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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.

Bla, Blae, adj. Also: blaa, blaw, blay, blea, bleaie, ble. [Northern ME. bla, blaa (midl. and southern blo, bloo), ON. blá-r (dark) blue, livid, black.]

1. Of persons or parts of the body: Livid or bluish as the result of a blow. Freq. coupled with bludy. ? a 1200 Acts I. 37/1.
Si quis verberando fecerit aliquem blaa et blodi ipse qui fuerit blaa et blodi prius debet exaudiri [etc.]
a1400 Leg. S. xxvi. 930.
Sancte Nicholas to thame aperyt Bla & bludy
a1400 Leg. S. xxxi. 523.
He … mad hyr sa bludy and bla … That [etc.]
a1500 Henr. Fab. 569.
My bludie hekill and my nek sa bla
1535 Stewart 508.
Br[e]istis war brissin, bayth bludie maid and bla
1574 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 21.
Stryking of hir with ane flail on the arme makand the samyn blay
1582 Reg. Privy C. III. 496.
Alexander Bruce … straik thame with baich strakis, and maid thame bla and bludie
1588 Crim. Trials I. ii. 163.
Scho gatt ane sair straik … the mark quhairof wes blae and ewill faurrit
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. 129 b.]
[Gif ane man strikes ane other, and makes him blae and bloudie
1641 Aberd. B. Rec. III. 269.
Putting violent hands on Elspet Craig, … abeiseing hir face, and making the same bla
1665 Lauder Jrnl. 72.
A halfe hower after … his finger was also raisen in blay blisters
Comb. 1538 Aberd. B. Rec. XVI. (J).
Conwict for the blud-drawing, bla-making and strublens
1558 Ib. I. 309.
[Thai] wer convickit … for the strublens, striking and bla making of Mariorie Pattoun

b. Of a blow: Making a livid mark or bruise. 1513 Doug. vii. xi. 112.
With leyd pellokis … By dyntis bla thar famen doun to dyng
1563 Crim. Trials I. i. 431.
[Thai] crewelly strak and dang thame, with rungis … , mony blaw and bloody strekis
1593 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 85.
[He] geff hir many bauch and bla straiks
1604 Shetland Sheriff Ct. 144 b.
Giffing hir mony bluidie and bleaie straikis
1630 Orkney Bp. Ct. 74.
The fornemitt persounes … gave him many blae and bloodie straikis
1642 Aberd. B. Rec. III. 291.
Giveing him ane bloodie strak thairwith in his thigh, and sindrie blae strakis on his back
Ib. 292.
Geweing hir many bla strakis

2. Livid or bluish from cold, bloodlessness, etc.Also as a colour attributed to fiends.(a) a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 159.
Saturne … With lippis bla and cheikis leine and thin
c1500 Rowll Cursing 215.
On thair kneis bla and blak
Ib. 244.
Than sall bla Baliall gif ane brattill
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyting 210.
Bla berfute berne, in bair tyme wes thow borne
Id. lxxxvi. 30.
He brak the barmekyn of that bribour bla
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 380.
His fingeris, quhilk quhit wes, wox bla
Ib. 1269.
Thy … lippis with ded ar maid full bla
1513 Doug. vii. xiv. 10.
Chymera, That wondrus monstre, with wide chaftis bla
1535 Stewart 36462.
All his bodie … Without bluid it was baith blak and bla
a1568 Bann. MS. 234 a/19.
My rosy lippis ar woxin paill and blay
1565 Inverness B. Rec. I. 128.
The said William … callit hyr blay ribald
(b) a1605 Montg. Flyting 341.
Shoe that … bringes anie bedding for thy blae bowke
a1603 Anc. Prophecies 19.
Her steid was white … , His top, his taile, war both full blae
?1665 Bruce Soul-Confirmation ii (J).
Some of you will stand with a blae countenance before the tribunal of God

3. Of things: Bluish; blue. a1400 Leg. S. xxxi. 723.
A blese of fyre as brynstane bla
Ib. xxxii. 733.
Blak pic & gret brynstane bla
?1438 Alex. ii. Prol. 5.
Quhen … flowris spredis on seirkin hewes, Blew and burnat, blak and bla
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1329 (H).
The rosis reid … and the purpour violat bla
1513 Doug. vii. Prol. 130.
I … Persauyt the mornyng bla, wan, and har
1595 Edinb. Test. XXVIII. 47.
Four dosone bla pointis … xiiij bla pursis
1609 Hilderstoun Silver Mines I. 165 b.
Tuenty loadis of blea stanes to the fynning furnaces
1699 Wemyss Chart. MS.
Bla glaized callicoe, bla cloath

4. Black. Bla man, a negro.So ME. blamon, blomon, -man, ON. blámann-. c1515 Asl. MS. I. 155/27.
In Ethiope, that is the land of bla men
Ib. 158/24.
In Ynd is … men of bla colour
Ib. 309/6.
Of Cam [come] churllis and foull pepill as bla men

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"Bla adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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