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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.

MOYEN, n., v. Also moyan, -ne, moyean; myen, myan; moin, moen; ¶mowing. [′mɔi(ə)n, ′mɑe-]

I. n. 1. Power or ability to exert influence or act as intermediary, esp. influence exerted to recommend another for a post, position etc., interest, mediation, recommendation, good offices (Abd. 1963). Occas. in pl.Slg. 1703 Slg. Burgh Rec. (1889) 99:
Use all meanes and moyean possible for discussing of the said appeall.
Sc. 1709 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1842) I. 82:
Dear Billy, were I master of any sympathy and moen at a higher Court, I dare say the interests of the Gospel in the North, and yourself in particular, should not want a share in it.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 243:
Moyen does mickle, but Money does more.
Sc. a.1737 A. Fergusson Major Fraser's MS. (1889) I. 103:
Lord Tullibarden made my Lord Lovat believe . . . that he would by his moyans with the King procure him a regiment.
Ags. 1819 A. Balfour Campbell I. iii.:
It requires moyen and gude friends to get a birth amang the clergy.
Bnff. 1862 R. Sim Legends Strathisla 57:
Sometimes the puir man's moyan is as gude, if nae better, than the great man's micht.
Abd. 1906 J. Christie Drachlaw Revisited 48:
When halflin' chaps were gey weel-doin', An' wad be fain to learn the plooin, They aften got a place by “moyen”.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 65:
Gey hantles o' the best men are fee't aforehan' by moyen or throu' a register.

Phr.: to lay or mak moyen(s), to take steps towards attaining some end, to use influence or other indirect means to obtain or find out something (ne.Sc. 1963).Edb. 1701 Council Reg. (B.R.S.) 194:
Gratis burgesses who oft times doe make moyen with one or other of the councill to get a gratis burges ticket.
Ags. 1815 G. Beattie John o' Arnha' (1883) 166:
When Charlie Stewart, the vile Pretender, Made moyen to be our Faith's Defender.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxix.:
To lay moyen for a placie come time.
Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Inglismill 30:
I mith hae moyens laid to win wi' you.
Abd.7 1925:
The man wanted a cow and he laid “moyen” in order to learn whether there were any for sale around, that is he tried to trace one.

2. Means of knowing, foreknowledge. fore-warning, news or information in advance. Hence phrs. to gang intil the moyens o' a thing, to make enquiries about, to investigate (Abd. (coast) 1955); to get (a) moyen(s) o' to get news or fore-warning of (Abd. 1963).Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden i.:
I tried to get roond his saft side to git moins o' what he wis at.
Abd. 1929:
A got a moyen o'm comin ower the hill.
Kcd. 1955 Mearns Leader (15 April):
Eppy fa didna think muckle o' onything that happen't unless she got myen o't afore haun.
Abd. 1960 Buchan Observer (1 Nov.):
In Peterhead now, there are “mowings” of a scheme, so far unconfirmed, that the Board . . . are about to charter eight herring vessels.

3. Physical power or ability, capability (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.). Hence moyenless, moin-, -loss, powerless, feeble, sluggish (Ib.). Prob. orig. a different word assimilated to moyen. See Menz.

II. v. 1. To recommend, act as intermediary, esp. to recommend a person's service to a prospective employer (Mry. 1911 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 109, myan, Mry.1 1925; ne.Sc. 1963).Ags. 1897 G. A. Mackay Where Heather Grows 16:
Ye've as guid a chance as anither, and I'se moin ye.
ne.Sc. 1909 G. Greig Folk-Song No. VI. 2:
But I'll moin you to anither, She's far mair suitin' than I.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 111:
Syne moyent him [Naaman] to the waters 'at the prophet said wid heal.
Sc. 1933 Sc. N. & Q. (March) 44:
Moyen Angus for lan', but heather for luck.

2. To be the means of guiding, directing or bringing (something); to induce (Abd. 1963).Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Inglismill 44:
Luckie brings the drucken bite hersel' — Saut beef an' breid (she was a sleekit bodie) To moyen ben anither bowl o' toddy.
Ags. 1897 A. Reid Bards Angus 201:
I'm maist feared the fairies will moyne him awa'.
Abd. 1913 G. Greig Mains Again 14:
If I could moin the letter her wye, there would be some fun.
Abd. 1940 C. Gavin Hostile Shore xv.:
Mains and the smith got McCluskie moyen't roon to say nae mair aboot it.

[O.Sc. moyen, means, instrumentality, 1456, myance, means, a.1500, information in advance, 1561, to mak moyen(s), from a.1578, moyan, to bring about, effect, 1560, Mid.Eng. moyen, a mediator, a means, O.Fr. moien, a mean(s), middle, mediate. Cf. Mean, n.]

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"Moyen n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Apr 2024 <>



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