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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LIFE, n. Also leif-. Dims. lifie; lifeock (Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 52). Sc. usages:

1. As in Eng. Pl. also lifes. Phrs.: ‡(1) by life, in life (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 52; Sh., m.Lth. 1960), on life, with life, alive; (2) to lay (a body) frae da life, to kill, be the death of; (3) to lay one's life wi, to become one's partner for life, to marry.m.Sc. 1994 Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay Forever Yours, Marie-Lou 26:
So it's no true he made oor lifes miserable?
(1) Bte. 1750 Rothesay T.C. Rec. (1935) II. 807:
Mary M'Kinlay residenter in Glasgow only sister german on life and heir apparent to the now deceased John M'Kinlay maltman in Glasgow.
Sc. 1752 J. Spottiswoode Stiles 342:
I nominate B. my eldest Son now on Life … to be my only Executor, and universal Legatar.
Ayr. 1795 Burns Last May viii.:
So e'en to preserve the poor body in life, I think I maun wed him to-morrow.
Sc. 1817 Scots Mag. (May) 395:
He was carried with life to the Royal Infirmary, where he died next day.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 11:
If he wants me edder bi deth or bi life.
Sc. 1929 Green's Encyclopedia VIII. 189:
By the Conveyancing (Scotland) Act, 1924, it was provided that inhibitions should no longer be renewable to the effect of keeping the old inhibition in life, but should prescribe absolutely on the lapse of five years.
(2) Sh. 1899 Shetland News (30 Dec.):
Dis lashes o' shooers is aneugh ta lay a body frae da life.
(3) Sh. 1898 Shetland News (1 Oct.):
Dey'll shürely nae lass be füle enough ta lay her life wi' him.

Derivs. and Combs.: (1) lifie, -ey, full of life, lively, vivacious, brisk, spirited, animating (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I. and n.Sc., Fif., s.Sc. 1960), rare and obs. in Eng. Also adv. and adv. lifily (Sc. 1887 Jam.; Fif. 1960); lifieness, vivacity, vigour (I.Sc., Fif. 1960); (2) life-knife, a particular make of small pocket knife, so called from having the word “Life” inscribed on the blade; (3) life-like, in phrs. life-like and death-like, liable to the vicissitudes of life and mortality, from the notion that “in the midst of life we are in death”; livin and life-like, hale and hearty, in good health and vigour (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; I.Sc., Abd., Ags., m.Lth., Dmb., Lnk., Uls. 1960); ¶(4) life-safe, a safe-conduct; ¶(5) life-stoup, a support to one's life, a mainstay; (6) life-thinkin, gen. in phr. leevin' and life-thinkin' = (3) (Sh. 1960), used as a n.phr. in 1958 quot.; (7) life-tie, something which binds one to life, a hold on life.(1) s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 365:
Walth o' witty chaps, wha freely can Drink waught about wi' ye o' red lifie port.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 140:
Out o' his bed, fu' lifie He sprang this day.
Mry. c.1850 R. Douglas Lays (1939) 26:
An' brawlie he kent he'd a lifie bit beast.
Slk. 1888 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) XI. 233:
Twa spurrin' feet, Kickin' wi' lifieness.
Abd. 1897 G. Walker Aberdeen Awa' 37:
The Denburn was a good specimen of the lifiest, bonniest thing on earth.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 19:
The heat turns leify folk dawallt an waaf.
(2) Abd. 1882 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 87:
He had come to school with merely a “Life-knife” — cost fourpence-halfpenny.
Sc. 1900 Shetland News (15 Sept.):
Gie's dy life knife, dis nail is grown i' da livin' flesh.
(3) Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf x.:
But we are a' life-like and death-like, Elshie, and there really should be some black and white on this transaction.
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce II. iii.:
Abundance of law does na break law. We are a' death-like and life-like. Black and white wears weel.
Fif. 1898 S. Tytler Mrs Carmichael's Goddesses ix.:
You're living and life-like — your widow is far to seek.
(4) Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona ix.:
The Advocate … has wrung your life-safe out of Simon and the Duke.
(5) Gsw. 1865 J. Young Pictures 18:
My life-stoups were frae me torn An' I in widowhood sae drear.
(6) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 400:
How dee yee? Coldrifely. Living, and life-thinking.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 22:
Life, an' life thinkin, L—d be thankit.
Ags. 1825 Jam.:
If one proposes the query, “Is such a one living yet?” it is a common reply, “Aye, he's leevin' and life-thinkin'.”
Sh. 1958 New Shetlander No. 48 10:
The positive assertion of livin and life-tinkin, of warmth and security against the negative forces of our northern weather.
(7) Lnk. 1883 W. Thomson Leddy May 24:
Hush ye, hush ye, ma bonnie bairn, The ae life-tie I ha'e.

2. A living creature (I.Sc. 1960), specif. in I.Sc. taboo-speech, a fish.Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 56:
When he fand a tirse on the rop, he wad say tae his twa sins, “Boys, there a life i the net.”
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Saw thoo no a life aboot the hoose ava? I got no wan life.

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"Life n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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