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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.

GREEN, adj., n. Sc. usages. Also †grein; grøn (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), grün (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).

I. adj. 1. Covered with grass, e.g. in green gate, a grassy path or track (Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 151; Sh., Ork., Cai. 1955), see also 1953 quot. s. v. green lady (section II. 1. (13) (a)), green land, a grassy patch on hill-ground, free of heather (Kcb., Dmf. 1955), green road(ie), id. (Rs., Inv., Mry., Abd., Per. 1955).Ork.1 1928:
Tak heem the kye by the green gate.

2. Of milk: new, fresh, applied to the first milk †of a newly-delivered woman, or of an animal, esp. a cow after calving (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 69; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bnff., Abd., Arg., Wgt., Kcb., Slk. 1955). Hence n. greenness. Green-tastit is also applied to milk from cows newly put on to grass (Ork., Bnff. 1955).Edb. 1734 Caled. Mercury (28 Nov.):
You may be served with Green Milk; for some of the Asses are very lately colted.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 6:
Jean's paps wi' sa't and water washen clean, For fear her milk gat wrang fan it was green.
Abd. 1954 Huntly Express (19 Nov.):
In a very few days the milk will be fit for drinking. . . . The “greenness” soon wears off.

Comb.: †green milk-woman, “one whose milk is fresh, who has been recently delivered of a child” (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.).

3. Of a mother: †recently delivered, found in Eng. 16th–17th c.; also used of a recently-calved cow, from the freshness and richness of the milk (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; m.Lth., Rxb. 1955).Lth. 1703 Justiciary Reports (1861) 706:
She was apprehended and discovered to be a green woman newly delivered of a child.
Sc. 1716 D. Hume Trial for Crimes (1800) II. 303:
The pannel had the symptoms of a green lighter woman upon her.

4. Fresh, immature.

(1) Of manure: unseasoned, unrotted (Cai., Kcb., Rxb. 1955).Sc. 1759 J. Justice Brit. Gardener's Cal. 5:
Green dung is never to be used.

(2) Of cloth: unbleached, esp. of linen yarn which has not been boiled with soda to remove the green, i.e. vegetable matter (Ags., wm.Sc., Uls. 1955). Hence comb. greencloth.Abd. 1780 Aberdeen Jnl. (15 May):
Brown and white Linen, and Yarns green and boiled.
Sc. 1781 Caled. Mercury (May) 19:
All cloth given in green will be charged two-pence per yard, and all cloth half white one penny per yard, for bleaching.
Dmf. 1788 Dmf. Weekly Jnl. (Jan.) 22:
Several very valuable articles, particularly some pieces of green unbleached cotton.
Ags. 1894 F. J. Mills Jamie Donaldson 12:
At the period referred to [early 19th c.] the greencloth merchants were allowed 1½ per yard of Government bounty on all the cloth shipped by them to foreign countries.

(3) Of a fire: newly kindled and smouldering (Bnff., Ags., Fif., m.Lth., Rnf. 1955); of fuel: fresh, newly put on the fire (Fif. 1955).Arg. 1898 N. Munro John Splendid xxiv.:
To see the fires, not green but at their prime.

(4) Of dough: unripe, producing greenish bread. Sc. 1927 J. Kirkland Bakers' ABC 160:
The word green, in this sense, is confined to use among Scots bakers, who apply it to dough whenever it feels sticky in handling.

5. Of the bones: not dry, full of marrow, esp. in phr. to keep the banes green, to preserve good health, to maintain youthfulness; fig., to keep one in comfortable circumstances in later life.Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 145:
Auld joints, says he, are stiffer than the green, And need a rest.
Edb. 1811 H. Macneill Bygane Times 54.:
Na, neibour, na! start nae sae keen, Lay up first what keeps auld banes green, Syne big your house, and spread your table.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems II.41:
An' tak' a skair, O' what may keep the banes just green.
Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. x.:
Ye might aye have gotten a Sheriffdom, or a Commissaryship, amang the lave, to keep the banes green; and sae ye might have saved your estate from deteriorating.

6. Young, youthful (Abd., Ags., Per., m.Lth., Uls. 1955). Obs. in Eng. since early 19th c.Knr. 1890 “H. Haliburton” Sc. Fields 13:
Folk wad gang ten or twal miles i' my green days to hear a preachin'.
Mry. 1898 Abd. Wkly. Free Press (25 June):
Tho' his body was wither'd his heart was aye green.

7. Of fish: fresh, unsalted (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Sh., Dmf. 1955). Obs. since 18th c. in Eng.Abd. 1713 Powis Papers (S.C.) 208:
The ordinary price of a pound weight of old Green Salmond, taken upon the said water is Fourteen pennes Scots, . . . it ordinarly takes Twenty Three Sten weight of old Green Fish to make a Barrell, and Twenty four Sten weight of young Green Fish or Grilses to make a Barrell.
Sc. 1741 Essay on Improving Inland Navigation 9:
Two Barrels green will make one Barrel of salted and packed Herrings.
Ags. 1885 Brechin Advertiser (24 March) 3:
The Duke dealt chiefly amo' the green haddocks.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (12 Nov.):
Der [fish] no half wush'n noo, nedder whin der green, or whin der saut.

8. Of weather: rainy, “soft.”Knr. 1891 “H. Haliburton” Ochil Idylls 52:
Tho' whyles a simmer cauld an' green Has left a hunger'd hairst ahint it.

II. Adj. combs.: 1. Gen. combs.: †(1) green-boys, a nickname given to a regiment of Volunteer Riflemen formed in Kilmarnock during the Napoleonic Wars. Hist.; (2) green brees(e), — breeze, green, stagnant water, esp. that oozing from a dunghill or cesspool (Bnff. 1808 Jam., -breese; Bnff., Abd. 1955). See Bree, n.1; also fig. of any untidy mess; (3) green-cart, a greengrocer's cart, a vegetable cart; †(4) green-coatie, a fairy (Abd. 1825 Jam.); †(5) greencraig wine, a jocular name for spring water; (6) green gairten, -garter, see Garten, phrs. and combs. Cf. (16) (b); (7) green goon, (a) “the supposed badge of the loss of virginity;” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Cf. obs. Eng. phr. to give a woman a green gown; (b) the turf on a grave; (c) = (4); (8) green goose, — gaisling, a young goose, a gosling, one allowed to feed in a grass field; fig. = a fool. Common in Eng. dial.; (9) green grape, rhyming slang for paip n.3 2.  (Edb. 2000s); (10) green grass (an expression in) a children's singing game (Abd., Ags. 1955). Also in Eng. dial.; (11) greenhead, a surface peat covered with green vegetation (Ork.5 1955); (12) green-horn, (a) a raw, inexperienced person, a simpleton, orig. Sc. but since late 18th c. accepted as Eng. Hence ¶green-horned, foolish; (b) a spoon made of greenish-coloured horn (‡Ayr.8 1955); (13) green lady, (a) “a spectre supposed to frequent dells or lonely spots” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., rare; Rs., Abd., Per., Fif. 1955) green being the colour associated with death in folk-lore; (b) a children's game, see quot.; (c) a marble of green glass, usually the stopper of an old-fashioned lemonade bottle (Abd.27 1947); (d) a Health Visitor in the employment of Glasgow Corporation, so called from the colour of her uniform; (14) green nurse, “a woman who menstruates during lactation” (Fif. 1904 Caled. Med. Jnl. V. 180); †(15) green plaister, a plaster containing some green medicament; (16) green ribbon, — ribband, (a) the ribbon of the Order of the Thistle; †(b) a ribbon worn round the hat by young men as an indication of bachelorhood. Cf. (6); (17) Green Rod, the baton of the Order of the Thistle, esp. in phr. Usher of the Green Rod, see Usher. †(18) green soil, soil suitable for the raising of a green crop such as turnips; (19) green table, (a) a table covered with green cloth or baize, specif. a table in a court-room; (b) Green Tables, the Court of Session (Gsw. 1955), from the green cloth which formerly covered the furnishings of the Court. The expression is also used hist. of the Committee of the Covenanting Government of 1638–41; (20) green thing, in phrs. to cowe or ding a' green thing, to beat everything (ne.Sc. 1955). See Cow, v.1, III., 2.; †(21) green whey, the whey of a greenish colour which separates from the curds in cheese-making; †(22) greenwife, a female seller of vegetables, a female greengrocer (Gall. 1866 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 56).(1) Ayr. 1847 Ballads & Songs (Paterson) 78:
When he Whistled an' blew, man, whistled an' blew, man, On the green-boys on the lea.
(2) Bnff. 1844 T. Anderson Poems 27:
Nae slough, quagmire, green-breeze, or puddle Could stop our way.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 77:
Resolved to gie Wattie a duckin', 'Mang greenbrees and byre-bockit slag.
ne.Sc. 1874 Gregor Olden Time 15–16:
In front of it lay the midden, in a deep hole half filled with water — the sewage of the kitchen and the farm buildings — green as grass — the green brees.
Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie iii.:
The lass is laid up wi' a bealt thoom, an' I maunna lat a' thing gang to dirt an' green bree.
(3) Ags. 1826 A. Balfour Highland Mary III. v.:
You shall ride in my green-cart.
(5) Sc. 1792 “Juvenis Scoticus” Melpomene 49:
[The alewives]'ll lose nae time The whisky's value to enhance, Wi' greencraig wine.
(7) (a) Gall. 1882 J. Douglas Bk. of Galloway 66:
Ninety-nine in a hunner are . . . chast, and scarce a woman wears the green gown tween the Brig en' o' Dumfries and the Braes o' Glennap.
(b) Lth. 1825 Jam.:
One is said to get on the green gown, when brought to the grave.
(c) Clc. 1848 Jnl. Topog. etc. II. 276:
Hay-making came round, but young Wright, instead of allowing the “green-goons” to perform what they had so long done (thinking thereby to save a few fleeces), ordered his servants to the work.
(8) Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxv.:
Did ever ony man see sic a set of green-gaislings! — the very . . . solan-geese out by yonder at the Bass hae ten times their sense!
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xix.:
His ain dear Annie and her two sisters had to taigle home by theirselves like a string of green geese.
(9) Sc. 2001 Scotsman 22 Jun 14:
However, that she is the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, the premier Catholic peer in England, is a clue.
Michael [Ancrum] is, as they say out Carfin way, a "green grape." Surely that debars him from the office of Prime Minister?
(10) Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 275:
A number of young girls stand in a row, from which two retire, and again approach hand in hand, singing — A dis, a dis, a green grass, A dis, a dis, a dis.
Lnk. 1894 A. B. Gomme Trad. Games 162:
The game [green grass] was played entirely by girls, never by boys, and generally in the months of May or June, about forty years ago. The children sang with rather mincing and refined voices . . . They walked, with their hands clasped behind their backs, up and down the road. Each child was crowned with rushes, and also had sashes or girdles of rushes. [In Biggar] . . . it was played by a row of boys on one side and another of girls opposite. The boys selected a girl when singing the third verse.
(11) Ork. 1907 Old-Lore Misc. I. iv. 133:
The people in those good (?) old days did not burn many of what they called “tuskar peats,” — these were the best and were reserved chiefly for sale. They burned rough kinds known by various names such as, . . . greenheads.
(12) (a) Sc. 1753 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 490:
The scale . . . consists of eight degrees; Greenhorn, Jemmy, Jessamy . . . Buck, and Blood.
Abd. 1797 Aberdeen Mag. 351:
Wha frae his neebour claims a perfect part, Is but a green-horn — stranger to his heart.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost xlvii.:
That will never do; ye're but a greenhorn in public affairs.
Dmb. 1846 W. Cross Disruption xxvi.:
I'm a simple chiel', to be shure, but I'm no sae green-horned as to tak' a jump in the dark that gate.
(b) Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 116:
An' glancin' green-horns snugly laid, In Lucky Dad's ain spoon-creel.
Slk. 1832 Hogg Tales (1874) 91:
She [goat] has not given me a green-horn spoonful of milk this morning.
(13) (a) n.Sc. c.1830 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. (1850) 366:
The green lady was never afterwards seen in Scotland.
Edb. 1882 J. Grant Old and New Edb. III. 43:
Quaint old Craig House, which is said to be haunted by the spectre known as “The Green Lady.”
Abd. 1953 Huntly Express (6 March):
The once superstitiously regarded Green Gate, where the credulous believed a ghostly “Green Lady” walked.
(b) Gsw. 1920 F. S. Farrell MS.:
The darkest close is usually chosen and the darkest night, to play “Green Lady,” a game in which a child stands at the top of a dark stair in a tenement at night and calls his playmates up one by one to join him, by crying, “Green Lady, Green Lady, Come up for your tea.” The original Green Lady was a witch.
(d) Gsw. 1952 Bulletin (2 Dec.):
Health Visitors' Club. . . This club, for the Corporation “Green Ladies,” is the only one of its kind.
Gsw. 1967 Stephen Mulrine in Moira Burgess and Hamish Whyte Streets of Stone (1985) 131:
'The Green Lady'll be here first thing in the morning. Not as if it was your first, eh, Mrs Keogh?'
Gsw. 1988 Michael Munro The Patter Another Blast 29:
Green Lady A familiar name for a Health Visitor, originally from the colour of their uniform. Although nowadays they no longer wear a uniform this is still the general term in common use: 'She's friendly wi Mrs Sloan, ye know, her that's daughter's a Green Lady.'
Gsw. 1991 Margaret Sinclair Windae Hingin' and Busker Singin' 16:
'Nosey green lady.'
Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 4:
She was the Green Lady, she wore a green hat; the baby nurses wore brown.
(15) Sc. 1700 Foulis Acc. Bk. (S.H.S.) 283:
Sep: 14: . . . a roll of dia palma 6sh grein plaister 2sh a box.
(16) (a) Sc. 1706 Hist. MSS. Comm. Rep. (Mar and Kellie MSS.) 272:
The Queen is to give us two the Green R[ibbon] on Saturday nixt. . . . Loudoun and I got the green ribans on Saturday last.
Abd. 1748 Abd. Journal (16–23 Feb.):
This Day his Majesty was pleased to Knight his Grace the Duke of Gordon, one of the Sixteen Peers of Scotland, with the most Noble Order of the Thistle, and invested his Grace with the Green Ribband.
Sc. 1856 Scotsman (5 May):
The Secretary presented to the Sovereign the green riband and jewel of the Thistle, and her Majesty placed the same over the Duke's left shoulder.
(b) Ayr. 1792 Burns Lady Mary Ann 7:
We'll sew a green ribbon round about his hat, And that will let them ken he's to marry yet!
(18) Sc. 1805 R. Forsyth Beauties Scot. II. 66:
The soils . . . are . . . arranged into two kinds; namely, light and clayey. The former is called turnip or green soil.
(19) (a) Ags. 1870 A. Paul Incidents 149:
There's no a lawyer in Dundee noo would hae me at ony price, and the green table itself would turn up its very nose.
(b) Ork. 1904 Dennison Sketches 10:
The Laird hed business at the Green-Teebles.
Sc. 1954 Scotsman (30 Aug.) 6:
It is an odd thing that members of the public (usually candidates for divorce) often write direct to the Court of Session and for some reason address their letters to “Green Tables, Edinburgh.”
(20) Per. 1881 R. Ford Readings 16:
That beats a' green thing.
Ags. 1921 D. H. Edwards Fisher Folks 36:
Another [singer] would draw from her the remark — “that dings a' green thing, that 'ummin' has raley a grand pipe.”
(21) Edb. 1909 Bk. Old Edb. Club II. 203:
There are still some who remember the vendors of this favourite summer dish . . . Their well-known cry was “Curds an' Whey!” but an early form seems to have been “Curds and Green Whey.”
(22) Edb. 1833 R. Chambers Trad. of Edb. III. 179:
Jenny Geddes was an herbwoman — Scottice, a greenwife — at the Tron Church.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 67:
Thy pow wins mony dimpled laurels, . . . Nor grocers' fists, or greenwives' snarls, Can stop thy takin'.
Fif. 1897 “S. Tytler” Lady Jean's Son iv.:
Weel, she had been at the green-wife's.

2. Combs. in names of animals: (1) green-back, the viviparous blenny, Zoarces viviparus (Sh. 1900 E.D.D., Sh.10 1955), so called from the colour of the back-bone; (2) green-bane, -be(a)n, -been, (a) the gar-fish, gar pike or needlefish, Belone belone (Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Fif. & Knr. 53; w.Sc. 1741 A. M'Donald Galick Vocab. 71; Abd. 1815 J. Arbuthnot Fishes 57; Bnff. 1876 S. Smiles Sc. Naturalist 422, -been), so called from the bones which are often green in colour; (b) = (1) (Ork. 1805 G. Barry Hist. of Ork. 291; m.Lth. 1811 Wernerian Soc. Mem. 8; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw., -been); (3) green-kail-worm, (a) the caterpillar of the cabbage butterfly (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai., Fif., Kcb., Rxb. 1955); †(b) fig. a raw-looking youth of puny appearance; (4) green lintie, -y, the greenfinch, Chloris chloris (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 241). Gen.(exc. I.)Sc.; †(5) green lintwhite, = (4) (Sc. 1808 Jam.); (6) green piller or sp(y)ung, see Piller, Spung.(3) (a) Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Gen. Report Agric. Scot. II. 159:
The greenkail worms, or the caterpillars which devour cabbages and savoys, are chiefly the larvæ of Papilio brassicæ, P. rapæ, and Phalæna brassicæ.
(b) Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality iv.:
I heard that green kail-worm of a lad name his Majesty's health.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man I. 199:
Shakel my knackers . . . if I do not crack thy fool's pate! What does the green-kail-worm mean?
(4) wm.Sc. 1906 N. Munro Vital Spark v.:
The munisters iss that popular the weemen put bird-lime in front of the Manses to catch them, the same ass if they were green-linties.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 67:
And there's birds: the mavis, the spug, the corbie,
the stuckie, the greenlintie, the bullie, e'en a gow, ...
Abd. 2000 Herald 8 May 19:
Though it came too late for the boy to make any additions to his collection of eggs, the Farmer continued his interest and noted the wrens, the green linties and the chaffies which competed with blackbirds for the airwaves and for the nesting sites.

3. Combs. in names of plants and fruits: (1) green-berry, the green gooseberry (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Abd. rare, Dmf. 1955); (2) green-gaskin, see Gaskin; (3) greenga(w), the green slimy sea-weed left after the tide has receded (Crm. 1911; Mry.1 1925, -gaw), a green alga of any kind (Abd. 1955). Cf. Gar, n., (2), of which ga(w) appears to be a variant, phs. influenced by Ga', gall, bile; (4) green grozer, — grozet, see Groser, Groset; (5) green kail, †keall, (a) “that plain species of green colewort which does not assume a round form like savoys or become curled” (Sc. 1825 Jam.; em.Sc. (a), Gall., Rxb. 1955); cottagers' kail; (b) a kind of thick soup made of colewort (Ib.); †(6) green-mood [mould], a comprehensive term for fresh-water algæ or slime moulds; †(7) green sloke, the edible seaweed, Ulva lactuca (Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Scotica II. 970, 1808 Jam.); (8) green wood, young, growing trees (Cai., Kcb. 1955); †(9) green yair, -yar, a species of pear (Arg. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VII. 485, -yar); see Yair.(1) Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 123:
Aw've made some greenberry jelly an' black curran's, an' some strawberries.
(5) (a) Sc. 1700 Darien Papers (1849) 333:
They have both green-kail and cabbages.
Sc. 1808 E. Hamilton Glenburnie vii.:
We have some leeks too, and green kail in winter in plenty.
Ags. 1906 Rymour Club Misc. I. 93:
“Fat got ye there?” “But green kail and leeks.”
(b) Per. 1737 Ochtertyre House Booke (S.H.S.) 52:
Tewsday 7 June Dinner green Keall.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) vii.:
It was . . . like's somebody had skelt a pottal o' green-kail or something on the sheet whaur the picture was.
Sc. 1929 F. M. McNeill Scots Kitchen 102:
Green Kail (Old Cottage Recipe). Greens, oatmeal, pepper, salt, cream, water.
(6) Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 287:
The Confervæ so common in burns in the heat of summer are called Green-Mood.
(8) Abd. 1737 in A. Watt Hist. Kintore (1865) 98:
A complaint given in by my Lord's Chamberlain against George Rainie, . . . for his cutting of sauchs in James Wilson's yard in Tillybin, or in other places within my Lord's interest, or for receipting of sauchs, or green wood.
Sc. 1769 Erskine Principles iv. iv. § 30:
The breaking of orchards, and the stealing of green wood, is punished by a fine, which rises as the crime is repeated.
(9) Sc. 1817 Edb. Encycl. XI. 212:
The Green Yair, or Green Pear of the Yair, is a small green fruit, sweet and juicy, but with little flavour. . . . It is supposed to be of Scottish origin, the Yair being an ancient seat on the Border.

III. n. 1. A piece of grassy ground: (1) in front of a house, freq. in combs. as kirk-, manse-, etc. green. Gen.Sc. Now rare in Eng., exc. in combs. such as village green, bowling green, etc.; (2) see quot. and cf. green land, under I. 1.(1) Mry. 1721 W. Cramond Grant Court Bk. (1897) 23:
Drive them [forfeited cattle] to the grein (or yet) of Castle Grant.
Inv. 1745 Trans. Gael. Soc. Inv. XIV. 27:
My house and Green has been like a market place for some time past.
Sc. 1752 J. Campbell Highl. Scot. 16:
During the Summer Season, . . . the Cows, Sheep, and Goats, who give Milk, are attended by a Woman or two on a spot of Green commodiously situated for Pasturage.
Abd. 1778 A. Ross Helenore 58:
When she yeed hame, she spent the afterneen, Buckling and making ready for the green.
Gall. 1932 A. McCormick Galloway 92:
Washin' his feet on the green fornenst the wundy.
(2) n.Sc. 1952 W. M. Alexander Place-Names Abd. (S.C.) 66:
Further west, stretches of green pasture in heather areas are still called “greens.”

In combs.: (1) back green, the back garden, esp. of a tenement or council house (Sh., Cai., Bnff., Ags., Fif., Edb., Arg., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s). Also attrib.; (2) greenie pole, a clothes pole. (Abd., Ags., Dundee, Edb. 2000s). (1) wm.Sc. 1965 Alan Sharp A Green Tree in Gedde (1985) 186:
Looking out he could see the back of another tenement and below a set of washing houses and back greens, some with washing out but none of them green.
m.Sc. 1987 William Montgomerie in Joy Hendry Chapman 46 15:
At coontin Mr Dawson sat
bi ma backgreen sweethert
Sc. 1998 Scotland on Sunday 26 Apr 2:
Hibernian ended this match as they had started it; strung out in a thin purple line, like washing in one of those Easter Road backgreens.
Sc. 1998 Edinburgh Evening News 12 Oct 14:
The Kwik-Fit boss was born almost at the foot of Leith Walk in Union Street, myself a few backgreens away in Jane Street.
Gsw. 2000 Herald 17 Aug 21:
Now a lady in a nearby West End address had complained to the Telegraph about a story which referred to her back green, rather than her garden. "Do you know what a back green is?" she remonstrated with the reporter. "It's a place with four clothes poles, like you get at the back of a council flat."
Sc. 2000 Herald 9 Dec 11:
In John and Maureen's first flat in Hillhead Street in Glasgow, he used a backgreen wash-house.
Sc. 2003 Scotsman 25 Jan :
The Seaforth hotel, ... dominates the skyline, more so than the neon-rimmed Pleasureland next door, ... more so even than the football ground which is the next structure you are blown towards on your way into town, and which today will host a Rangers side who, after a Scottish Cup tie against Arbroath in 1884, sniffily branded the park a "back green".
Sc. 2004 Scotsman 7 Jul 4:
Sutherland is accused of strangling Mr Wilson with his hands and a curtain tie-back in Sutherland's flat in Merchiston Avenue, Edinburgh, on 1 February. He is also charged with dismembering the body and disposing of it, in five pieces, in the backgreen shared with other tenement flats.
(2) Edb. 1994:
That's a funny greenie pole. (said of aluminium extending pole)

2. Specif. (1) in Golf: the piece of finely-turfed grass used as the putting-ground. Also used up to c.1900 to indicate ‡the fairway, and †the whole course, and still reg. used with this meaning in such combs. as green committee, -keeper, -record, etc., and phr. through the green. Now in St.Eng.Sc. 1744 B. Darwin, etc. Hist. Golf (1952) 26:
You are not to remove stones, bones, or any breakclub for the sake of playing your ball except upon the fair green.
Sc. 1783 C. Smith Abd. Golfers (1909) 18:
No person shall be at Liberty to vary or better his Stance in playing, by breaking the Surface of the Green.
Sc. 1842 Chambers's Information II. 542:
The holes are situated at the different ends and sides of the green, at irregular distances.
Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 57:
Respecting open swiping through the long green we have few remarks to offer.
Sc. 1894 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 389:
Bad “lies” are very common even after the best of drives from the tee, and this should not happen on really good greens. . . . Still, for a day's pleasure, I know no other green to compare with Luffness. Remember, I do not say a day's golf: there are many better golfing greens than this.
Sc. 1955 Scotsman (4 July) 11:
Though the greens were being watered, the fairways were dry, brown, and fast.

 ¶(2) The turf over a grave. Per. a.1837 R. Nicoll Poems (1842) 27:
The kintra-side will miss her sair When she's laid aneath the green.

3. In pl.: green vegetables, as in Eng., but in Scot. referring particularly to kail (Sc. 1818 Sawers), esp. in phr. beef and greens, the traditional fare at a curling-club dinner. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1756 F. Home Bleaching 224:
Hard water has other distinguishing marks; such as, . . . preserving the colour of greens boiled in it, better than soft water.
Abd. 1790 Aberdeen Mag. 562:
So totally were the vegetables destroyed, that we could not get in all the gardens a single handful of greens.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxxv.:
A few half-cold greens and potatoes — a glass of ice-cold water to wash them down.
Peb. 1821 J. Kerr Hist. Curling (1890) 203:
The club dinner shall be restricted to beef and greens, and whisky toddy.
Ags. 1857 A. Laing Wayside Flowers 58:
Our cabbage an' greens maun grow for you, Our sybows an' leeks that season our broo.
Ayr. 1876 J. Ramsay Gleanings 76:
Ye bowkail stocks baith grit and sma', Ye greens defyin' frost and snaw, Come mourn wi' me.
Sc. 1890 J. Kerr Hist. of Curling 378:
“Beef and greens,” as from time immemorial, must be the feast of brotherhood when the day is over, and every innovation must be resisted to the death which interferes with “curlers' fare.”
Fif. 1905 “S. Tytler” Daughter of the Manse ii. iii.:
It was as rigidly limited to “salt beef and greens” as if the curlers were in the middle of a campaign.

4. In phr. †to see as licht a green, to see as unlikely a thing (happen as . . .), not to be surprised if . . . Cf. Blue, II. 4.Per. 1837 Laird of Logan 292:
At last, he went and looked over the half-door; — still dark — no streak of light to be seen. “Preserve us a'!” quoth Will, “I hae seen as licht a green as it wad ne'er be day-licht.”

[O.Sc. has grene, grein, etc., adj., in sense 1. from c.1420 (12th–13th c. in place-names), sense 4. from early 15th c., sense 6. from 1513, sense 7. from 1587; grene geys, gosling, 1506, green horn, from 1650, grenban, green-bone, 1525, green-kail, from 1640, grene wod(e), from early 15th c., and n., 1. from a.1400 (c.1320 in place-name).]

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"Green adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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