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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.

MAIR, adj., adv., n.1 Also †mare; mehr (Bnff. 1884 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 30); maer (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.); mear (Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 591); mere (wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 442); mer, merr ( Arg., Gsw.). Gen.Sc. forms of Eng. more. See P.L.D. § 32.3. [me:r]

I. adj. Sc. forms:Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 2:
Listen bawjaws, you fling wan mer bit a oarange peel an ah'll squeeze you tae the pips squeak.
wm.Sc. 1991 Liz Lochhead Bagpipe Muzak 40:
They're easy! Money, record tokens, clothes, merr money... My Little Pony...

Sc. usages:

1. Bigger, greater. Gen.Sc. Phr. the mair penny, a higher price, a better advantage (Sc. 1887 Jam. s.v. Penny). See also Maist.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 247:
Mair in a mair Dish. That is, a great deal more; an Answer to them who ask you if you will have any more, when you have gotten but very little.
Sc. 1752 J. Louthian Form of Process 102:
For the more Verification, I and the said Witnesses have subscribed the same.
Abd. 1863 G. Macdonald D. Elginbrod viii.:
The mair sinner, the mair welcome.
Abd. 1948:
It jist means that the country's debt gets mair and mair.

2. More generous, more lavish.Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xl.:
But ye'll be for keeping rather a mair house than puir auld Milnwood that's gane.

II. adv. Sc. forms:Gsw. 1977 Alan Spence in Moira Burgess and Hamish Whyte Streets of Stone (1985) 147:
'Some a they pals a his wur merr bevvied than the two ae us pit thegether. Ah mean we knew we hud tae keep wursels right.'
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 3:
Can you bring the wean up well
When you're scarce mair than a lassie yoursel'?
Sc. 1991 Forbes Macgregor in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 17:
Mair dowf on eird there isna ony
Nor wee MacLean the circus pownie ...
m.Sc. 1994 Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay Forever Yours, Marie-Lou 6:
That's because it's how you've waanted it tae be...If ye'd try tae go oot mair...
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 16:
History rewritten yince mair.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 6:
Ye glowered frae yer ain hill rise
An I frae mine -
Mair pairt o' the Borderlan'
Nor ony corbie speirin whaur tae dine!
Sc. 1998 Sunday Mail 25 Jan 17:
"Fish called roaches are changing sex because of the chemicals in the water. Mr McAvennie, I think you should be aware that vast quantitites of the female hormone oestrogen are filling the world and turning nature feminine."
"Whit?" enquired the Milton Lothario. "D'you mean there will be even merr burdz?"
Sc. 1999 Herald 6 Feb 14:
If priests cuid hiv wives an weans, merr wee men wid want tae be priests.
Sc. 2004 Times 10 Dec 82:
"Ah've seen merr meat on a butcher's pencil." This is a politically dodgy male crack at a slim female. The kind of thing shouted from a building site at unfortunate passing women.

Sc. usages:

Prefixed pleonastically to the comparative of an adj. or adv. (ne. and em.Sc.(a), Ayr., Dmf., Slk. 1962). Obs. exc. arch. in Eng.Ags. 1830 Perthshire Advert. (18 March):
I am sure it wud been mair convenienter for his.
Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 71:
He's mair aulder nor me.
Abd. 1928 A. A. Jack Angry Heart 130:
More nearer forty.

III. Combs., phrs. and derivs.: 1. a' the mair, any more; 2. mair an forby, moreover, what is more. See Forby; 3. mair an forder, id.; also mair and farrer; 4. mairatour, -attour(e), -an atour, -out o'er, besides, over-and-above, in addition (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis), mainly liter. See also Atour(e), 2. (3); 5. (the) mair by token, — be —, -taiken, (1) adv. especially, in particular (ne. and em.Sc.(a), Ayr., Gall. 1962). Also in Eng. dial.; (2) moreover, besides, what is more, in addition (ne.Sc., Ags., Ayr., Kcb. 1962); 6. mair for token, = 5. (2) (Uls. 1962); †7. mairfurth, moreover, besides; ¶8. mairly, adv., more, longer. Form used metri causa; 9. mairower, -owre, moreover (Sh., Ags., Lnk., Dmf., Slk. 1962). Also mairower an abune, id. (Sh. 1962); 10. maister and mair, mistress —, one completely in control of the domestic affairs of a household, an autocratic, domineering master or mistress, one having the “whip hand” (em.Sc., Slk. 1962); 11. nae mair about it, without more ado, thereupon, forthwith. Gen.Sc.; 12. the mair, used as conj. = although, in spite of the fact that (Ags., Ayr., Kcb. 1962); 13. the mair by note, = 5. (1); 14. the mair o', any the more because of; 15. to hae mair need to (do something), see Need, n., 1. (4); 16. tae the mair mean taikin, -tyaken, to be more explicit or precise, more particularly or especially (Ags. 1825 Jam.; Abd. 1891 Trans. Buchan Field Club 14; ‡ne.Sc. 1960, -tyaken), a variant of 5. See Taiken.1. Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 11:
Unless a' the mair [snow] fell, if the win' didna rise the sheep wad tak' nae skaith, as they could still scrape a bite o' grass.
2. Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier viii.:
It's a nice, easy stair tae climb, it's handy for the kitchen, an' mair an' forby, it's no as if ye'll aye be lyin' here.
3. Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 375:
Mair an forder, I've inveetit a puckle o' the fairmers roon aboot tae bid ye welcome.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) 51:
Mair and farrer, wha was to look efter the shop?
4. Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 108:
An' mair attour, his mind this monie a day Gatelins to Nory there, my lassie, lay.
Mry. 1824 J. Cock Hamespun Lays 112:
To follow out your lengthen'd sang, Wad be a task for me o'er lang; An' mair outo'er, I'm in a thrang.
Sc. 1832 D. Vedder Sketches 20:
Mairatour, naebody in their seven senses wad pu' doon sic a bonnie house as Yarpha.
s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell St. Matthew vi. 16:
Mairatour whan ye fast, bina as the hypocrites.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ii.:
Mair an' atour a' that, she was sair leed on if she couldna tak a dram.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. lviii. 185:
Mairattour, speer-na, nar argie anent the merits o' the saunts.
5. (1) Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xl.:
Ane suldna speak ill o' the dead — mair by token, o' ane's cummer and neighbour.
s.Sc. 1838 Wilson's Tales of the Borders IV. 170:
I got ready my testimonials wi' the greatest despatch; the mair by token, that some of them were in a very forward state before Jedediah Cameron's breath was out.
wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 306:
I took my ordinary pick — mair be token, we had singed sheep's head, trotters conform, and a very 'sponsible looking chuckie.
Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer ii. vii.:
It's no a fit nicht for ye to be oot at a', mair by token 'at ye're no the ablest to stan' cauld an' weet.
Bch. 1930 Abd. Univ. Rev. (March) 103:
Mair b' token, the third scythe 'at vera year, aul' Tam Watson, wiz a lad o' that kin'.
(2) Sc. a.1714 J. Ramsay Scot. and Scotsmen (1888) II. 61:
Mair be taiken, her Majesty had sticked her part.
Lth. 1819 J. Thomson Poems 36:
An eight-day clock, but mair be-token Her glass and pend'lum baith are broken.
Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays 207:
His cap is lost, — and, mair betoken, The wand of Prosperoso's broken.
Uls. 1858 Uls. Jnl. Arch. VI. 42:
An' forby, Paddy Shales isn't paid yet For makin' the coat that I'm wearin', More betoken, it wants to be mended.
Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (20 Feb.) 344:
An' mair by token, there's the preen — a muckle brass ane.
Abd. 1892 J. Cromar Prodigal's Wife 149:
Mair be token, ye're a poacher yersel'.
Gall. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 129:
Mair by token she leeve't at Barmagachan, an sae she wus gey kenspeckle.
6. Ayr. 1786 Burns Inventory 30:
An auld wheelbarrow — mair for token, Ae leg an' baith the trams are broken.
Rnf. 1836 R. Allan Evening Hours 31:
An, mair for token, let me tell, He didna spare the deil himsel'.
Rnf. 1881 D. Gilmour Gordon's Loan 24:
Dinna say I advised thee. I never did. Mair-for-token, I think shame o' thee.
7. Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 139:
Mairfurth, their wembes had sic a wecht, Walkin' to them was but a fecht.
Sc. 1846 Anon. Muckomachy 43:
Mair-furth he with that self-same dird Drave o'er dour Duncan Oliphant.
8. Sc. 1746 Jacobite Minstrelsy (1829) 339:
Argyle has rais'd an hundred men, An hundred men and mairly.
Lnk. 1882 A. Nimmo Songs & Ball. 118:
I wish I were deid, Or she in the mools to torment me nae mairly.
9. Kcb. 1808 J. Mayne Siller Gun 35:
And miss'd, mairowr, th' endearing charms . . . Of auld acquaintances in swarms.
Slk. 1827 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. (1874) xvii.:
And mairower and aboon, do thou bless us a' wi' thy best warldly blessings.
Edb. 1863 Border Mag. (Oct.) 241:
Mairower, and that troubles us maist ava, she will be out when the reason's no in.
ne.Sc. 1888 D. Grant Keckleton 22, 139:
Mairowre an' aboon that, the writer had promised the woman in her last 'oors to inform Sergeant-Major Benson o' a' the circumstances o' the case . . . He wis mairowre -an'- aboon a douce, elderly, sensible, man, frae whom I micht expect guid advice an' assistance.
10. Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality v.:
And sitting there birling . . . wi' a' the scaff and raff o' the waterside, till sun-down, and then coming hame and crying for ale, as if ye were maister and mair.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian x.:
She'll maybe hing it ower my head that she'll tell my father, and then she wad be mistress and mair.
11. Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 164:
Nae mair about it; up he sprang Upon his weir-steed wi' a bang.
12. Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy Geordie Chalmers v., xv.:
“Thou's nane o' the howden-grey queans o' antiquity ony hoo: no regretting the expenses o' yer lear, the mair I speak. But, sir, gin I had the half I've laid out on her for picture-buiks, I'd hae a new coat.” . . . Do as I did, sir, — no praising mysel the mair I say't, — wait till yer banes are hardened.
13. Sc. 1857 Wilson's Tales of the Borders IV. 126:
He couldna mak his way . . . without some assistance, the mair by note that he stuck in the mire.
14. Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 141:
I . . . whitened a my window wi't [bear meal], but the never a dow come near hand me the mair o't.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 79:
But, ablins, ye're sae ill to sair o't, Ye'll no keep in the house the mair o't.
Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy Geordie Chalmers i., iii.:
No saying ye're warldly-minded, the mair o' this; for, when I hae min', ye canna keep a bawbee. . . . Do ye really suppose that a cuif, or a young calf, gin ye like it better, can pass for a man o' learnin', the mair o' his keepin a wheen letters out o' this word, an' a wheen out o' that ane.
Kcb. 1898 T. Murray Frae the Heather 51:
I sat on my perch till again fit for action, Nor held my opponent the mair o't my fae.
16. n.Sc. 1825 Jam. s.v. Takin:
To the mair meen taikin, a phrase commonly used . . . when one wishes to give a special mark of any thing that is described.
Abd. 1921 W. Walker MS. W.-L.:
“The mair mean takin”, a phrase, preliminary to confirmation or further proof of something in discussion.

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"Mair adj., adv., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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