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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DRY, adj., n., v. Sc. usages.

I. adj. In phrs. and combs. 1. dry ask, see Ask, n.3 (last quot.); 2. dry biscuit, a biscuit made without butter (Cai.7 1941); 3. dry blows, fisticuffs, blows not drawing blood (Ork.1 1940); 4. dry-darn, see Darn, n., 2.; 5. dry drift, powdery snow (Abd.15, Ags. 1950; Fif.10 1940); 6. dry-dyke, a low wall built of stones without mortar (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); Gen.Sc.; also in n.Eng. dial.; hence dry-dyker, one who builds dry-dykes (Ib.); †7. dry-far(r)and, frigid in manner, reserved (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.); 8. dry fee, wages without perquisites (Abd.2 c.1870); ‡9. dry-field, land not subject to flooding, esp. in the Forth and Tay valleys; land above the carse level (Slg.3 1940, rare); also used attrib.; †10. dry-gair-flow, “the place where two hills join, and form a kind of bosom” (Ayr. 1825 Jam.2); †11. dry goose, “a handful of the smallest or finest kind of meal, pressed very close together, dipt in water, and then roasted among the ashes of a kiln” (s.Sc. 1808 Jam.); 12. dry-haired, (1) used of cattle whose hair has lost all its sleekness from exposure to the weather (Bnff.2, Abd.9 1940; Lth. 1825 Jam.2); †(2) = 7. (Lth. 1825 Jam.2); †13. dry-handed, without weapons, unarmed; also used of a member of an Incorporated Trade who does not actually practise the trade itself; 14. dry heid, a sound roof, a protection from the weather (Abd.27 1950); †15. dryhouse, (see quot.); comb. dry-house cottar, see quot. Cf. dry fee s.v. 8; 16. dry keep, cattle-feed consisting of turnips and straw, with no cake or feeding stuffs (Cai.9, Abd.27 1950); 17. dry letter, (see quot.); 18. dry-lippit = 20.; †19. dry lodging, lodging without board; 20. dry-mou'd, without having a glass of liquor (Bnff.2, Fif.10 1940; Abd.15 1950); ‡21. dry multure, “a yearly sum of money, or quantity of corn paid to a mill, whether those liable in the payment grind their grain at the mill or not” (Sc. 1890 Bell Dict. Law Scot.); see Multure; 22. dry nettle, the dead nettle, Lamium purpureum (Dmf. 1812 J. Singer Agric. Dmf. 167); †23. dry nieves, bare fists; †24. dry seat, a close stool (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); 25. dry shave, the rubbing of another's cheek with a stubbly beard or unshaven chin or with the fingers; Gen.Sc.; ‡26. dry shoo(e)r, a shower of snow (Abd.14 1915; Abd.15 1950); 27. dry siller, hard cash (Bnff.2 1940; Abd., Fif. 1950); 28. dry-stane, applied to a wall built of stones without mortar; also drystane dyke, drysteen dyke. Also fig. Gen.Sc.; also in n.Yks. dial.; hence dry-stone dyker (Fif. 1897 G. Setoun Geo. Malcolm vi.), -dyking; †29. dry-stool, = 24.; †30. dry talk, “any agreement that is settled without drinking” (Highl. 1825 Jam.2); 31. dry thow, see Thow; 32. dry-time, a spell of dry weather (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Abd.9 1940); also used adv.; ‡33. dryward, adj., dull, prosy (Sh.10 1950).2. Ags. 1766 in A. J. Warden Burgh Laws Dundee (1872) 358:
The Trade appointed the following pieces of work as the new essay, viz. — Four pecks fine flower in six penny bricks three dozen dry biscuit, and the rest in rolls.
5. wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 542:
The night was stormy, wi' a sprinklin' o' dry drift in the blast.
6. Sc. 1897 “L. Keith” Bonnie Lady 63:
The sensible beast picking his way with a wonderful gumption among the ruts and fallen stones of the dry dyke.
em.Sc. 1982 Andrew Greig Surviving Passages 10:
the line that pleases by what's not there or drydykes laced across the whirling air.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick ii.:
There was a wheen o' us foregaithered ae nicht at Jenny Crockie's — there was . . . Adam Instant the dry-dyker.
8. Abd.15 1950:
He has jist the dry fee — nae sapmoney ava.
9. Slg. 1772 Edb. Ev. Courant (21 Nov.):
Four Dryfield Farms, called Easter Ballochleam, Garrick, Myreton, and another large one.
Slg. 1936 in Scotsman (17 Aug.):
In Stirling wheat was reported to be blanky in all areas, especially on dryfield soils.
em.Sc. 1906 J. A. Harvie-Brown Fauna Tay Basin 68–9:
A favourite haunt [of the Common Wheatear] is . . . in the “rough-stane dykes” of the “dryfields”.
Lnk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VI. 458:
All kinds of crops grow upon a clay soil, and in a favourable situation, and in a good season, are superior in flavour to those produced on other soils, whether what is called dry-field or haugh-land.
12. (1) Abd.2 1941:
That dry-haired quaick is a piner. Her hair's aa stanin' on en'
13. Sc. 1756 A. Warden Burgh Laws Dundee (1872) 273:
Some Trades had booked as members of their Incorporations dry-handed Men, or such as are incapable of exercising business.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. liii.:
Ye maun hae arms — ye mauna gang on dry-handed.
14. Abd.15 1928:
Ye've aye the dry heid abeen ye.
15. Inv. 1798 Grant & Leslie Survey Mry. 238:
The roof between ordinary gables is supported upon timber posts, and it projects almost a yard over the sides, which are wattled with wands neatly trimmed; the inside is fitted up with rails, in which pegs are fastened, upon each of which . . . a single sheaf is separately hung, where in a short time they become so dry . . . as to keep otherwise safe. . . . Such dryhouses are common upon the western coast.
Per. 1762 in C. Innes Legal Antiquities (1872) 267:
A dry-house Cottar is one that has neither corn, land, nor pasture-nothing but his cottage and kail-yard.
16. Abd.15 1928:
The beas wis jist on dry-keep.
17. Uls. 1901 J. Barlow Land of Shamrock 24:
Contained an apology for being a ‘dry letter', which means, in the language of an emigrant, one without a remittance.
18. Sc. a.1872 R. Chambers Jests & Anecdotes 97:
They could not well proceed to discuss a matter of such importance 'dry-lippit'.
19. Sc. 1825 Hist. Little Pat (Houlston Tracts I. xi. 3):
She . . . lived in one of those cellars which have “dry lodgings” written over the door.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize I. ix.:
He advised him to go to the house of a certain Widow Rippet, that let dry lodgings in the Grass-market.
Kcb. 1796 in Scott O. Mortality (1893) Intro. xv.:
To drye Lodginge for seven weeks, £0. 4. 1
20. Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 172:
Never may we tout again A tass o' claret or champagne, But sit dry-mou'd wi' drinkin' men.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller 257:
Of course, talking dry-mou'd, as Jock called it, was not to be thought of between such old friends.
21. Sc. 1712 Forbes Decisions (1714) 628:
The Defender was never interpelled or hindred to go to other Mills, when he pleased, nor paid dry Multure when he went by the Pursuer's Mill.
Sc. 1781 Session Papers, Petition T. Alexander (12 Oct.) 1:
The petitioners were liable to pay dry multure for all the bear growing on their possessions, which they had occasion to sell, without being manufactured at the mill.
Bnff. 1902 Bnffsh. Jnl. (4 Feb.) 3:
When grass seed and the improved rotation of crops were introduced, the miller insisted on his multure for the corn that would in the older unprogressive days have been grown. Such multure was called dry multure.
23. Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. II. 23:
Either single stick or dry nieves.
27. Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 16:
Loshtie, man, he'll be worth a hantle o' dry siller.
28. Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley (1817) xliv.:
Pulling down the dry-stone fences.
Sc. 1861 C. Rogers Sc. Character 19:
O Lord, Thoo is like a moose in a drystane dyke — aye keekin' oot at us frae holes an' crannies, and we canna see Thee.
Sc. 1949 Scotsman (8 Aug.):
An effort is being made in the Stewartry to revive an almost extinct industry — drystane dyking.
Sc. 2000 Herald 21 Mar 13:
For years the dry-stane dyke that surrounds North Ronaldsay has protected the fields of the island by keeping sheep on the shore where they thrive on a seaweed diet.
Abd. 1988 Jack Webster Another Grain of Truth (1989) 28:
The epitaph to generations of hardy Buchan folk who broke their backs and maybe their spirits is there in the black and white of well-fed cattle, in the neat trim of drysteen dykes and the undersoil network of drainage.
m.Sc. 1979 John Kincaid in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 28:
Class barriers are crumbling dry-stane dykes in Scotland, but class attitudes and postures glory in a continuing clanjamphrey of confrontations.
Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Fife and Knr. 133:
Here is to be seen the marks of the Danish Camp, viz. the Ruins of a dry-stone dyke.
m.Lth. 1795 G. Robertson Agric. m.Lth. 76:
At present, the following are the kinds of fence in use; 1. Dry stone walls, four feet high, with a double coping of turf.
Lnk. 1948 J. G. Johnston Fish with me 109:
Two weasels sinuously flowing in and out of the crevices of a dry-stone wall.
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1912) iii.:
And [he] helped me on to the tap o' a dry stane dyke.
29. ne.Sc. 1714 R. Smith Poems 88:
Ye are more fit dry-stools to toom, Than to write Elegies.
30. Sc. 1814 C. I. Johnstone Saxon and Gael. I. ii.:
The other party averred in his defence, that nothing had passed but a little dry talk, and that could not be called a bargain.
32. Abd.15 1928:
He wis jist hairstin' dry-time.
Abd. 1950 Buchan Observer (3 Oct.):
Such casual harvesters had to be content with just a few days' “drytime” at the leading in of the stooks.
33. Sh. 1886 J. J. H. Burgess Sk. and Poems 10:
I tink he's bit a kind iv a dryward sheeld [of a preacher].

II. n. A flaw or fissure in a stone (Abd. 1825 Jam.2; Abd.27 1950; Edb.6 1944). Now more commonly in form drier (Fif. 1975).Sc. 1833 J. Cairnie Curling 36:
The best blocks, whether of granite or whinstone, are those that are hard and tough, and take a fine polish. . . . Should there be any crack, or dry, it will show itself in a seam of water.
Fif. 1844 P. Chalmers Dunfermline 62:
Quarrymen are not fond of meeting with these fossil remains, since, wherever they occur, there are generally cracks, technically called dries, which prevent long blocks being taken out.

III. v. Phr. dry yer greetin eyes, stop complaining (Bnff., Ags., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s).

[O.Sc. has dry, of stones: used for building without mortar, from a.1540, of blows: not drawing blood, from c.1560, dry multure, from 1494, dry seat, from 1637, -stule, from 1561.]

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"Dry adj., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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