Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
AIRN, Ern, Irne, n. Also used attrib. as adj. [əirn I.Sc., n.Sc., em.Sc.(a); ɛrn wm. and sm.Sc. + e, e.Dmf., Ant.; ern em.Sc.(b), Kcb.; ærn s.Sc. + ɛrn. ə is often heard between ǣr and n.]
A. As n.
1. (The metal) iron. Also fig.Sc. 1822 Scott Pirate v.:
They looked as like whingers as ae bit airn can look like anither.wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 5:
There's nae airn sae hard but rust'll fret it.
There's nae cloth sae fine but moths'll eat it. wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 21:
... Sandy MacMillan was tryin to strauchten a crookit swee. He brocht up some coal because he said it wad saften the airn better.Rnf. 1815 W. Finlayson Simple Sc. Rhymes 113:
Thy smiles wad saften a bosom o' airn.w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo xii.:
Strike when the ern is hot.
2. (Metonymy.) Sword; pl. fetters; horse-shoe(s); other objects or implements made of iron.Sc. 1893 R. L. Stevenson Catriona xii.:
Here, stand up, out with your airn.Sc. a.1802 Kinmont Willie in Ballads ed. Child (1904) No. 186 xxxix.:
At every stride Red Rowan made, I wot the Kinmont's airns playd clang.Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St Patrick I. xi. 163:
“Are the' ony mae o' ye hereawa wad like to pree the airn?” said the victorious youth to the dying warrior.Lnk. 1881 A. Wardrop Poems, etc. 98:
I'm sure they twa are fair diverts, Aye in the fire as mony airns.Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch The Laird's Lykewake, etc. 34:
Frae screigh o' day till aucht o' nicht I there had stuid my waukit legs on, An' ca'd new airns a gey wheen naigs on.Lnk. 1919 G. Rae 'Tween Clyde and Tweed 39:
A pair o' auld ploo airns.Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders vii.:
“It's likely,” said he, “that ye may hae some wark wi' your shootin' airns.”Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) V. 167:
They say . . . that wherever he sets his foot, the grass withers as gin it war scoudered wi' a het ern.Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn. 2:
Airns, or Plough Airns, the coulter, sock, etc., of a plough.
B. As adj.m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 55:
Dae they mind on us, the trees, in the grey touns
whaur a tree is anither thing in a Cooncil Park
lik a widden bink, aw thir tame beds o flouers
in couthie suburbs hapt wi an airn dyke,
nae mair a pairt o thair realitie
nor fremit beasts in a faur ceetie zoo? Lnk. 1997 Duncan Glen From Upland Man 10:
And mony tools hung
on the waw. Mell and haimmer,
aix and saw. And in the corner
a free-staunin airn fire wi lang black lum
raxin to the roof.Ayr. 1789 Burns Grose's Peregr. vi.:
Rusty airn caps and jinglin jackets.Gall.(D) 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 164:
A poke o' meal hingin in front o' the saiddle' an' an airn plate aneath't.Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) VI. 94:
Ye'll draw an Englishman by the gab easier than drive him wi' an airn gaud.
C. Combs.: airn-gray, of a grey steely colour; airn-soupld, fitted with an iron “souple” (= striking part of a flail. See Souple).Ayr. 1824 A. Crawford Tales Grandmother 275:
The fruit on my three airn-gray groset busses.Gall. 1885 J. S. McCulloch in Bards of Gall. ed. Harper (1889) 50:
Nae weapon had Geordie — targe, claymore, nor spear, But an airn-soupled Galloway flail.
D. Phrase: New aff the irnes, “a phrase used with respect to one who has recently finished his studies, S[cotland]. . . . Its determinate application seems to have been to money newly struck, which retained not only the impression but the lustre” (Jam.). For St.Eng. N.E.D. gives only a 1683 quot.Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 18:
Ye see, there were twa candidates on the short leet for the Pairish o' Snawdon — baith birkies new aff the airns. So, fresh off the erns, but used in a more gen. sense in the foll. example.Ayr. 1795 Burns Poems (Kinsley 1968) II. 754 note:
A Scots lilt new off the airns.w.Dmf. 1917 J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne (1929) 55:
It struck me that . . . he had come — fresh off the erns, as it were — to me in either peace or war.
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"Airn n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/airn_n>