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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Ma, a., n., and adv. Also: may, maa, mae, mea, me(i. [North. ME. ma, maa, midl. and south. mo, OE. . Cf. Mo.]

A. adj. 1. More in number, more numerous: = compar. of Mony. Variously const.(1) 1375 Barb. xiii. 496.
He … slew … ma men than enew
14.. Acts I. 58/2.
The party defendand nedis not till ansuer … to ma accions on a daye than ane
c1420 Wynt. vii. 1249.
Geldyd … To lete hym fadyre for to be To ma barnys than he had than
1550 Reg. Privy C. I. 94.
That nane archbischopis … have ony ma dischis nor viii dischis for thair meis
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii. 823.
In till hir court (quod he) is thair na ma Bot sex ladeis?
1573 Sat. P. xl. 177.
Mony ma dangers nor I can declair
1605 Conv. Burghs II. 203. 1626 Aberd. B. Rec. III. 9.
No inhabitant … shall … invite anie ma persones to be gossopes … bot four gossopes
1670 Rothesay B. Rec. 186.
That nane keip ma guids nor they have gress
(b) 1483 Edinb. Hammermen's Seal of Cause MS.
That na hammerman [etc.] … excers or vse ony maa craftis bot alanerly ane
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Iter.(c) 1531 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 365.
I sall mak gude we sall bring may gude fechtand men … na the said erle sall do
1533 Bell. Livy I. 231/4.
May wikkit … lawis than evir
1551 Hamilton Cat. 237.
To have may wyffs than ane at anis
(d) 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 340.
Whairthrow he hes thocht to lay the mae blokis in my way to recover it
1596 Dalr. I. 5/13.
The are … sumthing thiker, and mae cloudes
1658 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 9 Oct.(2) 1554 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 778.
Ma novmer is put thairto nor wes thir ten yeris bygane
c1590 Fowler II. 122/37.
They wer never many that … with ma multitud of aiths promeis it then he
(3) 1375 Barb. ix. 162.
Thair fayis … ilka day wox ma and ma
a1400 Leg. S. x. 290.
Thane went thai furthe … Ma thane twenty thousand
c1420 Wynt. v. 854.
Sellarys ma than byarys ware
a1450 Fifteen Ois 240.
Woundis mony & ma Than I can tell ilkane seir
1456 Hay II. 55/9.
Be multitude of armyt company … his inymyes … sex tymes ma na he
c1475 Wall. iii. 257. 1567 Sat. P. v. 109.
Reuoltis hes bene ma nor fyftene
1600-1610 Melvill 65.(b) Brus i. 458 (E).
Thai war sumtyme erar may then les
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 3402. 1535 Stewart 27925.
This ilk princes Eugenius to thame gaif, And ladeis all, suppois tha had bene may
(4) 1375 Barb. i. 558.
His systir son him slew, And gud men als, ma then inew
a1400 Leg. S. xxv. 23.
Fele, ma thane ane, Haly mene are callit Julyane
1456 Hay I. 56/7.
[They] sett fyre in ma na x or xii placis in the toune
1562-3 Winȝet I. 129/26.
In mony places thryse in the oulk and in fer may nocht anis in the moneth
1596 Dalr. I. 36/29.
Gret palices ma sal ȝe find in na place than in Fife
(5) 1375 Barb. xiv. 274.
The ma thai be The mair honour allout haue we
1456 Hay I. 74/33.
Na xxtv … na ane hunder, na a thousand, bot the maa martyris ar to God … glorifyit
1533 Gau 82/24.
The fewer vordis [etc.] … , the may vordis ve haiff … the prayer is the var
1533 Boece iv. xviii. 160. 1551 Hamilton Cat. 29. 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 19.
[They erected the mass] to make thame the mae freindis
1587-99 Hume 103/9.
The ma in number or mair grieuous the sinne be, the worse is the conscience of the committar
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 798.
The langer we live, the mae farlis we see
Ib. No. 829.(6) 1427 Acts II. 15/1.
Twa or ma wismen
1512 Exch. R. XIII. 443.
Oure thesaurar and his assignais ane or ma
1562-3 Winȝet I. 130/29.
[The early Popes] war xx and may maist constant martyris of the veritie
1590 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 18.
To borrow sex or ma cast peicis
c1650 Spalding I. 248.

b. Additional to those already enumerated or instanced; further, other, extra.(1) c1420 Wynt. viii. 2049.
Fra that kest thai na ma wordis
?1438 Alex. ii. 9991. 1475 3rd Rep. Hist. MSS. 418/1.
Protestand for may rasonis to schaw quhen myster is
a1500 Seven S. 163. c1515 Asl. MS. I. 241/24.
Thair was with him his brother … & na ma lordis
1496–7 Acta Conc. II. 42.
That maa witnes be summond, gif ony be, to preif the takin of the sadis gudis
1546 Treas. Acc. IX. 47.
Item, send ane boy furth … with certane ma sarkes to my lorde governour
1554 Knox III. 167
Thir and ma plagues sall fall upon the realme of England
1562 Q. Kennedy Ressoning 5 b/22.
Quhat suld mister ane new sacrifice or ony may sacrifices
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI 359.
We sall not appoynt any maa counsallors or obtrude any maa to be insert
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 96/4.
I hoape ȝe sall be king of ma cuntreis then this
1637 Aberd. Council Lett. II. 74.
1641-8 Skipper's Acc. (Smettone) 24.
For 8 me plankes to the bot 12 li.
1648 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 146.
Many familees ar removeit to the muir, … and that by and besyde manie mae poore persounes wha ar inclosit in thair houssis
1671 Melrose Reg. Rec. III. 78.
Togidder with tua aikers of his mae aikers of land lyand within the toun of Newsteid
(2) a1400 Leg. S. Prol. 138.
Disciplis ȝet had he may Forowtin thir, sewinty and twa
Ib. iii. 980.
For-owtine witting ma
Ib. xxxvi. 5.
Sancte Johne … The quhilk, we rede, had names ma
c1475 Wall. iv. 577. a1500 Colk. Sow i. 335. c1515 Asl. MS. I. 230/6.
[They] tynt nocht a man may in the wynnyng of it [Roxburgh]
1513 Treas. Acc. IV. 498. 1513 Doug. iii. vi. 215. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 2348.
Quhair I was now, thair was witnes far ma
a1568 Bann. MS. 222 a/18.
Saif asperans freindis I fynd no may
1568 Peebles B. Rec. I. 73.
My fadir has mony childrene ma nor I
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 303.
What neidith wordis mae?
1606 Reg. Privy C. VII. 167.
And for every through ma besyde the first through, xx s.
(3) 1375 Barb. ii. 491.
Schir Nele Cambell and othir ma
a1400 Leg. S. v. 474.
The foulis … And lytil bestis vthir ma
Ib. vii. 108.
Before Caypha & be-for othir Jowis ma
c1420 Wynt. iv. 2104. ?1438 Alex. ii. 246.
I haue mare dule of him and wa Than of fyue hundreth vther ma
c1420 Ratis R. 1787.
With vthir may than I can say
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 821.
Quhilk of ws be maister of vther ma Thay sall the tribut … bere awa
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 1353. 1562-3 Winȝet I. 28/11.
Knox … schrynkis not to … lie … in this case of thir festual dayis amangis vtheris ma
1567 Sat. P. vi. 78.
Salamon … And als Jehu with mony vther ma
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 133.
Canone … small brasen peices, slanges of irone and vtheris mae [Trans. mea] peices
a1578 Pitsc. I. 119/35.

2. (Uncommonly,) More or greater in degree or amount. 1535 Stewart 54053.
With small power rydand furth the way This Striuiling … With far ma power hes him vmbeset
c 1541–2 State P. (Reg. H.) No. 29.
Oure souerane … hes send mare supplie to defende his bordouris may nor wes send of before
1574–5 Haddington Treas. Acc. 18.
Jhone Massonis cart for leiding of ma faill

3. More than one, several, many. ?1438 Alex. ii. 542.
Thay come doun ay tua and tua, Endlang the steppis, thocht thay war ma, And passis into batis and galayis, Thocht they war ma, within thre dayis
c1420 Bute MS. fol. 156 b.
Of land gyfyn to syndry childir thrw the fadyr. Gyf a man has ma [Adv. MS. mony] landis and ma childyr And he gyf til ilk ane of thaim a land
c1505-8 Donatus i b.
The plurer it spekis of ma tyngis na ane as hii legentes for ma men redand

B. n. 1. A greater number, more (of persons or things).May twys, twice as many. The may, the greater number. Mae and mae, more and more, a growing number.(1) c1420 Wynt. vi. 425.
Mony ware slayne off Crystyne men, Bot off the Sarracenys slayne war ma
1456 Hay I. 49/23.
He tynt mony of his peple … ȝit was he ma na ane hundreth thousand of fut men
c1475 Wall. ii. 192.
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 928, 1154.
1548–9 Corr. M. Lorraine 292.
Serten of Inglis men … ma nor wes of befor
1549 Compl. 29/27.
1614 Fraserburgh Kirk S. I. 13 Feb.
[That] scho had ma of Patrik Forbes peitis in hir stak nor Patrik Forbes had of hiris
(2) c1420 Wynt. iv. 488.
Thai payid ma than twa for ane
Ib. v. 5793.
He speryd … Quhethir ma in hell wes or in hewyn
Ib. vii. 35. 14.. Burgh Laws c. 71 (A).
That nane salbe ma in his oyne than iiii
c1420 Ratis R. 882.
As thow may weill ensampill see Of weill ma na of twa ore thre
c1450 Cr. Deyng 113.
Ma deis of exces … than is slane into batell
1456 Montrose Baillie Ct. 5 a.
That thai sall hald but [24] off scheip … & gyff thai halde may [etc.]
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 216/9. 1556 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 258.
Four, five, … ten, ma or fewar as tha suld think expedient
a1568 Bann. MS. 72 b/39. 1570-3 Bann. Trans. 153.
Thair was slane … this day of suddartis … 8 or 9; some sayis mea
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1172.
Mae admeirs the sune rysing nor the sune going to
(3) 1375 Barb. xii. 565.
The quhethir thai war Ay ten for ane or ma
1446 Reg. Episc. Brechin. I. 105.
The said lord the bischop or his assignis, ane or ma
1484 Peebles B. Rec. I. 192.
With sufficiant nowmer of nychtbouris to the vaill of xxxvj or may
1508 Reg. Privy S. I. 256/2.
To mak … deputis ane or maa
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 165.
Willing to cheise ane regent or ma
1626 Edinb. Test. LIV. 27.
Failȝeing of ane or mea of thame be deceis
1640 Kirkcudbright Min. Bk. 9.
Ane or mae, chosen in ilk paroche
1688 Irvine Deeds 8 June.
Acts … ane or mae … to raise
(4) c1475 Wall. x. 113.
I haiff seyn may twys in to Scotland With ȝon ilk king
(5) 1456 Hay I. 13/30.
The maa thare was of marteris, the ma thare was of miraclis, and the maa miraclis, the starkar was haly kirk
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest 14.
The ma of thir signis concurrand the patient is neirer dethe
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xcix. 46.
Quha mekle hes the ma thai haue to pleis
a1628 Carmichael Prov. 1458.
The mae the mirier, the fewer the better cheir
Ib. No. 734.(6) 1644 Aberd. Council Lett. II. 381.
A great part quhairof hes alreddie removed thameselffis and daylie mae and mae ar quytting the toune

b. Persons or things in addition to those already enumerated or instanced; others.And ma, and others, and even more. With the ma, ‘with the rest’, and even more.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii. 136.
That we sal bryne thé & al thine Or we ma of oure barnis tyne
14.. Acts I. 389/2.
For na ma may be of sonȝeis
c1475 Wall. v. 92. c1515 Asl. MS. I. 208/23.
Mony ma of that nacioun … war … hangit
1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv. 614. 1623 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 203.
Albeit we have lyand besyd us fourscoir and some ma of these bookes undistribute
(2) 1375 Barb. vii. 261.
‘And quhar ar gane ȝour men, quhen ȝe ar thus allane?’ ‘At this tyme, dame, I haue no ma’
c1400 Troy-bk. i. 473.
All thyr merwalis and mony ma Scho will do, and other alsa
Ib. 38. c1475 Wall. i. 395. a1500 Seven S. 1264.
It faris of thé as dois of ma
1512 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 16.
Quha sa sellis bred … gawand ma to the dosoun
1538 Treas. Acc. VI. 416.
For making of twa pair of hois thairof, … and the remanent in handis kepand to mak ma
1553 Knox III. 380.
I persave that thair be ma tempted than I
1558 Edinb. B. Rec. III. 24. 1568 Lyndesay Pref. a1578 Pitsc. I. 171/16. 1584 St. A. Kirk S. 544. 1608 Dunferm. B. Rec. II. 51.
He delyverit the said horse … with all the faultis now found to him and tuentie maa nor evir he kend to him
1607 Kinghorn Kirk S. 9.
Hendrie Gourlay … denyit that he knew any ma of the names
1600-1610 Melvill 75. 16.. Hist. Kennedy 47. 1640 Aberd. Council Lett. II. 254.(b) c1420 Wynt. viii. 4046.
The Kyng of Frawns … Send … in message may That ware kend … famows men
1581 Burne Disput. 4 b.
I may esilie proue the same be may [sc. authorities]
1644 11th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. vi. 56.
I leiue him al my salt panis and wilis him to big mei
(c) 1603 Moysie 116.
His companie that wer iijc and sum mea stayed all with him
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1428.
Tel na mae nor ye wat
c1650 Spalding I. 19. 1692 Pitcairn Assembly 37.(3) 1375 Barb. iv. 405.
Of Ynglis men thretty and ma
Ib. xi. 279. c1420 Wynt. iv. 1135.
Twelf hundyr wynter and weil ma
1470 5th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 630/1.
Thir landis … ar to me proppir … heritage thir twentie yeris and ma sen synne
a1500 Rauf C. 327.
Ane thousand and ma of fensabill men
1540 Lynd. Sat. Procl. 192.
That all the world & mae mot on thame wounder
1581 Sat. P. xliv. 46.
Counsall that fosteris heresie and scisme, Vitchecraft, adulterie and may
(4) 1494 Acta Aud. 205/2.
Alexander … tuk fra him out of his maling vxx of ȝowis with the may
1551 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I. 88.
[He] transportit … syndry and diuers quhynȝearis to the nowmer of xx with the ma to the realme of Ingland

c. But, forouttin, withouttin ma, with no others, only.Only as a tag in (chiefly early) verse. 1375 Barb. iii. 66 (E).
Him ane but ma
Ib. v. 257.
With twa yemen for owtyn ma
?1438 Alex. ii. 2831. Ib. 6142. c1420 Wynt. iii. 603.
This Locryne had a sone but ma
Ib. viii. 3377.
Bot nyne yhere but may off helde
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 353.
He was thi father certanlie but ma
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus Prol. 88.

C. adv. 1. Again, longer, more. a1400 Leg. S. ii. 993.
Quhen [thu] seis Petire ma, Sustene our lacht agan hym ay
c1420 Wynt. v. 532.
That for that cas men suld dey na ma

2. To a greater extent. ?1438 Alex. ii. 1579.
The folk of Grece fast on vs gouis, And lakkis vs maa, I trow, na louis

3. Furthermore, besides. 1597 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 185.
Ma, the haill bellis of the toun wes rung at this tyme of his majestie being in the toun

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"Ma adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2023 <>



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