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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

NAIN, adj. Also na(i)ne, nean. Variant forms of Ain, q.v., with prosthetic n from wrong division of mine ain as my nain. [ne(ə)n]

1. = Eng. own, and sim. used to add emphasis to a pers. pron. (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1947 New Shetlander No. 1. 10; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh., n.Sc., Fif., Edb., Ayr. 1963). Phr. by one's nain, alone, by oneself (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Ork. 1929 Marw.; ne.Sc. 1963). Cf. sim. use of Lane, adj., 2. (3).Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Shop Bill 33:
For their nain wear, The starkest hose that can be made.
Edb. 1794 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) xxiii.:
The next rig redds them to tak' care To cut their fur, and tak' their share O' their nane rig.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 152:
We'll leave sic cracks to their nain place.
Sc. 1828 Lockhart Scott lxxvi.:
Your nain man, Kilspindie.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xii.:
An' he war latt'n aleen b' 's nain.
Ags. 1899 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy 37:
The cairt's my nain; I can come doon afen't ony wey I like.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (22 Dec.):
Shü's gaen ta fry up puddings o' her nain.
Ags. 1955 Forfar Dispatch (3 Nov.):
They hev a puckle streets o modern flats, and each een o them hes its nain front door.

Combs.: (1) nain-folk, one's accustomed or preferred associates, one's comrades; (2) nainsel(l), nane-, (i) = Ainsel; (ii) specif. associated in pseudo-Highland speech with a Highlander's supposed way of speaking of himself, phs. intended to translate the common Gaelic emphatic pron. adjuncts -se, -sa, or fhein, self; hence used as a n. as a jocular name for a Highlander, freq. in phr her nainsel. See She. Gen.Sc.(1) Edb. 1794 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) cxxxii.:
The stout-anes now a' dounae bear, Wi' silly feckless anes to shear, But maun hae their nain-folk.
(2) (i) Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxxxix.:
Ye s' hae as muckle o' mine to yer nainsel' as 'll clear Mrs Forbes.
Sc. 1891 Stevenson Vailima Letters (1917) 115:
[I] had a ride in the forest all by my nainsel.
Abd. 1928 Abd. Press & Jnl. (22 Nov.) 6:
They wadna be setisfee'd wi onybody but m' nainsel'.
Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie 'Twixt Hills & Sea 47:
His wark's a' gane, Like his nainsel', clean dichtit aff the sclate.
m.Sc. 1991 William Neill in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 48:
An nou the Regent rules himsel
an weirs a gowden croun;
he cares for nocht but his nainsel
an dings aa ithers doon.
(ii) Sc. c.1690 J. Maidment Pasquils (1868) 314:
Should the scarecrow of Loyalty, Heaven or Hell, Make a man such a fool as forget him nain-sell?
Sc. 1714 Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine Families II. 171:
Being now better Informed that “Her nain sell” is in the Blair of Atholl, I send to complement your Grace on that subject.
Sc. 1715 Gsw. Courant (15–17 Nov.) 5:
As for the Highlanders, when their officers commanded them to march towards England, they answered, her nane selve was far enough from home already.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 163:
Her Nanesel maun be carefu' now.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxviii.:
Up started the sleeping Highlander from the floor . . . exclaiming, “Her nainsell has eaten the town pread at the Cross o' Glasgow.”
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck xiv.:
Do you know that her nainsell pe coosin to yourself?
Gsw. 1838 A. Rodger Poems 54:
Nainsel was first to herd ta kyes.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 52:
Nainsel' didna like the French, they wer'na true to Charlie.
Gsw. 1931 N. Munro Brave Days 140:
The Chiel . . . did its best to emulate the “nainsel” Hielan' humour of The Bailie.

2. Used as a n.: what one is rightly entitled to, one's due share, one's own property, kindred, home, etc.Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems 1. 153:
The ups, an' douns o' fell mishap, For we hae had our nain o't.
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 593:
Gud bliss dee . . . an bring dee weel ta dee nean agen.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb ii.:
An' ilka ane had their nain, I wudna say nor the laird wud hae to forhoo's bit bonnie nest.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 56:
A merchan' maun tak' 's nain oot o' a customer some wye.

[See note to Nawn. O.Sc. has nan, 1400, her nain sell, of a Highlander. 1678.]

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



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