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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.

Nobil(l, Noble, n. Also: nobyll, nobel, noibill, nowbill, -el. [ME. (Rolle) and e.m.E. nobil, -le, f. Nobil(l,a.]Also plur. without inflexion.

1. A person of noble rank, a member of the nobility.In plur. freq. = the nobles of the land, collectively; the nobility.plur. (1) 1375 Barb. ii. 182.
Thar nobleis gret affer
? 1386 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 8 (iii).
1456 Hay I. 31/20; etc.
The princis and prelatis of Fraunce and the nobleis and rialis
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 258/7.
a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 201 (Harl.).
Nobillis, princis and officiaris of iusticiarye
1490 Irland Mir. I. 7/7.
c1490 Porteous Noblenes 173/22. c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxi. 23.
Cairlis of nobillis hes the cure
Id. lx. 64.
And nobillis of bluid he dois dispys
1513 Doug. iii. ii. 69.
Nobillis [L. o proceres], quod he, harkis quhat I sal say
Ib. i. xi. 84. 1528 Lynd. Dreme 822.
1533 Boece vi. iv. 192.
Quhen he knewe ony debate amang the nobillis
1537 Lynd. Depl. Magd. 65.
With his most hardie noblis of Scotland
1547–8 Corr. M. Lorraine 218.
To caus my lord governor and nobiles drawe togydder
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xciv. 91. a1568 Scott xvi. 43. 1562-3 Winȝet I. 68/8.
Our nobilis [v.r. nowbillis]
1596 Dalr. I. 14/18. Ib. 96/15.
Thair ar knichtes, barrounis and mony vthiris nobilis quhome we cal milordis
1685 Beale Fife Schools 194.
Be my Lord Drumond and the rest of the nobles who are schollers
(2) 1634 Maxwell Mem. II. 252.
Quhen nobill cummis heir to vissit the same
sing. c1490 Porteous Noblenes 178/8.
The next werteu in a noble is luf
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 1200.
Ane gret noble quhilk Joseph hecht to name
1533 Boece ix. iii. 291 b.
Ane nobill of Britan
a1538 Abell 39 b.
He wes a noble of blude & a worthy chiftane
1537 Lynd. Depl. Magd. 97.
Ilk nobill set his hole intent To be excellent in habilȝement
c1550 Id. Meldrum 594. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 10217.
Maist lipper lazarous That euer come within ane nobillis hous
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1084.

b. One of the superior pieces in chess. — a1500 Bk. Chess 48.
The manere of nobillis king & qwene, Alphinis knychtis and rokis

2. A person of great distinction or renown. b. The nine noblis, the nine worthies.These uses are appar. chiefly or only Sc. a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 410.
Thare anerdis to our nobill … Tuelf crovnit kingis
Ib. 1017.
Thair with the nobill in neid nyghit hym ner
Ib. 1116.
Thei nobillis
1549 Compl. 3/22, 23.
Ȝour grace deseruis nocht to be callit ane nobil alanerly throcht ȝour verteous verkis bot … ȝe suld be callit ane nobil of genolligie
Ib. 43/16.
The maist anciant nobilis that hes bene in ald tymis
Ib. 4/8.b. ?a1400 Nine Nobles Title.]
[De nouem nobilibus
1490 Irland Mir. I. 11/29.
All the nyne noble in armes
c1500 Fyve Bestes 290.
Alexander … The quhilk of the nyne nobillis was one
1535 Stewart 41740.
Amang the nobillis nyne
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii. 201.
Thir nobillis nyne

3. a. A name given to various gold coins of England and Scotland and certain other countries.AF. (1344), ME. (Piers Plowm., Trevisa) and e.m.E.The English noble (see also Angel n. 3, Hary nobil(l n., Henry attrib. n. and Rose n., and also Inglis a. A 1 (7), for various issues), first minted by Edward III of England, was imitated by David II, and again by James VI (in the latter case as the lion and the thrissill nobles, qq.v. s.vv. Lio(u)n n. 2 c (1) and Thrissill n.).See also Ferding n.1 2 for further examples.b. In the later examples ? applied to the Scottish silver half-mark-pece (see Mark-pece n.), from its having the same nominal value (6s. 8d. Scots) as the English noble (6s. 8d. sterling). 1359 Exch. R. I. 617.]
[Pro quinque nobiles auri
1424 Acts II. 6/2.
ij of thar lionis for a nobill Inglis
1429 Sc. Hist. Rev. XXXI. 143. [1434 Exch. R. IV. 578.] c1450-2 Howlat 788.
Nobillis of nut schellis, and siluer of sand
1455 Ayr B. Ct. 9 Dec.
For the dichting of the calsa vii nobill
1456 Hay I. 262/20.
That his fader aucht him a thousand nobleis or other grete soume of gold
1468 Acts II. 92/1.
The Inglis noble of the ros and the aulde Edward xxviij s., the noble of the Hary xxiiij s.
1491 Acta Conc. I. 210/1.
Tuiching the five noblis worth of land of Culmor
1557 Armstrong Hist. Liddesdale I. App. c.
To pay … saix skoyr nowbillis
1562 Ib. App. ciii.
Angell nowbeles
1562/3 Ib. App. civ.
Angell nowbills
1598 Acts IV. 175/2.
The Ghentis nobill … vij li. xiij s. iiij d.
1604 Stirling B. Rec. I. 108.
Aucht haill Utrik nobles
1618 Annandale Corr. 278.
For the greatest fine … is a noble
a1721 Wodrow Hist. (1829) III. 122.
Three [horses] worth eleven nobles apiece

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"Nobil n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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