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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.

Commoun, Common, adj. Also: commoune, -own(e, comoun(e, -owne; com(m)un(e, commwn; commone, comon(e, quomon; com(m)ound, commond; cowmoune, -mon(e, -man(e. [ME. commoun(e, -own(e, -on(e, etc., early commun, comun, OF. comun, L. commūnis.]

1. Pertaining to the people or community as a whole; shared in by all.(a) 1375 Barb. iii. 230.
With commowne assent, as ane, Thai ischit off the toune to fycht
a1400 Leg. S. vii. 663.
Of commowne coste thai bocht A place
c1420 Wynt. iv. 21.
To tha he lypnyd the governale Off the comoune state
1437 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 5.
For the commoun proffite of this towne
1441 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 6.
Because that thai haue considerit that this [is] a commoune actioun
1456 Hay I. 67/12.
That all the lave suld be … governyt for thair awin gude and the proffit commoun
c1450-2 Howlat 462.
Off commoun nature the cours be kynd to fulfill
1491 Acts II. 226/2.
It is statut and ordinit, for the commoune gude of the Realme [etc.]
Ib. 227/1.
For the commoun gude and wele of the burgh
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xiv. 27.
Sa littill ressone to help the commoun cawis
1558-66 Knox II. 183.
To the great counsall of Scotland now admitted to regiment … by the commoun consent of the Estaittis thairof
a 1568 Sat. P. xlvii. 12.
Havand na caus bot commoun voce and sklander
1571 Peebles B. Rec. 327.
The kirk geir … quhilk suld be restorit … to the commoun vse of the tovne
(b) 1384 Rotuli Sc. II. 73/1.
In entent of common profit of bathe reaumes
c1420 Wynt. v. 3250.
It off comon cost thai maid
c1420 Ratis R. 1036.
For comone voice is sum deil laith To greif a lord
Ib. 1531.
Tyll hurt the comon profyt haill
1461 Liber Plusc. 337.
The persons that has beyn agaynis the gude purpos of the common profit of the land
1513 Doug. ii. i. 49.
The onstabill common voce Diuidit was
1518 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 183.
The forsaid maister that sall happen … to beir ony common office of the toun for that yeir
1561 Inverness B. Rec. I. 69.
The prowest, baillies, and commond cunsell foirsaid

b. Of things belonging to, or owned by, the community.Frequent with certain nouns, as bell, buk(is), gude, purse, sele, wark(is). 1423 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 259.
The baylȝes of the saide burgh payand of the comon purse … nyne ponde
1433 Liber Coll. Glasg. 167.
The said Freris has set to thair comown seele
1441 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 7.
The alderman … sall entermet with na commoune gude bot anerly [etc.]
1442 Ib. 8.
The eraste pennyes that may be gottyn of the comoune rentaile
1458 Peebles B. Rec. 127.
Ony man [offending] … sal pay x s. to the common wark
1460 Ib. 135.
Be this our present wryt in our commown buk
1479 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 36.
The compt of the towne of the commoun rentis bygane
1515 Ib. 157.
The commoun mylnis and proffeittis thairof
1530 Ib. II. 20.
That thai be actit in the common bukis to … keip the said statutis
1553 Ib. 276.
For the scharping of the commone sweird ilk tyme it wes usit
1561 Inverness B. Rec. I. 69.
That na vnfre man sall … possaid ony of the commond tackis of our burgh
1577 Prot. Bk. J. Scott 35.
The small common siluer of the conuent of Sanct Androis
1596 Paisley B. Rec. 178.
Ane hundreth money … to be peyit to the baillies and counsall of the said burgh to be imployit to the comon wark thairof
1634 Peebles Gleanings 172.
For candill, quhen thay past to the cowmane kist at sundry tymes

c. Of lands, ways, streets, etc. , or the use of these.Frequent with certain nouns, as gate, passage, vennel; akeris, land, mure, pasture.(1) 1437 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 5.
That the commoune venell of the burgh be … closit for a time
1439 Edinb. Chart. 64.
The comon gate that passis to the furde oure the vater of Leitht
1456 Hay I. 186/7.
The commoun way of passage maid … for all maner of Cristyn man
1487 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 53.
That thay set the meill in the commoun mercat and nocht in houssis
1498 Ib. 72.
A stare to be biggit vpoun thair commoun streitt
1508 Reg. Privy S. I. 238/2.
The said voult havand … fra the wall of the samyn [tenement] of breid to the commone gutter [etc.]
1529 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 395.
As the commond gait gangis fra owr said burght
Ib. 396.
Kepand … commond passage be the said brig
1542 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 181.
Ane commoune venneyll and passage within the said burght
1561 Inverness B. Rec. I. 59.
For his … false saingis and fliting in commond he get
1578 Glenartney MS. Doc.
Ony commowne gaittes or passages within our said forrest
1589 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 137.
At everie half aiker end of the said commoun land
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Purprestvre.
Quhen ony … occupies the Kingis calsay, or commoun gaite
1657 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 364.
To … tak ane vew of the brockin hoillis in the commoun wayis
(2) 1393 Reg. Great S. (1814) 239/2.
Illius prati quod dicitur le commvne medow [de Dunde]
1456 Liber Aberbr. 88.
The sowthe syde of the myre sal ly in commoun pasture to the said tua lordis, thar tennandis, and thar gudis
1466 Reg. Great S. 215/1.
Johnne and his airis sall brouke comoun pastour … in our south mure
1516 Dunferm. B. Rec. 157.
vij akirris of land lyand in the comone mur
1537 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 82.
Thir persones … havand pairtis of the saidis commoun mvre and aikeris thairof
1549 Reg. Cupar A. II. 65.
Thay … sall haue commoun pasturing to thair … catell vpoun our girs of Campsy
1553 Lanark B. Rec. 26.
Thre akkyris off comone land
1596 Paisley B. Rec. 187.
The fyve ruids comoun land … quhilk pertenit to … Johne Bigart
1621 Ann. Banff II. 406.
That tenement … haueing … the commun grein at the south
(3) 1619 Garden Elphinston 1809.
Thair he first did found A commound College
1621 Mun. Univ. Glasg. I. 215.
The commune hall of the Colledge
1624 Peebles Gleanings 46.
For mending of ane lok … in the cowman hous
1628 Ib. 131.
The commoun hall of the stepill
1632 Ib. 130.
The doore of that house thairin callit the cowmmoune hous

d. Of public officers. 1488 Lanark B. Rec. 1.
Nicol Schirelaw is maid commoun herde, to keip the catel of the town
1479 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 36.
At the commoun clerk … gadder of ilk stallenger … twa shillingis
1492 Acta Conc. 250/1.
To call before thaim the alderman, bailȝeis, consale and comunite of the burgh of Aberden togidder with thair commoune clerk
1537 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 413.
The malys … salbe rasauyt … be the commound procuratour of the viccaris of the queir
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 15.
The common magistratis and officiaris of the Vniuersite
1576 Bk. Old Edinb. C. VI. 93.
Giffin … to the commwn officer
1624 Index Edinb. Test. II. 210.
Patrik Inglis, common-herd in Sauchtounhall

2. General, happening to all; esp. affecting the whole people or community. 1375 Barb. xx. 155.
He wist him behufit ma Of all this liff the commoune end; That is the ded
1398 Acts I. 574.
It is ordanyt that thar be raysit a general contribucion … for common nedis of the kynrike
1398 Liber Melros 489.
In cas … comoun were, … be betwix the said kyngrikis
c1420 Wynt. ii. 579.
Syne [came] comune qwalm off all thare fe
1447 Reg. Great S. 106/2.
Gif it hapin common wer of Inglismen

3. In predicative use: Shared in by two or more. Freq. with to. a1400 Leg. S. vi. 340.
Gyfe he be nocht penny bowne, Lat it til vs bath be commowne
c1420 Wynt. v. 3737.
The kyrk … That comowne is to knawe and knycht
1437 Reg. Dunfermline 285.
The gate liand be north the herber hill [to] be commoun to baith the partis
1464 Liber Aberbr. 140.
As in fewalle, pastur, and vthir thingis belangand commone
1482 Edinb. Chart. 155.
Thair … gudis mofabill and vnmofabill, als weil nocht common as common
1490 Irland Mir. I. 27/20.
The mare commone that this gift is, it is the better
1513 Doug. ii. xii. 56.
Lufe weil … Our a ȝong son, is common til ws baith
1531 Bell. Boece I. 21.
The injuris done to ony ane of thaim sal be reput commoun to thaim baith
Ib. 28.
Thair wiffis war commoun
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 583.
Quhen that thir bauld Romance … Maid Latyne scolis … That thare language mycht be ouer all commoun
1569 Reg. Morton I. 50.
We sall esteme the samin commoun and elik deir to ws
1584 Edinb. Test. XIV. 171.
That the calf waird … be commoun to my wyf and the said Peter

b. Of general resort. c1420 Wynt. v. 418.
That wes a cyte gret and fayre, Comowne and off gret repayre

4. Of persons: Familiar or intimate with all or with many. Esp. commoun woman. a1400 Leg. S. ii. 979.
He was hym allane A commowne man till euerilkane
1429 Exch. R. IV. 495.
De firmis terrarum … de Communwomanlande
1451 Ib. V. 440.
De firmis terre de Commownwomanezland
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 77.
Than desolat scbo walkit vp and doun, And, sum men sayis, into the Court commoun
1492 Myll Spect. 286/30.
Scho passit to the bordall in habit dissymblit as vther common wemen did
1579 Black Bk. Taymouth 142.
And it be ane madin schyld, scho salbe ane commund voman

5. Ordinary, usual. c1420 Wynt. iii. 356.
I war than Bot as ane othire comoune man
Ib. v. 3030; etc.
He had all tyme a comown ws Till dysheryt the nobill men
1473 Treas. Acc. I. 4.
Al accionis except murthure, tressone, and commovne thyft
Ib. 5.
A new infeodacione of his landis … to be haldin of the King in warde, and relef and commoune soyt
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1145.
By the vse, and cours, and commoun style On this maner [he] maid his citatioun
1490 Irland I. 164/13.
I haue maid this werk … in the commoune langage of this cuntre
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lviii. 12.
Saintis in glorie, Baithe off commoun and propir storie
1532 Acta Conc. & Sess. MS. I. 2.
Giff the kingis grace … has na materis ado upoun Friday, thane the commone table to have proces
1542 Reg. Cupar A. II. 203.
All the huisband men of the saidis landis ar oblist to commoun careage to salt, colis, … and lyme
1549 Compl. 16/32.
Thou sal speik comont langage
Ib. 140/18.
The iugement of the comont pepil
1558 Misc. Wodrow Soc. 131.
Albeit the sayingis be barbour and commoun
1580 Rep. Menzies MSS. 18.
Ane tailȝeour, ane commoun man readie to wirk to euirrie persoun for his leving
1596 Dalr. I. 46/25.
As the commone brute amang thame is
Ib. II. 225/29.
King Henrie … maid her his commoune badfellow
1619 Garden Elphinston 1788.
Men of mightie zeall, And more nor commond loue
1613 Edinb. Test. XLVII. 255.
Hir body to be buriet in cowmone place of buriall
1630 Ann. Banff I. 64.
Ane hewit plaid 12 d; ane comowne plaid 8 d
1634 Edinb. Test. LVI. 224.
Aucht cusheounes of ane comvwne sort

b. Common law, the usual civil law. 1424 Acts II. 3/1.
Vnder all payne that may folowe be cours of common lawe
1438 Lennox Mun. 69.
Als sone as the forsayd sone and dochter is off lachfull eld that [thai] may be maryd off the comone law
1472 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 25.
Becaus the commoun law sayis … that quhair ony maner of nychtbour [etc.]
1522 Acta Conc. MS. XXXIII. 3.
Considering it is grantit be the quomon law … to the appeler to rais and bryng hame his commission

6. Of an ordinary and low type; that is so by habit and repute; notorious. 1456 Hay II. 40/31.
Na commoun leare, na commone viciouse hurdomare, … commoun tavernouris [etc.]
c1460 Consail Wys Man 394.
Comone tulȝouris al men hatis
a1500 Bk. Chess 56.
The viii a commoun currour of the tovne
1504–5 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I. 91.
That Thomas Alexandersone was ane comone theyf
1530 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 19.
Margaret Borthik is bannist … for commone pikere and vther her demeritis
Ib. 42.
Resetting of Katryne Heriot that commoun thef
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 392.
Blasphematours, beggaris, and commoun bardis
1540 Id. Sat. 2202 (B).
Becaus ȝe ar … A commoun publick calsay paikar
1559 Inverness B. Rec. I. 36.
Saing to hyme, commond theff and murderissar of Clan Chattan and slachterrar of tham
1561 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 338.
Robert Jak … quha wes convickit … as ane briggan and ane commound nychtvakar
1574 Aberd. Kirk S. 19.
The almes … sall be gevin to honest decait personis and not to commond beggaris
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xv. 37.
Commoun mantenaris of transgressouris
Ib. xcv. 1.
Off Liddisdaill the commoun thevis
Ib. clxxx. 43.
Gif na credence to comune clatteraris
1613 Rec. Old Aberd. I. 53.
Scho is ane commond flytter and drunkart

7. a. Common place, a passage cited in argument. 1581 Burne Disput. 81.
This is ane commone place, quhairfra ȝe souke sophisticall argumentis

b. Common head, an exercise or discourse on a general point. 1611 Fife Synod 6.
Such as failȝie to mak the exerceis, additioune, or intreat the commoune-head of doctrine
1630 Kirkcaldy Presb. 22.
Mr. Harie Wilkie handled the cowmon head adjuned to him
1672 Inverness Presb. 32.
To haue his theses in readiness … , the subject of his commone head being [etc.]

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"Commoun adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2023 <>



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