Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WAS, v. Sc. forms and usages of the pa.t. of the verb Be. Cf. also Is.

A. Forms. Indic. 1st and 3rd pers. sing. wis (Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Yonderton xix.; Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 82; Edb. 1931 E. Albert Herrin' Jennie iv.; Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 204; ne.Sc. 1973), wiz (Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Ags. 1945 S. A. Duncan Chron. Mary Ann 47); wus (Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson; m.Sc. 1973); in imit. of Highland speech wass (Per. 1896 I. Maclaren Brier Bush 46; Arg. 1911 N. Munro Para Handy xxvi.); wes (Abd. 1715 Hist. Papers Jacob. Period (S.C.) 44; Per. 1895 I. Maclaren Auld Lang Syne 7; Sc. 1935 I. Bennet Fishermen xxiii.); and, esp. after There (see 1. s.v.), Dey, De, adv., war (Rxb. 1873 D.S.C.S. 240; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 123), wir (Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 86, Sh. 1973), wur (Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 2, 35; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 74; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 90); 2nd pers. sing. was (Ayr. 1786–90 Burns To his Auld Mare iii., Tam o' Shanter 22), war (Ork. 1911 Old Lore Misc. IV. iv. 184); pl. 1st, 2nd and 3rd pers. war (Sc. 1719 S.C. Misc. (1842) 98; Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' xxxvi.; Hdg. 1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 2; Slk. 1817 Hogg Tales (1874) 150; wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 37; Kcb. 1895 Crockett Bog-Myrtle 412; Abd. 1929 Evening Express (16 Feb.) 7; ne.Sc. 1973), warr (Sc. 1706 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 17; Abd. 1932 Press and Jnl. (6 April) 2), waar (Ork. 1907 Old-Lore Misc. I. ii. 62), ware (Edb. 1795 H. MacNeill Scotland's Skaith iii.; Abd. 1923 J. R. Imray Village Roupie 15, 28); waur (Mry. 1873 J. T. Brown Round Table Club 182; Rxb. 1912 Kelso Chronicle (8 Nov.) 2), wur (Lnk. 1838 McIlwham Papers 15; Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 27; Abd. 1928 Abd. Weekly Jnl. (1 Nov.) 6; Gall. 1928 Gallov. Annual 28), wir (Abd. 1926 Trans. Bch. Field Club 19; Sh. 1973); the sing. forms are also used with pl. subjects gen. when following immediately after as in O.Sc., e.g. was (Sc. 1705 Dialogue between a Countryman and Landwart School-Master 2, 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 115; Abd. 1783 Gil Brenton in Child Ballads No. 5. xxvii.; Sc. 1814 C. I. Johnstone Saxon & Gael. I. v.; Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister x.; Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Auld Clay Biggin 79; Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 11; Kcd. 1956 J. P. Hill Episc. Chapel Muchalls 90), †wase (Sc. 1745 S.C. Misc. (1841) 415), wis (Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 193; Cai. 1909 D. Houston 'E Silkie Man 6; Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 145; Sc. 1944 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 88), wiz (Abd. 1930 Abd. Univ. Mag. (March) 103), wus (Edb. 1893 W. G. Stevenson Wee Johnnie Paterson 77; Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 4), still common in colloq. speech (and also in Eng. dial.) though looked on as illiterate Eng. Cf. also Is, 3.; subjunctive war (Sc. 1701 S.C. Misc. (1842) 302, c.1826 Lizie Lindsay in Child Ballads No. 226 B. xxii.; Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb iii.; m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 59), ware (Sc. 1747 C. D. Bentinck Dornoch (1926) 537; Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poetry I. 152), waur (Abd. 1836 J. Grant Tales 22; Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 294; wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 159; Ags. 1879 A. L. Fenton Forfar Poets 63), wir (Abd. 1924 Swatches o'Hamespun 48), wur (wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 441; Uls. 1900 T. Given Poems 143), the indicative forms was, wis, etc. also being used for the subjunctive (Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 195; m.Lth. 1858 Dark Night xx.; Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Aapril 7). Neg. forms, sing. and pl., indic. and subj., with suff. -na, wasna, wesna, wusna(e), wisna, wer(e)na(e), wa(u)rna, wirna, wurna, and, euphonically before ye, wusnin (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxix.), wiznan (Abd. 1934 Abd. Univ. Rev. (March) 125). Hence wart(na), were it (not) (Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 38, 77), ¶wart nor, were it not for (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). [wɑz, wɛz, unstressed wɪz, wʌz; pl. wɑr, unstressed wɪr, wʌr]

B. Usages. 1. = Eng. had as the aux. in the pluperfect tense: (1) used with tr. and intr. verbs to express the idea of aspect in addition to tense, sc. ‘was in the condition or state of having . . .' Rare in St.Eng. and used with intr. verbs only. Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 139:
Juste 's he gae the door a bang She was begun to dover.
Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 122:
He wus begun the dailin.
Arg. 1930:
When his faither deed this fellow wus jist left the school. He wus jist jined the polis when he got word o' anither job.
ne.Sc., Per. 1973:
I was juist feenished paintin.

(2) in I.Sc. reg. used with all verbs. Cf. Is, 4. Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II, 592:
His wyfe baad him skuyt i da door gin da sholmit ku wiz kum hemm.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (4 June):
Whin we cam in Sibbie wis jüist set da kit wi' da kye's mylk apo da flüer.
Ork. 1904 Dennison Sketches 2:
We wur a' been as seeland as mice afore.
Sh. 1919 T. Manson Peat Comm. 77:
I wis haed a bit o fun laek ony idder young chap.
Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Trad. Lore 191:
I kent he was got a bit o' money.
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 187:
He wis been i' Sooth America, teu.

2. In phrs. was a week, a year, etc., following a day, season, occasion specified, = Eng. ‘a week, year, etc. ago' (Sc. 1825 Jam., 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 61; Uls. 1901 Northern Whig). Sc. 1700 S.C. Misc. (1846) 184:
At St. Ruffus' Fair wes nyne years.
Arran 1714 Bk. of Arran (1914) II. 158:
He was intemperat upon Wednesday was a fortnight with Rumm.
Per. 1768 Session Papers, Petition W. Stewart Proof 4:
In winter was a year, one Christian Macgrigor was indebted to the declarant the price of half a store of lint.
s.Sc. 1788 Letters Mrs Cockburn (1900) 203:
She was married October was 2 year.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. v.:
It was John Hay that catcht it, Saturday was three weeks.
Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 183:
It's auld Rab Glen, wha's no been fier Since tawtie lifting was a year.
Lnk. 1920 G. A. H. Douglas Further Adventures Rab Hewison 9, 73:
Last Friday was a week we were all gathered round Crab Angus' hospitable board.
Uls. 1948 D. G. Waring Not Quite So Black 227:
We was talking — Wednesday was a week, I'm thinking.
Ags. 1957 Forfar Dispatch (5 Dec.):
“No only am I scunnert at history,” I says tae Mary Ann, Sabbath wiz a week”.

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"Was v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jan 2022 <>



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