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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

OPEN, adj., n., v. Also oppen (Abd. 1897 G. MacDonald Salted With Fire xiv.). Sc. form and usages. See also Apen, Wuppen.

I. adj. 1. As in Eng. in combs.: (1) open account, in Sc. Law: a debt entered in a book not constituted by voucher or decree, e.g. for goods supplied by shopkeepers (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 61); (2) opencast, in Mining: a method of working coal from the surface by quarrying away overlying strata (Sc. 1866 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 48). Also used adv., attrib., and as a v., hence vbl.n. opencasting (Ib.). Now in gen. use, but orig. Sc. and Nhb. dial.; (3) open charter, in Sc. Law: a charter in which the precept of sasine has not been executed, so that “in the event of a sale, the unexecuted precept may be assigned to the purchaser, and the expense of an entry with the superior saved during the purchaser's life, or during the life of the party who first takes infeftment on the precept” (Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 689, 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 61); (4) open doors, see Door, Letter; (5) open furth, n., out of doors. See Apen, 3. and Furth; (6) openset, “a cundie or unfilled space between pack walls” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 48); (7) opensteek, a style of stitching in openwork (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ork. 1964). Used attrib. in an extended sense in quot.(1) Sc. 1741 Caled. Mercury (19 May):
Lost . . . A red Leather Pocket-Book, marked on the Back Constantinople, with a Five Pound Bank Note in it, and some Bills and open Accompts.
Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 108:
Book Debts; are debts by open account. The proof of debts of this description may sometimes be attended with difficulty. The evidence of furnishings made by merchants and retail dealers is generally parole; and the creditor's books, together with the evidence of the delivery by his clerks or porters, will, in the ordinary case, be held sufficient.
(2) Sc. 1713 Atholl MSS. (Blairingone coal):
33 ½ fadoms wrought of closs Mynding besyds what is wrought of a flagged Mynd, and oppen cast.
Rnf. 1920 Memoirs Geol. Survey Scot. 34:
The beds dip south-east at about 20o and were worked both opencast and by mining.
Sc. 1959 Scotsman (14 Jan.) 8:
Photographs showing the extensive opencast mining operations at Cauldhall, near Dalkeith.
Sc. 1959 Ib. (17 Jan.):
With modern equipment it is possible to opencast cheaper than to mine.
(5) Abd. 1921 M. Argo Janet's Choice 25:
Wadna a life in the open-furth be better than ane in London?
(7) Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xix.:
Ah! it's a brave kirk — nane o' yere whigmaleeries and curliewurlies and opensteek hems about it — a' solid, weel-jointed mason-wark.

2. Of female animals: ready to bear young or bearing young, not sterilised, unspayed. See also Apen, 2. (4). Also in Eng. dial.Gall. 1769 Caled. Mercury (22 May):
Several Cows and Calves, many open Queys of different ages.
Dmf. 1778 Dmf. Weekly Jnl. (27 Oct.):
Cows and Calves, three years old Queys in calf, two years old open Queys.
Dmf. 1831 R. Shennan Tales 82:
Bullocks, and heifers, and some open queys.
Sc. 1855 H. Stephens Bk. Farm I. 349:
A female that has not been cut, and before it bears young, is an open sow.

3. Free, available, not precluded by a previous engagement or duty, followed by to + inf. (em. and s.Sc. 1964).Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 16:
Ir ee open ti gang ti Mintih the morn's morneen?

II. n. An opening, gap (ne.Sc. 1964). Obs. or dial. in Eng. Phr. the open o the heid, the front suture of the skull, the fontanelle (Sh. 1964). See also III.Sc. c.1700 W. McFarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) II. 8:
A fine stone stare turning about a hollow casement, in which are many opens from the bottome to the top.
Sc. 1782 A. Monro Anat. Bones 66:
The . . . unossified . . . part of the cranium [in] new-born children, called by the vulgar the open of the head.
Hdg. 1796 R. Gall Tint Quey 14:
Which sent its reek, in columns black, Out thro' an open i' the thack.
Gsw. 1848 D. Murray Old College (1927) 412:
I could see the College Open leading from the High St. to the church.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (28 Aug.):
Shü's gotten a sair brüse i' da open o' her head.

III. v. 1. As in Eng. Vbl.n. openin, -een (Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 1). Phr. the openin o the heid, see quot. and II. above (Sh. 1964).Fif. 1899 P. Philos. Soc. Gsw. XXXI. 39:
The openin' o' the heid is in the infant the anterior fontanelle, but in the adult it is used loosely for the top of the head, the crown. In phrs. with preps.: to open (somebody) in, to open the door and admit (someone) (Sh. 1964); to open out, in mining: to commence longwall working (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 48).
Sh. 1901 Shetland News (8 June):
Open da man in, lass.

2. See quot.Lth. 1853 M. Oliphant Harry Muir ii., xxxii.:
The collars and cuffs and handkerchiefs of richer women, embroidered by other workers, principally in Ayr and Ayrshire, were given out at warehouses in Glasgow, to the Muirs and the Rogers, and multitudes of other such, to be “opened,” as they called it — which “opening” meant filling up the centre of the embroidered flowers with delicate open-work in a variety of “stitches” innumerable. . . . Rose . . . took up out of Martha's basket, a piece of embroidery, and began to “open” it.

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"Open adj., n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Sep 2023 <>



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