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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Fre, a. and n. Also: frey-, frie; comp. frear; superl. freast. [ME. free, fre, early freo, OE. fréo.]

1. Of a good or noble kind or character; of gentle birth or breeding. (Chiefly in poetry.) a1400 Leg. S. xxix. 473.
Wa is me, That wyf has tynt & barnis fre
c1420 Wynt. iii. Prol. 39.
Be prayere off the Madyn fre
Ib. iv. 138.
He wes exilyd … For his sonys inyquyte, That had deforsyd a lady fre
?1438 Alex. ii. 5.
The fair citie … quhair Floridas the fre Beleuit with him
1456 Hay I. 63/2.
He was bathe honest and honourable, curtais and free
a1500 Henr. Bludy S. 80.
Be Mary fre, Thairto I mak a wow
c1475 Wall. i. 329.
Schir Ranald come son till his sistyr fre
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxii. 53.
With blude … was all deflorde His face, the fude of angellis fre
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8380.
Gentill, humane, courtes, nobill and fre
Ib. 8643.
My nobill father fre
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lvi. 39.
Marie mother, that Virgen fre
c1590 J. Stewart 23/309.
He did suddane sie The veirray viwe formosit figure frie Of Angelique
transf. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 1701.
That nobill tre, sa fre, sa fresche and grene

b. That fre, used to designate a woman. a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 888.
Than sad Zozimas to that fre, ‘Gud modyr [etc.]’
Ib. 1260.
Cornes thre In til hyre mouth than put that fre
?1438 Alex. ii. 2376.
The amorous thochtis of that fre
Ib. 2405. a1568 Bann. MS. 217 b/55.
I am hiris quhill I am heir, For in that fre my fayth is fast
a1570-86 Maitl. F. cxxx. 73.
That fre answerit with fair afeir

c. Liberal, generous. ?1438 Alex. ii. 2785.
Quhen lord of hart is large and fre
Ib. 3782. c1420 Ratis R. 624.
Scho is … of gyftys free
Ib. 634.
A rich man gyf that thow bee Luk one thi almous thou be free
c1475 Wall. i. 386.
Waith suld be delt, in all place, with fre hart
1535 Stewart 51656.
He gat commend Of largnes and liberalitie, … becaus he wes so frie
1567 G. Ball. 128.
Thow art wounder fre, And geuis vs thy benefitis … frelie

2. Not in subjection or servitude; independent. 1375 Barb. i. 219.
That folk, that euir wes fre, And in fredome wount for to be
Ib. 233.
He that ay has levyt fre
14.. Acts I. 389/2.
Twa sisteris fre women hes an heretage as rychtwys ayris
c1420 Wynt. viii. 827.
Oure kynryk, … is in all fredome lik Till ony rewme, that is mast fre, In till all Crystyanyté
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 193/15.
We may say thar was neuir land … nor nacioun so fre begane of all the warld … as we Scottis
1533 Bell. Livy II. 48/8.
Sa lang as Coriolos stude fre and vnthirlit to Romanis
1567 G. Ball. 158.
Man culd find na remedie, To by man fre againe
1609 Skene Reg. M. 41.
Quhen ane frie man giues ane parte … of his lands … in tocher gude
1662 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. I. 210.
It was … the taking of ane frie leidge

b. Not subject to restrictions or conditions; possessed of all due privileges or rights. a1500 Henr. Fab. 172.
The vther mous … Wes gild brother, and maid ane fre burges
1494 Acta Aud. 199/2.
It wes allegiit … that the said fretennentis wer in vse to cum to the said mylnne with thair cornez.
1531 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 55.
Gyf ony fremaister of the said [tailor] craft … brekis ony manys stuf vnordourly
1539 Ib. 94.
All maner of personis allegeand … thame to be fre and comburgessis of this burgh
1579 Conv. Burghs I. 104.
The littistaris and maltmen … seking ernistlie dekynis to be granted to thame as to vther frie craftis
1611 Brechin Test. III. 159.
To put the said William Fleminge to ane craft … and to mak him to be ane frie maister
1647 Douglas Bequest (Reg. H.) 25 Sept.
Considering that the masoun and wrightis craftis … war of ald appoyntit & erectit in frie craftis

3. Not put or kept under restraint; (set) at liberty. 1375 Barb. iii. 227.
Quhen thai armyt war and dycht, And saw that thai war fre alsua
Ib. 458.
He … deliueryt his men all fre
c1420 Wynt. iv. 2253.
Thare kyng off curtasy, … He late pas, but rawnsone fre
Ib. v. 4649.
Iustynus … Wyth sauff condyte send hym fre
1456 Hay I. 224/1.
Quhethir gif thai aw … to be prisonaris, or thai aw to be free as thair maister
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iv. 438.
Grant him his life, and mak him anis fre
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xiii. 1.
I rather far be fast nor frie

4. Clear of or from anything burdensome or restrictive. c1420 Wynt. v. 1422.
Off thare dett he made thaim fre
Ib. vii. 1542.
Off all seknes now I am fre
1506 Glasgow Dioc. Reg. II. 162.
He and his to byde … free and quyte of all wther clames
1513 Doug. x. iii. 84.
Of the fatis fre, … pepyl Tuskane Ar enterit in thare schippis
1556 Lauder Off. Kings 455.
Frome all inuye thay suld be fre
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xcvii. 80.
I pray God … that all this haill cuntrie Off France and England bayth war fre
1607 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 294.
That they may be frie of any charges to be gevin thame be letteris of captioun

b. Not subject to any charge or accusation. 1562 Montgomery Mem. 184.
Scho menit hir to the Loirdis of Secreit Counsale to the effect scho mycht be declairit frei
1589 Reg. Privy C. IV. 406.
To be free and unaccusable for thair ressett and furnissing grantit to the saidis Erllis

5. Possessed without being subject to any other person or authority. 1375 Barb. i. 247.
Yhet has he nocht sa mekill fre, As … to do That at hys hert hym drawis to
c1475 Wall. xi. 832.
Thus Wallace suld in England kepyt be So Eduard mycht mak Scotland till him fre
1513 Doug. i. viii. 139.
The cyte quhilk I byg is ȝouris fre
1537 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 83.
To haif the said pece land in fie and heretage frie for ever

b. Attrib. with abstract nouns, as realty, barony, cosing, ward, blenche, burgage. 1375 Barb. i. 164.
I sall … Hald it … as myn eldris forouch me Held it in freyast reawte
1439 6th Rep. Hist. MSS. 7.
Wythin the said lands my said lord has enfeft our welbelufit Dauid Menȝeis … in fre barony
1457 Wemyss Chart. 80.
Ilkane of the said partis sal infeft vthir in the landis forsaidis … , in fre cosyng
a1500 Rauf C. 758.
Forfaltour or fre waird … I gif thé heir heritabilly
1540 Acts II. 379/2.
Landis … to be haldin of ws … in fre barony and fre blanche
c1575 Balfour Pract. 28.
Ony land or tenement gevin or mortifyit to the kirk in name of fre almous
1591 in McKay Hist. Kilmarnock (1864) 359.
We have given, … to … Thomas Lord Boyd, in freeholding or life-rent [etc.]
1653 Misc. Spald. C. V. 178.
Rentall of the Tempell lands, quhilk are nowe haldin in frie burgage

c. Attrib. with burgh, toun, etc. c1475 Wall. viii. 714.
Thai gert the king cry all the merket doun, … off throchtfayr and fre toun
1490 Lennox Mun. 139.
Forsamekle as we … made and creat the toun of Paslay a fre burgh in barony
1494 Acta Conc. 372/1.
Ane letter of sesing of the frelandis and brewlandis of Ballegernoche
1540 Reg. Morton II. 264.
Ane hale and frie lordschip, fre regalite, and barony callit Dalkeith
1561 Reg. Privy C. I. 202.
All annuellis, males, and dewteis within fre burrowis
1591 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 42.
Thai fynd that the said toun is in sufficient and lairge forme erectet in ane frie burgh royall
1661 Rec. Old Aberd. I. 22.
To be a city, vniversity and frie burgh of barronie

6. Unconstrained; self-chosen. 1375 Barb. i. 232.
Fre liking Is ȝharnyt our all othir thing
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxvi. 4.
A fre chois gevin to paradice or hell
1511 Reg. Privy S. I. 355/1.
Thomas Schaw, quham he has of his awn fre motive nemmyt … to be his curatour
a1585 James VI Maitl. Q. lxvii. 2.
Sen thocht is frie, think quhat thow will

b. Fre will, voluntary choice. a1400 Leg. S. iii. 141.
He tholit thar one for to hynge, Vnastrenȝet, bot of fre will
1402 Dundee Chart. No. 22.
The saidez parties submyttit thaim of fre wil … til vs
1456 Hay I. 103/24.
We suld … lat thame be in thair fre will
1499 Reg. Great S. 537/1.
Quhilkis landis … he of his free will and deliverit mynde, wilfully … resignit
1527 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 231.
Johne Willamesone … of his awne fre will … grantit that he has sauld [etc.]
1513 Doug. vii. v. 27.
Vnconstrenyt, … Bot be our inclinatioun and fre will
1562-3 Winȝet I. 130/2.
Qvhy hald ȝe the catholik doctrine of fre-wil of man, a papistical inuentioun

7. Unobstructed, open. 1427 Melville Chart. 245.
Hafand fre vsche of water … descendand throw the landis of the said Schire Jone
1429 15th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. viii. 10.
He … sall haf fre vsche and entre in to the said castell
1456 Hay I. 185/20.
Free passage … suld nocht be denyit
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 193.
Saiffand alswa the commone passage fre
1577 Prot. Bk. J. Scott 38 b.
The said Merteine … sall bruik and joyse … ane fre gait … to cum to the said lon
1603 Moysie Mem. 12.
Within a castell … quhair frie acces mycht be had to all the leidgis of the realme

8. a. Fre prisoun or ward, imprisonment without fetters or with the privilege of going out temporarily. 1456 Hay I. 176/7.
A noble knycht … suld be haldin in free prisoun with plesaunce and disportis
1611 Reg. Panmure I. p.
Ane juge or gewer of dome, … with power of frie prisone and fastnine in stokis or fetters
c1650 Spalding II. 91.
xcv … Ye hard befoir how Johne Leith … is wardit in the tolbuith … and how he is set to frie waird
1670 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. III. 143.
Albeit the supplicant … ought to have the priviledge of frie prison, yet they … keept him … in close prisone

b. Not subject to restraint or control; at liberty to do something. 1476 Peebles B. Rec. 177.
The burges and induellaris of our burgh ar fre … to pull hadyr and cast turffis
a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxiv. 50.
Ilk bangester … With fre bryddillis sall do quhat thing thame lest
1587 Aberd. Chart. 347.
The fre vse and traffique of barking of ledder
1608 Peebles B. Rec. 358.
That thai sall be frie to slay fra Fryday at xij houris
c1650 Spalding I. 110.
Contrair to … there owne supplicationis, craveing ane frie generall assemblie without limitatioun
1662 Conv. Burghs III. 556.
To get ane absolute free tread as thay have is not to be imagined

9. a. Not requiring to be paid for. 1497 Halyb. 83.
6 barellis of saip, price of the[m] fre onburd
1534 Wemyss Chart. II. 156.
I sall haif my fyr colis fre
1538 Treas. Acc. VIII. 159.
To the childer of the challop … in ane fre lauch, xl s.
1560 Edinb. B. Rec. III. 88.
The but at the Nether Bow to be cryit fre to be tane away be quhasumeuer that pleissis
1556 Lauder Off. Kings 400.
To geue us … grace and mercy fre

b. Not subject to pecuniary charges, esp. fre money, surplus or ready money.(1) 1498 Halyb. 78.
I … maid my rakynyn … and the fre mony of his 2 sekis varit it to the Archden
1544 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 194.
That all the fre mone the towne hes afordele … be tane oup incontinent
1582 Reg. Privy C. III. 639.
Collectour of the said dewitie … as alsua distributar of the frie money thairof
1599 Conv. Burghs II. 50.
That a factour … sould … tak … alanerle of the fre money that sall happin to be frie to the waring
(2) 1529 Conv. Burghs I. 508.
He … sall desyir the haill nacioun of Scotland to be frie … for anis pament of custum for thar guidis
1568 Grant Chart. 134.
Betuix the dait heirof and … ȝuill nixt to cum, frie, but pament of ony deuatie
1593 Acts IV. 25/2.
Sa mony of the rentis & fruittis as ar presentlie frie and vnviciat
1605 Edinb. Test. XL. 50 b.
My thrid part of frie guidis … to … cum bak agane to Katreine Patersone
c1650 Spalding I. 264.
The Erll, … left no gryte meinis nor frie estait behind him
1686 Privy Council P. (Reg. H.) c 27th May.
Ther was tuentie chalder of victuall free to the air without any burdine upon the esteat

10. Of stone: Easily worked or hewn. Cf. Fre stane. 1529 M. Works Acc. I. 14 b.
1c peis fre tailȝe aistlaris
1610 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 300.
The keaping stane to be of outlairis, frie wark, and boulted with irne

11. In miscellaneous uses. 1488 Acta Aud. 115/1.
Gif sa be that the saidis landis … be analiit or nocht fre to be gevin as said is
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5628.
Quhen the king hard tell his sone was fre Of all seiknes
a1585 Maitl. Q. ii. 102.
My self am not of faultis frie
1573 Dysart Rec. 38.
Every vessel to lay her towis to windward, halding tham free of their neighbours
1622-6 Bisset I. 140/31.
The day of the executioun of the summonis, … suld be frie, and suld nocht be compted in the numer of the dais prescryved be the law
c 1650 Red Bk. Grandtully II. 144.
He understands the busines … , and wil be frie with yow
1670 Reg. Privy C. 3rd Ser. III. 237.
The supplicant … hes contracted severall … infirmities of body for want of frie air

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"Fre adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Jun 2023 <>



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