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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
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Mes, Mese, Meis, Mace, Mais, Meas(e, n.2 Also: mess(e; meise, meiss(e, meys; mase; maice, maise; meass, meace; masse. [ME. (Cursor M.) and e.m.E. mes, mees, messe, mese (15th c.), e.m.E. also mease (a 1592), OF. mes.]In the plur. both with and without inflection.

1. A serving of food at a (chiefly more or less formal) meal or banquet; a course at such a meal; a made dish for such a meal.Common in Douglas.(a) c1450-2 Howlat 780.
He couth of a hennis hed Make a mane mes [: des]
1494 Loutfut MS. 1 b.
The maistir of houshald gangand befor the mesis [Lindsay MS. maisis] and metis seruit befor the King at his tabill
a1500 Seven S. 1515. 1513 Doug. vii. ii. 16.
The flowr sconnys war set in by and by, With other mesis
Ib. xi. xiv. 34.
[To] syt at des, Se cowpys full, and mony danty mes
Ib. i. xi. 24. Ib. iii. iv. 35. Ib. v. 140. Ib. viii. iii. 187. Ib. xiii. ix. 23.(b) ?1438 Alex. (c 1580) ii. 10885.
Thare meissis to tell war our lang baid
a1500 Henr. Fab. 238 (Asl.).
A modicum is fer mair till allowe [etc.] … Than thrawin wult with mony spycit meise [: des; v.rr. mes, mais]
a1500 K. Hart 60. Ib. 419. a1500 Prestis of Peblis 14.
Thai maid gud chere … With thre fed caponis on a speit with greis With mony vther syndry diuers meis
1513 Doug. iii. ix. 57.
The Ciclopes … cave … Ful of vennom and mony bludy meys [: deys]
Ib. iv. xi. 35.
And eik ȝone sam Ascanyus mycht I nocht Haue … maid a meys [R. mais] To his fader tharof to eyt at deys?
1535 Stewart 3615. Ib. 32068.
On to the hall com mony royall meis [: ceis]
1579, 1617 Despauter (1579).
Dapes, meissis [1617, delicate messes] or cheir
(c) a1500 Henr. Fab. 230 (Asl.).
That suld mak the macis [v.rr. meissis, maisses, -is] that ar rude Amang frendis baith tender sweit & gud
c1590 J. Stewart II. 235, § 143.
Foull Glottonie … offrit me full monie lairdit mace [: face, space]
(d) a1578 Pitsc. I. 45 n.
Than quhan the denner was and the delicatt meassis and coursis taine away
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS. No. 616.
He is lyk cook Murgon he can mak nyne measses [Carmichael meaces] of a todes taill

b. A portion or serving (of food or of one kind of food, espec. beef); enough (of the food) to provide a full portion. c. A made dish or portion (of broth or the like).Also in the Biblical allusion a messe of pottage (e.m.E., 1526–), after Genesis xxv.Also fig., = a ‘plateful’, a full measure (of something immaterial).See also *Half-mes n. a in Additions and Corrections, vol. III.(1) c1420 Bute MS. fol. 172b.
Syk kechyne … as vsage of schyp is, that is to wyt a mese that is tayled wyth in burde and brede sal he haf als mykyl as he may gudely ete, at anis
(2) 1579, 1617 Despauter (1579).
Ferulium, ane meis [1617, masse] of meit
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 134.
A mease of meat hinderit never man
1650 Falkirk Par. Rec. I. 171.
Ther was ane brydell in the toune … quher at ther was threttie-twa meas of meat
(3) 1597–8 Misc. Spald. C. I. 166.
Gif scho wald gif thé fourtie s. and a mease of beiff, thow suld mak hir quyt of hir husband
1615 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II. 177.
Ane mais of fyne beif vj s.
1621 Black Bk. Taymouth 313.
Off new salt beiff quarter iiii meiss
(4) 1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Iusculum, a mease of brue
(5) 1602 Colville Paraenese 159.
Lyik Esau you los your birthrycht for a meas of pottage
1669 Jus Populi 22.
A little mase of pottage
Ib. 72.
(6) a1568 Kennedy Bann. MS. 268 a/32.
fig. Quhen pen and purs and all is peild Tak thair a meis of mowth thankles
c1590 Fowler II. 79/32.
He salbe assured to receave an endles mess of hardness and difficulteis

d. transf. A plate, platter, or dish generally.Also and ? orig., a dish which held a full serving of food: see quot. 1552, Half-mes n. b and quarter-mease.(1) 1552 Old Dundee II. 241.
Ane haill maise and ane half maise
1590 St. A. B. Ct. 8 Apr.
Ane plait haill maice halff maice ane sawcer [etc.]
(2) 1522 Mar & Kellie MSS. 12.
That the Kings plait furniss them that standis and servis him; and the lords meis furniss them [officers] that … sail dyne at ane uther house
1656 Irvine Mun. II. 260.
My wyfe … came evrie day to them and caused bring seck and sugar measses and other necessars

2. a. Provision or supply of food for a person's or a household's meals, ‘the, one's, table’.Also meas day, a day's supply of food for a household's table, messefar, ‘table-fare’, food for meals, also plur.(1) 1497 Treas. Acc. I. 344.
To the Duke of Ȝorkis avne mes
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8763.
The empreour vsit to send Of his dainties his douchters meis to mend … daylie ane dische or tway
1578 Prot. Bk. J. Scott 60.
Payand … thrie chalderis bair … with sic … meser as the chamerlane of Lundoris resawis then for meis and teindis of the … abbacie
(2) 1567 Mar & Kellie MSS. 19.
For my Ladie Mar and hir servandis ane furnisit meas day takand thairto in bred, vyn, aill and kiching [etc.]
1631 Buccleuch Household Bk. 3 Oct.
Of the which soume ther is for messefars to your lo. tables, kichen fyre, candill [etc.]

b. At (the, one's) mes, at a meal, at food, at (one's) table.But it is also possible to interpret the first example as Mes n.1 1 (9). c1460 Thewis Wysmen 453.
With wnrest baith at mes and met
a1500 Seven S. 2424.
The lady than began the dese With hir awne husband at the mese
a1500 Lanc. 2162. a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 285.
Thi maker … Quhilk to the tratour maid sic cherising … At set him at His tabill and His meis [: dissaitfulnes]
1551 Acts II. 488/1.
That na archibischop, bischop nor erlis haue at his meis bot viij discheis of meit
1560 Rolland Seven S. 10157.
Alexander was set at the hie deis With the … empreour at meis

c. To ga to mes, to go to food, have a meal. — 1600-1610 Melvill 43.
‘Yie Scottes men are all Hugonotes’, sayes the gard … ‘yie haiff nocht mess.’ ‘Forsuthe’, sayes he mirrelie, ‘our berns in Scotland gaes daylie to mess!’

3. One of the small groups of diners into which a company was divided at a meal or banquet and hence for victualling purposes.Consisting customarily of four, but also of three or five persons, who sat together and were helped from the same dishes.With reference to the grouping in this way a. of the seamen and others on board a ship, b. of persons attending a wedding-feast or ‘penny bridal’, and c. of other bodies of persons dining in company or corporately.a. 1536 Treas. Acc. VI. 450.
Gevin in the New Havin for the expensis of xvi meis of marineris and utheris the Kingis servandis, extending to iij xx iiij persounis
1582 Edinb. Test. XII. 4 b.
In victualing of the defunctt & hir spous part of the schip and meisis estimat to xxvi li.
b. 1606 Dundonald Par. Rec. 122.
That they sall festin na ma in thair brydallis nor twa meise in ilk side
1643 Ib. 518.
That pairteis mareid have no more persouns sitting at thair brydells nor eight meisse, that is threttie two persouns
1645 Kelso Presb. Rec. in Berw. Nat. C. V. 333. 1652 Stirling Ant. II. 7. 1653 Ib. 10. 1654 Dunblane Kirk S. in Sc. Ant. V. 180.
The parties to be maried shall not have above six maiss of people, thrie with each partie
1656 Ib. 1658 Craven Argyll Diocese 101.
Eight mense [? read messe]
1670 Salmon Borrowstounness 92.
To furnish to ilk mease consisting of four persones … the particular victwalls following
c. 1561 Treas. Acc. XI. 76.
For expensis maid upoun the lordis of secreit counsale table furnesit for twa mace fra the xvj day of October 1561 inclusive to the first day of November exclusive
Ib. 87.
The lordis of secreit counsale tabile furnesit to twa mace be the space of this moneth
1602 Reg. Privy C. VI. 452.
The first meis consisting of the fyve maisteris sall have to thair disjoyne [etc.]
1660 Glasg. Univ. Mun. I. 375.
Quhatsumever soume of money the masters of the universitie pay or allow to ther oiconomus for those wha sitt at the second meise yeirlie
1692 Presb. Eloq. (1694) 58.
I think shame of the board-head, and the first mess, and the royal King's dining-hall

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"Mes n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Apr 2024 <>



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