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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.

Corby, Corbie, n. Also: corbé. [OF. corb or corbin.]

1. The raven. c1420 Wynt. i. 416.
To schype that foule came noucht agayne, … Swa saw he no mare of corby
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1152.
Schir Corbie Rauin wes maid apparitour
1513 Doug. xii. Prol. 174.
So dusty pulder vpstowris in euery streit, Quhil corby gaspyt for the fervent heit
1535 Stewart 55432.
Baith ravin and ruik, with corbie, ka and craw, Biggit nestis and eggis laid thairto
1590 Burel Pilgr. i. xxi.
The bisset and the corbe baith, Flew fast befoir the laue
1596 Dalr. I. 39/12.
A certane foul … called the capercalȝe, … les indeid than the corbie

b. Corby messinger, the raven sent out by Noah; fig. a dilatory or unfaithful messenger. c1450-2 Howlat 812.
How, corby messingere, … Thow ischit owt of Noyes ark & to the erd wan, Taryit as a tratour and brocht na tythingis
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1478.
Quhen he persauit the heuinnis cleir, He send furth Corbe Messingeir
1600-1610 Melvill 351.
When I cam to kiss his Maiesteis hand, I was glaidly maid welcum; his Maieste alleging that I wes corbe messenger
a1650 Row 448.
He proved Corbie messenger (as it is in the proverb) to his master the Pope; for he … became one of the Reformers

2. A raven. (Chiefly in pl.) 1533 Boece ix. x. 310.
Kayis, nycht crawis and rukis in Walis … recounterit corbeis in batell
Ib. xv. xv. 604.
Crawis, cais, corbyis … in winter laid eggis
1549 Compl. 181/35.
Ane cordinar … be gret subtilite neurissit tua ȝong corbeis in tua cagis
1570 Sat. P. xv. 54.
Ȝe … rauins and rukis, ȝe crawis and corbeis blak
1587-99 Hume iii. 153.
The corbeis, and the kekling kais, May scarce the heate abide
1597 Misc. Spald. C. II. 137.
The forsaid officiar persawit ane corbie pluk furth woll out of the top of thy hous
1608 Wedderb. Compt Bk. 33.
The crawis and corbeis and ravenois foullis fled … to our steple … merveulously affrayit
a1650 Row 60.
A corbie was sitting on the houses top, crying, croup, croup, croup
c1650 Spalding II. 82.
Few or no corbeis [were] sen at the wateris syd of Die or Done, or schoir
1688 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. XIII. 255.
He … did sie a great many corbies … fleing about the deponents hous

3. Attrib. with craig, monk, stone. 1539 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 237.
The sex oxingang landis … togidder witht the new landis callit the Corbe Craig
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 1076.
I am content, … That ȝe, freir Gled, and corby monk, ȝour brother, Haue cure of all my guddis
1655 Wemyss Chart. 242.
Ane corbie stone, quhich is long lyik ane lint-whyt egg

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"Corby n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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