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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PRUIVE, v., n. Also pruv(e), priv(e) (Ags. 1798 W. Anderson Ladywell (1823) 10); prieve, preive, preeve. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. prove. See also Pruif. [‡prø:v; pri:v. See etym. note.]

I. v. A. Forms: Pa.t., pa.p. weak: pruived; preeved, prieved. Pa.p. strong: proven (Sc. 1716 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 283, 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 213; Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xlix.; Sc. 1944 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 387); preeven (Abd. 1960 People's Jnl. (26 Nov.) 8). [prøvn, prɪvn. The unhistorical pronunciations, pruvn, after Eng., and provn, after the spelling, are now freq.]

B. Usages: 1. Sc. Law combs. and phrs.: (1) not proven (rarely proved), one of the three verdicts allowed in a criminal trial in Scot., returned when a majority of the jury find that the case against the accused has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt (see quots.). The accused person is then unconditionally discharged; (2) proven rental, n., see 1838 quot. (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 70); (3) proving the tenor, “an action in which the pursuer seeks to set up a lost or destroyed document by proof of its contents” (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 70). Hence to prove the tenor, proof of tenor, etc.(1) Sc. 1727 J. Burnett Crim. Law (1811) 277:
The Jury “in respect of the probability of the pannel's rather coming to her husband's relief, considering in what condition she found him in, than to do harm to the deceased, all in one voice find the indictment not proven”.
Abd. 1748 Aberdeen Jnl. (18 Oct.):
The Trial of John Chalmers was begun and the Jury enclosed, that Day they gave in their Verdict by plurality of Votes finding the Indictment not proven, in Consequence of which, Ld. Elchies dismissed him from the Bar.
Sc. 1800 D. Hume Trial for Crimes II. 289, 291:
The jury's opinion . . . that the pannel is guilty or not guilty, or that the libel is proven or not proven . . . In later times . . . the phrase not proven has been employed to mark a deficiency only of lawful evidence to convict the pannel, that of not guilty, to convey the jury's opinion of his innocence.
Slk. 1810 Hogg Tales (1874) 159:
The jury, by a small majority, returned a verdict of not proven, and, after a severe reprehension and suitable exhortations, the smith was dismissed from the bar.
Lnk. 1818 McIlwham Papers (1838) 16:
The verdick o “no proven,” in a Scottish court, amounts but to this, that aften the pannel or culprit has been sae cunning a vagabond, that . . . nae man can prove his guilt.
Sc. 1827 Scott Journal (20 Feb.):
That bastard verdict, Not proven. I hate that Caledonian medium quid.
Rxb. 1868 Hawick Advertiser (18 April) 3:
The jury retired, and returned into Court with the following verdict: — . . . James Jardine, Guilty as libelled; Elizabeth Jardine, Not Proven.
Sc. 1927 F. T. Jesse Trial M. Smith 1:
On Thursday, the 9th of July, 1857, the trial of Madeleine Smith for the murder of her lover, Pierre Emile L'Angelier, by the administration of arsenic, ended in a verdict of “Not Proven” and she left the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh, by a side door, a free woman.
Sc. 1958 Intro. Sc. Legal Hist. (Stair Soc.) 442:
The origin of the “Not proven” verdict in Scots law is to be traced to the recognition of the inability of an unskilled jury to interpret the significance of particular facts and to the reluctance of Scottish jurors to assist the Government of Charles II in its repressive religious policies.
Sc. 1961 Gsw. Herald (1 Dec.):
Perhaps the “Not proven” verdict is a safety-valve in a system under which a man can be voted to death — at least in theory — by a majority of eight to seven. The case against the verdict, substantial though it is, had best be regarded as itself not proven.
(2) Abd. 1780 Aberdeen Jnl. (10 July):
The Lands and Estate of Rothmaise . . . of which the proven Rental is £90 5s. 3½d.
Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 798:
When the heritors, in a process of augmentation, do not admit the accuracy of a minister's rental, and take a commission for deponing on the actual rental of their several lands, the scheme of the rental, prepared under a judicial writ from the Lord Ordinary, according to the proof which has been led, and the certificates of rental and decrees of valuation produced, is called the proven rental. So also the rental of the subjects of a judicial sale, . . . is called the proven rental.
(3) Sc. 1754 Erskine Principles iv. i. § 29:
Actions of proving the tenor, are, on account of their importance, appropriated to the court of session; and, by the old form, the testimony of the witnesses could not be received, but in presence of all the judges . . . Where one's whole writings have been destroyed by fire, or in other such special cases which call for an extraordinary remedy, a proof of the tenor may be admitted, without any . . . adminicle.
Sc. 1896 W. K. Morton Manual 464:
Proving the Tenor. — This is an action by which the Court declare the terms of a deed lost or accidentally destroyed, the decree in which, containing in gremio the terms of the writing declared, is equivalent to the original deed. Generally some adminicle in writing is required in evidence, such as a draft or copy of the missing deed, since entirely oral evidence can rarely be sufficient to prove the terms of any but the simplest deeds.

2. (1) To try out, put to the test, sample; to experience, find by experience. Arch. in Eng. Phr. to prieve prattik, “to try ridiculous experiments” (Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems Gl.), to try tricks (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Cf. Pree.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 46:
Demure he looks. — The cheese he pales, — He prives it good, — ca's for the Scales.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 213:
Wha is't that gars the greedy Bankers prieve The Maiden's tocher, but the Maiden's leave.
Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St. Patrick I. xi.:
Stey till ance ye get the prieving o' the claymore.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 113:
The tiftan' nose haes muckle need Tae preeve a air o' sneeshan.
Sc. 1907 D. Macalister Echoes 123:
The lift abune, his only biel', His houp, the gun he's prieven.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' Ling 59:
Preevin Faith's sweet anodyne.
Sh. 1991 William J. Tait in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 44:
A wird oonsaid
My sign an plaidge sall be
Ta preeve da wine
Nae winepress ever bled.

(2) to try by tasting, to taste (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., priev; I. and ne.Sc. 1966). Vbl.n. preivin, a taste, tasting, a very small quantity, a tiny drop; a kiss (see 1838 quot. and Pree, v., 1. (3) (i)).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 162:
Dare she nane of her Herrings sel or prive, Afore she say, Dear Matkie wi' ye'r leave?
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 68:
Whan lads gang out on Sunday's even To treat their joes, And tak of fat pandours a prieven.
Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 67:
For ever sin' the serpent, Eve Did cry the cursed fruit to prieve.
Dmf. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (Sept.) 657:
Red wine and weel spiced cake? Ye'll no preive the samen at a lady's, let alane at a witch's lyke-wake.
Per. 1830 Perthshire Advertiser (7 Oct.):
I've been awa' at Peter Cameron's gettin' my whisky bottle filled, and gin ye like to come wi' me just now, I'se gie ye a preevin o't.
Sc. 1838 Whistle-Binkie 58:
He took me by the hand so shy, And fain wad stoun a privein.
Ork. 1904 Dennison Sketches 14:
Ye'se preeve hid [gin] afore we gang.
Sh. 1962 New Shetlander No. 63. 5:
We hated da sooen gruel — we hardly preeved it ava.

3. To estimate the quality and yield of a grain crop by threshing random samples of the sheaves, to Pruif grain (ne.Sc. 1966).Ags. 1831 Perthshire Advertiser (11 Aug.):
The Proprietor's servants will drive and stack the Corn Crops, whether the quantity shall be proved from the Stook, or fixed otherwise.
Bnff.2 1930:
Naething wis fairer nor the aul' preevin' system o' vailiation, bit it wid hardly dee noo a days.

4. To estimate the probable yield of a fishing-ground by making a trial haul, “to stop at any place at sea in order to make trial for fish” (Ork. 1825 Jam.; Sh., Ork. 1866 Edm. Gl., preeve). Cf. Pree, v.2 Pruif, v.Ork. 1929 Marw.:
It's no use gaan tae that mark tae fish; we've proven there already.

II. n. 1. A taste, sample, specif. of a kiss. Cf. Pree.Mry. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 295:
While Bessie to slocken his greenin, A prieve o' her mou' hardly gae'm.

2. = proof, s.v. Pruif, I. 1. (2).Sc. 1823 Scott St. Ronan's W. i.:
The . . . sheriff-clerk of the county . . . always advertised that his “Prieves”, or “Comptis”, or whatever other business was in hand, were to proceed on such a day and hour.

2. The act of testing the productivity of a fishing ground by taking a sample haul (Ork. 1929 Marw.), the haul so taken.

[O.Sc. preive, to prove, a.1400. For the forms see note to Pruif, the ie, ee forms originating in the accented vowel of the Fr. v. sing., O.Fr. prueve (exc. in ne.Sc. where ee is the reg. development of Mid.Eng. ō, Sc. ui). These died out in St. Eng. c.1500. For Sc. Law verdict not proven, cf. the sim. Roman law non liquet, “it is not clear”.]

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"Pruive v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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