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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).

PUPIL, n. Also ¶peowpil (Abd. 1865 G. MacDonald Alec Forbes xviii.). Sc. form and usage in Sc. Law: the term for a child under the age of Minority, q.v., fixed at twelve years of age for females and fourteen years for males (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 70). Hence pupillarity, n., the period between a child's birth and the official attainment of puberty at twelve or fourteen years old, according to sex (w.Sc. 1741 A. M'Donald Galick Vocab. 59), during which time he is unable to act for himself in any legal or official capacity (see quots.). [†Abd. ′pjʌupl]Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institutes I. i. 22:
After the Years of Pupillarity are run out those who were formerly under the Conduct of Tutors, change the Name of Pupils for that of Minors.
Sc. 1754 Erskine Principles i. vii. § 8:
As pupils are incapable of consent, they have no person capable of acting . . . The persons of pupils are under the power, either of their tutors or of their nearest cognates; but the minor, after pupillarity, has the disposal of his own person, and may reside where he pleases.
Sc. 1780 Morison Decisions 8935:
There is no doubt in our law at what period pupillarity ends and minority begins . . . By the common law and prior to the statute 1696, as soon as the years of pupillarity were past, minors were free to act for themselves.
Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 492:
The periods of life distinguished by our law are three: Pupillarity, which reaches from the birth of the child to the age of fourteen in males and twelve in females; and during this period they are termed pupils: — puberty, which reaches from the termination of pupillarity to the age of twenty-one years, which is the period of majority in both Sexes; and from that time forward the person is said to be of lawful age.
Sc. 1896 W. K. Morton Manual 209:
Not a bond granted in pupillarity, which is void or a nullity.
Sc. 1927 Gloag & Henderson Intro. Law Scot. 47:
A pupil may have a tutor, who may contract on his behalf. Whether he has a tutor or not he has no power to contract. Any agreement he may make is void, cannot he enforced against him, nor can any right be founded on it.

[The usage is derived from Civil Law.]

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"Pupil n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Oct 2022 <>



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