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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
First published 1934 (SND Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ABE, ABEE, A-BE, v. (See also Let-a-be, n.) [ə′bi:] In phr.: Let (leave, bid) abe.

1. = Leave undisturbed, let alone, let be. Gen.Sc.Sc. a.1724 in Allan Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1762) 58:
Had your tongue, mither, and let that abee, For his eild and my eild can never agree.
Sc. 1874 W. Allan Hamespun Lilts 318:
Gi'e me the plain lassie wi' sense, Wha lets Natur's tracin's abee.
Ags. 1879 J. Guthrie Sel. Poems and Songs 59:
They canna thole to lat abee The Edzell shootin.
Per. c.1850 W. Wilson Poems (1875) 103:
But aften I wish he wad tak' my auld mither, An' let puir young Tibbie abee.
Knr. 1900 H. Haliburton Horace in Homespun 228:
And let abee the ware that shines On sideboards o' the gentry.
Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter James Inwick 115:
He had been tell't, afore he cam to that meetin', . . . to steek his mou', an' let the kirk a-be.
Rnf. 1840 J. Mitchell The Wee Steeple's Ghaist 168:
Gude faith! we'll see, If mankind will let me a-be, Wha's stomach first will turn.
Ayr. 1879 R. Adamson Lays of Leisure Hours 9:
An' if it should happen tae need a bit brush Just let the puir body a-be.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems I. 193:
The bansters capping round the swats, Bid jealous touts abee.
Kcb. 1893 S. R. Crockett Stickit Minister xix. 224:
Lea' decent folk abee.

2. (As adv. phr.) Not to mention, much more, far less (after neg.), let alone. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lam. II. x.:
I hate fords at a' times, let abe where there's thousands of armed men on the other side.
Sc. 1893 R. L. Stevenson Catriona xxii. 261:
Your father would be gey an little pleased if we was to break a leg to ye, Miss Drummond, let-a-be drowning of you.
wm.Sc. 1835 J. D. Carrick Laird of Logan I. 281:
It is desperate difficult to gang, let abee dance, with an iron spit hinging at ane's side.

[The N.E.D. suggests the Scand. prep. at (be); but let is very rarely followed by a prep. before another verb, and it is possible that the a may have been used on the analogy of let alone and leave alone.]

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"Abe v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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