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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.

Evil(l, Ewil(l, a. Also: evile, evyl, eivil, eivell; ewile, ewyll, ewell; ivill, ivyle, iwyll, ywill. [ME. evill(e, evyll(e, evell(e, and ivil, ivel, OE. yfel. Sometimes written in place of Ill a.]

1. Morally bad, wicked, depraved: a. Of persons.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xlv. .
Ivyle man, & wlatsume to God sykyrly
?1438 Alex. ii. 392.
Euill nichtbour makes euill morne
Ib. 4752.
Carles are euill folk and vnsle
1456 Hay I. 65/23.
A maner of folk … the quhilkis was wikkit and evill peple
Ib. 183/6.
Than wald I say that he war fals and evill
1492 Myll Spect. 285/5.
He maid … this evill ald woman to be brynt as scho had weill disservit
1515 in Douglas Wks. (1874) I. p. lxi.
He was delatit to be ane evile man in diuers poyntis
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5869.
The Deuill … Wald nane war gude … caus he is euill
1600 Hamilton Facile Tr. 357.
Thay bourde in this mater of conscience, sayand, that the Ministers ar not sa euil [etc.]
(b) c1460 Vert. Mes 3983.
Suppos the ewill spreit be in a man synfull
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 13/25.
It helpis ewill liffaris to torne fra thair syn
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 809.
With ewill men he is deput to pyne
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xli. 10 (B).
Be ȝe ane tratlar, that I hald als ewill [: thrill, will, still]
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lxxx. 4.
He sichit and said richt drerelie, Ewill is the wyff that I haue tane

b. Of actions, conduct, or disposition.(a) ?1438 Alex. ii. 3131.
Tharfore suld nane euill will Be schauin in hart
1456 Hay II. 35/22.
He suld nocht … ask the order that he wald eftir defoule be his evill thewis
1457 Wemyss Chart. 81.
Al fraude and gyle, excepcioun and euyl ingene remouit
a1500 Bk. Chess 76.
Ane richt evill falt was in that tyrand set. Wantoun he was [etc.]
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 267.
Be of ȝour luke like innocentis, thoght ȝe haif euill myndis
1562-3 Winȝet II. 26/15.
Sa mony auctoriteis … of a new and of an euill maner vnderstandit
1567 G. Ball. 8.
Wirk na euill wark on haly day
a1578 Pitsc. I. 93/25.
To tak suspitioun of ȝour evill mynd towart me
Ib. 32.
Sic thingis as sall cause the pepill to come without ordour throw ewill exampill
a1585 Maitland Maitl. Q. xvi. 106.
God mak ws quyte of all blasphemaris and of all men of euill condition
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 454 (T).
Let nevir this vndoche of evill [v.r. ill] doing irk
(b) c1420 Wynt. v. 1022.
Thare him fell a foule endyng For hys fals and ywyll lyvyng
c1450 Cr. Deyng 8.
The ewill end wndois al gud werk before wrocht
c1475 Wall. ix. 344.
Than Thomas quok, … He hard the king his ewill deidis awans
1496 Lennox Mun. 16.
All fraud, gyle, cauelation and ewill ingyn excludit
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 172/1.
Inclinand thair hertis to vicious and ewill sayng and ewill doyng
1548–9 Treas. Acc. IX. 282.
To Helene Ros to stanch hir bairdre and ewill toung
1565 Inverness B. Rec. I. 119.
Ane ewyll, wykkit, and dissemblit mynd
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xvi. 69.
Gif ony of ewill conditioun Betuix ȝow tua wald mak ceditioun
c1590 J. Stewart II. 205.
It is the bontie of ane mychtie spreit … In vincusing voluptis ewell and vaine
1609 Highland P. III. 117.
Twa malefactours … whoe had done manye ewill turnes and wrangis
1665 Forbes Baron Ct. 257.
All whow they did offend or wrong be thair ewill caryag or misbehaviour

2. a. Implying discredit; unfavourable. c1420 Ratis R. 1738.
[There is] Richt nocht, bot gud recorde or euil As he determinit in his will
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 21.
It is … Incres of sorrow, sklander, and evill name
1513 Doug. vi. xiv. 42.
The fervent lufe of his kynd natyve land Mot al evil rumour fra his lawd byvaue
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xlvii. 78.
Owther to be slane with ane swerde Or ellis of ilk man haue ewill wourde
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. clxxx. 49.
Mycht sclanderit men of thé gait audiens Or war present quhane ewill teillis war tauld

b. Of language: Abusive. 1502 Halyb. 268.
As for the rest off the Scottis mony he payit me with callenȝeis and ewill wordis
1556 Inverness B. Rec. I. 2.
The sayd Thom … gef hyme ewyll and injurius wordis … in he contemption
1650 Lanark Presb. 79.
That one a time the said Jonet … followed William Brown, sclater, … to crave somewhat, and fell in evill words

3. Unfortunate, miserable; causing harm, hardship, or discomfort. ?1438 Alex. i. 3016.
He suld hangit be, Or els sum euill dede he sould de
1456 Hay II. 54/29.
A man can … mend ane evill fortune apperand be vertynasse
c1500-c1512 Dunb. v. 28.
Sche lukit out on a day, … in till an euill hour
Ib. vi. 25.
Now God gif thaim ane euill ending
1533 Gau 13/10.
God giff thé ane ewil deid
c1550 Rolland C. Venus ii. 563.
He … forder can proceid … Be mony way baith ewill and anterous
a1570-86 Arbuthnot Maitl. F. xxix. 4.
O ewill aspect in my natiuitie
Ib. xlv. 48.
He man trow in sum man or leif ane ewill lyf
1608 Kinghorn Kirk-S. ii.
Efter dyuirs cowmonings … anent the litill roume and ewill eas in hearing the word

b. Of weather: Bad, wet, or stormy. a1500 Rauf C. 95.
Quhy Deuill makis thow na dule for this euill day?
1532 Treas. Acc. VI. 112.
Becaus the weddir wes ewill [he] raid about be Striveling
1555 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 297.
Gevin to Gorge Tod … to mak ane gebet at the Newhevin, in haist and evill wedder
1574 Reg. Morton I. 80.
War nocht the ewell wedder that hes bein this oulk ȝe hed bein better stokit
1596 Coll. Aberd. & B. 386.
His maister … had causit put up the cott for saftie of his sheip in euil wedder
1622-6 Bisset II. 244/29.
And evill wedder tak thame, in sic maner that the taikling schaik

c. Harsh, heavy, severe. 1546 Corr. M. Lorraine 171.
I am agit and seiklie throw my prisamynd and evill tretin
1567 Reg. Morton I. 30.
We wreit to your Maiestie of the ewill handilling of our souerane Lady be certane of hir … subiectis
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 48.
The pest and hungar was rycht evill amangis tham
a1578 Pitsc. II. 213/25.
Mercattis war cryit downe becaus of the contagious pest quhilk was so euill in Edinburghe

4. Bad, not good, poor in various non-material connexions. 1375 Barb. xi. 485.
The king … bad thame … say That thai com in-till euill aray
Ib. xiii. 479.
He wes so wa … , makand full euill cher
a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii. 763.
At the last with ewile chere He sad till hyr
1440 Biggar 289.
The doyme forsaid … is evyl, … and here we the forsaid … procuratoris … fals it
1456 Hay I. 148/2.
The evill end that he maid of his service gerris him tyne the favouris that he had of before
1490 Irland Mir. I. 99/7.
God clengit the mater … fra all filthe ore euil qualite
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 448.
Fallis me [to tell] Gude tail or euil, quhider that euir it be
1571 Corr. M. Lorraine 443.
I marvell gretly of your lordship unkyndnes, … the quhilk givis me evill harting
a1578 Pitsc. I. 225/6.
I trow the sowmondis be desert and ewill of the self
1599 Acts IV. 187/2.
Ane singular remeid … for euill wenting of chimnayis
1612 Fife Synod 50.
They … gett evill payment of the moist part of thair tennantis
1619 Sutherland Corr. 138.
My wreit is so iwyll that I feir ye sall haiff difficulte to reid it
1626 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 297.
Quhilk ansuer beires the first pairt of the said exceptioun to be ivill logick
1638 Bk. Pasquils 86.
Our causse to spoyle by oure awen eivell gyding

b. Evil at eis, indisposed, unwell. 1559 Corr. M. Lorraine 415.
I have bene … evill at eis throcht alteratioun of my leg
1564 Rep. Hist. MSS. I. 21.
His Lordship sen his schearing hes bene evill at ease
c 1580 Bann. Trans. 488.
Jhone Hamilton myght mak no help, be ressone him self was ewill at eas
1582 Crim. Trials I. 101 (at end).
Understanding that … our aduocate is trublit with infirmitie and euill at eis

5. Of bad material, substance, or make. 14.. Acts I. 33/2.
Gif scho makis ivil ale … , scho sall gif til hir mercyment viii s.
Ib. 337/2.
Malt makaris … mak it on ane evill flure throw the quhilk it is maid … vnhailsum
a1540 Freiris Berw. 93.
The way is evill, and I am tyrit and wett
1561 Invent. Q. Mary 37.
Thre pandis, freinyeit with euill silk counterfait
1562-3 Winȝet I. 120/16.
Be the similitude of … guid fischis and euill in ane nett
1574 Edinb. Test. III. 112.
Fyftene fedder beddis gude & euill
1587 St. A. Test. II. 92.
Sevin pair of schetis evill and gude
1592 Acts III. 557/2.
The … myneris … is dalie in hasart of thair lyves be the evill air of the saidis mynis
1616 Edinb. Test. XLIX. 156 b.
Thrie tune of full wyne evill and guid
1628 Dumfries Test. I.* 169 b.
Twelffe daiker of lether evill & good
1664 Inventory 12 in Decreets Dal. XI. (Reg. H.).
There was no lying money … except 14 lib scots, quhairof thair was ane ewill dollar
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. i. xxvii. § 9.
By our law, every burgh should have a clipping-house, … and sworn men, who should clip evil money

6. Difficult. c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxviii. 7.
To dyt thocht I begowthe to dres, The sentence lay full evill till find
15.. Clar. i. 869.
I am seikand, that evill beine to get, Ane knicht that dar [etc.]
1598 Lennox Mun. 356.
I haif coft twa pair spectakillis, … thay ar verie few, and evill to be haid in this towne
1604 Shetland Sheriff Ct. 131.
Quhilk victuallis ar sa skarce and ewill to be had that the pepill … ar abill to pereische throw fameine
1645 Tulliallan Coal Wks. 117.
James Colltt for eiuell work, … Robert Lamb for wat work

7. Comb. with ayrit, facit, hewit, savorit, thewit. ?1438 Alex. i. 1647.
The blude that fra thame ran gude wane Euill hewit and pale in hy thame maid
1456 Hay I. 150/26.
Men … full of vicis, ryotous and evill thewit
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 495.
A crabbit, scabbit, euill facit messan tyke
1540 Lynd. Sat. 5600 (B).
Mary, that is ane evill saird [Ch. il-sauorit] dische
1568 Buch. Indict. 39.
The house quhair the King wes nurisset wes evill ayrit
1575 Edinb. Test. III. 319 b.
Half ane dram of must euill sauorit

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"Evil adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Feb 2024 <>



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