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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.

Lere, Leir, v. Also: ler; leire, leyr; lear(e; lare, lair, laeir; lieir, lye(i)r. P.t. and p.p. lerit, -yd(e, leirit, etc., lirit, lyrit, lyerit, leeritt; lerd(e, leird, leired. [ME. lere(n, leere, early learen, læren, p.t. lerde, larde (Layamon), lærde (Layamon), p.p. lered, leryd, leered, leared, e.m.E. lere, lear(e, p.t. leared, OE. weak vb. lǽran to teach.]Unlike the synonymous Lern(e v., very common in the 15th and 16th centuries, but appar. uncommon or obsolescent in the 17th.For some further examples in various senses see Lare n. and Lesso(u)n n.

I. To teach.

1. tr. To give instruction in (any subject of study, an art or craft, a manner of conduct etc.), to teach (a person a thing).Chiefly with dative pron. or indirect object, but also occas. without. Also passive.(a) 1432 15th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. viii. 44.
[Sir Thomas shall] get a sufficient scoler to ler and to tech the said Jone sic thingis as … ar sene mast … profitabill to tech him
a1500 Seven S. 623.
He wald neuer leir him nane [medicine] For dreid he of his rowme had tane
1513 Doug. viii. Prol. 146.
I sal leir thé ane lesson to lys all thi pane
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I. 52.
Quhen he [a young king] has maist neyd of ane tutoure to refrene his insolence and lere him vertu
1556 Prot. Bk. T. Dalrymple 23.
The said George oblisis him to instruct, leir and ken the said William his craft
1560 Rolland Seven S. 6514.
How ȝe sall do, the way I sall ȝow leir
1567 Sempill Sat. P. vii. 110.
Gif all this could him na wysedom leir, Than acht he be of all puissance denude
1581 Ib. xliii. 47.
Plato … did sic prudence leir, That all men meruelled of his eloquence
1596 Dalr. I. 198/34.(b, c) 1456 Hay II. 151/1.
The fader and the moder wald have lerit him thair craft and dang him oft rycht sare thereto
a1500 Henr. Orph. 436 (Ch. & M.).
He … sett his entencion To fynd the craft of diuinacion, And lerit [B. lyrit] it vnto the spamen all
1540 Lynd. Sat. 4040.
I leirit ȝow merchandis mony a wyle Vpaallandis wyvis for to begyle
1600 Crim. Trials II. 287.
Fell nocht, sir, to send bak agane this letter; for M.A. leirit [Acts, learnit] me that fasson, that I may se it destroyed myself
passive 1562-3 Winȝet II. 47/11.
A gret mater trewlie and proffetable to be lerit, and necessare to be brocht in memorie
(b) 1540 Lynd. Sat. 4593.
My guddame, the Gyre carling, Leird me this prophecy of Marling
passive 1533 Gau 7/7.
Al that cane be prechit and leird to the saluatione of our saulis

b. To teach (a person) to do something, to show (how) to do something; also, to induce (one) to do something.(a) (c 1580) Alex. ii. 5520.
Amour Thé leares to leif in that labour
1456 Hay II. 16/8.
First and formast a knycht suld lere his sone to be doctryned in vertues
1504–5 Treas. Acc. III. 117.
To Guilliam, taubronar, lerand Lady Mergret in the Castell to dans
1513 Doug. vii. xi. 5.
Ȝhe Musys now … til endyte me leir
1531 Bell. Boece (M) I. 195.
To lere thair king … to desyre exacionis of the pepill
1540 Lynd. Sat. 760.
Ȝe mon me leir How to begyn
1540 Acts II. 363/2.
Ane quha sall be capitan … to the cumpaneis of the saidis parochynis and sall leir thame to gang in ordour
1566 Prot. Bk. T. Johnsoun 151.
[The master] sall leir him … to warneis quhingaris
c1590 J. Stewart 229/117.
We sall ȝow laeir Ȝit till obteine sum notabill propyn
1596 Dalr. I. 60/16.
Quhilkes [geese] quhen thay haue baytet thay at last leir thame to sit without al feir in the mid feild
Ib. II. 37/2.
Thair father … bosted to sett another in his place, … quha war able to … leir thame to knawe thair dutie
1680 Sempill P. 57/143.
To gather it I shall you lear
(b, c) c1420 Wynt. vi. 262.
He leryd hys sonnys to ryd on hors
1533 Gau 5/24.
The Pater Noster … the quhilk our saluiour leirit his disciplis to pray
(b) a1568 Bann. MS. 64 a/6.
Pryd … lerd our lordis to go … With silkin gownis and sellaris tome and bair
1540 Lynd. Sat. 318 (B).
Ȝe knaw I leird [Ch. lernit] ȝow baith to swyif

c. With the infin. understood: To instruct; to inform or to prescribe. c1420 Ratis R. 1093.
Tak resone to thi consuloure, And gud hop, … And pres to do as thai thé lere
c1475 Wall. vii. 21.
Wald ye do rycht as I wald yow ler
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1435.
The sweit sesoun prouokit vs to … mak sic mirth as nature to vs leird
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 318.
For he couth ken him self I curtasly him lerit
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii. 158.
Kissand the bill … [he] Deliuerit it as the doctouris him leird
a1568 Scott i. 78.
Licence for luchrie … To gif indulgence, as the devill did leir

d. Also with noun clause as object: To instruct or explain (how something should be done). 1533 Bell. Livy I. 49/1.
This bischop [shall] lere the pepil … how all funerall obsequies sall be done
a1578 Pitsc. II. 130/20.
Walter Mylie was … leirand hir how scho sould instruct hir house to [etc.]

2. To teach or instruct (a person). Also const. of or in the matter or subject taught.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 381.
Ȝone man … I ame nocht dingne to lere trewly
Ib. xxx. 700.
He … the barne in with hyr tuke To lere & set to the buke
c1460 Consail Vys Man 121; a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1641) 2 b.
Sely barnis are eith to leire
c1475 Wall. vi. 133.
‘Quhom scornys thow?’ quod Wallace, ‘quha lerd thé?’
15.. Dunb. App. ii. 79.
Thow may say say that a fowle thé lerd
1557 Stirling B. Rec. I. 71.
It sall nocht be leswm to the said David Elles to teche & leir ony barnis abon sax yeris … except tham that leris to reid & wryt
(2) a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 534.
Of syk syne … That thai mysknew, I cuth tham lere
c1420 Wynt. v. 2645.
He leryd hyr off mynystralsy
?1438 Alex. ii. 2467.
Thusgate of lufe me leiris the play
a1500 Bk. Chess 701.
All the peple till informe & leire Of gudlie manere & iustlie leving heire
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xix. 21.
Gif neid be thair is anew can leir Thy maiestie of thy awin natioun
a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 331.
[Columba] tuk with him Mocumba For til enforme fyrst & lere In vertuse & in science sere

b. absol. To give teaching. ?1438 Alex. ii. 7718.
Thay held speke … of amouris mony wys Bot I na wait, bot as lufe kennys And ȝarnyng leris and lyking lennys
c1460 Wisd. Sol. 295.
Al the vismanis wyt is in his mouth, and … euir is techand and lerand

3. Passive, with the person instructed as subject: To be instructed or educated. a1500 Rauf C. 169.
The King said to him self: … Ȝit was I neuer in my lyfe thus gait leird
1521–2 Stirling B. Rec. I. 14.
The quhilk mony … was gifin to Thom Fowlar to lyeir [infra lieir] the said Males the skennar craft as ane prentes aucht to be lyerit
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Romans ii. 18.
Gif thou … leirit be the law … traistis thi self to be a ledare of blindmen
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii. 640.
Thir thre [Fates] sa weill ar leird, To ilk man geuis in warld his fatall weird
Id. Seven S. 923.
His maisters … that war langer leirit in the law
Ib. 3522.
Wyfes … will als sone find ane defence, As thay war leirit into the lawis

b. To be taught (something, or to do something).(1) a1500 Seven S. 48.
The child lord sall be lerd Within foure ȝeris our sciens all
(2) 1535 Stewart 56602.
Suppois he wes richt weill leirit to ryde
1556 Lauder Off. Kings 151.
Geue that ȝe wald be leird To bruke and to inioye the eird

4. tr. To inform of (a fact), tell (something) to another. c1475 Wall. iv. 32.
Quha aw this sowme? the suth thou to me ler

b. With noun clause as object: To inform, to tell. a1400 Leg. S. ii. 1005.
God hym restit on the vii day, Als our elderis lacht ws leyrit
c1420 Ratis R. 1203.
Quhy I spek sa mekile here Off gud dissert, I wyll Ȝow lere
a1500 Henr. Fab. 876.
Quhat thay Wer, to me as Lowrence leirit, I sall reheirs
1513 Doug. Æn. Direct. 84.
Gyf ony wald inqueir, ȝe may answer, thocht I neid not ȝow leir, That Virgill mycht intill our langage be Red lowd and playn
1533 Gau 9/1.
Natur leris vs alsua that thayr is bot ane God
c1475 Wall. (1570) x. 1110.
I can ȝow leir, quhilk may be ȝour auaill

c. To inform (one) of something. 1513 Doug. iii. ii. 156.
Apolloys answer [to] speir, Besekyng hym of succurs ws to leir, Quhat end ontil our irksum panys he sendis

5. To guide or conduct, to show (a person) the way, c1475 Wall. ix. 1753.
Doune neth thai held, graith gydys can thaim leyr

II. To learn.

6. tr. To learn by instruction, study or experience.To study, submit oneself to training in, acquire knowledge, skill or facility in (a subject, art or craft, mode of living, etc.); to commit to memory, learn by heart; to acquire by precept, example or practice (good or bad habits of conduct, etc.).Also const. at, be, fra, of the person etc. providing the instruction or example.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xxv. 4.
Sic thing in my ȝuthe to lere quhare-with myn elde I mycht stere
Ib. xxvii. 356.
God his hart able ay mad To lere that he wald but bad
c1420 Wynt. v. 1998.
On buk thai gert hym lere Hys primytyvys … And all hys grammayre
1456 Hay II. 9/24.
That … I suld lere besily and wele all the perfectioun of the said ordre
1474 Treas. Acc. I. 43.
To Johnne Broune lutare, at his passage oure sey to lere his craft
1508 Reg. Privy S. I. 244/2.
For to lere and study the … lawis
1562-3 Winȝet II. 72/5.
Quha other leris it nocht quhen he mysknawis, or contemnis it, quhen he knawis, he sal be mysknawin
(b) c1460 Consail Vys Man 16.
With gud men ay men may gud here And euery day sum vertw lere, And with ill men gif that thu beis, How suld thu leir bot at thow seis?
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxiii. 54.
Thay … will at na man nurtir leyr
Ib. lxxxiv. 39.
Go follow thame, quha will inconstance leir
1531 Bell. Boece I. 196.
This was the first time that the Scottis began to leir theologe … be clerkis quhilkis war send be … the Pape
1535 Stewart 26520.
[They] euil laittis did leir Of drinking, dansing, hurdome and harlatrie
a1540 Freiris Berw. 307 (B).
I haif mony sindry practikis seir, Beȝond the sey in Pareis did I leir [M. leyr]
1575 Reg. Soltre 228.
The hospitularis … sall leir and haue perfitlie the ten commandimentis of God
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xlvii. 121.
I thé requeir Thir documentis that thow wald leyr And keip thame weill
1622-6 Bisset I. 18/7.(c) a1400 Leg. S. vi. 398.
Wyt is that gerris thé fynd ite That thu lerit [nocht], & memore syne Is that thu laris, thu nocht tyne
(d) 1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 8.
The regent … sal declair euery word, and … geif command to lear thayme against the nixt lesson
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 837 (Wr.).
Goe leare yet, a yeare yet, Your logick at the schooles
(b) c1420 Wynt. ii. 1359.
Gret slycht as yhe herd scho leryde
Ib. v. 442.
Be sic acces he kend welle And leryd thare langage ilk[a] dele
c1475 Wall. i. 249.
Bot he … span full conandly, As of his tym, for he nocht leryt lang [= learned everything quickly]
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 199/19.
Quhar throw ȝe lerit & was brocht in vse of all ȝour fair flattering langage
1531 Bell. Boece (M) II. 369.
He leeritt all thir science during the xviij ȝeris of his captiuite
1535 Stewart 29110.
Fuill arrosie … That he leirit fra kirkmen of the Britis
1596 Dalr. II. 106/14.
That … noble man … quha … be experiens leiret mekle knawlege
(b) a1500 Henr. Orph. 101.
Fra the hevyn he went doune to the erde, Yit by the way sum melody he lerde
1540 Lynd. Sat. 4584.
Is this fraternall cheritie? … Thay leird not this at Chrystis sculis
1596 Dalr. I. 100/15.
Mongo Hog, … throuch the arte that first he leired, eisilie can tak salmond
(c) a1400 Leg. S. xxxi. 51.
Scho had leyryte … Of the sewine sciens al the harte
c1475 Wall. v. 745.
Thir lewit Scottis has leryt litill gud
1520 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 200.
Bot gif the man or woman … haif lerit the said craft of bonetmaking
1562-3 Winȝet II. 54/4.
Lat thame forȝet weil that thai haif lerit nocht weil
(b) 1570 Sempill Sat. P. xxiv. 53.
Weill hes thow leird it [treason] at the bischoppis lair

b. With infin. complement: To learn by precept, example or practice, to study, receive training or train oneself, (how) to do something; also, to become practised or habituated, in doing (to do) something.(a) 1456 Hay II. 16/12.
That he lere to governe hors and armouris
1490 Irland Mir. I. 54/18.
That we lere to be mare scharpe agane oure innemeis
1513 Doug. v. iv. 115.
Fyrst Sergest behynd sone left hes he, … With brokkyn aris lerand to haist agane
1556 Lauder Off. Kings 173.
Throw quhilk [sc. God's] law, also, thay may leir Ȝow as thare kyngs and prencis feir
1562-3 Winȝet II. 28/31.
Men of corruptit mynd … with that also ydil, leris to ga fra hous to hous
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 297.
This barne … leyryt … In gud thowis to haf delyt
Ib. xl. 33. c1450 Cr. Deyng 33.
Al men that wald weill de, suld leir to de
c1460 Regim. Princ. 395.
It is degrading til a kingis crown … To leir to conquest gudis with scantnes
1466 Peebles B. Rec. 155.
All the skwll, owttakand thai that leyryt to syng
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 479.
I counsall thé … To leir to clap thy clapper to and fro
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 415.
Now euery prince … At Crist ȝour King leir to haue pacience
1540 Lynd. Sat. 162 (B).
Off twelf ȝeir awld scho leird [Ch. learnit] to swyve
a1568 Bann. MS. 267 b/27.
At thame leir For to be fals and sle
a1570-86 Arbuthnot Maitl. F. xxix. 73.
I hait flatterie … Ȝit man I leir to flatter, glois, and fayne
a1570-86 Maitland Ib. xciv. 68.
Thairfoir ȝoung wyfis … moderatlie to leif now leir
? 1570 Sat. P. xx. 64.
Stand not abak, … Bot swordis leir to weild
1596 Dalr. I. 8/15.
They haue leiret nocht to defend thair townes with wallis, bot thair landes … with the force of thair bodie
Ib. 90/16.
To restore to thair health seik and waik … throuch lang experience and vsse thay had leired
(c) 1474 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 32.
Gif he be nocht sufficient he sall serf a master quhill he haf lirit [sic] to be worthy to be a master
(d) 1527 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. 359.
Lecenc to … thair chorisstar to pas to the skoullis to lair to play one the organis
(e) 1609 Garden Garden 46.
As he liu's, so to lament he lears
Id. Elphinstoun 1180.
To pray the Lord he lears

c. With noun clause as object: To learn (how one should do something). a1400 Leg. S. xl. 27.
He beguth first to lere Ore he of eld had fyfe ȝere, Hou he suld hyme-selfe led
1533 Gau 5/3.
That thay may chrissinlie leir … quhou thay sal ken thair sine

7. intr. To acquire knowledge or skill, receive instruction or training, study. Also const. at (= from) a person or his teaching, in or of a subject.(a) a1400 Leg. S. xii. 373.
Mathi … sa can lere That he the knawlage van vel nere … of all the lawis
Ib. xxxvi. 958.
Of thir barnis Herrod send twa To Rome, to lere
c1420 Wynt. vi. 478.
And at Athenys in study Scho bayd, and leryd ythandly
1456 Hay II. 16/30.
It war nocht semand till a ȝong man that wad lere tobe a man of craft, suld lere at ane othir that war nocht of the craft
1517 Treas. Acc. V. 129.
The chamir in the quhilk the King leris now in the castell
(b) 1456 Acts II. 45/2.
Gif thaj haif na craft in the schutinge of thame [guns] as now thai may leir or the tym cum that will be nedfull to haif thame
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xiii. 48.
The ȝungar at the eldar leiris
Ib. xli. 21.
Be ȝe so wyis that vderis at ȝow leir
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lxxx. 18.
Scho list nocht at my layr to leyr
1549 Waus Corr. 7.
License … to pas to Paris in France … to leir and study in gude artes and sciences
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 6325.
That I mycht of ȝour heuinlye lessonis leir
1562-3 Winȝet I. 24/35.
Humane childer of happy ingynis, mair able to leir than I wes to teche
1585 Elgin Rec. I. 178.
Ane Dauid Lyndsay buik coft … to the said Thomas the tyme he wes at the scole leiring
(c) a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1641) 14.
Lear young, lear fair

b. (Of a person,) to be to lere, to be ignorant, to have much to learn. 1535 Stewart 7133.
Into that tyme he wes nocht for to leir, In all prattik of weir he wes perqueir
Ib. 21392.
Without ingyne or jeopardie in weir, Of sic prattik that tyme he wes to leir
1572 Sat. P. xxxi. 114.
Thay ken nathing, I trow, bot craft, Thay ar bot ȝit to leir

8. tr. To get to know of, be informed or told of, hear of (a fact etc.); to find out, ascertain.Also const. at, of, (= from) the teller. — a1400 Leg. S. xiv. 27.
He … gestis that he leyryt Of vthris apostolis put in wryt
Ib. xviii. 1356.
Of it was he glad Hyre haly name he leryt had
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1395.
Quha wait nor I may leir and beir away Sum thing thairby heirefter may auaill?
a1500 Colk. Sow ii. 132.
I reid nocht this in story autentyfe; I did it leir at ane full auld wyfe
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 695.
Sum vther takinnis … be trewe scripture quha lykis thai may leire
1513 Doug. iii. ii. 70.
Nobillis … leyr [R. lere, Sm. leir] at me ȝour weilfair
Ib. v. Prol. 45.
Quha so lyst seyr glaidsum gemmys leyr
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matth. ii. 7.
Erode callit … the astronomyers, and leirit besilie of thame the tyme of the stern
1560 Rolland Seven S. To Rdr. 20.
Force me compellis strange termes to forbeir, Within my box thairs few to get or leir
1562-3 Winȝet II. 35/17.
Nocht onlie be exemple of Photinus … leir we the perel of this temptation in the Kirk
1596 Dalr. i. 50/13.
To twoche sum things that we haue leired of thame [sc. salmon]

b. With interrogative noun clause as object: To find out, ascertain. c1460 Wisd. Sol. 38.
I … proponit … till inquer and leir and wysly to sek with my wyt … the quhilk was the werst occupacione that man in erd mycht set hym
c1490 Porteous Noblenes 180/30 (Asl.).
Quha that is ane noble he leris quharof servis deligence
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matth. ix. 13.
Bot ga ye and leire quhat it is
Id. Galatians iii. 2.
This aanly I will to lere of you, quhethir [etc.]
1533 Boece x. i. 345 b.
Thai … be lang proces of tyme had lerit how mekill pece to were suld be preferrit

c. With affirmative noun clause as object, and in the parenthesis as I leir : To come to know, be informed.(1) 1533 Gau 24/39.
Heir of euerie man ma leir and onderstand that [etc.]
1567 G. Ball. 26.
All Christin men tak tent and leir How saull and body ar at weir
a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxix. 88.
In the Scriptour thow may leir Quhou sum tyme lyk sufferit Sanct Paull
(2) 1567 Sempill Sat. P. v. 87.
Auarice … is, as I in Scripture leir, The … ruite of euerie vice
a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxix. 95.
As thow may in scriptour leir All thing sall tourne thé to the best
a1585 Maitl. Q. lxx. 115.
Thir ar the fassiounis as I leir Of men that ryidis on the meir

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"Lere v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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