Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WEAN, n. Also wane (Edb. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 129), waen (Ayr. 1819 Kilmarnock Mirror 233; Uls. 1879 W. G. Lyttle Paddy McQuillan 11), wain, wayne (Uls. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Ballymulcaghey 16), wen (Uls. 1924 Northern Whig (3 Jan.); we'an(e) (Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 15; Bnff. 1856 J. Collie Poems 123), we'en (Abd. 1852 A. Robb Poems 24), wein (Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken iv., ix.). Dim. forms wean(n)ie, weanock (Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 201). A nonce pl. form weanses is found (Ib. 151). [m.Sc. wen; Per., Ags., n.Sc. ′wɪən, the two words not having completely coalesced to form a monophthong.]

A child, esp. a young child before its teens (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; m.Sc. 1973). The word developed in wm.Sc. and is now fairly gen. in m.Sc. In the other dialects the form is not common and is still thought of as two distinct words. See Bairn, Littlin. Also in n.Eng. dial. Combs. gran(d)wean, a grandchild, laddie-wean, lassie-wean, boy-, girl-child. Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. iii. ii.:
Troth, my Niece is a right dainty we'an.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 12:
The dentyest wean bony Jane fuish hame.
Sc. 1785 Burns Scotch Drink xii.:
When skirlin weanies see the light, Thou maks the gossips clatter bright.
Sc. 1818 Scot H. Midlothian xvi.:
As sure as I live he's been the father of the lassie's wean.
Slk. 1817 Hogg Tales (1874) 155:
One wished them “thumpin luck and fat weans.”
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals x.:
It was just a yird toad and the laddie weans nevelled it to death with stones.
Slg. 1845 Justiciary Reports (1844–5) 488:
When she came to herself she cried “Whaur's my wean? ”
Uls. 1869 D. Herbison Snow-Wreath 121:
We've got a cauld hearth-stane, John, Without a frien' or wean, John.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 107:
A glum an' fractious wean.
Gall. 1888 G. G. B. Sproat Rose o' Dalma Linn 53:
There were four wee weans roun' a cot-hoose door.
Slg. 1901 R. Buchanan Poems 74:
Happy gran' weans jumping round you.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xv.:
Men-folk are often like that about lassie-weans.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 4:
Noo the toon is fair asteer, The weans rin doon the street.
wm.Sc. 1946 H. Reid Big Adventure 39:
A wee wean was greetin', her heart like to break.
Slk. 1964 Southern Reporter (26 March) 9:
I often wonder if we do not cast aside the worries of our weans as being of no account.

Derivs.: (1) weanhood, childish; (2) weanish, childish (Slg., Lnk., sm.Sc. 1973). Rare; (3) weanly, childish (w.Lth., wm., sm.Sc. 1973); weak, feeble, puny (Fif. 1825 Jam.). Superl. weanliest. (1) Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Poems 113:
First at's weanhood let's begin.
(2) Dmf. 1917 J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 51:
Where Mary's concerned he's a'maist weanish.
(3) Sc. 1813 The Scotchman 90:
The stawin o a weanly and wanwordie greenin for revenge.
Gall. 1832 J. Denniston Craignilder 74:
But sword or axe gied weanly whacks Compared wi' Geordy's flail, man.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms cxix. 130:
Fu' clear comes a blink o' yer words, makin wyss the weanliest chiel.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters v.:
Paidling in a burn's the ploy for him. He's a weanly gowk.
Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 53:
It didna' soun' nice, juist a wheen weanly clavers.

[A reduced form of Wee + Ane. O.Sc. wyne, id., 1624.]

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



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