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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Irne, n. and a. Also: irn, yrn(e, iyrne, hyrne, irrne, ierne. [ME. (chiefly north.) yrn(e, irne (a 1300), var. of Iren n. and a. Cf. Airn, Erne.] Iron.

1. The metal iron, as a material.See also Danskin and Spanȝe irne, hous, osmound, quhite irne, and dyse irne, Dys(e n. 2.(a) 1375 Barb. x. 364.
A cruk thai maid … Of irn
a1400 Leg. S. xxii. 346.
Hat irne til his sydis lay
Ib. xxxvii. 207.
Ryfe him … with irne scharpe
1426 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 3.
Of the last of maid irne, viij d
1443 Ayr Chart. 28.
To tap … walx, wyne, and irne
1456 Hay II. 56/2.
Sen thai had nane armyng, na irne to mak it of
1500 Treas. Acc. II. 21.
For ane compas of irne bocht to the King
1513 Doug. i. i. 77.
He had assayt … Hyd Grekis covert with irne to haue rent owt
1539–40 Treas. Acc. VII. 348.
For xxxix stane … braid irne to be schone to the cannoun quhelis
1562-3 Winȝet I. 14/3.
Al thay that suld be tin, irne, and led, ar in the fyre becum drosse
1581 Cath. Tr. 87/25.
Elisaeus … causit the hauie irne … sueme aboue the valter
1622-6 Bisset ii. 239/18.
That na smythis sall … coise ony auld irne
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xxxi. 457.
As I sal prowe it is alsa Be jugment of yrne hat
14.. Acts I. 70/2.
Na iugment … thruch dykpot na yrn
c1420 Wynt. I. 1634.
Off yrne all the warlde he made
1456 Misc. Bann. C. III. 95.
xxiiij s. for xij wedy of yrn
1549 Compl. 28/7.
Ane file is ane instrument to file doune yrn
Ib. 59/4.
The lyft did rane yrn
1596 Dalr. I. 37/25.
Loquhabre is … in yrne abundant
Ib. II. 46/6.
[On his head] ane rid hett croun of yrne
1612 Acts IV. 515/1.
The licence … for making of yrne
1624 Conv. Burghs III. 157.
To caus mak ane reill of yrne
(c) 1623–4 Peebles B. Rec. I. 411.
For tua pund of ierne to mend the schaikellis of the nock
1626–7 Ib. 415.

b. (Coupled with stele,) as the substances of which armour is made. 1375 Barb. xiv. 290.
Thai on stedis trappit weill, Sum helyt in irne and steill
c1420 Wynt. viii. 6740.
The Franche men … Wyth cowerit hors in irn and steile
1513 Doug. x. viii. 109.
The brangland speir … Persand sa mony platis of irne and steill

2. An instrument or appliance or a piece of accessory tackle or fitting for various things, made of iron or as made of iron.Also with defining word, as cunȝe, elsin(e, masoun, mill, pleuch and plew, schule, spade, sterap irne, and birn, birning, marking, prenting, printing, roste, rosting, taging irne.a. In various applications. b. A cauterizing or burning iron. Usu. ane hett, hate irn. c. A branding iron. d. pl. Dies for striking coins. e. pl. A surgeon's instruments. f. pl. ploughirons.a. a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii. 450.
With a scharpe yrne [to] ryf syne Of al his lymmis … the skyne
1487 Acts II. 179/1.
That ilk burghe haue thre hupe irnis … for the mesuring of the barell
1495 Acta Conc. I. 430/1.
As to the jakkat & bag with siluer irnis
1507–8 Treas. Acc. IV. 94.
To William Dalgleisch, lorymar, for spuris, sterap irnis, braid irnis, dog collar irnis [etc.]
1553–4 Edinb. Old. Acc. II. 23.
For … ane schoule with ane irne to it
1585 Treas. Acc. MS. 54 b.
Irnis and flawis to put vp the glaissin windokis
1586 Dickson & Edmond Ann. Sc. Printing 318.
Tua prenting presses, with irnes
1587 Treas. Acc. MS. 92 b.
Sex pair of new cowpillis to the houndis, … for mending of the yrnis of aucht pair of new ledderis to thame
1593 Edinb. Test. XXV. 115 b.
Tuentie goffring irneis
1630 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 1.
Fywe pund for scharping of the measoun irnes
b. 1507 Treas. Acc. IV. 77.
To Alane Coquheran for ane irn to byrn sair teith
1535 Stewart 34951.
With ane hett yrne [he] wes brint vpone the mouth
1574 Acts III. 87/1.
To be … burnt throw the girssill of the rycht eare with ane het irne … of ane inch about
1596 Dalr. I. 282/6.
Quha did vthirwise, thair lipis with ane hett yrne sulde be burnte
c. 1523 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 217.
Under the pane of … escheitting of thair breid … and to be merkit with thair irnis as abefoir
1567 Digest Justiciary Proc. G. 12.
The saidis persones … to be brunt on the cheik with the tounes irne
1590 Lanark B. Rec. 96.
Scho wes decernit to be … brint on the brow with the toun irn
d. 1451 Acts II. 40/2.
The new yrnis that salbe maid salbe gravin within the cunȝe place
1559 Reg. Privy S. MS. XXX. 18.
James Graye … sinkar of the irnis of oure soueranis cunȝehous
1561 Treas. Acc. XI. 70.
All [men] … haifand ony puncheonis or irnis maid of steill or irne
1563 Digest Justiciary Proc. E. 16.
Thomas Peblis convict … off … counterfeitting … of the irnes vnderwrittin, … the prentting irnes of ane testane [etc.]
1599 Crim. Trials II. 100.
The said Arthour forgeit ane pair of yrnes for the prent of the saidis pistulettis
1628 Cochran-Patrick Rec. Coinage II. 70.
His … travell in renewing of his majesties seallis, cashett and irnis of the cunyehouse
e. a1500 Bk. Chess 1681.
Be this glas a potingar is tane, Be thir irnis a maister sirnrgiane
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxiii. 37.
His yrnis was rude as ony rawchtir
f. 1489 Acta Aud. 137/1.
A pleuch with irnis, ȝokis, svme & uther graith
1535 Stewart 51552.
That samin carle … Come … To steill his irnes

3. An iron schackle or fetter. Chiefly in plur. Also attrib. : see Irn(e)-hous. 1456 Hay I. 44/24.
All thir maneris of irnis, cheynis, fettris and boys, to prisoun men withall
c1475 Wall. ix. 1347.
In a dyrk cawe he was set dulfulle … in yrnys strang
1476 Acta Aud. 49/1.
The taking oute of twa persouns furthe of the kingis irnis put in be the s[ch]ereif
1569 Reg. Privy C. II. 62.
[They] sall incontinent … be put in strait irnis
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 347.
Ane act … anent the making of iyrnes and stokis
1585 Edin. B. Rec. iv. 418.
[The treasurer] to tak ane pair of irnis with thair schaikills furth of the tolbuith for keiping … of the transgressoures
1609 Crim. Trials III. 42.
That ane of tham that had brokin ward was lyand in ane meiddane, and had irnis vpoun him
1629 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. III. 193.
Thay … layed him in thair yrnes callit the long gade
1685 Bk. Old Edinb. C. XI. 39.
The s(ai)ds keepers to taik the iernes of him

4. attrib. a. Composed or made of iron. Used to specify the material of a large number of articles, as bak, band, bar, bit, etc. 1596 Fraser P. 229.
Ane irne bak of ane chimney
1375 Barb. xvii. 616.
Gret flaggatis … Gyrdit with irne-bandis braid
1513 Doug. i. v. 115.
The dreidful portis … With hard irne bandis claspit fast in cage
1609 Hilderstoun Silver Mines I. 176.
Irne bandis going round about the essay kist
1539 Treas. Acc. VII. 213.
The cariage of … irne barsis … to the castell
1508 Ib. IV. 121.
For ane irn belt to the King
1456 Hay II. 49/15.
His coursere … with irne bytt in the mouth
1567 Digest Justiciary Proc. F. 61.
The said William McKie to be peirsit with ane irrne boitkin throw his tung
1560 Edinb. B. Rec. III. 86.
Vnder the pane of setting of thame in the irne brankis
1539 Treas. Acc. VII. 216.
For ane irne bullot coft in Leith
a1400 Leg. S. xx. 188.
To keme his tendir flesch with irne camys
1651 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 119.
Sex peice of yrne canone, with the cariages [etc.]
a1400 Leg. S. ix. 101.
Bundyne … In yrne chenȝeis
1471 Peebles B. Rec. I. 167.
Hyngand on thar schowder ij stanys in a irne chenya
c1615 Chron. Kings 180.
The hand and the knyff bund with ane yrne scheangȝie to the same
1478 Acta Aud. 73/2.
Ane irne chymna
1436 Ayr B. Ct. MS.
Thir women … to be with hyrne clekis put in the water
a1568 Gyre-carling 8.
The carling with ane yrne club … hatt him sic ane blaw
1541 Elgin Rec. I. 59.
The said Angnes … sall … stand in the irne coller quhill iii howris efternowne
1612 Halyb. 297.
Dowbles called harnes plaittis, or irne doubles
1566 Edinb. Old Acc. II. 236.
To hing the yrne elwand in the nether tolbuith
a1400 Leg. S. xxxvii. 285.
He … wes … brynt … With yrne forkis
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 585.
Sanct Laurence … Apoun the fire with irne forkis downg doun
1607–8 Misc. Spald. C. V. 136.
To Gilbert Blak, coupar, for fyve firlottis … with irne girds
1429 Acts II. 18/2.
That ilk ȝeman … haif … ane yrn hat with bow [etc.]
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 759.
With irne nalis … Throw the handis
1645 Edinb. Test. LXI. 118.
Certane irne frying panes and irne drope panes
1519 Reg. Episc. Aberd. II. 177.
Ane mortar of brass witht ane jrne pestell
1599 Conv. Burghs II. 65.
Iyrne pottis … sall pay … thre pundis the twn
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xlv. 5.
The man suld haue irne schone Suld bide ane uther mannis deid
a1400 Leg. S. xix. 547.
With yrne schorgis than gert he … hyme downgyne be
1563–4 Prot. Bk. T. Johnsoun 138.
Ane yrne tangis
1599 St. A. Kirk S. 910.
Ane hot irn tayngis
1513 Doug. vi. ix. 43.
Ane irne towr stude beildit wondir hie
1596 Elgin Rec. II. 45.
Scho gaif command … to weshe hir barne with irne vre
1558–9 Edinb. Old Acc. I. 279.
Small irne wedges to call in the bred wechtis
1549 Compl. 145/33.
Nou sen that goldin varld is past, ther hes succedit ane yrn varld
?1438 Alex. ii. 1457.
Fra man haue helme and irne weid [etc.]
1501 Treas. Acc. II. 86.
For iiij waw of irne to be irne windois to Dunbar
1538–9 M. Works Acc. V. 26.
For thre hankis irne wyre
1497 Treas. Acc. I. 334.
To bere the crukis of the irne ȝet of Dunbar
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 188.
That ane irn yet be maid … vpoun the dur of the said charterhous
1579 Reg. Privy C. III. 364.
The great irne yett of the dungeoun

b. Used for the weighing of iron. 1609–10 Ayr B. Acc. 242.
The townis auld rentell of the maill of the woll trone, irn trone, firlottis [etc.]

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"Irne n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2023 <>



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