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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).

MEAN, adj. Also mein, mene (Sc. 1825 Jam.); main (Jam.). Sc. usages:

1. Common to two or more persons or things, possessed jointly (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., Ags., Per. 1962). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial. Applied esp. to a farm occupied by two or more tenants who shared the land and facilities. Hence mean-barn, -farm, -gavel, -rig, -yaird.Dmf. 1756 Session Papers, Blair v. Fraser (29 Dec.) 5:
The mean Gavel betwixt the contending Parties.
Edb. 1768 Session Papers, Petition G. Wilson (17 Feb.) 6:
The gable was a mein gable, and the turnpike was in common to both tenements.
Fif. c.1800 A. Laing Lindores (1876) 301:
The cottar-folk, who were unable to have a whole web of their own, joined together for a warp, and each had their own weft woven on it. This was called a mein, or common web.
Fif. 1825 Jam.:
Main-rig. A term applied to land, of which the ridges are possessed alternately by different individuals; synon. with Run-rig.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 96, 119:
We watched the laden carts return To the mean-yaird beside the burn. . . . When dancin' in the auld mein-barns Was held till break o' day.
Sc. 1919 T.S.D.C.:
Main-farm, n. A farm occupied by two or more tenants who took stook and drill about.

2. Of an animal: in poor condition, thin (Ags., Uls. 1962). Also in Eng. dial.Cai. 1891 D. Stephen Gleanings 60:
It[calf]'s 'at mean 'at ye could haud its four feet on yer leef.
Sh. 1901 Shetland News (20 April):
Wir kye wis niver sae mean at dis time o' year i' my mindin'.

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"Mean adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 7 Oct 2022 <>



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