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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Lenth, n. Also: lenthe, lennth, lentht (-cht), lenht, leanth, lainthe; lenyth(e, lenytht (-cht); lent(t. [North. ME. lenth(e (14th c.), midl. and south. length(e, lenkthe, lenkith etc., OE. lęngðu : cf. Length and Leinth, Linth.]

1. Length in spatial extent or measurement or as opposed to breadth and height; longitudinal extent. Also fig.For several further examples, see Brede n.2 , Bredth(e n.(1) 14.. Acts I. 39/2.
Hydis … that has the eyris and the hornis of a lenth
1456 Hay I. 12/23.
For as … nane can get the mesure of nouthir lenth na brede na depenes [of the sea]
1471 Acts II. 100/1.
Na at na bowar … mak ony speris bot gif thai conten the samyn lentht
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 153/29.
The breid of the erth fra south till north … is scant half sa mekle as the lenth
1616 Conv. Burghs III. 28.
That the lenth of the reill betuix heid and heid sall be halfe elne half quarter long
fig. c1515 Asl. MS. I. 327/26.
The Scripturis … with iiij manere of progressionis that is the hicht the depnes the lenth and the breid
1622-6 Bisset I. 21/14.
Quat lenth, breadth, hecht nor deip, thair [the laws'] poware drawes
(b) 1641 Acts V. (1817) 506/1.
That they [salmon barrels] keipe the rycht jedge both in the leanth of the staves … and deipnes of the chime
(2) 14.. Acts I. 309/1.
The eln aw to conteyn in lenth xxxvii inch
1456 Hay I. 48/22. 1657 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 166.
[They] gave band to [the provost] for restoring alse good ane trie in lenth and square
(3) 1388 Bamff Chart. 22.
The qhuylk toftis haldis of lenthe achttene fal lang and thertene of brede
c1420 Wynt. vi. 1400.
A wound … Four fute off lenth [C. lenythe] and mar
1535 Stewart 15518.
The montanes he and mosses large of lenth
1611 Wedderburn Compt Bk. 56.
Ane pece of narro clayth … of lent 8 ellis 3 quarteris
c1615 Chron. Kings 18.
Ane gritt dyk … of fourtie liggis of lenth
(4) 1457 Acts II. 49/2.
That na woman weir … talys of vnsittande lenthe … bot on the haliday
1675 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. IV. 466.
Being armed with a great pitch fork … of ane extraordinary lenth
(5) 14.. Acts I. 309/2.
Efter the lenth of iii bear cornys
1508 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 117.
Euerye thre cuppillis sall tak the lenth of a … pipe staf
a1538 Abell 52 b.
Dagobard … slew all Saxonis … at wes hechar na the lenth of his swerd
1570–1 Elgin Rec. I. 124.
The penny candill … the deipnes of the lenth of ane bair coirn
a1595 Descr. Isles 429.
Saifand ane small grip of the lenth of twa or thrie pair of buttis

b. Freq. coupled with brede (also bredth, and braidnes, largitude), as in the formula ([land(s] ly(is) in lenth and brede. In, of, on lenth and brede, also = over the whole area or extent (of the thing, district etc. in question).(1) (See Brede n.2 1 for further examples). c1420 Wynt. iii. 946 (C). 1
To pruff the breid and lenythe alsua
(2) 14.. Acts I. 42/2.
The saidis lyneris … sall leilly lyne in lenth as braidnes
1486 Prot. Bk. J. Young (S.R.S.) I. 13.
We fynd the ta part of this land … in lenth and bred 4 rud thre eln and a halff
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1660.
Ten cubitis large he wes of hycht, Proportionat, in lenth and breid, Afferand to his hycht
1590 Burel Pilgr. i. i.
The wood wes gret and wondrous lang, Of lenth and largitude
1607 Melrose Reg. Rec. I. 35.
[The rigs of land] beand baith on ane cavell … suld be equall in breid and lenth
(3) 1480 Rec. Earld. Orkney 332.
The said toft stede and hous … as it lyis in lentht and brede
1524 Selkirk B. Ct. fol. 106 b.
The said rygis … as thai lye in lentht and breid
1551 Reg. Cupar A. II. 70.
As the saidis landis lyis in lentht and breid of all partis
(b) 1422 Stirlings of Keir 208.
Be al rychtwyse markis, marchis, and thair dewyssis, in lenycht and in brede
(c) 1509 Rec. Earld. Orkney 82.
The ix penne land of Saba lyis in ane inskeyft withtin hyttselff in lentt and breyd
(4) 1375 Barb. i. 531.
Alexander … conqueryt … all this warld off lenth and breid, In twelf yher
c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 1559.
Whar hye brayes one ilk a syde Was lyande both one lenth & breide
a1450 Fifteen Ois 63.
Apoun the croce on breid and lenth
c1475 Wall. v. 20.
About the park thai set on breid and lenth With vi hundreth
c1530-40 Stewart Bann. MS. 96 a/11.
Throw the erd in lenth and breid Thow art the most illustir leid
1570 Sat. P. xiii. 63.
The bischoppis … on a croce on lenth and breid him drew
1596 Dalr. I. 174/1.
Al Westmurland and the land neist it he wastes vpe and doune, in lenth and bredth

2. Distance. a. The lenth of, for as far as (the distance specified).See also Lance n.1 1 (3). a1500 Rauf C. 861.
The kene knicht in that steid stakkerit sturely, The lenth of ane rude braid he gart him remufe
1513 Doug. III. ix. 12.
Hys berd Rekand doun the lenth neir of a ȝerd
a1586 Lindsay MS. 33 b.
[The flying fish] hes wingis … the quhilkis berris thame self in the air fleand the lenth of ane cast of ane stane

b. The lenth of, (having reached) to as far as (a specified place). 1646-54 J. Hope Diary (1958) 169.
The wind being faire wee came the lenth of Dort by 5
1651 Sc. Hist. Rev. XXXI. 6.
Her majesty knew of our coming before wee were the lenth of this toune
1675 Inverness Presb. 64.
He sent his wiffe with the child a peece of the way the lenth of the boat of Bonah on the watter of Nesse
1694 Sheriffhall Coal Accompt April 4.
Given out for sincking the first sinck wpon the jowall coall the lenth of the splentie coall being ane double sinck

c. (To come, go, win) this lenth, that lenth, the lenth, the distance involved, to as far as the place specified. 1612 Fraserburgh Kirk S. 9 b (2 Dec.).
[He was not at the burial because] the corps wes tane vp and on the way to Abirdour befoir he cuild win the lenth
c1650 Spalding II. 170.
This Strathauchin behovit to go, and wes haistellie to cum to England. Bot the Parliamentaris resoluit, before he cam that lenth, to haue him quik or deid
1657 Dunbar Social Life II. 79.
I intret you move my brother to com this lenth to speek with me in businesis
1695 Sc. Ant. XIII. 76.
Visitors to go the lenth in the Cannagait that belongs to the N. East parish
1700 Minnigaff Par. Rec. 23.
Jean Dowglas cannot come this lenth, being near the time of child birth

d. fig., to bring one the lenth = so far as to do something. 1661 Red Bk. Grandtully II. 166.
All my indevours … hau at lenth brought me the honor and lenthe to be recorded a sufferer

e. fig., to come a good, considerable lenth, = to make good progress, go far (in some action or affair). 1671 Edinb. B. Rec. X. 99.
His Lordeship haveing spoke with the Erle of Lauderdale … he had comed a considerable lenth in that affair
1695 Falkirk Par. Rec. II. 47.
[They had] comed a prittie good lenth in the matter

3. In the two previous senses in such combinations as acre-, but-, pair of buttes- (But n.2 1 b), elne-, fur-, fure-, spere-lenth, q.v. under the first elements.

4. A person's ‘length’. ?1438 Alex. i. 1860.
His lenth he mesurit in the meid
1590 Crim. Trials I. ii. 202.
The said wich … maid ane graif of your lenth

b. Of a portrait: Full lenth. 1580 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. lxix.
Ane pourtraict of his maiestie full lenth

5. Longitude (astronomical or geographical). 1456 Hay II. 113/17.
Astronomy … is dividit … in first in the … cercleis motives and in the posicioun of the planetis … , and in diversitee of the saignys and in thair lenthis and movementis properies and commouns
1533 Boece ii. ix. 74.
To discrive be instrumentis of astronomy … , the situacion, the lenth and latitude of the samyn [regions]

6. The quality of being long, ‘longness’. Also, prosodic length or ‘quantity’. c1420 Ratis R. 1676.
Fra that fourscore of ȝeris be past … The ryg is growin al of lenth, And lymmys al has tynt thar lenth
1585 James VI Ess. 58.
All lang words hes ane syllabe in them sa verie lang, as the lenth thairof eatis vp in the pronouncing euin the vther syllabes
The lenth of the secound syllable

7. Length or duration of time; also, long continuance or delay.(1) 1375 Barb. i. 15.
Swa that na lenth of tyme [E. tyme of lenth] it let Na ger it haly be forȝet
1461 Peebles B. Rec. I. 142.
Pat Kello efter lang lentht of tym bydin efter a proclam maid at the dur gaif that for dom
1531 Bell. Boece I. 49.
Thir oratouris wrait in thair bukis … the lenth of dayis and nichtis
1587 Acts III. 475/2.
The richt of blood … is [not] tane away be quhatsumeuir lenth of tyme
c1590 Fowler I. 101/114.
Longest lyfe through lenthe of yeares dois shorten but our name
c1650 P. Gordon Brit. Dist. 113.
The lenth of tym befor this should com to pas
(2) a1570-86 Maitl. F. clvii. 56.
Pure commounis can never obtene Ane dayis lenthe with him to speik

b. Of the day or daylight, to be at the lenth, = at its full length, at its longest. 1675 Inverness Presb. 62.
They … intreated the presbytrie to prorogate their visitation to summer when the day is at the lenth, and all the people will be most willing to keip any diet

8. With prepositions, in adverbial phrases. a. At lenth, also at gret, grit lenth, at full length, fully, amply, exhaustively. At gretter, greittar, or, more freq., at mare (more) lenth, at greater length, more fully, etc.(1) c1450-2 Howlat 288.
The trewe turtour … Wrait thir letteris at lenth
1476 Acta Aud. 43/2.
Thar writtis … at lenth sene herde vnderstandin
1497 Halyb. 134.
The prissis … standis in the jornal in the 48 layff at lentht
1512 Treas. Acc. IV. 372.
Contenit at lencht in the said indentur
1533 Douglas Corr. 141.
Sik is I trast the Kingis commisoners hes awtwartist ȝowr mastersip off at lenht
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3474.
That vyce at lenth for tyll declare
1562-3 Winȝet I. 58/25.
Be mony euident demonstrationis at lenthe
1588 Soc. Ant. IV. 425.
I pray your l[ordship] will writ unto me at lenyth quhat ye ar doing
1645 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 39.
Ryplie and at lenth advised
c1650 Spalding I. 223.
Haueing red and at lenth perusit the samen
1659 Stewart Mem. 135.
The duties … at lenth mentionat in the saidis tackis
(b) 1641 Acts V. (1817) 600/2.
At leanth mentionat in the said charter
(c) 1600-1610 Melvill 317.
The King, taking me asyde, … conferrit with me at lainthe
(2) c 1530–40 Misc. Spald. C. II. 191.
As at grit lenht is conteinit in the credence
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1995.
Diodorus … wryttis plane Att rycht gret lenth, of Nynus king
(3) 1549 Corr. M. Lorraine 319.
This berair will schaw … the causis of my tarye at gretter lenthe
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 51.
At Sterling the articles being declared at greittar lenth
(4) 1482 Edinb. Chart. 155.
As at mar lenth is contenit in the samin pouir of procuratory
1511–12 Treas. Acc. IV. 276.
At maire lentht
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 1471.
Quhow at more lenth in holy wryte This dulefull storye bene indyte
1561 Misc. Bann. C. I. 260.
At mayr lent [sic]
1560 Knox II. 74.
Quhilk sall be done in the best maner may be, as at mair lenth consideration sall be had thairupone
1662 Melrose Reg. Rec. II. 2.
As in the said … indorsationes … at more lenthe beires
(b) 1667 Aberd. Council Lett. IV. 317.
As ye will be informit at mor leanth

b. At lenth, at the lenth, in course of time, in the long run, eventually, at last.(1) 1533 Boece xv. i. 575.
This venom … eftir lang tyme huly at lenth gnawand and nyppand the intrellis
1562-3 Winȝet II. 47/7.
At lenthe ȝit othir fel in an wther manis sect
1567 G. Ball. 142.
Grant vs thy strenth … that we may with thé at lenth Ressaif thy joy eternallie
1567 Sat. P. iv. 155.
As the woirme … At lenth the tre consumis
c1568 Lauder Minor P. i. 599.
Couatus men Sall nocht at lenth eschaip ane sorye end
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 53.
To put the King out of his estait, his realm and at lenth out of this erdlie lyff
c 1610 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 195.
[He] wes at lenth … deprehendit
1661 Red Bk. Grandtully II. 166 (sense 2 d above).(2) 1567 Sat. P. v. 23.
Thocht ȝour curage was gude … Ȝe had ȝit irkit at the lenth
1584 Sempill Ib. xlv. 19.
Beggand his breid amonges the boyes, He come to letters at the lenth
1566-70 Buch. Comm. on Virgil Eclogues i. 27.
Sera tamen, at the lenth
a1585 Maitl. Q. xxv. 82.
Quhat it will serve I wait not at the lenth, It may be wyne it may be teint
Ib. lix. 42.
Flatteraris Quha at the lenth will bot the plaine desave

c. At lenth, at the lenth, for a long time, long. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 1786.
Thir twa at lenth togidder did contend, Sa lang at lenth thir twa togidder faucht
Ib. 7112.
My lawtie ȝe haue kend at the lenth

d. In, upoun, at lenth, at, to or of (one's) full length. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2045 (H).
As he wer deid he feinȝeit him … And than vpoun lenth vnliklie lay
Ib. 2165.
The cadgear … of the uolf gat ane sicht Quhair he in lenth lay streikit in the gait
1694 Red Bk. Menteith I. 429.
To cause ane … meassone erect tuo statues of fyne hewen ston at lenth from head to fitt

e. Of lenth, in full, completely. 1456 Hay I. 167/23.
He aw to be payit of the baroune of all his soume of lenth that he war scathit of

f. On lenth, (1) in distance; (2) extended, spread out, displayed openly.(1) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 1233.
Kynrykis seir about Troye wor, That frome it lay nocht fer on lenth
(2) a1500 Henr. Fab. 2518.
The wolf let out his taill on lenth
1513 Doug. ix. ii. 79.
Imagynand … on quhat wys the Troianys fra thar strenth He mycht expell and in plane feild on lenth Mak thame to ische in patent batale place
1533 Boece vi. xv. 218 b.
On nycht birnyng swerdis war sene, and wapynnys glymmering on lenth in the are
a1585 Maitl. Q. lxix. 65.
Thir ladyis bricht on lenthe quhair as they sat Begouthe ane sang

g. At lenth and laser, see Laiser(e n. 5 (2).

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"Lenth n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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