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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

KANE, n. Also kain(e), cain, cane, ke(a)n, †can. [ke:n]

1. A payment in kind, esp. of poultry, made by a tenant of land as part of his rent. Freq. used attrib., as kain-bairn, -butter, -capons, -coal(s), -cock, -eggs, -fowls, -hens, -labour, -meal, -wedder, etc. Now only hist. or fig.Sc. 1700 Fountainhall Decisions II. 96:
5000 merks for the house and yards and other accommodations, including the kain-hens, carriages and other small casualities.
Sc. 1701 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 295:
To Jonie telfer choised the 16 wedders and for bringing 6 of them to raevelston with Ja. Ledlies kain wedder. this kain wedder and another broke away from Jonie telfer and went back to bonaley.
Lth. 1722 Caled. Mercury (2 Aug.):
Ninety four Hens, eighteen Load of Kain-Coals, seventy Load of Carriage-Coals, and fifty five Threave of Oat-Straw.
Abd. 1752 Session Papers, Petition H. Lumisden (14 Nov.) 1:
He apprehends that the whole Kain ought to be struck out of the Rental, as the Rule is general, and no Law nor Practice has fixed any particular Number of Kain Fowls corresponding to particular Rentals, as what is to be deduced, and no more.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 12:
Our Laird gets in his racked rents, His coals, his kane, an' a' his stents.
Rnf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VII. 84:
Till about 1770 . . . the old servitudes of carriages, kain labour, thirlage etc. still existed.
Sc. 1802 Scott Minstrelsy II. 243:
I'd paid my kane seven times to hell, Ere you'd been won away!
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian viii.:
Deans . . . contrived to maintain his ground upon the estate by regular payment of mail-duties, kain, arriage, carriage, dry multure, lock, gowpen, and knaveship.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck xv.:
I almaist thought I was already on my road to the Fairy land, an' to be paid away to hell, like a kane-cock, at the end o' seven years.
Dmf. 1822 A. Cunningham Tales (1874) 246, 251:
It was the common rumour that Elphin Irving came not into the world like the other sinful creatures of the earth, but was one of the Kane-bairns of the fairies, whilk they had to pay to the enemy of man's salvation every seventh year.
Kcb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IV. 320:
Swine were even paid as can to the king from Galloway.
Abd. 1852 Hatton Estate MSS.:
To deliver . . . yearly at such time as he may be required four kain fowls or . . . to pay one Shilling for each fowl that may not be asked to be delivered.
Rs. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evid. II. 973:
A sum made up of rent proper, and what was for some time kept separate, as 5s. road money and 1s. Kain or hen money.
Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Witch-Wife ii.:
God forgive me if I'm dooming my bairn to serve as ken to hell.
Kcd. 1900 W. Gairdner Glengoyne II. iii.:
The rent he paid for it was only £10, three reek hens, and twelve pounds of kain butter.
Kcb. 1903 Crockett Banner of Blue i.:
He tak's his kane o' the virra last glint o' daylicht.
Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 10:
Tak' then for kain these strouds o' rhymes.
Sh. 1934 W. Moffat Shetland 125:
The Scotch locusts, who had come into the islands in the train of the Stewarts and other donatories, had introduced kain fowls, forced labour and other exactions dear to their feudalized minds.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 58:
"I cannae tak' that," he protested, but in an admiring voice.
"You cannae go wi'oot it. It's part of the dominie's kain pay,"

2. Phrs.: (1) to pay (the) kain, to pay the reckoning or bill; fig. to pay the penalty, to suffer the consequences; ¶(2) to pay someone his kain, to make someone pay the penalty, an erroneous usage of (1).(1) Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 31:
He has paid the kain for a'.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 163:
Tho' they should dearly pay the kane, An' get their tails weel sautit.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Tam Samson's Elegy ii.:
To Death she's dearly pay'd the kain: Tam Samson's dead.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Poems 2:
Cou'd tak' his chappin, pay his kain, But never tippl'd by his lane.
Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate xii.:
Woe betide the custard-gorged alderman that came under Tim's goose, . . . he was sure to pay the kain!
Slk. 1835 Hogg Tales (1874) 549:
I . . . reached the Grassmarket in good time to see the ruffian pay kane for all his cruelties and acts of injustice.
(2) Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxxiv.:
I had paid him his kane for his insolence at parting.

3. Specif. of articles orig. paid as rent in kind: (1) a quantity of cheese (Arg.1 1930), prob. at first that made during a season on an average dairy farm and variable in amount but later fixed in weight and given as 300 stone tron (about 60 cwt.). Hence kainer, a dairyman who pays his rent in cheese (Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 349); (2) a web of cloth.Arg. 1736 F. F. Mackay Carskey Jnl. (1955) 81:
Item rests me for the Kean payable 1735 years Seven stones twelve pounds Cheess at tuo merks per Stone.
Dmb. 1794 D. Ure Agric. Dmb. 76:
It is not uncommon in Ayrshire, for a farmer's wife and one female servant . . . to make, in one summer, a ken of cheese; a ken consists of 300 stone, trone weight.
Ayr. 1866 Trans. Highl. Soc. 80:
If the whole “kane” [of cheese] is kept on hand by the farmer till about Martinmas.
Gall. 1875 Ib. 262:
Inattention to this particular starting-point has caused many bad “kanes” of cheese.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xi.:
Have you a kane o' cheese to sell?
(2) Rnf. 1773 Justiciary Ct. Rec. MS. (12 Oct.):
Come back with the cane, you rascal.
Rnf. 1773 J. Burnett Crim. Law (1811) 237:
Many persons who were willing to work were intimidated from taking out kains or webs.

[O.Sc. cane, c.1120, a payment in kind made by a tenant, in later use esp. of poultry. Gael. càin, rent, tribute, fine; Ir. cáin, law, punishment, penalty.]

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"Kane n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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