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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Instrument, n. Also: -ente, instruement, instrewment, instriment, instroment, instrament, enstriment. [ME. (c 1290) and OF. instrument (14th c.), L. instrūmentum.]

1. A material instrument or implement. a. A weapon or other instrument of war. b. A tool, implement.a. 1375 Barb. xvii. 342.
The Ynglis host … With instrumentis on seir maneris As scaffatis, ledderis, and coueryngis, Pykis, howis and ek stafslyngis
a1400 Leg. S. vii. 465.
With alkyne instrument of were, As gyne, slonge, darte & spere
c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 148.
Syne folowit all hir dameselis yfere, With mony diuerse aufull instrument, Wnto the pres
1514 Irvine Mun. I. 35.
Bodin for were … in quhite harnes [etc.] … and al uther maner of … instrumentis for were
1535 Stewart 22465.
Thair wes no want of euerie instrument Men could devys, that ganit for ane salt
1590 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 51.
To furnies pulder, instrumentis bellicall and pyoneris to oure service
b. c1450 Cr. Deyng 163 (see 3). c1420 Ratis R. 231.
[The hands] ar instrumentis ways And maid to serf of gud seruice
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxiii. 39.
Full mony instrument for slauchter Was in his gardyvians
1513 Doug. i. iv. 38.
Than was the quhete, with fludis chaffit and wet, And instrumentis to purge it, swith out set
1531 Bell. Boece II. 511.
Incontinent was maid ane instrument of tre, like the drawer of ane wel
1549 Compl. 10/32.
[They] culd mak ane instrament of yrn conuenient for mony offices, for tha vald gar ane instrament serue for ane hammyr, ane turkes, ane file [etc.]
1563 Davidson Answer 212.
I wrongouslie attribute to the instrumentis that thing quhilk appertenis to the lyvelie workare

2. A musical instrument. ?1438 Alex. ii. 1504.
Thay hard trumpettis … , Tauburnes and seir instrumentis
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. ii. 31.
Thair instrumentis all maist war fidillis lang
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxxi. 9.
Sum sang, sum danceit, on instrumentis sum playit
1558-66 Knox II. 270.
A company … with instrumentis of musick and with musitians
a1578 Pitsc. I. 163/7.
He delyttit mair in singing and playing wpoun instrumentis

3. A means of accomplishing something. c1450 Cr. Deyng 162, 3.
Sic transytorie warldis gudis, the quhilk are lent hyme … as ane instrument to vyne hymself to hevyne, as ane hamyr is ane instrument to mak a knyf wyth
1456 Hay I. 76/30.
For the hevynnis, be thair instrumentis subordinatis, sendis thair constellacionis and influencis
1531 Vaus (1531) 4.
All dictionis that signifyis instrument ma be gouernit in the ablatiue cais

4. A person (or other being) by whom something is done or achieved. 1549 Compl. 2/31.
Gode … hes inspirit ȝou to be ane instrament to delyuer vs fra … the protector of Ingland
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1038.
He wes instrument To Sathan in this miserie
Ib. 4158.
God of King Pharo maid ane instrument … His awin … pepill to torment
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5727.
Him self ... put doun the verray instrument Quhilk wald haue him supportit
Ib. 8583.
The male is caus of productioun, And instrument of all generatioun
1568 Hosack Mary Q. of Scots 532.
To be the instrument of hir awin death
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 47.
[He] wes ane of the principal instrumentis that nurissit dissensioun betuix hir and the King
1573 Sat. P. xli. 8.
Allace, thow wants the instrument That was the lanterne to conuoy thé
1583 Misc. Bann. C. I. 82.
That the said Secretarie be ane gude instrument in halding forward the treatie
1585 Ib. 133.
For the ... removing of some bad instruments, namely, the Earle of Arrane [etc.] ... from the King
1622 Crim. Trials III. 512.
The said witches ..., instrumentis of the Devill, ... gevin over to him
c1650 Spalding I. 223.
The wickit instrumentis about him
1672 Justiciary Rec. II. 113.
Certifying them that does the contrary, they shall be repute as seditious and wicked instruments

5. A notarial instrument; a formal and duly authenticated record of any proceeding or transaction drawn up by a notary public; a similar record made by the scribe of a court.In this precise sense only Scottish. 1390–1 Acts I. 217/1.
Apon the qwilk our lorde the Kynges grant the said schir Thomas … requerit me notare before said to make hym ane instrument
1405 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 172.
The saide Erle sal gif to the saide schir Dauid … al charteris, euidentis, obligaciounis, mounmentis or instrumentis pertinentis to the saide lands
1480 Acta Conc. 52/2.
Becaus the said William has bene dewly … chargit be our souuerain lordis lettres to haue enterit [etc.] … as was previt … be autentik instrument & document
1494 Ib. 359/1.
Ane instrument … vnder the signe & subscriptioun mannale of Johne Durarne noter
1540 Acts II. 360/1.
Gif the notar & scribe of court refusis to giff instrumentis actis or notis … he sall tyne his office
1554-5 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 296.
In ressonyng of Walter Cantt's mater ... for instruments viij d.
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 28.
The cardinall Betoun quha be ane fals instrument had taken the supreme authoritie to himself
1564-5 Bk. O. Edinb. C. VI. 82.
To Schir Robert Ewin for cerssing of the instramentis [6/8 d.]
1569-70 Ib. 87.
For ane enstriment [5/-]
a1578 Pitsc. I. 344/3.
Thairfoir the king left the effectt of the instrumentis behind him to lat lord William sie that he had beine thair
1623–4 Peebles B. Rec. I. 413.
Gewine quhen Mr James Lawsone [etc.] … com to gewe James Hay seising in the Wainlaw, … [as] pay for instrewment and to Cirstiane Hay

b. In phrases, esp. instrument of sesing, with complements defining the kind of transaction. 1467 Acta Aud. 7/2.
The lordis ordanis the witnes contenit in the instrument of assignacioun to be summond to the said day
1482–3 Acta Conc. II. cxxviii.
George Clapane … producit a contract of mariage to be made and a instrument of hantfastene of hir and his soun
1491 Ib. I. 229/2.
And als to sele ane instrument of resignacioun and agane gevin of the forsaid landis & annuale
1500 Edinb. Hammermen 34.
At the stait gevin … , for erlis of instrument of sesing iiij d.
1563 Glasgow Prot. I. p. xvii.
Williame Hegait, noter publict, … produceit his instrument of creatioune giffyn wnder the signe
1630 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 327.
Togedder … with ane instrument off premonitioune beiring the said Mr Mathew to be … laughfully preweaysit and warnit [etc.]
1681 Stair Inst. xiii. 18 (1681) 240.
The instrument of seasine must be taken by a publick nottar

c. Very common in the formal phrases to ask or take (ane) instrument or instrumentis (upon, on, or of the transaction or that it has taken place). Also, to require, to crave, and to raise.To take instrumentis in the handis of (the notary or clerk), = to call for the instrument, at the same time handing to the notary the conventional earnest-payment (often of fourpence, as it appears).(1) 1444 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 12.
And upon this the alderman askit instrumentis diuerse
1503 Prot. Bk. J. Foular (S.R.S.) 198.
Hereupon, schir notar, I aske at you ane instrument
1558 Admir. Ct. Bk. 72.
Thairupoun he askit actis and instrumentis and desirit the samin to be … registrat in the admirale buik
1593-4 St. A. Kirk S. 779.
This instriment reasit be me wes usit be utheris ... to the sklander of our sessioun
1620 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 177.
Quhairupon ather of the saids pairteis askit nott and instrument
1638 Baillie I. 135.
Rothes and the Marqueis both craved instruments of the production of that protestation
(2) 1405 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 173.
Atour this the said Schir Dauid bere apon base tane instruments
1485–6 Prot. Bk. J. Young (S.R.S.) 9.
The sammyn day … Johne Walch, forspekare to the sad William, tuk instrument that the parti schew na lauchful compromise
1501 Treas. Acc. II. 106. 1540 Lynd. Sat. 2816.
‘To mak an act on this we ar content.’ ‘On that, sir scribe, I tak ane instrument’
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iv. 292.
Vesta … Scho did protest [etc.] … And thairupon tuik notis and instrumentis
a1661 Rutherford Lett. (1863) I. 341.
To take instruments in God's name that this is Christ and his truth
1681 Stair Inst. iii. iv. § 28 (1693) 444.
Some thought they might come to the church … and to take instruments of their appearing there
(3) 1540 Acts II. 360/1.
That all instrumentis, notis, and actis be maid and tane in the handis of the scribe and notar ordiner of the court
1588 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 46.
I … hes taken instrument in ane notaris hand that he hes not enterit his sone and brether within the tolbuith
1637 9th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. ii. 194/1.
Wpone the quhilkis … the said Alexander … askit and touik instrumentis ane or ma in the handis of me notar publict wnder subscryvand
1638 Baillie I. 46.
Upon the delyverie of these foure wreits, my lord took instruments by a double peece in a notar's hand
Ib. 130. 1679 Dunblane Synod. 156.
Mr William Spence … now desyred to be exonered of any furder pursuit, and thereupon took instruments in the clerk's hands
(4) 1505-6 Edinb. Hammermen 54.
For the instrument tane apone Pait Bigholme at the vpputtin of the hers iiij d.
1511 Reg. Privy S. I. 346/1. 1663 Justiciary Rec. I. 75.
Mr James Cheap compears for the town of Perth and takes instruments upon David Bruce for his appearance at the bar
1674 St. A. Baxter Bks. 137.
For takin instrumentis and protestatione against the said Johne Bruce, decan

d. Attrib. with buik and money. 1612 Brechin Test. III. 256 b.
He leiffis to Mr James Vedderburne … his haill prothogoll & instrument buikis
1663–6 Household Bks. Archb. Sharp 3.
For horse hyre to the notar that vent alongis, [12/-]; instruement money [6/-]
1691 J. Kirkwood Plea before the Kirk 27.
With that he threw the instrument money up the table to the clerk of the synod
1696 Foulis Acc. Bk. 192.
To Alexr Glass instrument monie for infefting my douchter Sauchie, 2, 18, 0

6. A formal legal document. [After OF. use.] 1456 Hay I. 29/1.
Thai have contrufit sa mony … fals instrumentis with counterfetit selis
Ib. 286/2.
Pruf be instrument or obligacioun

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



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