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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).
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Wel(e, Weill, adj. Also: weile, veill, ueill, viel, well, will, weall, weel(l. [ME and e.m.E. wel (Layamon), wele (Cursor M.), weel (Chaucer), well (c1400); Wele adv.]

1. Good; proper, fitting, suitable. Also const. it semis wele. 1375 Barb. iii 694.
The wynd wes wele to thar talent. Thai raysyt saile and furth thai far
c1460 Thewis Gud Women 19.
A woman suld ay have radour Of thinge that gref mycht hir honoure Ful of piete … Weill of hir smylinge, simpyll and coy
a1500 Colk. Sow Prol. 17.
So semis it weill that suthly so war ay
a1500 Seven S. 430.
A grewhound … That oft at hunting wele had prufit
a1500 Bk. Chess 530.
Chaist in hir persone to bene Abone all thing it semys weile a quene That vther women may ensampill tak
a1500 Quare Jel. 51.
It semyt wele that wo hir hert constreynit
1535 Stewart 219.
Gathelus … semit weill to weir ane buirlie brand
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 156.
Flesh or fishe not wel nor convenient for men to be eaten
1640 Baillie I 245.
If when the whole … paroche … are for his restitution and yow onlie hold him out, it will not be weell
1664 Craven Ch. in Orkney 19.
To see to the weel ordering of the churches

2. Fortunate, lucky; happy. a. Const. dative of personal pronoun or with noun (or noun clause) or, once, with a pronoun (it), where the case is indistinguishable, in object position. Also wele were him, the man, etc., welis me, etc., wele worth thé, etc., may you be fortunate. Also proverb.a. (1) c1409-1436 Kingis Q. § 53.
‘A! wele were him that now were in thy plyte!’
?14.. Ship Laws c. 22 (B).
In case gyf he may amend it at that tyme wele be it
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 415.
Now am I a wedow … I weip as I wer woful but wel is [M. weilis] me for evir
1610 Southesk MSS 14.
The favoris ȝe haiff schawing to me welis me honor and luiff ȝow maire
(b) a1500 Colk. Sow ii 158.
Bot weill was me scho mycht nocht ryn nor rys And I wald vp and wisk away
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 96/5.
God gif ȝe war Johne Thomsounis man! For war it so, than weill war me
1560 Rolland Seven S. 10499.
Weill war the man … that vnderstude Ȝone sweit singing
1567 Sat. P. iii 74.
Full weill was hir … that sho was fre
1603 Philotus 89.
Weill war the woman all hir lyfe, Had hap to be his weddit wyfe
a1605 Montg. Devot. P. i 1.
Weill is the man … that can Esheu ill counsell
(c) 1637 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 494.
Well were my soul to have put all I have … over into Christ's hands
1685-8 Renwick Serm. 155.
O! then well's you, that are His people
(d) 1638 Henderson Serm. 204.
Weels them, and blessed are they whom thou teaches to walk in thy ways
(2) ?1438 Alex. ii 3227.
Wele worth the hart [F. beneois soit li cuers] quhen sic bounte Is set and ane hie renoune
?1438 Alex. ii 7526.
Caulus, weill worth thé!
a1500 Henr. Fab. 648.
Weill worth the father that send me to the lair
a1500 Seven S. 377. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 148/56.
Weill worth thé, sister, said Considerance
(3) proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS 1493.
Weils him & wo is him that hes a bishop in his kin
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1674.
Weils wowars but waies thair hese
a1663 Pappity Stampoy 55.
Weil is that weil does
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1480.
Weill worth aw, it gars the plough draw
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 109.
After word commes weird, weill worth them callit me dame

b. With nominative of personal pronoun or with noun or pronoun in subject position. Also proverb. c1460 Thewis Wysmen 425.
Thai can nocht wone quhen thai ar veill, Bot tolterand, turnand as a quheill
a1500 Seven S. 1305.
He … full grevously … said neuer wele be thow That [etc.]
1513 Doug. vii ii 38.
All haill our native goddis, weill ȝe be!
1535 Stewart 32056.
Quhen men ar weill best is to hald thame so
1570 Sat. P. xviii 105.
Now is he weill, and ȝe in wo, God wait
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 1314 (Wr.).
What by past, that I past, Ye wot if it was well
1604-31 Craig ii 113.
Were my wealth as great as my goodwill … Thou shouldst be weell
1638 Baillie I 42.
Wee are not well at home, till we hear of my Lord Roxburgh's arryvall
1661 Thomson The Churches Comfort (1706) 17.
I desire to serve my master, I am well with him and therefore I will not go away from him
a1658 Durham Comm. Rev. 739.
Hell is a cruel place … well are they that are freed from it
(b) 1558-66 Knox I 265.
‘Fy, my lord, … will ye not go to your chalmer … ?' His answer was, ‘I am weall whare I am’
(c) c1600 Montg. Suppl. xxxiv 61.
Quhen thai sell wein that all is will, In peice and quyit rest
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 866.
Will hes that weill is

3. Healthy, well; physically or mentally fit. b. transf.Of trees: In good condition.(a) 15.. Lichtoun Dreme 51 (B).
Quhen I was weill me thocht I culd nocht leif
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 91.
The kingis grace tuik vpoun his honestie that the quene was weill and nathing effrayit
1620 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 331.
My jewell is weill … and her sweit kymmer and sister
1633 Misc. Abbotsf. C. I 161.
Quhervpon the seiknes … left him and his sone ran mad and Thomas Patersone seing him tak the madnes, and the father to turne weill [etc.]
1633 Dalyell Darker Superst. 451.
Shoe … hes nevir bein weill since ye curst hir
1637 Innes Sketches 371.
1638 Innes Sketches 371.
Your lordships sone is veill and in guide healthe
1645 Baillie II 255.
I left your wife and daughter very weell; but after the old fashion, in great langour for yow and Scotland
1649 Cupar Presb. 147.
Elspet … layd hir hand wpon hir bake, and said: ‘Lamby, lamby, yee wilbe weill enough.’ And from that tyme furth the kow amended
1661 Elgin Rec. II 295.
[The] cow … grew weill of ane desease called the dry darne
1685 Meikle Old Session Bk. 223.
[He was] not ueill [and got four shillings]
1659 A. Hay Diary 220.
I … found her very weell in her intellectuals but she was somquhat conceatie in her opinions and not so solid as she wont to be
(b) 1603 Inverness Rec. II 20.
The said Donald Forbes retournit out sicke, being viel and perfyit … at his inganginge
b. 1592 Breadalbane Ct. Bk. 26b.
The woddis fund weill be the fosters aith
1595 Breadalbane Ct. Bk. 83b.
Thir woddis ar weill except the heicht

4. Of good quality, satisfactory. 1593 Edinb. Test. XXV 190b.
Sex quarteris weilmort fustiane

5. Numerous, many. Cf. Wele adv. 14. 1375 Barb. iii 15.
Weill ost at thar fryst metyng War layd at erd

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"Wel adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2023 <>



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