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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).
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Pois-, Poyso(u)n, n. Also: poyss- and -own, -oune, -one, -ane; poyseing; puisson. [ME and e.m.E. poysoun (Piers Plowman), -on, poiso(u)n, early ME puisun (c 1230) OF puison (12th c. in Godef.), poison, ‘drink, draught’, later ‘poisonous draught’ (14th c.), L. pōtiōn-, potion, poisonous draught, f. pōtāre to drink. Cf. Puso(u)n, also Potioun n.]

1. A poisoned potion; an administration of poison to another; a poisonous substance. a1400 Leg. S. ii 699.
That he deit … of a fellone poyssone Myngit and mad be tresone
Ib. xxxiii 520.
The wiche thane … a fere fellare poysone made & gef George … & he … drank it of
1456 Hay I 245/13.
Or poysonis or othir maner of murderis in hyd maner
Ib. II 109/8. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2676 (Ch.) (see Puso(u)n n.).
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 78.
Thow purpest for to vndo our lordis cheif In Paislay with ane poysone that wes fell
c1500-c1512 Kennedy Ib. 405.
Quhare thow puttis poysoun to me I appelle [etc.]
1590 Crim. Trials I ii 195.
Quha … brayit the same poysoune, and putt itt in ane pece ledder and delyuerit itt to thé
Ib. 196.

b. transf. The action of preparing or administering poison; the fact of being poisoned. 1554–5 Treas. Acc. X 274.
To underly the law for poisoun
1613 Crim. Trials III 261.
Robert Erskyne wes this day execute for the practize of poisone
1630-1651 Gordon Geneal. Hist. 147.
Alexander Gordoun … escaped verie narrowlie then from poysone

2. Poisonous matter, poison.Also as the second element of a compound in rattoun-poisoun (Rat(t)o(u)n n. b).(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxiii 505.
Thane with wyne mengȝeit he poyson
c1420 Wynt. viii 3347.
Wyth wenenows fell poysown
1450 Acts II 39/2.
Gif ony strangeris … cum in this realme … & inbring … poyson throu the quhilk ony Cristin man or woman may tak bodily harme
1456 Hay I 12/13.
The sparow … lyfis on sedis that ar poysoun till othir foulis
Ib. II 142/27. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) (ed.) 2643.
By drinking of poisone
a1500 Henr. Orph. 107 (Asl.).
As natur is of all mortall poisoun
1513 Doug. ii iv 37. 1533 Boece 287 b.
Fynding his body … horribly flekkit with spottis of the poysoun
1535 Stewart 51871. 1549 Compl. 81/6.
Ane drynk of poyson
a1561 Q. Kennedy Breif Tract. (ed.) 139/28 (see Poisoun v. 1 p.t., p.p. (c)).
1562-3 Winȝet II 12/35.
As it war in an apothecaris buyth ful of al kynd of droigis, bayth of delicat spycerie and of rady poysoun
1568 Hosack Mary Q. of Scots I 534.
That it was poysoun … [the] chyrurgian … playnelie jugeit
1574 Reg. Privy S. VI 474/1. a1578 Pitsc. II 127/6.
Lord James … was hangit be the heillis be the metsouneris to caus the poysone to drop out
1579 12th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. viii 24.
Throw venemus and extreme poysoun
1590 Crim. Trials I ii 193.
To mak ane pig-full of ranker poysoune
a1605 Montg. Son. xxvii 4.
I am … not a snaik with poyson him to byte
a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 117.
Ane mans meat is another mans poyson
1635 Duncan Glasg. Physic. & Surg. 220.
Ratine poyseing
1647 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 82.
And poysone laid for destroying myce and ratons
1679 T. Kirke A Modern Account of Scotland (1679) 11.
A dirk or skean … the back of it filed into divers notches, wherein they put poyson
(b) 1494 Loutfut MS. 37 b.
Bourevische … has vertu aganis puisson
(2) 1456 Hay I 46/34.
And the story sais he deid be poysoun
Ib. 259/20. 1568 Haddington Corr. 271.
Be lang impresonyng, euill treatment or poysoun
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI (1825) 230.
He sould kill the said Bothuell be poyson
1613 Crim. Trials II 262.(3) comb. 1590 Crim. Trials I ii 197.
For causing of Loskie Loncart mak ane poysone drink

3. fig. Any doctrine, influence or principle that is harmful to a person or to a community; baneful influence.Also comb. 1456 Hay I 18/4.
A fals poysoun of errour and herisye
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1900.
Fals apostita, … Sawand poysoun and monye wickit thocht In mannis saull
c1475 Wall. x 97.
Poyson sen syn at the Fawkyrk is cald, Throu treson and corruption off ald
a1500 Quare Jel. 250.
Now all hath fele of thilke poysoun
1533 Bell. Livy II 142/24 (see Invennom v.). 1565 Facs. Nat. MSS. III xlix.
It hes plesit the gudnes of God be the vterance of thair awin mouthis … to discovir the poyson
1568 Haddington Corr. 270.
Traitouris, quhais lwnatick branes ar continewalie occupeit with this thair poysoun
1570-3 Bann. Trans. 192.
The clocked poysone that so long hes lyine in thy feanyeat breast
a1585 Arbuthnot Maitl. Q. xliii 28. 1596 Dalr. I 238/16.
Thay al suspected him of hæresie, of quhilke venum and bittir poyson heir was he noted
c1650 Spalding I 214.
Bot wnder this fair generall lurked muche poysoun
comb. a1585 Polwart Flyt. 811 (T).
Baill brewer, poysone spewer

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"Poyson n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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