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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.

Liberal(l, a. Also: liberale, -alle, -aill, libber-, lyberall; leberale. [ME. (Trevisa) and e.m.E. liberal, lyberal, libral, -ale, -all, OF. liberal, L. līberālis pertaining to a free man.]

1. Artis liberalis, sciens liberall(is, liberal artis, science(s, the liberal, as opposed to the mechanical, arts or sciences, orig. those ‘worthy of a free man’ as in L. artes liberales, liberalia studia.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxiv. 111.
Thai set hyme ayrly to the schule, Artis liberalis for-thy That he suld cone & philosophy
a1500 Bk. Chess 1662.
A vaile gret clerk … In phesik and the sevyne sciens liberall
a1500 Seven S. 41.
I Sall teche him in astronomy All hale the science liberale Within sex ȝeris withoutin fale
1549 Compl. 158/11.
Als veil in humanite as in til sciens liberalis
1560 Rolland Seven S. 233.
Seuin wysest men … Quhilkis in learning all vther thay preuaill In all wisdome and science liberaill
1567 Sat. P. iii. 54.
He … did exerse the science liberall
(2) a1400 Leg. S. xxvi. 56.
His fadir thane … Gert informe hyme besyly In liberale hartis sutely
1549 Compl. 10/2.
Sen Gode hes nocht dotit me vitht speculations of liberal sciens nor philosophe
1598 James VI Basil. Doron I. 150/12.
The studdie of … liberall airtis & scyences
1687 Lauder Notices Affairs II. 812.
The feild of liberall sciences is open to all

2. Liberale will. = liber(e arbitrage, libre will, Liber a.Cf. e.m.E. lyberal arbytre (Caxton, 1490). 1407 Charter (Reg. H.) C.O. No. 32.
Nowcht throw strenthe na drede led, bot of my fre and liberale wyll
1456 Hay II. 111/8.
God has nathing maid in nature … bot … resoun and liberale will [F. liberal arbitre] of the makare

3. Generous, bountiful, open-handed. Also const. to or till the recipient, of or in what is given.(1) c1420 Wynt. vii. 1160.
Large, and off gret almws Till all pure folk, seke and hale, And till all othir rycht liberale
1456 Hay I. 299/34.
And he suld be large and liberale
a1500 Bk. Chess 1301.
Titus … So liberall was that thair come neuer ane Bot outher he gat or ellis he hecht him land
c1490 Porteous Noblenes 182/18.
Ane fre liberale hert quharein noblenes inhabitis suld nocht be scars & haldand
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xix. 16.
Be I liberall, gentill and kynd … Ȝit will thai say … Ȝon man is lyke out of his mynd
Ib. lxxx. 18.
Hie liberall heart, and handis nocht sweir In hansell of this guid new ȝeir
1562-3 Winȝet I. 139/23.
Ȝe [John Knox] … of ȝour magnificence and liberal hand, hes oppinnit the ȝettis of heuin to the faythful Fatheris
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 36.
And besyde that God schawis him self sa mercyfull and liberall to ȝow in sending ȝow freindis
1581-1623 James VI Poems I. 191/722.
Thay quho … uaiste … The treasoris gatherid by the paines … Of thaire forbearis occuraris, callid are libberall euermore
(2) c1420 Wynt. v. 4076.
[He was] off his tresore liberal Till ilk man famylyere
Ib. vii. 1170 (W).
Large and liberall of almous Till thaim that nedit
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 240.
No chiftane was, amangis thame all, In expensis mair liberall
c1552 Id. Mon. 5889.
Quharefor repent quhill ȝe haue space Sen God is lyberall of his grace
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 51.
The regent quhilk thai knew to be puir of substance and liberall of courage

b. Of the gift: Freely or generously given, generous, abundant. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 908.
[God's] treasure is to all sa aboundant, Sa ample geuin, sa liberall and fre
c1568 Lauder Minor P. ii. 69.
Ȝit papistis bearis ilke ane to uther More liberall luife … Nor dois sum minister to his brother
1665 S. Ronaldshay 51.
By reason of some strangers gentillmen in the church, intimatione for ane more liberall collectione to some … sailers who had been taken at sea by the Hollanders

4. a. Rendering L. liberalis: Noble, gracious, generous. 1531 Bell. Boece II. 117.
He was ane humill and liberal prince [L. miti … ingenio ac liberali]
1533 Boece ii. ii. 59 b.
Ferichare … hwmane and meik and of ingyne liberale [L. ingenio liberali atque mansueto]

b. Frank, open, generous in appearance. (Of a person's looks or face). 1611 Reg. Panmure I. xxxv.
He wes ane fair man … of ane liberal face and blythe countenance

5. Chiefly in Ayrshire, also in Lanarkshire. Of offspring: Legitimate. 1526 Laing Chart. No. 353.
[(A tenement in Irvine resigned by Patrick Watson) filius liberalis (of Patrick Watson, burgess of Irvine)
1561 Ib. No. 725.]
(James Conynghame of Tourelandis) filius liberalis (of William Conynghame of Conynghameheid)
(a) 1558–9 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 1772.
Robert Conynghame sone liberall and naturell of Robert Conynghame of Auchinarwie
1562 Reg. Deeds (Reg. H.) V. 244 (Scott).
Hew Crawfurd of Kilbirney, Mergaret Craufurd his liberall dochter
1565 Ib. VIII. 171.
Jhone Peplis burges of Irvin takand … the burding … upoun him of James Peplis his sone liberall
1566 Acts & Decr. LVII. 122.
It is appointit … betuixt … Hew Montgumrie his eldest and first begottin sone liberall apperand air on that ane part … in name and behalf of Eufame Hammiltoun his dochter liberall in that vthir part … as eftir followis
1581 Edinb. Test., Index I. 283.
John Wallace, son liberal to Edward Wallace of Sewaltoune
1574 Glasgow Prot. IV. 21.
(Maxwell of Nether Pollok)
1577 Reg. Deeds (Reg. H.) XXVI. 428.
(Kennedy of Knockdaw)
1594 Ib. L. 444.
(Maxwell of Calderwood)
(b) 1575 Reg. Deeds (Reg. H.) XXV. 252.
To Niniane Ballantyne of Cames and to Margaret McDougall conjuges and to Charles Bannatyne thair leberale sone

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



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