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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Brother, Bruther, n. Also: brothir(e, -yr(e, -eyr, -air, -ar, broyther; brou-, browthir; bruthir(e, -yr(e, bruyther; pl. brether, -ir(e, -yr(e, -air; breither, breether; brither, -ir, bruthire; breth(e)ren, -eine, bretherin(e, -(e)ring, brethirne; breithren, -rein(e, -rin(g, breithereine, -erin, breetherine, -ing; brithren, -ring, -er(e)ine; brotheren; brethers. [ME. brother, broþer, OE. bróðer, bróðor, ON. bróðer, -ir. See also Broder n.]

1. A brother by relationship.(a) sing. 1375 Barb. v. 627.
The brothir that the hand-ax bar
Ib. xvi. 27.
He said he wald blithly se His brothir
c1420 Wynt. ii. 188.
Off byrth he wes the yhungest brothire
Ib. vi. 1805.
Schyr Edmwnd the eldast brothir
1456 Hay I. 190/32.
How the ta brothir aw to defend the tothir
Ib. 226/18.
Anent the fader and the sone and brothir
1507 Dunferm. B. Rec. 162.
Gif hir brothir happynnit to cum hame
1517 Reg. Privy S. I. 451/1.
Adam … and William Turnbule his brother
1546 Reg. Privy C. I. 31.
George Kirkcaldy brothair to the said James
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5392.
Quhilkis suld aggre as brother to brother
1556 Carte Northberwic 73.
The said priores wytht awise of … hyr brotheyr
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 53.
To hir selfe, to hir sone, to hir brother
1570 Rec. Earld. Orkney 132.
Williame Tullocht … the yongest brouthir
1596 Dalr. I. 185/19.
The reuenge of his brotheris slauchtir
1606 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 56.
Johne Forbes brothir lauchfull to William Forbes
1642 Wemyss Fam. P. MS.
Robert McGill … [and] his broyther
(b) 1397 Douglas Chart. 37.
Qwhat landis … that dame Isabel … likis to talie and gif … til hir lufide bruthir
c1420 Wynt. ii. 406.
Joseph thame taulde He wes thare bruthire
1453 Maxwell Mem. I. 174.
Robert Stewarte my bruthyr
1482 Lennox Mun. 122.
His bruthir the Duc of Albany
1501 Dunferm. B. Rec. 116.
The deces of the sade wmquhill Johne his bruthir
1529 Reg. Morton II. 2.
That ȝe haue ane bruther
1541 Prot. Bk. T. Johnsoun 50.
The said Rechart his bruyther
1596 Dalr. I. 157/8.
Eftir the deith of his bruther Caractak
(b) pl. 1375 Barb. iii. 93.
Twa brethir war into that land
a1400 Leg. S. Prol. 153.
Blesit be thai brethir twa
Ib. xxxi. 50.
His dochtir … With hyr brethyre he tuk
c1400 Troy-bk. ii. .
Hyre fader … And hyr doughty brethyr
c1420 Wynt. vi. 2104.
The lawchfull twa Brethire forsuke wyth hym to ga
Ib. viii. 4363.
Willame off Carrothyris ras Wyth hys brether
1426 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 202.
To me … [and my heirs or] to my twa ful brether
1456 Hay I. 226/25.
Suppos thare come till a knycht his brethir … or cousing germanis
c1475 Wall. vii. 477.
Hys brethir sewyn till harnes sone thai ȝeid
1511 Reg. Privy S. I. 345/1.
All and sindre his brether, assistaris and anerdaris to him
1518 Ib. 471/2.
Johnne … and William Hoppringle, brether
1527 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 307.
Me, my brethyr, kyne and frendis
1533 Boece iii. xxi. 123.
He, with his spous, douchter & brethir
1564 Crim. Trials I. 451.
The laird, his saidis twa brether, and Williame, alswa his brothir
1589 Misc. Spald. C. II. 278.
Ane sower freindschip … betwix ws as twa brether born of ane mother
1599 Crim. Trials II. 81.
Thair grandsyris ar tua brether
1622 Misc. Bann. C. II. 248.
The saidis John and Androw Hartes, his breither
1635 Maxwell Mem. I. 441.
The pyper of Cramound … who hes smittit his tuo brether
1671 Wemyss Corr. 113.
His gritte grandfather and myne war full brethers
(b) a1400 Leg. S. xxxix. 193.
Thire bruthire thre … He gert bryng to that place
1533 Boece xvi. viii. 623 b.
James Douglas … with his ij brithir
1608 Stewart Memor. 120.
[Neither] with Alexander nor Johne Stewartis … brither to the said Neill
(c) pl. 1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 189.
William Maitland … and … his brithren
1596 Grant Chart. 186.
As cationer and souertie for … [the] bretherine
1661 Edinb. Test. LXX. 95 b.
I nominat … my breethering tutouris [etc.]
1676 Stirlings of Keir 471.
Breithrin to the said Laird of Keir

b. Brother in lauch or law, brother-in-law. 1429 Wemyss Chart. 61.
My derreste and beste beluffit bruthir in lauch
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 318/15.
To quhome come Enneas brother in law to king Priame of Troye
1582 Edinb. Test. X. 261 b.
Richard Clerk his bruther in law
1620 Grant Chart. 320.
To dispone the samen to thair … brethir in law

2. A dear friend, colleague, or fellow man.(a) sing. a1400 Leg. S. xix. 598.
Stryk of myn hede, bruthyre dere
Ib. xxvii. 515.
Bruther, blissit be This place
1450 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 152.
Our deire bruthir and schiref depute on the Kingis behalf
c1475 Wall. x. 568.
My best brothir in warld that euir I had
1515 Douglas Corr. 69.
Kouth the kyng solyst hys brothyre of Frans [etc.]
c1568 Lauder Minor P. iii. 65.
The godlie men … ar plane … onto thair faithfull brother
1570 Liber Scon 210.
Oure weilbelouit bruther, Den Henry Abircromby, pryour
(b) pl. a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 591.
Thar is brethyre fals
c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 1479.
Felawes and brether, as ȝe wate [etc.]
c1500-c1512 Dunb. iv. 93.
Sen he has all my brether tane
1551 Hamilton Cat. 251.
Let us al … ken our self to be brether in God
1562-3 Winȝet II. 71/16.
I beseik ȝow, brether, that ȝe al [etc.]
c1568 Lauder Minor P. i. 219.
This fer, deir brether, … for the first heid
a1578 Pitsc. I. 329/20.
Lat all courteouris … do to thair nichtbouris and brether as thay wald be done witht all
(c) pl. c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 331.
Talbart … schew the brethren of his land How [etc.]
c1568 Lauder Minor P. iii. 26.
To see thair brethren in necessitie
1578 Bk. Univ. Kirk II. 404.
That bischops … be callit … brethren in tyme comeing
1602 Colville Parænese Ep. .
To my dearlybelouit brethring the ministres of Scotland

3. A member of a religious house or order, or of a gild or corporation. (Cf. Gild-brother.)(a) sing. 14.. Acts I. 90* /2.
Gif ony be noȝt bruther of this gyld
1583 St. A. Baxter Bks. 34.
Na freman or brother of craft
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. 142.
Ane man, quha is nocht ane brother of this gilde
1657 St. A. Baxter Bks. 126.
Quhat brothar of the saidis sax traidis sall [etc.]
(b) pl. 14.. Acts I. 90* /2.
The brether of this gyld
1508 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 119.
It is statute … be the … haill brether of the confrarie of Sant Anthone … that [etc.]
1522 St. Giles Chart. 214.
Without ony congregatioun of the laif of the brethir
1530 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 23.
We the brethir of the bonetmakaris
1530 Ib. 33.
The saidis brethir … of the wobstaris, walkaris, and scheraris
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5850.
Ȝe brether of religioun. In tyme leif ȝour abusioun
1561 Reg. Dunferm. 480.
The decreit obtenit … aganis the conventuale brethir and monkis
1569 Reg. Morton I. 44.
Ws brethair of the Abbay of Melrose
1587 Acts III. 444/2.
Lyoun king of armes and his brether the ordinar heraulds
1630 Kirkcaldy Presb. 26.
The brether are to give out thair interloquitor the nixt day
1639 Lanark Presb. 19.
The brether causing read his presentation
(b) 1560–1 Bk. Old Edinb. Cl. VI. 66.
Breither of the said craft [of skinners]
1591 St. A. Baxter Bks. 47.
It is statute … be the haill breither of craft
1619 Lett. & State P. Jas. VI 34.
Ȝie haue … greate favour of all our breether in session
(c) 1565 Edinb. B. Deeds 191 b.
The deikyn and brither of the barbour craft
1643 Baillie II. 71.
To get our brither satisfied and by them our people
(c) pl. 1561 Edinb. B. Rec. III. 110.
To the support of pure misterfull falit brethirne
1581 St. A. Baxter Bks. 29.
The deken and haill brethren of craft
1582 Ib. 30.
The … haill breithren
1600 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 206.
The haill deikines … and thair breithrein
1656 Lanark B. Rec. 158.
The decone and remenant brithren of craft
(b) 1558-66 Knox II. 424.
To devyde thame selfis from … thair bretherin
1600-1610 Melvill 626.
Diverse of the britherine of the ministerie
1611 Lothian Synod 108.
The haill bretherin of the synodoll
1631 Lanark B. Rec. 126.
Friemen and breithereine of the walker craft
1633 Acts V. 134/1.
The … remanent brithereine … of the said skinner craft
(c) 1558-66 Knox II. 403.
The brethering of the Kirk
1575 Reg. Soltre 229.
Thair brethering being reprovit be the maister hospitale
1590 Reg. Morton I. 165.
The brithring of the ministerie
1600-1610 Melvill 226.
The breithring … furthe of all partes
1607 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 262.
Two of the deakins … protestit thei micht haif laiser to adwys with thair brethering

4. Brother or brether as possessives.See also Brother barne, etc., below. a1400 Leg. S. ii. 457.
Thai … throw browthir slawchtir can thé file
Ib. xliii. 412.
Bruthire lufe betwene ȝou twa
1456 Hay I. 11/3.
Quhen he reprovit Herodes of his brothir wyf

5. In apposition with a following noun. 1456 Hay I. 183/28.
To safe the lyf of oure brothir Cristyn
1513 Doug. iv. xii. 25.
My spows wrokyn of my brothir ennemy
1562-3 Winȝet I. 2/10.
Johne Knox and his brether precheours

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"Brother n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Dec 2022 <>



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