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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.

SILLER, n., v. Also sillar; silder (n.Sc. 1706 Sc. Antiquary XII. 103; Per. 1753 A. Nicol Rural Muse 111; Ags. 1820 A. Balfour Contemplation 275, 1889 J. Fotheringham Carnoustie Sk. 71). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. silver. See P.L.D. § 70.3. [′sɪlər; em.Sc. (a) + ′sɪldər. In sense I. 1. the Eng. pronunciation is now common.]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., of the metal, lit. and fig. Freq. attrib. Also adv., = with a silvery lustre. Adj. silderie, silvery.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 37:
Then up I took my Siller Ca' And whistl'd benn whiles ane, whiles twa.
Ayr. 1788 Burns Ploughman iv.:
Snaw-white stockings on his legs, And siller buckles glancin'.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 46:
Until your pow be siller grey Wi' very eild.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. vi.:
The leddy, on ilka Christmas night gae twelve siller pennies to ilka puir body about, in honour of the twelve apostles like.
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 49:
The siller kipper for to chace.
Bnff. 1847 A. Cumming Tales 52:
As she told out “the siller speens, siller ladles, and ither siller things.”
Rxb. 1868 D. Anderson Musings 12:
Simmer waves wi' siller wing.
Sc. 1898 Stevenson M. of Ballantrae xii.:
By the light of two siller candlesticks.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 17:
The autumn gowd an' siller At the hindmaist o' September month.
Ags. 1934 H. B. Cruickshank Noran Water 12, 29:
Or steep mysel' intil the licht O' siller-sheenin' mune . . . O siller, siller shone the mune.
n.Sc. 1949 Scots Mag. (June) 229:
Gie me the licht o' the muckle hairst-mune, . . . Buskin' the yird in a silderie goon.
Abd. 1991 George Bruce in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 20:
or they dove, like they were siller needles,
richt through thon thick sog oot o sicht
and deep doon and never seen agen,
and we thocht naething o't.

Combs.: (1) siller-back, a name fig. applied to a fish with a silver sheen on its back, e.g. a trout, a herring; (2) siller beastie, a fishermen's taboo name for the salmon; (3) siller buckie, the pyramid shell, Trochus cinerarius (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 155); (4) Silver City, Nickname for the City of Aberdeen; (5) siller cups, a variety of toadstool or fungus, one of the Nidulariaceae; (6) silver-eel, the broad-nosed eel, Anguilla latirostris; (7) siller-fish, the bib or pout, Gadus luscus (Mry. 1852 Zoologist X. 3484; ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna ofDee” 237; Abd. 1970); (8) siller-fluke, the brill, Rhombus laevis (Abd. 1880 F. Day Fishes II. 16; ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna ofDee” 245); the megrim, Zeugopterus megastoma, or witch-sole, Pleuronectes cynoglossus (Kcd. 1930 Fishery Board Gl.); (9) silver-ginglers, the quaking grass, Briza media (Rxb. 1876 Science Gossip 39); (10) siller gun, a small silver replica of a gun presented to the Incorporated Trades of Dumfries by King James VI in 1617 as a trophy for skill in shooting, now preserved in Dumfries Museum and still periodically awarded (Dmf. 1873 W. McDowall Hist. Dmf. 301 sqq.). There is a similar trophy in Kirkcudbright, said to have been given by King James in 1587 (Kcb. 1841 J. Nicholson Hist. Gall. I. 529); (11) silver haddock, the John Dory, Zeus faber (Abd., Arran, Ayr. 1930 Fishery Board Gl.; Bwk. 1970); (12) silver h(e)art, a silver brooch in the shape of a heart, common in the late 17th and early 18th cs. as a gift to one's bride. See Lucken, I. 1.; (13) silver heather, the common hair-cap moss, Polytrichum commune (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 261); (14) silver herring, the smaller immature herring of the West of Scotland fisheries; (15) siller-munted, mounted with silver; (16) silver owl, the barn-owl, Tyto alba (Ags. 1886 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 125), from the whiteness of the under-plumage; (17) silver plover, the knot, Calidris canutus (Slg. 1885 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. 63). See quot.; (18) siller sawnie, a small iridescent sea-shell given by MacTaggart as the periwinkle but more probably the pearly-top shell, Calliostoma ziziphinum, “used in the home-made decorations of seaside cottages” (Gall. 1904 E.D.D.). See Sandie and (3); (19) siller Seturday, “the silvery seed-tops of certain grasses” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); see 2. (14); (20) siller shakers, the quaking-grass, Briza media (Kcb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IV. 67; Dmf., Rxb. 1873 Science Gossip 39; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Lth., Kcb., Rxb. 1970). Also in form -shakle (Fif., Lnk. 1970). Cf. (8); (21) siller-tassels, id.; (22) silver-white, the white or immature sea-trout, Salmo trutta, from the whiteness of its skin (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 164). See Finnock, Herling; (23) silver willie, = (3) (Ork. 1954 Ork. Miscellany II. 56: Ork., Abd., Fif., e.Lth. 1970).(1) Ags. 1891 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) XIV. 260:
The spreckled little siller backs.
Fif. 1906 E. Fife Observer 30 July 1959):
Never a siller-back was to be seen.
(2) Bnff. 1961 Stat. Acc.3 254:
The salmon was a fish not to be mentioned, except as the “silver beastie”.
(3) Bwk. 1841 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1885) 264:
Our children call the shell Silver-buckies or Silver-Willies; they do not eat the snail.
(4)Sc. 1995 Scotland on Sunday 9 Apr 11:
It is Chile for April in the silver city. The good citizens of Aberdeen are witness to attempts by the city's South American community to splash a dash of Latin colour on to the grey granite.
em.Sc. 1997 Ian Rankin Black & Blue (1999) 165:
' ... Normally we'd assign the Oil Liaison Officer to look after you, but he's on holiday and I'm filling in, which makes me your guide for the duration.' Lumsden smiled. 'Welcome to Silver City.'
Silver for the River Dee which ran through it. Silver for the colour of the buildings in sunlight - grey granite transformed into shimmering light. Silver for the money the oil boom had brought. Lumsden explained as Rebus drove them back down on to Union Street.
Sc. 2001 Press and Journal 16 Mar 12:
The film showed the Gordon Highlanders marching along Union Street on their way to the Boer War, and was part of a programme - Silver City on the Silver Screen - playing at the cinema yesterday.
Sc. 2001 Daily Record 28 Jul 8:
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Esko, Aberdeen's first and only superclub, here to save us from the drudgery of the Silver City's not so sparkling clubbing scene.
Sc. 2002 Scotsman 10 Sep 2:
"I came to hate Aberdeen more than any place I saw." These words were not uttered by Martin Amis, who this week enraged residents of the Silver City by describing their home town as "one of the darkest places imaginable - like Iceland," ...
Sc. 2003 Aberdeen Evening Express 18 Sep 18:
Aberdeen is celebrating today after winning four prestigious titles at Beautiful Scotland in Bloom. Despite losing out to Pitlochry on the Champion of Champion's Rosebowl, the Silver City scooped two Local Authority awards.
Sc. 2004 Scotland on Sunday 5 Sep 14:
Last Sunday, when travelling down from the Silver City, I visited a cafe to avail myself of some breakfast.
(5) Edb. 1888 Trans. Edb. Naturalists' Club 183:
One species is found plentifully on bracken stems, but the neatest and prettiest kind is seen growing on the ground, mostly in stubble-fields, in spring. At the first glance they represent miniature open purses filled with silver coins. In England they are called Pixies' purses, and in Scotland, Siller cups.
(6) Bwk. 1838 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club 175:
Dr. Parnell gave me a small specimen from the Tweed, where I believe it is not uncommon, and is distinguished from the others by the name of Silver-Eel.
(10) Dmf. 1727 W. McDowall Hist. Dmf. (1873) 623:
A meeting of the Deacons in the hall anent the Silver Gune shoting.
Dmf. 1808 J. Mayne Siller Gun 9:
The Seven Trades there, Forgather'd, for their Siller Gun To shoot ance mair.
Kcb. 1960 Scotsman (27 Feb.) 8:
To mark the occasion of the Royal birth, the Ancient Six Incorporations of Kirkcudbright held a rifle shoot in the local Drill Hall yesterday. The winner, who was presented with the Siller Gun, was Councillor Robert Telford (Shoemakers).
Dmf. 1964 Dmf. Standard (1 July) 1:
A large crowd gathered at Whitesands to watch the “Chairing” of the Siller Gun winner.
(12) Rnf. 18th c. Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) S. 65–6:
Merchant Caldwell in his Counts for wedding braws, he has plenty of them from 1697 to 1744: he charges the bridegroom for the sillar hart which was given by him to his Bride. The price varied from 10/- to 15/Scots.
(14) Rs. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evidence III. 2011:
This loch was famous for fishing in the old times, was it not? — Yes, but it is falling off now. Is that because the silver-herring has been lost? — I don't know.
(15) Sc. 1881 “Rockwood” Stories Sc. Sports 163:
His “siller minted” [sic] prize handles in a beautiful new pair from the deep blue “channel” stane of Burnock Water.
(17) Slg. 1906 J. A. Harvie-Brown Fauna Tay 294:
In this district of Forth — the coast of Stirlingshire and the estuary of the Forth generally — the Knot is the bird which goes by the names of both “Silver” and “Grey Plover”. But the name Silver Plover is the one usually applied. That name is an importation from the Humber by Humber puntsmen.
(18) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 85:
Nae Sillar sawnies on the Borness shore Can sparkle like the e'en dang Hackston owre.
(20) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 427:
The sillar shakle wags its pow, Upon the brae my deary.
Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lads' Love vi.:
Through the tall silver-shakers of the water-meadows.
e.Lth. 1924 I. Adair Glowerower 44:
Vases of silver shakers graced the mantelpiece.
e.Lth. 1970 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 347:
“Silver shakers”, a kind of grass which my grandmother liked for the vase in her parlour.
(21) Rxb. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 216:
Gathered to ornament chimney-pieces in summer; and it is a favourite in the posies of our children. They of the Lammermuirs call the grass Siller-tassels.
(22) Bwk. 1834 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1885) 52:
When the fish rose, Stevenson at once called out that it was a silverwhite.
(23) Bwk. 1841 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1885) 264:
Our children call the shell Silver-buckies or Silver-Willies.
Ayr. 1896 J. Lamb Annals Ayr. Parish 21:
The ordinary shells found off the Scottish coast abound. . . . Cat's Cradles, Clams, Silver Willies, etc.
Edb. 1897 T. Thomson Rhymes 22:
The lassies fill their baskets wi' Clams, stoups, and silverwillies.
Bwk. 1921 Kelso Chron. (7 Oct.) 4:
Buckies, silver wullies, and other conchological treasures.

2. Silver coin, cash, hence money in gen. (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 49), the Gen.Sc. word = Eng. money. Obs. in Eng. exc. n. dial. Adjs. sillerie, silderie, monied, rich, wealthy (Lnk. 1825 Jam.); hence sillerieness, richness, affluence (Id.); sillerless, having no money, impecunious (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Phrs. a big or lang siller, a big price (Gall. 1904 E.D.D.). See Lang, I. 3.; siller doon, cash down, ready money; to sup up the siller, see 1969 quot.Sc. 1706 Sc. Antiquary XII. 103:
Let us but ance see aff gate and Silder for Wark.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 16, 19:
A sillerless man gangs fast thro' the market. . . . Better find iron than tine siller.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 22:
The fouks were wealthy, store was a' their stock; With this, but little siller, did they trock.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 164:
As lang's their pith or siller dow, They're daffin', and they're drinking.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 23–4:
That ilka melder wi' the miller, Thou sat as lang as thou had siller.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxvi.:
“Ye maunna gang this wilfu' gate sillerless.” — He put a purse into her hand. “But Laird,” said Jeanie, “I ken my father will satisfy every penny of this siller.”
Ags. 1820 A. Balfour Contemplation 275:
Love brought them twa three thumpin' childer, They baith grew rich in bairns an' silder.
Sc. 1837 Chambers's Jnl. (Feb.) 36:
Nothing answers there among the common people, but silver money. . . . Hence the favourite word for money in Scotland — siller.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 330:
Than wed wi' a sillerless bodie, I'd far rather want till I dee.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped iv.:
There's a wee bit siller.
Kcd. 1894 Crockett Raiders ii.:
But there'll be a pickle siller in Matthew Erskine's hands for a' that.
Slg. 1896 W. Harvey Kennethcrook 52:
It was seldom the weaver would come to any terms other than ‘siller doon'.
e.Lth. 1902 J. Lumsden Toorle 235:
I'd gar Dame Fortune pettle yet My pickle siller!
m.Sc. 1920 O. Douglas Penny Plain xiii.:
“Nae siller”. “What! No money, you mean?”
Abd. 1969:
In reading fortunes in tea-cups, part of the ritual was “to sup up the siller”; that was to take one's tea-spoon and collect any little bubbles from the surface of the newly-poured tea. Failure to do this would lose the money destined for one.
m.Sc. 1979 Donald Campbell in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 67:
Mony pokes o skinklin siller,
bonnie dainties cam your wey.
A sonsie quine wi ocht intil her
can mak a fortune, so they say.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 10:
"You didnae stay lang at the ale-hoose," Frank remarked conversationally.
"I didnae hae the siller," replied Hugh.
"You're no' that fond of it maybe, the ale I mean?" asked Hugh.
Sc. 1991 R. Crombie Saunders in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 30:
The son brak out in lauchter:
"There's a twa-three chiel at the inn
Can mak a hantle o siller
An'll show me hou it's duin!"
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 103:
'I must beg siller frae ye, sir,' he said. 'I must awa tae the Low Countries for a spell. ... '
ne.Sc. 2005 Press and Journal 10 Jan 12:
"It wisna me" promptit Frances Jaffray, o Ellon, tae write in tae say that naebody seem't tae winner fit wye the siller wis disappearin like waater doon a drain until it wis ower late.

Combs.: (1) ba-siller, money scattered at a wedding for children to scramble for, orig. a sum given to the local boys to buy a football; (2) siller-bag, a money-bag; ¶(3) siller-blind, blinded by wealth; †(4) siller-bridal, a wedding at which the guests pay for their entertainment as a contribution towards the new home, a penny-wedding (see Penny, 4. (39)); ¶(5) siller-dodge, to cheat in money dealings, to indulge in sharp practice in money matters; †(6) silver duty, a tax or assessment paid in cash, specif. one paid in lieu of Tiend, in terms of the Act of 1633; †(7) silver feu-duty, feu-duty (see Feu) payable in cash; (8) siller-gatherer, an accumulator of money, a money-grubber, miser; (9) siller-grip, id.; (10) siller-marriage, = (4) (Abd. 1825 Jam.); (11) silver-pock, = (2); (12) siller-poun, a pound in silver, twenty shillings or its equivalent; †(13) silver-rent, rent payable in cash; (14) siller-Saturday, see Cockie-law; †(15) silver-stipend, that part of a parish minister's stipend paid in money and not in kind; ¶(16) siller-troke, a piece of silver, a silver coin. See Troke; (17) white-siller, cash in silver, silver coins (I., n.(fite), e. and wm.Sc. 1970); (18) yard-silver, rent for a garden; (19) yellow siller, money in gold, gold pieces.(1) Mry. 1836 J. Grant Penny Wedding 28:
A person scattering a quantity of copper pennies and half-pennies amongst the boys and girls who follow the party, crying, ba' siller, ba' siller!
Ork. 1905 W. T. Dennison Weddings 38:
If the bride and bridegroom belonged to separate parishes, the best-man had to provide the boys of one of the parishes with a football. The old rule gave this ball to the boys residing in the parish to which the bride belonged; but, in process of time, the ball was sometimes claimed by the youths of the bridegroom's parish, and in this case the dispute generally ended in a fight. Where the parties were stingy, the best-man sometimes refused to pay the “ba' siller”.
(2) Per. 1835 R. Nicoll Poems 138:
Misers mak' . . . Their heaven o' a siller bag.
Abd. 1863 G. MacDonald D. Elginbrod xiii.:
Sae he took frae his soul, and pat intill his siller-bag.
(3) Slg. 1885 W. Towers Poems 88:
Wealthy gowks struck siller-blind Pass heedless by.
(4) Sc. 1831 J. Logan Sc. Gael (1876) II. 371:
It is often the case that they are “siller bridals”; otherwise, those in which the parties are paid for the entertaimnent, which is sometimes resorted to as a means of raising a few pounds to begin the world with.
(5) Dmf. 1863 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 67:
Nor blythely greet the faithless man Wha siller-dodges a' he can.
(6) Sc. 1733 Morison Decisions 15338:
A silver duty in name of teind in cumulo.
(7) Rnf. 1757 W. M. Metcalfe Lordship Paisley (1912) 4:
For his silver ffeu duty 1751,. . . £18 6 0 Sc.
(8) m.Lth. 1869 J. Ballantine Miller xix.:
Like a' the lave o' the siller gatherers.
(9) Edb. 1866 J. Smith Merry Bridal 207:
Nae sordid Siller-grip wert thou.
(11) Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 209:
Gif ony here wi' canker knocks, And has na lous'd his siller pocks.
Ayr. 1803 A. Boswell Poet. Wks. (1871) 15:
Gowd's no that scanty in ilk siller pock.
(12) Sc. 1804 T. Campbell Poems (1851) 115:
I'll give thee a silver pound To row us o'er the ferry.
Mry. 1865 W. Tester Poems 95:
Mony a bonny weel-faured note, An' siller poun' frae him ye got.
(13) Sc. 1722 Morison Decisions 16013:
The lands of Kinross were feued for a small silver-rent.
Slg. 1727 Balgair Court Mins. (S.R.S.) 25:
Seventie fyve pound nynteen shilling and six pennies Scotts money as resting silver rent.
Sc. 1801 Farmer's Mag. 14:
The sume of £ sterling, of fixed silver rent, yearly, during the remainder of the tack.
(15) Ayr. 1720 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (21 Dec.):
The silver & victuall stipend.
(16) Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms lxviii. 30:
Till they lout themsels a' wi' siller-trokes.
(17) Sc. 1825 Jam.:
“I'll gie ye white siller for't”, I shall give you a sixpence at least.
Abd. 1825 Aberdeen Censor 235:
Wisdom will find purchasers in Aberdeen, if she offer herself at any thing under “white siller”.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller xii.:
“Ye see,” said Jock, holding up the silver piece. “There is the real white siller.”
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 13:
'Twis said she micht 'a got a croon O' gweed fyte siller for't.
Fif. 1897 S. Tytler Witch-Wife vi.:
She took more reluctantly the “white siller” he would force upon her.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (30 Dec.):
Twa an' ninepence o' white siller.
(18) Abd. 1719 S.C. Misc. (1935) I. 36:
George Reid payed up his yard silver for 1717.
(19) Kcb. 1898 Crockett Standard Bearer xxxviii.:
There will aye be a bit of yellow siller for ye in the cupboard.

II. v. 1. As in Eng., to cover with silver. Fig. to make (the hair) of a silvery colour, to grizzle.Fif. 1811 C. Gray Poems 129:
Tho' age has sillar'd owre my pow.

2. To give money to, pay (Sh. 1970). Ppl.adj. sillert, -ed, monied, wealthy (ne., e. and wm.Sc. 1970).Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 152:
A siller't snirt makes quickest sail, To Hymen's port.
Lnk. 1883 A. R. Fisher Poems 7:
I've seen them dress'd at fashion's ca', Amang the sillered classes, O.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (8 Oct.):
Gude feth, I widna haud his feet an' see dee cuttin' his craig no if doo wid siller me.
Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 10:
Bargains eneuch for sillered fowks.

[O.Sc. siluyr, money, 1424, siller, 1578, -brydell, 1624, -duty, 1609, -rent, 1640.]

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