Show Search Results Show Browse

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

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Sla, v. Also: slay(e, slaa, slaw, slae, sle(a)(y, slee, slo(e, scla, slayne. P.t. sl(e)w(e, slue, slow, sclew, s(c)lawe, sleuch(t, sleuth, sleugh, slayde. P.p. slayn(e, slain(e, slan(e, yslane, slanne, sleyn(e, slen, slean, slone, sloan, sclain(e, sclane, sclen, slaw, yslawe, slanit. [ME and e.m.E. slea(n (a1122), slæ(n (Orm, Layamon), sle(n, slee(n, scle(e (c1400), slo(n (c1250), slaȝe (Ayenb.), sley (Wyclif), slay(n (Prompt. Parv.), sleay (a1535), north. ME also sla(n (Orm, Cursor M.), slaa (c1400). P.t. slo(h, etc. (Orm), slou (Cursor M.), slewn (Wyclif), slewe, slue. P.p. slain(e (c1200), (i)sleie(n (a1225), (i)slayn (Trevisa), sclain, slan(e, sloon (all Cursor M.), OE sléan, north. OE slá(n, OFris. slâ(n (MDu. slaen, sclaen), ON slá.] tr.

I. 1. To strike down; also, absol., to deal a blow.Some or all of these may, rather, belong in 3. 1375 Barb.iii 22.
That thai feile off thar hors has slayne, And till sum gaiff thai woundis wid
absol. 1375 Barb.iii 18.
The kingis folk … slew and fellyt, and woundyt sar
c1420 Wynt. viii 2212 (W).
Thai … slew, and hewit, and maid fell hak

2. To strike (fire) (on or of flint). 1375 Barb.vii 153.
Thai … slew fyr for to rost thar mete
1375 Barb. xiii 36.
Dintis That slew fyr as men slayis on flyntis
c1475 Wall. iv 285.
He … Slew fyr on flynt
1513 Doug.i iv 33.
Achates slew fyre of the flynt

II. 3. To (strike so as to) kill, to kill by striking, to deprive of life, chiefly by violent means, usu. with a weapon; also more generally, to cause to die, to put to death.pres. 1375 Barb.ii 207.
[Edward] hycht all Fyfe … Till hym, that mycht other ta or sla Robert the Bruce
a1400 Leg. S. vii 131.
Thai mycht nocht Sancte Paule sla, Fore he apelyt had to Rome
a1400 Leg. S. x 399.
The … kynge, That sal gere felloun[l]y ȝov dynge & scla
c1420 Wynt.viii 6968 (C).
Barnys in creddillis … To sla thaim thai walde noucht spare
1456 Hay I 127/14.
Quha may sauf a mannis lyf and dois nocht, he slais him
1490 IrlandMir. II 30/28.
To persecute and sla sa gud … a persoune as Jhesus
?c1500 Rathen Manual 27/2.
We cursis … all thai that slais strikkis or dismembris men of Haly Kyrk bot it be in thair defence
1512 Crim. Trials I i 80. 1533 Boece 53b.
Wemen … had in consuetude to sla thare faderis [etc.] … trubl[i]t with infirmyte
1596 Dalr. II 2 marg.
He slaes the Inglismen in Carrik and Innernes
ellipt. 1375 Barb. iv 97.
Mony tymes ysche thai wald, And bargane … And wound thair fais oft and sla
(b) c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) xxxvi 15.
Se … That for thy geir … No wicht ane vder slay
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii 134.
Haymesukin, is quhen ane man searches, and seeks ane other man at his house … to slay him
proverb. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1668.
Unlearned mediciners and unskilful midwifs slayeis manie persons
(c) c1420 Wynt. v 4086 (W).
Men to slaw wes nocht to prais
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 350.
1510 Reg. Privy S. I 330/2.
To birn thair hous[is] and slaa thaim beis apprehendit, and the laif to banys the realme
(d) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 153 (C).
The peple wald rusche sodeynly One thame & sley tham [pr. thar] in thar teyn
(e) 1568 Anderson Collect. Mary IV ii 131.
Sleing hir secretar in hir presens
1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv Pref. 31.
1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv Pref. 56.
To slea the sanctis of God
(f) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 2045.
That thai suld not slo Thare husbandis for thare foull lust
1535 Stewart 40736.
15.. Clar. i 85.
At Clariodus … ane straike he ettillit right as he wald him slo
(g) c1520-c1535 Nisbet I 12.
And yed aboute for to slayne him
p.t. a1400 Leg. S. vii 430.
Thai That sclew dere Jhesu, I sal sla
c1420 Wynt. ii 1262.
Hys newo in tyll ire he slewe
1490 Treas. Acc. I 131.
To put men to the horne that sclew a man callit Edȝear
1535 Stewart 14679.
The presoneris … That samin nycht tha sclew
a1538 Abell 52b.
Dagobard … slew all Saxonis … at wes hechar na the lenth of his swerd
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3995.
The famous ladyis of the toun … slew thare propir bairnis to eit
proverb. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 780.
He that slew his wife yesterday may sit and sa sorow on hir this day
(b) c1420 Wynt. ii 1020.
c1420 Wynt. vi 629.
Apon Haly Thurysday Saynt Adriane thai slwe
a1651 Calderwood III 87.
Captan Hakkerston went out … and slue a poore gudget
(c) a1510 Aberd. Univ. Rev. XXXVI i 51.
Can sclawe Abile his brother
(d) 1375 Barb. xv 221.
To the ficht Maknakill then Come … And slow all that thai mycht to vyn
c1405 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 59.
Yhour men … rawnsomide the capitain of the sayde castelle & slow his sone
c1520-c1535 Nisbet I 7. 1665–7 Lauder Jrnl. 98.
They slow them like beasts
(e) a1400 Leg. S. xxv 231.
Ane … that fadyr & modir bath sleucht
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 760 (D).
Twenty thousand … Thai sleugh that nyght wyth dole & care
c1400 Troy-bk.ii 1110.
c1500 Makc. MS xvi 16.p.p. (1) 1375 Barb. ii 105.
Ȝon man that he has slayn
c1420 Wynt. ii 277.
Scho slayne hade a geande
1456 Hay I 49/36.
He … gave him sik a dynt of spere that he wende he had slayn him
1482 Lennox Mun. 122.
His Maieste dred … that certane lordis … wald hafe slayne … him
(b) c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 160.
Euin in at the collerbane, At the first straik he hes him slane
1562-3 Winȝet I 127/1.
Nane durst disobey, insamekle that Saul wald hef slane … Jonathas for breking the samin command
(c) 1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 95.
The nixte nycht comme … Inglis men to the sed … hows and hes sclen hym … . This vas ane crewall decht fyrst to commit tresson and sayne morther
(d) a1500 Bk. Chess 85.
Slone [: gone]
(2) 1375 Barb. xix 724.
All that day caryand thai war With cartis, men that slayne war thar
c1420 Wynt. iv 2354.
The nycht … beforne That Julyus slayne wes on the morne
1456 Hay I 50/2
He was … put to the ground and slayn
1567 Anderson Collect. Mary II 170.
The Kingis house is blawn up, and I trow the King be slayn
1600 Crim. Trials II 250.
He is livand yeit, he is not slaine
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 161.
Nae man that is at the horne for a civill cause onlie may be … slaine … impuné
(b) a1400 Leg. S. ii 223.
Men [L. viri fideles] sall cum, quhen I am slane, And ber myn corse away
?1438 Alex. ii 2619.
Ȝour men defoulit ar and slane
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1271.
Fra the crownar haif laid on him [sc. a poor man] his wand … Slane sall he be
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 797.
For his saik, that saiklese wes slane
1496 Acta Conc. II 38.
The slauchter of umquhile Dyonyse of Hammyltoun, quhilkis was slane on Mydsummer evin
1512 Crim. Trials I i 81.
In that case, he may be lefully slane but accusatioune
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Luke xxiii 32.
1528 Lynd. Dreme 953.
I was neir slane
1554 Misc. Bann. C. III 81.
1567 Sat. P. v 31.
Nouther … was hurt nor slane
(c) 1584 Melvill 213.
Wha, efter the bodie is slean, may cast bathe it and the saull in the fyre of hell
(d) a1500 Bk. Chess 666.
All the laif war outher tane or slone [: gone]
1600-1610 Melvill 38.
He was the youngest of nyne breither, all left alyve when thair father was slean
(e) 1611 Misc. Maitl. C. III 16.
That everie … persone slayar of ony … of that race sall haif ane reward … payit … according to the qualitie of the persone to be slayde
ellipt. a1400 Leg. S. xix 586.
To-morne … sall I, slan, ma Ful endinge of myn temporale lyf
14.. Acts I 8/2.
He sal assyth to the kyn of him slayn
1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 95.
1627 Justiciary Cases I 72.
Quhair the partie slane is under the trust … of the slayer
?1438 Alex. ii 2586.
His men about him saw he slane
c1420 Wynt. iii 59.
Slayne thai fand Thare kyng apon the flure thare lyand
c1420 Wynt. iv 1237.
Slayne or yhowdyn in batale
1513 Doug. ii vii 3.
Sa feil ded corsis as thar lyis slane
c1590 Fowler I 69/60.
It pittie war and hard to sie my Laura so lye slane
(b) 1513 Doug. xiii ii 3.
Sepulturis Of hys folkis yslane
(3) 1445 Sc. Ant. I 174.
Sir James Stewart … was … slane be the Lard of Duchall
a1510 Aberd. Univ. Rev. XXXVI i 52.
Troilus [etc.] … War sclane and stroit be goddis trane
1526 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 81.
Joke Haw … that was slayne with the Armstrangis
a1538 Abell 2*a.
Ambicios athaly wes slan be the pepil
1648 Rec. Old Aberd. II 145.
3 gentill wimen … ther husbands slayne be the Irishes

b. In collocation with various verbs: Expressing synonymity or an extension of the sense or offering a contrasting or alternative form of death.(1) 1460 Hay Alex. 1781.
Thocht the reirgard no man sla nor [k]ele [etc.]
1560 Rolland Seven S. 6258.
He and his folkis war all put doun and slane
1567 G. Ball. 184.
With greit crueltie Eftir thay think to slay and keill All that [etc.]
a1568 Scott ii 29.
To debait or be doun bett And in the quarrell keild Or slane
a1578 Pitsc. II 100/23.
Thay slew and killit mony
(2) 1375 Barb. xvii 832.
Thar come tythandis … How that by Borow brig … Thar men war slayn and dongyn doun
1533 Gau 49/13.
Jesum Christum … quhom ȝe sleu and hangit apone ane cors
(3) 1375 Barb. i 277.
Sum thai slew … and sum thai hangyt and sum thai drew
?1438 Alex. i 3065. c1475 Wall. v 218.
Be sic myscheiff giff his men mycht be lost, Drownyt or slayne
1525 St. A. Formulare I 268.
The kingis … liegis … ar saikleslye put doun and distroyit part murdreist part slane
1533 Gau 4/5.
[They] suld noth be slayne be thair inimis na drunit na brint
1545 Reg. Privy C. I 4.
To desist … fra … invading of our soverane ladyis liegis to byrn, hery, slay or distroy ony of thame
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3104.

c. Const. in(to) (at, fra) an event, occasion, place or time.(1) 1375 Barb. vi 431.
Thair capitane Wes thair in-to the bargane slane
c1420 Wynt. iii 480.
Swa slwe he ma in his deyng Than all that he slwe in fychtyng
c1420 Wynt. iv 2266.
Twenty thousand off his men Wes slayne in to that jowrne
c1450 Cr. Deyng 114.
Ma deis of exces and mysgouernans in youthed than is slane in-to batell
c1450-2 Howlat 511 (A).
Full ferly feile has he feld and slane in the flicht [Bann. in ficht]
1488 Lag Chart. 15.
Thame that wer slane in feild in the batell
1513 Doug. xiii v 8.
Turnus lyfles laid with mortal wond In feld discomfist slane and brocht to grund
1531 Bell. Boece II 258.
To suffer thair freindis that war slane at his jeoperd … to be buryit in Sanct Colmes Inche
1546 Inscr. St. Mary's, Hawick in Hawick Arch. Soc. (1935) 66.
Heir lyes ane honest man … slan in debait of his nichtbouris geir
(2) 1375 Barb. i 285.
Thai in presoune him sleuch
c1420 Wynt. vi 2245.
Thus Makbeth slwe thai than In to the wode off Lwnfanan
a1500 Bk. Chess 568.
In thi bed thi fule he sall be slane
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iii 413.
Bot to be slane in brount of the armie
16.. Hist. Kennedy 35.
To slay me lord in his awin bed
1630-1651 Gordon Geneal. Hist. 180.
He wes slain in Monteith by some evil willers
c1420 Wynt. viii 1344.
That Willame … wes slayne at Ottyrburne
1460 Swintons App. xlii.
In defence of ȝour realme, he was slane at Hamyldon
a1578 Pitsc. I 56/7.
Ane companie of airmeit men … slew him cruellie ane lyttill peace fre Kirk Patrick
(3) c1615 Chron. Kings 39.
His wyff … caussit slay him in the nycht and that in grit iyir

d. In constructions specifying the means of killing: With (a shot from) a weapon; in, under, be, throw a particular means; also, in to the bak. Also in fig. context where Death is the perpetrator of the act of killing.(1) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 1161.
Eccuba With stones sleyn
c1420 Wynt. i 331.
Golyath, that Davy … Slewe wyth the stane
c1420 Wynt. iii 81.
Sangare … Slw wytht a cultyre … Sex hundyr men
a1510 Aberd. Univ. Rev. XXXVI i 52.
Sum hangit sum witht suorde sclane
1513 Doug. vi vii 67.
At thou with swerd was slaw
1533 Bell. Livy I 23/15.
Slew him with his mais
1589 Reg. Privy C. IV 369.
He … presentit ane pistolett to the said complenair, of intentioun to have slane him thairwith
1622-6 Bisset II 289/13.
Beand slane witht … a speir or javilling
fig. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) iv 70.
He has Blind Hary et Sandy Traill Slaine with his schour of mortall haill
(2) 1492 Myll Spect. 278/16.
Slane … throw the inuennomyt serk
1531 Bell. Boece II 267.
Johne Stewart was … slane in the Cannongait, in ane baith fatt
1533 Bell. Livy II 121/22.
Commandand ane certane of thame … to be slane vnder brandreth of irne
a1538 Abell 14b.
Alexander slew [him] be cutting of his memburis
1622-6 Bisset II 171/7.
[He] caused slee and murthoure be … poysone Malcolme the prince
(3) c1420 Wynt. viii 2580.
A ware dede may na man tak, Than to be slayne in to the bak

e. In constructions indicating the justification for killing. c1420 Wynt. ii 1420.
The lordys wald thame ta, And, be thare statutys, wald thame sla
c1420 Wynt. iii 134.
And he tyll sacryfice has hyr slayne
c1420 Wynt. v 1268 (W).
Throu mertyrdome he slew him
c1420 Wynt. vi 627.
Thai slwe mony, And put to dede by martyry
1551 Hamilton Cat. 87.
He is worthi to pereis and to be slaine be the ordour of justice

f. With intensifier: Up, doun, to dede.To slay doun is common in Wynt. and may retain in large part the notion of striking down (with a weapon); on the other hand doun occurs freq. in rhyming position.(1) 1375 Barb. xv 253 (E).
Tharfor sa gret myschaunce thaim fell That ilkane … War slayne wp or takyn thar
(2) c1420 Wynt. ii 1076.
Man and best … He wndyde and slw all down [: confusioune]
c1420 Wynt. iv 2141.
We sla thaim all anarmyd downe
c1420 Wynt. v 4242.
[In] multitude Thare wes slayne downe the Brettis blud
c1420 Wynt. viii 2489.
All to sla downe, and nane to spare
1456 Hay I 54/17.
Gude men of were sa clene war slayn doune, that thare was na men for to defend the toune
1456 Hay I 143/9.
[The ecclesiastics] may wele say … Takis, strikis, and imprisonys! Bot thai may nocht say Sla!
a1500 Bk. Chess 80.
His correkkaris all he slew thaim dovne
1513 Doug. x xiii 60.
Anthores … now lyggis thus down slane
1549 Compl. 145/32.
Gunnis ande cannons to sla doune the pepil
1596 Dalr. I 161/16.
He slawe doune monye of the nobilitie
(3) 1375 Barb. i 545.
Slayne with punsoune rycht to the ded
c1420 Wynt. ix 1674.
As thare fore elderis ware slane to dede
1551 Hamilton Cat. 69.
For the quhilk transgressioun, be the special command of God he was slanit to the dede

g. To kill oneself. Chiefly reflex. a1400 Leg. S. xxi 223.
Ful fayne I wald myn self sla
c1420 Wynt. v 728.
He fled, and slwe hym-self
1456 Hay I 116/28.
Quha ever slais him self aw to tyne his hede
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 476.
Quhy spurnis thow aganis the wall, To sla thyself, and mend nathing at all?
1490 Irland Mir. I 87/17.
He slew his self and all his successioune
1531 Bell. Boece II 123.
Innaturally to sla thaimself
1541–2 Reg. Privy S. II 676/2.
The said umquhile Jamesoun wilfullie wirriit and slew hir self x ȝeris syne
1578 Anal. Scot. I 277.
Alex Raynie … slew him selfe with his awin knyfe
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 52 (L).
Narcissus … That steruit at the well … For luif did slay him sell
1622-6 Bisset II 169/16.
[She] slew hirself in iudgement … quhen sche had confest the murthoure of the king
a1500 Quare Jel. 174.
Nero … Ofe his own hond ymurderit and yslawe

h. transf. To take (a piece) in chess. a1500 Bk. Chess 2173.
[The pawn shall] neuer pas to poyntis angular Bot sa it be to sla his aduersar

i. fig. To sla (a person) in one's hart, to indulge in evil thoughts, anger, etc. in regard to (a person. 1551 Hamilton Cat. 9.
The rycht keping of the fift command is to forbeir slauchter … and to be til our nychtbouris persone pacient, kind, liberal, and mercyful. Thai breik the fift command that slais ony man or woman in thair hart be wraith, malice, hettret or consent to the samyn

4. absol. a. To kill, where the identity of the victim is known. b. To commit an act of killing, manslaughter, murder, etc., in principal, where a specific victim is neither known nor envisaged. c. To commit wholesale murder or slaughter, where many, random victims are envisaged.a. 1398 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 38.
He … sal be deliuerit to the partie that has sustenit the schath to sla or ravnson at thair likyng
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2878 (Bann.).
The mows thocht na thing bot to … swyme, The padok for to slay set hir intent
b. 1456 Hay I 197/2.
Law levis erar to sla na to be slayn
1456 Hay II 103/14.
He that slais salbe slayn
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 668.
He … bad him … efter slay na ma
c1490 Irland Asl. MS 68/4.
I haue synnit in the abusioun of my handis, … strikand or hurtand, slaand, [etc.]
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) xlix 44.
The murtherer ay mvrthour mais, And evir quhill he be slane he slais
1572 Sempill Sat. P. xxxviii 96.
Slay or ȝe be slane
a1578 Pitsc. I 66/1.
Schortlie it was so lesum … ane Douglas to slay and murder for sa fearful was thair name
1579, 1617 Despauter (1579).
To sla
1622-6 Bisset I 120/16.
Quhasaevir salhappin … to streke, hurte or sla … within the … chalmer of peax [etc.]
c. (1) 1375 Barb. x 661.
Thai met … rycht hardely And slew off thaim dispitously
(2) 1375 Barb. ii 205.
[He] bad him men off armys ta& … till Scotland ga, And byrn, and slay, and rais dragoun
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 766 (C).
Clamour … of thame deand Inne tyme Gregeois war sleyand
c1420 Wynt. viii 1858.
He … gert thame slay on, but pete
1460 Hay Alex. 2404.
Off his menȝeis was nocht bot tak and sla
c1515 Asl. MS I 211/15.
Thair chiftanis spulȝeit reft & slew our all Yngland
1499 Kilravock Charters in Orig. Par. II ii 527.
[They passed to Ross] tyll birne, hary, and sla
c1500 Interl. Droich 123.
Thair is nocht … bot [tak] and slae, Cutthroppillis and mak quyte
1513 Doug. ii vi 71.
Sum cumpanyis … Standis reddy forto styk, gor and sla
1535 Stewart 191.
He sparit nother for to burne and sla

5. Of a beast (actual or mythical) or bird: To kill (a person or animal). a1400 Leg. S. xvii 37.
He [sc. a dragon] … to that foreste his gat hald, & sla and ete al that had lyfe
?a1450 Florimond 445.
Thocht it fall that he [sc. a lion] me slew
1460 Hay Alex. 2954.
Mony of the kingis men sche [sc. the whale] slew
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2461 (H).
Nor foxe … nor ȝit na vther beist, Bot he [sc. a dog] thame slew
a1500 Seven S. 445.
The grewhound the edder sleuch
1501 Treas. Acc. II 117.
To the cheld … that hed his hors slane be the Kingis quhit cursour
1528 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV 415.
I mon haue ane gud halk of yow that slais the heroune
1540 Treas. Acc. in Misc. Hist. Soc. X 44.
iiii beistis that was sclaine with doggys
1557 Inverness Rec. I 10.
Ane schip quhilk wes slayne be the wolf
1604 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 117.
The eirnis and the corbeis continewalie sleais and destroyis the … lambes
1634 Monteith Stewartry Ct. (13 Feb.).
Ane kow … was stickit and slanit be the saidis George and Jon thair ky
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1481.
We hounds slew the hair quoth the messone

6. Of things (material or non-material): To kill or cause (a person) to die, to deprive (a person) of life.Cf. sense 12. c1420 Ratis R. 168.
Sonar slais ill air na suord
c1450 Cr. Deyng 137.
Sua the sek suld say in the payne at he tholys, now byrne, now schere, now thrist, now sla
1456 Hay I 184/19.
Ony othir that justice slais and his body to the gebat and his gudes forffet
a1500 Rauf C. 747.
The … knichtis bad haue him to hing … God forbot he [sc. the king] said … I hald the counsall full euill that Cristin man slais
1537 Lynd. Depl. Magd. 197.
Thou [sc. Death] hes slane the heuinly flour of France
1549 Compl. 60/6.
The thondir … quhen it slais ane man [etc.]
1549 Compl. 131/16.
That schot sleu nocht Basit
1562-3 Winȝet II 53/13.
Wyne quhilk nothir hes micht to slay, nor ȝit may be digestit
a1568 Bann. MS 292a/94.
So Stryfe … engenderis and feill hes slane
1665–7 Lauder Jrnl. 27.
A dart … wounding him in the sole of his foot slow him

7. In religious contexts: To cause to die. a. With God, Christ, etc. as subject. b. Passive without agent, referring to human mortality.a. c1515 Asl. MS I 315/23.
Jowis and Sarazenis slane in hell be Crist & his angellis for thair misbelef
1567 G. Ball. 33.
God will thé slay, and gif thé lyfe anone … thocht thow to graue wer gone
b. 1562-3 Winȝet II 23/24.
The Lord … wald rais vp his kirkis afoir wappit doun, wald quikin his spiritual peple afoir slane
1567 G. Ball. 24.
Sin hes wrocht vs sic paine, That we without remeid Condamnit ar & slaine to hell the deuill & deid

8. With God as the object: To kill, to cause to die or put to death. 1490 Irland Mir. II 32/37.
He that slew this man he slew God
1567 G. Ball. 210.
Gif God be transubstanciall In breid … Quhy war ȝe sa vnnaturall … As tak him in ȝour teith, and sla him

9. To kill (an animal, bird or fish), specif. a. A dangerous animal (real or mythical) or one which causes a nuisance or poses any sort of threat. 1375 Barb. vii 64.
To luk giff he the hund mycht sla For … He wyst … that thai wald dryve The kingis trace
1456 Hay I 48/24.
The quhilk [dragon] that consul … faucht with, and slew it
1468 Peebles B. Rec. I 157.
Of hors, chep, or nowt, that war fwndyn in the kyrk yard iiij d. for ilk tym … swyn to be slayne
1497–8 Acta Conc. II 101.
He … that … slais ane ald wolf and bringis his hede to the schiref
1549 Banff Ann. I 24. 1587 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 505.
All persouns that hes any cats, dogs, or swyne … that thai ather slay thame or keip thame in suir fesuance
1604 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 117.
The haile houshalderis … to … slea the saidis airnis and corbeis
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 36.
Shireffs … may slay all lyeing dogs used … for slaying of wyld foules
1655 Hawick Ann. 71.
Gif any be fund uncuttit in the wings and toes, it shall be leasome to any to kill or slea them
1664 Rothesay B. Rec. 82.
Libertie to the pairtie skaithit to slay the foulls and tak thame to thair awin use
1665–7 Lauder Jrnl. 39.
He … slow it [sc. a crocodile] and wan his life

b. An animal or bird which poses no threat, chiefly, criminally or maliciously; also, once, appar., where no deliberate action is involved.Once, const. doune = entirely, wholesale. Also, once, slay deid.(1) a1500 Seven S. 2070.
For his fals wyfis fravde he knewe That he his iowell pyot slewe
1493 Acts II 235/1 (see Heronis-sew n.). c1500 Barounis Lawis 8b.
Ilk best … stollin … or ellis slane deid
1506–7 Treas. Acc. III 372.
To ane pure man in Dolphingtoun hed ane kow slane
1531 Bell. Boece II 493.
Becaus his fader wald not gif him the said falcon … he slew the halk apon his faderis hand
1562 Peebles B. Rec. I 281.
[They] apone set purpose hamesukking and foirthocht fellony … houche and slew thair oxin
1580 Inverness Rec. I 282.
Robert Reid … maliciouslie … hes crewellie slane his [sc. William Cuming's] doge
1581 Acts III 222/2.
To hund and slay thair scheip with doggis
c1650 Spalding I 195.
The haill houss dogis, messenis, and quholpis within Abirdene fellit and slayne vpone the get
1576 Orkney Oppress. 48.
That for feir of the rigorus handling … usit upon their nichtbouris be the Laird thai had slain doune all thair swyne
proverb. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1067.
Let the pleuch stand and slay a mouse
(2) 1515 Treas. Acc. V 38.
To hyre thaime horses, becaus thair awne hors sum wes slane, sum wes bursyn, sum crukkit

c. Game, by hunting or trapping, for sport and/or food. Also, to sla downe, ? to slaughter wholesale.There is some overlap with prec. sense. c1420 Wynt. vi 1235.
In thare gamyn thai slwe a hare
1471–2 Liber Melros II 591.
That nane of ȝou … hunt … or slay thar deir
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1896 (Bann.).
Sawand this caff, thir small birdis to slay
c1475 Wall. viii 947.
Wyld der thai slew
1502 Treas. Acc. II 144.
To ane man that slew ane swan and gaif to the King
1513 Doug. i iv heading. 1530–1 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 350.
That … na … persoun … sla ony wyld foulis with culveringis nor with lyme wandis
1531 Bell. Boece I 186. 1535 Stewart 28825.
Into the chace that da wer slane
c1536 Lynd. Compl. Bagsche 34.
To slay the deir … That craft I leirnit
a1578 Pitsc. I 335 h. of ch.
Hou mony wyld beistis the king sleu in the hieland at this tyme
1592 Acts III 614/2.
The … solane geis being sua ȝeirlie slayne
1600 Acts IV 237/1.
Hes dischargeit all his hienes subiectis … to slay or eat ony of the saidis mureputtis
1632 Ritchie Ch. S. Baldred 237.
James Robesune … accusit for … taking and chasing of cunnings … answeirit he slew bot ane
1647 Bk. Pasquils 152.
Too hote a chaisse, nothing to slae!
1567 Acts III 26/2.
The saidis beistis, and foulis ar at all tymes slaine downe, and distroyit be sic personis that [etc.]

d. Fish. 1559 Inverness Rec. I 31.
And he be fundyn slaing salmon on the Vater of Nes to be hangit
1585 Reg. Privy C. IV 17.
Hering and quhyte fishe to be tane and slane within Loch Lung
1594 Orkney & Shetl. Rec. I 217.
[They] sall nawayes slay small fische within the soundis
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Assisa.
Everie boat that passis to the draue, and slayis herring
1660 S. Ronaldshay 34.
Inhibiting James Windweek … to slay more fisches till [etc.]
1692 Conv. Burghs IV 621.
There are … only … six small lyne boats who slayes whyt fish

e. To slaughter (domestic animals or birds) for food; also, rarely, for some sacrificial or other similar purpose.(1) 1375 Barb. vii 152.
Thai slew the wethir that thai bar; … And askyt the king giff he wald ete
c1420 Bute MS fol. 160.
Na fleschhewar sal sla flesch … bot … in his buth
1479 Newburgh B. Ct. fol. 43b.
Thai sall nocht com bryngyn nai scheip with in the ton bot gif it be scheip to scla with flescharis
1524 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 218.
That all the fleschouris … haif … licens till slaa thair stuf nolt and scheip [etc.]
1533 Boece 73.
Quhen … was ane ox slane … assignit was … twa schort ribbis [etc.]
1549 Compl. 24/17.
Thy ox sal be slane befor thy eene, & thou sal get nane of hym tyl eyt
1552 Elgin Rec. I 117.
Na person … that sleis or byis ony sic bestis
1561 Treas. Acc. XI 113.
That na flescheouris slay ony lammis for the space of thre ȝeris
a1568 Jok & Jynny 38.
Jok … cryd, ‘Ane feist!’ and slew ane cok
1638 Glasgow B. Rec. I 388.
[They] sall not slay ony flesche on the Hie Streitt, bot in bak sydis
absol. 1608 Peebles B. Rec. I 358.
That thai sall be frie to slay fra Fryday at xij houris
(2) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 418.
To mak solempne sacrifice Whar-to they put … The multytude of bestes sleyn
Arundel MS 243/151.
Jesu … thou wes lik ane lambe led tobe slane
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. 78b.
The blude of beistis, slen and offrit vp in sacrifice
(3) c1420 Wynt. ii 329.
His brodyre … Slew a kyde and in the blude Wet the gown [etc.]
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 107.
For remedie quhairof, the said Helen bade the said Christane … tak the heindnest [chicken] and slay with ane fyrie stick
1622-6 Bisset I 44/15.
Ane … beist that eittis … thair birth, sall be slane and thair flesche forboddin

f. With inanimate subject or agent; also, once, with parasitic worms as object. a1500 Henr. Fab. 1698 (Bann.).
Birdis … neir slane with snaw and sleit
1549 Compl. 67/2.
Finkil, that slais the virmis of the bellye
1573 Inv. Q. Mary App. clvi.
Ane [sc. a horse] was slane on a stob in the park

10. Of weather or other circumstances: To destroy (growing crops, seeds or plants). a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 139 (Ch.).
Allace, that seid with froist is slane
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) xiv 63.
Sic cursing evin and morn Quhilk slayis the corne and fruct that growis grene
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) lxiv 12.
Merche, with his cauld blastis keyne, Hes slane this gentill herbe
a1570-86 Dunb. Maitl. F. 376/12. 1531 Bell. Boece II 251.
On midsimer-day … was sa schill frost, that all the cornis war slane
1699 Belhaven Rudiments 9.
The body of the pickle will be turned to a root like that of grass … before the winter frosts and cold rains, and consequently be free from being slain

III. 11. To bring to spiritual death, to destroy (the soul) with sin or wrongdoing. a1400 Leg. S. xxx 240.
A thing quhare-in Thu wil sla thi saule for syne
1456 Hay I 183/27.
Him that has power to sla the saule
1551 Hamilton Cat. 228.
[The devil] is … maist fyerie … to sla our saulis be sum transgressioun of the commandis of God
1590–1 Crim. Trials I ii 234.
Keep me … from the syn that saull wald slay

12. To cause (great) distress, affliction or damage to a person's emotions, sensibilities, conscience, etc; to upset (a person). Also reflex. Also absol.Chiefly in exaggerated or poetic use.Occasionally actual dying may be intended in which case the quot. (see esp. Dalr. II 457/11) would properly belong in sense 6. 1533 Gau 107/1.
The law … confundis and fleis and slais ȝour conscience
1567 G. Ball. 148.
Indurit ignorance hes slain Thy hart
a1568 Bann. MS 224a/22.
How for that scheyne I am neir schent and slane And nevir to joy lippynnis to cum agane
a1568 Bann. MS 226b/8.
Scho me slo
a1568 Scott xxiii 6.
I am with sorrow slane, And dyis nicht & day
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 363/127. 1596 Dalr. II 457/11.
Games to recreat the quene and hald her out of langre quha [was] slane amaist with sadnes
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. ii 38.
O'rcume, I humbly ȝeild; Save then or sloe ane captiue beggand grace
1640 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 590.
I am slain with hardness of heart, and troubled with confused and melancholious thoughts
?1670 W. Guthrie Serm. on Sympathie 70.
They were slain with her crying
reflex. 15.. Clar. iv 1412.
I will not heire remaine and ȝow displeise To do ȝow grevance and myself uneise … best it war … for to doe so, Nor ȝow displeise and … my selfin slo
a1568 Scott xxviii 17.
Quhattane ane glaikit fule am I To slay myself with malancoly
absol. 1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. 158.
S. Paul sayis, litera occidit. 1. The letter or scripture literatlie [sic] tane slayis

b. To eradicate, remove or counteract (a fault, quality, condition). a1400 Leg. S. l 554.
Sic wondire … Quhar-thru euire trew[th] ekit & grew, & mistreutht for sorow slew
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1312.
Gentrice is slane, and pietie is ago
c1520-c1535 Nisbet III 339/28.
To lernne … to slay syn in our selfis
15.. Ortus Sanitatis (Inc. 20) 45b.
Endyve and scariole … slays grete hete

13. To extinguish (a legal claim, right or process). c1500 Harl. MS 4700 282a.
Gif ane tenent clamis ane sett of land … & thai termez be runnyn … & na impedement within the said termis maid it is slane in the self for quhy [etc.]
c1500 Barounis Lawis 7.
The defendour may ask dome [etc.] … swa be excepcioune peremptor slayand and distroyand the proces
c1575 Balfour Pract. 208.

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Sla v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2023 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse DOST: