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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LEAD, v., n.1 Also leed, leid; ledd (Sh.), laid (Cai. 1872 M. McLennan Peasant Life II. 201). Pa.t. led; pa.p. led. Sc. usages. [Sc. lid, em.Sc.(a) led. See P.L.D. §§ 88, 120.]

I. v. 1. As in Eng., to conduct, guide, etc. Combs.: (1) lead-master, a leader, commander; (2) lead-tow, the cable connecting a fleet of fishing-lines to the vessel (Mry.1 1925); (3) led-lamp, a spare or extra lamp, on analogy with Eng. led horse; (4) †led vote, a vote controlled by a party or group, specif. in Dumfries Town Council before the Burgh Reform Act of 1833 (see 1873 quot.), phs. partly a development of meaning 5. below.(1) Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 25:
Chaps at their devotion, Wha hae nae sense, or ony notion To be lead-master.
(3) e.Lth. 1887 P. McNeill Blawearie 84:
Will Hood had a “led” lamp; it soon was kindled, and he never learned who had dashed his other down the “sump”.
(4) Dmf. 1760 Indictment W. Kirkpatrick 7:
To which protests the other deacons and the led-votes for the trades, with three of the merchant-counsellors did adhere.
Dmf. 1873 W. McDowall Hist. Dmf. 320:
A week before the annual election of magistrates, four new merchant councillors were chosen, who, with four additional votes, called “led votes, or voices,” exercised by the trade members, swelled the number of voters at an election to thirty-three.

2. Curling: to lead off the play for one's side, to play first (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc.Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 63:
Leadin' an' drawin' an' a', Guardin' an' strikin' an' a'.

Hence phr. lead the ice, “the order given to the first player, when about to play; also to any player, when stones are in the direct way to the ‘tee'” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 313).

3. To carry or convey in a cart or the like, to cart. Now only dial. in Eng.: (1) in gen. (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 41); to carry peats home from a moss for fuel (Uls. 1953 Traynor; I., n. and em.Sc.(a), Gall., Slk., Uls. 1960). Hence comb. leading-road, a road to a peat-bog (Traynor).Bwk. 1708 Stitchill Court Bk. (S.H.S.) 162:
With 9sh. money forsaid for muck leiding.
Sth. 1715 C. D. Bentinck Dornoch (1926) 260:
Skibo and Pulrossy hade broken the late fast day appointed by authority, by causing their tennents lead home their fewel on the said day.
Gsw. 1716 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (B.R.S.) 556:
To James Dunlop for leading stones to the ports for barracading … £4 9 6.
Abd. 1740 A. Watt Kintore (1865) 116:
Whosoever shall cast more peits than they have led.
Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) I. 93:
Colonel Cornwallis, when sent with a large body of men to the head of Locharkeig, in his march thro' Grant of Glenmoriston's country spied two men leading dung to their land.
Ayr. 1765 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (18 April) 161:
To Sand riddling and leading … 6s.
Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Frae the Heather 36:
Besides the meal I maistly aye Wi' her did lead.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (4 March):
Bend some o' dy idle ield mares an' ledd up waar.
Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 19:
Peats were led, or carried in kaisies or coarse cubbies hung on a wooden saddle on the horses' back.

(2) Specif.: to carry (harvested grain or hay) from the field to the stackyard (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Freq. used absol. or with in. Gen.Sc. Now only dial. in Eng.Wgt. 1706 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) I. 174:
John M'Whanle in Barbuchany guilty of grosse cursing and swearing at corn leading harvest last.
Sc. 1739 J. Cockburn Letters (S.H.S.) 42:
In time of Harvest Carts may be borrowed for my horses. When Leading time comes on Carts won't be to be had.
Ayr. 1793 W. Fullarton Agric. Ayr. 10:
The tenants were harassed with a multitude of vexatious servitudes; such as, ploughing and leading for the landlord … These are now almost entirely abolished.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian ix.:
The sawing and the mawing the shearing and the leading.
Sc. 1828 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 105:
The folk there seemed no unlike the folk in our ain kintra, only they thocht ower little o' leadin in corn on dry Sundays in rainy weather.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 102:
A' bodie's at the leadan the day.
Gsw. 1868 J. Young Poems 28:
To help for twa days on the farm, To ploo or harrow, lead in hay.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 82:
To cheer the sturdy crofters At the glorious “leadin'-in.”
Fif. 1909 Colville 129:
The leadin' of the well-won thraves … appealed to the boy's love of horses.
ne.Sc. 1914 G. Greig Folk-Song cxxxiii.:
The hairst it wis back, and the weather wis bad, And ae Sunday mornin' a ruckie we led.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 1:
Syne, gin the morn's dry, we'll be leadin' An' wark'll begin.
Rxb. 1924 Kelso Chron. (10 Oct.) 2:
The harvest … lasted a good month — cutting and stooking and leading-in.

4. Sc. Law: to call or produce (proof or evidence) in court proceedings (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 50).Kcb. 1718 Session Bk. Minnigaff MS. (21 Sept.):
Resolve to lead witnesses to prove his suering.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxiii.:
The counsel for the prisoner began to lead a proof in her defence.
Sc. 1940 St Andrews Cit. (6 April) 3:
He attached great importance to the evidence. He was leading it to show that there was a great deal of prejudice in this case.

5. Of a farmer: to lease or possess a second, usu. a smaller or subsidiary, farm in addition to the farm he lives on and manages personally, prob. a development of 1. (3) and (4) above (Kcb. 1960).Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 I. 56:
The practice of leading farms as it is called; that is, a farmer on one farm possesses at the same time another smaller farm, which is said to be led along with the other. Most commonly in comb. led farm, a smaller or out-lying farm owned or rented by the possessor of another and managed by him through a grieve or other employee (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr., sm. and s.Sc. 1960). Hence the fig. use of led in 1858 quot.
Slk. 1772 Edb. Ev. Courant (30 Dec.):
Both [farms] good pasture ground … and may be used either as set or led farms.
Rxb. 1798 R. Douglas Agric. Rxb. 31:
A confidential servant, who is commonly married, resides, with his family, on these led farms, and takes charge of the work and servants in the master's absence.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. l.:
The Deuke's no that fond o' led farms.
Slk. 1823 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) i.:
An extensive store-farmer in the outer limits of the county of Peebles went up to one of his led farms, to see how his old shepherd was coming on with his flocks.
Sc. 1847 Chambers's Jnl. (23 Jan.) 51:
England on one occasion took a fancy to make a led-farm of Scotland, as she had previously done of Ireland.
Sc. 1858 Carlyle Frederick ii. iv.:
He transferred the Markgrafdom to Brandenburg, … Salzwedel is henceforth the led Markgrafdom.
e.Lth. 1885 J. Lumsden Rural Rhymes 174:
The farm prior to that period being always let as a “led” one — i.e., one taken conjointly with another.
Rxb. 1918 Jedburgh Gaz. (21 June) 3:
On the Borderland … they had a system of what was known as “led” farms, farms with a non-resident tenant, which had been a fertile cause of rural depopulation and impoverishment.
Bwk. 1927 R. S. Gibb Farmer's 50 Years 70:
An ever-increasing number of hill farms now have lost their resident-tenants and are recognised as “Led Farms.”

II. n. 1. The act of leading, direction, guidance. Phr. to follow one's ain lead, to do as one pleases, to take one's own way (n.Sc., Ags., Fif., Lth. 1960).Abd. 1921 M. Argo Janet's Choice 14:
Dannie wis aye ane to follow his ain lead.

2. In Curling: (1) the first player on each side (Ayr., Gall. 1960); (2) the course or rink over which the stones are played (Ags., Slg., Cld. 1825 Jam.). Hence the lead-stanes, the game of curling; to gae to the leads, to go curling (Ags. 1825 Jam.); (3 ) the bias or direction given to the stone by the ice (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 313).(1) Sc. 1811 J. Ramsay Acct. Curling 7:
He who is reckoned the best curler, has generally the power of arranging the order of the game; and whoever is last in order gives directions to all the rest of his party. He is called the driver, and the first the lead.
Peb. 1817 R. Brown Lintoun Green 38:
Their lead, or driver leal, Yont the hog-score, straight in the way.
(2) Lnk. 1827 J. Watt Poems 95:
The curler keen the game pursues, The lead's hale length ilk stane he views.
Sc. 1867 St Andrews Gaz. (19 Jan.):
Mr Cassels having been on the ice measuring leads and marking scores the greater part of Monday.
Per. 1879 P. R. Drummond Bygone Days 225:
Curling, or, as it was called in my early Perthshire days, “the leadstanes.”
(3) Kcb.10 1960:
Gie me the hanle against the lead.

3. A load. Cf. v., 3. and Laid, of which however this spelling may simply represent a variant.Bwk. 1708 Stitchill Court Bk. (S.H.S.) 162:
For twa leids of oats carying to the mylne.

4. A water-course or channel leading water to a mill-wheel, a mill-race (Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 252; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ork., Cai., Bnff., Abd., m.Lth., Kcb. 1960). It is not always possible to distinguish this form from variants of Lade, q.v. See also Mill.Sc. 1739 J. Cockburn Letters (S.H.S.) 42:
I hope you secured Laborers to widen the leed.
Mry. 1762 Aberdeen Jnl. (6 Sept.):
Last week, a pretty boy belonging to the town of Garmouth, being at play by the miln dam, accidently fell in, and was carried by the currency of the stream, down the lead and round the wheel.
Gall. 1796 J. Lauderdale Poems 15:
The Lead cut out, as it's intended, Tho' ablins yet, Lord Daer may mend it, And give it a bit sweeter turn Before the wheel obey the burn.
Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Plants 197:
By the lead at Hamilton burn.
Slg. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VIII. 354:
Leyd or lade pronounced leed, signifies in this part of the country, the water course, by which the water is conducted from the river to the mill wheel.
Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 178:
And a loup in the lead, and a dip in the dam.
Ags. 1848 W. Gardiner Flora Frf. 265:
Jungermannia polyanthos, L. Lead near Dryburn, Glen Ogilvy, and stream, Clova.

[O.Sc. lede, to convey in a cart, etc., from 1375, to bring in crops, 1402, to produce evidence, c.1400, leid, a water-channel, 1558.]

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"Lead v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 May 2024 <>



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