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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.

Stele, Steil(l, v. Also: steile, steyll, steyle, steall(e, steal, steel(l, stell, staill, staile, styll(e, sto(w)l(l. P.t. stall(e, stal, staill, stol(l, staw(e, sta(e, stow, steal(e)d, stealled. P.p. stellin, stol(l)(e)n, stollin(e, -ing, -yn(g, -an, stoilin, stawin, -it, stow(i)n(e, -yn(e, -en, -ed, stovin, stoun(e. [ME and e.m.E. stell(en (a1200), stele(n, steyl (both Cursor M.), steele (c1400), steale (1530). P.t. stal (c1250), stall (Cursor M.), staale (Chaucer), stale (c1440), stealed (1580), stole (1581). P.p. istolen (c1175), i-stole (c1290), stoln (Cursor M.), stole (Manning), stollen (Trevisa), stolen (Gower), OE stelan (stæl, (stǽlon), stolen).]

1. tr. To steal, to take into one's possession by force or duplicity (moveable property, farm stock, etc.) without having any right to it, chiefly for the purpose of owning it oneself and benefiting, usu. financially, from its ownership; to commit the crime of theft. Also proverb.Freq. in collocation with Ref(e v.1Const. fra (out of) a person, (out) (furth) of a place.Quot. Leg. S. in (1) p.p. (c) below seems to be corrupt. It is not impossible, though prob. unlikely, that it belongs in Stow v. 1.(1) pres. 1510 Crim. Trials I i 66.
Thir are the punctis of the ditte to be inquirit … Item, gif ony stelis halkis or hundis?
1540 Lynd. Sat. 2674.
Ane pegrall theif that stelis a kow Is hangit
(b) c1420 Ratis R. 542.
Thar is nan so fals … that he na wyll … say that gud war to be leill, thocht he wald ellis thar claithis steill
14.. Acts I 69/2.
Gif ony man steil ony thing fra … ony … that aw nocht to fecht suilk personis complenȝeande … sal with an inquest … enquyr … quha that malefactor wes
1540 Lynd. Sat. 1540.
Falsat, I wald we maid ane band, Now quhill the king is sound sleipand. Quhattrax to steill his box?
1540 Lynd. Sat. 4110 (B).
Ane millar … That will steill nowdir meill nor malt
a1585, a1568 Montg. P. v 9.
And thow steill a cow, cairle, thair they will hang thé
1593 Acts IV 43/1.
Thevis lymmaris and sornaris … extorting … money and incais of refuse awaiting … quhill thay may steill and reif the same in the nicht
1596 Dalr. I 98/2.
Nathir gyue thay mekle betuene, quhither the Scottis or the Inglesmen, steil or reiue or dryue away prayis of horse, oxne and scheip behind baks
1613 Conv. Burghs II 404.
Apprehending of sik as steills thair nightbours geir
1630-1651 Gordon Geneal. Hist. 143.
He did steil a secreit warrand from the quein unto Robert Prestoun of Craigmillar … commanding him to execute the Earle of Huntley
1660 Ure Rutherglen 73.
They pyke, steill and rub the stowckes … to the great skaith of the … owners of victwall
(c) 1628 Elgin Rec. II 206.
That they steall his kell and his peits
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 490.
If thou steal not my kail, break not my dyke
(d) 1600-1610 Melvill 120.
Better this, quoth he, nor stelling sheipe, or sitting ydle
(e) 1540 Lynd. Sat. 4194.
Thair was nocht, in all Liddisdaill, That ky mair craftelly cowd staill
(f) 1532 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 124.
Geff sic man or woman can be comprehendit stowlland our corn, plukand or pulland, ruband, thuftiusly gaderand … that thair maisteris sall ansuer for thaim
1576 Crail B. Ct. 26 Nov.
The accusatioun … aganis Jhone Dyschyngtoun for stollyng thyftowslie … ane schuile
p.t. c1420 Wynt. v 5242.
He, that it stall, arestyd wes
c1460 Consail Vys Man 302.
And he it hyd, and heil, and hald He is a theif rycht as he stald [= stole it]
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 361.
Quhare as thou said that I stall hennis and lammys, I latt the wit, I have land, store and stakkis
1537 Armstrong Hist. Liddesdale I App. p. liii.
Thai come to Rykklentown on Yule day at evin, and thair stall and tuik away ane hundreth yewis
1540 Elgin Rec. I 48.
The quhilk day Margaret Balfour wes fundin in ane amerciament for the wrangus defaming of Johne Murray, Cathanes man, saying he stall pottis
1566 Rec. Earld. Orkney 376.
Williame schip … lyand in the raid … the forsaidis personis at thre houris eftir mydnycht … passit one burde upone the … schip and thiftuislie stall hir furth of the said raid
a1568 Bann. MS 140a/14.
Thay fallowit thé with cry and schowt Ha hald the theif that stall the claith
1606 Dundonald Par. Rec. 109.
Thame that stall thair beis
(b) 1560 Rolland Seven S. 2922.
Quha staill the gold, to tak him in the net
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2932.(c) 1546 Stirling B. Rec. I 45.
Johne Fischair … confessit that he stoll … ane sark
1653 Peebles B. Rec. II 10.
Thomas Moses, walker, … affirmit … that Robert Steill … stoll sex punds of his yairne
1675 Argyll Justic. Rec. I 55.
The said pannell stoll … ane gray paissed horse
(d) c1500 Rowll Cursing 202 (M).
Thay war the theveis that Roulis geis staw
c1500 Barounis Lawis 9b.
And thiftuisly staw sic a gud of sic a place
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 1102.
Adame … staw the frute
1516 Crawford Mun. Invent. I 55.
[They] hurt and dang my pure tennentis of Fynnewin and staw thar gudis
1551 Hamilton Cat. 102.
How gret and terribil vengeance God almychty hais takin on thame quhilk committis sacrilege, that is to say, that staw or reft ony thing … out of the tempil
1554–5 Edinb. Old Acc. I 133.
For cords to haive ane theif that brak ane buith and staw ane gad of irne
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1693.
Ane dog … ane collap staw
1573–4 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. VII 71.
Tow to skurg the wyf that staw Patrick Bull scheittis
c1575 Balfour Pract. 546.
He sall mak restitutioun of the gudis, or of als mekill, to thame quhom fra he reft or staw the samin
proverb. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1478.
They are fel leil staw never a heiring
(e) 1579 Reg. Privy C. III 236.
Sta and awaytuke xl ky and oxin
1601 Misc. Spald. C. II 145.
Thifteouslie stae tua gray pladdis [etc.]
1603 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 69.
The stowth of certaine lynis … liftit be him out of the sie and that he nawayis sta ony part thairof be wrang knitting
1603 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 78.
Scho sta … certane quhyt dry scheipe pudding
(f) 1674 Justiciary Ct. Rec. II 274.
p.p. 1384 Acts I 350/1.
The remanent sall restore the gudys stollen in the double
1531 Aberd. Pynours 63.
And gif ony guidis beis stolling or minest after tha have ressairt the samyn fra the merchandis tha sall bring the doaris to the provest
1535–6 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 189.
For the beting of the gret hall quhair it was tyrvit and the leid stollin
1540 Lynd. Sat. 3287.
1547 Treas. Acc. IX 93.
For the keping of thame [sc. oxen] on the day becaus on the day precedent thair was ane of thame stollyn
1565–6 Inverness Rec. I 133.
And aganis the law he hes lattin ane kow of myne be stollin
1572 Lanark B. Rec. 66.
Opinly alleget me to haf stolling and wrangusly tain awey … ane pair of gallay brekis
c1575 Balfour Pract. 198.
Gif ony evidentis, silver, gudis or geir be … deliverit in keiping … to ony man, and … it happinit the samin … to be stollin [etc.]
1596 Dalr. I 122/27.
Restore a wandiring scheip … bot gif thrie days thou keip it, thou wil be giltie of the thift, that thou hes stollin it
1596 Dalr. II 410/12.
Quhateuir … pretious thing … [they] haue stollen priuatlie, or [reft] apinlie, to the sam maister it be restoret … agane
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 84.
Gif he is takin … with the fang, or in hand hauand thift, or roborie (things stollen)
1672 Forbes Baron Ct. 289.
He aleigis that … Walker did stolln his beir shilling in the mill of Barflat
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xxiii 311.
Trewyt thai that he Wist quhare sume tresoure hid suld be. … til hyme syne this thai sad ‘Be lawty thu telis ws now … quhare that thu Has stowine this tresoure ore reft That sume emperoure has here left'
1505 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I 50.
1515 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 31.
The said ox was deid, stowyne or sald
1523 Carnwath Baron Ct. (SHS) 9.
1533 Bell. Livy II 189/10.
Every thing that was stowne or reft be thame on the seis, that the same suld be equal[i]e dividit as commoun gude
1548 Edinb. Hammermen 176b.
For … ane cord to the lamp the tyme it was cutit done & the cord stovin
1551 Old Dundee II 297.
His iron pot, … whilk sho let be stowen through her negligence and sleuth
1574–5 Elgin Rec. I 149.
Margaret Watson … to pay sax schillingis monie for the pryce of ane sark quhilk Hector Angus geff hir to vesche and stowin in hir defalt
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 177 (L).
To lait the stable duir I steik, Quhan as the steid is stowin [W. stolne, Wr. stowne]
1596 Dalr. II 466/22.
The scheip selfe stoune and skattired at al libertie
1604-31 Craig iv 17.
The partridge stores her nest with eggs all stowne, which shee ne're layde
1625 Linlithgow B. Rec. 20 Sept.
Thomas Edeward deleat that sum personnes had stowin his peas to the number of thrie or twa crawis
1630 Monteith Stewartry Ct. 18 Feb.
The kow that was alledgit stowin
1643 Justiciary Cases III 559.
The landis, quhairof the writtis ar allegit to be stowin
(c) 1523 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 71.
Nelle Stodert … said to the said Jhone … ‘This hors is stawit and woll do us na gud.’ Woll Turnbyll ansuerit thairto and said, ‘I undertak to warand yow of all thingis anent this hors bot ye maye se that he is bot reffit and nocht stawit’
(2) a1500 Henr. Fab. 746.
Fra the gait he stall ane lytill kid
c1475 Wall. xi 1011.
This traytour … fra Wallace … stall Bathe knyff and suerd, his bow and arowis all
1507–8 Reg. Privy S. I 238/1.
His box and in it his sele of silver … wes thiftuisly stollin fra him
1529 Edinb. B. Rec. II 16. 1533 Gau 11/20.
Na man wald that ane oder staw or reft or twyk his guidis fra hime
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3096.
This knicht committit tratourie That staill fra the authoritie Outher greit thing or smaw
1568 Hosack Mary Q. of Scots I 539.
Thair wes … mair travell for the inquisitioun of certane money stowin fra the said Margret nor for the kingis murther recently committit
1597–8 Misc. Spald. C. II 137.
15.. Lord Fergus' Gaist 73, 74, 76. 1603 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. II 24.
Item at that same tyme thou staw fra Wa. Wilsone in Carmuk of thrie yowis
1611 Inverness Rec. II 85.
Thow art indytit that thow sta fra Johne Froster in Tain … four ellis lining
1616 Ritchie Ch. S. Baldred 148.
The said Bitriche being sumonit … denyit that she steald any claithis fra the said Marin
1616 Ritchie Ch. S. Baldred 149.
Alison Fowler … callit him commone theif, and that he had stellin claithis and naperie fra the ladie
1629 Justiciary Cases I 125.
He … hes takin, and stawin be craft and dissait frome the saidis perseweris … be his fals measour … fyve bollis and sa he thairby … hes falslie stowin and abstractit fra the foirnamet persones … of ilk chalder … foure bollis victuall
1657 Misc. Hist. Soc. VII 18.
Got notice of a silke hat which was stowen from me
1665–7 Lauder Jrnl. 109.
1665–7 Lauder Jrnl. 149.
1559–60 Inverness Rec. I 40.
The geyr he suspekit hym and his vyf wes stollyn out of Johne Damster
(3) 1453 Sc. Eccles. Soc. 219.
An … chalis … to be gefyn to the Abbay in recompensing off thair chalys stollyn owt off the chapel
a1500 Henr. Fab. 286.
Scho … ane quhyte candill owt off ane coffer stall
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (STS) xxvii 16.
His baner … Quhairin wes clowttis ane hundreth scoir, … all stowin out of sindry webbis
1509 Justiciary Rec. (Reg. H.) II 145.
Gif thair be ony that stelis wther mennis pitis out of thair stankis
1534 Bamff Chart. 64.
The evidents charters and wrytings … stowin and tane out of Bamff fraudfullie
1558 Mill Mediæv. Plays 187.
Certane bells quha wes stowin of the hors in the convoy kert
1569–70 Canongate Ct. Bk. 164.
Coilles stowne furth of my lord justice clerkis hous
1568 Ellis Orig. Lett. 1 Ser. II 251.
Thair was no laws minstrat upone the marches bot suir I am thair is thrys alsmekill stowin out of Scotland as out off Ingland
1572 Crim. Trials I ii 32.
And stall furth of ane of the saidis pakkatis, the sowme of xxxv lib.
1579 Inverness Rec. I 271.
Ane blak oxe … stollin out of his cottar hous
1603 Inverness Rec. II 18.
1604 Inverness Rec. II 26.
Thou art indytit for the cuminge to Alexander Cuminge barn, and thair, … thow sta thairout of vij peck beir vnder silence of nyicht
c1650 Spalding I 298.
Likuaies stall, reft, and spolȝeit out of the schirefdome of Morray a gryte number of countrie peoples horss, nolt [etc.]
16… Craven Ch. in Orkney II 144.
Your lordship shall resaif ane merlyeoun; blame not me that you get sa few, for your lordship sall noit that the Laird Halkcrois' men hes stolen fyve out of my nestis

b. Const. away (out, furth). c1400 Troy-bk. ii 361.
Of the tempile Vlixes Stall it away; and so shall we Of cryme of it excused be
c1420 Wynt. viii 3153.
Fra he lychtyd, he suld knyt Hys brydyll fast; and gywe that it Hapnyd to be stollyn away, [etc.]
a1500 Henr. Fab. 762 (Ch.). a1500 Colk. Sow i 206.
The fulis had thame kachit As to steill thame away
1506–7 Treas. Acc. III 373.
To ane wif that hed hir silvir stollin away, … v s.
c1500-50 Brevis Cronica 322.
Ane quhyt hund stowin away be the Pychtis
1564 Reg. Privy C. I 285.
The saidis hydis wer careit and stowin away in exceding greit quantitie
1573 Inverness Rec. I 226.
Quha thifteouslie stawe away out of the said chalmer xvj dowbill elnis of pledding
1604 Urie Baron Ct. 6.
Petteis … theftiouslie stowyne away
c1650 Spalding I 45.
Thir lawless lymmaris … took or stall away 200 wedderis
1658 Glasgow Trades House 353.
Silk … stolline away from them
(2) a1400 Leg. S. xl 448.
In the circle thane but dout Ȝed, for to steile the catel owte
1537–8 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 225.
For … maid werk in leid … to the gutter … quhare it wes stollin furth
1590 Crim. Trials I ii 208.
[Thou] blew vp his duris and his haill lokkis of his house, and stall out sic gere as thow plesit
1622 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 142.
For ane bolt for ane of the cariages of the kingis schip peices quhilk wes stollin out

c. To pretend to steal (one's own property) to gain compensation. 1531 Bell. Boece II 411.
Ane carle, becaus he micht nocht steill othir mennis guddis, stall his awin pleuch-irnis, that he micht have the valour thairof recompensit to him be the schiref

d. To seize or acquire (lands, property, etc.) dishonestly, by guile or underhand means. 1508–9 Reg. Privy S. I 274/1.
The land quhilk is stollin fra the kingis hienes
1551 Corr. M. Lorraine 352.
He is cumit and stollyng this benefice and tharfor declarit ane barratour in this cuntre

e. With a country as subject: To cause an exodus of coinage by dishonest means. 1632 Aberd. Council Lett. I 357.
The cuntreyis of France Flanders [etc.] … hes from tyme to tyme stollan and drawin away from this kingdome our best moneyes and allayed the same to thair grit benefite

2. absol. or intr. To commit or practise theft. Also const. fra a person. Also proverb.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xii 246.
Tho he wes thefe & ay wald steyle
a1400 Leg. S. xxvi 965.
1385 Rot. Sc. II 73/2.
Gif ony stellis … that he sall be henget
c1460 Consail Vys Man 296.
For stelaris only thevis are nocht, Bot als at wald stell and thai mocht
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2275.
I hecht to steill am I thairfoir ane theif?
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 404.
To ryde on nycht, to rug, to reve and stele
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Rom. ii 6 marg.
It is nocht lawfull for till stealle [etc.]
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Ephes. iv 28.
1551 Buccleuch Mun. 206.
Quhair ony misdoar of Scotland stelis and revis within Ingland
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3121.
Thairefter cummis necessitie, Hounger, pureteth, and pouertie, To steill that he must neidis
1569 Reg. Privy C. I 653.
Gif ony thevis stelis or gadderis cumpanyis togidder to ryde in England [etc.]
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 412/2.
Tak a wobster that is leill And a myllar that will not steill With ane preist that is not gredy
1584 Cal. Sc. P. VII 104.
A thief stelling rid hand and actu ipso may be taken without sommondes
1588 King Cat. in Cath. Tr. 214/28.
Thame quha stylles, reues, oppresses or hurtes oure nychtbours in thair guddes
1596 Soc. Ant. IV 156.
He causit McClaine & Glenchamrowne committ herschip and slauchter in my roum of Rennoche, the quhilk causit my pure men therefter to bege and steill
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 349.
He gangs earlie to steal, that cannot say na
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 337.
Better thig, nor steill and be hangit
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 878.
It is evill to steill besyd a theif
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1574.
The Devill made sowters schipmen, could neither steil nor row
(2) 1429 Cal. Doc. IV 405.
Gif a [Scots] man … stele fra a man of the est March of Ingland or agaynwart
1513 Doug. vii iv 205.
Circes … Be a quent way fra hir awin fader staw, Makand his stedis byleip meris onknaw
1596 Dalr. II 225/25.
Efter this iniure, Inglismen and Scotis, quhen betuene thame na apne weiris war ȝit proclamet, slewe, spoylet, stall, rugit, reiuet, ilk frome vther

3. tr. To take (away) surreptitiously or secretly, for some purpose other than financial gain or ownership of the thing taken. a. (A part of) a dead body. b. A weapon, etc. c. A ship.a. a1400 Leg. S. ii 401.
Men … stall a-way be nycht The twa bodis … of Petir and Paule
a1400 Leg. S. xxxviii 498.
Natalia … Stal a hand of hyre awne man
a1400 Leg. S. iv 246. 1492 Myll Spect. 291/12.
He fand the theif stollyn of the gallowis
c1520-c1535 Nisbet I 8.
Christ was stollin out of his graif
1535 Stewart 31978.
Quietlie awa the heid tha stall
1560 Rolland Seven S. 7768.b. c1420 Wynt. viii 5539.
Wndyre the erde he gert thaim myne And stall thare wattyr away haly, Qwhill all thare dykis war lewyd all dry
a1500 Seven S. 1055.
And quhen he was slepand syne The key scho staw and furth past scho
1535 Stewart 61095.
Ane ladie … fand the bar awa, Quhilk stollin wes, … The da befoir, … Be the tratour
a1568 Scott ii 57.
With twa blunt trincher speiris … It wes thair interpryis To fecht … Ane freynd of thairis throw hap come thair And hard the rumor ryis, Quha stall away thair styngis bath clair And hid in secreit wayis
1630-1651 Gordon Geneal. Hist. 180.
Slain by the earle with a suord, who had caused ther wapones to be stolen
c. 1535 Stewart 11552.
Quhen that the wynd wes fair … Tha staw ane schip out of Tames mouth, And in that schip thai passit to the se Out of the Romanis bandon for to be

d. To seize or capture (a fortified building) by guile or surprise. 1568 Reg. Morton I 40.
The bischope of Ros hows wes stollin be my Lord of Murrayis serwandis … therefter … the archeden of Ros asseigit the sam … that it wes recowerit
a1600 Warrender P. (SHS) I 278.
The erle … causit his captaines … steill the samyn [sc. Dumbarton Castle] be leddering the wallis therof

e. To take or carry off, entice, abduct or kidnap (a person) by force or guile; to rescue a person in this fashion. Also const. away. Also proverb.(1) ?1438 Alex. ii 8368.
Emynedus … said that Ferrand sould be dere Bocht, or ony that mother bere Him had away, but he him stall [F. emblés]
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 2700.
Hermonia He staw quietlie Orestes fra … And brocht in Thesaly belyve And maryed hire
c1420 Wynt. vi 1225.
Twa men he bad in prewete To … steyle [C. stel] that barne, … and thare it sla
a1500 Henr. Bludy Serk 19.
A fowll gyane … Stollin … hes the lady ȝing Away with hir is gane, And kest hir in his dungering
c1475 Wall. xi 1084.
At Robrastoun Wallas was tresonabilly Thus falsly stowyn fra his gud chewalry
a1538 Abell 8b.
Josada staw Joas hir brodir sone fra the persecutioun [of Athalia]
1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 373.
Mak ȝour abbotis of rycht religious men … not to rebaldis new cum frome the roste, Nor of ane stuffat stollin out of ane stabyll
15.. Clar. iii 2167.
Ȝe evill man, quha hes maid ȝow sa pert, To tryst my servand furth in this desert; Wald ȝe hir steill fra me in this maneir?
a1578 Pitsc. I 294/30.
The Earle of Angus was stowin quyitlie out of his ludging and had to the schipis and convoyit quyitlie to France
a1578 Pitsc. II 261/34.
He was sellit and stollin be the men of weir to thair proffeit and so was lattin go hame to Edinburgh and eschaiped in that maner
(2) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 2067.
Calabus … dredand that … He [sc. Orestes] suld be … slayne Staw him away & send him has To King Ydomeus
1513 Doug. i x 45.
Hym [sc. Ascanius] sall I sownd slepand steill [Sm. staile, Ruddim. stele] away And hyde apon the hight of Citheray
1513 Doug. v xiii 104.
By a dyrk clowd I staw thi son away
1513 Doug. vii vi 54.
Parys … the dochter of Lydea stal awa The fair Helyn
a1578 Pitsc. I 146/15.
This mischevous man haid ane excreabille fassone to tak all ȝoung men and childerin that ether he could steill quyitlie or tak away be ony moyen witht out the knawledge of the peopill
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 875.
Jesu cam out of Jhon Allans house & staw all the bairnes away
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 564.
God be thanked and our awin gude gyding, we will lye thereout all nicht or anie bodie steill ws

f. To steill (someone) to the horn, to cause (a person) to be put to the horn (Horn n.1 2 c), falsely, by dishonest or surreptitious means. 1584 Reg. Privy C. III 707.
[The same persons] first purchest the said Adame to be stollin to the horne, tuke the gift of his escheit and intromettit with his gudis
1590 Reg. Privy C. IV 523.
The said Johnne finding na meane quhairby he mycht tak away the executioun of the said Cuthbertis decreittis aganis him … he craftelie … causit steill him to the horne
1596 Acts Sederunt ii 27.
And by stelling of sundrie personis to the horne maist privelie & wranguslie
1599 Reg. Privy C. VI 35.
Gif ony sic chargeis wer used aganis the said complenar the same hes bene quietlie and secreitlie used, unaffixing a copie or useing of the remanent ceremoneis requisite and necesser in sic chargeis, purpoislie to steill him to the horne and thairby to draw him under grite inconvenientis
1629 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. III 192.
[They have] verie subtillie stollin [him to the horn]

g. To take (a piece) in chess, by cunning. ?1438 Alex. ii 3794.
All out the ches lay … The Bauderane drew ane poun but let That befoir the feires was set, And the maydin hir knicht in hy, To stele the poun all preuelly

4. With non-material object. a. specif. Of false goods: To take or exact (fear) by force (from their adherents) (rather than, as in Christianity, give spiritual health or salvation). b. Of heresies, etc.: To take on or appropriate aspects of true doctrine thus acquiring credence. c. To remove (error etc.) from religious doctrine. Const. away. d. To attribute, dishonestly, a disease (of horses) to (an ape).a. a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii 404.
Thi godis … Ar mad bot of handis of men … Thar makaris nothir gifand na hele, Bot erare redure thai thaim stele
b. 1562-3 Winȝet II 69/29.
Because be lang proces of tyme, lang occasioun to thame [sc. heresies] to steil the veretie hes bein patent
1562-3 Winȝet II 70/8.
Quhowsone … the rottin stink of a wickit erroure … sal begin to brest out and to steil the wordis of Godis law to the defence of it [etc.]
1581 Burne Disput. in Cath. Tr. (STS) 156/3.
For the affirmatiuis ioynit heirvith ar al thifteoulie stollin from the Catholik kirk
c. 1746 J. Row Sermon 3.
The Kirk of Scotland … has gane to Rome, and has stown awa the trash and trumpery
d. a1585 Polwart Flyt. 718 (T).
Thow attribuittis to aipis … The illis of hors … all thir illis thou staw … From simplis dytmentis of ane hors did die

5. To achieve (a goal) by dishonest means; to stele a diute (= duty) on (another) to impose (something) as a duty by guile or dishonesty. 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 724.
Ȝe bene the men that cleipis ȝow sa leill With fals behest quhill ȝe ȝour purpois steill
1626 Garden Worthies 8.
Gotten a greatnes by plaine strength, not stoune
1633 Maxwell Mem. II 248.
I heave stolne no diute on him, bot … I detect his vndewtie towardis me, and, … I sall mak his maring so vnwordie, that it sall not be speirit for

b. To stele a dint, to steal a march on, take advantage of, see Dint n. 2 b for further examples. 1460 Hay Alex. 1044.
I am send … Tribut of Grece … to bring … Bid him cum furth … And se thow bring me anser or thow stint And say on him me list nocht steill no dint
c1630 Scot Narr. 221.
Neither was this assembly indicted till the time approached very near; for it was their custome to surprise the ministrie, and, as we use to say, to steall a dint
1674 Edinb. B. Rec. X 205.
By our open declaring it … and not endeavouring to steall a dint upon anybody [etc.]

6. a. To cause the loss of (someone's life). b. To cause (time) to pass (unnoticed); to spend time.a. 1570 Sat. P. xxi 18.
Thay renigats … Hes stollin our Regentis lyfe
b. 1600-1610 Melvill 423.
A heavinlie conference, whilk haid stowin twa houres from us or we was awar
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. v 10.
Am I forc'd, Altho diuors'd From presence of my deirests eyes, The too slou day To steil away, Admiring hir

7. intr. To move in a quiet or secret fashion, surreptitiously or stealthily. a. To go away, depart (out) (furth) of a place, fra a person, also, (on) to another place in this fashion.(1) a1400 Leg. S. iii 929.
I thowcht I wald nocht dwell, Bot stal away this preuely
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 1637.
Vlixes stall thiftuisly Away
a1500 Rauf C. 604.
I suld haue maid him in the stour to be full hard stad, And I had wittin the carll wald away steill
a1500 K. Hart 797.
Quhill at the last in the hochis he cowris Than prevelie out at the ȝet can slyde He stall away
c1515 Asl. MS I 209/12.
This samyn Eduard tynt the battell of Bannokburn … and syne was schamefully chast efter the batell fra Striuling to Dunbar and thar stall away in a bait and fled in Yngland
1513 Doug. iv x 42.
A queyn alane to steil away thus, lo! Accumpanyit bot with mery maryneris
1524 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 203.
The marinaris … stall away be nycht … and left thar husbandis on land … to be adjornait and punyst for thar deidis
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 871. 1531 Bell. Boece I 203.
He … stall away be ane private postrome
1531 Bell. Boece II 62.
He stall away to the nixt wod
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3315. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 5297.
1615 Highland P. III 194.
The said Ronnald Oig … with his compliceis staw away in the nicht out of the said castell
1620 Aberd. Council Lett. I 182.
[He] hes not onlie verie mischeauve stollin away frome his capitane [etc.]
c1650 Spalding I 260.
Sum of his soldiouris stall away over the wallis
c1475 Wall. iv 138.
Robert the Boide stall of the toune his way
1596–7 Cal. Sc. P. XII 422.
[He] stall [his way the 6th instant in the high mid time of the Council when all men were at the King's palace]
(2) c1420 Wynt. viii 2210 (W) (see b (2) below). c1450-2 Howlat 817 (A).
The dene rurale … Stawe for schame of the steid
c1475 Wall. vi 626.
Quhen thai saw weyll the Scottis war at rest, Out off the feild to steill thaim thocht it best
c1475 Wall. xi 974.
He behuffyd owt off Ingland to steill
1513 Doug. iv vi 51.
With dissymulance wenyt thou, onfaithfull wight Thou mycht haue hyd fra me sa fals a slycht, And, myne onwyttyng, steill furth of my land?
a1538 Abell 111a.
Be the help of Johne Liddaill … quietlie he staw out of Ingland & come in Scotland
1570-3 Bann. Trans. 387.
The Frenche men … staw out of Leyth
a1578 Pitsc. II 151/31.
The bischop … stall fourtht of the toun and eskaipit narullie of his lyfe
(3) c1475 Wall. vi 299.
He staw fra thaim as priuale as he may In to Scotland he come
a1500 Seven S. 1086.
For to lat ȝow slepand ly I stall fra ȝow full prevely
1535 Stewart 53079.
Syne fra the hous rycht schamfullie staw he
1558 Admir. Ct. Bk. (St. S.) 88.
The saidis Gelis and Hadriane eftir that thai had remanit with the said Johnne be the space of xiiij oulkis … thiftuuslie staw fra him in the nycht … contrair thair promis
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI (1825) 197.
He persaving that he was still sa inclosit be thayme, he awaittit a secreit tyme … and … stall from thayme at a bak syde
(4) 1535 Stewart 25466.
This Wortigerne … Richt quietlie on to the Walis he staw, [heading staw in the walis]
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 43.
The erle of Rothes sta quietlie to Denmark and tuik greit ritches with him

b. To move in a particular direction as indicated in the adv. or prep. phr.(1) a1500 Henr. Orph. 257 (Asl.).
The dog slepit … And Orpheus attour his wame in stall
a1500 Seven S. 97.
Wnder ilk nuke of his bed … Quhen he was slepand thai stall in
a1508 Kynd Kittok 19 (Ch. & M.).
In at the ȝet scho stall prevely
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 156.
Lyk tua stalkaris steilis in cokis and henis
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 1183.
Steil in ane nuke, quhen thay lyste on thé luke
1596 Dalr. II 41/6.
Lyk a traytour he steilis in, that … he may saw his venumous poyson
1596 Dalr. II 271/25.
Bot quhen … the gouernour passes to Lythcow the erle of Lenox thiftuouslie steilis to Glasgwe and manis the toune
1676 Inverness Rec. II 265.
Ther ar sewerall persons, strangers, alse weill men as women, stollen in quyetlie to this burghe
(2) c1420 Wynt. viii 2210 (W).
About a hill a preve way Out of the stoure thai stall … And come behind the Scottismenis bak
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 199.
Amid a stock richt priuelie I stall
1515 Douglas Corr. 69.
I wald nocht ȝe leyt the Byschop of Morray nor ȝonn Duk steyll hyddyr by ȝow
1513 Doug. xii Prol. 9.
Saturn … Durst langar in the firmament appeir Bot stall abak
1523 Treas. Acc. V 231.
Becaus the cariage hors and men deliverit be thare provest stall hayme
1535 Stewart 53045.
Richt quyetlie on to the wall he staw
a1568 Pedder C. 31.
Thay schamed schrewis, … Steilis doun, and lyis behind ane pak Drinkand bot dreggis
1570 Sempill in Sat. P. xii 13.
For sic ane prince sall neuer pure man haif, Tint be ane tratour steilling vp ane close
1661 Soc. Ant. XXII 250.
Shoe stealled behind the backes of the rest
1680 Sempill P. 55/109.
I staw doun through the Nether-Wynd
c1650 Spalding I 354.
Ane of the … soldiouris … mynding to steill hame, is apprehendit, and … hangit
1685 Marchmont P. III 53.
And that in the mean time the boates might steell by with the rest of the men
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 854.
I am even steeling throw the world lyk ane wobster

c. To come (ap)on, upon surreptitiously for the purpose of attack. 1494 Loutfut MS 6b.
Quhar ilkan of thaim mycht fynd thair party aduersar at discouering or steill apon him or his placis
1548–9 Corr. M. Lorraine 292.
Caus wait one the fortht of Inaresk sa mony as is nedfull, and maik for suir advertisment in tha parttis, that tha be nocht stoun on
1562-3 Winȝet II 65/15.
Bot that thai mot steil mair fraudfullie vpon the vnwar scheip

d. tr. To be stolen off one's feet, to be caught out, to be taken unawares, without deliberation or premeditation. 1635 Dickson Wr. 73.
The drunkard and brawler are so in resolution, but the godly is stolen off his feet only in a passion or fit

e. To steil (a person) doune, to kill or murder (him) in a surreptitious fashion. 1570 Sat. P. xvii 101.
O bludy bouchour … thy poysoun did doun steill Not only him quhom wofully thow woundit Bot pure & riche thy vennoume hes gart feill
1596 Dalr. II 22/18.
Machabie deuyses to cal Bancho and Fleanch … till a banket, that be sik a trayne quyetlie he may steil thame doune

f. To cause (a person or thing) to go or be taken (somewhere) surreptitiously. 1567 Reg. Morton I 29.
It wes devyssit to haue stollin men in Sanct Serfis ynche; … to haue causet ȝow carey the quene furth [etc.]
1670 Edinb. B. Rec. X 77.
Small quantities of seck, which being easilie portable are insensiblie stollen by at the ports … to the greatt prejudice of the touns imposition

8. intr. Of sleep or forgetfulness: To creep over ((up) on) one. 1513 Doug. ii v 35.
Quhen the fyrst quyete Of naturale sleip … Stelis on fordoverit mortale creaturis
1562-3 Winȝet I 27/28.
That be the proces of tyme … forȝetfulnes steil not vpon us

9. To produce or introduce (a (falsified) legal document) surreptitiously or outwith the proper procedures. 1678 Fountainhall Decis. I 11.
Nullo modo relevat to stop certification, if it be not produced now, else it were easy to steal up a false paper after production and thereby shun the improving thereof

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"Stele v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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