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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Nerrest, Narrest, superl. a., adv. and prep. Also: nerreste, -ast(e, nerres; narrast, -ist, narerest, narest, nariest, nairest. [ME. nerrest (1340), superl. of Ner a. and Ner adv. Cf. also Nerest.]In some instances the distinction between the forms in nerrand narr- must depend on arbitrary editorial decisions as to the treatment of the MS. abbreviation for -er or -ar.

Nearest, closest.

A. adj. 1. Most closely related; closest, most immediate (in kinship, association, intimacy or friendship); next (as an heir).Also absol. as noun = he or she or those who are most closely related.(1) 1397 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 32.
To the nerrest ayris o the saide Scir Jamys
14.. Burgh Laws c. 24 (B).
To the nerrest ayres [A. to the nerrest of the frendis]
a 1409 Home Charter MS.
To the nerrast ayris of the saide Sir Jamys
c1420 Wynt. viii. 141.
In als nere degre And cummyn wes off the nerrast male
1456 Reg. Dunferm. 340.
Cosing and ayr nerrest to vmquhile Mariori of Petbachlij
1458 Peebles B. Rec. I. 127.
The nerrast and tenderast frendis of the said barnys
c1475 Wall. ix. 421. 1488 Lanark B. Rec. 4. c1500-50 Brevis Cronica 330.
The nerrest blude suld succeid to the crown
1523 Fam. Rose 199. 1576 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. 44.
That Hercules Hay is nerrest and lauchfull air of lyne
c1590 Fowler II. 30/9.
Thair honestie … wer alsueil knawin … as the treasone … of thy nerrest blood is manifest
1614 Highland P. III. 163.(b) 1474 Prestwick B. Rec. 25.
He was narrest and apperand air to vmquhill Cristoll Jonsoun
1494 Prot. Bk. J. Young 153. 1515 Wigtown B. Ct. 52a.
1535 Stewart 14194.
1541 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 175. 1542 Acts II. 412/2.
The narrest lauchtfull of hir blude … salbe maid gouernour of the realme
1558 Inverness Sheriff Ct. 45.
To be cognoscit narrest agnate
1564 St. A. Kirk S. 220.
Be Jhon and Andro Moffatis bretheren german and narrest frendis … to the said Gelis
1569 Cal. Sc. P. III. 17.
The same remanis … in the narrest degrie off his posteritie
1576 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. 25.
Narrast air
1578 Reg. Privy C. III. 22.
The narrest qualifit persoun of his kin
1586–7 Montrose Baillie Ct. 14 Feb.
To be seruit narerest and lawfull heir to his brother
1592 Misc. 3 Spald. C. II. 17.
Nariest lauchfull air
1597 Ib. 39.
Nairest air
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i. 31 b.
Some are narrest heires, some are farther
1626 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 253. 1644 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 37.(2) ?1438 Alex. ii. 10522.
Nyne or ten Of thair nerrest preuie men
1549 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 272.
He ma be enterit … as nerrest tutour of law to Dauid Arrot
1562-3 Winȝet I. 96/12.
Hir grace's nerrest freindis
(3) absol. (a) c1420 Wynt. viii. 730.
The nerrest off his kyn
14.. Acts I. 331/2.
The nerrest of the blude of the alyar
1432 Ib. II. 21/1.
To the nerrest of the kyn of the slane man
1454–5 Edinb. Chart. 79.
The surnam and nerrest of blude to the said Williame sal bere the said rillyk
1531 Bell. Boece I. 12. 1536 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 457. 1596 Dalr. I. 133/21.
The nerrest to him of blude
(b) 1557 Reg. Cupar A. II. 143.
Wtherwes the narest of the said Williamis freindis to haif the intromissioun
c1575 Balfour Pract. 517.
1581 Inverness Rec. I. 289. 1593 Edinb. Test. XXV. 145 b.
Hir executour or narrest of kin
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I. 288. Ib. 299. 1647 Edinb. B. Rec. VIII. 127.

2. Closest at hand, least distant, next. a. Of things. Also absol.(1) 1474 Acta Aud. 30/2.
His nerrest landis and gudis of the said erlis
1513 Doug. ii. x. 131.
To the nerrest hillys hycht
1533 Boece i. iv. 40.
In Scithia nerrest thai devisit thare habitacioun
Ib. iv. xvi. 151.
[To] cast tymmer in the nerrest wod
(b) c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2966.
[She] of the narrest pallionis brint vp ane
1550 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 148. a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI 19.
The capten of the narrest toun
1632 Cullen B. Rec. I. 27 Apr.
Teddert ȝowes … [that] eittis … the narest cornes adiacen thairto for want of boundis
c1650 Spalding I. 318.(2) 1535 Stewart 34493.
absol. At ane hevin, the narrest that tha fand
1562-3 Winȝet II. 33/27.
That I may begin at the nerrast and maist manifest

b. Of persons. Freq. narrest (also narrest dur) (= nearest or next door) nichtbour.(1) 1530 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 41.
Till thar narrest nichtbouris
1563 Inverness Rec. I. 104. 1596–7 Misc. Spald. C. I. 87.
That his wyiff was witchit be his narrest nychtbour
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii. 20b. 1622 Crim. Trials III. 529.
Depones he was narrest dur nychtbour to Allane Spens
(2) 1551 Rec. Earld. Orkney 244.
Grants that the said Maunis is nerrest rothman to lous the said land
1596 Dalr. I. 7/34.
To the vse of thair nychtbouris and nerrest natiouns
1625 Moray Synod 14.
It was related be his narrest bretheren that this day was the day … of his marriage

3. Of a route, road or, fig., method: Shortest, most direct.Also in the nerrest, by the shortest route, most directly.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xl. 1401.
[He] held one the nerraste way
c1420 Wynt. i. 874.
Nynyve … Quha throwcht it passis the nerrast ways [etc.]
Ib. iv. 1452. c 1440 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 247.
The quhilk rod strekis … the nerrast gate … to the kyrk of Ellon
a1500 Seven S. 2436.
He him sped … and wp the nerrest gait can wyn
a1500 Quare Jel. 109.
The nerrest way vnto hir is sche gone
1563 Crim. Trials I. i. 437.
Be ressone the watteris wes grate and thai mycht not wynne the nerrest way
1629 Justiciary Cases I. 102.
And that chyre was the reddiest and that passage nerrest be the barne dur and most secreit
(b) ?1438 Alex. i. 2130.
The narrest way to the King [he] hes tane
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2724. c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxxiii. 18.
I was agast Or ȝe the narrest way had past Fra toun of Stirling to the air
1535 Stewart 17543.(2) a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 821.
Or ger men knaw the nerrest get till hewynis blis
Ib. xxxvi. 623.
He wes the nerreste get to law
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 17/25.
A persone is oblist the nerrest & maist certane way that he can to laubour for his saluacon
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3857.
I pray ȝow to me tell, The nerrest way for to vndo this well
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 112/2. a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. clxxiv. 77.
Giff thame grace to gang the nerrest [Q. narest] geitt Justice to doe with expeditione
1570 Leslie 240.
Sic fassione of dealing was not the nerrest way to cunques a lady
15.. Crawford Mun. Invent. II. 56.
I pray yow gar us get rameid the nerrast vay
(b) a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 186. (Arund.).
To bring but cullour that list to keip iustice The narest way
a1568 Bann. MS. 213 a/24.
Gif that I sall thé wis the narrest way, Be nocht lang out of hir presens
1570 Sat. P. xxiv. 103.(3) 1597 Crim. Trials II. 19.
He perswadit the said Andro to pas in the nerrest throw the Bak-raw be the toun wall

4. Nearest or next (in time). 1596 Dalr. II. 237/13.
Efter this our King passis from Paris to the Mai nerrest

B. adv. 1. a. Most closely, at the least distance. 1527 Douglas Corr. 117.
Convoye thame to ȝour nerrest approchane officiaris
1528 Cal. Charters Suppl.
The … wourdeeyst men off the cuntre off the fourhalff all thair nerrest about the said landis
a1578 Pitsc. I. 14/17.
Alexander, Erle of Douglas … spoilȝeit the haill cuntreis narrest about him

With b. verbs or participles and c. terms of quantity, number, extent, etc.: Most nearly, almost, all but.b. a1538 Abell 65a.
King Ethus wes sa swift of fut at he wald nerrest our ryn the hart
Ib. 116 b.
Quhen the hous wes narrest wan
1535 Stewart 20088. c1590 Fowler I. 112/8.
To whiche he narrest dois approche
c. 1494 Loutfut MS. 110 b.
The barreris suld be ordanyt quhilk suld be maid nerrest iiii squar bot sum thing langar no braid
1533 Boece iv. xviii. 160.
Be space of 1c and nerrest fifty ȝeris
1539 Inv. Wardrobe 50.
Ilk wob is foure ellis and nerrest half ane quarter deip
?1549 Monro W. Isles (1961) 76.
Ane thik dyke of great roche stones and penniestane cast lang narrest

2. a. Closest in position to or till. 1375 Barb. v. 346 (E).
Thomas Dikson, that nerrest was [C. nerest] Till thaim that war off the castell
1591 Crim. Trials I. ii. 240.
Johnne Fiene wes ewer nerrest to the devill att his left elbok
?1549 Monro W. Isles 19 (Balfour).
Narrist to this forsaid iyle layes ther ane rockie knobe
Ib. 20.
c1650 Spalding I. 54.

b. Closest in rank or dignity. — 1531 Bell. Boece (M) II. 262.
The Cwmyng suld be nerrest to him in honoure & dignite

c. Closest in blood, succession or hereditary right, or in intimacy (to or til).(1) c1420 Wynt. viii. 341.
Be that wertu Yhe ar noucht nerrast to the crown Na to the rycht off successyown
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. 36/28.
Tham that ar nerrest to thé in blude
1516 Acts II. 283/1.
That … Johne Duke of Albany … is nerrest of lyne & blude
1535 Stewart 23481.
1579 Rep. Menzies MSS. 17.
He is nerrest lynale dissendit
1603 Crim. Trials II. 413.(b) 1533 Boece xvi. i. 605 b.
Quhat man of the blud royall war narrest funding
1535 Stewart 41569.
He wes narrest … To clame the croun
1542–3 Acts II. 411/1.
Secund persoun of this realm and narrest to succede to the crone
1564 St. A. Kirk S. 215.
Allegis tham narrest havand place of parentis of Gelis
1660 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. II. 117.
As narrest of bluid to the defuncte
(2) 1456 Hay II. 107/12.
Ay halde thame that maist worthy and wis clerkis ar nerrest and derest to thé

3. As prep. (without to) in various specific applications.(1) 1485 Lag Chart. 54.
The lande that lyis nerrest that part of the samyn landis
1490 Irland Mir. I. 57/24.
The erd … God has put lawast as … nerrast Hell
1516 Treas. Acc. V. 82.
The lardis nerrast Edinburgh
1530 Lindores A. 489.
In the chawmer nerrest the yet. … In the chawmer nerres the bourin
1531 Bell. Boece (M) II. 281.
To flee to the baittis quhilkis war nerrast thame
(b) a1538 Abell 70 b.
He salbe heest thare and narrast God
c1590 Fowler I. 42/145.
The formest man that narest wes my syde
?1549 Monro W. Isles 16.
The uther half narrest his womb quhyte of it, and the umaist half narrest his bak jeat blak
c 1604 Crim. Trials II. 434. 1605 Glasgow Merchants House 94. 1608 Edinb. Test. XLIV. 171. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1192.
Narrest the kirk, farrest fra God
1636 Misc. Spald. C. V. 225.
Ilk tenent maist eweis and narest the comountie and comoune moiss
c1650 Spalding I. 242.
The minister gave it to two or thrie narrest him
1666 Glasgow B. Rec. III. 84.
All who hes … killes narrest the said syre
(c) 1591 Elgin Rec. II. 16.
The south eastmest desk nairest the queir dur
?1549 Monro W. Isles 17.
Nairest that iyle layes Duray
(2) 1602 Colville Paraenese 137.
Such as did liue in aages narrest Cryst Jesus
(3) 1562-3 Winȝet II. 69/6.
Lat thame follow that is narrest the myndis and iudgement … of the monyast and greteast doctouris
(4) 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 25.
The Erle of Arrane … was maid protectour … because he was narrest the croun
c1650 Spalding I. 105.
The Lord Ogilvy … being narrest the stock
(5) a1400 Leg. S. xxxii. 448.
Cypriane … wald sere fourmys ta Quhare thru he mycht hir nerreste ga

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"Nerrest adj. superl.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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