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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).

TREE, n., v. Dims. treeack (Mry. 1889 T. L. Mason Rafford 52), treeockie (Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxix.).

Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. As in Eng. Sc. combs. and deriv.: (1) tree-lark, the tree pipit, Anthus trivialis (Kcb. 1878 Zoologist (Ser. 3) II. 427); (2) tree-lintie, the chaffinch, Fringilla caelebs (Mry. 1844 Zoologist II. 508); (3) treeock(ie), id. (Mry. 1948); (4) tree-speeler, -speiler, the tree-creeper, Certhia familiaris (Slg. 1867 Zoologist II. 895; Clc. 1869 P. Alloa Soc. Nat. Science 50; e.Lth. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 57; Lnk. 1897 Annals Sc. Nat. Hist. 206; Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 355; Ayr. 1929 Paton & Pike Birds Ayr. 45; Lth., Ayr., Kcb., Dmf. 1973). See Speel, v.2

2. Wood, as a material, timber, freq. in ballad usage. Obs. or arch. in Eng.Edb. 1714 Burgh Rec. Edb. (1967) 278:
A sole of tree round the whole roum.
Gsw. 1758 Records Trades Ho. (Lumsden 1934) 434:
To make two new tables of plain tree for the large room.
Sc. 1792 Tam Lin in Child Ballads No. 39 A. xlii.:
I wad hae taen out thy twa grey een, And put in twa een o tree.
Sc. 1824 J. Maidment N. Countrie Garland 30:
O get to me a cloak of cloth, A staff of good hard tree.
Sc. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 281:
He threw the charters ower the table, And kissed the yates o tree.

Freq. in attrib. use in combs.: (1) tree-clout, a piece of wood used instead of leather to heel shoes (Peb. 1825 Jam.). Also attrib. of shoes: having wooden heels; (2) tree-ladle, a wooden ladle, gen. in phr. cutty-mun and tree-ladle, the name of an old dance tune (see Cutty, adj., 3. (2)). Also in corrupt form tree o ladle; (3) tree-leg, a wooden leg (Edb. 1809 J. Carr Caled. Sk. 212). Hence ppl.adj. tree-leggit, having a wooden leg.(1) Sc. 1819 Jacobite Relics (Hogg) 118:
Some tree-clouts and foul wisps o' strae.
s.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Till [about 1800] the heels of shoes were, in the south of Scotland, made of birch-wood. These were denominated tree-clout shoon.
(2) Sc. 1716 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 70:
He fits the Floor syne wi' the Bride To Cuttymun and Tree ladle.
Peb. 1832 R. Brown Hist. Sc. Village 32:
And trig Tam Thoomb's son, that can dance “Cutty-spoon and tree-ladle.”
Ork.1 1941:
[Orkney rhyme] Gaunt horse and riven saiddle, Broken spune and tree o ladle.
(3) Peb. 1765 C. B. Gunn Ch. Lyne (1911) 106:
Travelling though he has a tree leg.
Slk. 1832 Hogg Altrive Tales 100:
Stumping away with his tree leg.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie viii.:
The tree-legg't sailor.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 168:
E'en tree-legg'd Pate — 'twal been yer death To see him hobblet there.
Edb. 1881 J. Smith Jenny Blair 66:
Five blind fiddlers, an' a nigger wi' a tree leg.
sm.Sc. 1922 R. W. Mackenna Flower o' the Heather xxvii.:
A packman wi' a tree-leg.

3. A rod or stick, specif.: †(1) a cudgel, club. Obs. in Eng. Phr. to have the right end of the tree, to have the best of an argument, to have the stronger case in a dispute. Comb. herding-tree, a cow-herd's stick (Cai. 1905 E.D.D.).Bnff. 1719 Rec. Bnff. (S.C.) 397:
Striking the complainer with a big tree, for which he was committed to prison.
Abd. 1724 Third S.C. Misc. I. 55:
He saw a tree drawn between William Rae and John Garden.
Sc. 1733 J. Burnett Crim. Law (1811) 271:
He saw one of the prisoner's sons follow the defunct with a knife, and the other son with a tree.
Slg. 1792 G. Galloway Poems 66:
Revenge seiz'd my breast, I employed a lawyer; He swore that I had the right end of the tree.
Dmb. 1846 W. Cross Disruption iv.:
Faith, sir, ye ha'e the right end o' the tree.

(2) a staff or walking stick.Sc. 1826 Knight and Shepherd's Daughter in Child Ballads No. 110 B. xix.:
O he cam cripple, and he cam blind, Cam twa-fald oer a tree.
Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 136:
Limmers limpin' upo' trees, Wi' nought the matter.
Lth. 1895 A. S. Swan Gates of Eden vii.:
“There's my faither's tree till ye,” said David Campbell, handling out the stout crook.

(3) a stick or rod for stirring porridge, etc., a pot-stick. Cf. gruel-tree s.v. Gruel, 1.Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 220:
They that hae mael an' a tree, can mak' gruel i' the sea.
Cai. 1905 E.D.D.:
Porridge-tree, a stick for stirring porridge. Roolyin-tree, a stick for stirring potatoes in washing them.

4. Any long wooden bar, post or pole.Sc. 1699 Edb. Gazette (13 March):
A big tree they term the Camrell, which is that whereon they hing Carcasses.
Sc. 1736 in W. Roughead Trial Capt. Porteous (1909) 85:
A dyer's tree which is in the form of a gallows, about fifteen foot high, on which they dry their worsteds and cloths.
Ags. 1768 Session Papers, Petition J. Craich (24 Nov.) 2:
By removing from the flaik or stile three trees.

5. A wooden rafter, beam, prop, strut or the like (Sc. 1887 Jam.); in Mining: a pit prop (Sc. 1950 B.B.C. Broadcast (12 May); Fif., Lth., wm.Sc. 1973).Gsw. 1719 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 58:
Trees to the roof of the said session house, cartage of daills, sand and trees to the work.
Ags. 1728 Carmyllie Session Rec. MS. (23 Dec.):
Finding one stack heating he took from it the tree which supported it.
n.Sc. 1733 W. Fraser Chiefs of Grant (1883) II. 320:
I struck my forehead against a cross tree that was in the entry.
Ayr. 1734 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (3 July):
For Scaffoling Trees ffour pound scots.

6. A swingle-tree in the harness of a plough or harrow. See also Horse, n2. (51).Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recollections 125:
A four horse plough, with all its trees and other tackling.
Slg. 1845 Trans. Highl. Soc. 105:
The greater and lesser main and common trees, by which ten or twelve horses may by yoked.

7. A wooden barrel, keg, cask, esp. a cask to hold ale, etc. (Sc. 1825 Jam.), freq prefixed by the number of gallons it contained, as nine-gallon tree.Sc. 1704 Atholl MSS. (26 June):
You must cause put it in 4 gallon trees that it may lye on each side [of a horse].
Sc. 1717 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 20:
With gratis Beef, dry Fish or Cheese; Which lent her fresh Nine Gallon Trees A hearty Lift.
Gsw. 1739 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1911) 4:
£2 6s. 4d. sterling for trees for holding the wine at the sacrament.
Dmf. 1755 W. A. J. Prevost Annals Dmf. Dales (1954) 87:
To bring two trees of tar.
Fif. 1774 Dmf. Weekly Mag. (13 Sept.):
A ship arrived last tide with great salt at Anstruther, but there is no tree to be had.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Legatees vii.:
A hot joint day and day aboot, and a tree of yill.
Lnk. 1865 J. Hamilton Poems 182:
A tree or barrel of gude yill.

8. An archer's bow. Obs.Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 22:
Wi' a' my maught the trusty tree I drew, An' shot the katrin's leader through and thro'.

9. Comb. tree an(d) trantel, treantrintle, a round piece of wood laid across the crupper of a horse to keep sunks or saddle pads from slipping (see first quot.). Cf. Eng. saddle-tree but tree an may represent Treen, adj. For trantel see Trintle and Trinnle, n.1, 1.Per. 1825 Jam.:
Tree and Trantel. A piece of wood that goes behind a horse's tail, for keeping back the sunks or sods, used instead of a saddle. This is fastened by a cord on each side, and used instead of a crupper; but reaching farther down, to prevent the horse from being tickled under the tail.
Cai. 1916 John o' Groat Jnl. (14 April):
The crubbans had a “clibber” for saddle, and a “treantrintle” for “brechan.”

II. v. To provide with supporting timbers or props, as the roof of a coal working (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 68), also tree up (Sc. 1883 W. Gresley Gl. Coal Mining 259). Ppl.adj. treed, propped (Id.).Lth. 1887 P. McNeill Blawearie 76:
To warn the men to have their wall-faces all cleared up, and their roofs well treed.

[O.Sc. tre, a post, beam, 1375, tree, a cask, 1513, a cudgel, 1588.]

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"Tree n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 7 Oct 2022 <>



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