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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.

FEE, n.1, v. Also †fie, fye. Sc. usages, obsol. since 1939 when weekly wage payments and engagements became universal. [Sc. fi:, s.Sc. fəi]

I. n. 1. A servant's wages, esp. when paid half-yearly or for specific services, as in harvest, etc. Gen.(exc. Sh.)Sc. For kitchen-fee, penny fee, see Kitchen, Penny.Bwk. 1700 Stitchill Ct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 144:
4 lib. 15 sh. Scots money as ane harvest fie wrought be the said Jennett Mill.
Sc. 1729 Ramsay T.T. Misc. 130:
Saw ye Jenny Nettles, Coming frae the Market; Bag and Baggage on her Back Her Fee and Bountith in her Lap.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To G. Hamilton iii.:
To try to get the twa to gree, An' name the airles an' the fee.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
She wanted to stap siller into my hand; — I'se warrant it was the tae half o' her fee and bountith.
Dmf. 1830 W. Bennet Traits Sc. Life I. 50:
For fain wad they now wi' their fees gae marry.
Lth. 1882 “J. Strathesk” Blinkbonny 182:
Bell's half yearly wages, or “fee.”
Abd. 1909 C. Murray Hamewith 66:
For arles he gae me a kiss, An' twa ilka day was my fee.

2. An engagement as a servant. Gen. (exc. Sh.)Sc. Hence in fee, hired, engaged; to be the fee o', followed by a number, to have been in service as long as the stated number of people might have been, to have been a servant for the (long) period implied.Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 60:
Fowks believ't ye were in fee To powers forbidden.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 85:
I'm come here to seek a fee.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 63:
The leddy at the heed o' the table has the whup han o' me there, for she's been the fee o' twunty.
Slg. 1929 W. D. Cocker in Sc. Readings (ed. T. W. Paterson) 4:
Ye'll hae to tak' a fee on a ferm.

3. A hiring fair or market.Gall. 1742 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) II. 396:
He heard the said Janet say to said Robert, Where had he been so leat? He said he was at the Fee.

II. v. 1. tr. To hire as a servant, to engage. Gen.(exc. Sh.)Sc. Ppl.adj. fee'd, vbl.n. feeing.Sc. 1701 Acts Parl. Scot. X. App. 101:
In case any receive fie or hyre the said servants.
Lnk. 1707 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 6:
They shall be obleedged to continue with ther said master for the subsequent yeir or terme, conforme to the former feeing.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 154:
A hissie . . . that has been lang servant in ae house, tho' twice or thrice awa' an ay fied back.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxviii.:
My gudewife there has the keys and the charge, though she's no a fee'd servant.
Ayr. 1830 Galt Lawrie Todd i. ii.:
She was feed to do a day's darg in my father's house.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxiii.:
As he sees his neebors ane after anither fee'd an' arled.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 25:
[I] jampt aboot juist like a new fee'd herd.
Kcd. 1933 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 250:
She'd four of the bairns at home when he died, the rest were in kitchen-service or fee'd.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 82:
Time enough to bring his wife to Girtridge when she had finished her fee'd year at Newfield, he told her.

2. intr. and refl. To accept an engagement as a servant, to hire oneself. Gen. (exc. Sh.)Sc. Vbl.n. feeing.Abd. 1715 Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 198:
He was willing to fee as his servant for the nixt half year . . . Wm. Grant asked the said James if he wes willing to fie with him.
Abd. 1744 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. III. 102:
The said Alexander Forbes fies and conduces himself as apprentice and servant to the said James Chalmers.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Poems 21:
Blythe was the time when he fee'd wi my faither, O.
Cai. 1869 M. Maclennan Peasant Life 103:
Kate might have found employment convenient to her home, but she would not “fee” because Bella was not wanted.
Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 292:
I'll gang into Cupar come Tuesday, and fee mysel' to another pairt o' the country.
Fif. 1937 St Andrews Cit. (12 June) 6:
When he started auctioning the stances, the [Lammas] fair was principally for the country folks “feeing.”

3. Phr. and combs.: (1) feein(g) fair (m.Lth., Bwk., Ayr.), -market, (Gen.Sc., exc. Sh.), a fair or market, gen. held about Whitsunday and Martinmas, at which farmers engaged servants for the coming term. Discontinued since 1939; (2) to fee for the lang term, to become engaged to be married (Slg.3 1942).(1) Abd. 1827 Aberdeen Star (22 June) 234:
She had been at the feeing market in Huntly, but had got no master.
Cai. 1869 M. Maclennan Peasant Life 131:
They'll last till the feein' market, when I'll neist see ma dear lad again.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xiv.:
A day or two before the feeing market day it had leaked out that Tam was “bidein.”
Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick vi.:
Dinna complain if ye're keepit hingin aboot a gey while on the causey at the feein market.
Fif. 1896 “G. Setoun” R. Urquhart xxii.:
That had been merely a feeing-fair quarrel between two men whom everybody knew to be rough tykes at best.
Sc. 1918 Weekly Scotsman (2 Feb.) 2:
At all the leading “hirings” and “feein' fairs” a condition has been generally agreed to of an advance of six shillings on the weekly wage.
Sc. 1939 F. Drake-Carnell It's an old Sc. Custom 208:
A Hiring Fair, or Feeing Market, as these are called in Scotland.

4. In phrs. what fies that, what fies't, "what does it avail, of what importance is it, what does it matter" (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 51), sc. what fee or advantage will it bring.

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"Fee n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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