Dundee B. Laws 20 (na nighbour awand timber left vpon the shoar). a1605 Montg. Flyt. 70 (quhen they come that aw thame). 1602 Conv. Burghs II. 140 (the merchandis that aw the geir). 1629 Boyd Last B. p. xxi/2.
Ourselves, and all we aw [: law]
(b) 1375 Barb. i. 45 (he aucht that reawte). a1400 Leg. S. ii. 428 (the mar banis the prechour awcht); xxvii. 65 (the king speryt quha aucht the house); xl. 518 (his meryt that acht the stafe). c1420 Wynt. i. 499 (thir awcht the landys halyly); vi. 1969 (than speryt Makbeth quha that awcht the yhoke). 1442 Ayr Burgh Ct. Nov. (that na wyf met mele bot thai that aht it). c1475 Wall. v. 739 (quha aucht thai hors … he ast). 1502 Treas. Acc. II. 148 (to the wiffis that aucht the weschale). c1500-c1512 Dunb. xlii. 110 (all that his modir aucht). 1535 Stewart 46035 (can no man tell quha aucht the banis). 15.. Clar. ii. 390 (the lord that awcht the paleice). a1578 Pitsc. I. 249/4 (he that aught the house); II. 246/25 (the man quho aucht the bairne). 1596 Coll. Aberd. & B. 386 (demandit wha aught that land). 1622-6 Bisset II. 222 (quhat they war that aucht the schip). 1693 Hawick Arch. Soc. (1917) 14 (William Herkness aught this book).

b. Quha is aw or aucht? who owns? to whom belongs? a1568 Bann. MS. 143 a/5.
Sone scho sayit, Quhois aw ȝone man?
a1568 Scott iv. 31.
For conȝie ȝe may chawcht hir … , And nevir speir quhais awcht hir
1580 St. A. Kirk S. 449.
Scho wes demandit … quha wes aucht the bairne scho wes wyth

2. intr. To have a claim or right, to be entitled, to do or be something.(a) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 2625 (none is now one lyve that au of law for to succeide). 1410–1 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 30 (thair aw na man cast turwis in our moir). 14.. Acts I. 22/2 (he aw and sall be demyt be his peris); 56/2 (na Galowa man aw to haf visnet). 1456 Hay I. 144/3 (I will prove that he aw to be payit for all the ȝere). 1461 Liber Plusc. 336 (vthir richtis that he aw to haif). 1478 Acta Aud. 71/2 (that Cristiane has richt to the land and aw to jois the sammyn). 1622-6 Bisset II. 241/10 (the maister aw nocht to sell the schip); 245/6 (they aw to be quyte).(b) 1375 Barb. i. 68 (that he aucht to succeid to the kynryk); 432 (hys ayr I aucht to be). c1420 Wynt. viii. 292 (syndry sayd his ayris thai aucht to be). 1476 Peebles B. Rec. 178 (als frely as ony malar browkis or aucht to bruk). 1487 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 53 (the provest aucht and sould haue the custume). 1513 Doug. ii. x. 47 (I aucht lovit to be); v. Prol. 32 (tharon aucht na man irk). 15.. Clar. i. 1083 (thairof ȝe awcht have none ferlie). 1560 St. A. Kirk S. 37 (I acht and suld be divorced fra him). 1610 Highland P. III. 119 (some personis aucht to be hard for thair interes). 1640–1 Misc. Spald. C. V. 157 (the comptar aucht to be discharget of the soume).

3. To deserve or merit, to be justly appointed or adjudged, to fall properly, to be, etc.(a) 1375 Barb. ix. 743 (ȝhe aw chastyit for till be). 14.. Acts I. 210/2 (syn na man aw to be condampnyt qwhil he be accusit). 1410–1 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 30 (we aw nocht to be distroblit in our possessioun). 1456 Hay I. 221/22 (quhither he aw to be prisounare); 229/3 (he aw nocht to be haldin prisonare). a1500 Lanc. 3447 (out throuch this warld yhe aw to be commendit). c 1540 Carnwath Baron Ct. 43 b (sindry fencis sic as thai aw to tyne apon law).(b) 1385 3rd Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 410/2 (that the landis aucht to dwell yn to Sir Patrik Grayis handis). 1418 Liber Melros 503 (thir thyngis done as thai awych to be). 1447 Reg. Great S. 106/1 (sekande thaim as sic thingis ach to be soch). 1484–5 Peebles B. Rec. 31 (the cornes aucht to be rowme free). 1513 Doug. iv. xi. 58 (schrewis awcht be punyst for thar cryme); x. xiv. 58 (I aucht and worthy was to haue bene slane). 1540 Edinb. Chart. 212 (that the arreist aucht nocht nor suld nocht be lowsit). 1567 Sat. P. vii. 111 (than acht he be of all puissance denude). 1596 Dalr. II. 163 (to quhome the kirk lyuengs aucht and suld haue bene destributed). 1636 Misc. Spald. C. V. 226 (any peittis that aught to be caried in). 1660 Melrose R. Rec. I. 287 (the alegance awght to be takin of).

4. To be under an obligation (to do or be something).(a) 1375 Barb. xi. 430 (thai sall do thair deuour as thai aw). a1400 Leg. S. xxxii. 6 (that croice that almen aw to dout). 1387 Edinb. Chart. 35 (doand thair craft as trew men aw to do). 14.. Acts I. 309/1 (the eln aw to conteyn xxxvij inch). 1410–1 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 29 (as we awe ado of our office). ?1438 Alex. ii. 2443 (for the faith ȝe aw to bere ȝour men). 1450 Coll. Aberd. & B. 234 (as brefe of perambulacion aw to pas). 1456 Hay I. 116/28 (quha euer slais him self aw to tyne his hede); 127/6 (I will preve that I aw to help him); etc. a1500 Bk. Chess 2071 (a woman aw to follow hir husband). 1507 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I. 53 (that thai awe to restor thame agane). 1551 Hamilton Cat. 71 (we aw to lufe our nychbour in God). a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 1273 (ȝe aw to hald ȝe ay behind). 1622-6 Bisset II. 243 (he aw to call the merchandis).(b) 1375 Barb. xii. 171 (we aucht to luf almychty God). a1400 Leg. S. ii. 445 (thu aucht blitht to be); xviii. 197 (ensampil he acht hafe of halynes). 1426 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 21 (lyk as he did and as he awcht to do). 1437 Dunferm. B. Rec. 285 (gife ony rynryg be les than it aucht to be). 1456 Hay I. 299/10 (a king aucht wele to be wis); II. 67/15 (tharefore aucht thai till honoure knychthede). a1500 Rauf C. 126 (kynd aucht to creip). c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 279 (wele aucht thou be afiret of the licht). 1513 Doug. xi. Prol. 5 (weill auchtin eldris exemplis ws to steir). 1516 Reg. Privy S. I. 412/2 (Thomas hes done that he acht to do). 15.. Clar. i. 186 (weill auchtin I of ȝow to be joyous). 1553 Lanark B. Rec. 29 (to do that he auch to do to the toun) . 1562-3 Winȝet I. 122/9 (quhome ȝe aucht nixt God obey). a1570-86 Hudson Maitl. F. clxxxi. 14 (quhat we have beine, and aucht to be). c 1590 Red Bk. Grandtully II. 135 (as I awcht of dewte). 1622-6 Bisset I. 245/9 (oxin that aucht to laboure the ground). 1618 Haddington Corr. 136 (nothing that I should and aucht to do).

b. To be incumbent on (a person).a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii. 643 (as ws aw wele to do); 648 (ws awcht luf thaim for thare mercy).

5. To owe; to be liable to pay or render. Also to or til a person or with dative.To pay that ane aw, to pay the debt of nature, to die.(a) 14.. Acts I. 305/2 (brasyl at the entryng aw nathyng). c1420 Wynt. iv. 2539 (thar homage that thai suld aw to Rome off det); v. 3955 (pay that yhe awe thame). ?1438 Alex. i. 371 (be the faith I to ȝow aw). 1456 Misc. Bann. C. III. 94 (Alexander aw me iiij of markis). 1471 Acts II. 99/2 (wther beneficis that aw taxatioun). c1475 Wall. ii. 251 (he has payit at he aw). 1490 Irland Mir. I. 20 (we aw him honour and reuerence). 1510 Reg. Privy S. I. 314/1 (all Inglis gudis that aw us custume). 1513 Doug. xi. i. 115 (we quhilk aw na thyng onto the Goddis). 1533 Gau 23/2 (we awe na obedience to thayme). 1543 Lanark B. Rec. 19 (the persone that tha aw the det to). 1596 Dalr. II. 67/17 (sche payes that she awe); 218/11 (the dutie quhilk tha awe the king). 1616 Misc. Hist. Soc. II. 155 (the loue I bear and awis to treuthe). 1619 Garden Elphinston 1666 (the obligatioun he and thay unto the countrie aw).(b) 1375 Barb. i. 255 (quhethir he suld pay fryst that he awcht). c1420 Wynt. v. 509 (off fors he suld pay at he awcht); 5610 (ilke rewme that aucht homage or trewage payid). 1463 Liber Aberbr. 131 (sayand that he aucht na subsidé for thai said kyrkis). 1487–8 Prestwick B. Rec. 327 (he acht him xv merkis). 1490 Irland Mir. I. 90/12 (the honour that he aucht to God). c 1525 Carnwath Baron Ct. 14 (he swer that scho awcht him sa mekill). 15.. Clar. ii. 1202 (ane stranger to quhom He nothing awcht). a1578 Pitsc. II. 143/1 (for the lufe they aught to God). 1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Actornatus (he quha aucht sute in onie court). 1605 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 242 (all quha aucht commoune dairkis to the towne).(c) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 1017 (that fische that acht was to that haly man). 1392 Lennox Mun. 46 (manredyn or sewte avcht of the sayde landis). 1409 Exch. R. IV. p. ccix (his allegiance acht till the King). 1428 Liber Aberbr. 58 (annuale rent quhilk he clamyt to be aucht of a tenement). 1456 Hay I. 120/29 (merci is aucht him be resoun). 1461 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 22 (all dettis and chargis acht be hym). 1474 Misc. Spald. C. V. 24 (all custumis and deweteis acht or to be acht til ws). 1491 Dunferm. B. Rec. 34 (certain sowmys of siluyr auch til the said Wil. Layng). 1497 Ib. 75 (maid the ayth awch tharto). 1508 Reg. Privy S. I. 249/2 (the releif of the saidis landis gif ony be aucht thairof); Ib. 269/1 (all dettis aucht be him to us). 1540 Elgin Rec. I. 48 (tuenty schillingis aucht be hir to him). c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3806 (the honour aucht to God allone). 1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Assisa (the rent assise aucht to the Kingis Hienes).

b. In the p.p. (see above) freq. with the additions and custumit or custume, and usit, and wont.(1) 1392 Lennox Mun. 47 (the seruys tyl hym acht and customyt). 1400 Maxwell Mem. I. 139 (my seruys aught and custum thar of). 1440 Reg. Great S. 60/1 (doand service auch and custume). 1446 Reg. Cupar A. I. 126 (doand al duyte and servys as aucht and customyt is to do).(2) 1433 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 286 (doand wont seruice aucht and vsit til vs). 1539 Reg. Cupar A. II. 6 (all vthir dewyteis aucht and vsit to be pait).(3) 1461 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 362 (doyng herefore servyce acht and wont). 1466 Reg. Great S. 215/1 (comoun pastour and fewell aucht and wont). 1472 Reg. Cupar A. I. 162 (with aucht and wunt seruys). 1503 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. 343 (at hour and tyme aucht and wont). 1528 Acts II. 329/2 (saifand seruice aucht and wount to his hienes). 1557 Grant Chart. 379 (vtheris chargis aucht and wount). 1593 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 89 (thair dew custume aucht and wount). 1641 Acts V. 438/1 (rightes, service, and few dewties aucht and wont to his hienes).

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"Aw v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Feb 2023 <>



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