Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

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

NAIN, adj. Also na(i)ne, nean. Variant forms of Ain, q.v., with prosthetic n from wrong division of mine ain as my nain. [ne(ə)n]

1. = Eng. own, and sim. used to add emphasis to a pers. pron. (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1947 New Shetlander No. 1. 10; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh., n.Sc., Fif., Edb., Ayr. 1963). Phr. by one's nain, alone, by oneself (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Ork. 1929 Marw.; ne.Sc. 1963). Cf. sim. use of Lane, adj., 2. (3).Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Shop Bill 33:
For their nain wear, The starkest hose that can be made.
Edb. 1794 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) xxiii.:
The next rig redds them to tak' care To cut their fur, and tak' their share O' their nane rig.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 152:
We'll leave sic cracks to their nain place.
Sc. 1828 Lockhart Scott lxxvi.:
Your nain man, Kilspindie.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xii.:
An' he war latt'n aleen b' 's nain.
Ags. 1899 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy 37:
The cairt's my nain; I can come doon afen't ony wey I like.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (22 Dec.):
Shü's gaen ta fry up puddings o' her nain.
Ags. 1955 Forfar Dispatch (3 Nov.):
They hev a puckle streets o modern flats, and each een o them hes its nain front door.

Combs.: (1) nain-folk, one's accustomed or preferred associates, one's comrades; (2) nainsel(l), nane-, (i) = Ainsel; (ii) specif. associated in pseudo-Highland speech with a Highlander's supposed way of speaking of himself, phs. intended to translate the common Gaelic emphatic pron. adjuncts -se, -sa, or fhein, self; hence used as a n. as a jocular name for a Highlander, freq. in phr her nainsel. See She. Gen.Sc.(1) Edb. 1794 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) cxxxii.:
The stout-anes now a' dounae bear, Wi' silly feckless anes to shear, But maun hae their nain-folk.
(2) (i) Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxxxix.:
Ye s' hae as muckle o' mine to yer nainsel' as 'll clear Mrs Forbes.
Sc. 1891 Stevenson Vailima Letters (1917) 115:
[I] had a ride in the forest all by my nainsel.
Abd. 1928 Abd. Press & Jnl. (22 Nov.) 6:
They wadna be setisfee'd wi onybody but m' nainsel'.
Bnff. 1939 J. M. Caie 'Twixt Hills & Sea 47:
His wark's a' gane, Like his nainsel', clean dichtit aff the sclate.
m.Sc. 1991 William Neill in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 48:
An nou the Regent rules himsel
an weirs a gowden croun;
he cares for nocht but his nainsel
an dings aa ithers doon.
(ii) Sc. c.1690 J. Maidment Pasquils (1868) 314:
Should the scarecrow of Loyalty, Heaven or Hell, Make a man such a fool as forget him nain-sell?
Sc. 1714 Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine Families II. 171:
Being now better Informed that “Her nain sell” is in the Blair of Atholl, I send to complement your Grace on that subject.
Sc. 1715 Gsw. Courant (15–17 Nov.) 5:
As for the Highlanders, when their officers commanded them to march towards England, they answered, her nane selve was far enough from home already.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 163:
Her Nanesel maun be carefu' now.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxviii.:
Up started the sleeping Highlander from the floor . . . exclaiming, “Her nainsell has eaten the town pread at the Cross o' Glasgow.”
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck xiv.:
Do you know that her nainsell pe coosin to yourself?
Gsw. 1838 A. Rodger Poems 54:
Nainsel was first to herd ta kyes.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 52:
Nainsel' didna like the French, they wer'na true to Charlie.
Gsw. 1931 N. Munro Brave Days 140:
The Chiel . . . did its best to emulate the “nainsel” Hielan' humour of The Bailie.

2. Used as a n.: what one is rightly entitled to, one's due share, one's own property, kindred, home, etc.Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems 1. 153:
The ups, an' douns o' fell mishap, For we hae had our nain o't.
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 593:
Gud bliss dee . . . an bring dee weel ta dee nean agen.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb ii.:
An' ilka ane had their nain, I wudna say nor the laird wud hae to forhoo's bit bonnie nest.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 56:
A merchan' maun tak' 's nain oot o' a customer some wye.

[See note to Nawn. O.Sc. has nan, 1400, her nain sell, of a Highlander. 1678.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Nain adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: