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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.

HERD, n., v. Also hird; †heard; hurd (Uls. 1924 W. Lutton Montiaghisms 26). [Sc. hɛrd, hɪrd, Uls. + hʌrd]

I. n. 1. One who tends or watches over sheep or cattle, esp. in order to confine them to a particular pasture where fields are unfenced. Gen.Sc., obsol.; a shepherd (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; wm.Sc., Gall., s.Sc. 1957). Now only in comb. in Eng. as cowherd, shepherd, etc. Commonly also attrib. as in herd-callant, -laddie, -loon, -lassie, etc.Bnff. 1702 W. Cramond Ann. Bnff. (1891) 173:
The Pasch Court haveing wotted whither or not the comone grass should be rouped or ane commone hird sett therone.
Gsw. 1703 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 368:
Appoynts the master of work to provyde and give a coat to Ninian Anderson, dempster, and ane other to James Reid, toun herd, in respect of the poverty of both.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 10:
The other hirds young Lindy treat with scorn, An' mair an' mair stroove to blaw up the horn.
Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter 193–194:
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke, When plundering herds assail their byke.
Ags. 1820 A. Balfour Poems 265:
The bits o' hirdies, cauld an'weet. Near hand the fire durst never teet.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 93:
They would send out the bit herd laddie to collect the queans.
Edb. 1851 A. Maclagan Sketches 20:
And a sweet herd-lassie cam' aften there, To kame the lang links o' her gowden hair.
Abd. 1859 W. Johnston Life and Times 11:
I . . . went to reside with my aunt at Blackhouse as “herd loon.”
ne.Sc. 1881 Gregor Folk-Lore 196:
Hirdie, dirdie, Blaw yir horn, A' the kye's amo' the corn. Here's ane, here's twa; Sic a hird a nivir saw.
Ayr. 1881 W. Jolly Burns at Mossgiel 39:
Patrick was “herd-callant” at Mossgiel during the whole time the poet was connected with that farm.
Inv. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evid. I. 739:
The population just consisted of the families of these three tenants, with a few shepherds and herds.
Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Frae the Heather 117:
For a' the neebour herds aroun' Are ettled there to be.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 99:
Lads frae the bothies, an' herds frae the hill.
Slk. 1956 Southern Reporter (7 June):
It looked as if a few more herd's houses would fail to find a tenant.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 14:
... and the black and white cow who shared the cot with them at night when the herd brought it home from the grazing.
Abd. 1991 Douglas Kynoch in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 87:
An aye the herds wad say, fan seein they were beat:
"It's wicket wastrie aat! Yon bairn's a lucky breet!"

Deriv. and Combs.: (1) herd muirhair, the club-moss, Lycopodium clavatum (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) H. 33). Herd may however be a corruption of hart. Cf. Eng. stag-moss. †(2) herdship, a herd (of cattle). Obs. in Eng. since c.1600; (3) herdsman, the common skua, Catharacta skua, from the belief that it protects young lambs from the attacks of the eagle (Ork. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 210); (4) hirdie club, the stick carried by a herd.(2) Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) I. 345:
Being informed that one Campbell . . . had gathered a throng herdship of cattle and pitched his camp within four miles of them.
(4) ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 195:
The carving on the “hirdie club” was very simple; it consisted of notches cut in a small piece of the club, smoothed for the purpose, to show in what way the oxen were yoked.

2. Fig. A spiritual shepherd, a pastor. Obs. in Eng.Ayr. c.1786 Burns Twa Herds ii.:
The twa best herds in a' the wast, That e'er gae gospel horn a blast.
Gall. 1821 Galloway Herds (1909) 18:
Our Galloway Herds Are a' flocking like birds To banish ye out of their pastures.
Ags. 1932 A. Gray Arrows 76:
And noo, Lord Jesus, a' day lang Keep us frae evil and frae wrang; — And may your angels be oor guard, — To us, puir feckless sheep, a herd.
Abd. 1991 David Ogston in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 119:
Eident kenner,
Christ the herd

3. In the game of curling: a stone played so as to guard the winning shot from the stones of opponents, a Gaird (Gall. 1825 Jam.).Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 166:
Gib o' the Glen, a noble herd Behind the winner laid.
But miss'd his aim, and 'gainst the herd, Dang frae his clint a flaw.

II. v. 1. tr. To tend, take care of, to watch over sheep or cattle, esp. to prevent them from straying on to crops (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), hird; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Gen.Sc. Also used fig. and sometimes of other animals, e.g. rooks (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein, to herd craws; Abd., Ags., Knr. 1957).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 7:
When they were able now to herd the ewes, They yeed together thro' the heights an' hows.
Lth. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 83:
I mind fu' weel whan you an' I Were dainty striplins, herdin' ky.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian ix.:
They herded together the handful of sheep, with the two or three cows, . . . upon the uninclosed common of Dumbiedikes.
Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 172:
We no' want ony landlord to represent us; ye micht juist as weel set the tod to herd the lambs.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 16:
There's ae thing 'at I canna thole, An' that's to hird the craws.
Tyr. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Rhymes 61:
You remember — where you used to “hurd the cows.”

2. By extension: (1) to keep separate, drive away, alienate (Abd., Knr. 1957).Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 56:
That herds us fra the joys o' earth, An' fain wad haud's fra heaven.

(2) To watch over, look after, attend to, a person or object (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Kcb. 1957).Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 234:
Will ye quat pappin' stanes at thae hens, sir, an' come an' herd this pat?

3. intr. To act as a herd, to watch over sheep or cattle (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 110; Abd., wm.Sc., Kcb., Uls. 1957). Sometimes tr. with the land as object which is guarded from encroachment, e.g. to hird de tun, “to keep the homefield . . . clear of sheep or other animals, grazing in the outfield” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 25:
I had na use to gang, Unto the glens to herd this mony a lang: Some beasts at hame was wark enough to me.
Sc. 1848 Fraser's Mag. XXXVIII. 315:
It was long before I was hearted to herd again in the woods by myself.
Sc. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evid. I. 297:
Did you ever pay anybody to herd the land or protect it?
Bwk. 1927 R. S. Gibb Farmer's 50 Years 158:
He was twice at Cattleshiel's at the Keppitlaw Hill, herding.
Dmf. 1955 Southern Reporter (8 Dec.) 8:
The great and gallant band of men who herd our Scottish hills do not receive adequate recognition of their work.

Vbl.n. herding, the tending and confining of sheep or cattle to their own allotted grazing; the post of herdsman (Inv., Knr., Rxb. 1957); a grazing allotted to a particular herd (Cai., s.Sc. 1957); the number of sheep to be herded. Also attrib.Wgt. 1713 Kirkinner Session Rec. MS. (25 Oct.):
About Midsummer last when she went with his breakfast to him at the herding.
Arg. 1719 F. F. Mackay Carskey Jnl. 57:
He has the 3d pairt of the Delvins with the Herdings.
Sc. 1733 P. Lindsay Interest Scot. 37:
In the Summer we must be at the Expence of Herding, to save our Grass from being destroyed by our Neighbours Beasts.
Dmf. 1765 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. (1950–1) 145:
This day [I] sell the Garwald herding to Andrew Scott for twenty two soums and four of them kine.
Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 182:
My mother then gars take him to the glen, That he frae Dick the herding trade may ken.
Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Agric. Peb. 195:
The principles of herding are, to allocate, to each particular flock, separate walks upon the farm for each season of the year.
Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 97:
At eight years I too a herdin' got.
Ags. 1896 Barrie Sentimental Tommy 223:
I'll send him straight to the herding.
Dmf. 1937 T. Henderson Lockerbie 200:
A hirsel or herding is the extent of hill which each shepherd has charge of.
sm.Sc. 1957:
A full herdin = 30 score sheep or over, i.e. a full time job for a grown man.

4. tr. and intr. To bring home crops after harvesting (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), hird, Sh. 1957); to stack corn in the yard (Sh. 1957). Cf. Gordhird. Comb.: †hirdin bannock, a specially-baked bannock eaten at harvest celebrations (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 33:
Fifty hairsts I'm gaddered in da coarn, — Sic laek as wis, — an hirdit mi sma crop.
Sh. 1954 New Shetlander No. 40. 8:
Just as soon as the weather behaved he got busy ‘hirdin da coarn'.
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.

[Sense 3. of the v. is from O.N. hirða, to herd, specif. to gather in hay.]

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"Herd n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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