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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.

HALVER, n., adj., v. Also ha(a)ver, havver, hawver, hauver; halfer, haf(f)er, haufer; habber; havers. [′hɑ:vər]

I. n. 1. A half; one of two equal shares or portions of anything (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., haaver; Sc. 1911 S.D.D., ha(f)fer). Also transf. of persons: an equal sharer (in a profit or outlay). The pl. for sing. is common. Used adv. in phr. to gang (ginggo, rin) halver(s) (halfers), etc., to go halves with someone, share equally (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc.Sh. 1762 W. Sandison Merchant's Day-Book (1934) 19:
A Lispund of Wool to be wrought into halvers. Returned in Cloath. [Note "Working in halvers" was, at one time, a general custom throughout the Islands, and is occasionally heard of even at the present day. The raw material was supplied by the merchant, and he received half of the finished article whether "cloath" or "stokings", while the other half went in payment for the work.]
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xxv.:
Her uncle 'frauded his ain only dochter, and left her a stocking fu' o' guineas for a legacy. — But will she let me go haffer?
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 297:
But I'll rin haffers wi' the bed O' Wattie Broom, the kill-man.
Rnf. 1827 Crawfurd's Collection (S.T.S.) I. 149:
The merrie merchant will pay for it . . . Never a bit quoth the merry merchant For hauffers thou sal be.
m.Lth. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller viii.:
Get young mason and he to go halvers.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 124:
King Robert, wi' ae stroke o' his battle-axe, laid the Englishman's head in twa halvers on's shouthers.
Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie xxiii.:
I daurna ask ony o' my men to come, for they wad claim halfers.
Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 74:
'E twa brithers hiv 'e fairm in haavers.
Ags. 1947 J. B. Salmond Toby Jug i.:
There . . . lay the glistening silver salmon . . . “I'll gie ye halvers!”
Sh. 1948 Scots Mag. (March) 454:
He began counting the lambs . . . a few were “in halfers,” owned jointly with a neighbour.
Gsw. 1950 H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 113:
They ought to “go haufers” with the payment.
Abd. 1993:
We'll hae ae chip-supper an ye can ging halfers wi's.
Edb. 1994 Gordon Legge I Love Me (Who Do You Love?) 19:
'You going to go halfers then or what?'
Dmf. 2000 Betty Tindal Old Mortality 6:
She'd tae gae halfers in the paddock wi a wee black coo that saw tae't thit the bairns didnae gang short o' milk an sic like.
Edb. 2004:
Ah'll go halfers wi ye wi ma piece.

2. In pl. An exclamation employed esp. by children when claiming a half share in something found (Sc. 1818 Sawers, habbers, 1887 Jam., halfers; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m. and s.Sc., Uls. 1956). Also in phr. haavers and shaivers (see Lth. 1825 quot.). Cf. Cuddyn.15. (5).Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxiii.:
The beggar exclaimed, like a Scotch schoolboy when he finds anything, “Nae halvers and quarters — hale o' mine ain and nane o' my neighbours.”
Lth. 1825 Jam.:
The phrase more fully is Haavers and Shaivers, and hale a' mine ain. This is pronounced indiscriminately by the finder, and by one who claims a share. But it seems probable that the words, Haavers and shaivers, were originally uttered only by the person who did not find the property; and that he who did find it tried to appropriate it by crying out, so as to prevent any conjunct claim, Hale a' mine ain, i.e. “Wholly mine.”
Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 280:
Said on finding anything, to prevent others claiming a part — Nae bunchers, nor halvers, But a' my ain.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 88:
Gin the lairds could see an inch afore their nose, they wad be glad to cry haavers, raither than tine a'.
Lnk.3 1927:
Nae halfers, nae quarters, nae cuddy bites, said on finding something in company with another person. Unless this was said, the person accompanying you could claim half the find on shouting “halfers.”

II. adj. In form halvers from the adv. use in n., 1. Of farm stock, etc.: held in partnership, owned by two parties, each owning a half (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., havvers, Sh. 1956).Sh. 1898 Shetland News (16 July):
Admits that defender has in his possession the “halvers” stock specified.
Sh. 1899 Ib. (1 April):
I fan a' 'at we hed comin' dat wye — aless dy grey ha'vers yow, mam.
Sh. 1956 U. Venables Life in Shet. xi.:
The hill dyke . . . was what they call a “havers dyke”, jointly owned.

III. v. Also havers. To halve, divide equally, hold in partnership with anyone (Abd. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., haaver; Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 74, haaver; n.Sc. 1956).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 72:
It's a' ma ain; an' a'll hae nane o' that haaveran o't.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xl.:
Ilka ane o' the bucks cam' there wi's knife in's pouch to cut an' ha'ver the roast.
Abd. 1875 G. Macdonald Malcolm I. i.:
Fouk said he was nae mair deed nor a halvert worm.
Ork. 1912 Old-Lore Misc. V. i. 4:
In the first place, the sea-ware thrown on the beach was haversed, that is divided as equally as possible between the two townships.
Bnff. 1951 Bnff. Advertiser (9 Aug.):
It wis ower lang an' I took oot the knife tae halver't.
Abd. 2004:
Ee can pey for e chips an we'll jist haaver e bag atweens.

[O.Sc. in halferis, in partnership, from 1517. Appar. orig. the agent n. from halve, with extension of meaning from the sharer to the share, the v. deriving from the n.]

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"Halver n., adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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