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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

ONCAIRRY, n., v. Also oncarry, onkerry.

I. n. A to-do, a capering about, a “carryon”, rowdy behaviour (Fif. c.1850 R. Peattie MS.; I., n. and em.Sc. (a) 1964). Cf. Cairry-on, id.Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xvii.:
They've been ha'in a gey on-cairry doon at the Ward.
Ayr. 1894 J. Laing Misc. Poems 111:
Let us speak o' the rest O' the wond'rous oncaries.
Sh. 1902 J. Burgess Sh. Folk 95:
Der been a mosst aaful onkerry yunder.
Fif. c.1920 R. Holman Sc. Sketches 30:
What an oncairry aboot a pig.
Sh. 1961 New Shetlander No. 59. 22:
Aa at Christmas is noo is a money-makkin onkerry.

II. v. As vbl.n. oncarrying, (1) carrying on, managing. Hence oncarrier, manager, entrepreneur; (2) = I.(1) Sc. 1700 T. Boston Works (1853) VII. 139:
That he [the Lord] would pardon mismanagement in the oncarrying of it.
Slg. 1756 Session Papers, Kempt v. Rynd (30 Nov.) 26:
From his own Knowledge, as Oncarrier of a Malting.
(2) s.Sc. 1835 Wilson's Tales of the Borders I. 156:
The disgrace o' such an on-carrying.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick i.:
A winner 'ey warna black affrontit tae badder 'e Keeng wi their oncairryins.

[O.Sc. oncarying, = II. 1., 1649. ]

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"Oncairry n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Dec 2023 <>



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