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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

WHILES, adv., conj. Also whyles and, by analogy with While, n., in quasi-dim. forms whilies, whileocks. See also Files. [ʍəilz]

I. adv. Sometimes, at times, occasionally (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen. (exc. I.) Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.Ayr. 1789 Burns To Dr Blacklock viii.:
Wha does the utmost that he can Will whyles do mair.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality v.:
A pain I hae whiles in my ain stamach.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller xvi.:
I took a wee drapie dribble, maybe whiles ower muckle.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 54:
Anither faut, she's whileocks lazy.
Dmf. 1873 A. C. Gibson Folk-Speech Cum. 127:
Sweethearts a score I whyles rhyme ow'r — their names, Bell, Barbara, Bess. . . .
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden (1922) 66:
Atween you an' me, I thocht whyles they werna far wrong.
Bwk. 1900 A.T.G. Ann. Thornlea 32:
Whiles ane 'll sit doon.
ne.Sc. 1929 M. W. Simpson Day's End 53:
Maistly for siller — an' whilies for a dram.
Slk. 1964 Southern Reporter (16 April) 9:
I whiles think it is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
wm.Sc. 1979 Robin Jenkins Fergus Lamont 259:
'I'll take lots of rests.'
Like the widow in the ballad whiles I would gae and whiles I would sit.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 68:
" ... Wis he no' aye fond of the mill? I see him doon there wi' your John whiles. ... "
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 40:
Syne up he sprauchles an' wauchles owre
tae the pub door an' sweys a moment
an' craiks: "Mind me noo," wi near a glowre
i the mochie een, "Mind me, tak tent."
I could only gie ane o my peelie-wersh smiles
an' nod the heid. Whit can ye say whiles?
Abd. 1991 George Bruce in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 20:
We socht for bait on the bay sands, braid
ahint the far-oot sea, whiles at nicht-fa
and the mune up.
Abd. 1991 Douglas Kynoch in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 87:
An whiles, yon haan o hers that straikit me sae croose
Made on as though tae flyte bairn cantrips nae that douce.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 107:
Whiles she'd let the milk curdle and make a hangman cheese, hanging it outside on a nail in the wall for nearly a week or it dried and hardened.
Edb. 1994:
Whiles I would go and whiles I would stey.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 63:
Whyles he'd screive an official letter wi the biro tae the tax fowk wha'd made sic a snorrel o his returns.

Freq. in correlative constructions whiles . . . whiles, at one time . . . at another.Sc. 1705 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 75:
She continued two or three years, whiles praising, whiles neglecting prayer.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 66:
Whiles slouming, whiles starting wi' her fright.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 83–4:
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet. Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet.
Slk. 1824 Hogg Tales (1874) 518:
They say the de'il's often seen gaun sidie for sidie w'ye, whiles in ae shape an' whiles in anither.
Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 127:
Whyles she ‘but to hae me aff-haun,' Whyles ‘she wadna wed for a Croun.'
Sc. 1917 D. Mitchell Clachan Kirk 14:
Whiles fechtin wi' storm, whiles wearied wi' heat.
s.Sc. 1933 Border Mag. (June) 82:
Whiles wading thro' the slush and snaw, whiles basking on the brae.

II. conj. While, whilst. Obs. in Eng.Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journal (M.C.) 189:
Whiles Mr Calderwood went through the colledge, Daniel attended me.
Cai. 1869 M. McLennan Peasant Life 326:
I'll lift his fore-fut whiles ye pit on the saydle.

[O.Sc. quhylis, sometimes, a.1400, whils, whilst, 1515, from O.E. hwīles, adv. gen. of hwīl, a while, as in sumehwīles, ōðerhwīles, etc.]

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"Whiles adv., conj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Oct 2022 <>



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