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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GLED, n.1 Also ¶gleed (Abd. 1909 C. Murray Hamewith 87), and obs. forms glead(e), gledd, glade, glaed, glaid. [glɛd]

1. The common kite, Milvus milvus (e.Lth. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VII. 316, glade; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Used also for other members of the hawk family, such as the buzzard (Abd. 1840 W. Macgillivray Brit. Birds III. 183, glead, glade; n.Sc. 1885 Brit. Birds 133; w.Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 348; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 249; Kcb.3 1929; Per.4 1950; Inv., Ags. 1954), the hen-harrier (Mry.1 1925, ‡the sparrow-hawk (Per. 1954), etc. Often used with the epithet greedy. Now mainly hist. or in place-names.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 199:
It was never for nothing the Gled whistled.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 35:
Then dinna gape like gleds wi' greed To sweel hail bickers down.
Ayr. 1796 Burns Trogger viii.:
Here is Satan's picture, Like a bizzard gled.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xv.:
When the gledd's in the blue cloud, The lavrock lies still.
Sc. 1820 Rintoul and Baxter Fauna of Forth (1935) 179:
Both Kites and Hen Harriers were called Gleds, and so it is difficult to say which is meant in the old records . . . In Berwickshire, Hen Harriers were known as Grey Gleds, and Dr Harvey said he often saw Grey Gleds in Coldingham moor from 1820 to 1830.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 79:
Wi' nae mair fear up to the point she sped, Nor wad the eagle or the greedy glead.
Sc. 1860 M. Mackenzie Salmon-Fishery Scot. 177:
A sparrowhawk keeps itself distinct from the gosshawk, the gosshawk from the harrier, the harrier from the gled, the gled from the osprey.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 207:
The greedy gled has been aroun' an' stown them a' awa'.
Dmf. 1913 J. L. Waugh Cracks wi' R. Doo ix.:
Dod, I couldna get away frae him, so I refilled my pipe and watched like a gled.
Abd. 1927 M. Angus Sun & Candlelight 8:
Ma son, your comely bride Hes the grey gled's e'en.
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 29:
Whit ist that greets outby the nicht
that keens abuin the ruif?
It's juist the glaid, my bonnie lass,
gaen seekin i the lift

2. Fig. of persons: one of a greedy disposition (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 65), one who preys upon his fellow-men, a rapacious person; a plunderer.Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize III. iii.:
Wi' naebody near but only your four helpless wee birds, there's no saying what the gleds might do.
Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer I. xv.:
An' a' thae greedy gleds (kites) o' professors to pay, that live upo' the verra blude and banes o' sair-vroucht students!
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders vi.:
The gleds are gatherin' frae the north an' frae the sooth . . . broken men frae a' the ports of Scotland, and the riff-raff o' the Dungeon o' Buchan.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxxv.:
You have got out of the grip of the gled. Yon person was an even blacker villain than I guessed.

3. “A kite's feathers used for dressing salmon-hooks” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add., glead(e)).

4. Phrs. and Combs.: (1) as gleg as a gled, as sharp or keen as a hawk; as keen in the appetite as a hawk, “as hungry as a hunter”; ¶(2) at a gled's glance, with an eagle eye; (3) buttermilk gled, see Buttermilk; ¶(4) gled-gready, adj., rapacious, as greedy as a gled; †(5) gled-wylie, a children's game in which one of the bigger boys takes the part of the gled and tries to catch some of the smaller boys — the “chickens” — who stand in a string protected by the “mother-bird” at the head (for detailed description, see MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. (1824) 231–232 and A. B. Gomme Trad. Games (1894) I. 152); †(6) greedy-gled, a children's game, prob. the same as (5) above, or a kind of hide-and-seek (cf. the lines of a rhyme used in that game in Edb.: “Keep in, keep in, wherever ye be, The greedy gled is seeking ye” (see R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes (1847) 260)); (7) ringle-tailed gled, the female hen-harrier; (8) salmon-tailed glede, the kite (Dmb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VIII. 40); †(9) to be as (gin, if) ane had fa'n frae the gled(s) (feet), to be in disorder, “dishevelled, confused, ruffled, etc. as if rescued from the claws of a bird of prey” (wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan, Gl. 309); often applied to a slovenly or sluttish person (Ib.); †(10) to be in the gled's claws (grups, hands), to be in mortal danger, without chance of escape; †(11) to have the gled in one's ee, “to have a keen eye or sharp sight” (E.D.D.); (12) white-aboon-glade (gled), the male hen-harrier, Circus cyaneus (Slg. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 132, — gled); so called prob. from the fact that the male is of a greyish-blue colour in great contrast to the female, which is brown above and buff with dark streaks below.(1) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian v.:
Gang in bye . . . and tell Peggy to gi'e ye a bicker o' broth, for ye'll be as gleg as a gled, I'se warrant ye.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 173:
The ither bairns a' fa' to play'n As gleg's a gled.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 61:
. . . he's gleg's a gled, And ye canna' cheat him wi' his bools and pens.
(2) Arg. 1918 N. Munro Jaunty Jock 140:
The stranger . . . compassing the chamber and the characters before him at a gled's glance, feeling himself master of them both.
(4) Edb. 1829 G. Wilson Sc. Laverock 129:
The faithless loon, gled-gready Will, For meat an' drink he woo'd her.
(6) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 10:
Whan she among the neiper bairns was seen, At greedy-glad [sic] or warpling o' the green.
(7) Sc. 1826 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 86:
On the water-fa' and the water-shed, When is seen the nest of the ringle-tailed gled, The lands of the north sall a' be free.
(9) Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxii.:
I had aften thocht the folk at hame no ower weel-bred — goupin' an glowerin' at strangers as if they had fa'en frae the gled's feet.
Sc. 1887 Jam. Add.:
There's our Jennie as she had fa'n frae the gled.
Peb. 1912 Scotsman (26 Jan.):
My grandmother, who died about twenty years ago at the advanced age of ninety-six, [said] one who did things in a lackadaisical way was described as “gin she were fa'in frae the gleds.”
(10) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 230:
We say of anything that has got into greedy keeping, that it has got into the gled's claws, where it will be kept until it be savagely devoured.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
“He's in the gled's-grups now;” i.e. there is no chance of his escaping.
Gall. 1843 J. Nicholson Tales 105:
Resistance! — they kenn'd they were in the gled's clawts.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxv.:
Tibbie seein' me i' the gled's hands, an' fearin' that Miss Phemie micht mischieve me oot o' spite, banged up an' flew to my rescue.
(11) Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 99:
The wild roving rogue has the gled in his ee, Twa three-neukit ee-brees aye louping wi' glee.
(12) Slg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 324:
Of all the birds of prey amongst us, the hen-harriers, or white-aboon-glade, as he is called, is the most destructive to game.

[O.Sc. has gled(d), from c.1420, and glaid, from c.1470 (in place-names from c.1200); O.N. gleða, corr. O.E. glida, Mod.Eng. glede, the kite.]

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



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