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

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First published 1983 (DOST Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Or, conj.1, prep.1 Also: ore. [ME. (c 1220) and e.m.E., corresp. to north. ME. ar(e (see Are adv. 1 b); orig. a compar. adv. with the form of a positive, ON. ár ‘early’.It seems possible that the Sc. form in o rather than a has the same explan. as the o in lord (Lord n.) and occas. forms such as mor(: befor) at Barb. x. 199 and elsewhere in early Sc.verse.] = Before prep., conj.

A. conj. 1. Before, in various precise applications.Also or that and befor (afor) or.a. As a simple temporal conj.: Previous to the time that.See also Lang adv. 1 a (6) and Long adv. (3).(1) 1375 Barb. i. 535.
Bot or he deit, his land delt he
a1400 Leg. S. iv. 154, xvii. 159. ?1438 Alex. i. 738. c1420 Wynt. iv. 2046.
The Romanys … Or thai to fecht arayid wes, Brak apon thame suddanly
1456 Hay I. 231/9.
Or I was a barne
a1500 Peblis to Play 11.
All the wenchis of the west War vp or the cok crew
1461 Liber Plusc. I. 285.
Or lang time by pas
a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 544.
Than swounit scho oft or scho culd refrane
1480 Reg. Great S. 310/1.
Or the dispensatione cum hame
a1500 Seven S. 1175. 1505 Treas. Acc. III. 102; etc. 1513 Doug. x. v. 171.
Lat ws … recontyr our fays or thai land
1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 78. 1581 Lanark B. Rec. 82.
Or winter cum
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 357. Ib. No. 911. 1599 Rollock Wks. I. 324.
Or the half-hour be past
1600-1610 Melvill 135. 1606 Laing MSS. I. 106. 16.. Hist. Kennedy 9.
Bot or he gatt the samin performitt, the abott deitt
(2) a1500 Henr. Fab. 2898 (Bann.).
Or owthir of thame wist He claucht his cluke betuene thame
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 200. c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxxii. 51.
Sone cumis wo or thay be war
1513 Doug. ii. iii. 72. Ib. v. xiv. 58. a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxvii. 55.
Be war we may be wolterit or we witt
(3) ?1438 Alex. i. 182.
Or that thay cum to the citie
Ib. ii. 7992. c1420 Wynt. ii. 871.
The Scottis cummyn were … In Scotland or that God was born
1439 Acts II. 54/2.
That our said soueryne lord deces or that he cum to his said eld
c1475 Wall. i. 265.
Or that thow cessis
Ib. iv. 262. 15.. Clar. ii. 685. a1540 Freiris Berw. 331 (M). 1558 Admir. Ct. Bk. 81.
And or that thai mak viage it happinis the marinar to fall seik
(4) 1388 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 12.
That so [= she] had befor or we come thair
1480 Acta Conc. I. 72/1.
Johne had the proffit of the seide of the ȝere before or it was tane fra him
c 1528 Bk. O. Edinb. C. XI. 116.
To the maser at kepis the dur before or the lordis enter in the consell hous
1598 St. A. Baxter Bks. 55.
Befoir or it be lesum [etc.]

b. Implying a delay or postponement of the action of the subordinate clause until after that of the principal clause: = And only after that, and not until then; until, in the end; but eventually.(1) 1375 Barb. i. 297.
Bot wondirly hard thing fell Till him, or he till state wes brocht
Ib. xiii. 624 (E). a1400 Leg. S. vi. 115.
Ore he ȝed avay
Ib. xix. 15.
Ore I blyne
Ib. xl. 69.
Or he wald irke
Ib. xvii. 61. 1398 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 38.
Swa that or thai depart forthir fra the marches thai sal mete at a certain day
c1400 Troy-bk. i. 65, 198. ?1438 Alex. i. 219.
Bot or we dee … Our deidis sall be sauld full dere
Ib. ii. 126. c1420 Wynt. i. 1584. 1483 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I. 48.
That all vnfre hammermen … cum to the maisteris … or he be maid maister
1499 Halyb. 161.
Paid for xij dayis that the schout lay in Zelland or he coutht be lossit
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 215/5.
The Pictis regnit im lxj ȝere fra thai began or thai war distroyit
1503 Lanark B. Rec. 12. c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 137. 1531 Bell. Boece I. lvi.
That dippit thaim [shoes] first in the watter or thay put thaim on
1533 Boece i. vi. 45.
Saying, or thai recounterit in batell ane commonyng was nedeful
15.. Clar. i. 1281.
Than or we grant Ȝow grace ȝe mon all thre mak aith [etc.]
1543 Reg. Morton II. 283.
That or it come to the desputatioun of the caus that [etc.]
1583 Sempill Warning xviii.
Thair will be mair ado or that be done
1570 Canongate Ct. Bk. 150.
The said Agnes … promeist to big the loft … or scho ressavit ony maill thairfoir
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 219 (L).
Bot lang mycht I haiff luikit so Or Cupide cum agane
1588 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 38.
It wes very lait at evin or thai com hame
c1590 Fowler II. 77/16. 1598 James VI Basil. Doron 195/1. 1615 Highland P. III. 224.
I wow to God, or I liwe the contre, I … sall [etc.]
1616 Misc. Hist. Soc. II. 249. 1629 Black Orkn. & Shetl. Folklore 76.(2) 1375 Barb. iv. 660 (C).
Bot feill anoyis thoill ȝhe sall Or that ȝour purpos ende haf tane
c1460 Thewis Wysmen 174.
Thar ȝha is ȝhai, thar nay is nay, Thai wys thaim weill ore at thai say
a1500 Lanc. 1233.
Or that I pas that … I may kys the knyght
a1568 Scott xxiii. 44.
And luik weill for remeid Or that thow luve agane
(3) 1456 Hay I. 285/31.
The prince suld … wele … understand all the mater before or he geve his consent
a1500 Seven S. 489.
And ȝit befor or he wald found Sa gret he for his gud grewhound
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xc. 55.
Thairfor be wys afor or thow thair cum

c. Indicating that the action of the principal clause is needed in order to avert that of the subordinate or may serve to do so: = Lest, in order that … not.(1) ?1438 Alex. ii. 3796.
The Bauderane drew his feiris on ane To kepe the poun or he war tane
Ib. 4372.
Keip ȝour honour or it fall!
a1487 Gud Wyf & D. 104.
Than war it bettir forsee the ill Or sic mysfortoun fall thame till
a1500 Henr. III. 165/85. a1500 K. Hart 673.
Be war or ȝe be wa
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 235.
Cry grace, tykis face, or I thé chece and sley
1567 G. Ball. 131. 1570 Sempill Sat. P. xii. 175.
Mak of the towne and cow thame downe Now or ȝour curage cule
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. ii. 52. 1626–7 E. Melville in Sel. Biog. I. 353.
Lord, tak us away in mercy or we be a blot to that professioun
(2) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 869.
Her for to help … Or that scho fall handes in-till That hyr defoule … will
a1568 Scott iii. 19.
Be verry war or that thay wit ȝour myndis

d. (Fear, to fear) lest (some misfortune befall). c1475 Wall. i. 272.
That gud man dred or Wallace suld be tane
Ib. 346. a1500 Seven S. 1282.
For dreid or that ȝe be miscarijt

e. Indicating that the action of the subordinate clause, which might have been expected to precede that of the principal clause, has not done so: = Although … not. 14.. Acts I. 336/2.
That thai mak schone … of the lethir or jt be barkit
1616 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 140.
Or caus callit they have fled the feild

f. Indicating that the action of the subordinate clause is an outcome or result of that of the principal clause: = And so as a result. a1568 Scott iv. 78.
Sum gois so gymp in gyis Or scho war kissit plane

2. a. Accompanied (usu. preceded) by an adverb or adverbial phrase of time, espec. lang or, long before.For examples of lang or etc., see Lang adv. 1 a (5) and (7), Lang-time adv. phr. a (2).(1) c1450 Cr. Deyng (S.T.S.) 74.
The quhilk was confermit … or Cryst was borne mony a hunder ȝher
1490 Irland Mir. I. 140/7.
xlvj dais ore the saule be creat and put in jt
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 161.
He knew of the deid doing thre or four dayis or it was done
1588 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 40.
Ane nicht or twa or ye cum from Edinburgh
(2) c1420 Wynt. ii. 833.
Thre hundyr [etc.] … yhere beforn Or Jhesu wes off Mary born

b. Or ever, before ever, even before. 1375 Barb. xvi. 429 (E).
For Douglas suddanly … Or euir thai wyst wes in thair rout
1389 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 16.
That the forsayde Doncane is oblyst … vnder the payne [etc.] … or euer thai be herd before ony juge
?1438 Alex. i. 3036. 1456 Hay I. 21/28.
Sanct Petir was thare sevyn ȝere duelland or ever he duelt in Rome
a1500 K. Hart 412.
Or euir he stint
1528 Lynd. Dreme 163.
Or euer I wyste
1546 Reg. Privy C. I. 40. 1551 Hamilton Cat. 262.
Thow knawis quhat we mister or evir we oppin our mouth to ask Thé
a1578 Pitsc. I. 95/20. Ib. II. 39/29.
Sayand they … sould be revengit wpoun his cruell tyrannie or ewer they ceissit
1596–7 Misc. Spald. C. I. 89.
And or ewir thow was at the stair futt, the barn … becom als wak as ane pair of glwffis
1601 Dundee Shipping P. 74.
Or ewer he gat onnay mor

3. Indicating a preference: Sooner than, rather than. 1375 Barb. ix. 595 (E).
In awentur to dey He wald him put or he wald fley
a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii. 136.
That we sal bryne thé and al thine Or we ma of oure barnis tyne
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 511. a1500 Seven S. 1456. c1490 Porteous Noblenes 175/24 (Asl.). 1535 Stewart 35350.
Or tha wald thoill so grit ane schame and lak
1619 Innes Early Sc. Hist. 522.
For everie honest minister … will rather leave thair ministrie or thay yield … to the bischopis
1624 Peebles B. Rec. I. 365.
The devill be amang the provest and bailyeis or I be thair burges

b. With compar. advs. expressing a preference in the principal clause, as better, erar, lever, rather.(1) a1500 Peblis to Play 187.
Johne Niksoun … Had lever haue giffin ane ox Or he had cuming in that cumpanie
c1490 Porteous Noblenes 175/24.
Fer better … to suffre … the terrible pane of martirdome or covatis suld ourcum his hie honour
a1500 Bk. Chess 575. 1513 Doug. v. iv. 131.
Or thai thar lawd suld loys … Thai had far levir lay thar lyfe in wage
Ib. xii. xi. 68.
Or thai stervyn men suld rathar fle?
1560 Rolland Seven S. 793. 1561 St. A. Kirk S. 86.
Or I war not revenged … I had lever renunce my part of the Kyrk of God
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 139. c1590 Fowler I. 99/68. 1622 Crim. Trials III. 525.
I rather ȝe and my hussie baith … war brunt or ȝe get my dog!
1676 Welsh Gospel Summonds Pref. 2.(2) 1549 Corr. M. Lorraine 299.
And haid rathar or we lewit the lyf that we lewe in this contrie pas in ane uther realme
1567 G. Ball. 135.
Rather or thow suld ly in paine
1586 Rait & Cameron King James's Secret 58.
Rather or I sustein the Kings vrathe, I mynd to accept the commission
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 259. 1607 Highland P. III. 105.(3) 1562-3 Winȝet I. 26/4.
That erar or I condemnit of idolatrie Hierome and Augustine … that I had levir be banissit furthe of Europe

c. Following other or a compar. adj. in the principal clause: Than. 1513 Doug. v. viii. 88 (E).
Felis thow nocht ȝit … Othir strenth or mannis force has delt with thé?
a1650 Row 500.
The Marques of Hunteley obtained more subscriptions … in the toune and shyre of Aberdeen and Bamff or any other

b. prep. Before.With various objects.See also Lang adv. 1 a (5).(1) 1375 Barb. x. 206 (E).
Or day thai enbuschyt war
Ib. xx. 607.
It wes neuir or his day Sa weill
c1450-2 Howlat 117.
Or elles … I de Or myne end daye
Ib. 734.
Ordanit or Adam
c1475 Wall. i. 372.
Or nowne
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 796. a1500 Lanc. 1885.
As has ben hard or this
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 346.
That neir my baret out brist or the band makin
1508 Reg. Privy S. I. 259/2.
Or now
1513 Doug. iii. ii. 134.
Or this
Ib. xii. Prol. 282.
Or than
1520 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 58.
Bot be ramovit awaye or this daye xv dayes
1535–6 Ib. MS. 24 Mar.
And this to be done or Belten
1543 Corr. M. Lorraine 44.
For and this be nocht providit … or the parliament
1549–50 Ib. 322.
Or Sunday
1554 Prot. Bk. Gilbert Grote 3.
Or his hame cuming
1559 Knox I. 359.
Or that hour
1571 Sat. P. xxv. 65.
Or Pasche
1572 Sempill Ib. xxx. 157. 1574 St. A. Kirk S. 397.
Or the winter
a1605 Birrel Diary 19.
Ther came to Striveling or day light
1609 Garden Garden 82.
One houre they are, and or an vther hence
1671 Maxwell Mem. II. 319.
Or now
(2) 1529–30 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 105.
To be pait … vi dais or Martynmes next

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"Or conj.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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