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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Saw, Say, n.2 Also: sawe, sau, sall, sa(a. [ME and e.m.E. saȝe (c1175), sawe (Layamon), sagh, sau(ue (both Cursor M.), saw (1566), say (1602), saye (1614), OE sagu; Say v.1]

1. Something said (or recorded in writing); spoken (or written) material, also, as distinguished from action, in deid and saw; speech; a statement; a report, account or tale. Also to say at saw, to record, put into words; but a say, mere words, a verbal quibble. Also, transf., something sung.(1) a1400 Leg. S. ii 53.
Aymo recordis in his saw That Paule ay fra the cok craw … oysit [etc.]
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 108 (C).
For that he … Resisted than hys sawes [L. verbis eius] ageyne
?1438 Alex. i 1285.
He was weill taucht in deid and saw
c1450-2 Howlat 246 (A).
The haile caus Was said in to schort sawis
1456 Hay I 257/2.
He [sc. God] sais expressely He will nocht the dede of the synfull man. … Than is nocht to presume that He will do again His sawe
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 266.
Schir Spynagrose with speche spak to the king ‘Yone lord [etc.] … ' ‘Hevinly God’ said the heynd ‘how happynis this thing? Herd thair euer ony sage sa selcouth ane saw!’
c1475 Wall. ii 36.
A churll thai had that felloune byrdyngis bar [etc.]. … Quhen Wallas herd spek of that mery saw He [etc.]
a1500 Seven S. 1864.
The master said I ken thai wordis Of his stepmoder that is the saw
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 115.
Quhen that the sound of his saw sinkis in my eris Than ay renewis my noy
1513 Doug. iii i 76.
To myne eris come this saw [L. vox]: ‘Ene, quhy [etc.]’
1560 Rolland Seven S. 997.
Tell me withoutin mony sawis That ȝe speak not the maner and the caus
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. 428/42.
Lord … gar thame mend it Quhome thai offendit In deid or saw
(b) a1585 J. Maitland Maitl. Q. 134/39.
Ȝit so ȝe sall not from thair [sc. detractors'] sayingis saue ȝow Bot gif thay sie ȝe sussie of thair sais [: caus, knawis, wais (= walls)]
(c) 1571 Sat. P. xxix 30.
Ȝour deid is not lyk ȝour say
(2) a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 409.
Mony kynrik to his clame … Maneris full menskfull … Selcouth war the sevint part to say at saw
(3) 1668-9 Fraser Lawfulness Separ. 30.
Some say they do submit to episcopal government in synods because they join with the Presbyterians the same persons that were with them before. This is but a say for it is not the persons but the form of government that gives the denomination to a government
(4) transf. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 38/19.
Be nocht sa lerge unto thir sawis sung

b. In legal contexts: A claim, assertion or agreement; a statement (of a witness, etc. before a court); a sentence (of a court). Also in allusive use. Passing into c. A person's word, indicating commitment or a promise.b. (1) 14.. Acts I 42/2.
Peraventure the ayr walde eftir the fadris disses that suilk gyftis war of na vale. … Suilk saw of the ayre sall nocht be herde be this resoun that the fadre gafe his landis sua in his lege pouste
1433 Aberd. B. Rec. I 389.
Eftir the said proves sawis and deposicionis Richard of Rutherford forspekar of the said Lankyn strekit a borch in Alexander of Kintoris hand
c1460 Regim. Princ. 243 (Marchm.).
The man is blist that dois [baith] dome and law Quhilk quhen he giffis a sentence suthfastly Gerris execute … Not anirly to sele a nakit saw For to Godwart is bot derisioune A bair sentence but execucioune
1531–2 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 118.
Quhat burges deuly put upone the inquiest that revelis menes sawis said thairinto … sal tyne his fredom
(b) 1616 Misc. Hist. Soc. II 207.
He brings … no prooff safe his simple or naked saa or dixit
(c) 1407 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 65.
Gif it happyn … that he … be nocht assethit of his payement fullily at the say conteignit in owre obligacons
c1500 Harl. MS 4700 fol. 282a.
The tennent aucht … till haif tane lauchfull witnes … before ane juge … for his nakit sall [Balfour Pract. 208, say] is nocht aneuch in that mater
(2) a1568 Bann. MS 256a/27.
Thocht my sawis haif no seillis I sall leir hir to fan
c. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2282.
Ane lord and he be leill … His sau is ay als sickker as his seill
c1475 Wall. x 229.
Thocht ane off thaim be fals in till his saw
a1568 Bann. MS 52a/93.
Lat ay ȝour deid follow ȝour saw
Ib. 239a/2.
Sueit hairt sen I ȝour freind only wes ay I windir quhy so fremmitly ȝour say Frome me away ȝe do attray

d. A prophecy. 1375 Barb. iv 260.
And said till hyr thir thre wers … Rex ruet in bello [etc.]. … This wes the spek he maid perfay And is in Inglis toung to say, ‘The king sall fall in the fechting [etc.] … ’ This is the sentence off this saw That the Latyn gan hyr schaw
1513 Doug. vi i 140.
Thi [sc. the Sybil's] secret sawis and thi propheceis Endite of my kyn and genolegy I sal gar kepe

2. A sententious saying; a piece of advice cast in a traditional form, a maxim, a proverb.(a) a1400 Leg. S. vii 653.
Fore it is sad in elderys saw ‘Ful harde is hungyre in hale maw’
Ib. xii 376.
Knawlage … of the prophetis the sawys
c1420 Wynt. v 1498 (W).
It is said in commone sawis That mastry mawis the medow doune ay
Ib. viii 657 (R).
For-thi haldis clerkis be thare sawe That custwme is the tothir lawe
1492 Myll Spect. 281/19.
My deir sone, … enprent thire sawis of thire haly and wys men in thi mynd
1535 Stewart 5837.
As it is said in mony suithfull saw, Far ethar is to hald nor for to draw
1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 236.
Now fynd I trew the saw quhilk Dauid said: [etc.]
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus i 491. a1568 Scott i 193.
Giffe sawis be suth
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xv 84.
& gyf ȝe wil kene this thinge Clethe ȝow [etc.] … quhen the paianis hard this sa [: ay] Thai sad [etc.]

3. ? Language or idiom, a particular language or ? a further example of 1 above. c1420 Wynt. i Prol. 30.
Set I myne intent … Fra that I sene hade storis sere In cronnyklys quhare thai wryttyne were Thare matere … to drawe Off Latyne in tyll Ynglys sawe

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"Saw n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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