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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

FEND, v., n. Also fen, fain.

I. v. 1. (1) tr. To defend, protect, shelter (Cai.7, ne.Sc. 1949). Now arch. or dial. in Eng. Rarely, to ward off.Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 88:
My trees in bourachs o'er my ground Shall fend ye frae ilk blast o' wind.
Sc. 1874 A. Hislop Sc. Anecdotes 70:
A wren's nest's round and theekit wi' moss . . . wi' a hangin' leaf to hide and fend by way o' door.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 12:
They [rowan-trees] have yielded many a slip for crosses to put above the byre-door, on Rood Even, to fend the bestial from “uncanny fowk.”
Ags. 1894 A. Reid Heatherland 86:
An' gangrel bodies, too, we ken, Are a' unfit her blasts to fen.
Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 45:
His kilt could barely fend his houghs Fae stobs, it was sae torn.

(2) intr. To defend oneself, resist.Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 118:
Jock t'ought hid wus no' wise tae fend, Sae oot he ran wi' hair on end.

2. ‡(1) tr. and refl. To support, maintain, supply with the necessaries of life (Ags.2 1942); to satisfy the needs or wishes (of). Also in Eng. dial. Vbl.n. fending, means of support, provisions.Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 30:
Hain'd multer hads the mill at ease, And finds [sic] the miller.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Death of Mailie 31–32:
But gie them guid cow-milk their fill, Till they be fit to fend themsel.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality v.:
They are puirly armed, and warse fended wi' victual.
wm.Sc. 1827 T. Hamilton Cyril Thornton (1848) xlvi.:
Though I tell't him ye wasna at hame, naething wad fen him but waitin' in the parlour till ye cam' back.
Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 221:
The goodwife was left wi' a sma' fendin. Little gear had she.
Ags. 1855 “Robin” Rimes and Poems 42:
And she has in baith meat and drink Wad fend a score o' men.
Abd. 1898 W. Brewster Poems 17:
Be couthie wi' the bairnies, They'll fend ye when ye're frail.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae the French 90:
Fou o' conceit, they new adventures socht, An' able aye to fen' themsels, they thocht.

(2) intr. To maintain oneself, to shift for oneself, to fare, to scrape an existence. Gen.Sc. Often interrog. in phr. how do ye fend, how goes it with you? (Ayr. 1794 Burns Carle of Kellyburn ii.; Sc. 1808 Jam.). Also in n.Eng. dial. Vbl.n. fending, scraping a living, management.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 216:
Say, wad ye ken my gate of Fending, My Income, Management, and Spending?
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 31:
But stop, my Muse, nor make a main, Pate disna fend on that alane.
Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne John Tod v.:
How is he fendin', John Tod, John Tod?
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxvii.:
We fended as weel as we could.
Dmf. 1826 T. Carlyle Letters (ed. Norton) II. 342:
Wondering “how that poor habbletree was fenning ava.”
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) i.:
By her fending, for she was a canny industrious body, and kept a bit shop.
Bnff. 1844 T. Anderson Poems 66:
The shepherd tends wi' tenty care, An' grieves to see them fend sae spare.
Bwk. 1876 W. Brockie Confessional 197:
I'se be thankfu, if I just can fend.
Kcb. 1912 A. Anderson Later Poems 239:
They will wan'er to a' the airts o' the win' To fecht for their bread an' to fen'.
Lnk. 1928 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 349:
She wad fend weel at the Flow Moss I wist.

3. To contrive, manage. Rare.Dmf. 1874 “R. Wanlock” Moorland Rhymes 69:
I couldna fen' but listen tho' a mist cam' in my een, And ilka word gaed through me like a stang.
Wgt. 1885 G. Fraser Poems 175:
We shouldna' let our left han' ken What wi' oor richt we try tae fen'.

4. To forbid, prohibit. Obs. or dial. in Eng. In Sc. only in the imper. form fain, as a call in marbles to prevent or forbid some action by or on behalf of an opponent. Also in Eng. dial. Hence dim. form as a fainies, see quot.Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 150:
A' richt then. Fain. Fain everything, fain a'thing, fain upsies an' fain doonsies.
Abd.27 1949:
Nae fainies! used at marbles to indicate that the opponent is not to stand with his heels together to catch “bools” which run past the kypie.

5. Phr. and comb.: (1) fend-caul, adj., protecting from cold: (22 to fend o(w)er, to live poorly, to scrape along from hand to mouth.(1) Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 60–61:
Oh waes my heart! to hear them bleatin, Wi' scarce a hap-warm fend-caul teat on, But's torn and flaffin.
(2) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 305:
There is a great Difference between fen o'er, and fairwel. There is a great Difference between their way of living who only get a little Scrap to keep them alive, and others who get every Day a full Meal.

II. n. 1. (1) An effort attempt, shift, esp. to maintain oneself. Freq. in phr. to mak a fen(d) (Ags.19, Fif., m.Lth., Ayr., Kcb. 1950).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 73:
The Bride she made a Fen, To sit in Wylicoat sae braw, Upon her nether En.
Edb. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 191:
Some wad-be bardies, now an' then, . . . mak an unco clumsy fen' To paint your beauty.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Tam Glen ii.:
I'm thinking, wi' sic a braw fellow, In poortith I might mak a fen.
Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. xx.:
Out John Bowler gat me, but wi' nae sma fight and fend.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 117:
At farming they may mak' a fen.
Kcb. c.1880 Vale of Urr Verses I. 107:
Gin they see you're tryin' to mak a guid fen To help your endeavour they'll come gey far ben.
Knr. 1925 “H. Haliburton” Horace 156:
He'll mak' a fend In honest poverty to shift.

(2) Specif.: a bare living, “on the border of want, but not in absolute want either” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 203).em.Sc. 1920 J. Black Airtin' Hame 166:
We've been diligent a' oor days, yet ha'e juist made a fen.

2. A defence, resistance; succour, assistance.Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxviii.:
I e'en grippit at the first thing I could make a fend wi'.
Ayr. 1873 A. Aitken Poems 6:
Nae hame ava had he, To his ain fen he gaed an' took a fee.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 78:
A pole as lang and big . . . Wad never be hauf lang eneuch To offer ony fend.

Used attrib. with months, time, of the close season in fishing when salmon are protected from anglers. Usage rare and localised to the Kelso area.Rxb. 1938 Scotsman (1 Feb.):
The Tweed angling season, after only two fend months, begins today.
Rxb. 1952 Scotsman (2 Feb.):
After a too brief fend time — only 62 days — the Tweed season opened yesterday.

3. Fare, provision; sustenance.Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 54:
I ne'er was great, sae ne'er was proud, Nae sumptuous fend, but hamely food.
Abd. 1916 Abd. Book-Lover (May 1924) 127:
The Hairster, auld and grim himsel', Has arled and fee't them, cauld their fen'.
Abd.4 1933:
There's nae fen wi' peasoup for a plooman's denner; gie 'im brose.

4. The sea- or outer wall of a breakwater.Bch. 1861 J. Davidson Poems 68:
The slates were piled up by the thoosan', On the fend, the sea-dyke o' the pier.

[O.Sc. fend, to defend, a.1400, to maintain, a.1500, to support oneself, 1555; as a n. from the v., defence, 1642. Aphetic form of defend.]

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



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