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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Befor(e, Befoir, adv., prep., conj. Also: beffor, befoure, bifor, byfore; befoire, -foyre, beffoir, bei-, biefoir. [ME. be-, bifore, ONhb. before, -foræ, -fora, bifora, OE. beforan: cf. Beforn and Afore.]

A. adv. 1. At an earlier time or date; previously, earlier.(a) 1385 Rotuli Sc. II. 73/2 (the next trewe gangand before). a1400 Leg. S. i. 549 (the blame that lytil befor tholit he). c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 134 (of whome we oft-syse spak before). c1420 Wynt. ii. 762 (as ye haf herd before be talde). 1450 Peebles B. Rec. 14 (on the Sonday at evin befor). c1475 Wall. viii. 1344 (that king quhilk he befor had maid); xi. 349 (at ony tym befor). c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 269 (this ile before was bare of rethorike). 1551 Reg. Cupar A. II. 68 (before sene). a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxviii. 54.(b) 1535 Stewart 21483 (to reforme all faltis maid befoir). 1558-66 Knox II. 406 (at ony time befoir). 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 32 (a litill befoir). a1585 Maitl. Q. xxv. 63 (remember how thay pleit ȝow befoir). 1611-57 Mure I. 51/9 (at liberty befoir, now tyed).

b. Of before in the same sense. See also Abefore and Obefore.(a) 1432 Highland P. II. 166 (Schir Ihone had it of before). c1460 Wisd. Sol. 366 (quhat is it that was of before?). 1473 Acta Aud. 29/2 (becaus thai comperit nocht now nor off before). 1509 Reg. Privy S. I. 282/1 (calseand the streit alswele as it wes of before). 1553 Misc. Wodrow Soc. 126 (of this I gave the exempyll of beffore). 1604-31 Craig ii. 116 (as of before).(b) 1535 Stewart 40688 (all lawes that Makcobeus maid had of befoir). 1555 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 209 (that the samyn be biggit as it wes of befoir). 1559 Cart. S. Giles p. cviii (lang of befoir). 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 109 (quhairto scho past a lytill of befoir). 1608 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 555 (sik personis quha bwir charge of biefoir). 1622-6 Bisset I. 37 (quhilk hes bene testified of befoir).

c. With past pples., as before mentionat. See also Before-nemmit, -said, -writtin. 1388 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 295.
At all this covenand beforspokyn suld be lelely kepit
1456 Hay I. 192/3.
It wald be callit before thocht felouny, and nocht defens
1561 Liber Scon 216 (summa of the haill money beffoir mentionat). 1570 Leslie 25 (uther befoire mencyoned). 1664 Stitchill Baron C. 32 (the beffor designed Robert Pringle).

2. In front; on the fore side.c1420 Wynt. v. 528 (with ryfft before or blyst behynd). 1492 Myll Spect. 291/24 (this theif in the taking had his teith strikin out befor). 1536 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 77 (the said land befoir and behynd). 1567 Sat. P. v. 10 (a fuite befoir). a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxviii. 61 (quhidder ȝe go befoir or byde behind).

B. prep. 1. In front of; in advance of.1375 Barb. ix. 46 (his brothir ded lyand befor hym; xv. 181 (Gib Harpar befor him ȝeid). c1420 Wynt. viii. 3561 (hys bowelys hym before berand). a1500 Henr. III. 114/9 (I lukit furth a litil me befor). 1477 Edinb. Chart. 141 (before and abowt Sanct Mary Wynd). 1492 Dunferm. B. Rec. 42 (to set a kyll sted befor his hous). 1513 Doug. xii. vii. 32 (quhilk lay before hys ȝet). a1568 Scott xxi. 39 (recent befoir myne e). a1585 Maitl. Q. lxv. 101 (befoir thy face). 1596 Dalr. I. 105/18 (befoir ȝour eyne). 1641 Acts V. 332/1 (to goe befoir the king as ischear).

b. In the presence of.1433 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 389 (befor the alderman). 1443 Reg. Great S. 86/1 (befor us in jugement). 1482 Edinb. Chart. 156 (befor thir witnessis). 1496 Acta Conc. II. 7 (ane instrument tane before the Kingis hienes). a1508 Kennedy Flyting 330 (cour befoir him on kneis). 1512 Reg. Privy S. I. 369/2 (befor the lordis of counsale). 1558 Ayr Mun. 107 (arreistit befoir ony uthiris jugeis). 1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 22 (befoir the hail warld). 1603 Stirling B. Rec. I. 104 (befoir ae baillie & the clerk).

2. Preceding; anterior to, earlier than. Before the hand: see Hand n.1375 Barb. viii. 206 (swa that he suld at the dik befor thaim be); ix. 204 (before Yhoill evyn ane nycht). c1420 Wynt. i. 112 (as cronyklerys befor me wrate); iv. 1808 (the tende man befor Kenyaucht Makalpyne); viii. 3468 (reddy befor day). c1475 Wall. i. 127 (befor the tyme at king Eduuard it fand). a1500 Rauf C. 4 (befoir the ȝule tyde). c1515 Asl. MS. I. 215/6 (before the incarnacioun). c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxvi. 3 (full lang befoir the dayis lycht). 1555 Glenartney Doc. (the deir slane befoir this our proclamatioun). 1567 G. Ball. 18 (gracis to be said befoir meit). 1591 Lennox Mun. 333 (beifoir the dait of thir our lettres). 1646 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 71 (befoire his going south). 1658 Melrose R. Rec. I. 173 (beffor oatsen tym last). 1694 Lanark Presb. 119 (behind the psalmes, yet befor the chapter).

3. Above, beyond; in precedence to. a1400 Leg. S. xxviii. 471.
He had sa gret inwy At cristine men before the lawe
a1500 Seven S. 304.
Before all thing how dois my tre

C. conj. Previous to, earlier than, the time when. Also with at or that and or (= ere).c1420 Wynt. ii. 129 (beffor that lordschype was wndone). 1428 Wemyss Chart. 54 (befor at the said mariage be made). 1490 Lennox Mun. 136 (befor at thai be saulde). 1516 Reg. Privy S. I. 422/2 (before thai war convict). 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 100 (befoir that he was accused). a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 472 (he that douttis befoir he dies). 1598 St. A. Baxter Bks. 55 (before or).

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"Befor adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Apr 2024 <>



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