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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.

Beif, n. Also: bef, beiff, beiffe, beyff, beeff, beafe, biefe, biff, biuff. [e.m.E. beafe, beefe, beife, biefe, beffe, ME. befe, beef, beoff, byffe, etc., OF. boef, L. bov-, bos ox. See also Beuf.]

1. The flesh of cattle; beef.(a) 1375 Barb. xviii. 283.
This is the derrest beiff that I Saw euir ȝeit
1456 Hay II. 137/17.
Thare is ane othir kynde of flesche as bef … that engenderis melancoly
1465 Peebles B. Rec. 155.
Quhatsumeuir he be that brekis beif, that the hochis [be] brokin wyth the samyn
a1500 Henr. Fab. 270.
Muttoun and beif strikin in tailȝeis greit
1498 Dunferm. B. Rec. 88.
The wrangvis avay takyne … of ane leg of beiff
a1500 Seven S. 697.
He fed the child fra thin with beif
a1570-86 Dunb. Maitl. F. xxxii. 42.
The fleschour sweiris … Come newer sic beif into thir boundis
1537 Treas. Acc. VI. 464.
Ane berrel of beiff and twa siddis of bacone, … vij. frs.
1549 Ann. Banff I. 25.
That the said flyscharis heve ouklie gud … stuff sik as beyff and movttone swa that the nychtbors wantt not on the flysche day
1556 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 231.
For ane ȝeir it salbe leifull to all maner of persones … to inbryng vpone all the dayis of the oulk beif, muttone, veill and pork
1560 Rolland Seven S. 52/15.
Lat beif not fra ȝow draw, quhill that ȝe get ȝour roist
1563 Acts II. 543/2.
All beif, muttoun, veill, and lyke bestiall slane to landwart and burgh
1581 Sat. P. xliv. 200.
Thou … The peperit beif can tailȝe be the threid
1630 Ann. Banff I. 64.
Ane carkische of beiff, 8d.; ane carkische of muttoune, 4d.
1642 Elgin Rec. I. 273.
In selling of ane forder leg of beiff to ane wther eftir he haid coft the samyn
(b) 1554 Duncan Laideus Test. 152.
I … fangit beafe with greit hammis
1591 Thanes of Cawdor 203.
Biff, mowtoun
1608 Rec. Old Aberd. I. 46.
For steilling … ane mart of biuff furth of his flesch fatt
1631–49 Conv. Burghs IV. 541.
Barrells of herring, white fish, and biefe

b. transf. of human flesh. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 176/16.
O cative Quene. … Wyld rauins sall ryfe thy beif
1570 Sat. P. xxi. 7.
The mark that God gaif in his grief To Cains cursit Kin Sall brod thir Burriois in the beif

2. An ox; an animal yielding beef. 1603 6th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 673/1.
Purveior of beifs, muttons, … and lames
1615 Highland P. III. 179.
The liwtenant causit prowyd thretie fyue beifis weeklie for his Ma[jes]ties yrishe forces
1637 Ann. Banff I. 81.
That the haill flescheouris … bring the carcatchis of thair beiffis and muttounes haill to the marcat place
1677 Ib. 157.
The hydis, tallo, … and penches of the saidis beiffis

3. Attrib. with caldron, stand, tub, watter. a1500 Seven S. 710.
He sperit quhat medicyne he gaf. ‘Beif watter,’ said he
1598 Black Bk. Taymouth 332.
Off beif caldronis
1630 Bamff Chart. 224.
Twa beiff toobs
1685 Soc. Ant. LVIII. 366.
Three beif stands. A lesser beif stand

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"Beif n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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