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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Na, adv.3 [North. ME. na (1228), midl. and south. no (13th c.), special use of Naadv.2 and conj.1 In the mod. dial. the regular word of negation or contradiction is na, naa, naw, of which this is the earlier representative. The phonol. history is therefore irregular, but possibly the treatment is similar to that of the widespread eastern and central Scottish treatment of quha and twa, i.e. with the vowel not undergoing the regular fronting and raising by the Great Vowel Shift. In contrast with the synonymous Nay, instances in rhyming position do not occur in our collections, which suggests a lack of suitable rhyming words.]A word used in answering a question, or, chiefly, contradicting a statement or rhetorical question, rejecting a suggestion or refusing a request, to express negation, dissent, denial or refusal:

No. = Nay adv.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xvi. 495.
‘Na,’ sad thai,, we wil nocht spare Bot kyste hyr owt'
Ib. xxix. 600.
Thane cane thai at hym hertly spere … Gyf he wist quhare he was … ; He sad, ‘Na’
Ib. xli. 126. ?1438 Alex. i. 329, ii. 6315, etc. c1420 Ratis R. 1051.
Gif dysspyt at vantone wyll That hop and resone sais na tyll
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1030 (H).
‘Na, be Sanct Bryde,’ quod he, ‘me think it better [etc.]’
a1500 Rauf C. 79. a1500 Bk. Chess 1200. a1500 K. Hart 215.
I sall nocht sit … and se thame … Discomfit clein my men … ; Na, we sall wrik ws on ane vther wys
a1500 Seven S. 1347.
Scho said, Na, douchter; do nocht sa
Ib. 2708.
Knaw ȝe nocht me than? said the King. Na schir, said thai, Bot of a thing [etc.]
Ib. 124, 865, etc. c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 98. 1513 Doug. vii. v. 32. a1540 Freiris Berw. 90. 1570 Sat. P. xxiv. 32. 1596 Dalr. II. 75/4. a1599 Rollock Wks. I. 435. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 349.
He gangs earlie to steal, that cannot say na
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1749.(2) a1500 K. Hart 487.
Na na this cowartnes sall nocht betyde
1513 Doug. i. Prol. 24.
Quhy suld I than … With bad harsk spech … Presume to … contyrfate sa precyus wordys deir? Na, na, noth swa, bot [etc.]
1562-3 Winȝet I. 9/21.
Na. na, trewlie; sen the veritie [etc.]
1571 Bann. Trans. 179.
Now brethren, may I not speir at you, … fayth, houpe and charitie … gif they be auctorised amonges the thrie esteatis; na, na, brether, na
1587-99 Hume 104/51. 1682 Peden Lord's Trumpet 20.(3) c1420 Ratis R. 1115.
To wyt quhat is na & ȝa
1551 Hamilton Cat. 62.
Bot your talking sal be, ye ye, na na
1613 Cramond Ch. Aberdour 9.
After … lawful tryell of his knowledge … they may say yea or na to his admission

b. To say na til, to deny or refuse (one). —c1420 Ratis R. 1051 (see Nay adv. 2 b).

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"Na adv.3". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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