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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PEST, n., v.

I. n. An epidemic disease, murrain. Comb. pest-knowe, see quot.Sc. 1851 G. Outram Lyrics (1874) 20:
She doesna need — she's fever proof — The pest gaed o'er her very roof.
Dmf. 1915 J. M. Corrie Droving Days 119:
The virulence of the disease [murrain] is still attested in the topography of Glencairn, . . . by the name of “Pestknowes”, applied to sandy knolls where animals affected by the disease had been buried.

II. v. To trouble, annoy, vex, “plague”, pester (I. and ne.Sc., Ags. Lth., wm.Sc., Wgt. 1965).Sc. 1705 Papers of Rev. John Anderson 63:
I went to the presbytery, and though I can say I acted nothing against my light and conscience, yet difficulty and multiplicity of business disturbed my good frame and was somewhat guilty of foolish pesting when the work was over.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 56:
The Highlands were pested wi'Sandy McNab.
Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 110:
The raggit chiels that pest our town.
Lnk. 1881 A. Wardrop J. Mathison's Courtship 107:
Our Parliament's sae pested Wi' a cless seemed born tae thraw.
Kcd. 1934 L. G. Gibbon Grey Granite 27:
Upbraiding Almighty God for making such a trauchle to pest decent folk.

[In the sense of plague, the word appears to have been borrowed in Sc. in the 16th c. from Fr. medical usage. It becomes current in Eng. in the 17th c.]

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"Pest n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Sep 2023 <>



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