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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

WHIN, n.1 Also whun, whyn. See also Fun, n.1, Pease, 1. (2). [ʍɪn]

1. Any one of the various hard crystalline types of igneous rock, as basalt, flint, or diorite (Sc. 1808 Jam.), “in some areas more loosely applied to any hard stone used as road stone, such as hornblende schists and gabbros” (Abd.16). Gen.Sc. and n.Eng. dial. Also attrib. as in whin dike. See Dyke, n., 3.Sc. 1766 Caled. Mercury (30 Aug.) 415:
From that to Charing-cross, is [paved] with Scots blue whyn.
Bwk. 1835 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club (1885) 89:
The term Whin is applied in Berwickshire to all rocks except freestone and quartz.
Per. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 X. 4:
From the main body of the trap, whin dikes may be traced.
Sc. 1873 J. Geikie Great Ice Age 152:
Gravel and stones with large ‘whin' boulders.
Dmf. 1875 A. Anderson Two Angels 92:
For the heart grows hard, an' lies dead in the breast, Like the bouk o' my nieve o' whin.
Arg. 1898 N. Munro J. Splendid xxiv.:
A pleasance walled by whin or granite.
Sc. 1937 Econ. Geol. Cent. Coalfield I. 143:
Whin has been used in the building of some of the older houses and cottages in the district.

2. A piece of whin rock, a boulder, slab or stone (Slg., Lth., Bwk., Lnk., Ayr. 1974); specif. a curling-stone made of whin. Adj. whinnie, stony, of a field (Ork. 1974).Sc. 1823 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 3:
Dandy Dinmont having dug out from the stole of a two year's old peat stack, his “true blue whins”, had graced them with new handles, and a fresh soleing.
Lnk. 1915:
He threw a whun at me. Dim. whinnie, -y, a kind of playing marble. Obs.
Gsw. 1870 G. Henderson Recollections (1914) 32:
Two “jarries” equalled a “whinny.”
Hdg. 1886 J. P. Reid Facts & Fancies 195:
Ha, miss'd, hurrah! an' I'll ha'e you — Is that your demon whinnie?

3. Combs. and phrs.: (1) bastard whin, whinstone mixed with limestone; (2) black whin, a variety of dolerite; (3) floating whin, see quot.; (4) whin(e) boul, a hard nodule of whin embedded in sandstone (Ags. 1953). See Bool, n.1; (5) whin brush, whinstone dust or small rubble; (6) whin craigman, a quarrier of whinstone, a quarryman; (7) whin dust, = (5) (em., wm.Sc., Wgt. 1974); (8) whin-flag, a flag or flat slab of whinstone; (9) whin-float, “an intruded bed, or an overflow on the surface, of igneous rock” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 72). See Float, n., 2.; (10) whin-gaw, “a narrow dyke or intrusion of whin” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 72). See Gaw, n.1, 4.; (11) whin quarry, a quarry from which whinstone is obtained; (12) whin-rock, = 1. and 2.; (13) whinstane, (i) = 1. (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 474); a boulder or pillar of whin. Gen.Sc., also fig. Now in St. Eng., as a geological term. Also attrib. or as adj. = hard-hearted, inflexible; also solid, durable; (ii) a curling-stone (Ayr. 1928). See 2.; (14) white-whin, see quot.(1) Fif. 1841 Trans. Highl. Soc. 337:
The trap, however, is not pure, but has a mixture of lime in it, in consequence of which it is commonly named Bastard Whin.
(2) Per. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 X. 315:
At upper Concraig black trap, or as some style it, black whin rock.
(3) Lnk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VII. 546:
In many parts of this county, the whin lies on the transition and other rocks in the form of mountain caps. Workmen in Lanarkshire term this “floating whin.”
(4) Ags. 1776 First Hist. Dundee (Millar 1923) 144:
It is a considerable oppen court within, and paved like the rest of the Street with Whine bouls.
Ags. 1896 J. Stirton Thrums 94:
The whole of the fences on thirty acres of land are all whin bouls.
(5) Gsw. 1728 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 294:
The filling up the holls of Camlachy cawsey with whin brush.
(6) Gsw. 1745 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1911) 195:
Mells, gaveloks, hammers, wadges and other smith work made and furnished by him for the caseyers and whin craigmen.
(7) Per. 1953 Scotsman (14 Feb.):
For the garden there is nothing so good as whin dust, as it is called locally in Perthshire. This is the actual dust that is made when grinding the stone and riddling it afterwards for road metal. It consists of all sizes that go through a quarter-inch mesh riddle.
(8) Slg. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VIII. 324:
The under part or bottom of the coffin was whin-flag, as was also the upper part or lid.
(9) Rnf. 1920 Memoirs Geol. Survey Scot. 21:
The “whin float” resting on the Upper Castlehead Coal.
Ayr. 1932 Econ. Geol. Sc. Coalfields IV. 83:
The Craigs of Kyle are formed by the outcrop of a thick “whin float” or sill of compact, hard olivine-dolerite.
(11) Gsw. 1819 Edb. Ev. Courant (17 June) 1:
The fir park and great whin quarry, at present working by the city of Glasgow.
(12) Ayr. 1785 Burns Death & Dr Hornbook xviii.:
I might as weel hae try'd a quarry O' hard whin rock.
Sc. 1806 R. Forsyth Beauties Scot. IV. 58:
All the hills are whin-rock.
s.Sc. 1835 Wilson's Tales of the Borders I. 267:
He has a heart harder than a whin-rock.
(13) (i) Gsw. 1730 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 335:
Three houses in the Drygate foot which were builded with whin stone.
Sc. 1763 Boswell London Jnl. (1950) 179:
It is as if one were making a collection of whinstones in Scotland, where you may get them on every field.
Ayr. 1785 Burns To W. Simson iv.:
My curse upon your whunstane hearts, Ye E'nbrugh gentry!
Ayr. 1787 Burns Letters (Ferguson) No. 131:
I said a fervent prayer for Old Caledonia over the hole in a blue whinstone, where Robert de Bruce fixed his royal standard on the banks of Bannockburn.
Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XI. 515:
Several large whin or moor stones placed in the ground.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxvi.:
Ye might as weel expect brandy from bean-stalks, or milk from a craig of blue whunstane.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller 36:
It was het aneugh to melt whunstanes, let a be airn.
Abd. 1865 G. MacDonald Alec Forbes xiv.:
He's a blue whunstane that's hard to dress.
Sc. 1894 Stevenson W. of Hermiston v.:
He has some of Hob's grand whunstane sense.
Ags. 1901 W. J. Milne Reminiscences 289:
The sichts whilom seen, dancin' roond that whin steen.
m.Sc. 1910 J. Buchan Prester John v.:
I haven't your whinstone nerve.
Rnf. 1920 Econ. Geol. Sc. Coalfields IV. 13:
Whinstone; Fireclay, faky; Daugh and Coaly partings.
Sc. 1971 Scotsman (21 July) 15:
A Midlothian quarry is to supply 20,000 tons of whinstone for the construction of the M4 motorway in Berkshire.
(ii) Edb. 1885 J. Strathesk More Bits 274:
Our buirdly leaders, doon white ice Their whinstanes dour send snoovin'.
(14) Peb. 1843 Trans. Highl. Soc. 161:
Intermixed with these are beds or veins of a rock named “white whin”, from the light yellow colour of its weathered surface. When fresh, it is bluish-grey, and breaks with an uneven coarsely-granular fracture. It appears to consist principally of alumina, lime and iron.

[O.Sc. quhyn, quhyn stane, 1513, North Mid.Eng. quin, id. Of obscure orig. Some suggest that the orig. form may have been whin stane, a stone common where whins (see Whin, n.2) are found but this does not accord well with evidence of date and usage.]

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"Whin n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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