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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

-IE, suff. The spelling -y, which is more common in Eng., esp. in adjs., is also found. The suff. is used to form adjs., nouns, and verbs:

A. adj.-forming, as in Eng.: 1. with nouns, = full of, having the quality of, characterised by, e.g. clartie, forcie, newsie, skillie, thiefie, sometimes with a vaguer application = concerning, affecting, e.g. Backie, adj.; 2. with verbs, = inclined to, having a tendency to, capable of, e.g. fechtie, fendie, grippie, steerie, touslie, vauntie; 3. with adjs., usu. with a slightly modifying force, = Eng. -ish, e.g. couthie, Feerie, geary, queery; 4. rarely with advs., e.g. Furthie.

B. n.-forming: 1. with adjs., signifying a person or thing having the quality specified by the adj., many of these forms being also found in Eng., e.g. Brownie, daftie, dummie, saftie, sweetie; and with extended application, cuttie, hempie. Some of these applications become indistinguishable in force from 2. below, and are prob. derived from it. The effect is often to replace a noun which would normally have succeeded the qualifying adj., e.g. broonie (broon fairy), feardie (feared one), dyedie (dyed egg), flittie (flit(ting)-day), flottie (Float, I. 1. + dish), Huidie (-craw).

2. With nouns, with a gen. diminutive force implying varying shades of familiarity or affection, as in proper names, e.g. Ailie, Edie, Eppie, Jessie, Jockie, Peggie, Sandie, etc., some of which are now also surnames, e.g. Eddie, Laurie, Pirie ( < †Pere = Peter), Ritchie, Robbie; common nouns, as boatie, burnie, doggie, lammie, lassie, loonie, mousie, pussie; of disparagement or contempt, as mannie, wifie, Fittie, 2. and 5., Handy, priestie; also as a hypocoristic form, (a) gen. used vocatively or prefixed to a surname, for persons engaged in a certain trade or occupation, e.g. Clockie, Coachie, Dancie, Droggie, Gamie, Postie, Watchie, etc.; (b) suffixed to the name of a farm, gen. in an abbreviated form, to indicate the farmer thereof, e.g. Burnies ( < Burnfield, -side), Eastie ( < Easter or the like), Hillie (Hillhead, -side, etc.), Clinkie(s) (Clinkstyle), Yondie(s) (Yonderton), common in ne.Sc.; similarly, esp. in children's usage, in the names of games, Backie, n., Knifie, Ringie, Huntie, Holie, Hippie-dunchie, etc., or of players in a game, e.g. uppies, doonies. This usage is orig. (from c.1400) and typically Sc. It frequently appears compounded with the -ock, -ick dim. ending (O.E. -oc, -uc) which it always follows, being chronologically a later development, e.g. drappickie, housickie, wifockie. Since the 18th c. -ie has been gen. replacing -ock in frequency, e.g. lassock, lassie; Willock, Willie; driblick, dribblie; Kittock, Kittie, and survives most characteristically in n.Sc., but is becoming obsol. with common nouns in m. and s.Sc., where the use of the adj. Wee tends to oust it as a dim. In forms like Cuitikin, feetiekin, Beetikin, the second syllable may possibly represent the -ie dim. but is more likely to be by analogy from the trisyllabic Mid.Du., M.L.G. forms as in kannekin, mannekin, pannekin. The suffix -ie is freq. attached to reduced forms of the n., as Kitchie, Batchie, n.1, Bosie. For -ie in the augmented forms -die and -sie see -Die suff. and -Sie suff. ( < -ish + -ie).

C. The ending appears also in nouns and adjs., alternating with or by substitution for, another termination, e.g. Donsie (Gael. donasach), Bardie (cf. Bardach); Arvie, Brunie, Cassie, n.1, Hegrie, etc., for orig. Norse ending -i, -e; Purpie (purple), Bailie, Birlie, n.1, Cundy, Baldie, and from Fr. l or n palatal, as in Cunyie, Spulyie, to which see etym. notes; and representing Eng. -y, from O.Fr. and Anglo-Fr. -ie, -e(e), -i, mostly in abstract nouns, often spelt -ie arch. in ballads and their imitations, e.g. Christendie, Cassie, n.2, Cramasie.

D. In verbs, the ending appears, though rarely, as the representative of O.N. -ja, e.g. Berry, and phs., as in s.Eng. dial., as the development of O.E. -ian, e.g. ferkie, forhooie, where the curtailed forms Ferk, Forhoo, are also found. The absence of such forms from North.Mid.Eng. and O.Sc., however, suggests that they may be simply back-formations from the pa.p., prob. influenced by such verbs as Cairry, Herrie, Belly, v.2, etc. The suffix has a mainly freq. force in echoic words like Gollie.

[The suffix under A. originates in O.E. -iȝ. The orig. of B. 2. is uncertain. Sundén assumes that it arose from shortened forms of personal names, such as Davy (O.Fr. Davi), where the -y, though in fact an integral part of the word, came to be thought of as a dim. ending and was hence extended by analogy to other proper and later to common nouns. Jespersen Linguistica pp. 296–7 repudiates this view, and compares the suffix with the Swiss-German -i, of similar meaning, emphasising the onomat. dim. force of the [i] sound with which the -iȝ suff. has fused.]

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"-ie suffix". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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