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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LIE, v., n. Also ly; law- (Sc. 1819 Glasgow Peggie in Child Ballads No. 228 A. viii.); loy (Abd. (coast) 1891 Trans. Bch. Field Club II. 13). [lɑe]

I. v. A. Sc. forms: Pr.t. 3rd pers. sing. with neg. particle liesna; pr.p. lyand, lien (Sh. 1742 J. Mill Diary (S.H.S.) 3); pa.p. lain; lien (Abd. 1778 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 43; Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck i.; Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 24; ne.Sc. 1960); ly(e)n (Abd. 1714 R. Smith Poems (1853) 6, 71; Sh. 1772 A. C. O'Dell Hist. Geog. Sh. Islands (1939) 245), lyne (Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 32).

B. Meanings: as in Eng. For phr. to gae or gang lie, see Gae, v., Gang.

Sc. usages:

1. To halt, stop, come to a standstill: (1) in mining: see quot.; (2) of the tongue or speech: to be still, be silent. Gen.Sc.(1) Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 42:
Lie! or Lie up! a command to stop addressed to a drawer, who is approaching with his hutch.
(2) Sc. 1813 The Scotchman 105:
It was a nackie gabsnash o a thing an had sae muckle cleck that the tongue o't neer lay.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie xxxiv.:
The deevil o' an Irishman … fell asleep as sound as a tap the moment his tongue lay.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 105:
He's a triflin creatur when he gets a bit drink; and then the tongue o' him never lies.
Sc. 1889 Stevenson M. of Ballantrae vi.:
His tongue never lay; his voice ran continuously like a river.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (20 Nov.):
Dy galderin' jaws 'at niver lies.

2. To be idle or unemployed.m.Sc. 1887 H. Haliburton Puir Auld Scot. 137:
They were said to lie when not engaged in harvest work proper.

3. Of money: to lie in hand, be at call, not funded or invested. Gen. in phr. lyin money, — siller, etc., ready cash. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (1877) II. 381:
Your claiths, your lands, and lying pelf.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xx.:
To secure to him his future fortune by the entail proposed, meaning to indemnify Charles from his lying money.
Slk. 1899 C. M. Thomson Drummeldale 133:
Ony lyin' siller wad be handy for the first year's rent.

4. To be confined to bed with illness (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Gen.Sc.Wgt. 1704 Session Rec. Kirkinner MS. (9 April):
Sederunt, all the members except Alexander McHaffie who is lying throw sicknes.
Slk. a.1830 Gay Goshawk in Child Ballads (1956) IV. 484:
The surgeon-lad reply'd again, She's nouther pin'd nor lien.
Gsw. 1842 Children in Trades Report (2) i 17:
She lay three times, (i.e. was confined to bed three times).
Edb. 1882 J. Smith Canty Jock 66:
A lassie I got in to look after things when I was lying.
Dwn. 1911 F. E. Crichton Soundless Tide 10:
A was a week lyin' at Chrissamas, an' A come off well to be here the day.
m.Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 39:
Appearingly she had been ill, so I asked him if she was lying.
Fif.17 1959:
He cam tae the house the time Lizzie was lyin.

5. To cost, be at one's charge (Cai. 1960).Sc. 1871 in J. W. Carlyle Letters (Froude) I. 279:
What might cattle o' that kind lie ye a head?

6. Combs. and phrs. with preps. and advs. (see also 8.); (1) lie aff, (i) of a sheep-dog: to keep at a distance from the sheep (Sh., Abd., em.Sc. (a), Ayr., Gall. 1960); (ii) of a cow in calf: to be advanced in pregnancy, at the stage of ceasing to be milked (sm.Sc. 1955). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (2) lie back, in curling: to send up a short shot; (3) lie by, (i) to stand idle or aloof, to remain inactive, incapacitated or uncommitted to a cause (Sh., Ags., m.Lth. 1960); to be unemployed; (ii) = (1) (i); (4) lie doun, to take to one's bed with illness. Gen.(exc. s.)Sc.; (5) lie for death, to lie mortally ill and not expected to live; (6) lie on, (i) in coal-mining: to work an extra shift, do overtime (Fif., Lth. 1960); (ii) to draw a salmon-net against the current of a river (Peb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 183). Hence lie on, n. one of the two ropes used for drawing a net thus (Id.); (iii) to be the searcher at hide-and-seek (Ork. 1960); (7) lie out, (i) now gen. of cattle: to lie in the open air overnight, remain unhoused. Gen.Sc. Now only dial. in Eng. Also lie throut. See Thereout; (ii) to delay entering as heir to inherited property; (8) lie ower, to be postponed or referred to a later occasion; of a debt: to remain unpaid (Sc. 1849 J. Craig Dict. s.v. lie). Gen.Sc.; (9) lie tee til, to stand up to, keep pace with, be a match for. See Tae, adv.; (10) lie to (tee, til), where to, til can be either prep. or adv., to incline towards with affection, show liking, be well-disposed (to) (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Abd., Ayr. 1960); (11) lie upon, to pester, importune (Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 183); (12) lie wrang, of a woman: to lose her chastity; (13) lie yont, to lie further along, to shift over in bed, etc. (Lth., Cld. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc., obsol.; to move ahead of in precedence, to excel, supersede (Lth., Cld. 1825 Jam.).(1) (i) wm.Sc. 1934 K. R. Archer Jock Tamson's Bairns 7:
Wear them in noo, roon' the haugh; Way, Glen, way! Weize them in, see. Haud awa'! Lie aff, will ye? Steady, lad!
(2) Lnk. 1923 G. Rae Langsyne iv.:
I want the in-turn, an' I want ye here. Dinna lie back for ony sake, or I'll tak my besom ower yer back!
(3) (i) Sc. 1721 R. Wodrow Sufferings i. i. s. 2:
And no doubt, Threatnings, and Fear of Danger, in this unsettled Time, prevailed with several to ly by; so that the Elections went pretty smoothly on, according to the Desire of the Managers.
Sc. 1732 P. Walker in Six Saints (Fleming 1901) II. 74:
Ministers, that had lurked and lien by from their Master's work.
Gsw. 1801 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1914) 261:
No boatman shall get drunk or lie by and spend their time unnecessarily on the passage, under penalty for each offence of 10/-.
Sc. 1887 Jam.:
Let the lame horse lie by for a week.
(ii) Ib.:
When a shepherd calls in his dog from the sheep he orders it to lie by.
(5) Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 57:
Say that [prayer] 'at thu said teuk Willie ower de turn o the fivver, whin he wus lyan for daeth.
(6) (i) Fif. 1952 B. Holman Behind the Diamond Panes 105:
Miners would gladly “lie on” for the father of the invalid child, an expression to mean he would do his own day's work and then return to the pit to do a day's work for the father in order that he could sit up with the patient all the night.
(7) (i) Sc. 1712 J. Arbuthnot John Bull iii. i.:
The said Timothy lay out a-nights.
Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1873) 30:
He has nae will to ly throut.
Sc. 1855 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 169:
Another allowing them to lie out all night, and milking them in the field.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (13 May):
What says doo ta lattin da young baess lie oot, if he's gaein ta keep laek dis?
(ii) Sc. 1773 Erskine Institute ii. v. § 41:
The donatary … was not entitled to all the non-entry duties so long as the heir lay out.
(8) Sc. 1856 J. W. Carlyle Letters (Froude) II. 294:
That [story] must lie over, or I shall miss the omnibus.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xlix.:
Some jots o' wark at the Manse offices, that's been lyin' owre sin' he fell bye.
Gsw. 1933 F. Niven Mrs. Barry xviii.:
That'll be a shilling if ye have it. If ye haven't, it can lie over.
(9) Abd. 1952:
She can fairly lie tee till him.
(10) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 91:
I do like him sair, An' that he wad ly too I hae nae fear.
Abd. 1817 J. Christie Instructions 78:
If she be feign'd believe ye me, Immediately she will ly tee.
Cai. 1872 M. MacLennan Peasant Life 33–4:
Yer brave clacher lies hard doun tae auld Grant's craft. Yer sone was … jinkin' wi' his dochter, and lies hard till her.
Abd. 1959:
He wis vera ceevil bit I didna lie til 'im.
(12) Sc. 18th c. Merry Muses (1959) 106:
Ye hae lien wrang, lassie, Ye hae lien a' wrang.
Ayr. a.1843 J. Stirrat Poems (1869) 35:
Till ne'er aware how things might gang, Her shape was spoil'd by lying wrang.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 31:
Yet wha was a bride, had lain wrang, or were dead.
(13) Sc. 1826 Willie and Lady Maisry in Child Ballads No. 70 A. xii.:
“Lye yont, lye yont, Willie,” she says, “Your sweat weets a' my side”.
wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 152:
Our potatoes are taking sae weel wi't, that ye would think ye heard them bidding ane anither lie 'yont in the drill.

7. Combs. with ppl.adj. and vbl.n.: (1) lying gear, the fixed or non-moveable parts of the machinery of a mill; (2) lying graith, id.; (3) lying light, a ceiling light, a horizontal light let into a roof (Sc. 1952 Builder (20 June) 942); (4) lying-side, the side of a carcase of beef on which the animal lies after slaughter, and which formerly had the vertebræ left in it after cutting (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 108). Cf. Back-rack and hingin-side s.v. Hing v. 9. (20); (5) lying-storm, a fall of snow which does not melt away quickly but lies long on the ground (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 129; Sc. 1808 Jam. s.v. Storm; ne.Sc., Ags., Lnk. 1960); (6) lying-time, a period of time worked by an employee at the beginning of a new job for which he is not immediately paid, or between the closing of the books for the week's work and the payment of wages, the wages being retained until the man leaves his employment; orig. a mining usage but now Gen.Sc. See also 8. (8).(1) Fif. 1729 Caled. Mercury (9 Oct.):
The West-mill and Mill lands of Strathmiglo, paying yearly Twenty Bolls weighted Meal, and 180 Merks Money Rent; The Tenant furnishing all Lying and Going Gear.
(2) Sc. 1782 J. Callander Ancient Sc. Poems 151:
In Scot. the immoveable wood of a mill is called the lying graith, in opposition to the moving part, which we call the ganging graith.
(4) Sc. 1849 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 692:
In Scotland one side of a carcase of beef has a great deal more bone than the other, all the spinous processes of the vertebra being left upon it. The bony is called the lying side of meat.
(5) m.Lth. 1897 P. H. Hunter J. Armiger's Revenge 167:
If it comes, it'll come wi' a vengeance. It'll be a lyin' storm.
(6) Lnk. 1885 F. Gordon Pyotshaw 23:
“There's my lyin'-time,” urged Batchy. “True, but I cannot advance a farthing upon that.”
Gsw. 1935 G. Blake Shipbuilders vii.:
A workless man, even with his lying time in his pocket, has no right in decency to be drinking strong and costly waters.
Sc. 1952 National Weekly (24 May):
Another grievance is that the Department of Agriculture retain the whole of the first week's pay as “lying time”,but as most workers have been unemployed for some time they have no accumulated resources.

8. Other combs., mostly forming nouns: (1) lie-bed, the mortared bed or surface of a stone on which another is laid in building; (2) lie-by, †ly-, (i) of persons: one that stands aside or aloof, a neutral or indifferent person (Uls. 1953 Traynor). Cf. 6. (3) (i); (ii) a concubine (Fif. 1825 Jam.); (iii) of things: a siding or recess at the side of a road, used for the storage of road metal or the like (Fif., Ayr., Slk. 1960); (iv) an accumulation of work postponed, arrears (Bnff., Abd. 1960); (3) lie-day, †ly-, (i) an idle day, one on which no work is done; (ii) of a ship or other conveyance: one of a specified number of days taken to unload and reload in port or elsewhere; (iii) = 7. (6) (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 42; Ags., Fif., Lth., Lnk. 1960). Cf. (8) below; (4) lie-in, the part of an attic room lying directly under the slope of the roof (Abd. 1960); (5) lie-key, “a tool on which boring rods are hung when being raised or lowered in a bore hole” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 42); (6) ly meal, ?; (7) lye-money, †(i) liquid cash, money lying free for immediate use. Cf. 3.; (ii) the money retained by the employer for lying time (Abd.30 1960); (8) lie-time, = 7. (6), “the time for making up accounts preceding each pay day in which work has been done, but payment for which has to remain or lie over till next pay day” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 42; em.Sc., Lnk. 1960); (9) lie-week, id.(1) Sc. 1952 Edb. Ev. Dispatch (10 Oct.) 8:
Then the mortar was spread on the lie-bed and the stone slung up on the crane-rope.
(2) (i) Sc. 1699 Proper Project for Scot. 62:
Like so many idle Spectators, lazy lubardly Ly-bys.
Sc. 1732 P. Walker in Six Saints (Fleming 1901) II. 75:
A number of idle ly-by ministers, that had lurked at Edinburgh and Glasgow.
(iii) Ayr. 1928 Times (25 Jan.) 17:
There is what is called in the west country a “lie-by”, where there is a heap of stones always ready for cracking.
(iv) Abd. 1951 Buchan Observer (6 March):
The great bulk of the oat-seed may not find its due bed in the soil before April is here and the “lyby” be overtaken.
(3) (i) Knr. 1894 H. Haliburton Furth in Field 15:
There might be an occasional lie day or two, during which period the harvesters would have to wait till the remaining corn was matured.
(ii) Sc. 1709 Compend of Securities 228:
Each day the said Master, Ship and Company shall be longer stayed, or delayed at any of the Ports above-written, than the Ly-days above-mentioned.
Sc. 1752 J. Spottiswoode Stile of Writs 311:
The said Ship is to remain eight Weather-work Ly-Days for livering the said Cargo.
Sc. 1764 Caled. Mercury (17 Dec.):
The other regulations to be observed by the proprietors of chaises, who have acceded to this scheme, in regard to ly-days, short journies, &c.
Abd. 1786 Aberdeen Jnl. (24 July):
Quick returns may be depended on, as she completes her cargo of coals when her ly-days are out, of ten days.
(iii) Lnk. 1866 Justiciary Reports (1868) 321:
A balance of wages … being the wages of three days called “lye days”, and which, according to the practice of the district, remain in the employer's hands as a security.
(6) Abd. 1762 Trans. Bnff. Field Club (1886–7) 49:
Three bolls two firlots and two lippies of meal (including therein sid and ly meal) all made of great white oats.
(7) Sc. 1705 Money Encreas'd & Credit Rais'd 6:
The Coining of a certain quantity of Lye Money may encrease the Tale, and be full as useful as any other Money in the Kingdom. … No matter whether the Proprietors of Plate be paid in Lye-money or Money without Allay, for as Money is useless as long as it is idle, so tho' they should get Bank-money for their Plate they must give it out, and perhaps afterwards they should get Lye-money in place of it.
(9) wm.Sc. 1842 Children in Trades Report (2) I. 28:
There is generally also a “lie”-week or fortnight, i.e. the wages are kept a week or fortnight in arrear.

9. Agent n. lyer, in comb. lyer-stone, = Eng. lying-stone, a nether millstone.Gsw. 1727 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 289:
£52 2s. 8d. Scots for a lyer stone to the touns milne.
Bwk. 1800 R. Romanes Lauder (1903) 130:
[Dimensions of new mill-stones] “Runner” (upper stone), mean of three measure at the rim, or edge, 10¾ inches; “Quiescent” or “Lyer” (under stone), 7¼ inches at the rim.

II. n. 1. The act of lying, esp. in bed, rest, sleep; the place where one lies, a bed, couch. Phr. a lang lie, a period of resting in bed prolonged beyond the usual hour of rising as on a Sunday or holiday. Gen.Sc.Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 183:
He taks a lang lie in the morning. That's a hard lie for you (an uncomfortable couch).
Sc. 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 57:
I had a weary lie for three hours in the wood.
Ags. 1894 “Vathek” Brechin 11:
The feasts are Saturday nights, when the prospect of a “long lie” on the morrow, and the presence of our country cousins, impart an additional zest to the gathering.
Dmf. 1917 J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 37:
It's a holiday noo … an' he could have had a lang lie if he had wanted.
Gsw. 1953 J. J. Lavin Compass of Youth ii. ii.:
It's a long lie the morn [on Sunday].
Abd. 1960 Fraserburgh Herald (3 May):
I never take a lie down in the afternoon.
Gsw. 1966 Archie Hind The Dear Green Place (1984) 23:
He would get a long lie, a read at the papers, then perhaps it would be back to writing again.
wm.Sc. 1998 Alan Warner The Sopranos (1999) 86:
Swear Mum left the key under a different pot last week to spite late late nights and ma long-lies; so Chell's head's spinning, bent right over on the steps, scraping her varnished nails under the tipped pots, where slaters and spiders might touch her fingertips ...

2. In Golf: (1) the position of the ball or the spot on which it lies. Gen.Sc.; (2) the inclination of the face of a golf-club as held by the player (Sc. 1887 Jam.).(1) Sc. 1783 in C. Smith Abd. Golfers (1909) 18:
No means shall be used to beat down the Ground or Grass, … whereby to improve the Ly of the Ball.
Sc. 1891 J. G. McPherson Golf & Golfers 2:
At the “Heather-hole” one had to dodge about and watch the lie of the green, carefully noting any hollow to catch or “soo-back” to avoid.
Sc. 1894 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 389:
Bad “lies” are very common even after the best of drives from the tee, and this should not happen on really good greens.
Abd. 1914 J. Cranna Fraserburgh 466:
If the “lie” was not a good one the player deliberately lifted his ball, placed it on a nice little rise, and then hit it.
wm.Sc. 1989 William McIlvanney Walking Wounded 157:
A five iron took him close to the hole but still in the rough. Helping him to find the ball, Walter said, 'You've got a good lie anyway.'
(2) Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 27:
It is a favourite vanity of some Golfers to cultivate an arched back to their driving shaft, so that it has the appearance of being weighed down by the head. … If this bend is meant to flatten the lie of the club, the same result could be obtained at the club-maker's, without the necessity of spoiling the shaft.

3. A piece of ground on which a drove of cattle is quartered overnight.Per. 1944 D. M. Forrester Logiealmond 175:
The laird … gave the Seceders a free site of a piece of land used as a “lie” for highland droves.

4. A railway siding (Sc. 1855 Ogilvie Imp. Dict. Suppl. s.v. Lye); esp. in a coal-mine: a part of the track where hutches are assembled.Fif. 1864 St. Andrews Gazette (2 Jan.):
Several waggons standing in the lye were much damaged.
wm.Sc. 1901 Daily Record (31 Aug.) 3:
A boy … was accidentally killed at the lye of South Renfrew Station.
Sc. 1949 Scotsman (14 Feb.):
A “lye” is generally, but not necessarily, a length of double track, but it is essentially an assembly point where hutches are coupled up; to the best of my belief there is no definite English equivalent … A siding in its true sense is called a “back shunt” in Scots pits.

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"Lie v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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