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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SHEAVE, n., v. Also sheev(e), shieve; sha(i)ve; shafe, †schafe, sheaf; -shee. [ʃiv, ʃev, ʃef]

I. n. 1. A slice of bread, cheese or the like (Sc. 1808 Jam., sheave, sheeve, shave; Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 125; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 270; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 184; Ork. 1950, shave). Gen.Sc.; a segment of an orange (Cai. 1959, shafe), a flake of cooked fish (Fif. 1951, shafe). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial. Pl. sh(e)aves, shafes. Dim. sheevik (Sh. 1970). See also Shive.Sc. 1708 W. Steuart Collections i. xiii. § 6 (6):
At the Lord's supper doth he not cause cut the bread in large and fair shaves fit for mutual fraction and distribution?
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. i.:
Bannocks, and a shave of cheese.
Abd. 1781 W. Edwards Poems (1810) 56:
Cut down in sheaves, they [loaves] leuk fu' tight, Whan clad wi' butter.
Sc. 1806 Young Beichan in Child Ballads No. 53 E. xxxii.:
She begs one sheave of your white bread.
Sc. 1823 Scott St Ronan's W. vii.:
It's only to cut a shave of the diet-loaf.
Gsw. 1841 W. Aitken Poet. Works 57:
Wi' routh o' cakes, and bannocks baith And eke a shave o' bun.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (1 April):
I held twa or tree tattie sheeviks ta da gimmer.
Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 131:
She got up, cut twae or three shaves o' the currant loaf.
Abd.4 1929:
“A sheeve aff o' a cuttit loaf's never miss't” — Retort by a ploughman if caught kissing another man's sweetheart.
Arg.4 1935:
Ye'll get yer tea wi' a fine claary o' jam on yer shafes o' breed.
Fif. 1952 R. Holman Behind the Diamond Panes 109:
Four “shaves of bread” in the form of sandwiches.

2. As in Eng., a puley (ne., em. Sc., Kcb. 1970). Also in comb. pulley-shave, -sheeve) (Abd., Ayr. 1880 Jam.). See Pullishee.Sc. 1700 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 293:
The chaines, buckets and shaves, and all other goeing greath for the towns haill walls.
e.Lth. 1808–11 Foord Acct. Bk. MS. 41, 111:
To 2 shaves for windows. . . . A new Stent box and Shive and brass.

II. v. To cut into slices, “when followed by doon it commonly means to slice down the whole piece; and when followed by aff to take off one or more slice” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 154; Sh., Abd. 1970). Deriv. shaiver, appar. = a slice, in children's usage in 1825 quot.Lth. 1825 Jam., s.v. Haavers and Shaivers:
The phrase more fully is, Haavers and Shaivers, and hale a' mine ain. This is pronounced indiscriminately by the finder, and by one who claims a share. But it seems probable that the words, Haavers and shaivers, were originally uttered only by the person who did not find the property; and that he who did find it tried to appropriate it by crying out, so as to prevent any conjunct claims, Hale a' mine ain, i.e. “Wholly mine.”
Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads I. 90:
Will ye hae an apple, lady, And I will sheave it sma'?

[O.Sc. has schefe, = I. 1., a.1400, scyf, = I. 2., 1497, schaw, schewe, id., 1554. The forms sheave, shive (see Shive), are also found in Eng., the variation in vowel being attributed to different ablaut grades in O.E. *scĭfe, *scīfe. The cognate words are M. Du., M.L.Ger. schive, Ger. scheibe, with various senses, including slice of bread, pulley. The [ʃev] forms may be due partly to the different developments of ē (see P.L.D. § 88), partly to confusion with shave, a paring or slicing. There may also be some influence from the dial. Eng. sheave, shive, a fragment or splinter, L.Ger. sche(e)ve, Du. scheef, Ger. schebe, id., cogn. with Eng. shiver, to splinter.]

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"Sheave n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Apr 2024 <>



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