Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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ORRA, adj., n. Also orrae, -o(w), -y, o(o)ra, orie, oary, o'era'. Superl. orraest (Ags. 1897 F. MacKenzie Sprays 65). [′orə]

I. adj. 1. (1) Spare, additional to what one requires, extra, supernumerary, odd, superfluous (Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems Gl., 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; ne.Sc., em.Sc.(a), Lnl., wm.Sc. 1964). Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 55:
[To] lay out ony ora Bodles On sma' Gimcracks that pleas'd their Nodles.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Jolly Beggars Recit. 1:
To drink their orra duddies.
Dmf. 1808 J. Mayne Siller Gun 14:
Forth came our Trades, some ora saving To wair that day.
Sc. 1812 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 624:
Gi'e her a bit orra-weed, To soothe her age.
Per. 1835 J. Monteath Dunblane Trad. (1887) 57:
This . . . had the effect of blowing off their [cattle's] orrow wind.
Dmb. 1844 W. Cross Disruption ii.:
I . . . sent mony an ora cheese and pickle meal to ye.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin viii.:
Cud I no crawl under the board, an' hap mysel' wi' the orra clippins?
Abd. 1868 G. MacDonald R. Falconer iii.:
Maybe they'll hae an orra fiddle whaur I'm gaein'.
m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet iv. iv.:
We've an orra bed i' the house for the maister, and plenty o' guid saft straw i' the barn for the man.
s.Sc. 1937 Border Mag. (Aug.) 123:
I'm no saying that if the laddie had a sair throat or the auld man needed something to his tea, I couldna find an orra eke if need be.

(2) Of one of a pair: not having the other, unmatched, odd (Sh., Bnff., Abd., Kcd., Ags. 1964). Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Ane orrow buckle is one that wants its match.
Sc. 1856 R. Chambers Trad. Edb. 203:
A shop kept by an eccentric personage, who exhibited a sign bearing this singular inscription — Orra things bought and sold — which signified that he dealt in odd articles, such as a single shoebuckle, one of a pair of skates . . . in short, any unpaired article.
Ags. 1876 N. & Q. (Ser. 5) V. 416:
An aged aunt . . . described a set of tea china as embracing twelve cups and saucers and an orra cup, meaning that it was unmatched — that is, without a saucer corresponding to it.
Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 25:
Mistress McFarlane . . . was carefu' to ha'e the lads an' lasses invited in as equal numbers as possible, for she didna, she said, like onybody to feel orra.

(3) Of persons and things: spare, not occupied or in use at any given moment or for any particular purpose, at a loose end (I. and ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1964). Edb. 1773 Session Papers, Petition B. Yule (15 June) 18:
As the building intended was deserted, the area behind the said walls was an orrow place. . . . The house was an orrow place before David Banks took possession of it.
ne.Sc. 1802 Edb. Mag. (July) 56:
An' never anes came back to see me Fan ye was orra!
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
A person is said to be orrow, when he has no particular engagement, when he does not know well what to make of himself.
Sc. 1894 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 40:
The “orra-house” where tools and tubs were placed, where the hens nightly roosted, and where in a warm corner the grunt of the brood-sow might be heard.
Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 14:
An “orra” or extra house for calves or pigs.
Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS. iii.:
Ilk ane had an auld mither on their orra han'.
Gall. 1930 H. Maxwell Place-Names Gall. 219:
When sheep are sorted on the hills in spring, those belonging to the flocks of other owners are put into the “orra bught”.

2. Occasional, coming at irregular or infrequent intervals, appearing here and there (ne. and em.Sc.(a), Lth., Ayr., Wgt., Slk. 1964): (1) in gen., esp. of time: Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 89:
As lang's an orrow morning may be spar'd.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems viii.:
When on the haughs he wont to ly, To keep frae skaith, Of orrow comers trampin' by, His mither's claith?
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Ane orrow body, an occasional visitor, one who comes transiently, or without being expected. . . . Ane orrow day, a day on which one has no particular work, a day or time distinguished from others by some peculiar circumstance.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. ix.:
What the waur were the wa's and the vault of the old castle for having a wheen kegs o' brandy in them at an orra time?
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 88:
I've gi'en these ora verses birth, At your desire.
wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 109:
Persons meet at orra times to weet their whistle.
Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 31:
To ken what time he's comin' wast Some orra nicht to hae a cast.
Dmf. 1877 R. W. Thom Poems (1883) 43:
An oora coggie o' brose frae the pan.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxvii.:
I daresay you would take an orra thought upon the gallows.
Per. 1897 C. M. Stuart Sandy Scott 71:
I wish Sandy would . . . no just enlarge on ony orra subjec' that comes in his way.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 345:
By an orra time he wud drive sheep an nowt.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 29:
A dwaibly warld! I'll no deny There's orra blessin's.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 53:
I used to step gey cheery when I thocht I'd had eneuch, Folk said I ga'ed asklant at orra hap.

(2) Specif. (i) of a job: casual, odd, of an unskilled, auxiliary nature; (ii) of a person or animal: doing work of this nature. Gen.Sc., partly derivative from 1. (1). Also adv., at odd jobs. Comb. orra-wark. (i) Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 37:
When Vulcan grown weary with thumping the gads, Besides orra jobbing, and shoeing the yads.
Ags. 1824 J. Bowick Characters 14:
For “o'era' jobs” and works of simple art.
Rnf. 1878 C. Fleming Poems 237:
An' can rin orra errands in seasons o' need.
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 75:
To the “yaird” to “howe” the kail or such like “orra jots.”
Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 25:
Tho' noo an' than, wi' dreepin' sark, we've biggit dykes an' dell't — That's orra wark; oor daily darg is fechtin' fan we're tell't.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 83:
I'm weel eneuch to work at orra wark.
Fif. 1951 People's Jnl. (20 Oct.):
Shepherd-Cattleman wtd., for Martinmas; exp. man with or without son for orrawork.
(ii) Rxb. a.1860 J. Younger Autobiog. (1881) 99:
Sitting at the open end o' the table, just like an orra body that had nae say i' the house ava.
Arg. 1907 N. Munro Daft Days xix.:
The orra gardener did not hurry to his task.
Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xii. 9:
Ony man, wi' nane but a bit orra servitor aboot him, may no be muckle thocht o'.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
He works orra.

Special combs.: (a) orra beast, a horse kept for odd jobs (ne.Sc. 1964); (b) orra billie, see Billy, 4. (Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 35; ne.Sc. 1964); (c) orra boy (Gall. 1930); (d) orra horse. Gen.Sc.; (e) orra lad(die). Gen.Sc.; (f) orra lass(ie). Gen.Sc.; (g) orra loon (ne.Sc. 1964); (h) orraman, a man who does odd jobs, esp. on a farm (Rxb. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Lth. 1825 Jam.; Sc. 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 724; Cai. 1903 E.D.D., “of recent introduction”), also in combs. cattle-orraman, tractor-orraman. Gen.Sc. Used adv. in 1901 quot.; any mechanical contrivance to replace a human assistant used by a man working single-handed, e.g. a sack-lifter with a movable platform and crank (Abd. 1948 Abd. Press & Jnl. (15 May); Bnff., Abd., ‡Ags. 1964), a wire-strainer used in fencing (Bnff., Abd. 1964); (i) orra woman, -uman (Abd. 1964). (a) Sc. 1829 G. Robertson Recoll. 161:
The better sort of farmers kept at least one riding-horse . . . or, instead of this orro, or supernumerary beast . . . they had a Highland garron.
Abd. 1903 Banffshire Jnl. (29 Sept.) 3:
Next morning his master ordered him to yoke the orra beast.
Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 31:
The orra beastie's cleekit, spavin't, aul'.
(c) Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 324:
Tam greu ap an' at da lang an' da lent whin he waas a ora boy he wanted tae join da kirk.
(d) Hdg. 1848 A. Somerville Autobiog. Working Man 62:
People used to say that old Bonar, the orry horse, and old James, the orry man, were exactly alike in gravity and steady performance of work.
Per. 1876 N. & Q. (Ser. 5) V. 415–6:
A two-plough farm has . . . two pairs of work-horses . . . If there is a fifth work-horse, he is an orra-horse.
Ags. 1894 J. Inglis Oor Ain Folk 217:
Geordie . . . worked two pairs of horses with “an orra horse for the gig and odd jobs.”
Lth. 1921 A. Dodds Antrin Sangs 18:
Wi' the orra horse the laddie fills The shed wi' a bing o' neeps.
(e) Per. 1897 C. M. Stuart Sandy Scott 10:
It would be fine to be ta'en on as an orra lad there.
(f) Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong Robbie Rankine 4, 20:
The orra laddie cam' into the kitchen . . . An' the orra lassie was ben the spence, singing the young Simpson to sleep.
(g) Abd. 1918 W. Mutch Hev ye a Spunk? 35:
The orra loon, puir stock, Was tyavin' wi' the rake an' makin' windlin's o' the brock.
Abd. 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 7:
Fin I am aince the orra loon at Mains o' Pittendree.
(h) Inv. 1812 Mem. Highl. Lady (Strachey 1911) 172:
Orraman means the jobber or Jack-of-all trades.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxix.:
The red-haired orra man.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie xii.:
This put me in mind of an answer I received from the orra man at William Dickie's.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick i.:
Dave Da'gleish, the orraman.
Kcb. 1899 Crockett Kit Kennedy xxix.:
They are wantin' an orra man, for the guidman has a sair hand.
Fif. 1901 G. Setoun Skipper of Barncraig xxiii.:
He's aff wi' a German; awa' sailin' orraman, so to say, wi' Captain Fögel.
Gsw. 1937 F. Niven Staff at Simson's xxv.:
Of his return the cashier was made aware by the arrival in his office of the odd-job man — the “orra man”.
Mry. 1953 Elgin Courant (6 Nov.):
A tractorman is expected to drive and to maintain his machine — or at least to keep it clean and serviced. A tractor-orraman . . . is only expected to drive the tractor and can be called upon to do orra work as the rest of his job.
(i) Rxb. 1955 Southern Reporter (6 Oct.):
Orraman (married) or Orrawoman required for Hillhead, attend some cattle in winter.

3. Miscellaneous, sundry, nondescript (ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1964). Sc. 1818 Scott Donald Caird iv.:
Donald Caird finds orra things Where Allan Gregor fand the tings.
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 106:
There I was deaved a' afternoon Wi' orra hame-o'er blether.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 11:
His pouches, like a broker's shop, are cramm'd wi' orra things, Buttons, bools, an' bits o' cawk, wi' peeries, taps, and strings.
Gsw. 1863 W. Miller Nursery Songs 18:
Ilk morning scraping orra things Thegither for his wife.
Rxb. 1870 J. Thomson Doric Lays 9:
Against the battered gable were mony ora things.
Slg. 1877 J. M. Neilson Poems 16:
For orra ailments o' the bairns, Her ready skill can sune provide.
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 76:
But o' a the orra caitions Ever plagued weel-daers' patience Nane could bate the bluid relations.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man xi.:
It was not seemly that a gentleman . . . should collogue overly long with all the orra serving-men and women.
Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 34:
I didna gi'e in wi' orra readin' on the Lord's Day.
Bnff. 1927 Banffshire Jnl. (26 April) 6:
We anticipated a great sale of “orra trock” at the roup of the Mains.
Ags. 1957 Forfar Dispatch (28 Nov.):
A' the eens [cows] I kent wiz aye pushonin thirsels eatin linoleum or ony ither orra thing they cud find lyin aboot.

4. Strange, uncommon, peculiar, not normal (Sc. 1899 Mont.-Fleming; em.Sc. 1964). Also used adv., uncommonly. Hence orra-like, of an odd or strange nature. Lnk. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Doric Lyre 78:
Orra men an' things are seen When daft folks gang abroad.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 183:
Though Bess was braw, an' Meg was fair, an' Kate was orra sweet, There wasna ane o' a' the three could move the laird a wheet.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 189:
They say that I'm daft, an' they shak' their heids, An' think me unco' orrow.
w.Lth. 1892 R. Steuart Legends 189:
Maybe ye hae noticed, sir, that the bodies hereaboots are kinna orra folks, and no jist sae weel mannerd's they micht be.
Gall. 1900 R. J. Muir Muncraig vii.:
There's naething orra or unco about that.
Sc. 1920 D. Rorie Auld Doctor 26:
I palmer aboot for kettles to cloot, Wi' an orra-like weird to dree.
Lth. 1920 A. Dodds Songs 26:
Where the auld coo calved the cuddy, Ye'll meet sic orra things.

5. Of persons or things: worthless, rejected, shabby, dirty, slatternly, low, coarse, unseemly, disreputable (Abd. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1964). Also adv. Combs. orra-folk, the tramping fraternity, vagrants; orra-leukin, -like, also adv., in a careless- or untidy-looking manner. Mry. 1852 A. Christie Mountain Strains 73:
Some auld orra Jennys were buyin a fairin.
Ags. 1867 E. Johnston Poems 215:
To hire some o' the Saxon dames, sae orrie like and queer.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 226:
Nae caird-wife not beggar-man passes or spares him; 'Mang orra folk Clapper is kend far and wide.
Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Yonderton 14:
There's hardly ever a nicht but we hiv some orra-leukin' craetur or ither aboot the toon.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister i. vi.:
“Let us hear how this gypsy struck you. How was she dressed?” . . . “A tasty stocky, but gey orra put on.”
Ags. 1892 A. Reid Howetoon 127:
He laid them doon, orra-like, at the end of the stack.
Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 88:
I'm nae an orra woman, though, weel I wyte, I'm a puir eneuch ane this nicht.
ne.Sc. 1920 D. Rorie Auld Doctor 24:
An' while that baith the twa o' them Were sayin' some orra wordies.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 26:
Tae hear my native music played A' doon yon orra street.
Ags. 1959 G. Michie Glen Anthol. 13:
My auld bauchlit shoon they are orra and dune, The sutors declare, and they'll mend them nae mair.

II. n. What is left over, a remaining piece or part, an odd bit, an unoccupied space, an article not in immediate use; in pl.: odds and ends (Sc. 1808 Jam.; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Arg. 1964), odd jobs (Ork. 1964). Abd. 1791 Aberdeen Mag. 350:
Fan gloamin fell, an' a' our oras done, Belike the sna broo bokin' frae our shoon.
Edb. 1791 Caled. Mercury (12 Sept.):
Ay break your fast on Ait Meal Croudy — But dinna fail To fill the orra o' the coggy Wi' gude brown Ale.
Lnk. a.1832 W. Watt Poems (1860) 351:
To buy a braw new cap or gown, Wi' the orras o' their fee.
Bnff. 1853 Banffshire Jnl. (21 June):
What orras we can grasp for gain.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 276:
Fu' dear is ilka orra o' our ain ingle-nook.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' the Ling 55:
Come, lassie, lay your orries by! Let's daun'er doon the clearin.

[O.Sc. orray, unmarried, as in I. 1. (2), 1597, = I. (3), 1623. A reduced form of o(w)eraa, over all, over and above, extra, supernumerary. See Ower. The word is equivalent to Eng. odd, with sim. extensions of meaning.]

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"Orra adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jan 2021 <>



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