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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.

Prentis, -eis, n. Also: -iss, -ise, -iz, -ice, -ys(e; -es(e, -eiss, -eise, -eize, -eice, -eys, -eish; -ies; -as(s, -ace; prenttis; preantes. [ME and e.m.E. prentiz, -is (14..), -ise (1399), -es (1453–4), pl. prentez (1484), -es (1556), -yces (1577), apprentice, learner, novice, also a barrister (Piers Plowman), aphetic f. apprentice id., OF aprentis, nom. of aprentif f. aprendre v. to learn, 3rd sing. aprent, and -tis (-tif), L. -(t)īvu-s. Cf. mod. F. aprenti, pl. aprentis, also Printis n.] An apprentice, in the usual senses.

1. A learner of a craft; one bound by legal agreement to an employer or master.Also, pl. without inflection.As the second element of a compound in merchand-prentis, s.v. Marchand n. 1 d.To becum or enter prentis (to someone), to take service as an apprentice.Also, to enter (someone) prentis (to another).To be, or becom, b(o)und prentis, to enter into an agreement to serve as apprentice. Also, to bind (someone) prentis (to another).To fyschen (? = Fessin v.) (someone) to prentis, to bind as apprentice.To tak to, also in, prentis, to take (someone) into service as an apprentice.To buke (a) prentis, to imbuke prentis, to register (someone) as (an) apprentice.(1) a1400 Leg. S. iv 40.
He [sc. the sorcerer] send til hym his prentys
1475 Edinb. B. Rec. I 32.
Ilk prentis to pay at his entre to the said altar half a merk
1483 (c 1580) Ib. 48.
It sall not be lauchfull … to ressett … ane vthar mannis prentis … sa lang as he is bunden to his maister
1500 Ib. 82.
All manir of prentice … sall stand in prenteischip for … sevin ȝeirs
1507 Reg. Dunferm. 361.
The said Symon sall haif till his prentys four merkis of siluer and ane chalder of meil till his met and his clathis ilk ȝer sa lang as he is prentys
1531 Edinb. B. Rec. II 52.
That na maister resaif ane seruand that hes nocht bene prentis [etc.]
1545 Stirling Ant. IV 215.
They sal … pay 10 s … .as dewtie for the said prentis and becums suretie for his biding and lawtie
1555 Aberd. B. Rec. I 290.
That … thair be na craftisman maid fre man to vse his craft, except he haf seruit as prentise under ane maister thre yeiris
1558 St. A. Baxter Bks. 10.
The quilk day Jone Myller is admyttit lawful prentis to Thomas Steyne
1560 Rolland Seven S. 917.
Ane page or ȝit ane ȝoung prentyse … may preuaill his maister at the merk
1561 Mill Mediæv. Plays 221. 1561 Crim. Trials I i 410 (see Craftis childer n. pl.). 1584 Acts III 363/2.
That thair be ane commoun buik … quhairin the names of all prentises … salbe insert and buikit
1597 James VI Dæmonol. (S.T.S.) 11/34.
I thinke ye … would faine sweare your selfe prentise to that craft [witchcraft]
1597 Misc. 3 Spald. C. II 37.
The said Lucas his bene prentis to Johnne Urquhart, chirurgeon, … sex ȝeris
1636 St. A. Baxter Bks. 52. 1650 Glasgow Wrights Acts 11.
It salbe leasum to no friman to have ane prentise till two yeiris expyre eftir he himself is maid friman
Ib. 1682 New Mills Manuf. 23.
a 1695 Bk. Pasquils 185.
Lyke prentice taught the trade by ear … In seaven years petship e'er he wrote or spoke
(b) 1473–4 Edinb. B. Rec. I 27.
Gif ony prenteis … passis away fra his maister … within the ische of his termis [etc.]
1483 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. II 104.
That nae maister of the said craft resaue ane new prenteis quhil the first three ȝeirs of the last prenteis he ressauit … be compleatlie outrun
1505 Creswell Royal Coll. Surgeons Edinb. 4. 1518 Perth Hammermen 1 (see Feal(e n. 3). 1558 Peebles B. Rec. I 247.
To exame Gilbert Wilsone … prenteis to Robert Derling, and se gif he be qualifiit to wirk on the lynning lome
1579 Edinb. Test. VII 70.
He … leuis his haill warklumes to his said prenteis
1599 Murray Lyon Hist. Lodge Edinb. 39.
The said Thomas Watt hes his full numer of prenteisses (to wit thrie)
1600 Glasgow Wrights 49.
Nane of the saide craftis sall work ony laubour or work bot that quhilk he was foundit prenteis with at his beginnyng
1647 Writers Signet xxv.
Every wryter to the signet sall gif up the names of thair haill prenteissis and servandis, that thair names may be inrollit in that buik, and ane lytill paterne of thair hand writt insert thairin
1652 Glasgow B. Rec. II 217.
To setle with some honest knyfmaker to be brocht to the towne and to prese his fredome for taking of twa boyes prenteise frie
1671 Murray Lyon Hist. Lodge Edinb. 31. 1684 Peebles B. Rec. II 116.
The magistrats … discharges any of the saids wrights and masons … to brother any prenteise till he be yeir and day att the trade
1689 Falkirk Par. Rec. I 251.(c) 1496 Edinb. Hammermen 17.
Fra Rob Shersmyth for his prentas v s.
1514 Ib. 84.
For thar vpsettis & prentassis xij d.
1525 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I 63.
That the said James sall nocht be compellit to tak ony prentacis or forgearis under him vther than he plesis
(d) 1512 Dundee B. Laws 507.
That na maisters sall tak ane prentese to the said craft [sc. of websters] for les termys than fif ȝers
1521–2 Stirling B. Rec. I 14.
To lyeir the said Males the skennar craft as ane prentes aucht to be lyerit
1614 Edinb. B. Rec. VI 124. 1675 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 292.(e) 1675 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds II 38.
1684 Glasgow B. Rec. III 354.(f) a 1700 Crail Squaremen 1.
uninfl. pl. 1517 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 171.
And that nane of the saidis craftismen seruands boyes nor prenteis thair termes beand rwn mak seruice to ony vther men except the craftismen of the said craft
1536 Edinb. Hammermen 2 b.
That nane maner of thair seruandis prenteis nor vtheris tak vpon hand to be absent fra thar masteris seruice 12 dayis except [etc.]
1624 Glasgow Merchants House 48.
The prenteise qa ver bukit
16.. Crail Squaremen 23.
That no maner of person sall heav tuo prentissis att on tyme with out thier be tuo yieris betwixt the entrie of the aen & vther & that for the … profitt of the prenties
(2) 1473 Edinb. B. Rec. I 27.
Gif ony of the craftsmens sones of the said craft becumes prenteis [etc.]
1525 (1527) Reg. Great S. 96/2.
Ilk persone that becumis prentyse … salbe 5 yeris prentyse and syne ane yeir feman to the maister that takis thaim
1562 Perth Hammermen 95.
Thomas Broun … is become … prenteis to Williame Lathangy … for all the dayis and termes of sevin yeris as prenteis and ane yeir thaireftir for mait and xxxvii s. money of fie
1518 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 46.
The said Wolliem … sall enter prentis to the said Robert
1600 Knoop & Jones Sc. Mason 90.
[Andrew Patten] enterit prenteis to Johne Crafurd his maister
1599 Edinb. Masons 18 Dec.
The dekin & maisteris … promittit to enter Thomas Tailȝefeir prenteis to Thomas Weir
(3) 1483 Acta Conc. I 81/1.
Efter that he was deliuerit til his maistir Robert Broune to quham he is bundin prentis
1531 Edinb. B. Rec. II 53.
That he [be] bund prentis … for ane certane of yeris
1613 Dunferm. B. Rec. II 106.
It is not lesum … to any master of art to exercise tua craftis in his person being only bund prentis to ane craft
1625 Dunferm. Hammermen 59. 1630 Linlithgow B. Rec. 17 Sept.
That na personne be maid frie with the craftis afoir thay be bundin prenteis
1638 Moses Bundle No. 2, 10335 in Bk. Old Edinb. C. XXXI 176.
The saidis Jonet and Elspeth … becomes bund prenteisses and servandis to the said Marioune Campbell
1553 Cart. Northberwic 67.
Thomas … band hymselff prenteis to the said Patrik … for instrukkin hym in all … the poyntis of vrycht craift
1589–90 St. A. B. Ct. 26 Jan.
The said Jhone Chalmeris hes bund the said Jhone Donaldsoun prenteis and serwand to the said James Fyffe
(4) 1563–4 Prestwick B. Rec. 68.
For the wrangus putten away of hyr dochtyr, Katrene McSpadane, quhylk at scho fyschenyt [? for festinit] hyr to prenteys for iiij markis & ane furlot of meyll
(5) 1516 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 39.
The said William sal tak Johne Champnaye … to prentes to lern him his skenarcraft
1607 Inverness Rec. II 53.
William Bruce confesses to hawe tane his sister sone prenteise but licence of the magistratis of the bruche
1682 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS 29 April.
Wherby the said John Muir takes in prenteis John Biglum for six yeires
(6) 1589 Bk. Old Edinb. C. VI 63.
That na prenteice be buikit … excep he pay xx s. for his buiken
1593 Glasgow Weavers 23.
Befoir the imbuiking of the said prenteis the said prenteis [shall] produce his indenture before the dekin and maisteris of craft
1605 Glasgow Trades House 3.
Quhilk daye Johnne Govane is imbuikit prenteis to Patrik Gemmill elder skynner
1651 Glasgow Maltmen 61.
George Grahame … is buiket prenteis with John Fyndlay … quha hes payit for his buiking to the collector fourtie schillings, to the clerke 13/4, and to the officer 6/8
1666 Ib.
Robert Jarvae … is booked prenteis … for the space of five yeirs, and twa yeirs for meit, and his fiet frae Martimes last
(7) 1597 James VI Dæmonol. (S.T.S.) 24/3.
Their practises, fra they be passed prentises
1600 Knoop & Jones Sc. Mason 90.
Enterit as past prenteis to … Johnne Wat

b. attrib. and comb.A prenteistyme, ? seven years.Also possess. with sylver.(1) 1568 Inverness Rec. I 169.
Souerte for his prenteis banket
1609 Edinb. B. Rec. VI 51.
For the dewtie of … ten merk to the prenteis boxe
1531 Edinb. B. Rec. II 53.
Prentis buk
1583 Ib. IV 279.
That na persouns tak or resaue ony prenteissis to be bund to thame without thai enter thair names in the townis prenteis buik
1515 Rentale Dunkeld. (S.H.S.) 294.
[Sharpening the] prenteis [irons during the year]
1516 Ib. 299.
Prenteis [irons]
1660 Edinb. B. Rec. IX 211.
My servant Johne Scott, who hes been with me almost a prenteistyme
(2) 1563 Dumfries B. Ct. fol. 196.
Anents vthir four punds mony ristand awin … It is exonerit for the barnis prenteis feie
1578 Edinb. Test. VI 135 b.
He legat to his naturall sone … ten pundis to pay his prenteis fe to put him to sum craft
1584 Perth B. Ct. 28 July.
Deliuerit … in prenteis fie
1638 Moses Bundle No. 2, 10335 in Bk. Old Edinb. C. XXXI 177.
Tuentie punds … in name of prenteiss fie
1648 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 86.
Euerie craftisman … sall be obleist to receive ane prenteis … but any prenteisfie for learneing and instructing him in his craft
1666 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds I 105.
1519 Aberd. Trades 198.
Entry siller, prenteis siller [etc.]
1565 Edinb. B. Deeds 163 b.
Prenteissis of the said craft [of barber] now commounlie geifis to thair maisteris … of prenteissiluer fourtie merkis
1584 Acts III 364/1.
Prenteis or entres siluer … payit
(3) a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxviii 24.
The prentes boyis ar nocht rewairdit
a1605 Birrel Diary 48. 1686 Lauder Notices Affairs II 700.possess. 1596 Edinb. B. Rec. V 153.
At the futting of his compts of the … prenteissis sylver

2. A disciple or follower. a1400 Leg. S. iii 479.
Thu [Egeas] tak to thé The forme of prenttis
a1400 Leg. S. xxxiv 145.
To Byschope Veron, the haly man & Cristis leile prentyse [L. discipulo Christi] alsa
1570 Sat. P. xxiv 54.
Weill hes thow leird it at the bischoppis lair, Becum his prentise, broderit in his band

3. A novice or beginner; a learner.With quot. Fyve Bestes cf. ME prentyce of law (Piers Plowman) and prentise of court (1399). ?1438 Alex. i 1361.
His straikis ar nocht of ane prentis Bot of the best that leuand is In warld
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) (ed.) 1590.
Thow servis thank, thow art rycht gude pre[n]tis
c1500 Fyve Bestes 181.
Weile couth he cast the bukis of decres Bot tharin no thing had he of his greis, Prentis in court he had bene for a ȝere
a1585 Maitl. Q. xl 15.
I am ane prenteis bot in luif And lak experience
1585 James VI Ess. Title.
The Essayes of a Prentise in the Divine Art of Poesie
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 1150 (Wr.).
Ye'r but a prentise at the pleugh
c1590 J. Stewart 3/10.
Ane ȝoung and imperfyt prentes
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Tyro, a young suddart, a prentise
1604-31 Craig i 4 Epistle.
A blushing and onmanumitted prentice in poesie

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"Prentis n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Feb 2024 <>



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