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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.

NORLAND, n., adj. Also norlan, nor(e)lin.

I. n. 1. With def. art. and also in pl.: the northern part of Scotland, specif. north of the Tay and Grampians, the North and North-East (Fif. 1954). Mostly liter.Mry. 1733 Lord Elchies Letters (MacWilliam) 86:
She wou'd be reproach'd by her neighbours, shou'd she send any of her bairns to the norlands.
Bnff. 1917 E. S. Rae Private John McPherson 30:
He is sleepin' far he fell 'Mang the heroes o' the Nor'lan' that focht at Neuve Chapelle.

Hence norlander, a person from the North; ¶norlandism, a characteristic of one of the northern dialects.Sc. 1716 True Acct. Proceedings at Perth 28:
They met with a bold Norlander of Aberdeenshire.
Sc. c.1795 Scott in Child Ballads IV. 387 note:
I recollect several of them as recited in the south of Scotland divested of their Norlandisms.

2. A person from the North or North-East of Scotland (Fif.17 1954). Orig. from an attrib. use with man, etc. See II.Abd. 1768 in A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 6:
'Tis true, we Norlans manna fa' To eat sae nice, or gang sae bra', As they that come from far-awa'.
Sc. 1771 J. Macpherson Introd. Hist. Great Brit. 134:
The Saxons of England . . . had their Norfolk and Suffolk, and the appellation of Southerons and Norlands are not hitherto totally extinguished among the Scots.
Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 27:
Kirsty was a Norlan' bred.
Abd. 18th c. Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VI. 22:
At home these labourers were called “shearers” and sometimes “thravers” but the moment they crossed the Grampians they were simply termed “norlans”, meaning people from the north.
Sc. 1823 C. K. Sharpe Ballad Bk. 123:
You strapping sturdy Norlan!
Lth. 1852 M. Oliphant Adam Graeme xvi.:
I hae nae broo o' thae keen Norlands.

3. A bull, cow or steer of the Highland breed.Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Gen. Report Agric. Scot. III. 29:
The other variety of Highland cattle, is the Norlands or North Highlanders, including the stocks of the counties of Ross, Cromarty, Sutherland and Caithness.
Per. 1822 Edb. Ev. Courant (11 Nov.):
Ross-shire stots, or Norlands as they are called, are down about 15 per cent. since last Falkirk tryst.

II. adj. Northern, originating in or belonging to the North or North-East of Scotland (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Abd. 1845 P. Still Cottar's Sunday 91; wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 437; Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 64; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–26 Wilson). Comb. norland-blue, Highland whisky (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); fig. having the character of natives of North Scotland, accounted shrewd and sharp in their dealings.Edb. 1749 Session Papers, Gordon v. Denholm (4 March) 5:
Damn the Pursuer Mrs Innes for a Norland Jade.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 165:
The Buchan bodies . . . . . . skirl out baul', in Norland speech, “Gueed speldings, fa will buy.”
Ayr. 1786 Burns Author's Earnest Cry xiv.:
Erskine, a spunkie Norland billie.
Sc. 1817 J. Gilchrist Intellectual Patrimony 159:
The journeyman carpenter . . . possessed all the quaint shrewdness which is among the Scotch implied on the word Norelin.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 273:
I seriously believe, that, from the day they first met, to that on which the two norlan' netties came to our house, they never once entertained the idea of parting.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel iii.:
He is ane of our ain Norland stots, I ken by the rowt of him.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1898) xi.:
The snow had fallen during the afternoon; or, as Benjie came in crying, “the auld wives o' the norlan sky were plucking their geese.”
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 84:
An' that's as true as I'm a Scot, A redshank, Norland haggis eater.
Bnff. 1856 J. Collie Poems 141:
The norlin blast wi' angry sough, Blaws throu the willow boggie, O.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 89:
Electors by the Norlan' Firth, Your wisdom's equal to your wirth.
Lth. 1916 J. Fergus The Sodger 29:
The keen clean Nor'lan' wind snell frae the snawy bens.
Ags. 1923 V. Jacob Songs 50:
O tell me what was on yer road, ye roarin' norlan' Wind?
m.Sc. 1991 Donald Goodbrand Saunders in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 137:
A firtree stauns his lane
On a dreich norlan scar;
He dwynes in sleep, as winter
Haps him in a plaid o haar.
Dundee 2000 Ellie McDonald Pathfinder 11:
Gin I traivel alane
wi my face tae the norlan licht,
sae be it.

[A reduced form of Northland. O.Sc. norland, = I. 1., from a.1578.]

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"Norland n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Apr 2024 <>



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