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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.

GUISE, n., v. Sc. usages. Also guize, g(e)yse, guyse, gyze; and back-formation †gy(e). [gɑez]

I. n. †1. Manner, way; conduct, behaviour, way of life. Obs. in Eng. since 18th c.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 87:
But then was then, my lad, an' now is now; 'Bout then a days we never met wi' cross, . . . But now the guise is alter'd very sair, An' we sair new'd an' kaim'd against the hair.
s.Sc. 1885 W. Scrope Salmon Fishing 159:
He was owre weel heuckit, this ane, to work his purpose in that gyse . . . I fand the fish had riestit in the deepest part o' the pool.
w.Lth. 1889 F. Barnard Chirps 112:
But noo the gye's completely turned; The mithers lavish a' their love On laddies noo-a-days.

2. The knack, way of doing something (Ork.5 1955, gy).Ork. 1929 Old-Lore Misc. IX. ii. 80:
Is da deil 'imsel hesna da gy o'd, hids a puir waan for men folk tae stow shargin wives.
Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 133:
A'm wissed sheu'd shawn wir Pegs foo id sood be deun, sheu's nae gy o'd ava.

3. A masquerade; a merry-making, frolic, piece of fun (ne.Sc., Cld. 1880 Jam.).Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 70:
An' we to haud our Fastren's staw, Whare best we thought the gy Wad be that night.
Sh. c.1836 Old-Lore Misc. I. vii. 262:
The singers do not go out in guises, although that too would form a part of the amusements at the time the singing was introduced.
Bch. a.1900 Songs of N.-E. (Keith 1940) 30:
O wat ye how the guise began, The guise began at Tyrie.

Phrs.: (1) to hae (haud) a guise (wi), to have fun, a frolic (with) (Sh., ne.Sc. 1955); (2) to turn the guise, to change the parts in a play or masquerade, used fig. = to change roles, to place the boot on the other foot.(1) Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 129:
An' crazy fock hae little gy Wi' youngsters skiegh an' swack.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 72:
Twa or three o' the lads cam in on bannock-nicht, an' heeld a gyse wee the lasses a file.
(2) Sc. 1712 C. E. Guthrie-Wright Gideon Guthrie (1900) 10–11:
Finding the gyse turned, the Lords of the congregation prevailing, and the laws upon their syd.
Abd. 1787 A. Shirrefs Jamie & Bess III. ii.:
Gi'e love for love, and him, who hates despise, It's in your pow'r, my Bess, to turn the guise.
Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings 3:
I'll shortly gar you turn the guize, Ye filthy fashious teds.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxi.:
But ye ken they're nae eleckit yet. Fan the votin' comes it'll turn the guise wi' them.
Lnl. 1889 in A. M. Bisset Poets Lnl. (1896) 201:
But noo the gye's completely turned, — I carena wha gainsays — The mithers lavish a' their love On laddies noo-a-days.

II. v. 1. To disguise (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Ork., Ags., Rxb. 1955). Also in Nhb. dial.Ayr. 1830 Galt Southennan xxxix.:
A' this masquing and guising disna' come o' honesty.

2. To go about as a mummer or Guiser, to masquerade (Sh., Ags., Fif., Lth., Ayr., Kcb., Rxb. 1955). Also fig. Also vbl.n. Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. a.1851 J. Baillie in Ogilvie's Dict.:
Then like a guised band, that for a while Had mimick'd forth a sad and gloomy tale.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xiv.:
Ye maun ken that this is the guizin' time o' year.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 72:
The loons are awa through the toon gysin'.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) vii.:
That geysin's feenisht me, . . . but I wud like aff this kilt . . . an' the shute aff my face.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xiv.:
A laird's son, he was: ane o' thae Tory kind that gae guisin aboot as Unionists, an' nae great shakes o' a speaker.
Sth. 1897 E. W. B. Nicholson Golspie 99:
At Christmas the young people of the village go about “guising.”
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 119:
Oor guizin' dune at stead an' toun.
Gall. 1955 Gall. Gazette (5 Dec.) 5:
Her son Charles went out guysing on Hallowe'en.
Sc. 2003 Evening Times 20 Oct 13:
Years ago, Scots' Halloween seemed to consist of dooking for apples - and a few hardy children braving the cold to go guising.

[O.Sc. has gys(e), guys(e), manner, custom, from c.1500, to disguise, a.1522, gysing, masquerading, mumming, from 1594; O.Fr., Mod. Fr. guise; O.Fr. (se) déguiser, to disguise oneself.]

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



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