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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Evill, Ewil(l, n. Also: evyll, evell, eivell; ievle; ewyll, eweil. [ME. evyl(le, evil(le, ifel, OE. yfel. Sometimes written in place of Ill n.]

1. Moral wrong-doing.(a) 1456 Hay I. 27/32.
Off the quhilk all othir evill cummys as rapyne, and thift, and murthir [etc.]
Ib. II. 45/33.
That neuer throu thame evill na wikkitnesse cum
c1450 Cr. Deyng 144.
A man suld think, that all his euill cumys of hyme self, and all his gud dedys cumys of grace
1490 Irland Mir. I. 34/22.
We desyre that God … deliuer ws fra euill and filth of syn
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 745.
The tre to knaw boith gude and euyll
1567 G. Ball. 122.
Onlie to thé I did offend And mekle euill hes done
a1578 Pitsc. I. 4/4.
He burnes evir in sicht of guid or euill
1662 Epitaph on Bailie Sword (St. A.).
The svord doeth often kill, … This svord doeth no svch eivell [= ill]
(b) c1420 Wynt. v. 4963.
He had mekyll ewyll done, and yhyt to do swa couth not ces
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 570.
Pilat said: Quhat ewill hes he done?
1533 Gau 63/28.
Seiss to dw eweil
Ib. 87/9.
Thy halie nayme is … abusit to sine and ewil
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. c. 15.
All ewill is vpe and al gudnes is doun
1593 Warrender P. II. 172.
It aucht to be your command to dill downe ewill and wrangs

2. Whatever is harmful or painful; harm, mischief (done or sustained).(a) 1456 Hay II. 59/33.
He has … dule of that, that thai have nocht sa mekle evill as he wald
1515 Douglas Corr. 318.
We … promettys … to take elken othir partes … in goud and in evell
1560 Rolland Ct. Venus iv. 117.
Beseikand hir for to be gracious, And take the best, and set on syde all euill [: till, will, fulfill]
1567 G. Ball. 31.
Do gude for euill
(b) a1400 Leg. S. i. 499.
Than rase the dedman son And ȝed, as ewill he had nane
Ib. iv. 339.
The lele men, … Thinkand na ewil, vent to the hill
c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 941.
Heleyne … Thrught whome … so moche ewill the Gregeois hade
14.. Acts I. 359/1.
Ony burges … in seiknes of ewil that he deis of
1442 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 307.
For mesing & stanching of the peralis & ewyll beforsaide, we … has takyn the castele & the lordschipe of Dalketh … in owr handis
1490 Irland Mir. I. 35/3.
That ewill we dred for to cum to ws, & we abil to fale in it
1568 Reg. Morton I. 38.
To … do all hyndir and ewill ȝe may to the saidis rebellis

3. A wrong or harmful act; a mischief. ?1438 Alex. ii. 675.
He … dois his dedes auysedly; All euillis hes he fra him set
1442 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 307.
Gret slawchter, … wasting of our liegis and commone & vther mony evyll
1456 Hay I. 248/9.
For a gude requeris ane othir, and rycht sa, ane evill
Ib. II. 88/32.
Unworthy lyfing … enclynis him till all evillis
1492 Myll Spect. 272/29.
This buk … schawis sum evillis & myshappis that cummys to men thairthrow
1567 G. Ball. 13.
Deliuer vs from euillis all
1649 Hist. Fragm. III. 2.
I founde the worke offreformation quitte obstructed, and a designe, instead off a laufull government,to settle confusion and anarchie, both in Church and State; for levellinge andtoleratione wer the only things spoake off by that airmye; yea, I fear, as yet,their great designe. Now, from the conscience off my duitie, and as the onlyremedie of these ievles, I shall never denye bot I thocht a undertaking inwarre against the sectaries both laufull and necessarie
Ib. 18.
That airmye off sectaries,to whose power and prevalence, nixt to the pleasure of divine providence, Iattributed all these daingers and ievles

4. To take in evil, to take ill, to resent. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2358.
‘Schir’, quod the Tod, ‘ȝe tak it in nane euill’ [:will]

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"Evill n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2023 <>



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