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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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Lio(u)n, Lyo(u)n(e, n. Also: lyown(e, layon, (lyand). [ME. lio(u)n, lyo(u)n (c 1200), liun (Layamon), leo(u)n, leun (c 1230), AF. liun, F. lion.]

1. A lion.a. The animal. Also once applied to a lioness. Also attrib. in lioun-skin (also liouns, lyonys skin), and in lion-hous, -yaird (where a lion or lions were kept). In literature, e.g. in Henryson's Fables or Dunbar's Thrissill & Rois, taken as ‘the king of beasts’, as in earlier literature.b. In comparisons and similes, and c. in transf. or metaphorical use, chiefly with allusion to the ferocity, might, courage or nobility of the lion. d. Applied to Christ (cf. Rev. v. 5). e. Applied to the Scottish sovereign (? with reference to the lion in the Scottish arms). f. In proverbs and proverbial allusions. ‘There is a lion in the way’; Prov. xxvi. 13.g. A representation of a lion, as in heraldry, on coins, or in other uses. ? Also attrib. in lyon chalmer. h. As the name of ships, or of a gun. i. The constellation Leo.a. (1) a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 1433.
That lyone, as lame ryicht meke
c1420 Wynt. i. 667.
To lyownys lyk ar thare body
Ib. iii. 136.
Thar eftyr wes Sampsone off renowne And slw the quhelpe off a lyowne [W. lyoune, C. lyon]
1474 Treas. Acc. I. 69.
Gevin to a Ducheman of the Fere … that brocht the lyone
1506 Ib. III. 200.
To Andro Broun that kepit the lioun in the Abbay
a1500 Bk. Chess 170.
Forȝet thi self & in ensample se The lyon king of bestis
15.. Clar. i. 1113.
The King … thankit him … For slauchter of the lyoun wode and fell
1589 Exch. R. XXII. 70; etc.(2) a1585 Maitl. Q. lxxix. 1.
The lyon for hir tender whelpis dois roir
(3) attrib. 1513 Doug. iv. Prol. 49.
Reke Dyomeir hys mays and lyoun skyn
Ib. v. vi. 116.
A bustuous lyonys [v.r. lyoun] skyn … With goldyn clewys
1511–12 Treas. Acc. IV. 275; etc.
To pay for … maissone feis one the lione house
1586 Treas. Acc. MS. 105.
In the abbay of Halirud hous for making of ane dur to the lyon hous
1613–14 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I. 345.
For vii c lead of stanes led fra the bak of the lyoun yaird [the lyones yaird; Ib. 342] to the dykis
1615 Ib. 360.
To Robert Robeinsoun … with sum uther turnes done be him in the lyand yaird
1639 Ib. MS. XXIX. 8 b.
The lyon ȝaird
b. a1400 Leg. S. xliii. 102.
For hyme that scho als fellone Til spouse [tuk] as a woud lyone
c1420 Wynt. vii. 2031.
Rychard the hart off a lyowne Or Lyownys Hart … Thai cald this Rychard comownaly
?1438 Alex. ii. 5053.
Defendand him as ane lyoun
1456 Hay I. 60/13.
Than ar thai hardy as lyoune
Ib. II. 33/9.
[A knight should] be symple as a may amang peple, and in his inymyes presence be as lyoun rampand
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxviii. 18.
Chryst … Is lyk a lyone rissin vp agane
Ib. lxxii. 19.
As lyonis with awfull rage In yre thai hurlit him heir and thair
1513 Doug. vii. Prol. 22.
So lowd ne rumyst wild lyoun or ber
1528 Lynd. Dreme 265.
We … saw … ladyis … Lyke wod lyonis cairfullie cryand
a1538 Abell 96 b.
It wes said of him at he entrit in the papait hes ane tod he lefit hes a lion and deit lik ane dog
15.. Christis Kirk 101 (M).
Than Lowrie as ane lyoun lap
a1578 Pitsc. II. 8/16.
To raige as ane lyone that war lowsit of his band
c. c1515 Asl. MS. I. 262/22.
[William the Lion] was callit the lyoun of richtuisnes the frende of God
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3515.
O rank rampand lyoun, to mischeif euer boun
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1641) No. 120.
A man is a lyon in his own cause
1600 Misc. Bann. C. I. 145.
Closit wp betuix twa hungerie lyounis, thristing for his blud
1600-1610 Melvill 60.
Sen lawlie lyes thow noble lyon fyne, What sall betyde behind to dogges and swyne?
1622-6 Bisset II. 174/16.
The haill posteritie of the ischu of King William the Lyoun
1662 Crim. Trials III. 606.
The third sprit is called the roring lyon
d. a1450 Fifteen Ois 261.
O Jesu, lioun maist strenthy, King vnendlik
Arundel MS. 247/266.
Fle, ȝe aduersaris, ourcumin be the lioun of the tribe of Juda, rute of Dauid [etc.]
1567 G. Ball. 81.e. 1537 Lynd. Depl. Magd. 200.
The heuinly flour of France … Quharein all Scotland saw thair hail plesance And maid the lyoun reioysit frome the splene
a1568 Scott i. 2.
Welcum, oure lyone with the floure delyce!
f. c1460 Wisd. Sol. 739.
A levand dog is better na a ded lyone
1573 Cath. Tr. 6/5.
Euin as the asse [sc. in the fable] … quha … did cleith himself with the skin of ane lyon
1600-1610 Melvill 287.
Let us nocht say with the slugart, ‘Ther is a lyon in the way’
1673 Lauder Notices Affairs I. 66.
Wheir the lyon's skin fails, it most be eiked out by the foxe's tail
g. (1) c1420 Wynt. iv. 226.
Off gold rampand a lyowne He bar in tyll asure brycht
1443 Highland P. II. 179.
Schir Duncan … sal nevir mak clayme … in the beryng of the lioun in thair armys
1508 Treas. Acc. IV. 137.
For solding of lioun of the Kingis salt fat
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matthew Pref.
Marc is vndirstand be a lioun for he tretis of Cristis rising agane
1531 Bell. Boece I. 18.
[Fergus' banner] in quhilk wes ane reid lioun rampand in ane feild of gold … awfully dingand his bak as is the gise of the gentill lioun [etc.]
1588 Reg. Privy C. IV. 326.
[The mint-officers are] to ad thairto twa dobbis upoun the bak syde of the lyoun [on the plack]
1634 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 19.
Making of ane of the lyouns mouthis at the spoutis of the tolbuith
(2) 1631 Brechin Test. V. 51.
Tua leam lyonis
1639 Edinb. Test. LIX. 83.
Twa Flanderis babies of tyle estimat to ij s. Item thrie lyounes estimat to iij s.
Ib. 96.
Fowr lame platis quharof twa of thame ar babies and the vthir twa ar lyonis
1649 Ib. LXIV. 271 b.
Certane laim lyones and ane laim chandler
(3) attrib. 1534–5 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I. 128.
For the glasining of the fywe wyndois of … the lyon chalmer
h. (1) 1493–4 Halyb. 7; etc.
[Letters sent] in the Lyon
1506 Treas. Acc. III. 204; etc. 1546 Ib. IX. 22.
The schip callit the Lyoun
1546–7 Corr. M. Lorraine 176.
I think the Lyon be tane
1562–3 Treas. Acc. XI. 242. 1580 Wedderburn Compt Bk. 200;
The schip callit the Lyoun of Dundie
1591 Ib. 65.(2) 1461 Liber Plusc. I. 376.
Eodem anno rex de Flandria fecit adduci machinam bombardicam vocatam Lyoun, nunc in Anglia
i. a1500 Henr. Fab. 630.
Phebus in the Lyoun furth can carie
c1475 Wall. ix. 20.
In Capricorn the sygn off the Lioun

k. Attrib. passing into adj., = ‘lion-like, fierce as of a lion’. 1535 Stewart 12956.
With lyoun luke richt awfull for to se
1570 Sempill Sat. P. xii. 127.
[Haue lyounis lukis and than mak me ane lear
1573 Id. Ib. xxxix. 190.]

2. a., b., c. Designating various Scottish coins.a. A gold coin first issued under Robert III and James II having a crowned Scottish escutcheon (with lion rampant) on the obverse. From the reign of James IV the designation lion was appar. superseded by Scottis croun or croun of wecht (see Croun(e n. 5 c, d). Also half-lion.b. A coin of billon or copper first issued in 1555 having a crowned lion rampant on the reverse, originally valued at three-halfpence. Also known as the Hard-hed(e.c. Lyoun nobill, later lyoun pece, designations of a gold coin of James VI, issued from 1584 to 1588 and originally valued at 75 s., having a crowned lion sejant on the obverse (1584 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I. 164–5.)a. 1393 Acts I. 207/1.
[Eciam fabricata erit de bono auro vna pecia vocata leo & habebit cursum pro quinque solidis monete ita quod duo leones … erunt meliores nobili ad valorem trium denariorum
1398 Ib. 210/1.]
Quod … nullum aurum habebit cursum … exceptis leonibus, dimidiis leonibus, nobilibus Flandrie et Anglie [etc.]
1424 Ib. II. 6/2.
Takande fra our lord the King allanerly ij [ed. ij s.] of thar lionis for a nobill Inglis
1451 Ib. 40/1.
That thare be strikyn ane new penny of golde callit a lyone with the prent of the lyon on the ta side & the ymage of Sanct Andro on the tother side with a side cote ewin to his fute haldand the sammyn wecht of the half Inglis nobil and that the said new lyon … sall ryn for vj s. viij d. of the said new mone; and the half lyone [accordingly]
Ib. 40/2.
Item that the lyon & half lyon be strikyn ewin sa furth wyth & haf cours to the said tyme the lyon for x s. & the half lyon for v s.
1456 Ib. 46/1. 1468 Ib. 92/1.
The Scottis money, that is to say the demy, the lyone, the grot of the crovne [etc.]
1478 Ib. 118/2. 1488 Treas. Acc. I. 93 n.
x syde coyt lyonis [v.r. x Scottis crownis]
1498 Halyb. 143.
Rasauit … in go[l]d of wycht 23 lyonis of gold, 7 hary nobyllis [etc.] … 15 li.
b. 1554 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I. 76.
That ane pece off layit money be imprentit … off the fines of ane penny fyne threttytua off thame weyand the once haiffand the lyoune rampand crownit on that ane syde [etc.] … and to haiff cours … for thre halfpenyes … And that the said pece be namit commonly the lyone
1558 Treas. Acc. X. 393.
For foure hors wagis passand of Edinburgh to Coldinghame caryand j m vj c pundis of lyonis to be deliverit to ane part of the horsmen
1558-66 Knox I. 365 (G).
Daylie thair was suche numbers of lions (alias called hardheids) prented that the basenes thairof maid all thingis exceiding dear
1564 Crim. Trials I. i. 440.1566 Ib. 487. 1567 Digest Justiciary Proc. F. 20.
Fals hardheidis vtherwayes callit lyounes
1574 Acts III. 92/2.
The saidis new plakkis last cunȝeit to haue cours and passage … for twa penneis the pece, and all the saidis lyonis, vtherwayis callit hardheidis, for ane penny the pece
1576 Yester Writs 219.
[Both secured, under redemption in Scots money] hardheddis callit lyounis and twelf penny pecis except [on the lands and mains of the Heuch]
1592 Aboyne Rec. 174. c 1590 Hopetoun MS. in Cochran-Patrick Coinage I. 98.
Thair wes lykwyse coinyeit be him [Johne Missaruy Inglischmane] in lyounis of a denyer fyne xxviij in the ounce of iij half pennyis ilk pece [in 1555–6]
c. (1) 1586 Cunȝiehous Acc. MS. 8.
Past the irnis in nobill lyonis and crownis … vj staines xj pundis x onces. Payeit … for xl goldin assayis as for fourttie journayis ilk ane ane lyoun nobill at iij li. xv s. ilk peice
1586 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I. 167.
Finding in the said Thomas [Achesoun's] box the assayis of the lyoun noblis and new crownis haill and half [from 2nd Nov. 1584 to 18th April last bypast]
1591 Acts III. 527/1.
That the pece of gold cunȝeit within this realme for xliiij s. sall now gif four pund, … the four pund pece with the Kingis face four pund ten schillingis the lyoun nobill four pund
(2) 1598 Acts IV. 175/2.
And with thir [foreign coins] his maiesties thirscell noble to geve heirefter vij li. xvj s. the hat pece iiij li. ix s. the lyoun pece v li.
1598 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 165.
The prices of gold and syluer proclami tat Edinburgh … to hawe course and passage theirefter; … Gold … the hatt peice 4 lib. 13 s. 8 d., the lyoun peice 5 lib. 4 s. 4 d … the fyve pund peice 5 lib. 6 s. 8 d.
1600 Wedderb. Compt Bk. 122.
3 sitting lyon peces at 8 merk the pece

d. The lion dollar (Du. leeuwendaalder), a silver coin of the Netherlands, ‘issued from 1576 to the close of the 17th cent.’Also known in later Amer. (1697–1768) and Eng. (a 1725) use. 1628 Cochran-Patrick Coinage II. 14.
That of lait thair hes beene a great nomber of dollours commounlie callit lyoun or dog dollours brought within this kingdome
1629 Ib. 16.
It wes found … that the rex and lyoun dollours wer fittest to be allowed

3. Designating the principal Scottish herald.In various specific collocations, as (the) lyoun herald, lyoun king of or at armis, lyoun etc. Lord Lyoun, see also Lord n.Probably so named from the Scottish sovereign's heraldic lion as worn on his tabard. 1377–8 Exch. R. II. 553.
[In solucione facta … Leoni heraldo et Ade de Favside viij li. viij d.
1383–4 Ib. III. 117. 1388 Ib. III. 170.
Et solute Leoni regi haraldorum pro feodo sibi debito … ut patet per literas … ipsius Leonis de recepto
Ib. 191, 692. 1409 Ib. IV. 74, 5.
Per solucionem factam Leoni herraldo armorum … ut patet per literas … dicti Leonis de recepto
1412–3 Ib. 188.]
Et Leoni heraldo regi armorum percipienti per annum quinque marcas
1381 Cal. Doc. IV. 67.
[(Licence to) Leon heraud (of the King of Scots to take with him a complete suit of armour)
1383 in Sources & Lit. Sc. Law (Stair Soc. I.) 383 n.
Liouns Roy d'armes D'escoces
1532 St. P. Henry VIII VII. 385 in Lynd. (S.T.S.) IV. 257.]
Lion Kynge of herauldes of Scottland
(1) 1473 Treas. Acc. I. 45.
For a bot that brocht our Lyone herald in hast to the King
Ib. 50; etc.
Gevin to Lyone heralde, passande in Inglande in the commissione with the ambaxiatouris
1505 Ib. III. 145.
To Lioun heraldis man
1567 Acts III. 44/1.
The reformatioun of the office of armes, the abuse quhair of standis in the imperfectioun of Lyon herauld
a1578 Pitsc. II. 217 marg.
Wm. Stewart, Lyon haret, brunt in Sant Andros
1596 Dalr. II. 216/28.
Lyon harat skairs … was cum quhen the King selfe was vpon the way
(2) 1554 Treas. Acc. X. 266.
All officers of armes to compeir befoir the Lyoun heroauld
1596 Moysie 127.
The princes … wes cryed and called be the Lyon harrald Lady Elisabethe
1600 Misc. Maitl. C. III. 108.
Nixt to thame the Lyoun Herauld him alane, with his coit of armes and ane velvat futmantill
1663–4 Irvine Mun. II. 266.
The prowost [etc.] … was with the Lion herat
1680 Copy of a Letter by Mr John Dickson When He Was Prisoner in the Bass (1717) 20.
The conscience is … the Lyon herauld ecchoing, the Lyon King at Arms publishing the will of the King of kings
(3) 1474 Treas. Acc. I. 54.
Gevin to Lyoune King of armez passand to Londone
1515 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 38.
Lyon King of armes askit instrument
1535–6 Reg. Privy S. II. 285/2.
For the tressonable … putting of handis in umquhile William Cuming of Inueraloquhe knycht than callit Lyoun King of Armes
1554–5 Misc. Spald. C. II. 215.
In presence of me Lyoun King of Arms and remanent heraulds chapterly conveent [etc.] … [signed:] Lindsa of the Mont Lyon King
1568 Charteris Lyndesay Pref. Adhort. 12.
Knicht of the Mont, Lyoun of Armis King, Quha in our dayis now did laitlie ring
1592 Acts III. 554/2.
Full … commissioun to Lyoun King of armes and his brether herauldis to visite the haill armes [etc.] … and thairefter to matriculat thame in thair buikis and registeris
1672 Ib. VIII. 123/2.
To … Sir Charles Erskine of Cambo … Lyone King of Armes
1707 Ib. XI. 401/2.
[That] the rank and precedencie of Lyon King of arms of the kingdome of Scotland … be immediatly next after Garter principall King of arms in England
(4) 1592 Acts III. 555/2.
Becaus the jurisdictioun of the lyoun king of armes is nocht able to execute dew pvnisment [etc.]
1657 Balfour Ann. IV. 390.
Then comes the Lyone King of Armes carring the golden ampule or viale
1672 Acts VIII. 95/1.
Commission to the Lyon King of Armes or his deputes
1681 Bibliotheca Topog. Brit. XLVII. 215.
The Lyon king of arms, in his coat, robe, collar, batton and footmantle, bareheaded
(5) 1644 Acts VI. i. 247/2.
Decreetes before Lion King at armes
1672 Ib. VIII. 95/1.(6) 1628 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. II. 393.
Then the Lyoun King-at-Armes is to be callit in by the Marishall, who with his brethrein come in in thair coats and sitt doun before the King
1644 Acts VI. 219/2.
The saidis Patrik, Erle of Forth [etc.] … thair armes to be rent … be the Lyoune king at armes within the parliament hous
1685 Ib. VIII. 455/1.1695 Ib. IX. 378/2. 1674 Highland P. I. 263, 8.
To our Lyon King at Arms or his brethren heraulds … that … ye pass to … Dowart, with our coat of armes displayed and … charge the said John … to deliver up the keys … thereof to you our said Lyon or herauld
(7) 1514 Acta Conc. Public Aff. 14.
Be lyon herrard king of armis
1557 Reg. Privy S. V. i. 35/1.
To oure weillbelovit Lyoun herauld, King of armes, greting
1559 Ib. MS. XXX. 17 b.
Schir Robert Forman of Lutherie, knycht, Lyoun herald King of armes
1596 Dalr. II. 157/23.
Quhen M. lord Drummond gaue Lion harat King of armes on the haffet, cheif of al the haratis, the Duke escheited his patrimonie
?c1675 J. Gordon Hist. III. 22.
The Kings declaratione was proclaimed in the Scottish campe, June twentieth, by Sir James Balfour, Lyon heralde King of armes for Scottlande
1672 Acts VIII. 124/1.
[Constituting] the said Sir Charles Erskine and Alexr Erskine his sone … joynt Lyons and heraulds Kings of Armes [giving them both] the name of Lyon herauld King of Armes togidder with the stile, … jurisdiction & casualities … of old vsed & wont
(8) 1453 Exch. R. V. 536.
In manibus herraldi Lioun nuncupati
1501–2 Cal. Doc. IV. 336.]
[(For) Lion the haroulde (14 yards black satin Richemount)
1514 Acta Conc. Public Aff. 14.
The Qwenis wryting ... send now be lyon
1528 St. P. Henry VIII IV. 515 in Lynd. (S.T.S.) IV. 252.
[James V has sent] our maister of armis, Lyoun, to our derrest uncle
1673 Ayr Chart. 202.
(Signed:) Ch. Araskine Lyon
(9) 1496 Acta Conc. II. 12, etc.]
[A letter producit be Lyone King of Armes … , the landis of Dundonald … pertenyng to the sade Lyon in liferent
a1578 Pitsc. II. 126/17.
Our crowne of Scotland is ane imperiall crowne and … hauldis of na king bot God and the Lyone
1582 Reg. Privy C. III. 512.
Quhilk protestatioun the Lyoun admittit as the act of court subscrivit on the bak thairof … lykewyse beris
1614 Highland P. III. 188.
And if thei hald furthe till thei be bot chargit with the Lyoun [sc. with treason] no remeid is for thame
1647 Acts VI. i. 761/1. 1661 Stirling Comm. Good 8 b.
For carying a lettre fra the provest to the Lyon
1672 Acts VIII. 95/2.
The said register … to remain with the Lyons office as a publict register of the kingdome
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. i. xxvi. § iii. 131.
If a messenger do any wrong … he is lyable therefore … and finds caution for that effect to the Lyon at his entry
1693 Acts IX. 247/1.(10) 1633 Lithgow Poet. Rem. 112.
Some kirks and colleges afford … Lord Rector, Lord Archdeane … , So also is Lord Lyon grauely lorded
1641 Acts V. 720/2.
Protest. Lord Lyone King at armes against the ratefecatione foirsaid
(11) 1645 Acts VI. i. 402/1.
Reference in favoures of the Lord Lyon
1662 Ib. VII. 404/1.
Act in favours of the Lord Lyon King at Armes
1663 Ib. 458/2.
Anent some fies acclamed as due to the Lord Lyons office
1669 Glasgow B. Rec. III. 117.
Ordaines my Lord Lyoune to be payit … in relatioune to armes used be many who aught nocht
1672 Foulis Acc. Bk. 7.
For a pint of wine in the castle when my lord Lyon [infra the Lyon] was sick
1673 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 19 July.
To my lord Lyon
(12) attrib. and comb. 1672 Acts VIII. 95/2.
With testificats … to be delivered … to the Lyon Clerk at his office in Edinburgh
1695 Ib. IX. App. 110/2.
The sentence … of forfaulture was … intimate with sound of trumpet in presence of the Lyon deput with his brethren heraulds & pursevants

b. A (Scottish) herald. a1633 Hope Major Pract. I. 272.
The summonds of treasone is direct under the quarter seall to the lyone heraulds
c1650 Spalding I. 37.
The lyoun herauldis, purseuantis, maisseris, and trumpettouris follouit his Majestie in silens
Ib. 262.
It is said, that about the fourth of Aprile ane lion herauld, … cam to Dunottar
1684 Law Memor. (1818) 72.
Being summoned aforehand by a lyon-herald to enter themselves to the tolbuith of Edinburgh
1658–1700 Greyfriars Interments 172.
John Dell, Layon herot

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"Lion n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Feb 2023 <>



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