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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SHILLIN(G), n. Also shillen, shullin. Sc. forms and usages. Coins of the denomination of one shilling (in value, owing to the progressive depreciation of the Sc. currency, equal to one Eng. penny) are rare in Scot., with the exception of issues in the reigns of James VI. and Charles I., but coins of multiples of one shilling, as two, six, ten, twenty, forty, etc. appear freq. from 1582 onwards until the Union of 1707. Cf. Gael. sgillin, a penny. Phrs. and Combs.: 1. eighty etc. shilling, Also 80/- etc. Used until the 1950s in the classification of the strength of beer, from the price per barrel, e.g. forty-shilling ale (usu written 40/-) a very light beer; later re-introduced (without reference to the price) in the 'real-ale' boom of the 1970s. 2. protesting shilling, the shilling tabled by a protester in an ecclesiastical court under the procedure of taking Instruments, q.v.; 3. shilling-grass. the common white-rot, Hydrocotyle vulgaris, so called from its small round leaves (Ayr. 1886 B. and H.); 4. shillingland, land of which the annual product was valued at a shilling under the Old Extent, in 1585 fixed at the fortieth part of a Ploughgate, or 2.6 Scots acres. A forty-shilling-land held of the Crown allowed its possessor to elect or be elected a member of Parliament until the Reform Act. See Freeholder. Now only hist. exc. in place-names; 5. Shillin-shakers, shiller-, the quaking-grass, Briza media (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1970), a corruption of siller-shakers, see Siller; 6. to spit shillins, to spit saliva in small frothy quantities like shillings on the ground, from the mouth being dry sc. from a drinking bout; 7. to wantpence or something o' (i') the shilling, to be mentally defective, simple-minded, to be “not all there”, the number of pence varying according to the speaker's assessment of the deficiency (I. and n.Sc., Ayr., Kcb. 1970); 8. twel shilling, one shilling, British money. See definition above. 1.Sc. 1989 Independent 28 Oct 41:
Meanwhile, the wonderfully malty Caledonian 70 Shilling has been added, so The Gravediggers may well be resurrected next year. It should be. McEwan's 80 Shilling is not what it once was, but it responds to Bill Farmer's touch like a utility soccer player to a great coach.
m.Sc. 1996 Christopher Brookmyre Quite Ugly One Morning (1997) 28:
'Hi, Dunky,' came a female voice from behind Parlabane, the woman passing her respects as she waited for her change and for her pint of Eighty Shilling to settle.
Gsw. 1998 Glasgow Guzzler Spring 15:
It was fitting that George's efforts in offering and promoting cask ale were recognised by CAMRA's Glasgow Branch as the award complements the Certificate of Merit awarded in October 1995 (only the second such award of this kind ever made by the Branch). Beginning with Heriot 80/- and McEwan's 80/-, ...
Gsw. 1998 Glasgow Guzzler Spring 23:
... a malty Scottish 80/- with slightly dark-malt overtones and a more pronounced hop finish ...
Sc. 2004 Herald 23 Feb 20:
S&N, which is expected to announce a 30% hike in profits when it posts its 2003 annual results today, said it will continue to make McEwan's ales from the 60-90 Shilling range and Younger's Tartan Pale Ale.
2. Sc. 1850 Hogg's Instructor (March) 74:
Every fresh book of his [Carlyle's] comes down with the noise and force of a protesting shilling.
4. Dmf. 1718 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. (1898–9) 82:
The fourty shilling land of Woolcoats and the fourty shilling land of Albielees.
Lnk. 1764 Caled. Mercury (16 July):
The Nineteen Shilling Land of Knewoble.
Rnf. 1786 Session Papers, Campbell v. Douglas (5 Dec.) App. 2. 4:
The said lands of Cavenlie paid cess after the rate of a twenty shilling land, or a merk and a half.
Sc. 1872 C. Innes Legal Antiq. 270:
The forty-shilling land is the same as a three markland.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xxvii.:
I'll no gang on the parish — I'm Miss Richmond o' Tenshillingland.
Sc. 1954 P.S.A.S. LXXVIII. 59:
The Norse scale of land denominations in descending order was the ounceland, pennyland, halfpennyland, farthingland, and smaller fractions. It did not include poundlands, merklands, or shillinglands. The latter had a quite different historical origin and belonged to a different order.
6. Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 222:
Wi' his mooth unco dry, an' spittin' shillin's.
7. Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 99:
They are all, however, of rather a wild frantic nature, and seem to want ‘some pence of the shilling', a penny or more.
wm.Sc. 1836 Scottish Annual 187:
The body wanted something o' the shilling.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin vi.:
A changelin' an' certainly wantin' tippence i' the shillin'.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (12 Feb.):
He's laek a' 'at wants a tippence o' da shillin'.
8. Sc. 1715 Lochlomond Expedition 50:
Will you give me a shilling for it cood wife, tat is a twel shilling?

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"Shillin n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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