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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BEJAN, BEJANT, BAJAN, Baijen, Bejaunt, Bejaune, Bigent, n. Also bajon; ¶bedient (Fif. 1864 St Andrews Gaz. (5 Nov.)) A first-year student at a Scottish University. The term is now used only in Aberdeen and St Andrews. [′bedʒən but St Andrews ′bidʒənt]Sc. 1700 R. Wodrow Early Letters (S.H.S.) 128:
This author will doe better for the bajons, he being written in Greek.
Sc. 1708 J. Chamberlayne St. Gt. Britain ii. iii. xi.:
The first year the Students [at Edinburgh] who are called Bajans, are taught only Greek.
Sc. 1864 J. H. Burton Scot Abroad I. v.:
The statute of the Universitas states that a variety of predatory personages fall on the newly-arrived bejaune, demanding a bejaunica, or gratuity.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxx.:
Ye'll easy fa' in wi' some lang-leggit bejan that'll be prood to instruc' ye.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood iii.:
You should have been a regent in the college of St Andrew's, and hammered sense into the thick heads of the bejaunts.
Fif. 1812 W. Tennant Anster Fair (1871) ii. xiv.:
Up from their mouldy books and tasks had sprung Bigent and Magistrand to try the game.
Fif. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xvii.:
He was a bejant of St Leonard's.
Gsw. 1927 D. Murray Old College of Glasgow 21:
A student in his first year [at Glasgow Univ.] was known as a Bajan, or Bejan, that is, a bijaune, bec jaune, or “Yellow-neb.”

Hence baijen hole (see quot.)Edb. 1825 R. Chambers Trad. Edinburgh (1929) 155–156:
A shop which all old Edinburgh people speak of with extreme regard and affection — the Baijen Hole — situated immediately to the east of Forrester's Wynd and opposite to the Old Tolbooth. The name . . . seems to bear reference to the Baijens or Baijen Class, a term bestowed in former days upon the junior students in the college.

[The word occurs in O.Sc. with its modern meaning under various forms, e.g. bajan(e), bajaine, etc., from c.1642. Gen. derived from Fr. béjaune = bec jaunei.e. yellow beak — an immature bird, hence a young fool, also a workman on his reception as journeyman or master in his trade. In gen. use in the Continental universities in the Middle Ages, and imported to Scotland from the University of Paris. Cotgrave (1611) gives Fr. bejaune, a novice, a fool, etc., a late prentice to, or young beginner in a trade or art. For the addition of t (as in Bejaunt, etc.) cf. sudden and suddent, but it may be due to the influence of Regent.]

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"Bejan n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Feb 2024 <>



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