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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WEIRD, n., adj., v. Also wierd, weerd, †werde (Slk. 1813 Hogg Queen's Wake 70); waird- (Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie viii.), weard, wird; ward-; weer (Sc. 1810 Gil Brenton in Child Ballads No. 5 C. vi.), wier (Sc. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (Nov.) 202). [wird]

I. n. 1. Fate, fortune, destiny, in gen. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai); one's own particular fate or appointed lot. Gen.Sc., but now chiefly liter. exc. in proverbial expressions as below.Sc. 1700 S.C. Misc. (1846) II. 179:
They are interpret to be idle beggars, by professing knowledge of charming, tellers of wirds.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 2:
After Word comes Weird; fair fall them that call me Madam. A facetious answer to them who call you by a higher Title than your present Station deserves; as calling a young Clergyman Doctor, or a young Merchant Alderman, as if you would say, all in good time.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 13:
A man may woo where he will, but wed where his wierd is.
Edb. a.1774 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 223:
Ne'er fash your thumb what gods decree To be the weird o' you or me.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 15:
What's that to you, tho' drumly flieps Sit thinkin on their weirds?
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxxix.:
He was to have a weary weird o't till his ane and twentieth year.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man (1972) xxiv.:
On a message of good friendship to this auld warlock Master Michael Scott, merely with a request to read him some trivial weird.
Rnf. 1836 R. Allan Evening Hours 54:
We little think, in youthfu' prime, When wooing, what our weird may be.
e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 304:
The present sad an' sair sorrows, bitter, bitter bereavements, an' waefu' weirds o' a' oor fisher an' farmer fowks.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 22:
Syne heard his waefu' weird, an to him said; “My brither trowthe, ye muckle hae to bear.”
Abd. 1917 D. G. Mitchell Clachan Kirk 22:
Come, an' ye'll ne'er rue it. Dinna miss yer weird.
Ags. 1934 H. B. Cruickshank Noran Water 7:
Mony trauchles an' mischances In ilk weird are rife.
m.Sc. 1991 Tony McManus in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 153:
You've nae need tae be Jeremee
Tae jalouse whit weird is in store for me,
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 22:
Bit syne a vision o hissel, haudin cutlass an Jolly Roger, raise up tae kittle Henry's fancy, an Sylvester's weird wis steekit.

Now esp. in phr. to dree one's (ain) weird, to follow out one's destiny, to make what one can of one's lot, to suffer the consequences of one's actions. Gen.Sc. See also dree n. 1, v. 1 I. 1. (1) Phr.Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. liv.:
Did I not say he would come back when he had dree'd his weird in foreign land till his twenty-first year?
Slk. 1818 Hogg Tales (1874) 236:
O they maun dree a waesome weird, That never will be doone!
Rnf. 1836 R. Allan Evening Hours 24:
When will my bairnie dree his weird?
Fif. 1896 G. Setoun R. Urquhart xi.:
He had a sair weird to dree.
Kcb. 1912 W. Burnie Poems 110:
The weird o't we maun dree.
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie In Two Tongues 55:
Men swither often gif they're fain or laith Their wierd, that is the warld's wierd, tae dree.
Arg. 1946:
Weel, ma lad, ye've made a bonnie mess o't, an ye maun juist dree your weird.
m.Sc. 1986 Ian A. Bowman in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 165:
Noo ye maun dree the same weird as your minnie,
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 25:
Scotland brocht intil the warl aince mair
an' wi the scouth tae dree its ain weird
white'er it micht be, or micht be made.
wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 51:
At home Mistress Macleod wept and wrung her hands for a while. But she had more smeddum than to simply dree her weerd and leave things be.
Sc. 1991 Forbes Macgregor in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 17:
Mair dowf on eird there isna ony
Nor wee MacLean the circus pownie,
Wha on the sawins o his flair
Maun dree his weird for evermair.
Sc. 1995 James S. Adam New Verses for an Auld Sang 25:
A hundert left alane! That weird we'll dree
But ilk ane here will aye bide strang an free.
Sae cum thon morn oor MPs seek tae tell ...
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 12:
They luikit tae hae bin vrocht bi the same haun, an even the hedged gairdens afore them war the same makk an marra. Bit yon fa bedd there didna dree the same weird.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 31:
" ... Easement an lissance are no for me;
But life athout daith, athout remeid,
Is the weird that I maun dree."

2. In pl.: the Fates, personalised as the arbiters of human destiny, the Parcae, “the weird Sisters” (see note).Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 14:
Now Wierds defend me, Gin that I hadna 'maist miskend ye.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 29:
The fates hae fix'd me like a yird-fast stane; My heart is near as hard's John Horn's head, An' yet the weirds hae riven't screed by screed.

3. A wizard, warlock, one having deep or supernatural skill or knowledge, freq. in collocation with witch.Abd. 1812 Bards Bon-Accord (Walker 1887) 600:
Tho' I'm nae weird at fire weapons ava.
Ags. 1821 J. Ross Peep at Parnassus 15:
She was a wierd of skilfu' cast.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 143:
With this green nettle and cross of metal I witches and wierds defy.
Ags. 1927 L. Spence Weirds and Vanities 5:
The turrets o' the Scottish Troy Atowre that meikle moat rise up Like weirds abune a witch's cup.

4. A prophecy, prediction; a mysterious saying.Abd. 1777 R. Forbes Ulysses 18:
Altho' his mither, in her weirds, Fortald his death at Troy.
Slk. 1813 Hogg Queen's Wake 79:
He heard the word of awsome weird.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 2:
She could tell her tale or lilt her sang Wi' weirds and witcheries aft atween.
s.Sc. 1859 Bards of Border (Watson) 151:
What legends and weirds these fair scenes still awaken.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Poems (1914) 148:
O' why should I dwell here With a weird upon my life?
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 72:
He ance got a weird tae, sir, 'at he wis niver tae want meal.

5. (1) Combs.: (i) weird coat, a magic or supernatural coat worn by witches in the Hallowmass Raides; ¶(ii) weird-fixt, ordained by fate; (iii) weird-man, a seer, soothsayer, prophet; ¶(iv) wierd-set, = (ii); (v) weird-wife, a prophetess, fortune-teller; (vi) weird-woman, id.; a witch or uncanny woman.(i) Dmf. 1816 Scots Mag. (May) 349:
The ‘weird coat' was woven frae the skins o' shelly cows, jointed wi' the whirl-banes o' a water snake.
(ii) Sc. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 181:
Now was come the weird-fix't hour Ordain'd to break the Papish power.
(iii) Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 238:
‘Dire is the doom', the wierd-man said: ‘Nae mair, O lady, speir.'
(iv) Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 46:
The wierd-set day begins to daw, (Its sign upon the heiven I knaw).
(v) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 65:
Upon a tale she heard a weerd-wife tell, That thro' the cuintray telling fortunes yeed.
Cai. 1776 Weekly Mag. (25 Jan.) 145:
We're a' right sober on't, my trusty frien', A wierd-wife took her lodgin' wi's the streen.
Abd. 1794 Session Papers, Presb. Garioch v. Shepherd App. 2:
Another reprobatory witness of Mr. Shepherd's was objected to, as being a common wierd-wife, or fortune-teller.
Slk. 1813 Hogg Queen's Wake 74:
Quhat guid, quhat guid, my weird weird wyfe.
Sc. 1831 Scots Mag. (June 1970) 265:
“The Weird Wife” is the title of this eerie painting which Giles exhibited as his diploma work in 1831.
Ags. 1850 A. Laing Wayside Flowers 26:
“Auld Eppie's a weird-wife,” sae runs the rude tale.
m.Sc. 1911 J. Buchan Watcher by Threshold iv.:
In the corner sat the weird-wife Alison dead as a stone.
(vi) Sc. 1810 Scott Lady of Lake i. xxx.:
Weird women we! by dale and down We dwell, after from tower and town.
Bwk. c.1850 Minstrelsy Merse (Crockett 1893) 188:
The tales o' the perished or weird woman's doom.

(2) Derivs.: ¶(i) weirden, associated with witch-craft, dealing in magic; (ii) weirdfu, fateful, fraught with the supernatural; (iii) weirdless, wa(i)rd-, weard-, unfortunate, unprosperous, esp. as implying one's own incompetence, hence inept, incapable, shiftless, improvident, managing one's affairs badly, thriftless, gen. of persons (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Abd., Kcd., Ags., Per., Fif., Lth. 1973). Hence weirdlessness, thriftlessness, mismanagement of one's life and affairs (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.); (iv) weirdly, linked with fate: (a) in a fortunate sense, lucky, prosperous; (b) in an ominous sense, magical, eerie, dismal, sinister. Hence weirdliness, eerieness, uncanniness; (c) in comb. weirdly cake, appar. a cake baked at Christmas and associated with divination; ¶(v) weirdrie, magic; ¶(vi) weirdy, fateful.(i) Ags. a.1823 G. Beattie Poems (1882) 183:
The boards o' coffins fed the flames (New houkit by the weirden dames).
(ii) Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 75:
The weirdfu' command o' Nell Graham o' the Rowe.
Abd. 1882 T. Mair John o' Arnha's Latter-day Exploits 103:
Near it ran, runs still, and shall Run on — a weirdfu' burn.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 41:
She touch't the lowe, an' tummelt doon Intill the burnin' tallow. Sae Her weirdfu' rashness closed life's day.
(iii) Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 81:
Ne'er price a weardless wanton elf, That nought but pricks and prins herself.
Rnf. 1801 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 12:
Peace, wardless slut — O, whan will youth be wise!
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 73:
I ha'e seen a weirdless wight, Hame frae the alehouse come at night.
Ags. 1858 People's Journal (20 March) 2:
These sort o' fouk are at the bottom o' a' oor weirdlessness, misery, and pauperism.
Fif. 1876 S. Tytler Diamond Rose iii. viii.:
To cast it, in the wairdlessness of passion, at the feet of this sinner.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil ldylls 95:
Noo weirdless Winter wi' his waste Shall trouble me nae mair.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 30:
She has nae throwpet wi' her wark, an' she's terriple weirdless wi' her hoose.
Per. 1897 C. M. Stuart Sandy Scott's Bible Class 61:
It would be a weirdless thing to hae us think upon ither folk and to lose sight o' oursel's.
Abd. 1917 D. G. Mitchell Clachan Kirk 86:
He had ta'en her frae a dull, weirdless life, an' made her a new woman.
Abd. 1951:
A' that fancy pieces. They're a richt weirdless buy.
Dmf. 1979 Ron Butlin in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 35:
Ahint thae weirdlichts keethed the yince
there's weirdless whisperin:
- whit celestial harmony there wis
is burbled aa tae hell, its echoes crossin
an criss-crossin toom space.
(iv) (a) Slk. 1807 Hogg Poet. Wks. (1874) 69:
Harden was a weirdly man, A cunning tod was he.
Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 265:
Whaur nestles love, life's weirdly charm.
Bnff. 1892 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 1) V. 191:
Ane aul' witch wife, they caad Meg Daan, She gae to him a braw reid coo, — It was a weirdly gift, man.
(b) Slk. 1831 Blackwood's Mag. (Oct.) 650:
A hill for weirdly deeds renown'd.
Edb. 1866 J. Smith Merry Bridal 148:
Doun a darksome, weirdly glen.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 19, 98:
Though a warlock had waggit his weirdly wand . . . A weirdly sensation pervaded ilk ane.
Lnk. 1898 T. Stewart Among the Miners 73:
He stretched his bare aul' withered arm Sae weirdly like an' fearfu'.
Ags. 1927 L. Spence Weirds and Vanities 4:
Weirdly munes and vanities Nae man had ever seen.
(c) Per. a.1893 Harp. Per. (Ford) 27:
We pu'd the slaes on Ballathie Braes, And broke the weirdly cake at Yule.
(v) Ags. 1937 Scotsman (29 May) 14:
And I glisk the weirdrie o' yon boond At the yetts o' the Wha-can-Ken.
(vi) Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems II. 21:
Life's ember suffers unco throwes — What will ye, weirdy time, disclose!

II. adj. Troublesome, mischievous, harmful. Hence weerdie, n., a young scamp, a rascal.Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales I. 310:
Atween the wat grund an' the dry, Where grows the weirdest an' the warst o' weeds.
Kcb. 1881 T. Newbigging Poems 88:
Still he toiled, for he was poor — Weird want else finds the poor man's door.
Ayr. 1882 Jam.:
O, but ye're a wierd laddie.
Fif. 1894 A. S. Robertson Provost 101:
“Jock's made clean heels,” said Saunders. “He's a weerdie.”

III. v. 1. To ordain by fate, to destine; to assign a specific fate or fortune to, to allot. Hence ill-weirdit, ill-fated, luckless; wae-weirded, see Wae, n., 1. Combs.Abd. 1748 R. Forbes Ajax 11:
These darts that weerded were To tak' the town o' Troy.
Bnff. 1792 Trans. Soc. Antiq. Scot. I. 442:
Nor ha' their charms sin syne been shown, Except to Fergus[s]on alone. Ill-wierdet wight!
Sc. a.1802 Erlinton in Child Ballads No. 8 A. i.:
Lord Erlinton had ae daughter, I trow he's weird her a grit sin.
Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xvii.:
Say, what hath forged thy weirded link of destiny.
Ayr. 1831 T. MacQueen Amusements 3:
The ill-weirdit Richard wha faucht wi' the Duke.
Bnff. 1847 A. Cumming Tales 51:
Little did I think o' being weirded to close your ee'.
e.Lth. 1885 S. Mucklebackit Rural Rhymes 236:
Gin the gude Mr. Hootsman is weirdit to be married a third time neist week.
Abd. 1931 D. Campbell Uncle Andie 27:
The weirded oak gyaun crash doon hiz been maistly in ma min'.

2. To imprecate, invoke. In 1817 used exclam. = I weird.Peb. 1817 R. Brown Comic Poems 76:
[Cuddy] grew vougy; trac'd him o'er the lee; Cried, ‘weird! that he would droon!'
Per. a.1869 C. Spence Poems (1898) 182:
A lesson teaching poor and rich That nane should weird ill to a witch.

3. To prophesy, prognosticate (the fate of); to warn ominously. Vbl.n. weirdin, divination, prophecy, used attrib. in comb. wierdin piz, peas used to divine the future (see 1804 quot.).Sc. 1765 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 43:
I weird, I weird, hard-hearted lord, Thy fa' shall soon be seen.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 68 and note:
Jock Din is to the yard right sly To saw his wierdin piz. Which he does in this form: One for each sweetheart he may occasion to have, or has in view; when the first briered pea foretells, with undoubted surety, his unavoidable alliance with the girl it represents.
Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 237:
O gangna, lady, gangna there! I wierd ye, gangna there!
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 89:
Wha wad weird a midden hen, Now when Caird's come again?
Bnff. 1844 T. Anderson Poems 107:
Quoth an auld beardy cummer, “I sanna wierd ane, But that couple they winna chaise lang at Craigstane.”
Ayr. 1850 J. D. Brown Ballads 173:
For weirdings aften fill my min' I ne'er sall see her mair.
Sc. 1870 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 106:
I weird that if she was bonnie afore, she'll be ten times bonnier.
Ags. 1879 Forfar Poets (Fenton) 142:
His mother weirdet a' the heavy ills That ever followed man.

[O.Sc. werd, fate, one's destiny, 1375, waird, to destine, c.1550, Mid.Eng. wyrde, fate, in pl., the Fates, O.E. wyrd, destiny. The phr. weird sister, one of the Parcae, occurs first in O.Sc. a.1400, then in Wyntoun, 1420, in the story of Macbeth, whence it was borrowed via Holinshed by Shakespeare and from him by misunderstanding or extension of meaning into the mod.Eng. adj. weird, strange, uncanny, popularised esp. by Shelley.]

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"Weird n., adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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