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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
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Kist, n. Also: kiste, kistt; kyst(e; keist, keyst; kest, kaist. [North. and north midl. ME. kist(e, kyst(t (a 1300), ON. kista (Norw., Sw. kista, Da. kiste), corresp. to midl. and south. ME. chest, chist, OE. cest, cist, cyst, L. cista wooden box, basket (med. L. also = coffin, stewpond): cf. Chist n.]

1. A chest: a large box or trunk used for safe-keeping of things.As a money- or a charter-chest, or one for personal belongings or equipment. See Ark n. 1 for some further examples.Also freq. with qualifying words: see below, and also, for various makes of chest, ark-, bow-, crele-, Danskin, Flandris kist, and, as used for various purposes, buth-, chalmer-, charter(chartour-), clathe- (cleth-), essay-, gild-, hosting-, merchand-, thesaure-kist.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xi. 273.
In a kyste mad of clay Men ma costlyke thyngis lay
14.. Acts I. 44/2.
The ayre … sall hafe a kyst, a schyrn, a pluch
1472 Douglas Chart. 57.
[Forcibly taken] out of the hous of the saide maistir Williame and out of his kyst … twelfe pecys of syluyr [etc.]
1488 Treas. Acc. I. 82.
In ane vthir coffre beand within the blak kyst, ane roll [etc.]
1493 Lindores Abbey 179.
Anentis the … off takinge of the lokkis of thair common kyst and out taking thareof of the sele charteris
1520 Reg. Panmure II. 295.
To put the said soum … with the said letter of tak … in the comoun kyst within the revestre of the paroch kirk of Dunde
1558-66 Knox I. 176.
He … took his … sword, and garte his chalmer child cast kystes and other impedimentis to the doore
1576 Edinb. Test. IV. 250.
Ane kyst of esche tymmer, ane ark of aik tymmer
1640 Kirkcudbright Min. Bk. 120.
To have the tymber maid work kysts, arks, and uthers … for peyment
(b) 1488 Treas. Acc. I. 82.
Fundin in a bandit kist like a gardeviant … the grete chenȝe of gold [etc.]
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 298.
Ȝour lordis … Of gold in kist na coffer has na cure
1519 Reg. Episc. Aberd. II. 174.
Ane grit lang kist of aik
Ib. 176.
Ane pres of aik for boikkis, … ane litil aikkin kist for letteris
1535 Stewart 20760.
In that spuilȝe … fell to his part Ane courtlie kist wes closit with greit art Wes full of bukis
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 936.
Scho … fenȝeitlie past till ane kist
1572 Sempill Sat. P. xxxi. 110.
That sum of thame mon flit thair kist
1582 Edinb. Test. XI. 239.
The kist at the bed end
1596 Fraser P. 228.
Ane greit kist of aik of carvit wark
a1599 Rollock I. 310.
Thir eirthlie evidentis of land ar … in thair kistis
1600-1610 Melvill 19.
Sche … gaiff me the credit of the key of hir kist, and haiffing sum small silver in a lytle schottle. I tuk sum of it
1612 Bk. Rates (Halyb.) 317.
Kists of irne small or middle sort the peice xx li.
1649 Bk. Dunvegan I. 121.
Ane noat of the moneis left be umquhile Jon MacLeod of Dunvegane in his kist
1670 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. 24 Dec.
Which … bands the … Councell ordaines to be put in the tounes kist
1671 Annandale Corr. 311.
I have sentt yow the key of my kistt to looke the tuo shottles in it for some dischairges [etc.]
(c) 1517 Selkirk B. Ct. 54 b.
Our common seill to be kepit … in a kest with iiij lolkis
c 1570 Lennox Mun. 276.
In myd chalmer, … ane litill comptburd witht ij kaistis
1576 Reg. Privy C. II. 512.
The gummis and sandis of the gold and silver … to be kepit in kestis or lokfast lumis
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Arca, cista, a kest
1605 15th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. ix. 40.
Elizabeth Stewart … hes … removit hir selff … with kestis and insycht, furth of the towir … into the leuche hall
(d) 1562 6th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 648/1.
In the pantrie … ane auld keist of fir
1577 St. A. Baxter Bks. 98.
The haill entries siluer … salbe … putt in the comoun lokkit keyst of the said craft
1582 Mun. Univ. Glasg. 517.
All thir lettres are into ane bandit keist with twa lokis … and in the schottill of wode
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I. 113.
Or ewir ony body gat knowledge of hir deitht, thow hed strukin wp hir keist, and spulȝeit hir haill geir furth of the sam
1649 Edinb. Test. LXIV. 148.
Ane firre keist worth thrie pund
(2) comb. 1473 Treas. Acc. I. 64.
To pay for a ples kist to the chapell to keip the graith xvj s. v jd.
1505 Ib. III. 148.
For tursing of the chapell kyst to Strivelin
1698 Foulis Acc. Bk. 244.
For a new key to the candle kist
(3) fig. c1520-c1535 Nisbet I. 168 margin.
This puir wedowe hes put mair into Godis keist

b. A sea-chest or seaman's trunk. Also schip-, seykist. c1420 Bute MS. fol. 172 b.
Gyf thar be ony [of the crew] that has na bed na kyst in the schyp
1529 Reg. Great S. 178/1.
A roundell 30 d.; a schip kist 20 d., a pres of fire
c1575 Balfour Pract. 640, .
Of all pillage, … The capitane gettis the capitanes kist, … the gunner sall have … the gunners graith, kist and bullettis
1596 Fraser P. 228.
Ane sey kist
1605–6 Misc. Spalding C. V. 78.
Jon Grayes and Alexr. Crukschankis kistis, being cum fra Leytht

c. A chest or locker in the carriage of a gun. Also comb. gun. 1517 Treas. Acc. V. 157.
For vj keyis to the gun kistis, and for j lok
1543–4 Ib. VIII. 252.
For making of foure clos kists in the stokis of the gonnys

2. A case for storing or transporting certain kinds of dry goods or merchandise; a storage-box or packingcase.Also butter-, candill-, mele-kist and see the note to sense 1.Once (quot. 1616) as an uninflected collective plural.(1) 14.. Acts I. 306/2.
Of a kyst or a schryne with sape in it twa peniis. Of a kyst or schryne with wax a peny
a1500 Henr. Fab. 175.
Amang the cheis in ark and meill in kist
1532 M. Works Acc. (ed.) 110.
Thre wanscot to be salmond kystis
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 173.
Johne Cockburnes schip … whairin wer thrie kistis of kalliveris, in ilke kist 30 or 24 peices
1573 Reg. Privy C. II. 251.
To command … the maisteris [etc.] … that nane … losse ony maner of gudis or kistis … in the saidis schippis … unto the tyme the same be sercheit
c1650 Spalding II. 208.
Thay send doun six barkis … full of … pulder, ball and vther furnitour, with six kistis of siluer
(2) 1496 Halyb. 68.
A kyst sucur
1511–12 Treas. Acc. IV. 334.
For fraucht of sex kistis of sukkoure
1560 Admir. Ct. Bk. 183.
Item, thre sucker kistis and xviij sucker lavis quhilk makis foure kistis and foure lavis, price of the kist xv lib. and of the foure lavis iiij lib.
(3) 1588 Dundee Shipping L. 220.
Ane half keist of glaiss
1612 Bk. Rates (Halyb.) 308.
Glasses for windows of Burgundy, white, the kist xx li.; Burgundy, collored, the kist xxiiii li.
1616 Dundee Shipping L. 276.
Ane centinare pewtter, 2 kistis glass
Ib. 278.
Thrie kist of glass

3. A coffin. Also buriall kist.See also Dead-, Dede-, and Mort-kist.Commonly of wood, but also (see quots.) of stone, lead, etc. a1400 Leg. S. xl. 617.
He … Wes enterit … in a costlyke kiste of stane
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 237/1.
Thair was found about him a kist of stane, and syne ane of tre, & syne a cape of leid
1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 266.
Thay saltit me, syne cloist me in an kyste
15.. Clar. v. 1842.
Whill daith of clay ingrafe them in ane kist
1568 Edinb. Test. 160 b.
Ane kyst to eird the said vmquhile Jonet in
1585 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 430.
The havie beir oir kist … to be … imployet in the mwre and a new licht kist of sawin daillis to be maid for … the burriall of the infectit persouns
1589 Edinb. Test. XXI. 165.
He ordanis to be bocht thrie elnes of Inglis blak to couer his kist
1596 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 144.
James Kilgour … to have of every graif with ane kyst … vi s. viii d., and but kyst xld.
1600 Treas. Acc. MS. 41.
[For] the inbaming of Ladie Margaret … .[for] ane kist of leid
1602 Ib. 150.
Ane kist of aikin tymber to lay duik Robert in
1611 Edinb. Test. XLVI. 329.
Tua small kistis for the corpis of deid persones
1612 S. Leith Rec. 10.
The Sessioune … granted him libertie to bige ane tombe the breid of four kists of the wall
1625 Ellon Presb. 122.
[She] causit brak up the lid of the kist with ane eich
1643 Dunferm. Ann. 309.
Brocht to the witch knowe … and castin into a hole thare without a kist
1650 Nicoll Diary 13.
[Montrose] his body cassin in to ane lytill schoirt kist
c1650 Spalding I. 18.
As thay culd be kend to put ilkanes asses and bones in a kist being six kistis in the haill
1698 Carmyllie Kirk S. MS. 13 Feb.
Given out of the box for a poor man's kist
comb. 1602 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. 423.
To pey to Robert Conquhour wricht xv s. for making a burriall kist to his vyfe

4. transf. and fig. What contains or holds anything; a box or container. a1400 Leg. S. x. 271.
Ȝour symulacris … ar but kistis, quhare-in ȝour fa Is herbryt
Ib. xxxviii. 353.
Maumentis nocht ellis ware Bot kistis, mad craftely
1490 Irland Mir. MS. 246 b.
As the flesch and body of Adam was the rute, fontane, ark and kest, of all oure corrupcioun

5. On the lower Ness: A kind of fish-trap, appar. (see below) = Cruve n. 1.[In two Memorials of the heritors of the salmon-fishings of the lower Ness, defenders, against Alex. Fraser of Culduthill, pursuer, Session Papers, Jan. 13 and Feb. 18, 1766, the term ‘chest’ (also, less freq., ‘box’) is used, either coupled with or alternating with, ‘cruive’, as if the two terms were more or less synonymous, and in contradistinction to ‘cossack’, the latter being explained as a special local type of fish-trap consisting of an enclosure built partly of stone and larger than an ordinary cruive: e.g. That there had been a Saturday's slap used in the cruives or chests; Jan. 13, p. 23. That Lachlan Macintosh … had come one night to break the breast or heck of one of the chests; Ib. p. 24. In the two dykes above described, the fishing has been immemorially carried on, partly by chests or cruives placed in them but chiefly by machines or inclosures called cossacks; Feb. 18, p. 4. These cossacks were constructed much in the manner of cruive chests, with this difference [etc.]; Ib. Respecting the placing of the cruives … that it was owing to the boxes having been set aside a little off the stream [etc.]; Ib. p. 17. ] 1564–5 Inverness Rec. I. 120.
Ane brocht strekyne be Johne Ros in … behalf the rest of the takkismen of the vattyr on Johne Crom [etc.] … that … tha brak the kist in the vattyr wark and tuk out of it the fysche that wes thair and ane clyp of irne
1568 Ib. 164.
In case that sic vehement wattyr cum quhilkis salbe able to tak away the said kistis … [they are] to big the saidis kistis agane of new sufficient
1584 Ib. 295.
That tuaye kistis salbe maid, … ane on euerilk syde of the wattir wark or the maist commodious pairt of the said wattir
The … awnaris of the said wattir and fisching thairof … to taxt and contribute wyth vtheris for biggin of the saidis kistis
1591–2 Reg. Great S. 679/1.
Cum potestate … sustinere crates et corbes lie cruvis ex utroque latere dicte aque [of Ness] secundum antiquum usum, cum privilegio lie thrie kistis infra lie watterwrak [sic] ut usus fuit
1641 Acts V. 540/1.
Withe priviledge … of three kistes within the said water wrake … with all the kistes proffittes and commodities thairof

6. Attrib. (in sense 1) with gavell, keye, lyd, lock, raik. c1420 Wynt. i. 1626.
The golde and sylvyr he gert be hyde, As yhit is wndyr the kyst lyd
a1500 Seven S. 1516.
Thy kist keye in the claith thow plet
1597 Edinb. Test. XXX. 30 b.
Tua tymmer kist gavellis
1609 Hilderstoun Silver Mines I. 176.
Mending of ane kist raik
1610 Brechin Test. II. 53 b.
Fyue kist lokis & fyue dor lokis

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"Kist n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2023 <>



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