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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

MAE, v., n.2, int. Also may, maie, mey; meh. [me:]

I. v. Of sheep, lambs or goats: to bleat, to baa (Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 149; Sc. 1818 Sawers). Gen.Sc. Hence sheepie-mae, a child's name for a sheep (Abd., Ags. wm.Sc. 1962).Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 22:
While Ews shall bleet, and little Lambkins mae.
Sc. 1778 Weekly Mag. (21 Jan.) 87:
Frae aff the hieghts the shepherd hastes to drive His maein gimmers, scarce wi' cauld alive.
Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 127:
An' whare the wanton lammies mae, An' hillock scours.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Mae. This imitative word is used to denote the bleating of lambs, while bae is generally confined to that of sheep.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 5:
Lam'kins roun' him skipt an' play'd, While ewies for their younglin's maed.
Lnk. a.1832 W. Watt Poems (1860) 343:
We hear scaith'd ewies sairly mae.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 1:
The road was thrang wui droves o nowt — aa keinds, untellin . . . rowtin an mehhin an blehhin.

Hence maer, maa(e)r, one who bleats, applied to a person jocularly or derisively in combs. breeky maer, see Breek, n.1, 1. (3); cheeky maer, a pert person (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 14:
A pert individual might be dubbed a cheeky maar [sic]. A breekie maaer is the playful epithet often given to a bit buntin laddie seeming quaint in his first pair of trousers.

II. n. 1. The sound of bleating, the cry of a sheep or lamb (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 336; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc.; a call to a sheep (Abd. 1903 E.D.D.).Edb. 1720 A. Pennecuik Helicon 24:
Lambs bear Treble with their kindly Mae.
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 89:
With droves of sheep, I canna say How many past in waesome mae.
Edb. 1881 J. McLaren The Chimla-lug 21:
The mey o' the lammie beside its ain mammy, Fell saft on oor ears as we sat there alane.
Ags. 1890 A. Lowson J. Guidfollow 56:
The innocent lammies hae ceased, since they got their last suck, tae gi'e vent to their plaintive mae, mae.

2. A pet name for a sheep (Per. 1903 E.D.D.). See Sheep.Fif. 1899 J. Allan Cracks wi' Flutorum 36:
The duds she wore she spun hersel Fae oo' gleaned fae the fiel', What thorn had torn fae tousy mae, Was gathered in a creel.

III. int. The call of a sheep or lamb.Sc. 1794 J. Ritson Sc. Songs I. 285:
While the gimmers bleet and bae, And the lambkins answer, mae.
Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 191:
My sheep, maie, maie.

[Imit. Cf. Maa, baa.]

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"Mae v., n.2, interj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Mar 2024 <>



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