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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Preci(o)us, Preti(o)us, adj. Also: preci(o)us(s)e, -iouxe, -ios, -ieous, -iows, -y(o)us, -yows, -eous, preacious; pretiouse, -ioux, -ieux, -yows, pratious; prisious. [ME and e.m.E. precious(e (c 1290), -ios(e, -ius, e.m.E. also pretious (1578), OF precios (mod. F. précieux), L. pretiōsus.] Precious.

1. Of great price; having a high value; costly. a1400 Leg. S. xii 249.
The Magdalayne … brocht a preciuse vnyment, Til ennownte hyme
Ib. xvi 111.
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 753, 755 (C).
And all thar ryches preciouse … And preciouse thynges all had away
c1420 Wynt. vii 2077 (R).
All the jowellis pretyows [C. preciousse, W. precius] Off seculare or relygyows [etc.]
Ib. iii 830.
Precyous [C. preciousse]
1456 Hay II 128/28.
Grathit with precious jowalis
Ib. 122/3, etc. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 5709.
Ouresett with stanis of pretius perry
a1500 Henr. Fab. 69 (Makc.).
1490 Irland Mir. I 154/11.
The ark … maid of noble and precius burdis
Ib. MS fol. 239 a.
As the noble balme that is myngit with the oile is precius in odoure sauour and suetnes
a1500 Colk. Sow ii 233.
Thairfoir hald nocht pennyis our pretious
a1500 K. Hart 100.
So precious that it prysit wes but peir
1491 Acts II 230/1.
& vtheris prisious jowellis to grete avale
1492 Myll Spect. 275/15.
Lyk as the precius entyrmentis prouokis men to the syn of lechory
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 374 (Ch. & M.).
In precius [pr. precnis] wedis
1513 Doug. i xi 35.
The precyus mantill
Ib. ii xii 7.
Precyus geir
Ib. ix vi 120.
And mekill precyus war
a1538 Abell 70 a.
For our precius clething
Ib. 113 a.
He gart mak the gret & precius eucharist
15.. Clar. v 1626.
1563-72 Ferg. Tracts 42.
Nor cast any mo of our pretious pearles before your filthy swyne
1582–3 Perth B. Ct. 1 March.
With preceous perlis and stanis
1596 Dalr. I 7/7.
And mony pretious things of woll are mekle helpet
c1610 Melville Mem. 315.
Gold and pretioux fourringis
1633 Justiciary Cases I 215.
Set with diuers pretious diamondis or rubeis
compar. 1603 Philotus lx.
As purest gold is preciouser nor glasse

b. Freq., precious stane (stone), a gem.For precious jowell, see preceding section. a1400 Leg. S. vi 278.
With brycht & schenand preciuse stanys, As sardiane, topias fyne
c1420 Wynt. v 720.
The byggyng … anowrnyd was, … Wytht sylvyr, gold, and precyows stane
c1460 Wisd. Sol. (S.T.S.) 80.
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) (ed.) 1866.
1494 Loutfut MS. 10 b.
A rycht worthy precious stane callit the topasse
1502 Treas. Acc. II 149.
To mak precious stanes
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxxv 62.
Empryce of prys … Brycht polist precious stane
1513 Doug. i ix 136.
Precyus stonys
15.. Clar. iii 1147.
1566-70 Buch. Comm. on Virgil Æn. i 654.
And pretious steanis
a1578 Pitsc. I 359/24.
Sett witht pratious stouns
Ib. II 6/6.
1602 Colville Paraenese 115.
1622-6 Bisset II 435/17.

2. Of great moral, spiritual or other non-material worth.Freq. said of the body or the blood of Christ.(1) a1400 Leg. S. i 232.
I ame … Goddis … precious hurde
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 206 (D).
O thing full mekle werteous Ande for to seyne rytht preciouse
c1420 Wynt. v 5319.
Men ar … Throwch Crystys passyowne precyows boucht
Ib. 5304. c1420 Ratis R. 1790. c1450 Cr. Deyng (S.T.S.) 11.
Fore ded … is mar preciouxe and worthy
c1450-2 Howlat 109 (A).
I haue appelit to ȝour presence precious & pure
1456 Hay II 114/7.
Thy hele, the quhilk is … maist preciouse for thé [etc.]
Ib. 133/13.
It is a precious thing to be of gude abstinence and [etc.]
Ib. 142/21. 1490 Irland Mir. I 46/6.
Sa precious is it our all medicyne agayn poysoun
1494 Loutfut MS. 32 a.
& of him sprang precious & noble vertues
c1500-c1512 Dunb. l (O.U.P.) 168. 1513 Doug. i Prol. 23.
Sa precyus wordys deir
1533 Gau 84/33.
Oder papis prayers hes beyne haldine mair precious na our lord Iesus Christis prayer
1533 Boece 371 b.
Kenneth causit the fatale chyare … be brocht … to Gowrye … as an precios jowell
1549 Compl. 1/5.
The precius germe of ȝour nobilite
Arundel MS. 252/405.
Thi precius name
a1568 Bann. MS. I p. 6/12.
Thow art till Him most deir, Most pretius and principale but peir
Ib. 33 b/3.
Thy precius crewell woundis
1568 Skeyne Descr. Pest 23.
As ane maist pretious thesaure quhilk seruis not onlie for preseruatioun fra the pest [etc.]
1588 King Cat. App. 26 b.
To hawe died ane maist pretious deathe
1602 Colville Paraenese Ep. 37.
To hurd vp … so pretieux a iouell [sc. the Catholic religion] vithin [etc.]
1644 11th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. vi 55.
Thinking on that is more pratious
(2) a1450 Fifteen Ois 255.
With thi precius blude
1456 Hay I 105/3.
With his awin precious blude
Ib. 157/15. 1490 Irland Mir. I 123/31. ?a1500 Dewoit Exerc. 109.
Ȝour precius body
c1500-c1512 Dunb. ix 145.
Thy precious feit to kiss
Ib. 151.
Thy precious body in breist or I ressaif
1535 Stewart 50902.
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 114/12, etc.
1561 St. A. Kirk S. 81.
1600 Hamilton Facile Tr. 385.
This giltines of Christis pretious bodie and bluid
1600-1610 Melvill 363.

b. Applied to persons: Worthy, noble, estimable. c1450-2 Howlat 81 (A).
That is the plesant pacok precious & pure
Ib. 524 (B).
And pete of the pretius [A. prys] knycht that wes in pane thore
1456 Hay II 77/5.
The soveraine precious God almychti mot conferme thee
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1127.
The king precious in pane
a1500 Seven S. 1620.
Virgile that precious clerk but peire
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxi (O.U.P.) 33.
O precius mergreit
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii 953.
Thy actis pensit the far mair precious

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"Precius adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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