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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SKIRE, adj., adv., v., n. Also skyre, scyre, skeyr, skuire; skir-; skier, skeir, skeer; skare, skair, and poss. misreading, ¶skure; ¶skaur. [skəir, †skir]

I. adj. 1. Clear, bright. Only in phr. skare moonlight (Ork. 1929 Marw.). Comb. skyre-leukin, of a bright, gaudy colour (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 165).

2. In comb. Skeir-, Skeer-, Skure-, Skiers-, Skyres-, Skuires-, Scarce-Thursday, Skir-Furisday, Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, freq. applied to a fair or market held on that day (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Skir-Furisday). See etym. note.Abd. 1724 W. Orem Descr. Old Abd. (1791) 49:
The Supper of our Lord before Pasch, commonly called Skeir-Thursday's Fair.
Gsw. 1736 J. M'Ure View Gsw. 56:
The twentieth day of Yuil, which is a great Horse Fair, and continues weekly till Skiers-Thursday.
Abd. 1794 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 2) VI. 184:
Says Tam, There's many a quean an' loun Has here been shriven, Wha wore skeer Thursdays sackin gown Frae Fastern's Even.
Rxb. 1825 Jam., s.v. Skeir:
Scarce-Thursday, the name of a fair held at Melrose on the Thursday before Easter.
Gsw. 1864 Glasgow Herald (15 April):
“Skiers” Thursday. — This important concluding market was held yesterday.

3. Absolute, pure and simple, out and out, unmitigated.Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. Schire:
A skire fool.

II. adv. Absolutely, utterly, altogether, stark. Hence skire-mad (also ellipt. skire), -nakit, -wrang (Sth. 1825 Jam., skaur-wrang).Edb. 1720 A. Pennecuik Helicon 78:
He had a base property 'twas scyre wrang.
Per. 1758 A. Nicol Rural Muse 15:
Our land is now skier naked made.
Lth. 1822 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) II. 35:
The man's gane skire.
Fif. 1825 Jam. s.v. Skeir:
In Fife the phrase is skyre-mad, i.e., quite insane.
Knr. 1891 H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 92:
Skeer nakit, wantin' claes!

III. v. To shine brightly, to glitter, be brightly coloured or gaudy, to cut a dash in gaudy garish clothes (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 165; Ork., ne.Sc. 1970). Most freq. in ppl.adj. skyrin, bright, gleaming, of gaudy colours, garish (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Ork., ne.Sc. 1970). Also adv. Deriv. skyrie, id. (Ork., ne.Sc. 1970), skyrishness, gaudiness, garishness.Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 24:
Nae skyring gowk, my dear, can see, Or love, or grace, or heaven in thee.
Abd. 1748 R. Forbes Ajax 19:
The gowden helmet will sae glance, An' blink wi' skyrin brinns.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Battle Sherramuir iii.:
But had ye seen the philibegs And skyrin tartan trews, man.
Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 129:
Round him spread a cheery skyrin light.
Abd. 1826 Aberdeen Censor 80:
The skyrishness of their dresses.
Dmb. 1831 D. MacLeod Past Worthies (1894) 102:
We saw the rays of the morning sun Coming up the horizon skyring.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxix.:
That braw French merino she's been skyrin in.
Abd. 1922 G. P. Dunbar Whiff o' Doric 22:
In their gigs an' their cairts, Some dubbit, an' some skeyrin' new.
Abd. 1945 Abd. Univ. Review 33:
A skeirie bit gravat, a buik i' the han'.
Abd. 1995 Sheena Blackhall Lament for the Raj 4:
Reezed oot bi his fiers
The general tosses back his heid an lauchs.
A toozle o skyrie feathers
Dunts doon before the hooves.

IV. n. Anything brightly-coloured, a brightly-coloured tawdry piece of dress (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 165).

[The diphthongal forms derive from O.N. skirr, clear, pure, the simple vowel forms from O.N. skærr, id. For Skire-Thursday, cf. O.N. Skíriþorsdagr, Norw. Skirtorsdag, skjær-, Maundy Thursday, on which ritual bathing, symbolic of purification from sin, took place. O.Sc. has skyre, clear, bright, a.1585, skyr, adv., completely, 1581, Skyre-, -is Thurisday, 1420, Early Mid.Eng. skir, skere, pure. The St. Eng. cognate form is sheer.]

Skire adj., adv., v., n.

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"Skire adj., adv., v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Feb 2023 <>



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