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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Sleuth, Sluth, Slouth, Sloth, n.1 Also: sleuthe, sleutht, scleuth, sleuch, -ght, slewth(e, slewtht, -cht, sclwth, slouthe, sclowthe, sloath, sleath. [ME and e.m.E. slewðe (c1175), sleuþe (1297), slewthe (1422), sleuth (c1450), OE slæwð (< Slaw adj.); also, ME and e.m.E. slauðe (c1175), slouhðe (Ancr. R.), slouthe (Chaucer), sloth (1575-85) (< ME slaw, slow, replacing OE slæwð).] Sloth, the deadly sin, physical or spiritual laziness, idleness; inactivity; (untoward) slowness; negligence or carelessness (in doing something). b. Const. possess. c. An instance of this.Also to slepe in sleuth, see Slep(e v. 2 c.(a) a1450 Fifteen Ois 169.
Covatice, prid, and ire, … lichory, sleuth, and … gluttony
1456 Hay II 40/33.
Commoun tavernouris full of sleuthe … ar nocht to be ressavit to the ordre of knychthede
c1460 Consail Vys Man 145.
Be besy euir and luf na sleuth
a1500 Lanc. 15.
Lest thai forȝhet, throw slewth of ignorans, The old wsage of lowis obseruans
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1326.
I rais, and put all sleuth and sleip asyde
c1475 Wall. vii 393.
For sleuth nor sleip sall nayne remayne in me
a1500 Bernardus 48.
Slewthe and delay oft causis mekyl skatht
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 193/17.
He that with gud lyfe … But varians or uder slewth, Dois evir mair with ane maister dwell
1533 Boece 247b.
Devode all slewth & cowardice and cleith ȝow with glaid corage
1563 Reg. Privy C. I 247.
The paroche kirkis … be sleuch and negligence of the parochinaris … decayis
1570 Sat. P. xi 111.
Remuif all sluggische slewth away
1588 King Cat. 129b.
Diligent godlines is contrarie to sleuthe
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 16/18.
Preferring foolehardines and a good intention to an vtter dispaire and sleuth
1604-31 Craig v 9.
Why slipst thou so with sleuth [: trueth, rueth] The thing that may bee?
1631 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. II 347.
[8½ bolls of oats] brunt be him in his default and sleuth
c1650 Spalding I 19. 1652 Inverness Rec. II 206.
Thair hes beine great sleuth and slacknes in sum men anent thair coming to counsell dayes
(b) c1500 Rowll Cursing 78 (M).
And draw thair inclinatioun Fra slouth till contemplatioun
c1590 Fowler I 30/107.
Idilnes and slouth
1611-57 Mure Dido & Æneas ii 163.
Her careles minde slouth meanwhile doth supprise; Buildings begun ar left [etc.]
(c) 1663 Inverness Rec. II 217.
That the place or people com not to prejudice throw sloath or negligence
1675 Fraser in Sel. Biog II 201.
I … did proceed upon an omission and sloth
(2) 1475 Acts II 112/1.
The pretermitting and sleuth that has bene in the execucione of the actis
1496 Acts II 238/2.
Gif thai be notit of indeligence or sleuth tharin that thai be punyst
1511–2 Dundee Chart. No. 47.
Anent the execucione of thare office, or negligence or sleuth thairin
1586 Rait & Cameron King James's Secret 73.
Voyde of all necgligens or sleuthe in making tymous adverteismentis
(b) 1601 Paisley B. Rec. 244.
Thair hes been grit slouth in hairvest of fields of corne
(3) c1409-1436 Kingis Q. § 186.
Hertis … That lyven here in sleuth and ignorance … has no curage at the rose to pull
1531 Bell. Boece I 186.
That he suld nocht dull be approching of age in sleuth, he gave his ingine to hunting
1639 Sc. Ant. III 132.
The people do live in sleuth and idleness
b. c1409-1436 Kingis Q. § 119.
Gynnen folk … of thaire sleuth tofore haue repentance
a1500 Henr. III 164/68.
Lat nocht our slewth ws twyn
1482 Perth Guildry p. 104 (21 Feb.).
Throw his necligens and scleuth that quhat scaith that the said William has or sustenis … that he sall … recompence
a1500 Bernardus 338.
1499–1500 Acta Conc. II 380.
Thai haf sufferit in to thair sleuth and non deligence Margaret Cokburne … til uptene … ane decret
1513 Doug. xi i 45.
So that ȝhe reddy be … nor stunnys ane other day, Be ȝour awyn sleuth, for lak of gude forsycht
1531 Bell. Boece I 50.
Al dissentionis that war rissin afore … be sleuth of Thereus
1531 Bell. Boece II 235.
Quhat … trubil hes bene done … be … thy servandis. The schame and displeseir heirof … redoundis ay to thy maist dishonour and sleuth
1535 Stewart 7021.
His sleuth and negligens … Wes all the caus the Britis did rebell
1541 Aberd. B. Rec. I 175.
I was skaythit and wanttyt in hir defalt and sleutht … item, I wanttyt out of my hous in hir defult and sleutht ane plaid [etc.]
1561–2 St. A. Kirk S. 143.
Gyf thai neclect thar execucion, it salbe complanit of thar parcialite and slewth
1573 St. A. Kirk S. 383.
Infantis … unbaptized throwcht necligence and slewtht of thair parentis
a1585 Maitl. Q. 24/19. 1582 Misc. Stair Soc. I 110.
And the negligence of the notar in copeing the precept be leiffing out sum wordis throwcht his slewtht inferris na falsett
1609 Acts IV 439/2.
1614 Highland P. III 153. 1670 Banff Ann. I 150.
[Thomas Gordon escaped from the Tolbooth] be the sleuthe and neglect of James Black serjand quho haid the charge of the doors
(b) c1525 Wemyss Corr. 67.
The falt wes nowthyr in hym or me, bot in your awyn sclwth
a1578 Pitsc. I 105/10.
(c) 1591–2 Elgin Rec. II 20.
1592 Conv. Burghs I 379.
In hendering and deleying of the merchandis of thair veagis, throu thair slouthe and wilfulnes
?15 … (1599) Burnett of Leys 336.
1604 Urie Baron Ct. 10.
Skaith … sustennit … throw his slouth and negligence, may be refunddit
1609 Acts IV 434/2.
The slouth of magistrates in nocht suppressing the first seidis of these dissentionis
1668 S. Ronaldshay 57.
Occasioned by … the slouth or unfaithfulness of kirk officers
1673 Corshill Baron Ct. 111.
(d) 1588–9 Perth Kirk S. in Spottiswoode Misc. II 263.
Her negligence and sloth towards her … bairn
16… Abercrummie in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 2.
(e) 1668 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. MS 26 Oct.
By his sleath securities entrusted to him ar gon
c. 1513 Doug. ii vii 25.
Haist ȝou, … quhat slewth tareit ȝou thus lait?
1572 Sat. P. xxxvi 88.
Quhen scho escapit how could thow be excusit Both thair wes slicht, or ellis ane wilfull sleuth?

d. Physical inactivity without any pejorative connotation, sleep. a1500 Quare Jel. 12.
The sonne … makith euery lusty hert Out of thair sleuth to walkyn and astert
1531 Bell. Boece I vi.
Morpheus the drery god of sleip … set his sleuth and deidly contenance With snorand vanis throw my body creip

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"Sleuth n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Feb 2024 <>



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