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

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

Nil(l, v. Also: nyl(l, nylle. [ME. nyl(l)e, nil(l)e, e.m.E. nill etc., OE. nylle, 1st and 3rd sing. pres. t., from ne wille will not. Cf. also Noll and (2nd pers. sing.) Nolt and (p.t.) Nold.] Not to will, to be unwilling.Both as denoting refusal and as expressing simple futurity.

1. In 1st and 3rd pers. (sing. and plur.), const. infin. without and with to.(1) 1513 Doug. vi. v. 48.
Quhy nyl thai nocht byde?
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 517.
I nyll at lenth it put in memorie
c1552 Id. Mon. 911.
I nyll, quod sche, thare to accord
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iii. 430.
I nill consent to do sic abusioun
Ib. i. 893. 1573 Sat. P. xxxix. 17.
I nill repeit [etc.]
(2) c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxvi. 85.
Greit abbais grayth I nill to gather
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 509.
Off Flodoun feilde the rewyne to reuolfe … I nyll

2. In opposition to will (also wald), esp. in nill ye, will ye and the like.In all persons and numbers and also in reference to past time.(1) c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iv. 345.
Now sall he sit … Quha will, quha nill intill ane deip dungeoun
a1570-86 Maitl. F. xxix. 82.
And sumtyme als quhidder I nylle or wald Ane scorne for scorne to gif I man tak tent
(2) 1556 Knox IV. 83.
Ye shalbe compelled, nil ye, wil ye, to know that [etc.]
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 86.
Nil they will they
Ib. 107.
Nill thou will thou
1599 Rollock Wks. I. 348.
And force thee to doe ane thing, wil thou nill thou
1600-1610 Melvill 383. 1629 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. III. 5.
They sould caus fourtie knaves lyke himselffe bring him out nill he wald he
1663 Ib. 3 Ser. I. 457.
He did tell her she behoved to goe, nill she, will she
1677 Inverness Presb. 79.
The elders … constraines them, nill they will they, to satisfie discipline

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"Nil v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Nov 2023 <>



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