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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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.

FEAR, v., n. Also faer, f 'are (I.Sc.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. fear. [ne., em. Sc.(b), wm., sm., s.Sc. fi:r, em.Sc.(a) fe:r, I.Sc. fæ:r]

I. v. 1. To frighten, scare. Gen.Sc., ‡in Lth., wm., sm., s.Sc.Sc. 1705 Papers Rev. J. Anderson 89:
To follow my dog who was pursueing the sheep, and to cut his ears and to fear him from it.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 187–8:
Nae cauld nor hunger e'er can steer them, The vera thought o't needna fear them.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxiii.:
If the dead corpse binna straughted, it will girn and thraw, and that will fear the best o' us.
Sh. 1832 in Old-Lore Misc. VII. iv. 152:
But de two geants so feared de peables o' da kintra, dat dey most all leavit de land of Unst.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 106:
Fat are ye deein', leddy, that's fearin' the horse.
Dmf. 1898 J. Paton Castlebraes viii.:
He talks aboot drivin' me frae under this roof, as if that wad fear me.
Abd. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (8 May) 10:
“Fat's fearin' ye, wifie?” said the grieve, who came on the scene, “they winna touch ye.”
Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 29:
' ... I don't go around fearing weans. I'm no' that ignorant.'

Hence fearer, one who frightens.Kcd. 1890 J. Kerr Reminisc. I. 14:
Defaultin' officer at school, a dreadfu' truant-fearer.

2. tr. To be afraid, fear (for). Also intr. with o' (Ags.17, Fif.16 1945).Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxv.:
Never fear me — I ken how to turn this better than ye do.
Rnf. 1873 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 37:
Dinna fear o' Aggie's prudence; she kens her place, for ye hae gotton the tap bird o' the nest.

3. Pa.p. and ppl.adj., fear(e)d (em., s.Sc.), faer(e)d (I.Sc.), feird, faird; feart (ne., wm., sm.Sc.) fairt, feert, frightened, afraid.  Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. Used with at, o', for, frae, fae, from to denote the cause of fear. For can also denote the object of concern, as in Eng.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 385:
You are fear'd of the Day you never saw.
Sc. 1742 in Laing MSS. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 1925) II. 262:
He had a very smart fever for 48 hours, so that the doctor was feard as well as I.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween xi.:
Darklins grapit for the bauks, And in the blue-clue throws then, Right fear't that night.
Sc. 1827 Scott Two Drovers i.:
I'll keep the bit knife, if you are feared for the auld spaewife's tale.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped iii.:
I'm unco feared of fires.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders ii.:
“Ye are no feared, Paitrick?” “Feared, father,” I said, “what for would I be feared of you?”
Abd. 1924 L. Coutts Caul, Nor'-East 11:
I canna come doon, I'm feart at you.
Gsw. 1930 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 259:
It's Kate I'm feart for. Whiles I think ye've broke her spirit.
Ork. 1948 Orcadian (27 May):
I winder will peerie Peter Still be faered for de peeri calf?
Ork. 1952 R. T. Johnston Stenwick Days (1984) 6:
"I doot," said the postmistress, "thoo'll no git mony entries. The men in Stenwick is aafil faird for makkin' gappuses o' thirsels, an' crooners is no thowt muckle o' here onywey."
m.Sc. 1954 J. D. Scott The End of an Old Song (1990) 207:
'Goad,' he said, 'you're no feart they're in it?' I nodded, too done in to speak.
wm.Sc. 1985 William McIlvanney The Big Man (1987) 77:
'...The place is lowpin wi' mad dugs. It's a sign of the times. They're all that feart from one another these days....'
Gsw. 1987 James Kelman Greyhound for Breakfast (1988) 219:
Dont give us that, replied Ronnie. What about these big fucking alsatians! You're feart to walk in here sometimes in case you step on a tail and get fucking swallowed.
m.Sc. 1989 Scotsman 9 Jun 14:
If I can borrow a current expression, the Government was "feart" to go to 40 tonnes in 1983 and we ended up with a good old British compromise at 38 tonnes.
Abd. 1990 Stanley Robertson Fish-Hooses (1992) 16:
I knew it wis time tae be moving on somewye else, but I wis feart at this big gaffer and didnae want tae pit in mi notice tae him.
Edb. 1992:
Ma Ma's awfy feart fae dugs.
Arg. 1992:
That's because Joey's feart fae me.
Edb. 1993 Irvine Welsh Trainspotting (1994) 5:
Yir no feart ay they wee fuckin saps ur ye?
Sh. 1994 Laureen Johnson in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 168:
As for me, on da idder haand, I wis fairt for a braa lock o things. Mam wis aye warnin me.
Gsw. 1995 Chris Dolan Poor Angels 84:
'Very funny. I'll call him up. Here and now. Then you'll see who's feart from who. ...'
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 33:
'Are ye feart frae me, James Mitchell?'
'Na, sir. Only ... I am feart frae God, and he is wi ye.'

II. n. 1. A fright, a scare (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Sh., ne.Sc., Fif., Dmf. 1950).Fif. 1838 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 56:
Dinna gang out o' your wits though ye've gotten a fear.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.:
Yon bogle ga'e her an awfu' fear the other night.

2. In pl. in neg. phrs. corresponding to Eng. no fear, e.g. nae fears, de(v)il a (the) fears (see Deil), feint a fears, etc. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1829 Blackwood's Mag. (April) 531:
Devil the fears but you'll ken the meanin's o' the nicest shades o' syllables and words.
Lth. 1856 M. Oliphant Lilliesleaf xx.:
But nae fears of him, says I.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xi.:
“Feint a fears o' that,” answered Peter Birse.
Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 119:
Dog on the fears o' him.
Rxb. 1916 Kelso Chron. (5 Feb.) 2:
D'ye think God's gauna stand that? Nae fears!
Lnk. 1929 G. Blake Path of Glory 44:
“No dam' fears”, growled Harry.

III. Phrs. and combs.: †1. dirt-fear, -feard, see Dirt, n., 4. (6); 2. fear-fangit, panic-stricken; 3. feart place, an eerie, haunted place; 4. to be feart o', humorously = to be sparing with (Bnff.2, Abd.27, Ags.19, Fif.10, Arg.1 1946); 5. ye're nae feart, no feared, ironically = you are pretty brazen-faced (Abd., Ags., Fif. 1951).2. Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 158:
The farrest aff, as much fear-fangit, Like run-de'ils boltit aff and spangit.
3. Bnff. 1974 Dufftown News (9 Feb.) 2:
These 'feart places', were roads or even districts where people in the old days preferred to travel in company, and certainly not in the dark.
4. Arg.1 1929:
Dinna be feart o' the jam.
5.wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 7:
You're no feart! You ken better than mention
The words "auld" and "lady" in the wan braith
She'd say: you're nae chicken either, you're baith
The wrang side o' forty, ...

[O.Sc. fere, to scare (1581), ferit (a.1400), ferd (1450), afraid.]

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"Fear v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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