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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Wait, Wayt, Wat(e, v.1 Also: waite, waitt, vait, uait, wayte, vat(e, watt, walt, (wath), we(i)t, weat(e, weatt, ueat, vett-, wyt(e. Pres. p. also watan, waytane, -eng. P.t. also waytad. [ME and e.m.E. waite(n (c1200), weiten (Ancr. R.), wate, wait (both Cursor M.), wayte(n (c1300), ONF waitier, OF guaitier, gaiter.]

I. 1. intr.To watch, look intently, to watch out for, to keep watch. b. tr.To keep watch over, watch; spy on (a person, or place). 1460 Hay Alex. 1621.
Leonides was at ane vther parte waitand Saw Lothomine [etc.]
a1500 Henr. Fab. 763.
On euerilk syde full warlie couth he wait [Bann. wayte]
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1610.
Thir rurall men … Waittit [Ch. Uaittit] alway amendis for to get
c1475 Wall. v 902.
A suerd he drew … Ay wayttand fast gyff he mycht get a sper
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 26/21.
Do wait and lat him nocht away
1513 Doug. v viii 15.
He watis to spy
b. 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 321.
Acteon, quhilk Diane nakit waitit, Bathing in a well
1513 Doug. iv ix 96.
Gif thar ony deite be, that watis Or persavys luffaris inequale of behest, To have in memor hir iust caus
1529–30 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 321.
Divers persouns … quhilkis dailie watis the port of Leith and byis all fisch cummand tharto
1560–1 St. A. Kirk S. 66.
[They] wated James Alexander and Besse Cwyk and saw the thing betuix tham

II. 2. To await, wait for (an event, occasion, opportunity); to bide ((one's) tyme); also, to weat it out, to endure (a process).(1) 1375 Barb. v 36.
Thar cummyng waytit [C. vatit] he
1375 Barb. v 642.
The king … Waytyt the sper in the cummyng & … the hed off strak
a1400 Leg. S. iii 999.
The bischope had gret will His fellone lust to fulfill, Waitand bot lasare quhen he Mycht purches oportunite
?1438 Alex. ii 3060.
Now hes Porrus and Marcien Takin counsell … That … Thay will ane bushment mak … Gentill king … ȝour best men len vs sum, To wait the tyme quhen thay will cum
c1420 Wynt. ii 1618.
He schyppys layd to se, And waytyd wynd and made entre
c1420 Wynt. vi 1224.
Twa men he bad … To wayt ane oportunyte, And steyle that barne
c1475 Wall. ix 1836.
As a serpent watis hyr tym to byt
1531 Bell. Boece II 62.
Coppa watand time to poison the king … maid ane serop [etc.]
1535 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 152.
Na unfreman nor freman to by no vittaillis within … fra Vodinsday [etc.] … nor uther dais to vait penvorchtis nocht lattand thaim cum vith the seller to the gud toun
a1578 Pitsc. I 228/5, 8.
The said captane … waittit Schir Androw Wodis hame coming … Ȝeit notwithtstanding this captane Stewin Bull waittand his tyme at the bak of May [etc.]
1581 Sat. P. xliv 341.
Ȝe gat the purse, and vaitit better thing, To sel the sone as ȝe did fleme the mother
1642 Orkney Rentals iii 21.
In this poynt I still wayted what the king wold doe
(b) 1596 Milne-Home MSS 63a.
Vetting with appetit the tyme of our secund meetting
(2) 1681 Aberd. Council Lett. VI 335.
We ar indeid wearie … but we must now weat it out

b. intr. To await an event, sometimes with hostile intent (cf. sense 3 below). Also const. adv. phr. or clause of time or that clause or infin. expressing purpose.(1) c1400 Troy-bk. ii 2687.
Fortoune, that … With hid enbuschementis waitis ay
1548–9 Corr. M. Lorraine 292.
Caus wait one the fortht of Inaresk sa mony as is nedfull
1638 Dumbarton B. Rec. 56.
Suspecting sche [sc. a ship] be cum with munition for na guid purpois ordaine [etc.] … and in the meintyme to wait and adverteis Glasgow thairof
1686 G. Stuart Joco-Ser. Disc. 17.
The laive stood waiting
(2) 1375 Barb. xiii 524.
He … waytyt quhill he saw the king
1526 Douglas Corr. 340.
I watit quhill his lordship had lasayr, and schew him [etc.]
1560 Rolland Seven S. 10072.
The empreour he waittit day and nicht, and watchit about quhat time that he best micht [etc.]
a1578 Pitsc. II 222/33.
He hid himsellff … and waitted quhan the regent … come up the gait and quhen he was foirnent the stair he schot him
1600-1610 Melvill 707.
He waittit in a gallerie befoir the Erle of Salisberrie's chalmer since nyne a'clock
(3) a1400 Leg. S. xii 427.
The fals feynde that wattis … Gudmen fra Cryste to draw
?14.. Ship Laws c. 21 (H1).
Giff a schip be brokin … the maistir is haldin to borrow thame siluir … quhill that thai wait [B. wate, A. wat] that thai sall turne hame
c1475 Wall. ix 304.
To meyt [Wallace] … he waytit … In a gardyng quhar he gert thaim be brocht
a1568 Bann. MS 22b/21.
The feind he wetis his pray to win
1581 Sat. P. xliv 266.
I knaw thou vaittis lieutenentis place to haue
1674 Kirkcudbr. Test. (Reg. H.) 1 April.
The charges of confirmatioun … [are] to be borne be [his nieces] … and in caice the said Margret [sc. his wife] as executrix sall be waittit to depurse the samin, sche is to [etc.]

3. tr.To wait for or come upon (a person) with ill intent, to waylay, ambush. a1400 Leg. S. ii 22.
In Jerusalem he wes bofte, Spyit, waitit, and bundyn ofte
a1400 Leg. S. xxx 555.
Theodorus … waityt me [ap]-on a nycht, & me beforsit be his slicht, & sa gat this barne on me
c1420 Wynt. viii 1535.
Schyre Waltyr … In to … buschement lay Waytand the erle off Fyffe
1460 Hay Alex. 14224.
Feyndis clekand with thare ewill clukis And watand vther with thare widder huikis
c1475 Wall. ii 242.
Thai wyrk ay to wayt ws with supprys
c1500 Makc. MS x 36.
Behald our enomiis & se Ay watand ws fra howr til hour
1526 Acts II 307/1.
Pain … that slais ony of the kingis counsale or watis mene in thar awne housis
a1538 Abell 112a.
He punist thewis and reweris and wmquhill on the nycht woik and watit thame & with perell bodelie tuke thame
1538–9 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 203.
Robert Melros vaittit Sanderis Collen under silens of nycht for stowfft fellon
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2462.
Quhat do ȝe thair … Out of your bed walking sa wonder lait? Waitting ȝour hures and harlotis on the gait
a1568 Scott iii 38.
Speik fair till ȝe haif gottin that ȝe socht Be wyis and war, and watt thame ay with wylis
1596 Dalr. II 22/25.
He … appoynted certan cutthrots to wayt thame as fra the banquet thay return
1617 Melrose P. 273.
Merchandis … being waited in thair passage to Leith to be maid prisoners and ransoumed

4. To delay (something). 1669 Inverness Rec. II 237.
Whither the counsell sall determine presently by a voyce, or give they will weate it to the next counsell day

III. Const. preposition or adverb (for, to or, chiefly, on, upon).

5. intr.To wait for with hostile intent, to waylay, ambush a person. b. To besiege a place. c1475 Wall. iv 568.
A sar archar ay waytit on Wallace, At ane opyn, quhar he vsyt to repair
1543 Corr. M. Lorraine 49.
The heland men es gaderet to hare mi land an of ther twa nettes and I watan tharon
1535 Stewart 59310.
The Scottismen … Trowand this king … sould thame persew … Wathand on him alway … Baid on the bordour for to mak debait
1558 Inverness Rec. I 27.
And wattit all the ewyning on me to the intent to hef slane me
1613 Inverness Rec. II 110.
Ane idil lymmer, watting on his majesties subjects to steil the sam
b. 1640 Baillie I 247.
The castle of Edinburgh was long waited on, bot when our mindes [sc. mines] failled, and the assault seemed dangerous, we thought meet to give over the interprise

6. To give one's attention, etc. to (on), look out for (something). a1500 K. Hart 840.
Wisdome sayis, ‘Tak ȝow diseis amang, And wait on me als quhylum quhair ȝe wend'
a1568 Bann. MS 212a/49.
To luve I wet it is bot naturall

7. To attend (up)on (to) (a person or persons), see to (their needs), as servant, follower, adviser, etc. Also tr. with (? erron.) omission of on.(a) 1494 Loutfut MS 111a.
The juge … the barreris voidit of al personis saif anerly acertane enarmyt within barrieris to wat apon the iuge for reulling of the batellouris
1600-1610 Melvill 145.
Wha nocht onlie usit all the comforts he could, bot wated upon me … and convoyed me ham
a1568 Bann. MS 228b/11.
The arting of ȝour ene … my spreit hes perforate Vnto my hairt and causd it to be thrall [T]o ȝow the flour of womanheid I wate
(b) 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 408.
Quhat luifsum ladyis bricht! Quhat lustie gallandis did on thair seruice wait!
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 264.
Quhen he come to the King of France, He wes sone put in ordinance; Richt so was all his companie, That on him waitit continuallie
1562–3 Bk. Old Edinb. C. VI 80.
For ane man to wait one the prowest of Hallowday
a1578 Pitsc. I 324/23.
[He] commandit James Douglas … to pas the sunner to his bede that he micht wait wpon him tymmos in the morning
a1585 Maitl. Q. 178/12.
Quha sall on thé wait To be thy gairde and serue thé
1596 Dalr. I 326/13.
Verie oft committing his awne materis … till vthir menis kuir, him selfe waytet vpon the puir, that he saw na wrang war done to thame
1596 Dalr. II 36/12.
To wayt ydanlie vpon the kingis body
1622-6 Bisset II 248/20.
Gif … any maryner be takin with seiknes … the maister aucht to … gif him ane boy … to vait on him, or fie ane woman to keip him
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 7.
The king choyses his counsall … 5 bishopps, 7 earles [etc.] … of the quhilk he will that ther be ay waitand on his grace ane certane part
1655 Mouswald Kirk S. MS 9 Dec.
They do constantlie wait upon the sessione to doe thair deuteis thair except in the cace of sum urgent necessitie
1663 Household Bks. Archb. Sharp in Misc. Maitl. C. II 502.
For a link to wait [MS vait] on the coatch
1689 Cramond Kirk S. III 26 Dec.
It was requisitt that the elder and deacon of each quarter should waitt on the minister at the examination of their quarter
1698 Penninghame Par. Rec. I 22.
John McCaul is chosen elder to the synod and appointed to wait also on the presbyterie
(c) 1580 Misc. Spald. C. II 110.
My opinion is, that he will nocht mistar ony seruants, in respect myne sall haue that command to weit upon him
(d) 1600-1610 Melvill 25.
1654 Wemyss in Sc. Diaries 126.
To Francess Scotte or thes that weatts on the countes of Buccluche
(e) 1596–7 Misc. Spald. C. I 92.
Scho … being twantie dayis by gane, and continuallie … wytit on be the cummer
tr. 1691 Culross II 9.
Robert Hunter [etc.] … to be waitted and intertayned upon the toune's expenses

8. To put care and effort into the functioning of (an enterprise, etc.); to attend (an occasion, etc.) for this purpose; to see to or run (a business, institution, mechanism, etc.).(a) 1507 Treas. Acc. III 416.
To the chapellane of the cunȝe wayta[n]d apon the samyn for the tyme of this compt
1565 Peebles B. Rec. I 299.
The counsal … ordanis the said master to wait himself better on the bairnis nor he doid affor tyme
1596 Dalr. I 329/3.
He closes him selfe in a clostir; quhair wayteng certane houris vpon his contemplatioune [etc.]
1609 Glasgow Trades House 21.
Thay meit everie buriell … ane alwayis waytane on the ringing of their bell
1616 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 8.
For drink to him that harrellis the wall in the creddell with thame that vaited upoun the crane
1631–49 Conv. Burghs IV 551.
That the saids factors wait upon the lousing and loading of the ships
1637 Stirling Merch. Guild 54.
For appointing of attendars to wait wpone the wark of Cowans Hospitall now presentlye in building
1640–1 Misc. Spald. C. V 157.
To a man, quha wyted on Mr. Andro Cants guds at the shoer
1669 Orkney Rentals App. 61.
Robt. Murray to ring the bells … and wait upon the knock, and look diligentlie thereto
1683 Erskine Diary 8.
That all officers of state … wait punctually upon their … employments, and go no where off the kingdom
1698 J. M. Beale Fife Schools 255.
He waited better upon the school than formerly
1699 Kingarth Par. Rec. 207.
They went out of the harbour at full sea, quhich if they did not wait on they must ly in all day
(b) 1570 Sat. P. xx 21.
Besyde the throne I walt vpone My mercat

9. a. To visit (a person). b. To attend, be present at (a meeting).a. 1684 Sc. Ant. XI 19.
I ame much asheamed that I have not ueated upon Strouan since he did me the favour to se me att my chamber but treuly I have severall tyms inquired for you to conduck me to him and therefor [etc.]
b. 1684 Cramond Kirk S. II 7 Sept.
The Minister exhorted him … to consult with his own conscience, and both he & she should wait on the Session this day moneth
1690 Cramond Kirk S. III 2 June.
The Viscount of Tarbat was necessitat to waitt on the Pairliament which is to sitt this day, and therefore could not be present at this meeting

10. a. To attend, wait for or delay until (the occurrence of a circumstance or event). b. To wait for (a person).a. 1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 1008.
Thare is one sorte, watand, lyke houngre fleis For spirituall cure, thocht thay be no thing abyll
1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 263.
My lord of Argyll … wyll nocht fayll to be est with delygens … He wayttis on nocht
1566 Rec. Earld. Orkney 376.
Alanerlie, waittyng upone ane prosperus wynd to pas to Innernes for tymmir
a1568 Bann. MS 243b/46.
Trew Troyallus he langorit ay Still waitand for his luvis returne
1638 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 49.
This happy occasione with strong desyres longe waitted for by your majesties most humble & louing subiects
b. c1552 Lynd. Mon. 149.
His [sc. Phoebus'] regioun aurorall Quhilk on hym watit quhen he did declyne Towarte his occident palyce
1570 Sempill in Sat. P. xii 186.
Sum thair bene waittis on the Quene, … And war scho heir [etc.]
1581 Bk. Univ. Kirk II 530.
Anent the conference with the king's commissioners: The brethren appointed therto declared they had waited theron
1600-1610 Melvill 145.
I tuk me to a chalmer and … let my affectiones brak out … quhilk a speciall loving frind of myne, wating on me, sufferit for the space of an houre bot efter knokkit sa and spak to me that … it behovit me till opin

11. absol.To remain attentive to some endeavour for an extended period; to attend to a matter with extreme diligence. 1523 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 170.
That the … leuetenent that watis on for rasing of the kingis liegis … remane … quhar the … bordouraris may wit surely to find him
1572 Sat. P. xxxi 160.
Than Scotland will be bot ane pray … Till gredie gormondis waitand on Quhen thay may se occasion To rute ȝow all out
1589 James VI in Bruces of Airth xcvii.
I am sorrie he has bene sa lang hained from Court but he may the better waite on hereafter
1596 Dalr. I 255/9.
Constantlie be defendet the innocent against crueltie; the pure against the … mychtie: he wayted weill onn, be all meines possible, that nathing dekayet of justice in his realme
1600-1610 Melvill 221.
Lady Wedringhton wha wated on mair cairfullie then the maidwyff
1606 Mylne Master Masons 92.
James Nycoll … and Henrie Leis … to be oursears … and wait on diligentlie to the said work
1656 Laing MSS 305.
Ye most not leav where others plises and not wher our own present fortune will mak us ane being … and goe to the place that we may not spend all your fortune waitting one to satisfye others houmers
?1672 M. Bruce Sermon in Edinb. Tolbooth 14.
I trow instead of waiting on, many of us comes to the far nook of our patience
1676 Lanark Presb. 112.
That ther is no encouragement for a schoolmaster, … and that the present schoolmaster waits not on
a1706 Watson's Coll. i 50/323.
When … men of law wait on but cost, And usurers tack nae gains

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"Wait v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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