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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Big, v.1 Also: bigg(e, bige, byg, bygg(e, byge, beg, beig; p.t. and p.p. bi-, bygit, bi-, byggit, -et, -ed (etc.), bigat. [ME. big(ge, byg(ge, etc., ON. byggja, to inhabit, dwell in, build.]

1. tr. To build; to put up or erect (a building, wall, bridge, etc.).(a) a1400 Leg. S. vi. 578.
I … has bygyt now a wel he toure
Ib. vii. 836.
To byge the towne quhare it her wes
c1420 Wynt. i. 847.
Quhare Perseus … Gert fyrst a cyte byggyde be
Ib. iii. 617.
He byggyd Edynburgh
Ib. v. 2899.
Kyrk to byg or oratore
1459 Liber Aberbr. 106.
The said smydé was bygyt be that smyth
1464 Peebles B. Rec. 151.
At the sayde frere … mycht byge apon it a hous of almus
1473 Ib. 170.
Quhat hous that he byggis
1513 Doug. i. viii. 139.
The cyte quhilk I byg
Ib. ii. i. 61.
This engyne is byggit to our skaith
1549 Ann. Banff I. 26.
His smydde … to be byggitt be the tovne
1571 Lanark B. Rec. 62.
In quhat maner thei will … byg the saming [tolbooth]
(b) a 1350 Facs. Nat. MSS. II. 14.
[Thai] sal leue bigit [glossing L. dimittent edificata]
a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 776.
A kirk biggit the cristine men
1443 Reg. Cambuskenneth 126.
To brek, big, and agane rais the stane gavill
1456 Hay I. 38/11.
Or Rome was maid or biggit
c1475 Wall. xi. 339.
A mow off corn he biggit thaim about
1473 Reg. Cupar A. I. 178.
The said Wil. sal big a myl hous of stane and mortare
1498 Highland P. II. 197.
Gife I desire to bige ane hous
1509 Liber Coll. Glasg. 209.
Twa briggis the quhilkis I biggit
1524 Stirling B. Rec. I. 18.
That ilk nebour big his dikis
1533 Bell. Livy I. 13/26.
Sekand ane place to big ane town
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 195.
All the saidis choppis to be removit … and that nane be biggit in tyme cumyng
1562-3 Winȝet II. 5/11.
That our wallis suld be biggit
a1578 Pitsc. II. 202/19.
The Duches … did big ane gret castell
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. vii. 35.
Rome wes not biggit all vpon ane day
1597 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 160.
Quhair … na backyett was biggit obefoir
1600-1610 Melvill 24.
The stey bra wherupon the wall was biggen
1601 Paisley B. Rec. 240.
Benethe the windois bigit in the said gavell
1643 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 3.
To big and erect ane loft in … the grammer scoole
1679 Brodie Diary 410.
If I should bigg the ducat this year
(c) 1456 Peebles B. Rec. 117.
Vp fra the ho[u]s that Roben Johnson begit
1564 Prot. Bk. W. Cumming 23 b.
The vallis abut beigit with stane and clay
1569 Lanark B. Rec. 45.
To … beg the wall als hech as the heid of the pend
1570 Leslie 284.
The Inglismen … beggit ane litill mont
1592 Acts III. 559/1.
Thomas Foullis … hes … beiggit housis and mylnis
1597 Ib. IV. 141/1.
That … thair be … sure iailles and ward housis begged

b. Of birds: To build, make (nests). 1531 Bell. Boece I. p. xxxvii.
Soland geis … gadder … treis and stikkis to big thair nestis
1585 James VI Ess. 71.
Where birds do bigg their nest
1596 Dalr. I. 25/14.
How sone thay begin to bigg thair nestis [etc.]

c. To construct, lay (a causeway). 1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 193.
To big the casay of the sayd wynd
1595 Paisley B. Rec. 166.
The Baillies … thinks it expedient that the samin [calsay] be bigit the next symer

d. To build or make (a fire). Also with on. 1513 Doug. iv. xii. 73.
Thy funeral fyre with thir handis biggyt I
1560 Rolland Seven S. 137/18.
I causit to big ane fire to ȝow, To mak ȝow cherie
1588 Treas. Acc. MSS. 109.
For his seruice … in the chekker hous bigging on the fyris
1608 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 61.
Being accusit for bigging a fyir on the calsey … on Midsymmer Evin, the said Thomas purgit himselff … that nather he nor any within his hous biggit a fyir the night forsaid
1660 Conv. Burghs III. 530.
For keiping … the counsall hous and bigging on thair fiyr

2. To big up: a. To build, construct, repair. 1375 Barb. v. 453; Ib. 457.
He … has till his purpos tane To byg the castell vp agane
c1420 Wynt. iv. 1999.
The Romanys … To Cartage send … For till big wp agayne the towne
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 192.
The … counsale ordanis the Borrow Loch to be biggit vp in sic maner as it salbe sufficient to hald in the watter
1555 Ib. 359.
To ane masoun … to big up Sanct Johnis windois, and the dur cheiks of it
1562-3 Winȝet I. 139/18.
Becaus ȝe hef bigit vp ȝour tour of Babel sa, that nane vnderstandis wtheris
1582 Dundee B. Laws 41.
It is statut … that all bake dykes of this brugh be biggit up and repairit sufficiently
1616 Reg. Privy C. X. 517.
To tak doun the toofalles in the baikehous yairde of Halyrudhous, … and not to big up the same agane
1643–4 Misc. Spald. C. V. 107.
Gevin to Mr. Thomas Mitchell, … to help to big up the brig, 100 lib.

b. To close or block up by building. 1519 Cart. S. Nich. Aberd. II. 352.
The towne … ordanit the masteris of kirk-werk to translat thair … passag to the rudloft and big up Sanct Michell dur
1547 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 130.
That the thesaurer … big vp all slappis and interessis except the ports
1572 Peebles B. Rec. 337.
The bailleis … ordanis the Briggait port to be biggit vp and condampnit
1593 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 94.
To caus big up the hoill abone the dur in the stepill
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. 155.
Gif ther be any venels stopped, or bigged vp

3. intr. To dwell or remain; to make one's abode; to erect a house or other buildings. a1400 Leg. S. xxxii. 128.
Quhat sa beste lykis hyme That sic wodnes byggis in
c1420 Wynt. ii. 1574.
Landys sere thaire mycht oure yhud … byggand quhar thare wyllys were
c 1480 Reg. Cupar A. I. 232.
The said Alexander sal cum and byg apon the said grounde and duel thar
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 514.
[As] ful of fleis, As euer in byke thair biggit onie beis
1521 Dunferm. B. Rec. 174.
The said Gavin sall haf licens … to big rycht vp the gavill
c1550 Rolland C. Venus Prol. 172.
Sum [are] geuin to plant, and big in policie
1552 Reg. Cupar A. II. 104.
The saidis … sall hawe powar to big als mekill as thai sall think expidient
1551 Hamilton Cat. 285.
Gyf a man big apon this foundation
a1568 Bann. MS. 135/45.
It is esiar to distroy be fer nor till big
1572 Sat. P. xxxiii. 188.
The proverb is … Better in tyme to beit nor eftir to big
1597 Skene Verb. S. To Reader.
To thee, quha … may big upon this little ground, and fundament

b. Of birds: To make nests. 1425 Acts I. 6/1.
Rukis bigande in kirk yairdis, orchardis, or treis
a1508 Kennedy Flyting 290.
Na fowlis of effect amangis tha binkis Biggis, nor abydis
1542 Reg. Cupar A. II. 208.
Thai … sall nocht lat ane craw big within the said bundis
1596 Dalr I. 24/26.
This foul … only bigis in the Basse
a1650 Row 12.
I think it wes true that Mr Knox said: Doun with those crow nests, else the crowes will big in them againe!

4. tr. To occupy (land), esp. by building on it; to build upon (land or ground). Cf. Land n. 14.. Acts I. 26/2.
He may leve that lande unbyggit [L. inhospitatam] quhil the tym he be of eys to byg it agayn [L. reedificare eam]
Ib. 39/2.
Quhen that lande is wele byggit and anournyt [L. promotam et hospitatam]
1420 Liber Aberbr. 53.
That … the said landis of Hilweynd … be byggyt ande made distrenyabil for the said annuale
1464 Peebles B. Rec. 153.
With … ij s. of annuell be yeir quhill the forsaid land be bygit and strenyeabill for the said ij s.
1493 Acta Conc. 281/2.
Scho failȝeit to big a land and tennement liand within the burghe of Edinburghe
1537 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I. 413.
The foirsaid tenement, outland, inland, bygyt and for to be bygyt
1542 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 181.
Johne Chalmer … wald byg and stop the commoune passage
1551 Acts II. 490.
The ground annuall appeiris ay to be paid quha euer big the ground
1553 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 182.
Gif it sal happin ony persone to big or reparell his landis
1553 Ib. 212.
The Mercat Crose and rowme thairof beand rowpit to se quha wald big the samyn in buith or buithis

5. refl. To bring (oneself) by building. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 122/16.
Now in bigging sum takis sa greit plesure Quhill at the last biggis him self to the dure

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



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