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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MARE, n. Also mer; mara, mera. Sc. usages:

1. As in Eng., a goblin popularly supposed to be the cause of nightmare, applied in Sh. to the nightmare itself (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl., mara, mera, Sh. 1962, mara).Sh. 1883 J. R. Tudor Ork. and Sh. 161:
An' made da mare Ta swear: 'At she should never Bide a' night.

2. Comb.: mare-stane, a specially-shaped stone believed to give protection against supernatural powers. See quot.Ags. 1825 Jam.:
Mare-stane. A rough river stone, resembling a hatchet in shape, which has been worn down by collision or friction so as to admit of a cord being fixed round it. This is hung up in a stable to prevent the horses being ridden by the hag called the Mare.

[O.E. mare, O.N. mara, id. There has prob. been later confusion with Eng. mare, the female horse.]

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"Mare n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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