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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.

QUALIFY, v. Also qualifee. Sc. usages. [′kwɑlɪfi]

1. Sc. Law: to establish by evidence, to authenticate, testify (Sc. 1825 Jam., 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 71).Sc. 1705 W. Forbes Church-Lands 210:
No Title of possession needs to be qualified, or condescended on.
Sc. 1790 Boswell Johnson (1934) III. 63 n.:
It is curious to observe that Lord Thurlow has here, perhaps in compliment to North Britain, made use of a term of Scotch law, which to an English reader may require explanation. To qualify a wrong, is to point out and establish it.

2. To acquire or give legal sanction by the taking or administration of an oath; specif. in regard to Scottish Episcopalians who until 1792 were permitted to exercise their religious functions only on renouncing allegiance to the Jacobite monarchy; to swear allegiance to. Hence qualified chapel, meeting-house, minister, etc. Now hist.Sc. 1709 H. G. Graham Social Life (1901) 384:
Mr. James Greenshields, an Episcopal though “qualified” minister, read the English service-book in the dwelling-house.
Sc. 1712 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1842) I. 361:
It's not expected Mr Cockburn will have his meeting much increased if he get not in Mr Fullartoun in to assist him, under scogg of his qualifying.
Bnff. 1731 W. Cramond Ann. Bnff. (S.C.) I. 204:
Town Councillors regularly qualify to His Majesty, King George, by taking the oaths of abjuration, allegiance, supremacy and assurance.
Hdg. 1734 J. Miller Lamp Lth. (1900) 209:
[He] answered, that they had come in order to qualify him and the other members in order to the electing of a Convener.
Sc. 1747 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 608:
An organ was set up in one of the qualified Episcopal meeting-houses in Edinburgh about the beginning of December.
Ayr. 1763 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (31 Aug.):
An attestation of Mr Murray's being qualified to the Government, & also of Mr McQuhae's being qualified in like manner.
Ags. 1776 First Hist. Dundee (Millar 1923) 161:
Those of the Qwalifyed or English Episcopal persuassion.
Gsw. 1861 Glasgow Past & Present (1884) III. 231:
For more than half a century St Andrew's was a “qualified chapel,” but not defiant of the Scotch Episcopate, although the legal penalties necessitated its position.
Sc. 1951 F. Goldie Hist. Episc. Ch. Scot. 61:
There was no opportunity for public worship except in the English “qualified” chapels, which were outside the jurisdiction of the Scottish Bishops.

3. To pass the qualifying examination (see 4. (2)) for admissibility to secondary education, until the 1960s. Gen.Sc., obsol. Hence qualifying class, course.    Also absol. qualifying.etc.Sc. 1914 Report Council Educ. Scot. (Northern Div.) 36:
The numbers of pupils qualifying during each of the last four sessions.
Sc. 1925 J. Stewart Education in Edb. 21:
Transfers of pupils from the qualifying classes of Elementary Schools to post-qualifying courses takes place twice a year.
Sc. 1930 Edb. Educ. Cttee. Annual Report 10:
In Session 1928–29 the percentages of “qualified” and “unqualified” pupils leaving Primary Schools were 87 and 13 respectively.
Sc. 1939 N. A. Wade Post-Primary Educ. 144:
Available statistics show a slow tendency toward a lower average age of qualifying.
Abd. 1985 Robbie Kydd in Alexander Scott New Writing Scotland 3 36:
Mr Calder, who teaches the Qualifying, appears at the top of the steps...

4. Ppl.adjs. in Combs.: (1) qualified oath, Sc. Law: an oath upon reference, qualified by special limitations restricting it, which must be Intrinsic, q.v., to be valid (Sc. 1774 Erskine Institute iv. ii. § 11, 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 803); (2) qualifying examination, an examination on the attainments of pupils at the end of their primary school course about the age of twelve, formerly conducted by the Scottish Education Department but later, in 1922, delegated to Local Authorities and now in some places abolished, which qualified successful pupils for promotion to secondary education. It corresponds to the so-called “11-plus” examination in England. Also in reduced forms qualifying and colloq. quali, qual(l)y, quallie.Sc. 1774 Erskine Institute iv. ii. § 13:
A defender to whose oath a libel is referred, if he wants to adject to his oath particular qualities or circumstances which may tend to elide any part of the libel, may protest for a qualified oath, i.e. that the qualities adjected by him may be held as part of his oath.
Sc. 1806 Morison Decisions 13201:
Where the Qualified Oath imports a Denial of the Libel.
(2) Sc. 1909 J. Strong Hist. Sec. Educ. 261:
In the code of 1903, provision was made for a two years' course of specialized instruction, under the term “supplementary courses”, for pupils who would leave at the age of fourteen or so, and, in harmony with this, the examination for the merit certificate was transferred to the end of these new courses — thus continuing to mark the termination of an elementary career — and its former place was taken by the “qualifying examination” which carried with it no certificate.
Sc. 1910 J. Kerr Sc. Education 393:
Many schools aim at bridging the gulf between the Infant Department and the Qualifying Examination in five years. Under the old regime the normal period for doing this would have been six years.
Sc. 1915 A. S. Neill Dominie's Log 142:
All the Supplementary and Qualifying pupils had . . . gone out to the roadside. I turned to give the other classes arithmetic.
Sc. 1957 Bulletin (26 Oct.):
Despite the opposition of city head masters, Glasgow Education Committee are going ahead with their plan to abolish the “qualifying examination.” . . . The new plan means the abolition of the “quali,” and intelligence test at the end of the primary course.
Sc. 1966 Scots Independent (29 Jan.) 3:
If you didn't pass the “Qualy” you stayed on in the Advanced Division and had the “Three R's” hammered into your head.
Gsw. 1964 George Friel The Boy who Wanted Peace (1985) 13:
"You couldn't even pass your qually and you try and kid me about culture. ..."
Sc. 1994 Daily Record (2 Dec) 4:
On the other hand George Kynoch doesn't seem to have passed his quali at the counting. Either that or he has been mathematically blinded by his party's propaganda.
Gsw. 1995 Herald (13 Mar) 7:
We asked Mr McMurdo how it had been for him. "It was a bit like having to sit your quali at the age of 50," he said. For the benefit of younger readers, the quali is an exam which us old folk used to have to sit in the last year of primary school.
Sc. 1996 Sunday Mail (10 Mar) 4:
"I'm from good working-class stock," he said. "I passed my Quali and went to Holy Cross High School in Hamilton. ... "
Gsw. 1998 Glaswegian (2 Apr):
It is not very nice to be marked as a failure. Which was the major reason why the old Eleven-plus "quali" was scrapped.
Sc. 1999 Sunday Herald (21 Nov) 6:
...Scots ... are very much more clearly behind the comprehensive system of education. The memory of the ''Quali" exam aged 11, separating fast track sheep from condemned goats, which stifled the ambition of many talented people, is still seared in the memory of the generations which suffered under its inequities, and lives on in the consciousness of succeeding generations.

Comb.: quallie dance, also quallie party. Also in reduced form quali, a party held for primary school leavers.Gsw. 1985 Anna Blair Tea at Miss Cranston's 168:
I was in a Home and all the others in my class were just in their own families wi' mothers and fathers. They'd gardens too, and they brought flowers to the teacher. So when I saw that, I pinched some from a garden on my way to school. I got caught and dinae [sic] get to the Qually party.
Edb. 1991:
Ah'm no tellin you who Ah'm takin tae the quallie dance.
Sc. 1993 Herald (16 Dec) 15:
What a shame they don't teach country dancing in schools any more, she wrote wistfully. ... Even galumphing P7 rebels without a clue could sashe through a Highland schottische at the glittering highspot of primary life, the quali.
Sc. 1995 Herald (16 Dec) 14:
We in primary schools were away ahead of ourselves 40 years ago when many of us had the job of preparing P7 for the "Quali" dance.
Sc. 2000 Herald (4 Jul) 6:
I decide to work from home but Duncan's crown has fallen out at school and I have to organise a visit to the dentists. Fortunately I'm able to drive or he would have a Joe Jordan-like gap in his teeth at his quali dance in the evening.

[O.Sc. qualify, = 1., 1564.]

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



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