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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).
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Wis(e, Wys(e, adj. (adv.). Also: vis, vys(e, uyse, wyss(e, wice, wyce, vice, wyis(e, vyis(e, wyiss, wyice, wes, waysse, wayis, voys(e. Compar. also wisser, wyssyer, uasier. Superl. also viseste, vesest, wyasest, wyesest, vysit. [ME and e.m.E. wis (Orm), wise (Ancr. R.), wys (c1290), wyys (Manning), wyse (Chaucer), vyse (1422), wyce (Prompt. Parv.), OE wis, MLG, MDu. wîs, ON viss.]

A. adj.1. Of a person or his attributes: a. Possessing sound judgment, sensible, prudent, clever, skilled, competent, sharp-witted. Also, const. in and to mak wise. b. Possessing knowledge, erudite, learned.See also Ware adj. 3 for further examples.a., b. attrib. 1375 Barb. ix 327 (C).
The vis king, that ves vicht and bald
a1400 Leg. S. xl 36 (see Ware adj. 3.).
c1420 Wynt. iii 655.
The sevynty clerkis wys [C. wysse]
1456 Hay II 74/25.
Als lang as Alexander le Graat had with hym Arestotil the wys clerk, he … vencust all realmes … throu his counsale
1460 Hay Alex. 3342.
A chiftane wyse and worthy
a1487 Gud Wyf & D. 250.
Seilden fynde we barnys vis
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1130 (Bann.).
Wis Salomone sais … Think on thine end, thow sall nocht gladlye syn
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 325.
Ane vight weriour wourthy and wise
c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 116.
Mercurius, wise and eloquent
1513 Doug. xi vii 104.
A man nocht indegest, bot wys and cald
1562-3 Winȝet I 5/14.
Ȝour wyse, saige, and grave familiar servands, void of al vanitie, bodely lustis, and heresie, ar spokin of to ȝour prayse
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. in Cath. Tr. (STS) 75/31.
This prudent and vyse pasture not villing to gif rash consell in sa vechtie mater desyrit tyme of deliberation
1580-92 James VI Lusus Reg. 50.
True is that saying used of olde amongst philosophes uyse
1596 Melvill 375.
There hes bein in all ages, is, and salbe … sum wyse and strong favorars wha leakes na thing bot intelligence of the proceidings of maters that [etc.]
1622-6 Bisset I 27/11.
The vys senate and consules concluded and resolved the emperiour that [etc.]
1629 Justiciary Cases I 131.
Thay alledge thairfoir the authoritie of ane grave and wyse jurisconsult namet Frances Baldwyne … quha … sayis [etc.]
(b) c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 191/39.
1535 Stewart 31399.
Dongallus … Tua wyis lordis that all thair richtis kend, With greit triumph onto the Pechtis send
1558-66 Knox I 434.
Godlie and wyise men
(c) 1600 Cal. Sc. P. XIII 152.
compar. a1400 Leg. S. vi 543.
I wende myn cistere … Had bene a fowle, but nov se I That wyser wyfe ma nocht be; Fore to the apostil scho brocht me
1460 Hay Alex. 2447.
Ȝe haue mony wyser lordis here Off perfyte age and als of hie prudence
15.. Dunb. App. ii 31.
Ane wysar wicht wes never none
1657 Balfour Ann. II 181.
The wysser sorte assure themselues of his Maiesties royall visdome and moderatione
superl. a1400 Leg. S. xl 78.
Salamone … That wes the viseste man but dred
1456 Hay I 296/35.
Platoun … that is ane of the wisast philosophouris
1535 Stewart 47164.
For the most pairt, the wysast men of lair Concludit hes richt Robert Bruce full air
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3500.
The wisest men thay ay dissaue
1563 Lennox Mun. 247.
Tak the cownsell of the wyisest men
a1568 Scott xxxiv 25.
The wysest [M. wyisast] woman thairout With wirdis may be wyllit To do the deid … That honour hes exyllit
a1578 Pitsc. I 320/12.
The wyssist man the stoutest man the hardiest man that ewer was brede in Scottland was slaine that day
(b) 1528 Douglas Corr. 130.
Be the avyse and counsale of the maist discreit, wyasest, and maiste grave personageis
1600-1610 Melvill 144.
The wyesest, stouttest, and ableast schippars and mariners
(c) 1561 Inverness Rec. I 57.
The best and vesest brether of his craft
predic. (1) 1375 Barb. i 22.
Thai suld weill hawe prys That in thar tyme war wycht and wys
1375 Barb. viii 162.
a1400 Leg. S. ii 748.
Thai, that wyse war and sle
a1400 Leg. S. vi 210.
The kinge, that hard his dewice & persavit that he ves vyise
a1400 Leg. S. xl 484.
?1438 Alex. ii 83.
Wise he was and debonare, Hardy, kynd, courtes and fare
c1460 Wisd. Sol. (STS) 385.
Quhay may knaw be his wordis quhethir he was vys or nocht, for vysdome schawis nocht in wordis bot in dedis?
a1500 Henr. Prayer 77 (Bann.).
Bot thow sa vyis, devyis to mend this byle Of this mischeif, quha ma releif ws ocht
c1475 Wall. i 362.
He was wis, and of his conseill gud
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 38/21.
Be ȝe so wyis that uderis at ȝow leir
c1540 Lynd. Syde Taillis 118.
Ȝour tail makis sic ane stew That … I may nocht byde it. Ȝe war nocht wyse, that wald nocht hyde it
1562-3 Winȝet II 53/28.
Quhilk afflictioun trewlie, of thair doutsum and euil hung hart, is a medicine of Godis rewth towart thame, gif thai war wyise
1570 Misc. Bann. C. I 47*.
Ye knaw … I was evir mair rashe nor wyse. I can nocht giff yow ane verray wittie consall, bot [etc.]
c1575 Balfour Pract. 273.
Ane justice that is wyse and hes knawlege of the lawis … ane schiref that is wyse and faithful … serjandis that ar wyse, faithful and scharp [etc.]
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 1017 (Wr.).
I, who was not very wise Thought all their tales were true
(b) c1630 Fam. Innes 219.
Yow to whom all your childring ar bond for so waysse and cairfull ane father
(c) 1617 Misc. Hist. Soc. II 253.
For oversieing in generall that ilk man do his dewty … I leve my Lord Montroiss, and the Laird of Inschebraky, the Laird of Duncruib, and the bishop of Dunkell … you four ar voyse inoch
fig. 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 1284.
Emptie pen, write furth thy lustie chance, … suppois thow be not wise, Be diligent and ripelie thé auise
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 325.
He is wis that can make a friend of a foe
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 377.
Bray a fule in a morter he will never be wise
compar. a1400 Leg. S. ii 1012.
Lat hyme cum now to me, & yhe but ire or wreth sall se Hym ourcumyne, suppos he ware Fere wisare
c1400 Troy-bk. i 398.
Scho wes So wele in all the science sewen, That nane was wisser vndre the hewen
?1438 Alex. ii 2413.
To think … Of hir that I here couth se, That wyssyer without affray I sall contene me wele alway
a1500 Lanc. 606.
Visare of his ag is non than hee
1666 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. 3 Ser. I 145.
Such who uear uasier then to ventur ther esteats and layffs in a business which was so rashlie underteakin
superl. 1490 Irland Mir. III 162/6.
The prince sulde consider his frendis and … quha ar lelest quha visest and … has maist experiens in gouernyng
c1500 Fyve Bestes 233.
Wysest ȝe ar quhen that ȝe hald ȝow still
(2) c1420 Wynt. v 1278.
He … made lawys imperialle And wes rycht wis in governalle
1456 Hay I 285/27.
The prince suld be wis in his audience geving
1456 Hay II 74/9.
A clerk … wys in all langagis fand in Grece
c1475 Wall. vi 786.
He was … Plesand and wis in all gud gouernall
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 462.
Ȝit am I wise in sic werk
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 4.
He … wes verry vyis in all his deidis
(3) a1400 Leg. S. ii 424.
Thare prayere can thai may … That God wys thame wald make Peteris banis quhilk war of thai, And quhilk war Pa[u]lis banis alsa
1456 Hay I 79/12.
Quhen he will, he may mak all men wis and paysible
c1475 Wall. viii 580.
Thai maid him wys off all that suttell cace
1630 Misc. Hist. Soc. II 259.
I think that Bachiltowne in the lyk caise … might heve med you wyss be experience this yeir
1650 Falkirk Par. Rec. I 171.
He hes not made the people wys anent the mercie of God

c. ? Sarcastically or dyslogistically. 1570 Bann. Memor. 52.
To bring better tydingis wes direct ane ambassadour of the feminine gener, the lady Northumberland, … With her wer joyned, to give her comfort in the shipe, the vice [Trans. vyse] Lord Seatoune; a meit matche, a Scottis cukcald and ane Inglische messmunger!

d. With non-personal referent: Based on sound judgment or reasoning, skilful, intelligent.(a) c1420 Wynt. viii 1635.
Chargyd wyth wys instructyown … till gyve [up] all band, That John the Ballyoll … aucht till schyr Edwart
1456 Hay I 284/28.
Myn advys is that thare suld na prince … hald felde of bataille in lissis, bot gif he had gude wis counsale of wele understandand men of lawe
a1500 Henr. Fab. 17 (Makc.).
A doctryne wis anewch
1513 Doug. xiii vi 207.
The Latynys, quhilk he spak, With vissage still beheld hym stupifak, Of hys wys gracius answeris wonderand all
1533 Bell. Livy I 4/2.
Of awfull batallis the crafty gouernance, The wise array, the manlie jeoperdie, Ȝe may fynd here
1535 Stewart 1661.
Greitlie he wes amang thame all commendit Of his wyis saying and his sapience
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 113/5.
Bring not hame nor restore not sicc as ye finde standing banished or forfalted be me … ye sall be this uyse forme of doing esheu the inconuenientis that … I fell in
1614 Denmylne MSS in Highland P. III 161.
For his hiechnes wyss derectione to be sent to the consall what manir my frendis schall be relewit
(b) 1686 Dunlop P. III 22.
If I could desyer to submit to His wes despensation
(c) a1578 Pitsc. I 118/11.
The king hearand this wayis counsall tuik cuirage and [etc.]

2. ellipt. and absol.A wise person, chiefly in pl. with def. art. Also compar. and superl.sing. and coll. a1400 Leg. S. xxxv 184.
Antonyus printeise, The worthyaste & the maste wice, Til Hewine dressit hart and sycht
c1420 Ratis R. 1657.
Gret couatice, That baith encumbrice ful & wyce
(b) ?1438 Alex. ii 58.
My brother, the wicht and wise
c1420 Wynt. i Prol. 67.
Bowsumnes, as the wys Sayis, bettyre is than sacrifyis
c1420 Wynt. viii 3249 (W).
Tharfor said Scipio the wis That men suld gif thar innemys Laysere to fle
c1460 Thewis Wysmen 465.
Wys wyll haf al than wyne, Quhilk thai conquest with scham & syne
a1500 Colk. Sow iii 51.
The euwangell the trewtht thairof attestis Goddis awin word quhich tuk frome on fule man A pure penny … And gaif the wys
c1500 Harl. MS 4700 279a.
A lele schireff and a wis
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 206/24.
Few wordis may serve the wyis
1562-3 Winȝet II 16/4.
To the wordis of the wyse apply thi ere
a1586 Maitland Ho. Seytoun 33.
Hew Douglas … ane gud lyk man and ane wyse and ane gydar and counsalour to … Lord George
c1590 J. Stewart 228 § 115.
Gould placith vp the fol abowe the vyis, Gould maks the puir aloft in gloir to ryis
1600-1610 Melvill 525.
This wes thought by all the wyiss and godlie verie prodigious
compar. a1508 Want of Wyse Men 22 (Ch. & M.).
For warldly wyn sik walkis quhen wysar wynkis
1513 Doug. i Prol. 346.
Chauser … couth follow word by word Virgill, Wisar than I may faill in lakar stile
superl. a1400 Leg. S. xi 245.
The wyse[s]t that are with the kyng & the beste spekand ger furth bryng
14.. Burgh Laws c. 107 (A).
The mar or the alderman … sall ger xii of the leillest burges & of the wisast of the burgh suer that [etc.]
c1450-2 Howlat 447 (A).
As worthy, wysest to waile, in worschipe allowit
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 80.
Of thire thre estatis … the wysest gart he cum
1558-66 Knox I 365.
We war counsaled by the wysest to stay the irnes
15… Misc. Spald. C. II 336.
That your hienes wald tak the aduyse of the wyissast of your graceis college of iustice
1600-1610 Melvill 535.
That every Provinciall Assembly chuse out thrie of the wyiseste of thair number
(b) c1590 Fowler II 152/14.
Ane … quho alainerlie dothe governe as the maist vysit of his consiell

B. adv.Wisely, cleverly, with sound judgment.Cf. also Wynt. iv 1970 at Us(e n.1 2 (1) which may belong here. 1375 Barb. xvii 52.
Certis thow wrocht as wis [C. vis] That has discoweryt thé fryst to me

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"Wis adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2023 <>



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