Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
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 r 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. 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.
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. Comb.: Airn-soupld, fitted with an iron “souple” (= striking part of a flail. See Souple).
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. 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 20 Oct 2019 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/airn_n>
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