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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BORE, Bor, Boar, n.1 and v.

1. n.

(1) A chink, a crevice. Gen.Sc. This use is obs. or arch. in Mod.Eng., where the meaning is restricted to “an auger hole or other cylindrical perforation” (N.E.D.).Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Bor, a small hole or crevice; a place used for shelter, especially by smaller animals.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
What are we to do neist, for every hole and bore in the country will be steekit against us, now that ye hae affronted my auld leddy, and gar't the troopers tak up young Milnwood?
m.Lth. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller of Deanhaugh 24:
Nane o' ye are half sae weel acquaint wi' the Auld Town as I am. I ken every hole an' bore about it.
Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter (Cent. ed.) l. 101:
Thro' ilka bore the beams were glancing, And loud resounded mirth and dancing.

Commonly in phr., benmost bore, the most secret recess. Ags. 1816 G. Beattie John o' Arnha' (1826) 75:
E'en frae the benmost bores o' hell.
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 152:
A word or twa touching the feelings that fill us on glowring after lang absence, at the spots that hae a' had o' the memory's “benmost bore.”

(2) In pl. bores, the openings in the teats of cows. “Da bore i' da pap — the milk passage in the teat” (Sh.4 1934). Sh.(D) 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 48:
“What's ta come o' you trow da hairst, if A'm no able ta . . . tak a sipe o' mylk frae da bores o' da bess [cows],” Girzzie said.
Sh. 1938 I. B. S. Holbourn Foula 38:
He and his sister were sent to take the old man a kettle of beast. . . . He gave us back the kettle, saying "and now, may the Lord bless the boars."

(3) Extension of meaning to indicate the margin of an opening, hence the rim of a bowl, etc.Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas, etc. 24:
Cry in about our frien's to raise a splore, An' fill the best brose bicker to the bore.

(4) In comb. often with blue, “an opening in the clouds, when the sky is thick and gloomy, or during rain” (Sc. 1808 Jam. s.v. bor.; Bnff.2 1935). Sc. 1837 Wilson's Tales of the Borders III. 259:
Through a bore in the far north, he could see that, beyond the cloud, the heavens were all a-flame with the aurora borealis.
Abd.(D) 1867 Mrs Allardyce Goodwife at Home xlvi.; Abd.2 1935:
The mist's gyaan aff the Tap o' Noth, An' there's some bores o' blue.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 107:
There's a clear bore in the wast.
Gall. 1822 Scots Mag. (July) 99:
The almost imperceptible "blue-bore" in the west, which, under the most unpromising appearances, announces fair weather.
Kcb. 1898 T. Murray Frae the Heather 135:
Whiles, when a clear bore does me favour . . . Ower sunny spots we link a-wee.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Calendar I. ii. 58:
All at once a lovely “blue bore.” fringed with downy gold, opened in the cloud behind, and in five minutes more . . . all was beauty and serenity.

(5) Curling term: “A passage between two guarding stones” (Bnff.2 1935). Known also to Kcb.1 1935.Ayr. 1786 Burns Tam Samson's Elegy (Cent. ed.) v.:
He was the king of a' the core, To guard, or draw, or wick a bore, Or up the rink like Jehu roar In time o' need.
Ayr. publ. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage, etc., and Poems 306:
Auld Roslin, tho' ne'er in a hurry, Is famous at wicking a bore.

(6) A bored hole, one of a series, as on a strap or belt; extended also to indicate a measure of distance (see 1842 quot.). One of a series of holes on the yarn beam of a loom which regulates the length of yarn to be payed into the loom for the weaver to work on, between one turn of the cloth and the next, corresponding to the space between the last weft thread on the cloth and the heddles. The tension on the warp is maintained by a bore-staff or stick inserted into one of these holes and pulled upwards as a lever on the beam.

Combs.: (1) bore-staff,  "Part of a loom which deals with the tension of the web" (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); (2) bore-staff-cord, "a smooth cord, which, by the powers of the pulley and lever, regulates the tension of the web" (Lnk. 1805 G. McIndoe Poems 11). Given in E.D.D. Suppl. 1905 as obs. Phr. to draw a boreSc. 1807 J. Duncan Art of Weaving 18, 24, 34:
In heavy fabrics, it is still the general custom to tighten the warp by means of a stout pin, which is called a bore staff. . . . When the warp has been wrought up as near to the heddles as can be done conveniently, the weaver shifts forward the temples, rolls up a proper quantity of cloth, which unwinds an equal length of warp from the yarn roll; then shifts back the rods and heddles, until the latter hang perpendicular, and proceeds with his weaving. This is called drawing a bore. . . . The bores ought always to be short in weaving light goods.
Sc. 1842 The Deacon's Day in Whistle-Binkie (2nd Series) 80:
Man, could ye no put back the yard dykes a bore, and gie me mair elbow room?
Abd. 1935 Nancy Scott in Abd. Press and Jnl. (22 April):
A crofter, whose turnips were very scarce, when asked how they were lasting, replied, “They're wearin' awa' ower fast. I'll need t' draw in the beasties' belts a bore.”
Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 204:
At the hin'-er-en' o' ilk bore, Mourn out, O Callamphitre! Thou'rt dead this day!
s.Sc. 1835-1840 J. M. Wilson Tales of the Borders (1857) X. 252:
"When Jamie's aff the loom," said she to herself, "neither beam-traddles nor bore-staff'll budge a single bit."

In phrs.: (a) to tak in, or up, a bore, “to begin to reform one's conduct; synon. with “turning ouer [sic] a new leaf” (Mearns 1825 Jam.2). Also known to Bnff.2, Abd.19 1935; (b) to be at the Eel bore, to have eaten to repletion, as at a Christmas feast (Abd. 1975). See Eel, n.2; (c) to clink a bore, id.; (d) neist bore tae butter, fig. used to mean the next best thing. (c) Ags. 1867 G. W. Donald Poems, etc. 167:
But neist day I cudna help thinkin', While musing the twa stoops atween, — Far better a bore I'd been clinkin' Than gaun the black gates I hae gaen.
(d) Bnff.2 1928:
Weel, weel, if this sample o' corn's nae exac'ly as gweed as the last, it's neist bore t' butter.
Abd. 1935 B. in Abd. Press and Jnl. (9 April):
The mistress of the farm in bygone days, addressing the maid busy with the churn, says — “Hinna ye gotten butter yet, lassie?” The lassie replies, “Na, bit I've neist bore tae butter, that's ream at the brakin.”
[The proverbial phrase (6) (d) is prob. derived from the device for raising or lowering a board or bar by means of a pin and a series of holes (bores) arranged vertically at regular intervals.]

(7) An instrument of torture.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 272:
Now strike my Finger in a Bore, My Wyson [gullet] with the Maiden shore [threaten], Gin I can tell whilk I am for When these twa stars appear thegether.

2. v. (1) “Used of sun and moon: to appear through breaks in the clouds” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). See n. (4) above.

(2) intr. To press, sometimes indicating violent impact, as in third quot. Gen.Sc.Mry.2 1935:
The bairnie wis caul' an' bored in aneth her mither's shawl.
Ags.10 1925:
Dinnie bore so close to me.
Arg.2 c.1893:
Used in leaping games — e.g. leap-frog — for failure at the leap with consequent impact on the person to be cleared. One who so failed was said to “bore.”

(3) Gen. used with preposition at, in, etc.: to browse over, to study with assiduity and penetration. Almost always used contemptuously; phs. suggested by the endless tunnelling of creatures like the worm.Bch. 1928 (per Abd.15); Ags.1 1935:
“Fat's she borin' at?” “She's borin' amon' beuks (or in a beuk).”
Lnk. 1887 A. Wardrop Mid-Cauther Fair 183:
Borin' in the fire till a' 'oors.

(4) With on, “said of a horse pulling ahead of his fellows in a team. The opposite term is “sitting in the britchens.” “Jock's meer is nae use on the laan; she bores on too much” (Arg.1 1933).

[O.Sc. bore, boir, n., a hole made by boring, an opening, and, v., to pierce by boring. Mid.Eng. borien, O.E. borian.]

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"Bore n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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