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

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

Term(e, n. Also: terrme, teirm(e, teyrme, tearm(e, teryme, tayrm(e, tarm(e. Pl. also termmis. [ME and e.m.E. terme (Ancr. R.), term (Cursor M.), tierme (c1450), tearm(e (1543), OF terme, L. terminum limit, boundary.]

I. 1. A point in time at which something, usu. a financial or legal transaction, is to be done, the end date of a period of time; an appointed time or date. Also fig. b. specif. One or other of the traditional days on which such transactions took place, Martinmas, Whitsunday, etc.(a) a1400 Leg. S. v 551.
Thou sal stil byd here Til Sonday cum … that day sal thi terme be To bruk myn blis & dwel vith me
1391 MacRae Early Sc. Texts No. 3.
He has payit hym xi mark in his hand and the laff off payment sal pay at the termys efter foluand
1397–8 Liber Melros 490.
Defaut be of thir paymentis at the dayes and termes as is befor saide ovre runnen and ganeby sex wowkis daye eftir the lymite terme
1405 Maxwell Mem. I 145.
For twelfe penys of syluyr yheir be ȝeire, to be paijd as male, at twa termys of the yheir … that is to say, Witsonday and Martymes
1413 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III 364.
To pay … a hondereth pond … ilke yhere be yhere at vsuale termys proporcionali
c1420 Wynt. viii 2345.
The Kyng off Ingland … Thai trewys grawntyd … Fra Alhalowmes till Wytsonday … To the forsayd termys he grawntyt for-thi Thai trewys for till hald
14.. Acts I 386/2.
Gif ony man settis his best till hyr till ony man till a terme
1437 Cop. St. A. 131.
The term of his entre beand the ische of our tenandis … that ar therin now
1456 Hay II 146/27.
Is thare ane othir maner of justice betuix a man and his creatoure … that is deferrit quhill the uterest terme
1473 Reg. Cupar A. I 177.
Gif tha thynk that tha ma sted tham bettyr in vthir placis tha sal haue our fre licens, warnand ws half a ȝer before the terme
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1184.
Ane certane breid, worth fyue schilling or mair, Thow aw the doig, off quhilk the terme is gone
1478 Reg. Cupar A. I 217.
The latter terme of payment of the said wittale sal be Mydlerutyne … wndir payn of tynsail of his tak gyf he failȝeis hys termys
a1500 K. Hart 38.
Thus to thair terme thay serve for thair rewarde
1492 Acta Conc. I 241/2.
Martimes is na terme to tennentis to flit
1494 Loutfut MS 1b.
To compeir at the day quhilk is gevin to thaim to feicht. The quhilk day suld be the term of xl … dais
a1500 Bk. Chess 1576. 1498 Acta Conc. II 287.
That the justice airis … be haldin at the termes and dayis that thai ar proclamyt to
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 1992.
To papis, … princes, potestatis Deith settis the terme, and end of all thair hicht
1562 Dumfries B. Ct. 213a.
[He] varnit the said Issobell Ewart to … ramuf thairfra at the foirsaid tyme of the ruidmes … as term peremptor vndir perell of law
1622-6 Bisset I 200/18.
For proving of the libell be witnese: The lordis admittis onlie twentie foure witnese, that is aucht for ilk ane of the thrie termes and for … reply lykwyse twentie foure to be summoned at ane terme at the monyest
1626 Aberd. Council Lett. I 245. ?a1640 Copie of a Baron's Court 21.
It's Lammas now, and yet we want our ferm, My husband bought a fleet horse at the term
1660 Rothesay B. Rec. 289. 1661 Rothesay B. Rec. 65.
The soume payable … at the termes contained in the act of parliament past to that effect, to witt quarterly at Lambas, Mertimes, Candlemes and Beltane
1676 Edinb. B. Rec. X 192.
By the vulgar exceptione of the feast of Michaellmesday … the eaven before the day is lookt upon as the feast and terme all … things obleidged to be performed at the terme being done in the eaven before
1681 Stair Inst. ii viii § 33.
The legal terms of benefices … are Whitsunday … and Michaelmas
1685 Glamis Bk. Record 87.
My wyfe having made this present time the terme to … Isobell Atkinson … John Tylor … is also put away
1687 Boyd Fam. P. No. 284 (29 Dec.).
I dout the lau will provaid that I sal take my mony as it war at a term
1707 Cunningham Diary 27.
Being a miller [he] pays nothing till the ordinary terme of mill rents, which is Lammas of the succeeding year
(b) 1548 Reg. Soltre 217.
It sall be lesum … at the said prowest and cheptour put in ane sufficient man … gif I present nocht ane qualifit man at the said teyrme
1643 Falkirk Par. Rec. I 119.
Those men that cuist themselves looss at the tearm
1700 Cramond Kirk S. IV 1 July.
The meeting findeing that the … accompts are not made up unto a tearm, thinke fitt to delay the dischargeing of the samyn untill thair next meeting, recommending to Cammo … to have his accompts fitted & made up to the tearm of Whitsunday last, 1700
1715 Rothesay Par. Rec. 307.
The Session … hereby doe agree the treasurer should give the said John Glass fourty pounds Scots to a tearm and take his bond … for it
(c) 1700 Household Bk. Gr. Baillie 122.
To him for 3 month month he came befor the tarme
fig. 1664 Pitcairn Spiritual Sacrifice 59.
God … set the captive at liberty before the terme of paiment came

c. Within (betuixt) termes, between term-days. c1575 Balfour Pract. 208.
Ane tenent being in possessioun, as tenent or mailler of ony landis, cloisit within termis, and not lauchfullie warnit befoir the feist of Whitsounday, may not be removit
1582 Reg. Privy C. III 496.
Maist wranguslie … put him furth of his said steding, he being kyndlie mailler … thairof, closit within termes
1604 Orkney & Shetl. Rec. I 274.
The … assyes, considering that it is within termes … ordanes everie ane of thame to keip thair possessioun till Alhallowmes nixtocum
1613 Fraserburgh Kirk S. I 11b (13 Jan.).
They cuild nocht put away thair seirvand betwixt termes

d. The conclusion or end date of a pregnancy. 1460 Hay Alex. 18277.
Scho was with barne and till hir terme weill neir

e. transf. The conclusion of a process or state of affairs. 1456 Hay II 154/12.
Thare is nane end na terme … in thair covatis
1513 Doug. xiii i 68.
Of all sik furour … The lattir meith and term is present heir
1607 Soc. Ant. XI 413.
This mercury … will become white, and then it is the pointe and terme to loose it

2. A period of time over which some arrangement is to run, freq. the period of a lease, etc. a. sing. 1398–9 Acts I 210/2.
That the Duc of Rothesay be the kyngis lieutenande … for the terme of thre yheris
14.. Acts I 31/2.
Na burges sall len … bot … thruch the space of xl dayis and gif wythin that terme [etc.]
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2746.
Syne vexis him, or half his terme be gane, With pykit querrellis for to mak him fane To flit
c1475 Wall. x 615.
And Eduuard chaip, I pas with him agayn … Brek he on me; quhen that my terme is out, I cum to thé
1484 Exch. R. IX 605.
Our stedis … to sett … for the termes of five yeris … the takkis now had to prolong … for the said termes of five yeris … entres of courtis of all termes bigain sen the halding of our last courtis to mak be gevin in
1492 Reg. Episc. Morav. 249.
The saidis assisoiris may peremptorlie … but ony forther prorogation of dais or termes … conclud
1503 Perth Guildry 466 (1 June).
At the ischey of the said terme the forsaidis persones to haue tak agane of the saidis millis
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Acts xvii 26.
[God] made … the kynd of men to inhabite … the erd, determinand tymes ordanit, and termis of the duelling of thaim
1560 Rolland Seven S. 419.
The seuin maisters … Fra that thair terme of the seuin ȝere was gane
1576 Edinb. Test. IV 173b.
He … levis to … his seruand … ane blak skin coit to be gevin to him at the ische of his terme
c1590 Fowler II 93/1.
Ten yeres wer the langest terme of there [sc. Popes'] lyfes
1624 Misc. Maitl. C. III 502.
If the said Margaret happin to die befoir the expiratioun of the said lease … I giue the residew of the same tearme and interest in the same garden plottis vnto the foirsaid Thomas Heriot
1653 Stirling Ant. II 14.
Mr. Harie [schoolmaster] … condeschended to … tak trayell for a term
1679 Corshill Baron Ct. 149.
The fier meall … for this last terme indew

b. pl. Periods of time, ? specif. the periods of time from one term-day to the next, accumulatively, which the whole period (of a lease, etc.) comprises. c1400 Troy-bk. i 140.
Or thre ȝere be cummyn & gane, Of langar termes tell I nane
1443 (1450) Reg. Great S. 85/1.
With lordschip [etc.] … for the termys of nyntene yeris … for thre pundis of usuale mone … to be payit … in evynly proporciones that is to say Witsonday and Mertynmes … and the foresaide takis … to be kepit to the ischa of the termis beforesaide
1450 Reg. Great S. 84/1.
Thir my lettrez of bailliery til endure for al the termez of fife yeris next eftir folowand the date of thir present lettrez of baillery
1456 Hay I 133/11.
It hapnis oft that men takis … housis of lang termes
1457 Peebles B. Rec. I 120.
The seyd Sym … sal noch jos na anwel qwl Wil Bulli termmis lestis
1474 Acta Aud. 35/2.
For all termes contenit in the letter of tak … that is to say sex ȝeris fra Witsonday
1474 Edinb. B. Rec. I 32.
That na master … tak ony prentis for les termis than sevin yeirs
1476 Acta Aud. 42/2.
Sir William sal content & paye to the said Gawain of xxv li. of his fee of termes bigain
c1475 Wall. ii 241.
God mak ws for to rys, That weill has wrocht befor their termys, and now
1482–3 Acta Conc. II cxxii.
Johne of Murra to pay to the resavour xv li. for thre termes of the wild horses that he has of our soverane lordis
1496–7 Acta Conc. II 59.
That thai … mak him be … payit … of the Martymes terme precedand … and that thai … cause him to be ansuerit … of al termes of annuale of the saide tenement awing to him of termes tocum
1499 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 625.
All … the days & termes of nyneteyn ȝeris before exprimyt
c1500 Harl. MS 4700 281b.
Quhilk clamys tak of termis of ȝeris be sett of lettir and seile
1569 Grey Friars 119.
For all the dayis, space and tarmes of thre yeiris
1578 Reg. Privy C. III 21.
Providing that the airis … obtene entres within thre termis eftir the deceis of thair faderis

c. possess. and attrib. With types of payment.possess. 1497 Treas. Acc. I 315.
I resauit fra Schir James of Levingstoune … of ane termez male of his landis
1581 Prot. Bk. J. Scott 112b.
The first termeis payment … beguid at Witsounday last was [etc.]
1593 Ayr Chart. 119.
To let thrie termes maill … rin over in the fourt terme unpayit
1624–5 Argyll Rentals 11 Nov.
To Johnne Hammiltoune for ane tearmis annuel rent of vm markis v12 frome Martimes 1624 to Witsonday 1625
1717 Household Bk. Gr. Baillie 58.
For 7 tarms cess for Mellerstaine from March 1715 till March 1717
attrib. 1499–1500 Acta Conc. II 372.
The Mertymes terme male
1516 Treas. Acc. V 94.
For his Martimes term pensioun

d. For (al) (the) terme of (a person's) life. Also pl. 1402 MacRae Early Sc. Texts No. 9.
For al the terme of hir lyfe
1408 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 70.
To gif joyntfeftment til … his wife for terme of hir lyfe
1420 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV 181.
That the … Earll of Mar is becum man of … the … Dvck of Albaney … for all the terme of his lyffe
c1500 Fyve Bestes 164.
He had chosyn hir for terme of lyf
pl. 1495 Acta Conc. I 407/1.
Sa furth joysande for all the dais & termez of his lif

e. Term of law, ? the period of time during which an action must be instigated, payment made, etc. c1460 Regim. Princ. 256 (Fairf.).
Quhen dome is gyffyn & na remed set ford And terme of law allegit to prescryve Efter that terme thaire is na man of lyve Ma it gancall
1542 Reg. Privy S. II 754/2.
Cautioun of coleraith for justice to be ministerit to partis complenand within terme of law to gif
1561–2 Dumfries B. Ct. 54b.
To preiff the said Dauid bastard within term of law as rite & term of the realme
1569 Canongate Ct. Bk. 31.
James Hendersoun flescheour to … pay to Ninian Wilsoun xs within terme of law for thre killing coft and ressavit be him
1602 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 431. 1654 Rothesay B. Rec. 1. 1663 Forbes Baron Ct. 236.
To pey ther … deuties and byrinnis … within tearm of lawe

3. The terme of Martimas, etc., Martymas, etc. term, the term-day specified, also the period of time between term-days and ending at the term-day specified.(1) 1393 Reg. Morton II 193.
[He] sal pay … at the terme of Martimes nest folowande
1466 Acta Aud. 4/2.
The malis of the saide landis of the terrme of Witsonday and Mertymes last past
1478–9 Acta Conc.I 25/1.
The … withhalding of … x bollis of ber & a chalder of atis of the terme of Alhallomes
1493 Acta Aud. 169/1.
The lordis auditouris … ordinis him to broik & manure the sammyn … quhill the terme of Witsonday nixt tocum
1502 Treas. Acc. II 69.
Giffin … to the payment of the College of this terme of Lammes bipast lxij li.
1506 Treas. Acc. III 264.
To the quenis thesaurar, the quenis pensioun of the terme of Pasch bipast
1543 15th Rep. Hist. MSS App. ix 19.
The terme of the Inventioun of the haly croce called Beltane
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 100.
The ordinar termes of peyment of Martimes and Whitsonday
1638 Hamilton P. (Camden Soc.) 24.
The tou next tayrmes of Martimes and Wissontyd
1641 Acts V 376/2.
[We] have now altered … the formar … termes of payment from Whitsonday and Mertimes to the termes of Lambes and Candlemas
1646 Melville Chart. 174.
To … pay … the sume of … at the feast and tearme of Whytsinday or Mairtinmess
(2) 1496–7 Acta Conc. II 43.
Ten merkis of male of a Mertymes terme
1541 Treas. Acc. VII 480.
For the Martymes [ter]m last bipast of his pensioun
1543 Boyd Fam. P. No. 21 (24 June).
The nyxt Mertymes teryme
1575–6 Reg. Privy C. II 493.
Payment maid … of the said Andirsmes terme
1581 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 154.
x s. for the maill of his loft of the Vitsounday termes payment

4. ‘In judicial procedure, … a certain time fixed by authority of a court, within which a party is allowed to establish by evidence his averment.' Bell Dict. Law. Scotl. 1496–7 Acta Conc. II 45.
Anent the terme assignit to Elizabeth Fresell to preif [etc.]
1478-1532 Acta Conc. II 286. 1535 Aberd. B. Rec. MS 32.
In the terme assignit to Johne Chalmer to preif for the first terme in the caus betwix him and [etc.]
1557 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I 151.
And tuik Furisday the sevintene day of Februar instant to preve for the secund terme of probatioun in the said mater
1565 Edinb. Univ. MS La.iii.388a, 20b.
All thir termes of probatioun beand led and the pairtie renunceand forder witnesis
1577 Digest Justiciary Proc. I 74.
The terme assignet for geving of interloquitour upoun the allegance, excusatioun, ansueris, and eikis
1591 Crail B. Ct. 25 May.
The said Issobell Gilruith desyrit ane forther terme to be assignit to hir … to answer to the persewaris clame
14.. Acts (1597) Table.
Litiscontestation suld be maid be the defender, the first terme of compeirance
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii 120b.
Circumduction of the terme is quhen ane terme is assigned by the judge to the persewer for probation [etc.] … in deducing of his probation according to the desire of the terme
1622-6 Bisset I 150/28.
Gif he produces na probation … ane terme salbe assigned to his preif
1622-6 Bisset I 184/2. 1681 Stair Inst. iv lii § 46.
If the reason of suspension be founded upon a writ which is not the suspender's own writ, … the suspender will get a term to prove

II. 5. a. pl. Words, language, terminology, esp. words of some particular sort.Riming in termis, see Riming vbl. n.1 1. c1450-2 Howlat 253 (A).
All this trety has he tald be termes in test
a1500 Henr. Fab. 36.
In hamelie language and in termes rude Me neidis wryte
c1475 Wall. xi 1463.
I yow besek … lak nocht my eloquence … For her is said as gudly as I can: My spreyt felis na termys asperans
1490 Irland Mir. III 107/24.
I will in the first declar part of termez, and first quhat is iustice humane
c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 257.
Chaucere … Thy fresch anamalit termes celicall This mater coud illumynit have
1513 Doug. i Prol. 368.
Lat thame interprit animal and homo, With many hundreth other termys mo, Quhilkis in our langage … Few men can tell me … quhat thai meyn
1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 33.
I to thé sall schaw the circumstance, In teirmes breue, of my vnhappy chance
a1568 Mersar in Bann. MS 213a/14.
Paynit nocht thy wirdis se that thow be nocht nis Speik nocht in termis of clergy
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 97.
I haue learned … to call wickitnes be the awin termes—a feg, a feg, and a spead, a spead
a1585 Maitl. Q. 224/35.
With aureit termis and style most eloquent Thay maid me sone to thair assent aggrie
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 107 (H).
Tearmes that thow steiles of ald poetrie
1600-1610 Melvill lxii.
In vearie cleir tearmes, he cryes out
c1646 Craufurd Edinb. Univ. 48.
Mr. William Struthers, … had used some disgraceful termes to philosophie, calling it the dishclout to divinitie

b. sing. A word or expression, esp. of a particular sort. 1490 Irland Mir. II 10/1.
Jhesus and Sanct Johne the Baptist … begane baith thar preichingis with this terme Penitenciam agite appropinquavit [etc.]
1530 Edinb. B. Rec. II 34.
Gif thair be ony terme doutsum or obscur … the interpretatioun … thairof to be referrit to the jugis arbitratouris
1533 Boece 81.
Be proclamacion thai defendit that the chiftane suld nane vthir way be namyt than the auld and couth terme
1549 Compl. 160/2.
That terme, bettir, is of the comparatyue gree
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 481.
Quhat faith is that that ȝe call ferme? Schir, gar me vnderstand that terme
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1974.
Monarchie bene one terme of Grew
1561 Q. Kennedy Compendious Ressonyng (ed.) 155/14.
This terme Missa is nocht laitlie inventit
a1578 Pitsc. II 71/13.
I haue oft … red ower the bybill and ȝeit sic ane terme fand I never
1633 Orkney Witch Trial in Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. V 552.
Ye had … aundit in bitt (quhilk is ane norne tearme), that is to say, ye blew your breath thairin

III. 6. A condition, circumstance, exigency, a prescription of what is possible or allowable in a particular field of activity, etc. b. The conditions pertaining between persons or relating to a (legal) agreement. Only pl. 1456 Hay I 153/33.
He may ger justify him … be the autoritee of the law, be the quhilk he kepand and gerrand kepe him the termes of law, he may nocht faile … sen law levis it to be done
1456 Hay I 177/18.
It semys that he wrangis him nocht for quhy … he kepis his writt and wax, nocht excedand the termes of his assuraunce
1456 Hay I 223/2.
The thingis ar nocht in termes as thai war wount. The realmes was than in pes that now ar in weris
a1538 Abell 120 (bis) b.
Thai ar sum thingis of the law of natur as begynnyngis knawin be thare self or thare termis
1659 A. Hay Diary 149.
For his paines … he wold tak no money from me upon no termes
1682 Irvine Nomenclatura 110.
Intestabilis is a law term
1687 Cramond Kirk S. II 6 Nov.
These are the tearmes upon which the session have assented
b. 1594 Warrender P. (SHS) II 43.
The loving termis I wes in with England
1610 Breadalbane Lett. (Reg. H.) 7 Sept.
Ȝoure … cap[it]ulating with those lymmaris in termis of assurance and vthirwyis
1658 Rothesay Par. Rec. 6.
She was vpon tearmes of marrage with Patrick McConochie
1672 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. II 618.
Infants … not capable of pactioning and entering into terms

7. A (physical) limit or boundary. 1456 Hay II 121/30.
Blude-lattingis … opnys the clos termes of the passagis of humouris [etc.]
1513 Doug. v iii 53.
A mark or wyttir of a greyn aik tre, In term and takyn onto the maryneris, Quhar forto turn agane … thai mycht knaw
c1520-c1535 Nisbet III 277.
Thar salbe na mark nor na terme of His kingdom
c1520-c1535 Nisbet III 303.
Ilk place quhilk your fute sal tred salbe youris … fra the gret flude Eufrates till to the west sea salbe your termis
a1658 Durham Comm. Rev. 727.
To shew what is the connexion betwixt, and the march and terme differincing the sixth [trumpet] from the seventh that when the one (the sixth) endeth then the seventh beginneth

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