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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HAIRST, n., v. Also haerst; har'st (Edb. 1786 G. Robertson Har'st Rig iii.); hearst (Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems II. 118); harrist (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 254); haist (Mry. 1825 Jam., Mry. 1956); ha'arst (Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxiii.); ¶hairsd (Ags. 1794 W. Anderson Piper of Peebles 5); ¶hurst (Sc. 1869 N. & Q. (Ser. 4) III. 22); and unsyncopated forms hairvest, hervest (Cai., Arg., Ayr., Kcb., Dmf. 1956); †harvast, †heirwist. Sc. forms of Eng. harvest. See P.L.D. § 48.1(2). Deriv. hervester, harvester (Kcd. 1893 Crockett Stickit Minister 67). [Sc. he:rst; Mry. he:st; em.Sc. (a) herzd; ′hɛrvɪst forms are tending to prevail exc. in ne.Sc.]

I. n. 1. The harvest. Also used attrib. and fig.Rnf. 1707 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1876) I. 334:
Fee for hairst . . . £7. 10.
Wgt. 1715 G. Fraser Lowland Lore (1880) 68:
It is not possibell for me to Live my heirwist, the season is so very good.
Per. 1751 Blair Journal in Atholl MSS. (April):
John Willson has the Labourers Engadged for the whole Summer, and hervest at 6 pence a Day.
Ayr. a.1796 Burns Robin Shure in Hairst Chorus:
Robin shure in hairst, I shure wi' him.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xiii.:
I say, Mr — Mr Butler, it's a braw day for the ha'rst.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 126:
“Tell us . . . if you have begun to your harvest . . .” “Haist man! Gweed forgie ye! Na, Na.”
Slk. 1885 Blackwood's Mag. (Nov.) 647:
In daith's dool hairst they lie.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 133:
For there was brose, an' milk, an' kail, Bannocks o' bere, an' hervest ale.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 13:
Ae Sabbath day the minister gied it oot that on the neist he wad conduc' what he ca'd a hairvest thanksgivin service.
m.Sc. 1919 J. Buchan Mr Standfast v.:
It is grand weather for the hairst.
Per.5 1955:
Here in Crieff “hairst” is used for the grain harvest. “Hervest” is used for fruit harvest. People say “you have a grand apple hervest this year” (they would never say “apple hairst”).
Sh. 1991 William J. Tait in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 44:
Da gold I yird
Oonseen dis simmer nycht
'S a solya's sheen
On hairsts A'll never hird.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 20:
The hairst wis weel-forrit noo an the fowk o the fairm cam hame ferfochen ilkie nicht, worn oot bi lang days in the parks as the blades gaed skelfin throwe the rig o barley ...

2. Combs.: (1) hairst-bap, a big, flat, round flour roll eaten by workers in the harvest field (Bnff. 1956), used fig. in quot.; (2) hairst blinks, summer lightning (Ork.1 1949; Sh. 1956); †(3) harrist broth, a kind of broth made for harvesters (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 250); (4) har'st fee, (a) the wage paid to a worker engaged for the harvest (Dmf. c.1930; Abd. 1956); (b) in Orkney, a piece of arable ground held by a cottar in return for his harvest services to the tenant-farmer (see quot.); (5) hairst folk, workers engaged for the harvest (Sh., Abd., Ags., Dmf. 1956); (6) hairst-hame, harvest home; (7) harvest-hog, see 3. (1); (8) hairst knot, = (10) (Ork.5 1956); †(9) hairst Monday, the Monday occurring about four weeks before the anticipated commencement of the harvest, the occasion of a hiring market for harvest labour (n.Sc. 1891 A. Gordon Carglen iii.); (10) harvest plait, a loop of twisted straw worn in the button-hole at harvest time, or as a decoration by the horses, the ends twisted together and passed through the loop (Ayr.2 1900; Rs. c.1910; Mry. 1930; Arg., Kcb. Uls. 1956); (11) hairst play, school holidays taken during the harvest in late summer or autumn (Abd. 1825 Jam.; Cai., ‡Abd. 1956); (12) harst queen, the harvest queen, the belle of the harvest-home; (13) hairst-rig, (a) a ridge of corn ready for harvesting, the ridge in a harvest field between two furrows, the harvest field itself (Mry.1 1925; Sh., Ork., Abd., ‡Ags., Slg. 1956). Now mostly liter.; †(b) the man and woman who work together during harvest cutting a rig between them (Cld. 1825 Jam.); (14) hairst roup, an auction held after harvest; (15) hairst-scone, a scone baked for harvest labourers, cf. (1) (Fif. 1956); (16) hairst-sermon, a thanksgiving sermon preached at the end of harvest (Dmf. 1956); †(17) har'st-shearers, harvesters, reapers; (18) hairst-tire, weariness from harvest-work; (19) hairst-vacance, harvast vacance = (11); (20) hin(d) hairst, see Hint, adj. (6).(1) Bnff. 1933 M. Symon Deveron Days 8:
Aul' sconface we ca'ed it [a clock], hairst-bap an' the like.
(4) (a) Peb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 III. 41:
He had only his “har'st fee” amounting to 17s. 6d.
(b) Ork. 1884 Crofters' Commission Report App. A. 270:
The onca held from the large farmer a house, a piece of cultivated land called a haerst-fee.
(5) Ayr. 1788 J. Lapraik Poems 108:
Then Herd an' hairst Folk a' did flit.
Dmf. 1878 R. W. Thom Poems 3:
When the sun-glints danced on the yellow corn, On the hairst folks gaun a-field.
(6) Sc. 1798 Monthly Mag. II. 435:
The word harvest, beside its proper meaning, is used for autumn, . . . harvest home . . . winter.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 10:
The Nor' Wun an' the Sun had seen ae day, A wearie bodie ploddin' on his way, The breath o' Hairst-hame noo was unco keen.
(8) Fif. 1956 Fife Herald (30 May) 3:
An exhibition of harvest-knots, showing traditional and fancy knots from all over Scotland.
(11) ne.Sc. 1825 Aberdeen Censor 294:
I will be in town during the “Har'st Play”.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lviii.:
The time of harvest was come. And with it came the hairst-play, the event of school-life both to master and scholars.
Abd. 1923 J. R. Imray Village Roupie 33:
An' fin the welcome hairst play cam', Tae free's frae slates an' books.
(12) Edb. 1839 W. McDowall Poems 222:
The chiel the harst queen's heart has won.
(13) (a) Gall. 1743 Session Bk. Penning-hame (1933) II. 404:
Robert sent for her off Mr M'Chlerys harvest rigg.
m.Lth. 1794 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) 20:
For tongues are free, On the har'st rig, to gab an' crack.
Edb. 1851 A. Maclagan Sketches 240:
Tho' totterin' noo like her auld crazy beil, Her step ance the lichtest on hairst-rig or reel.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 81:
Last week on the hairst rig we shure side by side.
Bnff. 1881 W. M. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars 99:
We'll be doun to the hairst rig again the morn.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 20:
When first I teen the wide hairst rig wi' ither sturdy men, The scythe wis a' the gear we hed, an' hard wrocht oors we'd spen'.
(14) Sh. 1896 J. Burgess Lowra Biglan 55:
Dey hed a cow . . . an dey were of a mind to sell her at da Hairst Roup for da rent.
(15) Bnff. 1922 E. S. Rae Glen Sk. 52:
The “deem” or the mistress is baking hairst scones.
(16) Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick xx:
The minister preached the hairst sermon . . . frae the text “Whatsoever a man saweth, that shall he also reap.”
(17) Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. (1874) xii.:
Country maidens, such as ewe-milkers . . . har'st-shearers.
(18) Ags. 1897 F. Mackenzie Sprays 278:
Wait till I get the hairst-tire aff me.
(19) Inv. 1749 Steuart Letter-Bk. (S.H.S.) 458:
Yesterday the Gramar School here was indulged the harvast vacance, when the boys haranged as useall.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxvi.:
As impatient was I for the arrival o' the happy day . . . o' matrimony as ony thochtless school-laddie ever was for the hairstvacance.

3. Phrs.: (1) a hog in harst, “a young sheep, that is smeared at the end of harvest, when it ceases to be a lamb” (Sc. 1825 Jam.), also called harvest-hog (Ib.); (2) (in the) heid o' hairst, at the height of the harvest (Abd. 1956). Cf. Heid, adj.; (3) the hint (tail) o' hairst, see Hint, n.1, 1.; (4) to hae (owe somebody) a day (turn) in hairst, to have a score to settle with someone, to be under an obligation to someone (Abd., Ags. 1956). See also Day, n., 3.(1) Rxb. 1801 J. Leyden Compl. Scot. 340:
A lamb is smeared at the end of Harvest when it is denominated a hog; hence the phrase harvest-hog. After being smeared the second time, a ewe-hog is denominated a gimmer; and a wedder-hog a dymond.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xx.:
But the central dish was a yearling lamb, called “a hog in harst,” roasted whole.
(2) Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 67:
Gin ye hed seen 'im as I did i' the vera heid o' hairst gyaun stoitin' aboot amo' the stooks at's leasure.
Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Gleanings 9:
The heid o' hairst; the deid o' winter; the fa' o' the year.
Bch. 1930 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 105:
Fat the deevil are ye lyin' there for, sinnin' yersel' i' the heid o' hairst?
(4) Sc. 1834 G. R. Gleig Allan Breck II. 294:
I owe you a turn in haerst for that, Major, . . . and I houp to pay you yet.

4. An engagement for harvest work, found esp. in phr. to tak a hairst, to engage oneself as a harvest-labourer; “gen. said of persons who have other occupations in the village, and who take the opportunity to make some extra money in harvest-time” (Ags. 1902 E.D.D.; n.Sc., Kcb. 1956).Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet vii.:
If a wench quean rin away from her ha'rst, ye'll send her back to her heuck again.
Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 227:
The geet being now six months old was spean't, and Baubie “took a hairst.”
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 195:
They were apprentice blacksmiths, with the usual privilege of “takin' a hairst” as part of their wages.
Abd. 1950 Buchan Observer (3 Oct.):
Roadmen, too, would leave their knapping of stones by the wayside, and “tak' a hairst,” but when the binder came into the picture, such casual harvesters had to be content with just a few days' “drytime,” at the leading in of the stooks.

5. Autumn (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 48; Sh., Abd., Ags. 1956). Now obs. in Eng. exc. dial.Sc. 1721 R. Wodrow Sufferings I. 73:
He lived till Harvest 1688.
Gall. 1738 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) II. 305:
The hours for teaching the school shall be betwixt nine and twelve in the forenoon, and two and five in the afternoon in Spring, Summer and Harvest.
Sc. 1798 Gsw. Burgh Rec. (1914) 106:
The price of the barrack ground which . . . was to have been paid in harvest last.
Per. 1835 J. Monteath Trad. Dunblane 90:
Our summer's short, our hairst is cauld.
Ags. 1923 V. Jacob Songs of Ags. 4:
But the springtime comes an' the hairst — an it's aye the same Through the changefu' year.

Comb.: hairst quarter, hervest- (Wgt. 1720 Session Rec. Whithorn MS. (4 Nov.)), autumn term.Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 3:
Fir da voar an' hairst quarters da schule wis oot o' da questin a'tagedder.

II. v. To work in the harvest-field, gather in the crops. Gen.Sc. Also used fig. Vbl.n. hairstin, -an, the act of getting in the crops (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 73), harvest.Sc.(E) 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms xxxiii. 7:
He hairstit in barns the laighest fludes.
Mearns 1894 J. Kerr Reminisc. III. 6:
Aifter that, the lang sned, wi' a sword-shapit blade For a while at the hairstin' was worn.
Bnff. 1917 E. S. Rae Pte. J. M'Pherson 17:
San min't that they'd be hairstin' 'mong the peaceful hills o' hame.
ne.Sc. 1928 J. Wilson Hamespun 50:
Sin' Death, that's aye hairstin', took her wi' the lave.
Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie Hills and Sea 46:
An' he gaed hame tae hairst his haill life's crap.

Hence hairster, harvester; also fig. = Death.Hdg. 1886 J. P. Reid Facts and Fancies 87:
An' the hairsters 'll sune be fu' thrang.
ne.Sc. 1909 G. Greig Folk-Song iii. 2:
Mak's a' the jolly hairster lads Gae singin' doon the brae.
Abd. 1916 Abd. Book-Lover (May 1924) 127:
The Hairster, auld and grim himsel', Has arled and fee't them, cauld their fen'.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 7:
I see her nose licht up the dark, An' shame the hairsters' meen.

[O.Sc. harvist, 1375, herwist, c.1400, hervist, hervest, from 1456, hairst, hayrst, from 1563; hervest hog, 1549, harvest vacance, from 1618.]

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"Hairst n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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