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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PREE, v.1, n. Also prie. [pri:]

I. v. 1. (1) To make trial of, have experience of, try out, sample. Vbl.n. preein(g), a small quantity of anything, a sample (Bnff., Ags. 1966). Cf. II. 1.Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 113:
May they share o' ilka blessin', Sorrow never pree ava'.
Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St. Patrick I. xi.:
“Are the' ony mae o' ye hereawa wad like to pree the airn?” said the victorious youth to the dying warrior.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xvii.:
We were saddled with his family, which was the first taste and preeing of what war is when it comes into our hearths.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 86:
We'll pree the English the night.
Sc. a.1894 Stevenson New Poems (1918) 50:
To pree a' sensuality.
Per. 1894 I. MacLaren Brier Bush 199:
A' wish Elspeth MacFadyen cud hear ye, her 'at prees the sermons in oor Glen.
Bwk. 1947 W. L. Ferguson Makar's Medley 48:
For men, like craws, maun howk to pree The halesome fruits o' Toil.
Abd. 1959 People's Jnl. (19 Dec.):
Tae think that a fella craitur his tae pree the depths o' sorra tae the verra foun'.
Cai. 1966:
To pree a person: to find out what is in him.
Fif. 1991 John Brewster in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 165:
Gin bi doukin daily day God cuid be preed
Suner wad I be a whaal in the deep.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 18:
Ye're a dumb breet, nae wirds hiv ye,
Yet aa the joys by Man e'er pree'd
Yer tongue can tell; na, ye've nae need
To spiel a lang langamachie.

(2) to try by tasting (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, prie s.v. Priefe). Gen.Sc., now chiefly liter. Also in Eng. dial. Vbl.n. preein(g), a taste, tasting (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Ags., Per., m.Lth. 1966). Cf. II. 1. Also fig.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 115:
Nae henny-beik that ever I did pree Did taste so sweet.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 67:
Come prie, frail man, for gin thou art sick, The oyster is a rare cathartic.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 75:
Peg Pharis had, to quench her drouth But pried it.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 5:
O here's ae drap o' the damask wine; — Sweet maiden, will ye pree?
Slk. 1823 Hogg Tales (1874) 299:
After . . . tasting old Janet's best kebbuck and oatmeal cakes, and preeing the whisky bottle, the young farmer again set out.
Sc. 1832 Henderson Proverbs 58:
The proof o' the puddin's the preeing o't.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 295:
Lat's a' gaither in her, an' hae a preein' o' something afore we gang tae lan'.
Ork. 1913 Old-Lore Misc. VI. iv. 180:
Even those who had remained sober through the carousals of the night were apt to lose their balance after preeing this heady broust.
Sc. 1917 J. Lee Warriors 67:
Compel them come and pree The big and buirdly Haggis.
Sc. 1991 John McDonald in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 90:
I pree a strang quaich i the myndin o ye
(heidier fir its fifty-year quickenin)
a stowp stobbed i the steirin sauns.
Dundee 1991 W. N. Herbert in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 179:
An yet he cams tae peer, tae pree this element
lyk syrup inniz thocht, sklaichan' iz tung aroond
thi mappamundi's quaich, laivan a kneggum o' um
aa airts that winna waash awa.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 23:
"There nae fruit nou in Paradise
That isna yours tae tak an pree.
Stap yersel fou an dinna fear -
Nae sleekit snake will stob at ye. ... "

(3) Phrs.: (i) to pree (someone's) lips or mou, to kiss, “taste (another's) lips” (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (ii) to pree the mart, see quot. and Mart; (iii) to pree the tangs, to be in the grip of poverty, to suffer want or privation (Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 39).(i) Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 8:
He took aff his bonnet, and spat in his chow, He dighted his gab, and he pri'd her mou'.
Ayr. 1792 Burns O John, Come Kiss Me ii.:
O, some will court and compliment, And ither some will prie their mou.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 267:
I preed her lip, I prest her waist, I claspt her fondly to my brest.
w.Lth. 1890 A. M. Bisset Spring Blossoms 62:
My airm stole roon' yer yielding waist, And aft I pree'd yer mou'.
Abd. 1922 Weekly Free Press (21 Jan.) 7:
Nae word she spak, but held her mou' That I micht pree her lips. (ii) Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 44: The friends who came to “pree the mart” — that is, to dine, take tea, and spend the long winter afternoon and evening.
m.Sc. 1979 Ian Bowman in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 40:
O mony hae pri'ed a kiss o ma mou
an ane that pri'ed me has cost me sair,
for he was the ane I was fain to lo'e;
but I sall see him nevermair.
(iii) wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan (1868) 547:
A man wi' sic fare may ne'er pree the tangs. ¶(4) Nonce usages: (i) to give a taste or flavour to.
Edb. 1834 A. Smart Rambling Rhymes 102:
Tasty things it never lackit To pree the mou'.

(ii) to grip with the lips as if in sipping or tasting.s.Sc. 1947 L. Derwent Clashmaclavers 18:
Wi' twa-three preens preed in her mou'.

2. Specif. in herring fishing, esp. in phr. to pree the nets, to make a test haul to find out if the fishing area is a productive one. Also used absol. (Ork. 1825 Jam. s.v. preif) and in phr. to pree on (Arg. 1930).Sc. 1857 Chambers's Information I. 709:
A custom exists of preeing the nets — that is, lifting out a portion of a train and examining it.
Bnff. 1869 J. G. Bertram Harvest of Sea 453:
Some fisher-people perform a kind of “rite” before going to the herring-fishery, in drinking to a “white lug” — that is, that when they “pree” or examine a corner or lug of their nets, they may find it glitter with the silvery sheen of the fish, a sure sign of a heavy draught.
Arg. 1939:
Come along, mates, I think we should pree on noo and see if we hev a good marking; if no', we'll shuft.

II. n. 1. An experiencing or trying of something, a tasting or testing; a small quantity of the substance tested or tried, a sample, pinch.Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xxiv.:
The snuff that I hae here . . . tak a pree o't.
Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1863) I. 26:
I ken the verra gem-eggs, at the first pree, frae your dung-hill.
Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 169:
Gie me a pree, but no my fill.
Ags. 1880 A. M. Soutar Hearth Rhymes 37:
A kiss upon paper is cauld to the pree.

2. Nonce liter. extension of meaning: flavour.Lnk. 1881 A. Wardrop J. Mathison's Courtship 126:
Puir souls, they've forgotten its pree.

[A shortened form of prieve, Pruive, q.v. Cf. Gie, Hae, etc.]

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"Pree v.1, n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2022 <>



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