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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.

Lite, Lyte, n.1 Also: lit(t, lyt(t, lyit(t, lyett, liet. [North. ME. lyte (c 1450), in sense 1, north. e.m.E. (once) liet, lyet, lyetts (a 1550) in senses 2 and 3, otherwise appar. only Sc.: mainly aphetic f. Elyte n. (but cf., with sense 5 below, OF. eslite, eslete choice). Cf. Leit n.2]

1. A bishop-elect. c1420 Wynt. vii. 741.
He stud as lyte [W. lite] twa yhere owre, And byschape thretty yhere and foure
Ib. 1849.
This lyte in till Saynctandrewys se The Pape than gert confermyd be
Ib. ix. 556.
This Byschape Willame and Stewyne Pay That lyte wes chosyn efftyr his day
Ib. vii. 1506 (W).
[He] stude as lyte [R. elyte] twa ȝere
1497 Halyb. 83.
Johne Fressall, factor to Master John Fressall, lyit of Roys

2. One of a list of persons nominated as candidates for an office; chiefly plur., the nominees making up such a list. 1456 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I. 15.
Vpoun the day nixt befoir Michalmes day the dusane of the towne vsit to cheis the lytis of the officiaris of the burgh … and … the baillies war chosin of the lyttis … and thai find that the auld wse thairof … was brokin throw the chesing of a baillie … that was na lite befoir
1533 Bell. Livy II. 36/25.
Becaus the candidatis and new litis desiring nyne tribunis to be create empeschit the tribis to gif thare fre suffrage and votis
1552 Conv. Burghs I. 3.
Quhilk new counsale and auld counsale to … cheis the litis to the offices, sik as provest, baillies, dene of gild and thesaurare and to ilkane thairof thre merchandis of the burch and na craftismen. It is of … auld vse that the provest than present, the dene of gild and thesaurare ar litis to that samin office for the ȝeir to cum
And gif of the personis chosen vpon the new counsale happynnis to be chosin ane lite to ane vther office, and promovit thairto, ane vther to be chosin … in his rowme
1567 Reg. Privy C. I. 582.
Being chargit to desist and ceise fra all making of lytis or chesing of ony new officiaris for the yeir to cum
1569 Selkirk B. Ct. II.
The lyttis
c 1570 Sat. P. xliii. 177.
Nov. Quhan regentis deit, and all the lytes inlaikit, The counsell … cheisit him regent
1571 Lanarh B. Rec. 59.
Lyttes of the provest, [five names]; littis of the balleis, [eight names]
1615 Edinb. B. Rec. VI. 132.
The wrichtis … refuisit to ressave the lyittis and elect thair deykin out of the same
1636 Elgin Rec. I. 254.
1650 Glasgow Merchants House 88.
[The Dean of Guild, etc.] hes nominat the lytis underwrittin for cheising of ane of thame in clerk to thame

b. (Presented, entered) at, in, upon lites, on, upon the lytes, = as selected nominees.(1) 1441 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 7.
Quhasaeuer that happynnis to be put furth at lites to be chosin alderman, or he passe furth, he sall swere to keep this statute
1562 Bk. Univ. Kirk I. 27.
The Assemblie appointed Mr George Hay, Mr Johne Row and Adam Heriot, to be proponed in lites to the said kirk
1587 Aberd. Trades 84.
It sall be liesome to the said craftismen to choise sax persons of their awin number ȝearly. to be upon lyitis, of whom the concil sal choise twa thereof ȝierly
1587 Reg. Privy C. IV. 224. 1612 Misc. Maitl. C. II. 157.
Ane certane number being gevin in in lyttis be the inhabitantis of Kirkwall to be magistrattis
(2) 1582 Reg. Privy C. III. 515.
That the provest [etc.] … already chosin to beare office … sall pas and entir on the lytes agane … to be chosin of new
1600-1610 Melvill 442.
To put upon the lyttes a guid number of the thrie presbyteries that war against tham
1634 Edinb. B. Rec. VII. 153.
That … non be givin out upone the lyittes of the deykins of craftis bot such as ar expert handie lauborers in thair craftis
1649 Kingarth Kirk S. 10.
Put upon the lites to be tresurer

3. In lyte, on (upon) lyte, in, on the lite: on the list of nominees; standing as candidates. 1565 Canongate Kirk S. MS. 28 July.
The namis of the faythfull that be in the lyt of the elderis wes gewin wp … to be chosin on Sonday cum aucht dayis
1583 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 294.
That thai cause ane of thair brether quha wes on the lyte of the dekinship with thame this yeir to supplie thair rowme
1605 Glas. gow Chart. I. i. dcix.
The deane of gild beiring office the yeir preceding sall, with advyce of twentie-four persones … , nominat twa of the mercheand rank to be on lyt with him self, … of the quhilk thrie they sall chuis ane to beir office the yeir following
c 1614 Melrose P. 172.
We haif heirwith send vnto youre maiestie three personis in lyte for euery one of these schirefdomes
1627 Misc. Bann. C. III. 224.
Put in lite
(1593) Hope Major Pract. II. 25.
The spirtuall side nominat my lord Urquhart being temporall and the temporall side nominat Mr Jhon Lindsay … being of the spirtuall syde on lyett
1631 Red Bk. Menteith II. 129.
But geving suche misfortun did require that theis sould come in lite, ȝit do but this for me, to gett my sone litit with thaim
1642 Glasg. B. Rec. II. 50.
Putt on lyt
1691 Ib. IV. 3.
Three persones … presented to them on lytt
1712 Old Ross-shire I. 324.
[The new Council] proceeded to elect baylies … [and] did with the present baylies vote and putt three on lite

4. A list of selected nominees for an office, a ‘leet’. 1536 Kirkwall Chart. ii.
Cum potestate dicto proposito [etc.] … quatuor balivos decanumgild consules et thesaurarium … eligendum annoquoque altero offerendis id est lie lit yearlie et eligendi
1603 Lett. Eccl. Affairs I. i.
The Presbytrie thinkis meit the congregatioun … ather to giwe lyt to the Presbytrie, or to accept a lyt of the Presbytrie
1635 Aberd. B. Rec. III. 85.
Becaus the said Patrik Leslie keipit up the lites that wer drawin up for chusing of the new counsell … the prouest causit draw up the samen litt ower againe on ane other paper
1639 Rec. Kirk. Scotl. 261.
The supplication of the toune of Edr. for planting of their churches with a lite of such as they had their eyes upon
1641 Baillie I. 363.
Yet they got Belhelvie eiked to the lite which Mr. Andrew gave in
1654 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 295.
The … counsell … sett doune ane lytt of diverse persones
1655 Stirling B. Rec. I. 218.
The majestrates and counsall … have in the intaking of the lites of the deacones of craft dispensit with four baxteris for the lite of that craft for this yeir
1671 Justiciary Ct. Rec. II. 63.
[To] cause a liet of all persons fitt for assizes … to be given up
1689 Glasgow B. Rec. III. 434.
[Three baillies] divided the haill merchand rank on counsell in three lytts, to the effect that three of them might be choisen, wherof one out of ilk lytt, to the effect out of those three … they might choose one of them to bear office as proveist
The lytt put to ane vott the said John Andersone was be the saids baillies and counsall unanimouslie elected and choisen to bear office as proveist
1717 Glasg. Univ. Mun. II. 559.
A lite

5. ? Election by vote, vote.But perh. merely contextual uses of senses 2 and 4 above. 1534 Acta Conc. Public Aff. 430.
Be lyte and vote of the auld counsale and the new [Blair was made provost]
1567 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. (App.) 307.
The quhilk day Henry Balcanquhill, eldar, and Robert Quhit … wes electit and chesit with commoun votes and lytis of the said burgh bailyeis thairof
1619 Proceedings Assemblie Holden at Perth in 1618 2.
Without formall voting or lyte he tooke him sworne and admitted him clerk

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"Lite n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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