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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
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.

FORE, adj., adv., n. Also †foir, †for.

I. adj. As in Eng., situated at or facing towards the front. More freq. in Sc., where e.g. Eng. uses front. The usage develops from treating as a separate word Fore-, pref., compounded with nouns. For such compounds see separate entries.Ags. 1715 MS. per Fif.1:
Tenements of Land high and laigh back and foir.
Sc. 1720 Caled. Mercury (15 Aug.):
There is to be sold . . . an large fore Shop and back House, with Three Fire Rooms, and an fore Cellar with Two Fire Rooms.
Abd. 1765 Abd. Journal (11 March):
[He] wants two of his upper Fore Teeth and has a rising Nose.
Ags. 1776 First Hist. Dundee (ed. Millar 1923) 180–1:
Up from this Street is the Hilltown . . . it is vastly lightsome, having a fore view, it lying so high.
Sc. 1805 R. Forsyth Beauties Scot. II. 192:
In the fore wall of the church . . . there has plainly been an aperture.
Kcb. 1880 J. H. Maxwell Sheep Marks 6:
Fore axe nip on far ear; X burn on nose.

II. adv. 1. At or to the front, forwards, foremost. Phrs.: back and (or) fore, backwards and forwards, to and fro (I. and n.Sc., Ags., Rxb., Uls. 1953); one way or another, approximately, of measurement (ne.Sc. 1953). See also Back, n.1, 5. (6). Used also substantively in pl. = Eng. “ups and downs,” vicissitudes; fore by, forwards, towards the speaker.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 49:
An' back an' fore she spies amo' the trees; But a' her labour's vain, nae bodie's there.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 138:
He was enguardit, fore and back.
Ags. 1853 Anon. Chron. Aberbrothock 94:
Fan I think on a' the backs an' fores I've ha'en.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 219:
Keekin' up, keekin' down, keekin' back, keekin' fore.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xliv.:
But it mak's na muckle back or fore.
Abd. 1879 in A. F. Murison Memoirs (1935) 216:
It was sent down to meet the Carrier 6d to pay each back and fore.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sk. and Poems 64:
We wir spaekin' awa', back an' fore.
Fif. 1895 “S. Tytler” Macdonald Lass xi.:
If you do not look after her, mother, she is as like as not to tie it on inside out, or back side fore.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 33:
Come oot fore by, Berry! Noo lie doon i' dat bit, I says.
Abd.27 1953:
The wecht o't wad be ten steen back or fore (or back an fore).

2. Golf: used as an int. to warn anyone standing or moving in the flight of the ball (Sc. 1887 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Now adopted in Eng.Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 79:
Fore — Contracted for Before; a warning cry to people in front of the stroke.

III. n. 1. As in Eng., the front, front part of anything. Sc. phrs.: (1) flat i' the fore, thin in the front of the body, lean; (2) fore ower, head first, head over heels; (3) to gang fore out, to walk with a low stoop, to go with the head bent forward from age or weakness (Abd. 1953); (4) tae (til, to) the fore, (a) of persons, and things: surviving, alive, still in existence.   Gen.Sc. Also the [= there] fore, id. (Abd.27 1953); present, on the spot. (b) of wealth: in hand, in reserve, laid past (Sh., Cai., Mry., Ags., Arg., Gall. 1953); (c) with o' or wi', (i) ahead of, in advance of; (ii) “in consideration of, in comparison with” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.).(1) Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 226:
Want's a wersh meal. Ay! I'm juist as flat i' the fore as a farrow cat.
(2) Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sk. and Poems 25:
In his hurry he . . . dived fore over, and stuck his little nose into the guttery rig.
(4) (a) Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.T.Misc. 22:
As lang's Sandy's to the fore, Ye never shall get Nansy.
Sc. 1747 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) I. 273:
You'l received from the bearer all that was to the for of the weast coat that the P[rince] gave to me.
Gall. 1788 Burns Letters (ed. Ferguson) No. 188:
In the Galloway phrase, “an the beast be to the fore, and the branks bide hale.”
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. viii.:
The house sall haud its credit as lang as auld Caleb is to the fore.
Ayr. 1833 Galt Howdie, etc. (1923) 224:
I will say — for he is still to the fore — that it could not have been thought he would have proved himself such a satisfactory gudeman.
Edb. 1882 J. Smith Canty Jock 5:
She's never dune askin' if Noah's Ark's to the fore yet.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 57:
Ye wadna hae 'im lang the fore Gin it were no for me.
w.Lth. 1892 R. Steuart Legends 205:
Member-"What does John say tae't?" Elder-"John's no tae the fore ether. He's no been seen sin' he gaed tae the manse fur the books."
s.Sc. 1926 “H. M'Diarmid” Penny Wheep 5:
There's no' a ressum to the fore Whaur the hoose stood.
Cai. 1928 John o' Groat Jnl. (17 Feb.):
Some o' them still til 'e fore, an' some no'.
(b) Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems 71:
What's to the fore Will but right scrimply clear your Score.
wm.Sc. 1827 T. Hamilton Cyril Thornton (1848) xx.:
He shall ne'er want siller while I hae ony to the fore.
Sc. 1845 Edb. Tales (ed. Johnstone) I. 177:
Willie's no far ben in the warld yet, and has naething laid to the fore.
Lth. 1856 M. Oliphant Lilliesleaf xliv.:
I could not but think within myself of all the siller that had been wared upon the house and the festivities, how it might have been to the fore.
Lnk. 1877 W. McHutchison Poems 173:
Blest be your basket and your store, May ye yet gie an' hae tae fore.
(c) (i) Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 66:
She is far to the fore o' your mim-mou'd-like gentry.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 50:
Some man an' his wife had been to the fore wi' the kirk in the way o' mairrage.

2. Advantage, profit, help (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.).Sc. 1812 The Scotchman 67:
I travel the countra for fun an fore.
w.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
“It's no mony fores I get;” I meet with few opportunities of an advantageous nature.
Ayr. 1873 A. Aitken Poems 7:
They ate less o't, this was a mighty fore!
Peb. 1884 J. Grosart Poems 16:
Let those who will their riches boast, for wealth has many fores.
s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws ii.:
Women hae some fores after a'.
Kcb.4 c.1900:
As the auld wife said, “It's an unco fore to hae the water near han!”
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 72:
The maitter in dispute is vera plain, The noble naig o' coorse the fore maun gain.

3. Perquisites given to a servant in addition to his wages (Slk. 1825 Jam.).Dmf. 1825 Jam.:
A maid-servant, speaking of another having got a place that she thinks well of, says, “Aye, she has gotten in there? That's a gude place; it has mony fores.”

4. Anything thrown ashore as wreck, jetsam (Gall. 1825 Jam.). Cf. godsend. s.v. God.Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Sketches 362:
The guidman very often took a morning walk along the sea-side, looking out for “a fore,” the name given to anything the sea might have cast up for the benefit of those who, by careful watching and searching, might add to their possessions.

5. In pl., with guid: good qualities.Slk. 1883 J. Currie Poems 94:
But we are tauld he'd gude-fores too.
Bwk. 1900 E.D.D.:
He has guid fores about him.

6. A shot in bowls or curling delivered from the right, = Forehand, III. 2. (2). Cf. Back Hand.Ayr. 1886 J. Meikle The Lintie 100:
The fore was spoiled by a badly played one of his opponent. . . . I'm gaun to play on the fore.

[O.Sc. back and fore, 1653, to the fore, on hand, 1596, alive, c.1624, in advance, 1608. For the call in golf, cf. Knox Hist. Reformation (1846) I. 223, “cryed to his fellowes that war at the yett macking defence ‘Ware befoir,' and so fyres,” 1548. 5., if not an extended usage of 2., may phs. be a different word of uncertain origin.]

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"Fore adj., adv., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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