Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BLITHE, BLYTHE, BLIDE, Blyth, Blyde, Blyid, adj., n. and adv. [bləið Sc.; but I.Sc., Ags., Fif. + bləid]

I. adj.

1. Joyous, cheerful, happy, glad, well-pleased. Rare in Eng. prose or colloq. use since 16th cent., but freq. in poetry (N.E.D.); chiefly poet. (Concise Eng. Dict.); rarely used of persons except predicatively (Un. Eng. Dict.). Gen.Sc. Sh.(D) 1916 J. J. H. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr Iktober 14:
Mony a time, a bedral is da blydest body i da hoose.
Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 8–9:
The folk o Wassetter . . . wur blide tae help the ither side i' the time o' sair need.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 37:
An' O! I thought him bony, blyth an' free.
Ags., Fif. 1825 Jam.2:
Blyde, Blyid. The pronunciation of blithe, cheerful, in Fife and Angus.
Ags. 1921 A. S. Neill Carroty Broon xv.; Ags.1 1934:
I'm blyde I'm at the tatties wi' achteenpence a day.
Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (ed. Henderson 1905) 81:
My wee bairnie's dozin', it's dozin' now fine, And oh! may its wauk'nin' be blyther than mine.
Rxb. c.1885 W. Laidlaw Poetry and Prose (1901) 10:
Your modest face, so blythe and kind, Bears the reflection of your mind.

2. Kind, friendly. This meaning is given as obs. in N.E.D. Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Sh.7 1935:
He is noblide i' de broo,” he looks angry, in bad humour.
Ork.(D) 1908 J. T. S. Leask in Old-Lore Misc., Ork., Sh., etc. I. vi. 223:
A lock o' Deerness men staan aboot hans waar blide an' reused 'im for 'is pluck, an' speered gin 'e wadna hae a air o' the Ald Kirk afore he begood.

3. Followed by of: (1) fond of. Not given in N.E.D., Un. Eng. Dict., or Concise Eng. Dict.; (2) glad of. (1) Ork. 1929 Marw.:
I'm very b[lide] o' that bit o' bairn.
(2) Ags.2 1935:
I'd be blythe o' a dry sark.

II. n. Happiness. Ags. 1870 Arbroath Guide (1 Jan.) 3/5:
Ye kenna the blythe o' oor ain ingle neuk.

III. adv. Happily, cheerfully, kindly. Latest example in N.E.D. dated 1785. The adv. is omitted by the Concise and Un. Eng. Dicts. Gen.Sc. m.Lth. 1882 A. Cargill in Edwards Mod. Sc. Poets IV. 56:
Syne blythe to me she coost her e'e.
Ayr. 1795 Burns O, wat Ye wha's in yon Town (Cent. ed.) iii.:
The sun blinks blythe in yon town.

IV. Phr.: be or by ye blithe, a euphemism for “no.” Sh. 1899 J. Spence Sh. Folk-Lore 133:
The crew in their conversation seldom give a negative reply. Instead of their saying “No,” we hear “by-ye-blithe.”
Ib. 246:
“Haand me a kippok o' piltiks,” says Lowrie. “Be-ye-blithe,” says Robbie, “no ene is in 'er.”

V. Combs.: (1) blythe candles (see quot.); (2) blide-feast, a thanksgiving feast after a birth. Cf. Blithemeat; (3) blythefire, a fire kindled to celebrate the birth of a son. (1) Ayr.4 1928:
Blythe candles. Candles were burned at the birth of a child and read by the wise to see how the child would fare in this life.
(2) Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Sh. Trad. Lore 178–179:
There were three gatherings after a birth, the blide-feast — thanksgiving; the flittin' feast . . . and the christening.
(3) Ayr. 1913 W. Kissock Sc. and Eng. Poems 38 (per Ayr.4):
Yestreen I saw the blythefire's glare.

[O.Sc. blith, blyth, etc., happy, glad, cheerful, pleasant; Mid.Eng. blith(e), blyth(e), early bliþe, bliðe (D.O.S.T.). O.E. blīðe, O.N. blīðr, (1) gentle, kindly, (2) pleasant, agreeable, (3) mild. balmy (of weather) (Zoëga); Goth. bleiþs, friendly, merciful. Further history doubtful. For d = th see P.L.D. § 165.]

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"Blithe adj., n., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Dec 2021 <>



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