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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.

Lay, n.1 Also: laye, la, ley. [ME. and e.m.E. lai, lay (c 1250), ME. lei (a 1225), OF. lei law. In Sc. chiefly early and appar. obsol. by c 1550 (in e.m.E. last recorded in 1599).The rhyming words are away, ay, day, fay, lay p.t., say, thai.]

A system or code of religious law, a religious system; hence, the Christian, Jewish or pagan religion or faith. Cf. Law n.1 8. a1400 Leg. S. i. 310.
Fowre concubyns he … gerte thame trew in Cristis lay
Ib. ii. 548, xiii. 122, etc. Ib. ii. 983.
All that euire war of Jowis lay
Ib. vi. 526.
Of God veryte be thai That wil nocht trev in Cristis la
Ib. xv. 108.
Twa men of Cristis lay
Ib. xix. 346.
Conuertyt … to Cristis lay [: day]
Ib. xxv. 127.
A housband agane oure lay Telyt his land one Sownday
Ib. xxxi. 85.
Ȝet than wes scho of paian lay
Ib. xxxiii. 757. c1420 Wynt. v. 4621.
The kyrkys that held off hethyn lay Sone he restoryd to Crystyne fay
?1438 Alex. ii. 10829.
Syne come the clarkis of thair lay
1456 Hay II. 159/33.
Till all thai of my creaunce, and of my lay
All that haldis my fay and my lay
Ib. 161/3.
For suppos I tuke thy gudis, I brak nocht my lay, … for I talde thé that my lay was quhare I fand ony that was contrarious to my lay I mycht lefully, be my lay, tak fra thame bathe thair gudis and thair lyfis
1513 Doug. vi. xiv. 8.
Numa Pompilius, quhilk sall … Begyn and statut with lawys and haly lays The cheif cite Rome
Ib. xii. xiii. 76.
Baith [nations] coniunct in a lay [: for ay]

b. (To live or leve in, on or apon, upoun) a particular religion or faith. Cf. Law n.1 8 b. c1420 Wynt. v. 3412.
He made renuncyatyowne … off Crystyne fay, And lywyd furth in paganys lay
?1438 Alex. ii. 10476.
Venus … that succouris ay All thame that leuis in his [sic] lay
1456 Hay II. 159/18.
The Sarrazene sperit at the Jowe quhat lay he lyvit apone
c1530-40 Stewart Bann. MS. 37 a/151.
Leive thy evill lyfe and leif vpoun my lay
15.. Lord Fergus' Gaist 49.
Cry lowd Chryste eleisone And speir quhat law it levis on And gif it sayis, on Godis ley, Than to the littill gaist ȝe say [etc.]
[c1650 Sir Cawline xxv in F. J. Child Ballads (1885) II. 59/1.
To meete noe man of middle-earth And that liues on Christs his lay]

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"Lay n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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