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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.

Smor(e, Smure, v. Also: smoir, smoar(e, smuir(e, smuyr, smwr, smour, smoor, smorr. P.p. also smord(e, smoird. [ME and e.m.E. smor(e (Cursor M.), smoor (Coverdale), smoar (1615), OE smorian, MDu., MLG smoren, Flem. smooren.]

1. To suffocate, smother, crush to death; to kill in this or a similar fashion. Also transf., to be smord in smoke, to go to hell. Also fig. Also const. doun.Freq. passive without implication of personal agency.(1) pres. c1420 Wynt. v 1344.
He settys hys besynes Till smore hys sone
c1590 J. Stewart 241 § 165.
The idoll … Vpon hir fell and schortlie did hir smoir
1611 Crim. Trials III 131.
He pat his handis in the said Williames throt and … slew him in the whilk fact ye … helped with your owne handis to hald him downe and smore him
1617 Crim. Trials III 430.
Lying thairupoun and smoiring the said infant to deid
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 35/323.
A rauing cloude, Which threatnes … To smore and drowne him [sc. Vulcan] with her powring raine
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 128/294.
The stonnishing carpace, humlocke als, That smores vs by his might
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 151/356.
Hercules … as yett in sueadling cloutis … Beginning uith his handis … to smoare the draigon
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 153/371.
The maire thaireafter smoaris him & uith thiccest fleaume doth he As spreit inportun heauie presse his panting brest
1660 Melrose Reg. Rec. I 297.
The said hous … is now lyklie to fall upon the complinar and smoar him and his bestiall
p.t. c1420 Wynt. iii 477.
Downe the hous [come] … And sa smoryd all at wes thar in
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) xxvi 120.
The Devill sa devit wes with thair ȝell, That in the depest pot of hell He smorit thame with smvke
1533 Bell. Livy I 34/1.
Thai kest at hir al thare targis … and smorit hir tharewith
1594 Breadalbane Ct. Bk. 70.
Johne … persewis Katherene Mknauchtane for the wrangus … lowping on him with fute and hand and had almaist smorit him
a1595 Descr. Isles 433.
McCloyd Herreik … came to the cove and pat fire thairto, and smorit … 395 persones
16.. Hist. Kennedy 6.
Kaist fedder bedis abuiff him, and smorit him
(b) 1564 Canongate Kirk S. (ed.) 78.
Scho afoir in drukinnes smoirit twa former bernis
(c) 1596 Dalr. I 213/25.
Constantine … quhome a … man smuiret in the nychte
1679 Argyll Justic. Rec. 111.
[She] killed the said infant … with her knife at leist strangled or smoored him some other way that he immediatly died
p.p. a1400 Leg. S. xxxi 640.
Thai fand hyre in hir bede Wele nere smoryt & for-blede
c1475 Wall. vi 724.
Feill wndyr hors was smoryt in that thrang
1533 Boece 49b.
King Coill … , quhen servandis to keping of his corps awatit nocht, was oppressit and smorit
1560 Rolland Seven S. 4386.
Quicke in my graue I had rather be smorit
1561–2 Reg. Privy C. I 200.
Be … tempestuous stormys … the hale gudis ar sa trakit, smorit, and deid that [etc.]
1567 Sat. P. vii 215.
Sho endit, smorit with a bed
1570 Sat. P. xiv 98.
Thay … seik my heid, For to be beatin downe and smorde [: Lord]
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 212.
Hather whilk was cassin to the hous sydis, whairby thei wer smored
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 634 (H).
Sodomiet sinners with stinking were smorde [T. with smwik wer smord]
1640 Fugitive Poetry II xix 2/32.
Whiles Popish foes bath'd in their bloud lay smor'd
(b) 1593 Elgin Rec. II 32.
Margaret Greiff confessis she sufferit her barne to be smoirit through negligence
1600 Reg. Privy C. VI 104.
Caryit … bound thortour … on horsbak … hoiping … sho sould have bene … smoirit
(c) a1538 Abell 67b.
He wes slane miserablie be the knythttis of Gwydo smwrit with ane cod on his mouth
1613 Dunferm. B. Rec. II 104.
Thrie hogis set in grissing … to him … and smoured in the said Thomas default
1632 in Law Memor. Pref. lviii.
She … cast down Auchterlonie's barne … and some cattle was smoored
1651 Gunn Cross Kirk, Peebles 151.
The roof [was] so crazy that the minister was in danger to be smoored
1665–7 Lauder Jrnl. 35.
The Devil thought to have smoored or crushed her with a great meikle stone
1683 Sutherland Bk. II 189.
For feare they be smoored … in thair beddis
transf. a1568 Bann. MS 38a/46.
Thair is no cryme bot thow mone it forbeir And thow be saif fra furius feindis seir Or vthirwayis in smoke thow salbe smord
fig. 1604-31 Craig ii 90.
Here teares me droun, there smoky sighs me smore … And ielous eyes do pry into each pore
1635 Dickson Wr. 38.
God's watchfulness that he should not be smoored, was the preserving of his spirit
(2) a1599 Rollock Wks. I 312.
The bodie … is ane lead layit on the back of the saull … as ane house smoring him doun

b. To overwhelm (a person, the heart, etc.). 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 116.
Quhen it [sc. the heart] is smorit, memberis wirkis not richt. The dreidfull terrour swa did me assaill
a1561 Norvell Meroure 7b.
Who dotis at length, with daffing shall be smoird [: deuoird]
c1590 J. Stewart 29/513.
Dout of dainger hes hir langage smorde [: schorde]

c. Of weeds: To smother (corn). 1581-1623 James VI Poems I 128/281.
With the fitches smoaring corne

2. To suppress, overwhelm, extinguish, put doun (justice, the right, fame, a particular event or piece of knowledge, etc.); to fail to allow (some potential) to develop, to smother; passing into sense 2 b below. Also, once, with a person as (1) a1500 Henr. Fab. 2719.
Fals peruerteris of the lawis … Smoirand the richt, garrand the wrang proceid
1513 Doug. xi Prol. 48.
He … nevir dar vndertake a douchty deid, Bot doith all curage and all manheid smuyr [Ruddim. smure]
1561 St. A. Kirk S. 86.
He wes ane of tham that maist oppressed, smored and held down the word of God
1567 Sat. P. iv 188.
Thocht princes wald be falset ȝow alluire Hurt not ȝour honouris the samin to smuire
1574 Inverness Rec. I 237.
I wald haif coft him for ane quart aquawytie, and to haif causit his Grace to smoir justice for the samyn
1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv Pref. 76.
Vngratious guydis … be the devile … appoyntit Godis holie scriptour for to cloik and smoir
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 149.
Him that has sa smored and oppressed his faith
1602 Bk. Univ. Kirk III 984.
Papists … quho goes about daylie to smore and put out the spunks of true religioun
1609 Garden Garden 33.
Sland'ring tongues … Wha seiks to smoir … The giltles fame
1635 Wodrow in Hay Geneal. 965.
The Clerk Register should … please to jugle and smoir the truth
(2) 1551 Hamilton Cat. 113.
Desaitfulnes … smoris the word that it beris na frute
c1590 Fowler I 56/248.
Lowe … dois all reasoun smore
1618-60 Lithgow Poet. Remains 196.
Feare my faith had smord!
(3) 1556 Lauder Off. Kings 433.
Quhilk percialytie smoris doun Justice in euery land
(4) absol. a1500 K. Hart 855.
Decrepitus … But smirk or smyle bot rather for to smvre But scoup or skift, his craft is all to scayth
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Obruo, opprimo, to smore, to overwhelme
c1614 Melvill lxxi.
Death Hes stopit a breath … Of quhom my horne Sall vant; quha ever be wrath, I will be laith To smoir him
passive (1) a1400 Leg. S. xl 156.
I wyl thu mad bischope be … Sa that the science lent to thé Be nocht tynt na smoryt in thé
14.. Acts I 55/2.
Thaim throu the quhilk the law may be smoryt or left undone
c1475 Wall. xi 1436.
Gret harm I thocht his gud deid suld be smord
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 321 (Asl.).
Leile men ar hurt & theiffis gettis away … thus … justice is smord [: purd (= impoverished); Ch. smuird : puird]
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 427.
His lang seruyce wes smurit; He and his sonne … Forfaltit war
1556 Lauder Off. Kings 220.
Itt [sc. God's Word] suld nocht be hid, nor obscurit It suld nocht be throung down, nor smurit
1567 Reg. Privy C. I 522.
Swa this cruell murthour wes committit and justice smorit and planelie abusit
1570 Sat. P. xiv 83.
Lat not his duilfull deith be smorde Bot it reuenge
c1594 (16 … ) Battle Balrinnis in Dalyell Sc. Poems 16th Cent. II 354.
Whair manie gentillman did with him byd Whos prais sould not be smored
(2) 1570-3 Bann. Trans. 14.
Causis weale aneugh knawin, althought smored by iniust power for a tyme
1591 Warrender P. (SHS) II 164.
My innocencie … hes bene smored and suppressed be the vyld suggestionis
c1610 Melville Mem. 5.
Sa the princes kyndly and gud qualites being cled and smored with sic a company wer [etc.]
1581-1623 James VI Poems II 72/66.
My sponke of loue smor'd vnder coales of shame
(3) 1554 Misc. Bann. C. III 67.
That the werite be nocht hide nor smurit down
1567 G. Ball. 206.
To sé Goddis word downe smorit … Hypocrisie restorit
1579 Bk. Univ. Kirk II 447.
The book of the law of God, a long time doun smored, … yea utterly tint and forgotten
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 85/8.
That thaire effectis maye alsueill be smoarid doune
1640 Maister George Blacke His Masterlesse Men 1.
Yet all these my processes was smored downe

b. To conceal, obscure, to cause to be in obscurity. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 107/28.
Thocht it [sc. falsett] fra licht Be smord with slicht, God schawis the richt With soir vengence
1584 Sempill in Sat. P. xlv 957.
Gif God wald lend me tyme and space, Twa houris in pulpit to deploir it, My synfull lyfe sall nocht be smorit
c1590 Fowler I 49/61.
Behold also how suche a mist … dois … cower the praise of all his witt, and mak the sam be smored
a1599 Rollock Wks. I 302.
Deith is darknesse, and it smoris the saull except it be lichtnit with this licht
1600-1610 Melvill 17.
My judgment and understanding war as yit smored and dark, sa that the thing quhilk I gat was mair be rat ryme nor knawlage
a1610 Stevenson Sempill Ballates 243/31.
And that which heere I sweere: Least sylence suld it smoir The verie trees sall testiefie

c. To suppress (a fault), to heal (a rift or scism), to cover up (dissension). 1513 Doug. ix Prol. 85.
I sal help to smor ȝour falt, leif broder
1535 Stewart 11339.
To caus that scisma rycht sone to be smord And bring thame self agane to gude concord
1535 Stewart 35361.
Syne suddantlie, the quhilk culd nocht be smord, … ane grit stryfe and discord Betuix thame tua … thair fell
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 247 (W).
The moire I schape to smor [L. smorr, Wr. smoor] it [sc. desire] The baulder it brak out
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 390.
The same vice which was smoored will bud again
1605-6 Welsh Forty-eight Serm. 127.
Smooring sin with some sweet pleasure
1625 Garden Kings 11.
[He] seriouslie did seeke All notabill enormities to smoir

3. intr. To suffocate, choke (usu. to death). Also fig.The first quot. may be a further instance of 1 above. c1420 Wynt. iv 823.
Thai … swa thyk togyddyr stude, That … mony smoryd losyde the lyff, Wyth-outyn strak off swerde
c1475 Wall. vii 452.
Sum neuir rais bot smoryt quhar thai lay
c1475 Wall. vi 578. 1540 Lynd. Sat. 3223 (B).
I pray God … he had smord [Ch. had bene smoird] in till his cude
fig. a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xlvi 55.
I smore if I conceill, I wrak if I reveill, My hurt

4. Of a person's honour: To be extinguished, forgotten. a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1204.
It war syn, but recure, The knightis honour suld smure, That did me this honoure
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 45.
He suld haue place amangis the laif, That his hie honour suld not smure, Considering quhat he did indure
1573 Sempill in Sat. P. xxxix 164.
Treasone salbe tryit at lenth, Quhen men wald fanest all thair vices smuir

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"Smor v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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