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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Methe, Meith, Mith(e, n.1 Also: meth, meithe, meyth, meath(e, myth. [Perh.ĭ chiefly f.ĭ Methe v., which would also account for the usual vowel; but cf. also ON. mið n. ‘a fishing bank; banks out at sea marked by prominences or landmarks on shore’ (Cleasby-Vigfusson). Only Sc.]

1. A boundary marker. = March n.2 4. Also fig.See Mark n.1 1 a and Stob n. for further examples. 1494 Acta Aud. 195/2.
The distructioun of the merches and methes betuix [etc.]
1524 Hist. Pluscardyn 238. c1575 Balfour Pract. 534.
Gif the meithis and merchis of ony landis … be castin doun
Ib. 535. 1580 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 177. 1655 Ib. VIII. 373.
And to caus sett in stones for meiths quher they ar wanting
1682 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. 22 Apr.
To make wp ane heid rig to be ane march and meith in tyme comeing
1699 Fountainhall Decis. II. 33.
The muir was divided betwixt them by fixed meiths and marks
fig. 1691 Farther Vindic. 12.
It were a good office of the highest import to shew any meaths or marks for finding out the marches between the civil and eccesiiastick authority

b. A boundary of a property etc. = March n.2 3. Chiefly, and ? orig., plur. with sing. or collective sense.Also fig. = Limit(s), restriction(s), means of constraint.Common f. the late 15th c. Freq. coupled with synonyms, for which see March n.2 3.(1) plur. (a) 14.. Acts I. 57/2.
Be certane methis and merys
1492 Fam. Rose 159.
To compel Huchone Ros … to consent to the perambuling and divising of the methis and boundis of the landis of Kilrawak
1540 Acts II. 379/2. 1553 Prot. Bk. R. Lumsdane MS. 14 b.
Thir methis & merchis following to be the methis & merchis of the forsaidis landis
1557 Reg. Cupar A. II. 129. 1576 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 27.
To … cognosce the rycht methis, boundis and mercheis of this burght
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i. 11.
1615 Lanark B. Rec. 124.
1619 Crim. Trials III. 476. 1664 Fraser P. 158.(b) 1496–7 Acta Conc. II. 63.
It can nocht be understand be the lordis the meithis nor devisis of the saidis landis be ressone that thai ken nocht [the] ground
c 1536–7 Rec. Earld. Orkney 222.
Be all right meiths merchis old and dewydit as the samein lythes [etc.]
1537 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 366. 1566–7 Reg. Privy S. V. ii. 339/2.
And as the meithis of the said eist thrid pairt … now ar
1568 Grant Chart. 387.
Discendand … be the meithis and merchis wnderwrittin
c1575 Balfour Pract. 25.
Na thing may be … apprehendit within the meithis and marchis of kirk landis bot [etc.]
1579 Acts III. 144/2.
In causis of perambulatioun na personis be ressauit … bot honest … men … quha knawis best the meythis of the saidis landis
1579 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 124.
To vesy thair meithis and boundis … on horsbak
1657 Peebles B. Rec. II. 40.
To meit with the laird of Prestoungrange … for setting the meiths betuixt the toun and him
1678 Dunblane Synod 137. 1685 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds II. 266 (6 March).
Boundit in meithes within the town of Culdoch
1688 Hawick Arch. Soc. (1868) 36/1.(c) 1552 (c 1650) Dundee B. Laws 15.
The land or annuall [to be] designit be the bunds and mithes at the lest
1613 Fife Synod 73.
The manses and gleibis … with thair marches and mithes
(d) 1666-74 Fraser Polichr. 184.
If they keept not their own meaths and marches
(2) 1606 Bentinck Dornoch 168.
sing. The said litle hill … to be ane proper meithe and merche of the saidis toune … and kirklandis forsaidis
1668 Lauder Jrnl. 187.
The bray of the Wester Hill, which is the meith between Braid and Mortonhall
(3) 1605-6 Welsh Forty-eight Serm. 518.
fig. There are marches and meithes set down, and there are marks of them to whom this comfort belongeth
1697 Brown Suppl. Dict. Decis. IV. 370.
The discharge being prior to the subscribing the contract there was no meith to secure the liegis in bargains, if treaties and communings were made a rule, seeing they may depend long

c. A boundary or frontier, more generally. = March n.2 1 and 2. 1552 Reg. Privy C. I. 121.
Thair to treit … upon the marchis, methis and boundis of the said Debatabill
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Schireff.
Ane scheire … is an part of land … seperate be certaine meithes & marches from the rest

d. The natural and normal limits of a stretch of water; a shore or bank. = March n.2 5 a. 1533 Boece xiii. vii. 513 b.
Ane haisty spate of suddane rising of watteris passing the iuste methis and boundis

2. Appar. transf. and fig. uses of the literal sense ‘landmark, leading-mark’ (recorded only later: see sense 4 and cf. Mark n.1 1 d).a. 1513 Doug. x. xiii. 45.
By Douglas applied to a triumphal pillar or ‘trophy’. I awow … In syng of trophe or triumphall meith My lovit son Lawsus forto cleith With spulȝe

b. A point of reference, an indication, a guide. 1533 Bell. Livy I. 45/33.
And than [the diviner] tuke ane signne or meith in his mynde als fer as his ene mycht suffice to behald
1700 Fountainhall Decis. II. 77.
Whether she was also kept by them in clothes … of if she was used as a servant … to the effect they might have better meiths how much to modify yearly

3. In Douglas, chiefly rendering L. mēta, in various senses of that word.a. A turning-post in a race. = Mark n.1 1 b. b. fig. The terminus, end, limit of a life or of anything running a temporal course. c. plur. = A temporal course; the course or path of a heavenly body.a. 1513 Doug. v. iv. 1.
Wyth this thai gan towart the meyth approche [L. metamque tenebant]
b. 1513 Doug. x. viii. 86.
The dait and methis approchis of hys eild [L. metasque dati pervenit ad ævi]
Ib. xiii. i. 68.
Now of all sik furour … The lattir meith and term is present heir
Ib. xii. ix. 109, xiii. v. 45.c. 1513 Doug. v. i. 45.
Gif I remembir the methys of starnys weill
Ib. xiv. 16.
Be than the donk nycht had run almaist evin His myd cours or methis [L. mediam cæli … metam] in the hevin

4. a. A sea-mark. = Mark n.1 1 c. 1580 Dundee Chart. No. 71.
Vnderstanding that the … counsall of the said burgh … haif inbrocht … ane great nvmer of twnis and meathes quhilkis thai ar to imput and place at the entrie of the said rever
For the intertenyment and vphald of the saidis twnis and meathes
1602 Decreet in Adamson Muses Thr. ii. 50.
For placing of the tuns in the water mouth of Tay, as marks, meiths & signs for demonstrating the perils and dangers there
1612 Conv. Burghs II. 362. 1613 Ib. 387. 1676 Ib. III. 696.

b. A landmark for sailors. 1701 Brand Orkney & Shetl. 145.
The House of Mey … is a myth, sign or mark, much observed by saillers in their passing through this firth

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"Methe n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Nov 2022 <>



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