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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.

Gret, Grett, a., n., and adv. [ME. grett(e, gret (c 1250), var. of Grete a., with shortened vowel after gretter, orig. the compar. of grete, and the analogical superl. grettest.]

1. = Grete a. 1. a. In the positive form.Found early in place-names, as Gretrigesmedue (c 1170), Gretryg (c 1214), Gretlau (a 1300). For later examples see also Brede n.1 2, Sele n., Signet n.(1) 1375 Barb. vi. 252.
A gret stane than by him saw he
c1420 Wynt. i. 751.
A gret bane … has he … quhar hys teth sulde be
Ib. v. 1441.
Justyne … Abbregyde all tha gret storys
Ib. 4282.
The crowne of Gret Brettane
1458 Reg. Great S. 143/1.
[To levy] of ilke gret bat sex pennys … alsa of ilk smale bate twa pennys
c1420 Ratis R. 873.
Set neuer thi hart … To haue gret thing in gouernyng
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 154/25.
Europia strekis dounwart … and lestis till the gret see
Ib. 188/29.
Quhilk was tald to the prince of gret Scotland, … and than the kingis son … come in les Scotland
1513 Doug. xii. ix. 124.
Mesapus, … That of gret hors the dantar clepit was
1517 Misc. Spald. C. II. 79.
Tua gret almerris, four small almerris
1531 Bell. Boece I. 243.
At last thay ran al togidder in ane gret bleis
1570 Leslie 298.
Certane of hir gret shippes … still awaitet alongest the coist of Ingland
1590 Burel Pilgr. xvii.
Quhen gret wild beists … into hols and bors thame hyd
1596 Dalr. I. 36/6.
Vndir the earth ar fund gret stokis and Blokis of … tries
Ib. 309/2.
Frome a grett heid he is namet Canmoir
(2) 1375 Barb. xvii. 196.
Thai war abasit in gret thing
a1400 Leg. S. xiii. 157.
Ane angel come with gret lycht
Ib. xxxvi. 760.
Of betone thare is gret copy
c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 3004.
His sone … Him prayit to ceis of his gret teris
c1420 Wynt. vi. 1494.
He … spylt gret blude wnwayndandly
c1420 Ratis R. 1407.
Quhether thow may … a pwre man bee, Ore gret riches grow in to thé
1541 Stirlings of Keir 368.
Ane grett part of the auld heretage … was likelie to haif dekeit
a1568 Scott xxxvi. 31.
Quhyttar than the snaw gret deill
(3) 1375 Barb. xvii. 284.
A gret folk than with him had he
Ib. xviii. 272.
Than send thai furth a gret menȝhe
1405 James of Douglas Letter to Henry IV in Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 59.
Yhour men of Inglande has rydyne in Scotlande wyth gret company
c1420 Wynt. iii. 285.
The Phylisteis … Agayne him come with a gret ost
a1500 Lanc. 731.
Of fute folk he had a gret powere
1513 Doug. xiii. vi. 74.
The kyng Latyn Beheld the gret assemly and convyn
1573-1600 Burne Cath. Tr. 162/6.
Rydand their vith ane gret court on ane trim gelding
1596 Dalr. II. 397/26.
The clargie in gret number compeiret to the counsel
(4) 1375 Barb. xi. 141.
Quhen the kyng his host has seyne So gret, so gud men, and so cleyne
Ib. xx. 403.
The gret master of saint Jak
a1400 Leg. S. xxviii. 61.
This Margret … Wes borne … of kine gret & clere
Ib. xlii. 123.
Quhy channeris thu my gret god agane
c1420 Wynt. vii. 171.
Gret and hey persownys, Byschapys, erlys, and barownys
Ib. viii. 6964.
Quhen gret men … Come dayis off trwys for till hald
c1475 Wall. viii. 1606.
Was nayn so gret durst his nychtbur disples
Ib. ix. 667.
To the gret god my wow now her I mak
1490 Acta Conc. 153/1.
William Lord of Sanct Johnes, gret maister of houshalde to our souerane lord
1495 Ib. 417/1.
Lord Halis, gret admirall of Scotland
1513 Doug. v. vii. 93.
With thir agane gret Hercules stude he
1529 Reg. Privy S. I. 592/2.
Robert Bartoun, … gret custumar of Scotland
1543 Corr. M. Lorraine 13.
To saw discord … amangis gret men
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 243.
Beseikand the gret God to be my muse
(5) a1400 Leg. S. xix. 182.
In abstinens thu mon be gret, & fore-bere oft drynk & met
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 281/9.
King Sallamon quhilk was sa gret in naturall wysdome
c1500 Fyve Bestis 185.
He was na gret bachillar in sophistry
1513 Doug. xii. viii. 38.
Dovn fell also the gret augurian
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 358.
‘Thow art ane gret fuill, sonne’, said he
1571 Sat. P. xxix. 2.
So grett a gospelar
Ib. 13.
The soutar is the grett prechor
(6) 1375 Barb. ii. 182.
Off thar nobleis gret affer … Ȝe sall her na thing now
Ib. xi. 232.
Knychtis of full gret renoune
a1400 Leg. S. ii. 209.
Paule tham prechit … Of Criste … gret nobillay
c1420 Wynt. ii. 325.
The kyng … helde him in tyll gret daynte
Ib. v. 1666.
Scho … Had acces gret tyll ane abbay
Ib. viii. 2592.
The Scottis men Tuk gret comfwrt
1461 Liber Plusc. 382.
Wes neuir yit more gret pete of a princes
c1475 Wall. i. 260.
His modyr bade in till a gret dispar
Ib. ix. 918.
Off crystin blud to se it was gret syn
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 40 (A).
To gret clergy I can nocht compt nor clame
a1500 Bk. Chess 1573.
Awarice … is … The fundement of wycis gret & small
1531 Bell. Boece II. 298.
This croce … is haldin yit in gret veneratioun
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5157.
That thay haue past frome miserie To rest and grett felycitie
1562-3 Winȝet II. 48/30.
Bot quhou gret wes than the admiratioun of him
a1578 Pitsc. I. 5/2.
That thay … haid in thame grett wertew and prowes
Ib. II. 66/19.
The gret abuse of it is verrie deteistable to him
1596 Dalr. I. 2/21.
Brutus, with grett sollicitude aud kair [etc.]
(7) 1375 Barb. i. 309.
He wes in gret payn, & gret trawaill
Ib. vi. 423.
Thai war in to full gret affray
Ib. 535.
The kyng was in gret iuperdy
a1400 Leg. S. i. 593.
Ȝe to me has done gret schatht
c1420 Wynt. v. 5027.
Off that scho mad sa gret deray
Ib. viii. 4987.
Efftyr the gret myscheffis twa, Duplyne and Halidowne
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1149 (B).
Under the paynis … Of gret cursing
c1475 Wall. ix. 734.
Into the toun gret stryff thar was begon
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 1001.
With gret pane he gaif the gaist
1513 Doug. xii. xii. 90.
This … fals blaid … Turnus brocht hes in gret blundir
(8) a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 522.
He worth sary for to be, For the gret aith that mad had he
1388 Bamff Charters 21.
The quhylk men the gret ath swere that thai sulde devyde the landis of Abbyrlemnoch
c1420 Wynt. viii. 863.
Foure scor … sum sayd thai ware, That thare ware stad till a gret ath
1446 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 105.
To this I oblys me be the trouth of my body and be gret athe sworne
1505 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I. 65.
Thomas Bisset … deponit the gret aithe that the said Thomas … pundit ane quhit hors
1581 Prot. Bk. W. Cuming 272.
The said day comperit Barbara Vaus … and the gret ayth sworne [etc.]

b. In the compar. grettar(e, -yr, -er.(a) c1420 Wynt. v. Prol. 49.
The grettare lycht is for the day And for the nycht the les alway
Ib. vi. 1647.
That purpos And othir grettare purpos als
Ib. viii. 465.
Quhen thare fallis sic dystawns In grettare feis, or smallare
1456 Hay I. 179/33.
A symple knycht may nocht lede a baroun quhilk is grettar na he
c1475 Wall. vii. 632.
He … tuk at London off Eduuard grettar wage
Ib. xi. 260.
For grettar deidis thair men has apon hand
1513 Doug. vii. Prol. 79.
The silly scheip … And othir dantit grettar bestiall
Ib. xii. x. 16.
Of a grettar bargane … the figour
1558–9 St. Giles Chart. p. cvi.
Tua grettar chandleris of syluer
a1578 Pitsc. I. 19/6.
Quhairby the puir peopill sould tak the grettar feir … to dissobey him
1596 Dalr. II. 227/15.
That we with grettar feruour defend the kirk
(b) 1456 Hay I. 153/23.
Al war he mare grete maister or gretter lord na him self
Ib. 300/18.
To draw a gretter draucht of decepcioun
1549 Corr. M. Lorraine 319.
This berair will schaw … the causis of my tarye at gretter lenthe
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3902.
Thay … gart hym, for the gretter lack, Beir his awin gallous
a1578 Pitsc. II. 218/6.
Becaus he pat downe the puire witches and saiffit gretter
1596 Dalr. I. 87/29.
Sic affinitie … appeiret to haue gretter force
Ib. II. 389/5.
A hailstane gretter than a dow eg fell

c. In the superl. grettast, -est.(a) c1420 Wynt. viii. 4261.
The grettast a schype off thame all
Ib. 2135.
Off castellis, bowrowys, and fortalys The grettast made hym thare serwys
1513 Doug. iii. i. 109.
The noblis and grettast of our men
Ib. xi. i. 32.
The grettast part of our warkis … Beyn endit now
1558 Black Bk. Taymouth 124.
The grettast snaw and storm that was sein in memorie of man lewand
(b) c1420 Wynt. v. 59.
In to the Pape is … the cure Off the grettest governale
Ib. vi. 742.
The grettest befor lyvand thare The kyng off Frawncis forsteris ware
1456 Hay I. 1/13.
The four principale realmes, grettest of the warld
Ib. 256/4.
The grettest clerkis ar in grete dout … in that mater
Ib. II. 137/29.
The grettest is ay the best of fische
1515 Douglas Corr. 71.
The grettest of our adversareys
a1578 Pitsc. I. 15/13.
He vas estemed the grettest man of renowne … that was the grettest briggane
1596 Dalr. I. 13/9.
The grettest parte of the cuntrey is dedicate to the Kirk

2. = Grete a. (q.v.) in special senses.(1) c1420 Wynt. i. 1042.
Thai merys … baggyd gret wyth foyle
1513 Doug. x. xii. 40.
Quhen Hecuba … Dremyt scho was gret … With a fyre broynd
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 841.
Propertie … Grew gret with chylde, … And bure two dochteris
(2) 1489 Acta Aud. 138/2.
A last of salmond … saltit with gret salt
1502 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. 341.
Ale nichbouris … and ale alienaris that brings in ony gret salt within this havin
1540 Acta Conc. & Sess. MS. 54 b.
Quhite salt … , gret salt
(3) 1473–4 Treas. Acc. I. 48.
Gevin to Androu Mowbra for xxx gret of money of Flandris, … lxvj li. xiij s. iiij d.
1490 Acta Conc. 143/2.
The soume of thre li. grete or the avale therof, that is to say for ilke pund gret v noblis
1506 Treas. Acc. III. 55.
Ane hundreth gret … payit to the said schireff, … cclxvj li. xiij s. iv d.
1518 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 94.
Tua s. grett, Flandris money
1540 Acta Conc. & Sess. MS. XIV. 152.
Ane blind sale worth xxx s. grett

b. Gret dusain, ? a gross. 1478 Acta Aud. 78/2.
The wrangwis withhalding of a gret dusain of pewder weschiale price iiij li.
1492 Acta Conc. 228/2.
Sex siluer spvnis price vj merkis, a gret dosane of pewder weschale price vij li.
1511 Treas. Acc. IV. 314.
Item … to pay for iij gret dussone Ynglis pewdar weschele, boght be the Kingis command; price of the dussone vij li.

3. Absol. or as noun: a. In plural: Great persons. 1375 Barb. xiv. 390.
Richarde of Clar, And othir gret of Irlande
a1400 Leg. S. iv. 304.
Thar dronyt all That mad the chas, gret & smal
c1420 Wynt. i. Prol. 113.
Reqwyrand the correctioune Off grettare of perfectyoune
Ib. v. 1622.
In to sted off thame wes lefft Byschopys, quhare was Flamynes, And archebyschapys quhare grettyr wes
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 174/15.
Thai suld do na wrang nothir to gret nor les
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1670.
Than gart he all the peple call To his presens, boith gret and small

b. A great amount. 1490 Irland Mir. I. 70/25.
For sa gret of syn came nocht becaus of sa gret a gud

c. In (the) gret, = Grete a. 5 a. 14.. Acts I. 333/2.
At thai mak lardnar in gret, and it out tavernis in smallis again the law and statut
1517 Reg. Privy S. I. 457/1.
Utheris personis tappis outwith the fredome of our said burgh, wax, irne … and diuers uther gudis in gret
1529 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 18.
The bying of butter in the gret in the merkat to regrait agane till our Souerane Lordis legis
1530 Ib. 21.
Westland cadgearis and owtland men byis the meill in gret

d. A Flemish groat. 1449 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. II. 327.
Ilke merchande man that sendis gud to Bruges sal gif … iiij gret of ilke sek of woll, and iiij gret of the clath of skynnis, and j gret of ilke barrell, and a gret of ilke dacre of hidis
1512 Treas. Acc. IV. 302.
To the pinouris for schippeing … and for the schippir, xxij gret; item, for the custum … , tua s. vj gret; item, for sellar maill … xij gret

4. adv. In great measure, greatly, much, very. Also comb. with menyd (lamented). a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 145.
He.squelyt gret & rarytt ȝarne
c1420 Wynt. viii. 6031.
He wes the grettast menyd man That ony couth have thowcht off than
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 815.
It sall right gret avale
a1500 Bk. Chess 1597.
Scho cryit so gret that sorow was to heire
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 167.
I sall … me assuage of the swalme, that suellit wes gret
Ib. 345.
My breist that was gret beild
c1590 Fowler II. 104/18.
The gret different reputatioun he obtened at that tyme

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"Gret adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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