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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.

Thing, Thyng(e, n. Also: thinge, thynnge, thyinge, theng, theing, theyng, think, thynk, ting, tyng. Pl. also tynkgis. [ME and e.m.E. þing (c1175), thing (Cursor M.), thyng (Chaucer), thynge (1432-50), thinge (c1500), think (1547), OE þing.]

1. Something done or to be done; an act, (course of) action, deed; transaction.There is considerable overlap, esp. between senses 1-3.(a) 1375 Barb. i 300.
Thair wes nane auentur that mocht Stunay hys hart na ger him let To do the thing that he wes on set
a1400 Leg. S. i 138.
Gret is the askin[g]e, Bot to God it is esy thinge
a1400 Leg. S. vi 527.
Seand the thynnge that this man here Dois in the name of Jhesu dere
a1400 Leg. S. xxxviii 197.
Quhat ned thé to begyne the thing That thu mycht nocht bring til ending
1398–9 Liber Melros II 490.
In the witnes of the qvhilke thingis to my … obligatoris I haft set my seale
c1420 Wynt. vi Prol. 34.
And redy aly till hys byddyng In lefull and in honest thyng
1425 Milne-Home MSS 19.
Al thir thyngis, cunandis and condicionis befor wryttyne lely and trewly to be kepit
c1420 Wynt. viii 3360.
Tharefore fell folk had wondyr then How thai … Swa hey a thyng [C. thynge, W. thing] durst tak on hand
1434–5 Reg. St. A. 424.
In the witnes of this thing to the party of this endenture remanent wyth the said Waltere
1562-3 Winȝet I 107/1.
Thair being sa mony thingis requirit to trew pennance … as sobing, … hawy dolour for the foremer offenssis
a1578 Pitsc. I 83/20.
Quhill they war satisfieit of the thingis taine fre thame, quhairof the misdoaris war convickit
(b) 1479 Sc. Ant. XV 142.
In witnes of the quhilk theng we haf houng our sell to this our letteres of power
1488 Reg. Paisley 407.
(c) 1518 Maxwell Mem. 406.
In vytnes of the quhilk thynk I haf subscriwyt this writ
1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 242.
I man advertice your grace of all utheris thinkis that apperandlie is to be don
(d) c1600 Medical Recipes 86b.
It is guid [in Aries] … to begin all guid tingis that thow vald haue sone endit and is evill to do tingis quhilk thow vald lang keip

b. An item, point, consideration, condition; one of a list of similar things. Also uninfl. pl. a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi 388.
Johnne Criste commendit gretly Of uertuise … Bot namely in-to thingis thre. Firste … his birth [etc.]
1429 Sc. Hist. Rev. XXXI 146.
Off all thir fermys forsaid and off the haill chamerlayn ȝeld all tyngis contet and alowyt
1460 Hay Alex. 3073.
Thay send ane trattie, that wald he grant a thing … Tha[m]e to respute ane fourtene dayis
c1475 Wall. x 604.
Thar lattis me a thing, I am so boundyn with wytnes to be leill
1531 Wigtown B. Ct. 247a.
His covnt of the borrow mallis of the ȝeir … m v hundretht xxvii ȝeire all tynkgis covn[t]
1571 Cal. Sc. P. IV 6.
I was instructit be my Lord Regenttis grace to deill with my Lord Hansden for sik theyngis as followis
a1667 Wodrow Analecta III 21.
But there is one thing that I am very angry with him for and that is [etc.]
uninfl. pl. a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi 644.
The lofing of his getteris In-to fyfe thing wele aperis
1496 Acta Conc. II 9.
That the sade vj markis was condycionaly remittit … gif the remanent of the thing contenit in the endenture … war observit

2. An event, happening; an outcome, result; a fact, matter, affair. Also uninfl. pl. Also proverb. (in fig. context). 1375 Barb. i 8.
Suthfastnes That schawys the thing rycht as it wes
1375 Barb. iv 149.
Bot werd that till the end ay drywis The warldis thingis sua thaim trawaillyt That [etc.]
1375 Barb. iv 693.
Thai … makis fanding Of thingis to cum to haiff knawing
1375 Barb. xii 128.
He throw plane & hard fechting Has her eschewyt wnlikly thing
c1420 Wynt. v 1952.
It is Goddys propyrte To ken the thyngys or thai be
c1420 Wynt. vi 2125.
Thare wes nane than Swa lycherows a lyvand man, As he wes; and for that thyng He dowtyde to be made a kyng
c1420 Wynt. viii 3320.
Lw how a lytill thyng may gere Gret harmys fall
1456 Hay II 54/24.
Be prudence man has knaulage of the thing that is for to cum
1456 Liber Aberbr. II 88.
All debatabil thingis betuix the said abbot … and the said lorde
1460 Hay Alex. 19327.
Trewlie it is full greit mereit Guide thingis for to be put in wreit
1473 Reg. Cupar A. I 177.
Tha payand ȝerly … xix markis [etc.] … with ledyn of sand to al nedful thyngis of the abbai
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1632.
We may nat cleirlie vnderstand nor se God as he is, nor thingis celestiall
1490 Irland Mir. I 31/9.
For be the operacioune of the speris and hevynnis aboue, He gouernis natural thingis in this waurld
1490 Irland Mir. III 2/1 (see 4 (1) below).
a1500 Bk. Chess 493.
Papirius Come with his fader quhar the counsall sat … so secret was the thing That thai on sat … thair suld no man revele
1513 Doug. iii v 68.
Be nocht agast, ȝe se bot suythfast thyng
1535 Stewart 1703.
Tha thocht his dait wes ouir lang to indure And he war deid richt weill thai knew that thing That Ferlegus suld efter him be king
1535 Stewart 35777.
Richt closlie ȝit tha keipit all this thing, Ȝit unreveillit to Duffus the king
1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 96.
Assurand me of on thyng—that he suld debait the ald alliens of France
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iv 606.
Quha wan the feild, or greitest campioun, Or was Victour, I nacht decerne that thing
1560 Rolland Seven S. 7256.
How can ȝe then imagine siclike thingis? Quhat kinde of way is possibill to me For to be in ȝone knichtis companie?
1585 Acts III 385/2.
Thingis miscontenting thame in the administratioun … of the realme
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 396.
And there shall be no such thing as rebellion or læse majesty
1681 Stair Inst. iii ii § 21.
Apprising … renders the thing apprised litigious
uninfl. pl. a1400 Leg. S. xviii 60.
Sene thinge to cum we myskene al
proverb. a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1171.
Manie things fallis out betuene the cap and the over lip

b. coll. Affairs, business. 1375 Barb. xx 146.
The … erle off Murreff … And the lord … off Dowglas Suld haiff thaim in-to gouernyng Quhill thai had wyt to ster thar thing

c. ? An assembly, gathering.Reminiscent of ON þing a public assembly, but perhaps better regarded as a further example of 3 below. c1475 Wall. vi 373.
He raid To Tynto hill … Quhar Wallace lay with his folk … A likly ost, as of sa few, thai fand … Gyff ye be he that rewllis all this thing

3. An anaphoric or cataphoric reference, with little or no semantic content apart from that supplied contextually, by a qualifying adjective, clause, etc.: An entity, phenomenon, etc., as specified in the context. Also without article, and uninfl. pl. Also proverb.(1) 1375 Barb. i 225.
A! fredome is a noble thing!
?1438 Alex. ii 290.
The worship and the nobill thing Of the nobill duke de Archade
?1438 Alex. ii 2447.
Quhat tua thingis makes ȝow maist lyking Or confort, into leill lufing? … Hope and vmbethink
14.. Burgh Laws c. 14 (A).
It is to wyt that bludewyt stafis dynt merchet herȝelde na sic thingis acht nocht to be herd in burgh
1456 Hay I 149/33.
To dispute … quhilk … of thir twa thingis suld have the maistry
1490 Irland Mir. I 12/4.
And sene I speik samekile of wissdome thi hienes may spere at me quhat thing it is
1490 Irland Mir. I 110/15.
Sic thingis of ignoraunce and inperfeccioun may nocht be in the hie and excellent diuinite
1494 Loutfut MS 35b.
Pel pal paale is all ane thing
a1500 Bk. Chess 61.
It is ane ewill thing … to haf of God na dreid
1513 Doug. iii vii 37.
Ressaue … Thir remembrance wrocht with my handis … the lykast thing levyng, And verray ymage of my Astianax ȝyng
1540 Lynd. Sat. 3147 (Ch.).
This is an mervelous thing, How sic misordour in this realme sould ring
1549 Compl. 140/18.
There is nocht ane mayr ignorant, & ane mair blynd thyng in this varld, as is til adhere to the iugement of the comont pepil
a1568 Scott in Bann. MS 246b/9.
Thow langit ay to prufe … quhat kin thing wes lufe
a1570-86 Maitland in Maitl. F. 43/26.
Lisum blythnes is ane happie thing
1600 Dundee Shipping P. 68.
He is to pay hayris, wetteillis and all kaynd of theing belongein to the woyage
a1658 Durham Blessedness Death (1682) 40.
These four things that are called mans last things, Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell
(b) 1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 229.
Sayand he schew sic thynkis to my lord as my lord governour send hym word to do
(c) c1420 Liber Calchou 449.
The hart [sc. heart] fleis kindly tha tyngis that is aganys it
(2) a1400 Leg. S. v 109.
Vane thinge is it I-wis … Quhare-thru the seknes na remed Ma haf [L. Medicina vana dicitur ex qua morbus nequaquam curatur]
?1438 Alex. i 712.
Thow hes, me think, na gud arming, And to byde, it is perrillous thing
c1420 Wynt. vi 1357 (W).
Gif destany be neidfull thing
(3) a1400 Leg. S. iii 694.
[They] tuk baptisme thru the prechinge That he mad thame of hewynlyk thinge
a1400 Leg. S. xiv 60.
& for to serwe God mare … Warld[l]y t[h]ink he lefyt ay
proverb. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2834.
For fair thingis oftymis ar fundin faikin
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 230.
A vanter and a lier are baith ane thing
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1464.
The thing ye may not get desyre not and for tint thing cair not
a1663 Pappity Stampoy 19.
Forbid a fool a thing and that he will do

b. The Buk of Thingis, the book De Proprietatibus Rerum by the thirteenth-century encyclopaedist Bartholomaeus Anglicus. 1494 Loutfut MS 33a.
And as the Buk of Thingis and Vincent sais he [sc. the sturgeon] has a litil vame to the regard of his body

4. A material object, physical entity. Also uninfl. pl. 14.. Burgh Laws c. 19 (A).
Gif any burges be chalangit … of ony maner of thifft … & the burges sais that thing he bocht lellily in the kingis merket [etc.]
a1500 Henr. Fab. 79.
O gentill iasp, O riche and nobill thing
1488 Treas. Acc. I 80.
In the said box, a thing of gold with a top like a timmele
1490 Irland Mir. III 2/1, 35.
The proper way & maner of knawlage … is first to knaw bodely sensible and visible thingis and be knawlage of thame tocum … to the knawlage of thingis spirituale … that he suld recouer the spirituall grace … be the meyn of bodely and sensible thingis as the watter in the bapteme
uninfl. pl. 1375 Barb. iii 573.
Saylys ayris and other thing
?1438 Alex. i 634.
We ar … priuie with the nobill king That geuis sa mony ryall thing [F. qui nous a fait maint don]

b. Goods, possessions, belongings; property. Also of people regarded as possessions. Also uninfl. pl. or coll. 14.. Burgh Laws c. 104 (A).
The met burd … a principall bede … a kyst [etc.] … Thir thingis fra the house … may nocht be disseuerit Ande all thingis that ar biggit & set in erde sal stand still
1457 Peebles B. Rec. I 119.
The gud wif sal mannor thir thyngys [sc. heirship goods] qwil scho lefis
1696 Foulis Acc. Bk. 188.
For a coatch hyre to Raevelston … to inventar things
uninfl. pl. 1375 Barb. iii 615.
Owtakyn our armyng We kast our thing all in the se
a1400 Leg. S. v 114.
Quhene man his propre thynge For Goddis sak gyffis powre men
a1400 Leg. S. xii 137.
Pylat this Judas had In sic daynte that he hyme mad Hale kepare of al the thinge [L. ipsum carum] That he had in-to gowernynge
a1400 Leg. S. xxxii 543.
For al mankynd … That deit before Criste wes dede, Ware send me [sc. Satan] as my propyre thinge
c1420 Ratis R. 637.
To thaim that are in mistyr grete Gyf of thi met and of thi drink And alsua of thi vthir thinge
c1420 Ratis R. 1000.
14.. Burgh Laws c. 5 (B).
Gyf aburges hafe lent in the burgh ony of his thyng til furthdwelland men
a1500 Sir Eger 506.
They wist all of his coming, Thought to slay him, and take his thing [P. his gold & his good]

c. An item of food or drink. 1456 Hay II 123/35.
It war gude to drink culand thingis efter
1456 Hay II 133/10.
Quhat thingis ar maist fattand and quhat maist lenand … of kyndis of metis
1531 Bell. Boece I 179.
To abstene fra sic thingis as micht mak thaim inebriat or dronkin
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. in Cath. Tr. (STS) 90/13.
For the peple not knauing to ressaue vther thing bot bair breid and vyne as thai do at hame

d. In thing, of or concerned with things (rather than persons). 14.. Reg. Maj. c. 32.
Of cunnandis thar is twa kindis for quhi sum ar in thing & sum ar in persone

5. a. Mekil thinge, much, a great deal. b. A gret thing, greatly; to a high degree. c. (A) litill thing, see Litil(l adj. 9.Also in the mod. dialect.a. 1375 Barb. iv 669.
The king … Thankit hyr in mekill thing
a1400 Leg. S. v 604.
[He] of his fynger tuk a ringe … worth mekil thinge
b. 1375 Barb. xiii 134.
And on ane feld assemblyt thai Sa stoutly that at thar cummyng Thar fayis war ruschyt a gret thing

6. A living being; a creature. a1400 Leg. S. ix 225.
The angel sad to the ful thynge
a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi 281.
Wyld hony wes his lyflede, & a thinge callit locusta
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1427.
Thow catiue wretche and vile vnworthie thing
c1515 Asl. MS I 301/29.
The erd and all liffing thingis in it
1633 Orkney Witch Trial in Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. V 554.
Ye … called for the thing that geid about the fyre, quhilk wes the cate

b. Used of a (young) woman.Chiefly, as a term of affection. a1400 Leg. S. xxxiv 17.
In Antyoche … A woman duelt … A luflyare thing mycht be nane Be nature mad of flesch na bane
?1438 Alex. ii 2214.
Feȝonas, my sueit thing
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1053.
Mony sweit thing of sware swownit full oft
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 221.
Than he … sais, my soverane sueit thing quhy sleip ȝe no betir?
1560 Rolland Seven S. 8008.
Sic saules thingis [sc. women] hes nouther sin nor schame
a1582 Sir Colling 16.
He had ane dochtar fair of face Ane lustie luifsum thing
16… Ellon Par. 67.
And this would brack a young thing's hart Wha laitlie was a bryde

7. With sexual connotations, as a euphemism for a. The penis. b. The vulva.a. c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 486.
Sum stalwardly steppis ben with a stout curage And a stif standand thing staiffis in mi neiff
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 194/31.
I feil ȝour lang thing standis nocht
b. c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 389 (M).
Als lang as he was on loft I luikit on him never And leit neuer in my thocht that he my thing persit

8. Something that is said, written or thought; a fact, circumstance, opinion, admonition, etc., as spoken or written; a story, anecdote, tale, saying, utterance, thought. Also proverb. 1375 Barb. i 10.
And suth thyngis that are likand Tyll mannys heryng, ar plesand
a1400 Leg. S. iii 871.
Quhen he suld eythir do or say … helplyk thinge
a1400 Leg. S. xi 22.
Of thé I haf hard ferly thynge
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 653.
He … tald this thing Vnto ane man was inward with the king
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 1.
Ane thing thair is compild In generale be Kennedy and Quinting
1513 Doug. iii vi 152.
This a thyng I thé prech
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 116/19.
Ane rewil til onderstand quhensumeuer ane thyng is spokin be ane figure or similitude
a1585 Maitl. Q. 50/8.
Into my mynd thair come … Ane thing that maid my hairt full sair
proverb. 1573 Davidson in Sat. P. xlii 530.
As weill sayis Augustine, The thing to all that spokin bene To nane is spokin

9. In various special combinations and adverb. phrases. a. All thing, everything. Also pl. Also, our all thing, above all.For further examples see Althing n.(1) 1385 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 7.
Al thyng in it contenyt
c1420 Ratis R. 1597.
Al thing changis at the wyll Of mekile God
c1450-2 Howlat 166 (A).
Thir ar fowlis of effect, but fellony or feid, Spirituale in all thing
c1450-2 Howlat 472 (A).
Come to the haly graf, throw Goddis gret grace, With offerandis and vrisonnis and all vther thing
1490 Irland Mir. III 59/14.
All thinge that bringis a persoune fra the inordinat luf and affeccioun of the creatur to luf and honour God is richt proffitable to the persoune
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 5/17.
All thing maling we doune thring
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 157/227 (A).
To dyte how all this thing befell Befor Mahovne the heir [B. air] of hell
pl. 1456 Hay I 88/14.
In all thingis men lukis to the end. And quhen the end is gude of a thing, all is callit gude
1558 Knox IV 389.
Augustine defineth ordre to be that thing by the whiche God hath apointed and ordeined all thinges
1587 Waus Corr. 386.
I pray yow at ye vreit in to me quhow all tyngis is proseidit
(2) 1375 Barb. i 364.
[He] our all thing luffyt lawte
a1487 Gud Wyf & D. 208.
In the kirk kepe our all thing Fra smyrking keking and bakluking

b. Every thynge, in every respect. a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 131/18.
Lat vs beleif in God euery thynge and nocht agane saynge hyme

c. Na theing, nothing. Also, for na thinge, not for anything, and no other thing (bot, etc.), nothing else.For further examples see Nathing n., Nakin adj. and Na-kynd adj.(1) 1570 Waus Corr. 72.
I pray yow sloucht na theing of yowr ane besenes
(2) a1400 Leg. S. vii 335.
Quhen the Jowis … for na thinge … Wald mend thar wikit liffis
(3) c1568 Lauder Minor P. iii 120.
That tha may nocht, quhilks ar our inymeis, No vther thing bot Christianes ws call

d. Be any thynge, by any means, on any account; for ony thing, at any price.For further examples see Ony-thing pron. and adv.(1) a1400 Leg. S. iv 120.
Hurt hym nocht be ony thynge!
(2) a1500 Henr. Robene & M. 82.
Abyd, abyd, thow fair Makyne, A word for ony thing!

e. Ane uther thing, a different thing; something else.For further examples of other thing, see Other adj. 2 c (b), 2 d and 4, also a (2) and f (3). a1500 Henr. Fab. 7 (Ch.).
And als the caus that thay [sc. fables] first began Wes to repreif the haill misleuing Of man, be figure of ane other thing
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 143.
God giue ȝow my only lufe the hap and prosperitie quhilk ȝour humble and faithfull lufe desyris unto ȝow quha hopis to be schortly ane uther thing to ȝow

f. Sum thing, see Sumthing pron. and adv.

10. Ony-thing pron. ?1438 Alex. ii Prol. 15.
Na neuer gat thing of my will Bot tene
1456 Hay I 197/14.
A bonde suld nocht do for his lord thing that is dedely syn

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"Thing n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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