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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).

Wedo(w, Wid(d)ow, n. Also: wedou, -ew, -eu, -aw, vedo(w, weddow, ved(d)ov, weido(w, weadow, wydow, -ew, wido(u, vido, -ou(e, -ov, -ue, widdoe, woddow. Possess. also wedouyse, wedvis. Pl. also wedwis. [ME and e.m.E. widdeue (Orm), widew (a1225), wydewe (c1290), wydw, widow (both Cursor M.), wodewe (Ayenbite), wedew (Wyclif), wedow, wyddo (both north., c1440), OE widewe, widuwe fem., widewa masc., MLG wedewe, MDu. weduwe.]

1. A widow. Also pl.Also in referring to a particular person by name or as part of her title. Also fig.St. Mungo's widow (in (d) below), cf. Wedo(w)hed(e n. c.(1) a1400 Leg. S. v 226.
a1400 Leg. S. xxi 104.
A vedow has sad … Quhow that scho tynt had hir husband
a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi 863.
a1500 Henr. Fab. 411 (Ch.).
Ane wedow duelt in till ane drop thay dayis
a1500 Henr. Fab. 422 (H).
Ane fox … to the wedow did grit violence, In pyking of pultrie
a1500 Henr. Fab. 515.
I will … chant this sang, ‘wes neuer wedow sa gay’
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 297.
Or ellis mony wedou Ful wraithly sal weip
1498–9 Acta Conc. II 333.
Scho is ane pure wedow and has na thing til sustene hir
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. heading.
The Tua Mariit Wemen and the Wedo
1513–14 Acta Conc. MS XXVI 87.
The quhilk Sybell … was nothir madene, mannis wiffe, nor wedew, bot ane anelape gentill weman
1533 Boece 328b.
He … gat the mariage of ane wedo
1547 Elgin Rec. I 92.
Gif it hapins to ony vedov within the said burgh to mare without lecence of the provest [etc.] … the said vedow … sall tyne hir fredoum
a1586 Maitland Ho. Seytoun 38.
His ladye remanit wedo xlv yeiris
a1568 Scott iii 55.
As for a weddow, wirk weill on hir wame, I knaw no craft sall cause hir lufe ȝow bettir
1573–4 Bk. Old Edinb. C. VI 61.
That na wedo sall haue prenteis during hir wedoheid vntill the tyme sche be cled witht ane man
(b) c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 245.
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 156.
The defendar of the weidow and fatherles
1600-1610 Melvill 122.
His weidow and bernes
(c) 1642 Thanes of Cawdor 287.
I thought … soe long as ye wer ther that schoe wald not beine takin as ane weadow nevertheles of my absence
(d) a1400 Leg. S. xxxi 446.
Til wydow or til orphanyne
a1400 Leg. S. xxxi 465.
The widou
1533 Gau 68/24.
Christ rasit wp ane vidous sone
c1575 Balfour Pract. 205.
His wife sall bruik … the samin for all the dayis of hir lifetime be privilege of St. Mongo's widow
1576 Orkney Oppress. 61.
Twa widois quha had thair husbandis perissit upon the see
1596 Dalr. I 222/22.
1600 Prestwick B. Rec. 84.
That in all fewis to be maid the vidovis lyfrent of equal half to be reservit
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 256.
That a widdow who wes repute and haulden as wyfe to her husband defunct dureing his lyfetym non tenetur probare matrimonium legitimum, bot aucht to enjoy the benefitt of ane tearce as laufull wyfe
1634 Fam. Innes 222.
She now is aged and a widdoe
1665–7 Lauder Jrnl. 126.
That she falling widdow she becam regent of hir sone and the realme during his minority
(e) 1551 Banff Ann. II 380.
The profiit of the saidis nettis fischinge … to be reservit to Mariorie Grantulie hyr guddame beand woddow
pl. ?1438 Alex. ii 9616.
Of landis … That thow was wont to reif … Fra wedowes and fatherles barnes
c1420 Wynt. vi 155.
1456 Hay I 241/33.
Men of kirk, wedowis, maidenis, faderles and moderles barnis
1472 Peebles B. Rec. I 169.
All other nolt of burges or wedos sal gang … in Russalsqham
a1500 Lanc. 1353.
And wedwis ek sustenit mekill wo
c1475 Wall. i 163.
Both wiffis, wedowis, thai tuk all at thair will
1487 Acts II 177/2.
Complaintis made be kirkmen, wedowis orphanis & pupillis
1492 Myll Spect. 288/20.
The luf of wedowis and agit wemen suld be eschewit
c1515 Asl. MS I 188/20.
Becaus thai war desolate of women thai deliuerit to thaim ane certane of wedowis and madinnis to mak generacioun with
1492 Myll Spect. 289/23.
Be quhilk deidis may be consederit the gudnes of wedowis
1530 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. V 20.
To auld failyeit men and wedowis of our four parochinis
1547 Elgin Rec. I 92.
The greit truble … quhilk hes hapint within the said burgh … throch the veddovis in thair mareing … without consent and lecence of the provest [etc.]
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 437/6.
Wydewis maidnis and hyre women … dois plenȝie
1622-6 Bisset II 82/24.
Wedowes may leif in legacie … the fermes … of landis … pertening to hir be resson of dowrie … bot ane woman beand cled with ane husband … may … gif na thing in hir lattir will without his consent
(2) 1459 Aberd. B. Rec. MS V i 361 (9 April).
Jonet the wedew of vmquhile Robert of Chawmer
1473 Reg. Cupar A. I 188.
Lattyn, al and syndry our landis of … Kethyk … til … John Dauson [etc.] … Anne Angus, Wedou
1476 Exch. R. VIII 344 n.
Till oure pure wedeu and beidwoman Marioun of Corry
a1500 Bk. Chess 533.
Quhen to the worthy wedow Anima Hir nychtbour come … And laid hir to a husband for to tak [etc.]
1505 Treas. Acc. III 151.
To the wedo of Auchlek … xxviij s.
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 160/34.
Jonet the weido on ane bussome rydand Off wichis with ane windir garesoun
1523 Carnwath Baron Ct. (SHS) 9.
The vedo of Grenscheilhous desyrit to haif of the intak of the Caldlaw the inqueist ordanis the vedo to haif hir daill afferand to hir xv s. and as ony of thaim hes to thair xx s. land
1542 Treas. Acc. VIII 99.
To Jonet Brown, wedo, iij li.
a1586 Maitland Ho. Seytoun 30.
Jonet Cheisholme, wedo of Merchinstoun
1590 Prot. Bk. J. Inglis 22 April.
Mariore Vrwing vedow in Fordice
1593 Dysart Rec. 41.
Gelis Barklay vido
(3) fig. 1625 Fugitive Poetry II 7/149.
A doleful widdow [sc. Scotland] wrapd in sable vales

b. possess.Also wedoes weeds and widowe's myte. a1400 Leg. S. xxii 249.
A wedouyse house
c1409-1436 Kingis Q. § 156.
The wyly fox, the wedowis enemye
a1500 Henr. Fab. 418.
Ane lyttill fra this foirsaid vedowis hows [etc.]
1514 Reg. Cupar A. I 291.
The half of wmquhyll Dauid Formandis tak … with the wedvis consent, is set to Lowrans Wichtane
1592 Anal. Scot. II 171.
You are but wolves … in wedoes weeds
1633 Aberd. Council Lett. I 379.
It is not muche, bot ane widowes myte given with … goodwill

c. Wedo woman, widdow lady. 1544 Edinb. Hammermen 164b.
Resauit fra the wedo woman of hyr maill
a1586 Maitland Ho. Seytoun 72.
This Alexander … married, to his second wife, ane English widdow lady
1629 Dalyell Darker Superst. 233.
[John Brughe was alleged to have obtained his knowledge] from a wedow woman

d. Haly wedow, a saint or holy woman who is a widow. 1490 Irland Mir. I 153/19.
Sche was the maist worthi and haly wedow that euir was in erd
1549 Compl. 3/1.
The holy vedou Judich
a1550 Goldin Latany 250.
Sanct An, Sanct Katherin, Sanct Barbara, Sanct Margareit, and of all vthir haly virginis, wedewis, and matronis

2. A widower. a1500 Henr. Orph. 414.
A wofull wedow [A. wedaw] hame-wart is he went
1530 Lennox Mun. 235.
Gilbert Legȝeit … wedow, haill into mynd, haifand God befoir [etc.]
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 244/8.
Ewill is the wyff that I haue tane … God gif I wer wedo now
1573-1600 King Cat. in Cath. Tr. 175/7.
S. Kentigerne vidoue in Scotland
1655 St. A. Presb. 68.
Supplicateing that in regard he being a widow, and having diverse … young children, he may be permitted to marie
1679 J. Somerville Mem. I 211.
John Lord Somervill being a widow, by the death of his lady
c1679 Kirkton Hist. 188.
He hade while he was there wife and children; afterwards, being a widow, he continued in his ministry
1689 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. XIII 563.
A petitione … be John Hamiltone … the petitioner is a great adge and a widdow
1684 Dundee Kirk S. 18 Aug.
James Kigo compeared for keeping ane woman in his house in the night tym he being a widdow

b. attrib.Also as wedow men.(1) 1535 Stewart 42086.
Dauid the king … for hir saik the wedow habit tuik … And euirmoir … He levit chest
(2) a1568 Scott iv 35.
Wedow men that wantis To steill a pair of swyvis
1643 St. A. Presb. 13.
A widow man … quho hes a woman living in the house with him

3. a. fig.b. transf.Appar. applied to the Maiden (Maidin n. 6) or ? another guillotine. c. fig.? Applied to the earthly church. d. fig.Applied to Christ as spouse of the Church.a. a1500 Henr. Orph. 627.
For than gois bakwart to the syn agayn Oure appetite, as it before was slayn In warldly lust … And makis reson wedow for tobe
b. 1566 Edinb. Old Acc. I 506.
To Androw Gottersoun, smyth, for grynding of the madin … To Androw Gottersoun for greinding of the widow
c. 1637 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 499.
Oh that our Lord would water again … this piece-withered and dry hill of our widow, Mount Zion
d. 1633 Rutherford Lett. (1765) ii 341.
Our Bridegroom cannot want a wife: can He live a widow [1894 widower]?

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"Wedo n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Sep 2022 <>



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