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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.

LINE, n., v.1 Also lyne. Sc. usages. [ləin]

I. n. 1. A fishing-line, in combs.: (1) linbor [lɪn′bor], a hole in the bow of a boat through which lines are hauled (Kcd. 1919 T.S.D.C.). See Bore, n.1; ‡(2) line burd, -börd, the starboard-side of a boat, from which the fishing-lines are shot (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., Sh. 1961); ‡(3) line-scoll, -skol, a box for holding fishing-lines (Sh. 1961); (4) line-tree, the stick in which the hook is fixed when making up lines (Cai. 1911); (5) line-wan, the pole on which fishing-lines are hung (Abd. 1911); (6) smaa lines, smallins [′smɑlɪnz], the smaller sort of fishing-lines used in inshore fishing as opposed to the great lines (see Great, I. 8. (8)) (I. and n.Sc., Fif., Bwk. 1961).(2) Sh. 1892 Manson's Sh. Almanac:
Lowrie, whaas' saet wis eft upo line-burd, jimps in ta stow da gear.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 134:
The man who hauls stands in the oost-room, face to linebörd.
(3) Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 16. 9:
Near the bottom of the lineskol, he came upon a strange and wrinkled crab.
(6) e.Sc. 1930 P. F. Anson Fishing Boats 9–10:
In a small-line boat of the older type, used chiefly for taking haddock or cod, each man has a line of fifty fathoms (three hundred feet) in length … In some ports small and hand line fishing are engaged in all the year round … On the Moray Firth the Danish seine net has largely superseded small and hand lines, except on the coast of Caithness.
Mry.4 1933:
Before the herring fishing was introduced into the Moray Firth, the old fishers of white fish baited the small lines with mussel bait, which was used for taking haddocks and similar fish.

Deriv. liner, a line-fishing boat. Gen.Sc.Fif. 1892 Scots Mag. (March) 306:
He at once promoted good feeling between liners and trawlers by arranging that the trawling steamer (one of the Granton Company's) should take the liners in tow.
Bwk. 1906 D. M'Iver Eyemouth 279:
It may be said here that the first steam-drifter or liner, as this type of fishing boat is called, for which an Eyemouth man has contracted … is now on the stocks, (she measures 85 feet at keel).
e.Sc. 1930 P. F. Anson Fishing Boats 10:
In the modern steam liners a hand or steam “hauling” machine is used and the lines themselves are arranged in trays or baskets.
Sc. 1957 Scotsman (11 Feb.) 5:
At Anstruther, the old-established boat yard of Alexander Aitken has just launched the largest vessel it has ever built, a 97-foot liner, named Radiation, for Aberdeen owners. This is one of three wooden fishing boats of the 100-foot class under construction for Aberdeen.

2. A score or straight mark on the ground in the game of marbles, in dim. form liney, a game played with this (Ags., Lnl., Gsw. 1961).Gsw. 1958 C. Hanley Dancing in the Streets 53:
We played at liney in the playground, nearest the line takes the lot.

3. The Highland line or boundary. See Hieland, II. 7. (12).Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona i.:
It is not yet a week since I passed the line. Less than a week ago I was on the braes of Balwhidder.

4. A line of poetry, specif., with the def. art., of a metrical psalm, formerly read or intoned by the precentor line by line before being sung by the congregation. The practice, which seems to have originated with the Eng. Puritans, survives in churches in the Highlands. Hence phrs. to gie out, read, run the line. See Rin. To gie out the line is also used fig. = to lay down the law, give orders (ne.Sc. 1961 ).Sc. 1713 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) II. 160:
When he was a young man, it was very ordinary for congregations to sing Psalms without reading the line.
Sc. 1746 Acts Gen. Assembly 12:
The General Assembly do recommend to private Families, that in their religious Exercises, singing the praises of God , they go on without the Intermission of reading each Line.
Kcd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 224 note:
At that time, the minister's anxiety to improve the church-music, led him to adopt the more approved method of singing without intermission, or reading the line, as it is called.
Sc. 1814 Dunlop Letters (1953) III. 194:
They adhere strictly to some of the Presbyterian forms, such as reading aloud the line in singing.
Mry. 1828 J. Ruddiman Tales 57:
Elspet was standing in a meal bowey — like you in your precenting-desk, learned Sir — and really she gave out the line wi' a pith of expression that shewed that it was nae apprentice wark wi' her.
Sc. 1864 J. Brown Jeems the Doorkeeper 9:
He not only sang his psalm, but gave out or chanted the line in great style.
Sc. 1895 Scots Mag. (May) 455:
About 1645 it became usual “to give out the line,” that is, the psalm was read by one line or two at a time, and these lines were sung. It had a ludicrous side … and yet to those who associate “giving out the line” with the summer communions of long ago, . . . there are touching and hallowed recollections connected with it.
Ags. 1909 A. Reid Kirriemuir 127:
This “running of the line” … had, in many churches, been abrogated for more rational methods.
Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Sc. Sangs 28:
Flozent some, but fere an' fouthie, Oot the line gies he.

5. (1) A line of writing, any piece of written authorisation, a certificate, prescription or the like. Gen.Sc. and in Eng. dial. Phrs. to give in a line, see 1768 quot.; to need a line for or wi, to need verification for (a statement), said to someone who has been exaggerating (wm.Sc.2 1961).Wgt. 1712 Session Bk. Glasserton MS. (30 March):
She was called and craved a line to Mr Campbel in her favours.
Sc. 1768 in Fergusson Poems (Grosart 1879) lv.:
It is customary in Scotland for persons who are in a “dangerous state of illness,” or who are by other “necessary causes” detained from public worship, to give in a line, requesting the prayers of their congregation, which the precentor reads aloud, immediately before the prayer.
Kcb. 1788 Dmf. Weekly Jnl. (7 Oct.):
Every one wishing for the Doctor's advice, will bring a line from the minister of their respective parishes, certifying their indigent circumstances.
Lth. 1842 Edb. Ev. Courant (21 Nov.):
If the others could get “free lines,” we understand they also would remove, and find employment elsewhere; but by an understanding among coalmasters, one does not take a collier into his employment who cannot furnish a “free line.”
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 124, 235:
A bit line for that bottle that had dune the boy so much guid! … Dod! I dinna ken , I wad need a bit line for't.
m.Lth. 1894 W. G. Stevenson Puddin' 10:
I can get a line frae my mother, an' get awa' ony time.
wm.Sc. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie 156:
“And dancin'! She could dance on a cobweb and no' put a toe through't.” “Ye'll need a line wi' that yin, Erchie,” said his wife.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 29:
Far parsons never need to preach, Nor doctors vreet oot lines.
Ags. 1934 G. M. Martin Dundee Worthies 21:
The doctor's line to him he shows.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 43:
line ... 3. A doctor's line or sick line is a medical certificate issued by a G.P. to certify that someone is unfit for work.

(2) In pl., specif.: a certificate of church membership. Gen.Sc. Phr. to lift one's lines, to withdraw from the communicant membership of a congregation. See also Lift, v., 4. (5).Abd. 1892 Bon-Accord (16 Jan.) 2:
Some have “lifted their lines” and departed for other Established churches.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 55:
Precious little would tempt me tae lift my lines and gang ower tae the Auld Kirk.
Kcd. 1900 Crockett Stickit Minister's Wooing 78:
But he was so far satisfied that he intimated his intention of “sending in his lines” next week.
Per. 1918 J. Meikle Old Session Bk. 89:
Church “lines,” which in their present form are the passport to Sacramental privileges alone in the parish to which a member of the Church has flitted, were then the passport to being allowed to live there at all.
Gsw. 1951 H. W. Pryde M. McFlannel's Romance 10:
We're liftin' wur lines an' takin' them where they'll be appreciated.

(3) An account with a shop, a bill. Phr. to pit (a charge) on a or the line, to put it down to account. Gen.Sc. Ayr 9 1935: Boy: Hauf a pun o haum, a dizzen eggs, an a stane o tatties. Grocer: Wull I pit it on a line?

(4) A betting slip. Gen.Sc. Phr. to lift lines, to collect betting-slips, of a bookmaker's runner (Ags., Ayr. 1975).

(5) A shopping list (Sh., Cai., Bnff., Ags., Fif., Edb., Arg., Gsw., Ayr., Rxb. 2000s). Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 29:
You spend more than you intend now. When they served you from the back of the counter, you actually just asked for what was on your line. ... Sometimes you just gave the lassie the line.

6. Special phrs.: (1) to gie one a line o' one's mind, to give one a piece of one's mind (ne.Sc., Ags., Lnl. 1961), phs. from 4.; †(2) to lay the lines til, to give orders to, to make one fit in, conform or comply with one's wishes, phs. fig. from applying a measuring-line to.(1) Abd. 1882 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 162:
I'se gi'e 'im three lines o' my min' this vera nicht.
Abd. 1884 D. Grant Keckleton 148:
He wad hae gien him a line o' his min' aboot Gordon that wadna hae been owre acceptable.
(2) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 97:
Ye's hae my in-put to mak him comply; Cry ye him forth, we's till him lay the lines, Hese do't, or what he hads of me, he tyns.

II. v. To measure by a line, to mark off (a site), to trace out boundaries, specif. of properties in burghs. Hence liner, lyner, ¶lainer (Sc. 1714 Hist. MSS. Commission Report (Mar and Kellie MSS.) 502), one who does this, now applied to a member of a Dean of Guild Court, esp. in Glasgow, which supervises the erection or alteration of buildings in burghs; (decree of) lining, the official permission of this Court for such work.Gsw. 1713 Records Trades Ho. (Lumsden 1934) 11:
The deacon and other members of the House … did elect and choose … four of their number to be Lyners and sitt and vott with the Dean of Gild in the Dean of Gild's Court as Dean of Gild's Breithren.
Gsw. 1723 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 172:
There are severall applications made to the magistrats by builders fronting to the streets for to be lyned.
Ags. 1727 Arbroath Town Council Rec. MSS. (2 Oct.):
They appoint Provost John Allardice, and Bailie Hunter or any one of them with one of the present Magistrats and Dean of Gild to be dyke prysers and lyners.
Gsw. 1797 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1914) 76:
As the same have been laid off by decrees of lining of this court.
Ags. 1819 A. Warden Burgh Laws Dundee (1872) 212:
In all applications for linings, the pursuer shall, along with his petition, produce a plan or sketch of the elevation of the proposed building.
Ayr. 1894 K. Hewat Little Sc. World 20:
The Liner has still important duties to perform in tracing the boundaries of properties.
Sc. 1904 Sc. Hist. Review I. 128:
The prepositus of each burgh was also required, at the sight and with the counsel of the community, to choose at least five wise and discreet men to act as liners, who had to swear faithfully to line all lands within the burgh according to right and the old marches.
Gsw. 1938 Scotsman (1 Oct.):
Linings of an estimated gross value of £5,280,814 were granted by the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court during the year.
Sc. 1947 Local Govt. (Scotland) Act Pt. xviii. § 321 (4):
Nothing in or done under this subsection shall alter or affect the constitution, rights and privileges of any such court so far as regards members, lyners or assessors thereof.
Lnk. 1960 Stat. Acc.3 255:
Representatives attend the annual “Kirkin' of the Council” and the Incorporation appoints three of its members to act as “lyners” to the Dean of Guild Court.

Comb. line-stone, a stone set up to mark boundaries of land, march-stone. Ags. 1733 Arbroath T.C. Minutes MS. (15 Oct.):
The samen Day The Magistrats and Councill Do think it fitt that Lyne Stons be sett on the Marches Betwixt the Laird of Kirktoun and the Toun of Arbroath to keep away Debeats Betwixt them.

2. Of a precentor in church: to read a metrical psalm one line at a time for the congregation to repeat in singing. Also line out. Agent n. liner-out, one who favoured this method of singing. Cf. I. 4.Sc. 1894 N. Dickson Auld Precentor 20, 35:
This practice was called “lining out,” or “reading the line.” … The hard-faced liner-out approached.
Sc. 1953 Scotsman (14 Feb.):
From 1750 onwards a gradual renascence was evident in Scottish worship … A revival in psalmody began in Aberdeenshire, “lining” went out of fashion and choirs began to be formed.

[From line, a cord, string, a straight stroke. O.Sc. has lyne, lyner (see II. 1.), from early 15th c.]

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"Line n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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