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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DEAS, DEECE, Dees(e), Dais, n.1, v. Also deis, dease, dess, d(a)ice, deice, dies, dias. [dis, des, dɛs]

I. n.

1. A wooden seat or settle (ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore N.-E. Scot. 185, dies; Abd. 1891 T. Mair Arn and His Wife 74, deece), which could also be used as a table (Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Back o' Benachie 22, deis; Bch. 1897 J. Forrest in Trans. Bch. Field Club IV. 79, dees), or as a bed. Formerly a common article of furniture in country kitchens. Known to Bnff.2 and Abd. correspondents (deece), Lnk.3 1940.Mry. 1806 R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 213–214:
An old oaken deas, which was so contrived as to serve for a sittee; at meal times the back was turned over, rested upon the arms, and became a table; and at night the seat was raised up and displayed a commodious bed.
Abd. 1916 A. Gibson Under the Cruisie 12:
The well scrubbed “dease” now white as snow.
w.Abd. c.1810 W. D. Geddes (ed.) Mem. of J. Geddes (1899) 68:
A spacious kitchen, in which there was a high bench called a “dais,” occupying a whole side of the big ha'.

2. “A log used as a seat, and placed against the gable of a cottage at the back of the fire, that is where a ‘round about' fire was used. If the fireplace was against the gable there was of course no room for a dais” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.).

3. A stone or turf seat placed outside a cottage, either at the door or at the gable of the house; “a raised place or seat” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., dess). Also in n.Eng. dial. Comb. deas-stane, id.Abd. 1922 A. Buchan in Swatches 17:
She liket to ha'e Gran'feyther . . . takin' the sin o' the dees at the door.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood x.:
Another was Rab Prentice, the herd of the home hirsel, who sat on the turf deas at the cottage-end with his crutch beside him.
Peb. 1825 R. Chambers Illustr. Waverley 17:
We have seen him standing upon a dees stane in the street of Peebles, entertaining upwards of a hundred people with the latter ludicrous ditty.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems I. 116:
The daice, the porch of ancient days, Sae nicely trellis'd oure.
Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Sketches 322:
Two brothers . . . were one day . . . resting on one of the stone seats called diases, which used to be in front of every house in the Main Street of Whithorn.

4. A church pew (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., dess; n.Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 29).Sc. 1828 Willie's Fatal Visit in Ballads (ed. Child) No. 255, xvii.:
And on ilka seat o' Mary's kirk, O Willie she hang a share; Even abeen his love Meggie's dice, Hang's head and yellow hair.

5. Phrs.: †(1) chamber of deas, dais, etc., the best room in the house, either the parlour or best bedroom; (2) to haud doon the deese, to take a rest.(1) Sc. 1731 Swift Mem. Capt. J. Creichton in Works (ed. Scott 1814) X. 156:
The chamber where he lay was called the chamber of Deese, which is the name given to a room where the laird lies when he comes to a tenant's house.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxiv.:
You must go instantly to bed, my Lord . . . let the housekeeper make ready the chamber of dais.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxvi.:
Rings and ear-rings to the boot of a' that — they are a' in the chamber of deas.
(2) Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 40:
She disna aft haud doon the deese, she's at it ear' an' late.

II. v. To provide with seats or benches. Sc. 1717 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 615:
Lykewise ordains and appoynts the councill house to be deiced and the windows sashed.

[Ad. O.Fr. deis, dois, Mod.Fr. dais, a canopy, formerly a table, a platform, ultimately from Lat. discus. The word died out in Eng. c.1600, but was revived in the mod. sense in the early 19th cent. by hist. writers. O.Sc. has dese, deis, deas, deese, dice, etc., the raised platform at the end of a hall, on which the high table was placed; the table itself, from 1438; a desk or pew in a church, from 1566; also chamber of dese, chalmer of dais, a best room or parlour, orig. a chamber situated at the dais-end of a hall and serving as a private room or bedchamber, from 1510.]

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"Deas n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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