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

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
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Grete, Greit, a., n., and adv. Also: gret, greite, greitt, greyt. [ME. greet(e, grete (also greyt), earlier greate, græt, OE. gréat.The long vowel of the compar. gretar, -er, in place of the more original grettar, -er (see Gret a.) has been taken over from the positive and the superlative.Other forms in which the adj. appears are great, Grait(t, Grat, Grate, Grit (also Girt), grite s.v. Gryt(e.]

1. Great in size, quantity, extent, or importance.(1) a1400 Leg. S. ix. 8.
A tempil grete & fare he fand
Ib. xxxvi. 897.
Thre droppis of blud fare & gret [: gete]
1456 Hay I. 38/14.
He hid him. in a grete forest quhare now is Rome
Ib. 46/1.4.
He tuke fra his hals a grete wreth of golde
1482 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 46.
The ankyrage of ilk grete schip
1494 Treas. Acc. I. 254.
For the tursing of ane grete sale [= sail]
1513 Doug. iii. iv. 112.
Swiftly we slyde our bullyrand wallys grete
Ib. iv. vii. 80.
Lyke emmotis grete Quhen thai depulȝe the mekill byng of quhete
1532 M. Works Acc. II. 35 b.
The … plate forme of the body of the grete hous
1539 Soc. Ant. XXIV. 49.
Ane septour with ane grete bereall … in the heid of it
1596 Dalr. I. 35/3.
Frome the diocie of Perth evin to the grete sey
(b) 1507 Edinb. Hammermen 61.
For the ryngin of the greit bell to the derige
1512 Treas. Acc. IV. 452.
For the dichting of the greit cheifis for the greit mast
1523 Ib. V. 220.
Ane greit casit windo to the quenis greit chalmer
1535 Stewart 16861.
With greit doggis for slauchter of the deir
1553–4 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 287.
For ane greit stoke loke to this ȝet
1575 Edinb. Test. III. 387 b.
Ane dosane of greit knyfis callit braigis
1622-6 Bisset I. 2/22.
Charles, … king of greit Brytan
Ib. II. 163/8.
The Druedes … wirschipped … under greit aik treis
1625 State P. (Reg. H.) No. 123.
Twa greit craw irnes, … for the better breking of the said ward
(2) a1400 Leg. S. ii. 273.
In the ayr wes clernes sene grete and fare
Ib. 1033.
A multytud weil greit Of Iowis
c1420 Wynt. ii. 102.
Off wyne and wax, oyle and qwheyt … all tyme scho had copy greyt
1456 Hay I. 207/34.
Grete soumes of gudis
Ib. II. 264/14.
A man past grete age
1513 Doug. i. viii. 23.
Cumpaneis grete … of armyt men
1533 Bell. Livy I. 33/27.
Goldin brochis of grete wecht
1535 Stewart 17394.
In peice and rest … Ane small thing growis to ane greit valour
1562-3 Winȝet I. 3/24.
[To] exhort the latter marinaris to lat down ane grete dele thair hie sailis
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 11.
Greit and stark waitches wer in Edinburgh
1581 Acts III. 437/1.
The ower greit abundance of allayed money
1622-6 Bisset II. 225/17.
They sal have the … commoun claythis … , except clething of greit price
(3) 1375 Barb. x. 73.
For thai of Lorn full manfully Grete and apert defens can ma
c1420 Wynt. i. 339.
Coryne … had grete lykyng To cast thai carlys in werslyng
1456 Hay I. 39/20.
Scho did him grete gude, and grete curtaisy
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 11.
Renkis of grete renovne
1533 Bell. Livy I. 64/20.
The Romanis … had first grete admiracion quhatthis Mecius intendit
1562-3 Winȝet II. 34/22.
Being excellent in grete actis and grete diligence
(b) 1535 Stewart 28292.
So Columba tuik on him greit cuir And bissines
Ib. 29982.
Ane man he was of greit vrbanitie
Ib. 30585.
To thé and thyne it may greit honour be
1537 Lynd. Depl. Magd. i.
O cruell Deith! to greit is thy puissance
Ib. 93.
With greit confort and consolatioun
1560 Rolland Seven S. 6792.
The greit lufe betuix us twa hes bene
1567 G. Ball. 5.
Nocht for the warkis of rychteousnes … bot efter his greit mercy
Ib. 14.
Our baptisme dotit with … greit vertew
1568 Pref. Lyndesay.
Ane man of greit literature
a1585 Maitl. Q. xl. 24.
I knaw ȝour greit excellencie All hairtis dois alluire
(4) 14.. Acts I. 336/2.
Thai mak tham maisteris or thai can the craft, in grete skaithing of … the peple
1456 Hay I. 33/2.
To haly kirk quhen it was in grete povertee
Ib. II. 21/22.
Forthy dois a king. grete wrang … quhen he [etc.]
c1460 Wisd. Sol. 590.
Quhilk is grete vanite and afflixione of spreit
1533 Bell. Livy I. 253/29.
Alwayis … the slauchter was grete
1533 Boece iii. v. 98.
How … the Carnutis had in Gallia movit grete trubill
(b) 1535 Stewart 14306.
To reforme the greit dampnage and cryme Tha had sustenit
Ib. 23643.
Ȝe ar abill to tak … greit skayth and lak
1540 Lynd. Sat. 2062.
Our greit abusioun is cleirlie knawin
1551 Reg. Privy C. I. 114.
The greit and exhorbitant derth … of all kynd of victuallis
1555 Glenartney Doc.
Be ressoun of this present greit storme and veamence thairof
1570 Buch. Wr. 21.
Seing the miserie sa greit apperand
1596 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 153.
At the tyme of the greitt pest
1597 Ib. 209.
To the greitt skayth and deformitie of the haill town
1598 Ib. 240.
The greitt enormities done be James Young
1604 Shetland Sheriff Ct. MS. 131 b.
Ane greit perrell to the peipel
1616 Haddington Corr. 132.
The greitt bowtcharie we mak of prettie men
(5) 1456 Hay I. 47/5.
[The Samnites] had grete dispyte quhen thai saw that the Romayns had sa grete powere
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 600.
For greit sorrow his hart to brist was boun
a1500 Rauf C. 319.
Than the Coilȝear had greit thocht on the cunnand he had maid
1535 Stewart 10224.
Greit terrour thai haf tane
Ib. 48988.
In greit furor … ane lang knyfe furth he drew
1533 Bell. Livy I. 203/2.
The Veanis … made thare avant with grete mynassing to sege Rome
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 401.
Quhilk to reheirs I think greit schame
Ib. 635.
The Inglismen grew in greit ire
1567 Crim. Trials I. ii. 494.
He appeared to be in ane greit effray
a1585 Maitl. Q. x. 18.
Quha gef that prince sa greit audacitie?
(6) a1400 Leg. S. i. 12.
Criste … sad til hyme [sc. Peter] this wourd … That ferly now is grete to here
1456 Hay I. 88/3.
A grete thing wele cummyn to purpos
Ib. II. 75/4.
How he suld governe him in all his. grete materis
1533 Bell. Livy I. 103/3.
Ȝoung Terquyne … desirit thame to schaw thame benevolus to his grete materis
1538 Lynd. Justing 55.
Than gentill Iames began to crak greit wordis
(7) 1409 Exch. R. IV. p. ccx.
The grete ath [being] sworn apon the haly evangelis
1456 Hay I. 149/11.
To that thing to be kepit thou has maid the grete athe
1479 Acta Conc. 29/2.
Maister Johne has promittit to the lordis be his grete aithe that he sal compere personaly
1503 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I. 48.
The greit aitht suorne, the richts, ressonis, allegationis of baitht the said partys herd
1542 Elgin Rec. I. 71.
The forsaid Lang Sandé sall. mak his greit ayth that he knavis to hir bot lauty [and] honesty
1601 Prestwick B. Rec. 85.
The quhilkis personis … suor the greit aith to do thair dewtie in thair officeis
1610 Crim. Trials IIII. 107.
Solemplie suorne, vpon thair greit aithes, that they suld leill suith say [etc.]

b. In the compar. forms gretar(e, -ear, -er, greit(t)ar, -are, -er.(a) 1375 Barb. x. 199 (E).
A fothyr [of hay] … gretar [C. greter] … Than he broucht ony that ȝer befor
Ib. xx. 463.
Gretar defens maid neuir sa quhoyne Agane so feill
a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 720.
We wil nocht for dignite Striwe, na quha sal gretare be
c1420 Ratis R. 2321.
Ay the gretar senȝory Suld leid thar stat mar mesour by
1496 Treas. Acc. I. 291.
For xvj fawdom of small tow, xvj d., for xxxiij fawdome of gretare tow, iij s
1503 Ib. II. 216.
Tua tikis of beddis of gretar assise
1528 Lynd. Dreme 633.
It is of greter quantytie Than all the eirth
c1552 Id. Mon. 3064.
This lady … , The quhilk had greter realmes ane hunder
1562-3 Winȝet II. 76/5.
Albeit a fer gretear number … mycht hef bene to thame accumpaniit
a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxx. 85.
The greter greif the gretar is the glorie
c1590 Fowler I. 144/14.
Great fyres of hope bot gretar frosts of feare
(b) 1560 Rolland Seven S. 5608.
In greiter thing ȝour grace sa sall I pleis
Ib. 5793.
[To take] greiter attendence
1570 Sat. P. xxiv. 17.
That bastard bischop bred ane greiter blok
1573 Ib. xlii. 477.
Far greiter burdingis … nor thay dow for to beir
1583 Reg. Privy C. III. 562.
A new Conventioun of the Estaitis in greitter nowmer nor is presentlie assembled
(c) 1525 Liber Aberbr. 450.
Noyther of greitar autorite na auayll
1562-3 Winȝet I. 85/24.
Or hald ȝe manna of greitar excellencie than the wthir … ?
1567 G. Ball. 129.
Than greitar gloir and benefice Thow sall mak for vs meit
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 42.
Na les celebrat … than sum beastis of greittar quantitie
1590 Edinb. Test. XXI. 249 b.
For the greitar weill … of the said Ewffame
1622-6 Bisset I. 75/20.
Greittare fayth … to be gevin

c. In the superl. gretast(e, -aist, -est, greit(t)est.(a) a1400 Leg. S. vi. 37.
A palace … As the gretaste of Rome are mad
Ib. xxi. 161.
Quhy the gretaste camele Has bot foure [feet]
c1475 Wall. i. 167.
The byschoprykis, that war of gretast waile
1533 Gau 26/14.
The gretast articulis of our faith
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1531.
Noye had gretast displesouris, Behauldand the dede creatouris
1567 Acts III. 35/2.
Baronis … of gretaist experience
c1590 Fowler I. 108/113.
It was evin a gretast proof of Theseus manly might
(b) c1450-2 Howlat 313.
The egill … gretest on ground is
Ib. 406.
Four [branches].gretest of gre
1512 Treas. Acc. IV. 303.
Irne pellokis … of the gretest sort
1533 Gau 3/7.
Of thir bukis thir ar the gretest
1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 246.
Quhen I had gretest dominatioun
c1590 Fowler I. 15/20.
He that is most account and most gretest
(c) 1560 Rolland Seven S. 9219.
I think it best fra the greitest [evil] to foche
1567 G. Ball. 166.
Quha hiest clymmis gettis greitest fall

2. Of men: Of high rank or importance. (Also in compar. and superlative.)(1) 1456 Hay I. 108/7.
That the grete Cane is lord of all the warld
Ib. 352/2.
Princis and grete lordis
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 337.
Schir Gauane the gay, grete of degre
1526 Douglas Corr. 340.
Greit menn of his realme
1533 Boece vii. vii. 233 b.
Maximiane of grete blude and cousing to the emprioure
a1585 Maitl. Q. iii. 61.
Of sum greit [F. grit] men thay haue sic gait that redye ar thame to debait
c1590 Fowler I. 31/118.
The monarch Cæsar greit
1622-6 Bisset I. 51/14.
Thocht I knaw na thing bettir than thair convoying away be assistance of greit men
absol. 1456 Hay I. 62/11.
The grete that lufit him nocht, doubtit him
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 4833.
That Christis law micht … be … trewlye prechit, baith to greit and small
(2) a1400 Leg. S. xxxiv. 130.
Quhare the gretaste of the towne assemlyt
1456 Hay I. 180/26.
Quhen a gretare na ȝe passis be vertu of the sauf condyt
a1500 Doug. K. Hart 229.
The greitest of thair ost
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 22.
The greittest of the nobilitie being present
1567 Sat. P. vii. 41.
Thay quhome the bruit did … traytouris call, Greitest in court
c1590 Fowler II. 82/28.
The gretest potentates quhase pouar might bene sonest supported

b. Of the Deity or an evil spirit. 1456 Hay II. 159/20.
The grete God that formyt the firmament
a1500 Rauf C. 734.
Greit God gif I war now … Vpon the mure
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. ii. 480.
Euerie wicht … Thankand greit God, their heidis law deuaill
1535 Stewart 19481.
Greit God to borch that all salbe oure awin
1567 G. Ball. 50.
Sempill sweilling clais, Quharin thow gloris, greitest King
c1500 Rowll Cursing 176 (M).
Greit [B. grit] Beliall sall gif ane braid

c. In the names of offices or dignities, with the sense: Chief, principal; ‘high’. 1526 Reg. Privy S. I. 522/2.
To the Kingis grete custumaris of Edinburgh
1533 Boece ix. viii. 303 b.
Grete Justice of Scotland
1577 Inverness B. Rec. I. 254.
At.the Greit Almerall and his deputis handis
1581 Acts III. 229/1.
The lord greit chalmerlane, the cancellair, the thesaurair [etc.]
1592 Ib. 531/2.
The lordis of parliament being the greit assyis of the cuntrie

d. In a high degree. a1605 Montg. Misc. P. x. ii.
Greit fuills, for me, I think they ar, That seeks warme water vnder yce

3. In various special senses: a. Coarse of grain, texture, or quality.(1) 1456 Hay I. 301/25.
Nocht in delicious metis na drinkis, bot in rude bef and bacoun and grete metis
(2) 1474 Treas. Acc. I. 22.
vj quarteris of grete brade clatht to stufe a doublat
1483 Acta Conc. 83/2.
xj elne of smal quhite, price of the elne xl d., threttene elne of grete quhite price of the elne xvj d.
(3) 1483 Acta Conc. II. p. cxxx.
Aucht merkis for viij b[ollis] of grete salt
1524–5 Acta Conc. MS. XXXV. 9.
[To import.40 chalders of] greit salt.[to export 40 chalders] of small salt
1592 Conv. Burghs I. 380.
Four bollis greit salt

b. Thick, stout. 1513 Doug. i. v. 120.
Ane hundreth brasyn chenȝeis grete
1538 Treas. Acc. VI. 420.
For xiiij faldome of grete towis to bynd the cofferis
1552 Ib. X. 97.
xvj faddom of grete corde to hyng chandlaris in my lordis hall
1566 Reg. Privy C. I. 460.
That the said Henrie … straik ane uther of the said James servandis … and brak ane greit staff upoun him
1569 Ib. II. 62.
[They] straik the said Walter … with daggis, battownis and greit endis of speris

c. Of a woman: Great (with child). a1400 Leg. S. xxx. 550.
Syne eftyre of tyme in processe Hapnyt that scho gretare wes
1456 Hay I. 40/27.
Ane callit Maro maid hir grete of twa sonis
1530 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 477.
Sche was seiklie and greit with chyle
1513 Doug. x. xii. 40 (R).
Quhen Hecuba … Dremyt sche was grete [B. gret] … With ane fyre brand
1572 Sat. P. xxxii. 78.
Scho, greit with barne, syne gaif the gaist

d. Of cows: Over three years old. 1522 Fife Sheriff Ct. 264.
Adam Lyndesay … hes spoilȝeit fra thaim … viij greit kye with thar followaris, v ȝoung kye
1592 Edinb. Test. XXIV. 239.
lx greit ky

e. Of a river: In flood. 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 8.
The governour … remanit … on the syid of Twead, becaus the wattir was greit

f. Of direction: Straight, due (north, etc.). 1531 Bell. Boece I. 10.
The ilis of Albion, … liand to the grete north
Ib. 38.
Ane huge stane to the grete south of the said tempillis

4. Of money [after Du. groot]: Having a value in accordance with that of the Flemish groat. 1474 Acta Aud. 34/1.
Johne … sall … pay for ilk pund grete sevin nobillis
1476 Ib. 42/1.
The soume of sevin pundis tuelfe schillingis grete of the vsuale money of Flandris
1494 Acta Conc. 360/1.
The said John Makisone [to pay] … xxiiij s. grete, vsuale money of Flandris, the said William Todrik xxij s. grete of the samyn money, and … that lettrez be written to distrenȝe the saidis personis … for the said pundis gretis or the avale thairof as it now gais
1508 Rentale Dunkeld. 60.
The pund greit for thre pundis Scottis
1552 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 164.
Gif ony of the saidis guidis happynnis to be bocht be fremen of this burgh be the Frank pund greit
1555 Ib. 210.
The grete tax of xxm li. greit
1575 Conv. Burghs I. 39.
The commissaris … grantis … ane schilling greit of euery sek of thair gudes
1578 Ib. 65.
Quhill the sowme of twentye foir pundis greit be payit to him

5. n. a. In grete, in large quantities, in bulk. Also, in large sums.(1) 14.. Acts I. 61/2.
That na strangear merchand … sall cut claith or sell in penny worthis bot in grete
1482 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 41.
Na merchant … to tap or sell ony floure in small bot in greit
1552 Reg. Privy C. I. 127.
The greit and hevy complaynt … that the flesche is … had furth of the realme in greit
1553 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 185.
To sell oney darrar wyne in grete, bot of the prices following
1575–6 Ib. IV. 47.
Nowther fre nor vnfremen … to by fische in greit, nor to forstall the mercat
1605 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 237.
Na hering to be sauld in smallis to the towne darer nor to the cadgeris in greit
(2) 1573 Sat. P. xl. 130.
Althocht the prelats gold in greit did geif

b. A groat. (Cf. 4 above.) 1480–1 Prestwick B. Rec. 29.
Wrangwisly he helde ane Inglis grete of xvjd fra him
1508 Rentale Dunkeld 45 b.
Twa burdis of beltis of welwois, the price sex schillingis aucht greit

6. adv. a. = In grete, in bulk. 1515 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 155.
Bying and selling small and greit contrare the statutis of the toun

b. Greatly, exceedingly; much, very. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 8933.
Gif I sa did, I war greit to reprufe
Ib. 9608.
Lodwick he thocht greit lang
Ib. 10218.
I meruellit greit quhairfoir that thing was wrocht

7. Comb. with beneficit, clannit, growin, hedit, wamit (also wame). c1420 Wynt. v. 1892.
Grete wame [C. gret wayme, W. gret wamyt] wyth barne his lady was
1456 Hay II. 40/7.
Na our grete growin men, na men our fat
1466 Acts II. 85/2.
Barownis, knychtis, … or grete beneficit clerkis
1530 Reg. Soltre 156.
xxvc greit hiddit nalis
1546 Reg. Great S. 757/2.
Throw solistatioun and laubouris of grete clannit men

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"Grete adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Jan 2023 <>



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