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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.

FEY, v.2, n.1 Also †fay, fy, fee. [fɑe Abd., fe: Gall.]

I. v. To clean out, scour (a ditch or drain) (Abd.15 1880; Abd.27, Per.4 1950). Also in Eng. dial.Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 56:
Geordie Gowan . . . gid aboot an' howkit walls, biggit steen an' fell-dykes, feyed stanks an' siclike.
Abd. 1949 Buchan Observer (2 Aug.):
Building up dykes, trimming hedges, scouring drains, “fyin stanks,” or scouring ditches.

II. n. The in-field or cultivated land nearest the farm-buildings in the old system of tillage; now only in field-names (Kcb.1 1930). Also attrib.Gall. 1692 A. Symson Descr. Gall. (1823) 76:
A peece of ground lying neerest to their house, and this peece of ground they call their Beir-fay on which they lay their dung before tilling. . . . It is frequently observed that better beir grows on that part of the Fay that was dunged the preceding year.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Poems 46:
But the neist week they lost a quey, Whilk stray'd awa' to Sandy's fey.
Wgt. 1869 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 722:
Fey-land is that portion of the farm which, in olden times, was constantly cropped, and received all the manure of the stock — the best land on the farm.
Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Frae the Heather 36:
Wi' her I oft hae dunged the fey, And carted hame the peats and hay.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 102:
An' auld man an' his Cuddy chanced to pass A bonnie fey, whar there was fouth o' grass.

Comb. feeland, see quot.Bwk. 1776 Session Papers, Wilkieson v. Earl of Lauderdale (24 Sept.) 3:
The burgesses of Lauder . . . have what is called the croft-lands or burgesses-acres, and what is called the feelands which are understood as pertinents of these burgess-acres. These feeland parts consist of a large tract of high grounds, partly arable and partly pasture. The arable grounds are divided into what they call four hills, which are alternately in crops.

[O.Sc., fey, n., id., 1669. The v. is from Mid.Eng. fēȝen, to clean, O.N.fœ́gja, id. The n. develops from n.Eng. dial. fey, to remove the surface soil, to spread manure, of the same origin.]

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"Fey v.2, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Apr 2024 <>



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