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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.

Girth, Gyrth, n.1 Also: girtht, gyrtht, girthe. [Var. (with metathesis of r) of ME. grith, OE. griþ, ON. grið]

1. Immunity from harm; safety; quarter. 1375 Barb. ii. 44.
He mysdyd thar gretly, but wer, That gave na gyrth to the awter
a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 992.
In a buk I mad of the birth Of Jhesu Criste, that grant ws gyrth
c1420 Wynt. vii. 27.
Than suld I … wyn, till succoure me fra blame, The gyrth off excusatyowne
c1475 Wall. iv. 660.
He gat no gyrth for all his burnyst weid
a1500 Rauf C. 836.
Thair was na girth on the ground quhill ane gaif the gaist
a1500 Seven S. 1946.
Thre knychtis to sla has chasit this man, And for girth come he hiddir than
Ibid. 2509.
Quhill the morn day girth I him gif
1535 Stewart 14954.
Ane beist that had forrun the hound, … It suld haif girth and respit
Ib. 28981.
Theif nor revar gat of him no girth
1558-66 Knox II. 275.
That this proclamatioun … be not a salfgard or gyrth to thame

2. Immunity from harm based on the recognition of a customary refuge or sanctuary, esp. in a church. To tak girth, to take sanctuary or refuge.(a) 14.. Acts I. 38/2.
Gif he war suilke a mysdoar that gyrth of haly kyrk aw nocht to sauffe hym
Ib. 71/2.
Gif ony suilke men pas in gyrth to haly kirk
c1420 Wynt. i. 1661.
Quha to that ymage devotly Walde cum, for gyrth or sawffte
Ib. v. 2895.
Quha that to the kyrk wald fle, Thare gyrth he suld have and sauffte
c1475 Wall. vii. 1047.
Thai … to the kyrk rane, wend gyrth for till haiff tayne
1549 Compl. 118/9.
Thai gart Pausanias seruitur pas to the tempil to tak gyrtht and protectione, as dois ane tresgressour
(b) 1529 Rec. Earld. Orkney 59.
Thai tuk fort[h] … 30 men [that] fled to the saids kirkis for girth
1533 Boece ii. xiv. 89.
At the mouth of the river Lowchte he foundit ane burgh … quhare he commandit suld be girth aud refuge
1535 Stewart 9294.
For to tak girth togidder all ar gane On till aine tempill
Ib. 46187.
The pepill … For girth and succour to the kirk ar fled
1570 Leslie 85.
Tua … of the Jerdains, quha tuik girthe in Halirudehous and escapit
1603 Shetland Sheriff Ct. 90 b.
To quite him selff of the bleiding of Cudbert Gadie vpoun the face … vpoun fre girthe
attrib. 1235 Reg. Episc. Aberd. II. 269.
Cum … girthebrekyng, flemyngrith, murthir et latrocinio
transf. 1535 Stewart 976.
Tha sailit syne on till ane rever mouth, Betuix the landis for stormes to tak girth

b. A time of immunity. See Ȝule-girth.

3. A place of refuge or sanctuary.(a) 1375 Barb. iv. 47.
The queyn [etc.] … ar ridin raith … Throw Ros rycht to the gyrth off Tayne
14.. Acts I. 8/2.
Gif wythin gyrth [L. in gyrthol] … ony man … lyftis his neff to stryk an othir
1439 Thanes of Cawdor 16.
Betuexe the bryg of Alnes and the gyrth of Tayne
1513 Doug. ii. xi. 4.
At the porchis or clostir of Juno, Than al bot waist, thocht it was gyrth
1542 Reg. Privy S. II. 734/1.
The slauchter … committit xii ȝeris syne within the gyrth of Halyrudhous
1549 Soc. Ant. XI. 95.
Quha hes cumin sindrye tymis furth of the gyrth and done sic thingis as the cnntre knawis, therfor I trow and watis the gyrth suld nor is nay gyrth to him
1570 Sat. P. xxiv. 92.
Baneist and slaine, vncertane of ane gyrth
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Asylum, a gyrth or refuge
(b) 1509 Justiciary Rec. (Reg. H.) II. 157.
The said James is in girth in Quhithorn
1512 Treas. Acc. IV. 189.
To ane pure wyff at had hir husband in girtht in Torpechin
1533 Boece vi. ix. 204.
In na girth nor hallowit place was securite
Ib. viii. iii. 250.
Throw all the kinrik, kirkis suld be girth
a 1568 Sat. P. xlvii. 61.
Mycht thay win to the girth, I tak no feir
1585 Acts III. 402/2.
He … for refuge euir compellit to remane in the girth sensyne
1600-1610 Melvill 75.
In whase hous, … as in a comoun girthe, he, with manie ma, war seaff
1607 Reg. Privy C. VII. 377.
His Majestie being nawise willing that … England salbe a girth to suche rebellis
a1651 Calderwood VIII. 144.
He retired himself to the girth or sanctuarie of Halyrudhouse
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. i. xi. § 11.
Murderers who are guilty of fore-thought fellony, shall not have the priviledge … of refuge in the Girth
fig. a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 60.
Thow girth of gyle, stule full of cupidite
Ib. 974.
Throw covatise, the girth of Sathanas

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"Girth n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2023 <>



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