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

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First published 1937 (DOST Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Brefe, Breif, n. Also: bref(f, breyff(e, breyf, briefe, bryeff, bryiff. [ME. brefe, breef, bref (1330), OF. bref, brief, L. breve. The plural is frequently brevis: see Breve n.]

1. A letter or document of an official nature; a command, writ, or summons.Frequently with specifying term, as brefe of idiotry, inquest, perambulacioun, purale, richt, sesing, for which see these words.(a) a 1380 Rep. Hist. MSS., Var. Coll. V. 77.
He aucht nocht to ga owte of his possession forowte the Kyngis brefe
1428 Mun. Melros 519.
The abbot … present to me a brefe of departisoun of the kyngis chapele
1437 Stirlings of Keir 214.
Williame broucht us the kyngis bref of commandement to gif the saide sesyng
1450 Reg. Aberbr. 77.
The saide bref to procede wythowtyn … langar delay
1472 Lennox Mun. 91.
Gyff Iohn of Haldane wyff had enterit ordourlyt be breffs as ane ayr
1483 Acta Conc. II. Introd. 103.
The said schiref has procedit unordourly in the serving of the said brefe
1490 Douglas Corr. 234.
Gif … Jhone be ordorly serwyt be his breff and retowryt
1501 Dunferm. B. Rec. 116.
To persew and follow the sade bref
1507 Ib. 162.
All the laef of the puntis contenit in the sade bref
(b) c1420 Wynt. viii. 1594.
Hys breyffe he gert spede … To swmmound this Ballyoll bodyly
1423 Reg. Great S. 30/1.
Grantand to the said Michel our power … breiffis to gif
1474 Acts II. 107/1.
Fulfilling the laif of the poyntis of the breif
1482 Bk. Carlaverock II. 440.
The bryeff at is present to the schereff of Renfrow
1488 Acts II. 208/1.
For the quhilkis the said breiffe wil nocht be full servit
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 79.
For quhilk, brybour, ȝit sall thow thoill a breif
1597 Misc. Spald. C. II. 142.
Quhair na persone … compeirit to oppone contrar the breife
1606 Melrose R. Rec. I. 5.
Quha produceit ane breif … to serve him as air to his said guidschir

b. A letter or document; a missive. a1568 Bann. MS. 220 a/48.
Of all my panis scho may me weill relesche With breif in bill
1600 Haddington Corr. 209.
I ceas to mak mention of the caracteres and breifs fund upon him

2. A musical note. c 1555 Crail Ch. Reg. 65.
Ane lettronale … contenand the breiffis of antamys, ymnis [etc.]

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"Brefe n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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