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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.

Labour, Laubour, n. Also : labor(e, -ure; labyr; laubour(r)e, -or(e, -ur; lawbour, -or(e, -ur(e; laubir, -yr, -er, lawbir. [ME. labor, -our(e, -ur (a 1300), OF. labor, -our, L. labor.]

1. Work of any kind, esp. toilsome or laborious work, toil; also, exertion, effort, more generally.Also hand-labour and see also handy-labour, husband-lauboure.Man of laubour, a working-man (= Laborious a. 3).(1) 1456 Hay II. 125/10.
With the corporale laboure and travaille of his membris
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 86.
Ane galland … Nothir febill, nor fant, nor fulȝeit in labour
Id. xv. 37.
Sum … that hes oft noy, with grit labour
1513 Doug. i. vii. 34.
[Bees,] Thar labour is bissy and fervent forto se
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I. 16/11.
I thocht the charge was importabill throw tedious labour … of this huge volume
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8003.
In lufis labour quhen ever that ȝe inlaik
1587 Maxwell in Paisley Mag. (1828) 382.
God give me handis, for I haif no landis, Labour is my desyre
1596 Dalr. I. 172/9.
Conar … throuch labour and irksumnes that in prisone he induret … endit this lyfe
1648 Strathbogie Presb. 91.
It ver lost labour to him to come and shew himself, and thus to be deserted inordourlie
(b) c1420 Ratis R. (S.T.S.) 176/22.
Thar was neuer nan … That may excus hyme fra lawbor
c1475 Wall. viii. 431.
In ilka part to gud laubour thai gang
1498 Acta Conc. II. 210.
Havand consideracione of the laubour and travel of his liegis
1513 Doug. viii. Prol. 70.
Thocht byg be thar banys, Na laubour list thai luk till
Ib. xii. xii. 79.
Quham the stowt laubour suld deliuer fre, And quham the pasand wecht ourwelt to de
1531 Bell. Boece I. xxxix.
Ane riche mine of gold … won but ony laubour
Ib. lvi.
Thay dippit thaim [shoes] in the watter … that thair sollis … suld be the mair abil to sustene laubour
1567 G. Ball. 130.
Of thy hand laubour thow sall eit
1612 Edinb. B. Rec. VI. 92.
Knawing quhat paynis, travell and lawbour it will be unto him
(c) a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 253.
Efter lang pane, and lauber infinite
1549 Compl. 9/34.
Quhou beit that the laubir vitht the pen & the studie … apeir to be ydilnes
(2) a1500 Bk. Chess 822.
With men of laubour peis leving & rest In no tyme may but justice haf a lest

b. An instance of work or its product; work performed or to be performed; a task or job of work.(a) c1420 Ratis R. (S.T.S.) 1019.
Gud sone, serue a mychtty man And kep weil to thi labour than
c1475 Wall. i. 375.
Off that labour [sc. fishing] as than he was nocht sle: Happy he was
a1500 Bk. Chess 1469.
Baltesar … had in Egipt … In fallowschipe of labour merchandys
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxvi. 13.
The leill labour lost and leill seruice … And the lytill rewarde agane
1578 St. A. Baxter Bks. 89.
That na servand weir his quhanger induring the tyme that he sall happin to be within the bakhous at his labour
1579-80 Crail B. Ct. MS. 8 Mar.
Andro Dauidsoun is decernit to resaue in his boit and company ane man pertenyng to Andro Bykartoun to the somar labour duryng his lyftyme ... salang as the said Andro Dauidsoun hes ane boit traveling to the said labour
1597 Skene Celtic Scotl. III. 439.
That the labour belonging to the teiling of the ground … may not be left undone
1598 Brechin Test. I. 165.
To the husband men in Auld Montros for inlaik of wark and labour quhilk he vas astrictit to pay to thame
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS. No. 776.
He is not worth ane swayn that letis his labour for the rain
1661 Acts VII. 312/2.
All ydle persons … [who] will not betake themselves to any labour trade or occupation
(b) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 1197 (D).
That be meryt and dignite And the lawbour of ilk man Prerogative [in the sharing of booty] holdin be than
c1460 Wisd. Sol. 778 (E.E.T.S.).
Al the fulys lawbor is bot tynt trawell
1474 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 29.
Thai sal … mak the said … personis to be punyst as efferis; and richt swa of the bauchlaris of the said laubour
1490 Irland Mir. I. 9/24.
In the lauboure of Colcos
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 309/27.
So that neuer man prevalit him [Hercules] in laubour & slayng of monstouris
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 330.
For, as a best, I broddit him to all boyis laubour
1513 Doug. ii. vi. 17.
The burn on spait … Down dyngand cornys, all the pleuch laubour atanys
Ib. xi. 52.
Apon my schuldris I sal thé beir, but weyr, Nor this lawbour sal do to me na deir
1542 Soc. Ant. II. 392.
Patrik Maltman band … him to work in biggin of calsay … , the town to find him lawbor … for the samyn price
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 41.
Thus se ȝe how mony and how greit thingis scho practisit to dispatche with ane laubour
1582 Inverness Rec. I. 291.
To paye … sex dayis laubour of his horses to his turse, and vther sex dayis to his mukking
1602 Conv. Burghs II. 137.
Giff ony mariner ressave skaith in the schipis laubour
1610 Crim. Trials III. 84.
[He] hes compellit … the gentilmenis tennentis … to work to him all maner of work and laubour be sea and land
(c) 1549 Compl. 6/30.
Ane tracteit of the fyrst laubir of my pen
1557 Inverness Rec. I. 10.
The said Jame to occupe na noder craft nor labyr excep it he is bundyn prentis to

c. Freq. plur.(a) c1420 Wynt. ix. Prol. 56.
Now Modyr of the Makare, … To formale fyne my labouris thow lede
1513 Doug. i. viii. 25.
Sche … the feys of thar labouris equaly Gart distribut
1562-3 Winȝet I. 69/14.
Beleue heirfor ws to hef tane willinglie the mair labouris [MS. lawbouris] on ws at this present
Ib. II. 47/23.
He wes a man of grete labouris … of grete patience, and suffering
a1585 Maitl. Q. lxv. 116.
Sum I suppose ar borne infortunat Or ellis gud labouris could not prosper ill
1584 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 51.
The said cuir requires the labouris of ane diligent servand haillie addickit thairto
(b) a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 438.
Luf makis our laubouris licht
1498 Acta Conc. II. 192.
Throw the wanting of vij oxin with the laubouris and proffittis that scho micht haf had thareof
1533 Bell. Livy I. 114/6.
As he war gevin alanerlie to the fundacioun of the tempill of Jupiter and to siclike vrbane & civil laubouris
1533 Boece ii. iv. 90.
He suld refuse na laubouris nor travell in hoisting
1549 Corr. M. Lorraine 301.
Thar is nain of your suirnam hais mair experians of lauburis and cumiris of this wairild nor I haif haid
1558-66 Knox II. 280.
God so blissed my waik laubouris, that … thair was as great quyetnes [etc.]
1566 Waus Corr. I. 37.
Praying yow to appardon me of the manyfald and greitt laubouris I putt yow vnto
1568 Lyndesay Pref. 9.
He man eit vp the sweit & laubouris of the pure mannis browis
a1578 Pitsc. I. 239/24.
The King of Scotland … reioysed at thair [the ambassadors'] expeditioun and lawbouris
1587 Acts III. 507/2.
The saidis strangearis … hes offerit … the experience … of thair laubouris
1692–3 Logie Par. Hist. I. 37.
[He had] done wrang … pairtlie thruch ignorance and pairtlie thruch his diligence at his lawburs
(c) 1471 Ayr Chart. 36.
King James … dischargeit the burgessis … of all sic laubirris, chargeis, and vexacionis … for ever
1549 Compl. 9/6.
To vse them til indure excesse of laubirs
1608 Dunferm. B. Rec. II. 47.
Untill they be overcum with drink and sua neglect thair maisteris lauberis

d. Common in phrases with certain prepositions.(1) ?1438 Alex. ii. 1471.
Quhare the gude sall have honour, The wicked shame for their labour
1448 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 18.
To the said John a reward for his kepyng and labour
1499 Dunferm. B. Rec. 94.
In contentacione and payment for his lavbour
1501 Treas. Acc. II. 125.
To the man that kest the ground … for v dayis laubour
1536 Reg. Episc. Brechin II. 318.
For his daily werk and lawbour of masoun craft
1549 Compl. 146/12.
[They] gat for ther panis and laubyr, the butin
plur. 1496 Douglas Chart. 161.
For the quhilk gud lordschip, lawburis, costis, … and expensis, at the saide lorde makis apoun the … promoving of the said Master Hew
1502 Treas. Acc. II. 160.
To the comptar … for his labouris and travel
1524 Montgomery Mem. 100.
[Fines] to be applyit to his avne vse, for his laubirris and gud seruice to be done to ws
1540 Treas. Acc. VII. 339.
For uphalding of the palice of Linlithqw watter tycht … and for utheris laubouris
1553 Ib. X. 213.
In consideratioun of his continuall laubores in wrytting of letteris
1553–4 Edinb. Old Acc. I. 108.
Payit for xijc faill … and foure menis lauboris layand the samyn
1560 Rolland Seven S. 342.
For labouris I couet na rewaird Bot ȝour gude will
1578 Conv. Burghs I. 64.
At oure workmen … wald exaction or tak mare for thair laubouris nor resoun
(2) c1460 Wisd. Sol. 189.
The gudis that he has with his trew labore wonynge
1513 Doug. v. iv. 135.
Thame thocht thai mocht thame wyn witht laubour lycht
1535 Stewart 10239.
Ane … egill … Aboue the Romanis fleand all the da With great laubour
1540 Lynd. Sat. 3747.
With our labour except we mak debait, I dreid full sair we want baith drink and meat
1560 Rolland Seven S. 931.
His ane son, with all haist and laubour Was cumming hame, on hors
1596 Dalr. I. 95/3.
The brue of this fleshe … they make … with litle labour, bot with gret ingine
(3) c1515 Asl. MS. I. 153/16.
And the warld be experyment and besy laubour of wys men was fundyn to haf xxx vncouth seis
1527 Fam. Rose 200.
Quhilk dispensacioun salbe gottin be the haill labor and expens of the said Johne and James halele
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xv. 72.
Grace be to the gude burges wyffis That be leifsum lawbour thryveis
plur. 1533 Boece iii. xxi. 124.
Spending his remanent dayis in rest and eis, coft be grete laubouris and pyne
1562-3 Winȝet I. 13/11.
We dout not bot al idolatrie … salbe pacifiit be small labouris
1580 Prot. Bk. J. Robertsone 2 b.
The sempill guidis … that thay posseidis beand onle conqueist … be thair awin laubouris

e. Commonly with certain verbs, esp. to mak(e, tak(e, do, put (also to bestow, geve, have, spend, ware, etc.) labour or labouris (to some end, or absol.).(1) c1460 Wisd. Sol. 345.
All lawbore that man makis, to conquest riches and landis in this warld
1491 Acta Aud. 151/1.
That deligent lawbir be maid for the seiking of the Kingis evidentis in the meyntyme
1513 Selkirk B. Ct. 23 b.
For laubor and travell he had maid of befor
plur. 1455 Edinb. Chart. 79.
Considerand the grete labouris and costis that he made for the gettyn tharof
1520 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 198.
Ony vther pynour that will work and mak the saidis labouris of the pryce foirsaid
1553–4 Ib. II. 285.
For the upsetting of the windois and lauboris maid be him
(2) 1492 Myll Spect. 276/22.
That Nature tuk sa gret lawbour and cure in the making of wemen to be fair
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 395.
Quhen thai tak laubour thaim self for to reskewe Fra thair foly … defamous
1538 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 88.
For his lawbouris and diligence taikin and to be done anent the keping of the said merkatt
1549 Compl. 37/1.
The solist ande attentiue laubirs that i tuke … gart al my body be cum … verye
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1623.
Taking laubouris on ȝour sone day and nicht, In gude doctrine him teichand as I micht
1568 Lyndesay Pref. 9.
He that tuke lytill laubouris on it, man inioy the frutes
(a1570-86 Dunb.) Maitl. F. xc. 37.
Sum … That of the vynning tuke na labure
(3) c1420 Ratis R. 176/18.
Than he and law … Suld do syk lawbore as thaim afferys
1499 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 77.
To do … thair lawbouris thairintill quhen ony sic … cais occurris
1559 Inchcolm Chart. 97.
For na laubour nor werk thai mycht do thai culd never hald thair awin
(4) 1490 Irland Mir. I. 8/5.
Puttand all laubour and deligence to his … seruice
Ib. 52/3.
Sum persounis put nocht thar laubour, and diligence to kep … thame fra syn
(5) c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxiii. 30.
Vthiris cum to spend it [sc. wealth] … quhilk of thy wynning no labour had nor cure
1531 Bell. Boece II. 199.
Johne Scot … gevand his laubouris to chaistifie thair corruppit maneris
1563 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 354.
For the laubouris bestowit be him … in heling and mending of hir ein
a1578 Pitsc. I. 144/7.
That ȝe will nocht … tyne the great tyme and laubor quhilk … ȝe haue spendit … thair wpoun
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xviii. 12.
And nane as ȝit hes thair laubour warit

2. The work of cultivating the land, esp. by plough and harrow; tillage. Time of labour, ploughing season, = Labouring vbl. n. 1 C. 1456 Hay I. 240/19.
The varlet of the labourare, that is for to say his hyre man that dryvis the pleuche … or servis him in othir service pertenand till his labour
Ib. /20.
As sen the varlet makis labour, he suld jois the privilege
Ib. 241/1.
The custume that is in Provence that women bare the sede to the laboure
c1475 Wall. xi. 21.
Hagis, alais, be laubour that was thar, Fulȝeit and spilt
1550 Glasgow Prot. I. 8.
The proffet of ilk hors in werk, lawboure, ryding, and hyirgang
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1333.
The erth … suld barren be and bair, And, without laubour, beir no corne
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xxxi. 29.
To tak ane maling that grit laubor requyris Syne wantis grayth for to manure the land
1568 Inverness Rec. I. 163.
That … he fand him nocht ane wark horse to his laubour fra Candilmes to vpwark
1669 Rothesay B. Rec. 167.
[Animals may be put] befoir the commoune hird or in tyme of labour in the commoune

3. The exertion of persuasion, solicitation or influence. Chiefly plur.absol. or with complements.(1) 1490 Irland Mir. I. 113/32.
As to ... Dame Justice and Equite, on hire laubour and ... greuous persuasioune agane mankind, I marwell gretlie
1546 Reg. Great S. 757/2.
Throw solistatioun and laubouris of grete clannit men
1557 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 303.
To gett remytt … of ane pairt of this … taxatioune, … gif ony pairt thereof, be laubouris and solistatioun, may be gottin remittit
1558-66 Knox II. 351.
By the laubouris of indifferent men who favored peace
1570 Leslie 56.
Hoiping … be the dres and labouris of they godlye … princeis, to mitigat the … ire of his adversaries
a1578 Pitsc. I. 282/24.
Schir James Hammilltoun … ragit at the said Mr Patrick for his labouris
(2) 1498 Acta Conc. II. 218.
To do his labouris travel and deligence for the furthering of him
1501 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 403.
The said lord sal do his labour to aggre tham by kindnes
1562-3 Winȝet II. 5/18.
Quhais labour ȝit is … to diuyde his peple fra godly vnitie
1558-66 Knox I. 181.
Laubour is maid for the Abbacy of Abirbrothok
1570-3 Bann. Trans. 2.
That labouris were made that the … lordis myght be receaved
1570 Leslie 84.
[He] offerit him redy to tak labouris to aggre … onye difference
a1578 Pitsc. I. 52 [h. of ch.]
Labor for peace
Ib. 16/33.
To imploy hir haill cuire and laboris to bring all the subjecttis … to peace and rest
1622-6 Bisset I. 112/27.
Leving … to sinistruous meanis, labouris, unlauchfull middis to attene to premotioun

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"Labour n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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