Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FAIR, adj., adv., v.1, n.1 Sc. usages.

I. adj. 1. Of the weather: calm, not stormy (Sh., Ork. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Sh.10, Ork.5 1950).Kcd. 1796 J. Burness Thrummy Cap (1819) ll. 42–3:
Howe'er at the neist house we'll stay Until we see gin it grows fair.
Ork. 1808 Jam.:
It is fair, but rainy.

2. With inf.: likely, ready (to). Obs. in Eng. since 17th cent.Rnf. 1825 Jam.:
I wadna like to cum in his grups, for he wad be fair to waur me. Gin he gang into that trade, he'll be fair to loss the wee pennie that he has to the fore.

3. Complete, absolute, utter. Gen.Sc.Lnk. 1881 A. Wardrop J. Mathison's Courtship 98:
I'm sure they twa are fair diverts.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxii.:
Appin's fair death to us.
Sh. 1924 T. Manson Peat Comm. III. 131:
Da man is in fair bruck. He's don.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 30:
The house is not half cleaned; the fuff under the beds is a fair disgrace.
Abd. 1926 M. Argo Makkin' o' John 24:
Ye're a fair picter, lassie, in that get-up.

II. adv. 1. Completely, absolutely, quite, “clean”; simply. Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial.Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 38:
I'm fair surpris'd how whisky poison, Frae men o' sense, has got sic fraisin'.
Fif. 1872 Mrs Cupples Tappy's Chicks 240:
Ou ay, mem, he's that prood o' that bird o' his that I'm sometimes fair mad wi' him.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums iii.:
“I fair forgot,” Hendry answered.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
The harbour rocks were fair black.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 2:
A cood fain heh dwinglt . . . in sleepery Bosells, bit A fair durstna.
Tyr. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Ballymulcaghey 15:
But when wee Samuel James saw what was afut, he let down the lip, an' he stharted to screetch fair tarrible.
Gsw. 1931 H. S. Roberton Curdies 11:
If it hadna been for that catarrh she would hae been as guid the day as ever . . . Man, it fair gruppit her.
Kcd. 1933 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 331:
We fair must clear the swedes from the land.
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 224:
The chocolate drops in the window ran wild and ended as brown sludge in the corner.
'Thomas, Thomas, we're fair needing some lemonade!'
Shouted up from the street.
Edb. 1989 Gordon Legge The Shoe 127:
'...I quite often take Dostoyevsky out at that time. He fair enjoys it. ...'
Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 4:
And I fair liked my house, because it was an outside toilet I had in Victoria Street.

2. Directly, in a straight line; without deviating. Gen.Sc.Ayr. 1787 Burns Unco Guid iv.:
Wi' wind and tide fair i' your tail.
Bch. 1832 W. Scott Poems 112:
He looks fair forth without a squint, An' middlin' straight on ilka joint.
Sc. 1895 A. S. Swan Gates of Eden xxi.:
She sat down fair in front of him.
Sc. 1935 D. Rorie Lum Hat 29:
Haud fair up throw the plantin' on your left.

Phrs.: (1) fair but and fair ben, applied to a house of two rooms connected by a short straight passage (ne.Sc. 1950): see But, adv. 1. Phr. (2); (2) fair furth (the gate), (a) straight; fig. candidly, frankly; (b) as adj., honest, straight-forward, frank (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 44; Abd.27 1950); (3) fair oot, candidly (ne.Sc., Fif., Kcb., Dmf. 1950; Bnff., Abd., Ags., Ayr. 2000s). Also as an adj., candid, blunt.(1) Abd. 1896 Banffshire Jnl. (17 Nov.):
The house was what was called “fair but an' fair ben.”
(2) (a) Abd. 1887 W. Carnie Waifs (1890) 49:
His word comes fair-furth-the-gait, nae halt nor stammer.
Bnff. 1930 E. S. Rae Waff o' Win' 59:
Fair-furth I telt him tae his face I'd ill tae win awa'.
(b) Abd. 1891 Bon-Accord (21 Nov.) 30:
Abeen speakin' tae a fair-furth-the-gate kin' o' a cove like yours truly.
Bnff. 1926 Banffshire Jnl. (5 Oct.):
But aye the doctor was tae a' fair-furth-the-gate an' free.
(3) Abd. 1863 G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod I. i. xiii.:
Maybe ye wadna get mony o' them 'at wad speyk sae fair-oot nooadays, for they gang wi' the tide jist like the lave.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'oo' 21:
An' fair oot wi't — foo did ye troo?
Abd. 1932 J. White Moss Road ix.:
I wonder whether Mrs Brander is as fair-oot as she'd have you believe.
Abd. 1993:
She aye spiks er mind fair oot. E minister's wife's nae neen toff, jist fair oot.

3. Frankly, openly.Ayr. 1786 Burns To W. Simpson xxvii.:
An' some, their New-light fair avow, Just quite barefac'd.

III. Phrs. and Combs.: 1. fair-avised; -advised (Sh.10 1950), fair-complexioned (Bnff.2, Fif.10, Ayr.4 1941; Wgt. 1950); 2. fair away with, very pleased with. (Ork., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Edb., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s); 3. fair ba's, fair play; †4. fair-caan, skill and caution [vbl.n. from Ca', v.1]; 5. fair-ca'in, smooth-tongued, wheedling, flattering (Slg., Fif., Lth. 1825 Jam.; Fif.10 1941); 6. fair day(light), broad daylight (Abd.27, Ags.19, Wgt. 1950). Obs. in Eng. since early 17th cent.; †7. fair-days, silverweed, Potentilla anserina (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 71); 8. fair fa, (1) see Fa, v., B. 1.; †(2) n., a wrestling-match; v., to wrestle; vbl.n. fair-fa'an (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 44; Abd.15 1910); 9. fair-faced, superficially polite, suave, deceitful (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 44; Sh., Cai., Rs., Mry., Ags., Per., m.Lth., Arg., Gall., Uls. 1950); ‡10. fair-farrand, -ant, -faurond, -farren, specious, plausible; flattering; superficially attractive (Ags. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 201; Abd.9 1945, -farrant); †11. fair-fassint, -fashioned, = 10. (Ags. 1808 Jam., -fassint); 12. fair-folk, fairies (Bnff. 1808 Jam.; Abd.15 1897; Fif.10 1941); †13. fair fuir days, broad daylight. See Fuir-day; †14. fair-grass, -gress, (1) = 7. (Ags. 1886 Britten and Holland Plant-Names 172). Jam.2 gives this name in Teviotdale, appar. wrongly, to the bulbous crowfoot, Ranunculus bulbosus; 15. fair green, see Green, n., 2; ‡16. fair-guid-day, -een, good-day, -evening! Esp. in contexts implying a certain formality or coolness between the speakers; 17. fair-gyaun, fairish, gen. of crops (Bnff., Abd. 1950); †18. fair-hair, the neck-tendon of cattle or sheep (Slg. 1825 Jam.): cf. Fix-fax; 19. fair hazard, "a mode of expression used as signifying 'it avails not'" (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 50); 20. fair horn(ie), fair play, see Horn; †21. fair o'erseen, having one's death witnessed by good neighbours. It was the custom to have these present as well as relatives; 22. fair-spoken, frank, friendly (Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Slg., m.Lth., Arg., Ayr., Slk. 1950); suave (Ayr. 1880); 23. fair strae death, death from natural causes, death in one's bed (Abd.2, Fif.10 1941): cf. obs. Eng. fair, of death = easy, natural, and strae-death, s.v. Strae: hence fair-strae, adj.; 24.fair weather, — wather, (1) thunder, in tabu language (Ork. 1929 Marw., weather); (2) fig.: flattery, coaxing (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., wather); 25. the Fair City, Perth. Gen.Sc.1. w.Sc. 1929 R. Crawford In Quiet Fields 31:
There wis a wee man that wis muckle surprised, When he cam' tae the worl' he glowered fair-avised.
2. Highl. 1982:
He's fair away with himself. She's fair away with her new hat.
Edb. 1999:
I'm fair away with the new computer!
Dmb. 2004:
They're fair away wi themsels.
3. Abd. 1806 J. Cock Simple Strains 18:
Gi'e, ay, fair ba's. Your sangs will ha'e the better sound.
4. Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 44:
It'll need fair-caan afore he get oot o' that scraip.
5. Sc. 1814 C. I. Johnstone Saxon and Gael I. 163:
They . . . keepit weel in wi' their masters, an' war discreet an' fair-ca'in to a' body.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xvii.:
I could ha' wushed Tod-Lowrie an' his Bill, an' his fair-ca'in tongue, an' the haill Leeberal pairty, at the bottom o' the sea.
6. n.Sc. 1698 Fraser Papers (S.H.S.) 31:
And when her Servant told her, here is your Brother at the Bed side, the Lady asked what Brother, albeit she was looking him in the Face with Fair Daylight.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 38:
An' says how are you now, my bony hen. 'Tis now fair day an' ye an' Bess may rise.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf iii.:
“In fair daylight?” queried the yeoman; “then, grace o' God, I'se be wi' ye.”
8. (2) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 44:
The twa loons begood to fair-fa' in fun (or fair-fa' ither; or fair-fa' wee ither).
9. Kcb. 1898 S. R. Crockett Standard Bearer xii.:
A fair-faced, hard-natured, ill-hearted woman.
Abd. 1921 M. Argo Janet's Choice 22:
Oh, fair faced eneuch, bit fat's ahin the han'? Fu' o' courtesy, fu' o' craft.
10. Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 8:
May white, fair-farren frosts keep far awa.
Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 90:
Fair-farrand burdie, to be plain, Ye are the cause o' a' my pain.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan III. xi.:
Morison was aye oure fairfaurond for me.
Wgt. 1904 J. F. Cannon Recoll. Whithorn 110:
The same man . . . was very pawky and “fair-farrant.”
11. Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality v.:
“Much obliged to you, Alison, and many kind thanks.” “Hegh, sirs, sae fair-fashioned as we are!”
Sc. 1823 E. Logan St Johnstoun II. ix.:
Ye are aye sae fair-fashioned, Maister Austin, that there's scarce ony saying again ' ye.
16. Sc. 1823 Galt Entail xlvii.:
So, gin ye like, father, we'll just be fair gude e'en and fair gude day, as we were wont.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick vi.:
It was nae mair nor fair guid-day an' fair guid-e'en atween us for a gey while.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders v.:
“Guid-day to ye, Adullam!” says she; but the two old wives said neither “Fair-guid-e'en” nor “Fair-guid-day.”
17. Abd. 1928 Abd. Wkly. Jnl. (23 Aug.):
Naething speeshull; it's jist a fair gyaun crap, bit nae muckle tae blaw aboot.
21. Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 39:
I doubt she be dead already, and nae body seen her but ye and I and oursels twa; an' she had been fair o'er seen it maksna.
Ib. 114:
Then he acted the dying man as well as possibly he could, the neighbours were called in, and he's fair o'erseen, as the old saying is, before good neighbours.
22. Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xix.:
All I ken is that I thought the voice fair-spoken.
23. Ayr. 1787 Burns Dr Hornbook xxv.:
Whare I kill'd ane a fair-strae death By loss o' blood or want o' breath.
Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 166:
Till fair-strae death, wi' gentle pu', Brings your last sleep.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxvii.:
Beware of the redding strake! you are come to no house o' fair-strae death.
Bnff. 1862 R. Sim Leg. Strathisla 85:
Fair strae-death, or a bleedy grave on a battle field, wadna fear Wattie Gordon.
Sc. 1901 H. Wallace Greatest of These 307:
I tell her that she has great cause for thankfulness that the lad had a fair-strae death, and that he's no dangling from a gallows.
Ork. 1915 Old-Lore Misc. VIII. i. 41:
I niver hard o 'im bean peunished for 'is atgans or deean onywey bit a fair strae daithe i is ain bed.
25. Sc. 1827 Scott F. M. Perth viii.:
“It is well” answered the gallant Provost; “and in the case of need I will come to aid the Fair City with such men as I can make.”
Sc. 1849 T. H. Marshall Hist. Perth 5:
Qualified to draw up an account of the past and present condition of the “Fair City.”
wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 527:
That's a' I ken about the Fair City.
Sc. 1937 C. A. Oakley Sc. Industry 92:
Perth, known as the Fair City, is one of the handsomest towns in Scotland.

IV. v. Of weather: to clear up after rain or snow, to become fine (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial.Sc. 1820 Anon. Smugglers I. xiii.:
Edging gradually off with the remark, “that it did na seem like to fair.”
Dmf. 1842 J. W. Carlyle Letters (ed. Froude) I. 182:
We are to go, if it fairs, to take tea at a show place, called the Priory.
Uls. 1901 J. W. Byers in North. Whig Lect. iii.:
An east win' with rain Makes fools fain They think it's going to fair, But it rains the mair.
Lth. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 25:
There was a good shower this morning, but it faired up sudden-like.

V. n. In phrs. aff the fair, off the straight, lop-sided; for fair, in earnest. Also in n.Eng. dial.Lnk. 1881 D. Thomson Musings 10:
Blin' fortune's wheel is aff the fair, An' waggles sair as it rins doon.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 271, 448:
He was bury't for fair. . . . Wull they let him inta heaven, think ye, when he's no deid for fair?
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Oo've duist fechtit for fun; now let's fecht for fair!

Fair adj., adv., v.1, n.1

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Fair adj., adv., v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: