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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

EILD, adj.2 Also †eld; eel(s); eil(l); ield (Sh. 1899 Sh. News (4 March)). For other forms, see Geld and Yeld. [i:l(d)]

1. Barren: used of a female animal which does not bear young, from age or accident (Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Farm Book II. 129, eill, 1855 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 722; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., eild, eeld; Bnff.4 1926, eel; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot.; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Sh.10, Cai.9, Knr.1 1950); also applied to cattle kept only for fattening (Ork.5 1950). Also used fig.Sc. 1818 in J. G. Lockhart Scott (1837) IV. vii.:
Scott . . . wagered no man could guess at how large a price Constable had estimated his “eild kye” (cows barren from age).
Dmf. 1827 in J. M. Corrie Droving Days in S.-W. Scot. (1915) 84:
There were about 200 Galloway cattle, 150 Highlanders, half a score of eild or grazing cows in the market to-day.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) II. 299:
We may sit out our summer day, and be drafted off for eild crock ewes in the back year.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 164:
I cam' in ower da flüer pooin' Girzzie's ield yow efter me be da fore fit.
Abd.4 1929:
Eel soos wis niver gweed tae gricies. Persons or beasts that have no young of their own are seldom kind to that of others.
Sc. 1934 A. Fraser Herd of the Hills 119–120:
There were two clippings on the hill-farms, the eild clipping in June, when the young ewe hoggs and the barren ewes were shorn, and the milk clipping in July.
Gall. 1947 Letter in Scotsman (9 July):
In the south-west where I farm, there are many more eild cattle summered on the hills than breeding cows.

2. Of cows, etc.: not producing milk, either on account of age or of being with young (Rxb. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry, Gl., eild; Borders 1825 Jam.2, eild, eill; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. eild, eeld; Cai., Mry., Bnff., Abd. 1943, eel; m.Lth., Bwk., Rxb. 1950, eild); sometimes applied to a woman (Abd.27 1950).Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. Eldfader:
Thus we say in Scotland, An eld nurse, i.e. a dry nurse, An eld cow, i.e. a cow that gives no milk.
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 245:
“Foo's yer kye deein'?” “Oh, maistly a' eill; bit I hid a gweed sizzon for a' that.”
Cai. 1916 J. Mowat Cai. Proverbs 6:
Eil kye need nae burach.
Abd. 1926 L. Coutts Lyrics 22:
An may she gang eel Wi a bonny coy calf!
Sc. 1929 Abd. Book-Lover VI. 78:
The kye gaed eel, the caur grew thin, The hens an' deuks forgot to lay.

3. Fig. Of persons: having one's finances exhausted (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); barren of ideas.Rxb. 1917 Kelso Chron. (6 July) 2/6:
“D' ye ken, man, Tam, I've been teetotal for a fortnight.” “Hev ye, though. Meebe ye was eeld (financially dried up).” “Gor, but yer no fer wrang.”
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 19:
Winter! A' the bardies eill, Frostbun' han's an' heids as weel.

[O.Sc. ȝe(i)ld, barren, from 1513, O.E. ȝelde, id.; for loss of y < ȝ, cf. Eel, n.3, and 'Ear.]

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"Eild adj.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Apr 2024 <>



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