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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GRAIN, n.2

1. The branch of a tree (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 348; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 250; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd.19, Slk.1 1930; Per. 1955). Since 17th c. obs. exc. dial. in Eng.Gsw. 1732 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 380:
Grains and tops of trees from Polmadie.
Sc. a.1745 Gude Wallace in Child Ballads No. 157 A xxi.:
And five he chased to yon green wood, He hanged them all out-oer a grain.
Abd. 1748 Abd. Estate (S.C.) 74:
To cutting 13 trees and 5 big grains about the Yard of Monymusk . . . £1. 16. 0.

2. (1) The branch or fork of a stream or river (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd., Ags., Peb., s.Sc. 1955); an arm of the sea. Also in n.Eng. dial. Freq. in place-names.Sc. 1723 W. MacFarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 315:
Where the river of Bannockburn . . . does evacuat itself into Forth a grain of the sea.
Abd. 1765 Invercauld Rec. (S.C.) 36:
Up the said burn untill it devides itself into two grains.
Edb. 1826 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 39:
The place was called the Deadman's Grain, — the latter word signifying the place of junction of two small mountain rills which happen to meet in a forked manner.
Rxb. 1902 G. Douglas Diversions 304:
We next pass the “Jedheads,” where the tiny stream of Jed seems to bifurcate in the horns of a double “gram.”

Comb: burn-grain, see Burn., n., 5. ‡(2) A branch of a valley, a tributary valley. Now mostly in place-names. Also in n.Eng. dial.Dmf. 1776 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. (1950–1) 145:
This day hired Wat Anderson and another man to herd the Grains and Asshie Bank.
Slk. 1813 Hogg Queen's Wake 145:
Astonished, mid his open grain, Sees round him pour the sudden rain.
s.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
The branches of a valley at the upper end, where it divides into two; as, Lewinshope Grains.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 36:
We werena half the road, nor bye the grain Whaur auncient Druids left the standin' stane.

3. One of the prongs of a fork, salmon spear, or the like (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Ork., n.Sc., Ags., Rnf., Rxb. 1955).Rxb. 1724 W. Chambers Gypsies (1821) 16:
The deponent saw the grains of the fork strike the said Alexander Fall in the breast.
Sc. 1743 R. Maxwell Select Trans. 166:
A Fork, with five or six small Toes, Grains or Prongs.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 183:
Whenever he put the grains o' the leister into the water.
Bnff. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 83:
Wi' a graip wi' grains a half-league lang.

Hence grained, ppl.adj., provided with prongs, -pronged.Edb. 1730 Caled. Mercury (27 .J uly):
Marked on each Flank like a Three-grain'd Fork.
Abd. 1774 Abd. Journal (20 June):
Twelve Three Grained Forks.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. I. 314:
I want a leister of your making; . . . A five-grained one make it; at your own price.

[O.Sc. has grain(e), grane, in sense 1. from 1501, in sense 2., 1456, in sense 4. from 1513, also granit, forked, pronged, 1513; Mid.Eng. gra(y)n(e), greyn(e); O.N. grein, branch (of a tree, of the sea), division.]

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"Grain n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Jun 2023 <>



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