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

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First published 1937 (DOST Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Barne, Bairn, Bern, n. Also: baren, -in, -ein; bairne, bayrn(e, bairen, -in, baern(e; berne, bearn(e, beirn, beirin. [ME. barne, barn (barin), bern, bearn, OE. bearn, ON. barn.]

1. A child as a person's offspring; one's son or daughter. Barnes barne, a grandchild. Tounis barne: see Toun n.(a) c1420 Wynt. iv. 2060 (thai slwe thare barnys). 1456 Hay I. 146/6 (to pas hame to his wyf and barnis); 200/12 (the fader has his barnis under his power). 1474 Misc. Spald. C. V. 23 (five barnys of William Rolland). 1479 Reg. Cupar A. I. 230 (for himself, his wyf and barnys). a1500 Seven S. 5 (he had no barne bot ane). c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 402 (I buskit vp my barnis). 1513 Doug. xi. iv. 101 (onto my child and barn). 1535 Stewart 49775 (mony come with wyffe and barne). c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 307 (my barne, I counsell thé … ). 1557 7th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. 724/2 (all my barnis that ar noder mareit nor benefytit). 1558 Q. Kennedy Tractive 132 (thy wyfe, thy barnis, thy houshald). 1579 Edinb. Test. VII. 220 b (euery ane of my barnes barnes). 1590 Crim. Trials I. 186 (the casting of hir awin barne in ane coilheuch). a 1608 Foulis Acc. Bk. xliv (the natiuities of my fader and off his bareins). 1620 Grant Chart. 320 (to dispone the same to thair barneis).(b) 1549 Compl. 123/31 (to me & wyf and bayrns). c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3995 (thay slew thare propir bairnis). 1562 Reg. Morton I. 10 (sum aysyer way to prowyid ȝour bayrnis). 1581 Stirling Ant. IV. 30 (ane bairne of Alexr. Shortts). 1601 Conv. Burghs II. 119 (for transporting of thaimselffis, thair wyffis, bayrnis, … ). 1636 Misc. Spald. C. V. 226 (to the lairds bairnes in Aberdein). 1664 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 213 (witnesses to any of ther bairnes).(c) a1568 Bann. MS. 137 b/17 (my berne hes of hir awin ane gus … ). 1572 Fam. Rose 261 (iniurie to his wyf, beirinis and famely). 1615 Sutherland Corr. 121 (seing my bearnis ar learning to play). 1639 Misc. Hist. Soc. I. 111 (to my best berne, your suitt heart). 1662 Highland P. III. 9 (a bearne of Donald McKerdie).

b. pl. in figurative or extended use.c1420 Wynt. v. 4663 (Bellyallys barnys). 1456 Hay I. 6/16 (the barnis of Israel). 1533 Gau 40/10 (abone al Adamis bairnis). c1552 Lynd. Mon. 561 (all the bairnis of Israell). 1585 James VI Ess. 53 (the docile bairns of knawledge).

2. A child as conceived or born.(a) c1420 Wynt. i. 1528 (the barnys that scho eftyre bare); v. 593 (he bade wytht barne thai suld hym ma). 1456 Hay I. 295/24 (as moder bringis furth the barne). c1460 Wisd. Sol. 615 (the ded barne, that neuer was borne quyk). 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 174 (shoe was neuer so trubled with no barne that euer shoe bair). 1584 St. A. Kirk S. 519 (Agnes is with barne to Jhone). 1596 Dalr. I. 29/18 (women with barne).(b) 1456 Hay II. 150/28 (that nycht was borne a bairne). 1559 St. A. Kirk S. 24 (sche confessis that sche hais borne ane bayrne). a1578 Pitsc. I. 56 (scho pairtit witht ane deid bairne). 1606 Edinb. Test. XLII. 218 (seing scho is with bairne).(c) 1584 Coll. Aberd. & B. 630 (the berne his wyf was with than).

3. A child or infant; a very young boy or girl.(a)a1400 Leg. S. v. 67 (wiffis and barnys folowit hyr); xii. 427 (in lyknes of a litil barne). 14.. Acts I. 44/2 (he sall chasty hir as a barne wythin eylde). c1420 Wynt. iv. 1598 (barnys off yhowthad); v. 1495 (quhen barnys suld confermyt be); vi. 1073 (men, barnys, and women). 1456 Hay I. 231/9 (the were was begonnyn or I was a barne); 297/7 (thes lands of quhilk the king is a barne). a1500 Doug. K. Hart 656 (barnis ȝoung suld lerne at auld mennis sculis). 1567 Sat. P. iii. 211 (in poetrie I traist ȝow be na barne). 1596 Dalr. II. 278/24 (women, barnes, and citisenis). 1615 Lanark B. Rec. 125 (ane sow eat ane barin in creddill). c1650 Spalding I. 3 (thair younge cheif wes bot ane barne).

fig. c1650 Spalding II. 3.
By persuasioun of his vncle, the Erll of Argyll, he [Lord Gordon] subscrives the covenant and becumis ane good barne
(b) c1520-c1535 Nisbet Mark vii. 22 (that the bairnis be fillet first). 1533 Gau 8/31 (as the guid bairne dois his fader). 1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 354 (the south kirk dur quhair the bairnis ar babtist). 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 281 (thingis devysed to fray bairnes). a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 407 (brunt bairn with fyre the danger dreidis). 1630 Haddington Corr. 169 (a lyflie lyk baern). 1633 Peebles B. Rec. 372 (the parentis of these bairnes). 1664 Kirkcudbright Min. Bk. 204 (to play lyke bairnes at belliblinde).(c) a1400 Leg. S. xxviii. 614 (weman & bernis fele). 1580 Bk. Univ. Kirk II. 465 (baptizeth bearnes privately). a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxx. 108 (he begat the baldest beirnis). a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xxix. 14 (a burning darte that bearne buir). 1600-1610 Melvill 459 (for getting of the bern's name). 1602 Elphinstone Mem. 167 (to my lady and to all the bearnis). 1663 Alford Presb. 22.
It was the asse of a bearne's navell

b. A figure of a child. c 1530 Soc. Ant. II. 349.
A credel and thre barnis maid of claith

4. A child at school or in a choir; a schoolboy or chorister.(a) c1420 Wynt. v. 3379.
Donate than … hys libell wrate That now barnys oysys to lere
1466 Peebles B. Rec. 155.
The inquest fand that … qwha that pwt ony barnys tyll hym [to school] swld pay hym a yerris pament
1535 Soc. Ant. II. 402.
That Sir Patrick Mawchlyn rud preist suld haif four li. xs. for findyn of the barnis and buikis in the queir in the ȝeir
1545 Treas. Acc. VIII. 411.
To the barnis of the quere in spur sylver
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 192.
To repair and vpbig the Sang Scule … sua that the barnis may enter thairto and inhabit the samyn
1555 Peebles B. Rec. 214.
To provide him ane chalmer … to teche his barneis in that redis and writting Ynglis
1600 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 214.
The presentatioune of maister Blais Lowreyis barnes [= pupils]
Provyding the barnes be susteanit within the college
(b) 1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 8.
The bairnis of thys college sal heir na other lessons bot thair regentis
1632 Council and Session Registers of Perth in Row p. xli.
Diligent awaiting and instructing of the bairns in literature and manners … and mutually the bairns duty towards him as their master
1659 S. Leith Rec. 113.
To sustain him [the schoolmaster] in bed and board, and so no to go throw with the bairns per vices to denner and supper
(c) 1537 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 412.
Sir Wilȝame maister of the sang schuyll … sall cause sex bernis of the queir … to conueyne at ane alter
1575 Bk. Univ. Kirk I. 342.
Patrick Dowglas … gave out a pension to a bearn to hold him at the School

5. A youth, young person.c1420 Wynt. ii. 1036 (the barne Ganemede). 1513 Doug. i. vii. 101 (the fey barn [L. puer] fleand). c1530-40 Stewart Maitl. F. cxxviii. 35 (quhone thir bairnys ar baneist frome ȝour king).

6. In possessive (sing. or pl.) barnis, as barnis bell, brod, burde, etc. Also Barnis part. 1491 Treas. Acc. I. 180.
To the prestis of Lythqow for a barnis bwrd
1575 Edinb. Test. III. 384.
Barnis quhissillis
Ib. IV. 2.
Tua dosane of set bairnis bowis
1578 Ib. VI. 331.
Ane dosane of barnes muches
1581 Ib. IX. 129 b.
Ane wob of barnis hosing
1586 Ib. XV. 236.
Thrie dissone of barnis brodis
1594 Ib. XXVII. 299.
Tua bairnes pannis
1595 Duncan Appendix.
Crepundia, bairnes plagues
1620 Edinb. Test. L. 314.
Beidis … and bairnes plaigis
1622 Ib. LI. 153.
Ane dosone of bairnis bellis

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



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