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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).

RIBE, n. Also rybe; reib-. [rəib]

1. A colewort plant with a tall stem and little leaf (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); a tall straggling cabbage plant that has failed to heart properly (Ib.). Hence ribie, tall with little foliage (Dmf. 1825 Jam.).

2. A long-legged, thin person (Dmf. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Gall. 1968); an emaciated animal (Ib.). Hence r(e)ibie, lanky, emaciated (Peb., Slk. 1825 Jam.); ribish, id.Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Poems 125:
L—d man! 'twad mak a body spue, To see a set o' ribes.
Dmf. 1820 Carlyle in Early Life (Froude) I. 84:
I would not have you despair of your ribe of a boy.
Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 27:
The horse took bad and turned a perfect ribe.
Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
Applied to persons, but more especially to pigs. “They come of a ribish breed”.
Gall. 1912 Gallovidian XIV. 187:
A gipsy ribe, wi' leer an' jibe.
Uls. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Ballymulcaghey 179:
Kitty was a long-legged ribe of a woman.

[Orig. doubtful.? Cf. Gael., Ir. ribe, a hair, blade of grass, clout, tatter.]

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"Ribe n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Sep 2022 <>



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