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

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

Stra, Stray, Straw, n. Also: straa, strae, straye, strai, stre(y, strea(y, strawe, strau, strav, stro(e, strow. [ME and e.m.E. strawe (c1200), strea (Ancr. R.), stravȝ (c1290), east-midl. and north. stra (Havelok, Cursor M.), stree (c1325), straw (c1430), OE stréaw, ON strá.]For further examples see Hallow n.3, and cf. Wyndil(l) stray n.

1. Straw, the stalks of cereals, also peas, etc., separated from the grain by threshing. Chiefly coll., also, rarely, pl. Also in fig. context.coll. (1) a1500 Henr. Fab. 332 (Asl.).
Our joly cat … Quhilis wald … lat hir [sc. the mouse] ryn wnder the stra
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1450. 1477 Edinb. Chart. 140.
The merket of haye, stra, gers and hors mete to be vsit and haldin in the Cowgaite, fra Forestaris Wynd doun to Peblis Wynd
a1500 Seven S. 1568.
Than schupe the lord his way to ga And left hir lyand in the stra
1505 Treas. Acc. III 150.
For stra to the quenis pelat, xij d.
1513–14 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 26.
We scher his ber extendand to xxxvii thraiff … and the said James [was] to haw had the stra
1531 Bell. Boece I xxxi.
In this cuntre is ane stane … that … kendlis cauld stra
1531 Bell. Boece I xlvii.
The man that is haldin of maist clene … life layis ane wosp of stra on the alter
1547 Treas. Acc. IX 139.
To Champnay, direct to Edinburght and Linlythqw chargeing the inhabitantis to have in reddynes aittis, stra, hay, and other vyuerris for the Franchemen and thair hors
1548 Treas. Acc. IX 260.
For canves to be fyllit witht stra to the boyes of the chalmer to ly upoun
1555–6 Edinb. B. Rec. II 325.
For stra to stop the mortis of the sollis
a1578 Pitsc. II 282/24.
Quhan thair is ane calf … sellit to ane flescher … the awneris … will have … the skin agane that thay may stop it with stra to lat the cow … sie the said skin and lick it and … gif thame the milk to thair proffeit
1590–1 Exch. R. XXII 119.
Straa
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 117/33.
This Cupide hidd that maries yett … The adamant stone uith heauie yrne … The lamber beade uith stra or caffe [etc.]
1667 Kirkintilloch B. Ct. 150.
The commanders saw our case wes to pitie and caused some corne and strae to come in for our help out of some neighbours
1677 Fawside Coal Compt 16.(b) 1425 Acts II 12/1.
That na hemp lynt stray haye [etc.] … be put nere the fyre na abone the low in fyre housis
1478 Acta Aud. 67/1.
A tub a cruk j turs of haddir with stray of a bed
1501 Treas. Acc. II 124.
To James Dog to by stray to the kingis chamir in Invernes, xvj d.
1503 Treas. Acc. II 392.
For stray to beddis, and for strowing of the Abbay Clos
1504 Treas. Acc. II 428.
For bent and stray to the quenis chamir
1507 Treas. Acc. III 382.
For fluring of the princis chamir, stray to his cradill
1540 Lynd. Sat. 1921.
Ane gife ȝour quhislecaw cry quhiche, Stop in ane wisp of stray
1546 Treas. Acc. VIII 453.
For stray to be mudewall to the keeching chymnay, xiiij d.
1547–8 Stirling B. Rec. I 52.
The said tenement … standand sufficiently in … kaboris, wattillis and stray
1548 Treas. Acc. IX 201.
For tua thraif of stray to mak brechamys to thir hors, ij s.
1549 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 434.
Strai
1549 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 443.
Straye
1554 Peebles B. Rec. I 410. 1566 Mill Mediæv. Plays 341.
For stray to the pakking of the small fyre workis … within the puncheouns
1567 G. Ball. 50.
O God … That on the hay and stray will ly, Amang the assis, oxin and ky
a1578 Pitsc. I 312/8.
Ane baxter … brocht his armefull of stray and caist in to kindill the fyre
1579 3rd Rep. Hist. MSS 402/2.
Yeirlie ane wedder, ane creill full of peittis and ane sled full of stray
1591 Edinb. Test. XXIII 293.
The stray of aucht bollis peis and beins with the brok of the haill stray, that is to say calf and cawingis
1595 St. A. Test. II 226.
For stray to clenge the hows
1597 Crim. Trials II 26.
[She] fyrit the water, and brunt stray at ilk newke of the bed
1621 Acts IV 626/2.
That sindrie persounes of meane qualitie acquyre … ruinous landis … and for want of meanes to build the same sufficientlie thaickes the same with straye and daillis
(c) c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 127/30.
My hyd to offer I am abell, For evill schoud strae that I reiv wald
a1578 Pitsc. (1814) xxiv.
The countrie houssis be narrow, covered with strae and reid
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Stramen, strae
1626 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. II 131.
Strae
1657 Glasg. Univ. Mun. III 502.
For six threive of strae for Mr. Robert Baillies stabell theiking
1681 Glasgow Chart. II 214.
[That] such houses within the said town as are at present theicked with strae be theicked of new with sclait or tyle
(d) 1578 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 77.
xx s. for ane mow of strey and calf
(e) 1566-70 Buch. Comm. on Virgil Georgics i 192.
Palea, the reid of the strea
1587 Carmichael Etym. 6.
Stramen, strea
1603 Reg. Great S. 491/2.
Tua kimpillis of strea
1605 Rec. Old Aberd. I 37.
Fyve threaves [pr. chreaves] of streay … for making the samen [sc. tenement] watter thigt
1626 Glasgow Trades House 119.
For strea to thair bed
1631 Monteith Stewartry Ct. 9 March.
Ane boll of blak corne with the strea
1667 Lauderdale P. I 280.
Strea sels in most places a half a crown and three shillings a thrave
(f) a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 439.
And for thy bed tak now ane bunche of stro [: tho]
1535 Stewart 33672.
But bed or bowster to lig on the stro, With litill happing
a1540 Freiris Berw. 172 (B).
Thir silly freiris two Wer lokit in the loft amang the stro
a1568 Scott xxxv 19.
Thay sall go lyk dust and stro Bene vaneist with the wind
15… Nat. Lib. MS 22. 2. 11.
Taik about half ane pund of sheipis dunge out of ane coat quhar schepe doth dunge upun stroe … and put it upon ane woolen cloth and maik it so hoat as the child can be abill to tholl it
1670 Kirkintilloch B. Ct. 22.
Thrie stouks of stroe
1689 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. XIV 780.
14 lipies of ots with strow
(g) 1549 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 438.
Twa firlottis aittis with the straw
c1664 Hay Fleming Six Saints I 362.
I will die whinging upon a pickle straw
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 236.
The straw blancht, and such corn as it afforded yelded no male but lickdusted trash, without any aliment or food for man or beast
1666-74 Fraser Polichron. 493.
His sone and servants being in a kill barn, twisting roapes of straw
1677 Kirkcudbr. Test. (Reg.H.) 13 Feb.
Strawe of steilbow straw also upon the said ground
1682 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS 8 Nov.
Strau
1682 Fountainhall Decis. I 203.
The rent was meliorated … by having so much … straw upon the ground
(2) c1460 Consail Vys Man 39.
Strow nocht thi stra in flytaris fyre, For byrnand wordis bettes ire, And quhay weill tholis al ourcummys
pl. a1568 Bann. MS 158b/66.
He will nocht rys to the pott bot pischis amang the strais
1641-8 Skipper's Acc. (Smettone) 23b.
For stravs to the bousn

b. Of horses: In or at stra, provided with straw. 1591 Thanes of Cawdor 204.
The fyve hors in strae in the nicht x s.
1600 Argyll Rentals 18 Dec.
Horsis at stray

c. With specification of the type of cereal, etc. 1589 St. A. B. Ct. 20 June.
Sewin threaffis aett strey
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Fabole, beane-strae
1616 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 7.
Quheit stray
1638 Hawick Ann. 43.
For 20 thraives of ait strae £7
1644 Edinb. Test. LXI 26.
Tuelf threivs of peis stroe
1645 S. Leith Rec. 60.
Ladie Arnot will have for hir wheat strea 13 s. 4 d.
1650 Dumfries Treas. Acc. MS 20 March.
Payes stra
1690 Foulis Acc. Bk. 129.
Oatstrae got last yeir at 32 sh. the turss

d. Camell stray, lemon-grass. 1500-1699 Herbarius Latinus Annot. cxxvi (Bot.).
Squinantum, camell stray

2. A stalk of a cereal plant, a (piece of) straw. Also pl. Also proverb. ?1438 Alex. ii 2185.
Idorus of rashes and strais … ane croun sho mais
1513 Doug. vii xiii 67.
So spedely couth scho fle … That with hir curs na reid nor tendir stra was harmyt ocht
1549 Compl. 138/19.
Ȝe sal tak furtht ane grit balk furtht of ȝour auen ee, ande there eftir ȝe maye tak furtht ane litil strey furtht of ȝour nychtbours ee
1584 Sempill in Sat. P. xlv 299.
Reasing the devill with … Palme croces and knottis of strease
1585 James VI Ess. 48.
The withered stra … aboue her nest she laid
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 52/176.
Hauing tane ane dry and wethered stra, … She sprang vp heigh, outfleing euery fa
1629 Dundonald Par. Rec. 278.
They had holden … her legge about ane cokefull of water and had cast some knottes of strawes in the water
1662 Crim. Trials III 604.
Ve vold flie away, quhair ve vold be, ewin as strawes wold flie wpon an hie-way
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1063.
Mony gathers stroes & tyns winlings

3. attrib. and comb. a. Made of or consisting of straw. ?a1500 Dewoit Exerc. 83.
Sueit Jesu, for that gret pacience that ȝe had … cled lik ane fule, with ane vile stra hat apoun ȝour blist heid
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 214.
Stra wispis hingis owt [sc. of his boots] quhair that the wattis ar worne. Cum thow agane to skar us with thy strais
1566 Prot. Bk. Thomas Johnsoun 100.
Ane Flandiris stray chyir
15.. Lord Fergus' Gaist 83.
This littill gaste … wald play and hop Abowt the heid ane stre strop
1570 Prot. Bk. A. Millar 4b.
Ane Flanders stray chyar
1621 Edinb. B. Rec. VI 425.
Giff the samen thak and straye ruiffes sal heir after at onye tyme becum ruinous
1625 Edinb. Test. LIII 115.
Thrie strae baskettis and tua wand baskettis
1653 Edinb. Test. LXVII 145b.
Fyve stra palies estimat all to four pundis
1664 Inventory 4 in Decr. Dalr. XI.
Tuo strae paleases
1687 Lett. (Annandale Papers, R. C. Reid transcript) 29 Oct.
Set your trees in good ground, And wynd them about below with hay or straw ropes for fear of hares gnawing the bark

b. Stray hous, -mercat, a place for storing or selling straw. 1584 Prot. Bk. A. Lawson 112b.
The keis of the north hous heich & laich with the stray hous beneeth it
1618 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 98.
The lok of the straehous doore in the abbay
1580 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 161.
To caus repair … the calsay betuix the stray merkett and the buriall place
c1585 Rogers Social Life I 312.
Execut to the deyth at the stray mercat
1611 Edinb. Test. XLVI 264b.
This wes done in the said Abraham his awin duelling hous … besyde the stray mercat
1633 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 311.
From the stray markit to the abay

c. Stramen, workmen who supply, deliver, etc. straw. 1616 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 9.
To the stra men to drink

d. Stray wagis, money spent on straw. 1531–2 Treas. Acc. VI 44.
To the saidis iiij hors expens in aittis ilk day … Item, in stray wagis to thaim ilk day

e. Straybreid, strawbroad, a straw's breadth, as a measure of smallness or insignificance. c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 234.
Scho suld not stert for his straik a stray breid of erd
1605-6 Welsh Forty-eight Serm. 467.
There is not a straw-broad between him and condemnation

f. Stroe arguments, weak, insubstantial or invalid arguments. 1620 Calderwood VII 438.
Ye provoke, as Golias, all other wise myndit, to answeir your strong arguments, or rather stroe arguments

g. Strea deid, a natural death. [Cf. ON strádauða, also in the later dial.] 1604 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 136.
The bairne is fund to die fair strea deid in the hous of Querff and nocht in his fatheris defalt

h. In parasynthetic compounds: Strawedgit, edged with straw; strea colored, straw-coloured. 1670 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Processes No. 78 (27 Sept.).
They … out of meir malice … caused thresh and berrie out the wholl cornes and beir upon the said open and highway and did waist and distroy the samyn by throwing wholl sheaffs of corne to the horses quhile leading the samyn so as the ground in many parts is strawedgit
16… Alchem. MSS V.
Ȝe sall have in the bottome of ȝour retort a most fyne strea colored calx of [gold]

4. In various special phrases: a. To seke ane stray in the letter, to search for a needle in a haystack. b. To lay a stra, to stop, take a break.a. ?1438 Alex. ii 3774.
I am sa sikker, I vnderta That in the letter [F. estrain litter, straw bedding] sho sekes ane stra
b. a1500 Henr. Orph. 241.
Off sik musik to wryte I do bot dote, Thar-for at this mater a stra I lay, For in my lyf I coud newir syng a note
1535 Stewart 652.
Heir will I stand ane quhile and lay ane stra
1535 Stewart 41106.
Heir mon I la ane stra into this steid And of Banquho sum mentioun for to mak
1573 Davidson in Sat. P. xlii 540.
Euin as the preistis, thair matynis said, To serue the tyme ane stra syne laid

c. proverb. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2010.
Wenis thou with wylis … me to mat? It is ane auld dog doutles that thow begylis; Thow wenis to drau the stra befoir the cat
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 453.
He stumbles at a strea and loupes at a brea
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 519.
It is ill to draw a strea before an auld cat
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 244.
A auld cat to draw a stra before
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 546.
Fortune and revin scheits garris manie men ly on the strae

5. As a type of something unimportant and insignificant (see also 3 f above): a. In phrases with nocht and other negative particles.(1) 1375 Barb. iii 320.
I count nocht my lyff a stra
1375 Barb. vi 505.
He wald nocht pris his liff a stra
?1438 Alex. ii 1652.
It semis it deiris him nocht ane stra
?1438 Alex. ii 7360.
Now prys I nocht the oist of Ynd The leist stra
c1420 Wynt. vi 2174.
I cownt noucht the tothire twa Wycys the walu off a stra
1513 Doug. iv Prol. 141.
Syk luf dowe nocht a stra
1513 Doug. xii xiv 22.
Thou fers fo, Thy fervent wordis compt I not a stro
a1568 Bann. MS 52a/95.
Sayweill but doweill Is nocht worth a straw
1571 Lanark B. Rec. 56.
For mispersoning of Thome Gray, ballie, evingand [sic] him na better nor ane stra
c1590 J. Stewart 238 § 154.
But me all vertews skairs awails ane stro
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 121.
I will not give a straw for all the riches of the earth to my saull, without faith
1642 Banff Field C. (1908-9) 92.
He … took wp a stra, and held it out befor the session, and said he wold not give that stroe for all they could doe or say to him
(2) 1540 Lynd. Sat. 1729.
As for this king, I cure him nocht twa strais
a1634 Forbes Rec. 443.
Being a matter not woorth two straes
(3) 1570 Sat. P. xvi 76.
He susseis not thre strais Quha suld be rewlar

b. A trifle, an insignificant matter. Also, knots of straw; trifles. Also with ironic intent, and transf.(1) 1639 Fugitive Poetry II xvi 4/11.
I sall not sound precise at stroes, Whill I doe swallow camels great
1637 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 182.
To pluck out a poor man's one eye for a thing indifferent; i.e. for knots of straw, and things … off the way to heaven
(2) 1639 Baillie I 185.
That fifth monarchie which the Jesuits hes been long hatching for their darling the Spanish king, had not the puritanick Calvinists, especiallie in Britain, laid hitherto some straes in their way
(3) transf. a1599 Rollock Wks. I 363.
I sal gar ane stray bar the ȝettis of hevin on thy teith
1635 Dickson Wr. 177.
If thou wilt not be partaker of His sufferings, a straw shall bar thee out of heaven

c. In Doug.: Stra for …, an expression of contempt.Recorded in ME in Chaucer, Hoccleve, etc. 1513 Doug. i Prol. 33.
Stra for thys ignorant blabryng imperfyte; Besyde thy polyst termys redymyte
1513 Doug. ix Prol. 41.
Stra forto spek of gayt to gentill wight

6. ? 1535 Stewart 47573.
His rycht thairof [sc. Bruce's right to the Crown] wes neuir the les ane stra, And ay wes fre quhen tyme wes till persew

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"Stra n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/dost/stra>

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