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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.

HARD, adj., n., adv. Also haird (Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Clay Biggin' i.; Ags. 1927 V. Jacob Northern Lights 26), haurd, herd. [Sc. hɑrd, e. and wm.Sc. + hǫrd; Ags., Kcb. hɛrd, herd]

I. adj. Sc. forms of Eng. hard.Ork. 1952 R. T. Johnston Stenwick Days (1984) 3:
" ... Hid's fine in a wey tae hiv two men wantin' tae mairry thee, bit id's aafil herd on the nerves in a time."
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 19:
Yet whit mair can we expeck,
gif three meenits maudlin 'ill dae the feck
and hing the haurd truth?
Dundee 1989 W. N. Herbert in Joy Hendry Chapman 55-6 94:
Ur yi draain near, yi ancient bards?
Wur follyin yi, an thi path is haurd.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 5:
Ye think this is haurd? See me. When ah wiz your age ah done six month in Duke Street fur exercising ma democratic right.
Dundee 1996 Matthew Fitt Pure Radge 3:
naebody ah'm tellin ye naebody
speiks lyk yon
tryin tae be haurd
that's aa it is
tryin tae be funny

Sc. usages:

1. Combs.: (1) hard-bake, a ship's biscuit (Fif. 1956). Cf. Bake, n.1; (2) hard birdit, applied to an egg which is fertile and is almost ready for hatching (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ags., Rxb. 1956); (3) hard bowed, of flax: having the seed formed (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Cf. Bow, n.3, v.1; (4) hard breid, (a) an oatcake made in a certain way, see second quot. (Bnff., Abd., Uls. 1956); (b) stale bread, esp. that hardened in the oven, suitable for conversion into breadcrumbs (Abd., Ags., Per., m.Lth. 1956); (5) hard-clockan, = (16) (Kcb. 1956); (6) hard-engined, having no aptitude for learning, dull-witted (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). See Ingine; (7) hard fish, dried or salt fish (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 148, 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 247; I.Sc., Cai., ne.Sc., em.Sc. 1956); (8) hard-handed, stingy, niggardly, close-fisted (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., Ayr. 1956). Obs. in Eng.; (9) hard-heartid, heart-breaking, distressing; (10) hard heid, a clay marble (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 175); (11) hard-knot, the knapweed, Centaurea nigra; (12) hardmilk, a white, cheese-like formation, made by adding more hot water after the butter has been taken from the kirn-milk (Abd. 1956); (13) hard-mouthed, harsh in speech; (14) hard-neckit, (a) stingy (Per. 1956); (b) lacking in modesty, forward (Gsw. 1937 Partridge Dict. Slang; Arg.3 1956). hard neck is in gen. Sc. slang use = Eng. “brass neck”, impudence, effrontery; (15) hard nickle doon, a game of marbles (Bnff., Abd., Ags., Per. 1956). Also attrib. = hard-bargaining (Abd. 1957); (16) hard-sat, -set, -sutten, of eggs: almost ready to hatch after long incubation (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., -sutten; Fif. 1931, -sat; Kcd. (-set), Ags., m.Lth., Ayr., Kcb., Dmf., s.Sc. 1956, -sutten). The active sense appears in hardsittin, of the bird: sitting continuously just before hatching (Ayr.9 1956). Cf. (2) and Deep, adj.1; (17) hard-set, wilful, obstinate (Sc. 1902 E.D.D.; m.Lth. 1956). Cf. Set, ppl.adj.; (18) hard-sutten, see (16); (19) hard tree, see Tree; (20) hard up, of persons: in poor health, unwell (s.Sc. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.; e.Dmf. 1917; ‡Ags., em.Sc. (b), s.Sc. 1956.); of things: in bad condition, in a state of disrepair (Kcb., Rxb., Slk. 1956); (21) hard-waukit, calloused (m.Lth. 1956). See also Waulk v. 2; (22) hard wood, wood from deciduous trees, the trees themselves (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Formerly chiefly Sc. and U.S., and now St.Eng.; (23) hard-wrocht, see Work.(4) (a) Abd. 1894 Trans. Bnff. Field Club III. 143:
Another kind is baked thinner and on one side only on the “girdle.” It is placed in front of a bright fire and fully baked. It is called “hard breed.”
Uls. a.1902 W. G. Lyttle Paddy McQuillan (n.d.) 18:
She bakit aboot three griddle fu's o' hard breid.
(7) Sc. 1721 R. Wodrow Sufferings I. 441:
Nothing but Snow-water . . . to drink, and a little hard Fish to eat.
Sc. 1747 Caled. Mercury (14 July):
To be sold cheap, fine Zetland hard Fish.
Ags. 1883 Brechin Advertiser (23 Jan.) 3:
Dry skate an' hard fish wis two o's chief commodities.
Abd.29 1930:
We often have a fish pie for dinner made from boiled hard fish and mashed potatoes — the fish is usually a large cod or flat fish dried and salted which was bought from a fish wife at the door.
Kcd. 1955 Mearns Leader (23 Sept.):
Gowden Win'ers tae ging wi skirlie, or hard fish, or saut herrin', or haggis.
(9) Sh. 1898 Shetland News (11 June):
Is dis wadder iver gaun ta shange, Magnus? He's truly been a hard-heartid time dis while.
(11) Gall. 1932 A. McCormick Galloway 112:
A plentiful crop of the purple and black-headed weed known as “hard-knots,” . . . added a note of colourfulness to the picture.
(13) Sc. 1800 A. Carlyle Autobiog. (1860) 432:
Robertson's soothing manner prevented his being hard-mouthed with him.
Ib. 531:
Barre was a clever man and good speaker, but very hard-mouthed.
(15) Abd. 1849 Johnny Raw Human Misery 17:
And let the children, in their play at schools, No longer creep ingloriously at bowls, Nor learn the terms, "handnickel" and "fair facing."
Abd. 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 31:
We all played in a general way on the play-ground . . . with the “bools” at the “winning ring,” “kypie,” and “hard nickle doon.”
(17) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xiii.:
It's a hard-set willyard beast this o' mine.
(20) Rxb.2 1878:
Uncle Adam and Aunt are both very hard up and so is Aunt Ellen; the rest are well.
Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (25 Feb.) 4:
I recollect one of the two, prematurely broken down, expressing his wonder why he should be so “hard-up” when his seniors in years were going about hale and hearty.
Bwk. 1947 W. L. Ferguson Makar's Medley 59:
Her byre was hard-up i' the riggin', And sae we fell to sklatin' wark.
wm.Sc. 1994 Sheila Douglas in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 62:
"Sandy," she said. "Mum's gey hard up. She'll hev ti gaun ti the hospital."
(21) Rnf. 1878 C. Fleming Poems 242:
Jock Dobbie's a cuif, yet his hard-waukit loof, Ne'er received yet a tiend or a bribe.
(22) Slg. 1812 P. Graham Agric. Slg. 220:
Sir Charles has planted on the Duntreath estate upwards of 200,000 trees of various kinds, but chiefly hard wood, that is, oak and ash.
Mearns 1814 G. Robertson Agric. Kcd. 343:
The whole of this is thickly planted with deciduous trees, or what is here called hard wood; in distinction from the ever-greens or firs, whose timber is comparatively softer and of less value.

2. Of intoxicants: strong, undiluted, raw (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Cai., ne.Sc., Ags., Dmf. 1956). Combs.: hard stuff, whisky. Gen.Sc.; hard tackle, id. (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Fif., Rxb. 1956). Cf. n., 4. Also Eng. and U.S.Tyr. 1848 W. Carleton Fardorougha i.:
You must put a grain o' shugar an' a dhrop o' bilin' wather to it. It may do very well hard for the servants.
Rxb. c.1870 Jethart Worthies (3rd ed.) 23:
He was ordered to go into the hall and get a glass of beer. “Could ye no make it a glass o' the hard tackle?” asked Willie.
Edb. 1882 J. Smith Canty Jock 30:
They dosed themselves wi' “finish” or hard yill.
Fif. 1896 G. Setoun R. Urquhart 44:
Ye'll be no waur o' a drap o' the hard stuff on a nicht like this.
Abd. 1899 G. Greig Logie o' Buchan i.:
Ye're maybe jist as weel nae to meddle wi' the hard stuff till your beard's a bit langer.
Gsw. 1955 Bulletin (22 Nov.):
Maybe it was because the permitted beers were too mild that the public remained restive and went for the “hard stuff.”

3. Close-fisted, penurious, stingy (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Ork., m. and s.Sc., Uls. 1956).Edb. 1827 M. & M. Corbett Odd Volume 247:
He's unco hard too, as narrow as a penny ribbon.
Lnk. 1858 G. Roy Generalship (1862) ix.:
I'm surely no so desperate hard as a' that.
Per. 1883 R. Cleland Inchbracken viii.:
We a' ken ye for a hard thrifty body 'at winna spend yer ain, gin ye can finger ither folk's.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 9:
Every plack wi' him was a prisoner, and as he grew up he was counted a hard man.

4. Of joints in carpentry, masonry, etc.: pressing closely together at one place and not at another (Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; m.Lth. 1956). Hence used as a n. for the place where two surfaces press too closely together (Abd. 1825 Jam.).

5. Of wind: dry. Cf. Harden,, Kcb.10 1956:
The wind's harder today, i.e. drier.

6. Of tartan cloth: of a hard, dense texture (see quot.).Edb. 1819 Edb. Ev. Courant (11 Oct.) 3:
Hard and Soft Tartans, of the various Clans, by the yard or in Cloaks, Mantles, Plaids, etc.
Sc. 1893 D. W. Stewart Old and Rare Sc. Tartans v.:
The evidence of the early date of this design rests entirely upon specimens in collections of old hard tartans.
Sc. 1934 Sc. Woollens (May):
The type of cloth called “Hard Tartan” is greatly in favour for civilian wear. This is made from Crossbred Worsted. It is woven tight in the loom and is practically unmilled. . . . In the times before Worsted could be imported into the Highlands the same effect would be obtained by twining the woollen yarn very hard, weaving very tightly, and reducing the waulking or felting process to a minimum. Thus, we suppose, the old hard tartan was produced.

7. In Ork. usage: of a door, barred or locked, closed against entry, Orkney doors being usu. left so that a visitor can open them and let himself in. Phr. to find a door hard, (Ork. 1970), connoting inhospitability and associated partly with 3. Ork. 1969 G. M. Brown Ork. Tapestry 46:
A fish-brimming corn-crammed house, But a hard door.

II. n. 1. Difficulty, hardship, often in pl. in such phrs. as (1) hard come (go) to hard, applied to matters which have come to extremities, or reached an impasse; (2) to be (come) (gae) through (the han's o') the hard(s), to experience hardship or misfortune (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif. 1956).Abd. 1795 A. Shirrefs Sale Catalogue 3:
A plain North-country bard, Who fain would cripple thro' the hard.
(1) Sc. 1727 P. Walker Remark. Passages 120:
This implicite Faith, and Way of Working, would have made melancholly Suffering, when Hard came to Hard, of Boots, Thumbikins and Fire-matches.
Sc. 1864 Carlyle Fred. the Great IV. 598:
Now that hard had come to hard.
Ant. 1928 Irish Breeder 18:
A plain, common beast wul iye howl its ain, If hard goes to hard, cud leeve on a stane.
(2) Lnk. 1858 G. Roy Generalship (1862) vi.:
The bits o' bairns run a great risk o' coming through the hard.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 107:
For whan I mindit on the hards That he had witter'd thro'.
Bnff. 1907 Banffshire Jnl. (13 Oct. 1953):
They had come “through the hauns o' the hard.”
Fif. 1921 Lord Craigmyle Letters to Isabel 165:
Has any one of them gone through the hards for education? Not one of them. I have.
Abd. 1925 R. L. Cassie Gangrel Muse 15:
A sang we'll sing o' peertith caul', Fan we cam throwe the hard.

2. pl. “That part of boiled food that adheres to the pot” (Lnk. 1825 Jam.). See also Hardens.

3. A piece of firm ground, as opposed to boggy soil (m.Lth., Kcb. 1956). Also of the sea-bed, a rocky bottom. Dim. hardie, in sea-taboo usage, a rock (Sh. 1814 Irvine MSS., Sh. 1975). Also in Eng. dial.Inv. 1860 Queen Victoria Leaves (1868) 191:
We walked on a little way to where the valley and glen widen out, and where there is what they call here a green “hard.”
Sh. 1974 New Shetlander No. 108. 22:
Six muckle oliks aff o da hard atween Skarfa Skerry an da Grice Head Baas.

4. Spirits. The hard, whisky (Inv. 1902 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc. Cf. I. 2.Ayr. 1817 D. McKillop Poems 130:
We took a gill, Then chang'd the hard into the yill.
Lnk. 1890 J. Coghill Poems 128:
An' ne'er a sup o' saft or hard to drink But ginger, lemonade, an' sic-like trash.
Sh. 1924 T. Manson Peat Comm. III. 74–5:
A drop of “hard” was duly offered to the guests as they reached the dwelling.

III. adv. Tightly, firmly, securely (Sh., Abd., Ags., m.Lth., Uls. 1956). Rare in this sense in Eng. since 17th c.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 16:
An' wi' teugh raips they band him hard an' sair.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (7 Aug.):
He put on his waescot, an' tied da tow o' his left rivlin a corn harder.

[O.Sc. has hard, adj., used in various usual senses, from a.1400, hard fish, 1516; adv., violently, closely, etc., from 1375.]

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"Hard adj., n., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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