Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

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

SPARE, n.1 Also spair, spear. An opening or slit in any garment (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., spair; Cai. 1904 E.D.D., spair; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., spair). Obs. in Eng. Specif.: ‡(1) the opening or slit in a woman's skirt, gown or petticoat, the placket (Ork. 1929 Marw.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; I., m. and s.Sc. 1971). [′spe(ə)r]Gall. 1706 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) I. 182:
The said Michael M'Cleland sometymes put his hand in at the spare of her coat.
Sc. 1771 The Bonny Hind in Child Ballads No. 50 x.:
She's putten her hand down by her spare, And out she's taen a knife.
Mry. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. 446:
Spear — A slit formed in a gown for the pockets; in a petty-coat for the adjustment of its tyers.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 18:
Her drugget coat, aye wi' the spare o't ajar.

(2) The opening in the front of trousers (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Cai., Rs., Mry., Bnff., em.Sc. (a), wm.Sc., Dmf. 1971). Cf. Spaiver.Rnf. 1753 Session Papers, Corse v. Cumming (12 June) 11:
He also saw the said Pursuer's Breeches torn from one of the Pocket Lids to the Spair.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 233:
Get but your hips owre your breeks' spare, 'Till gar you spout ten fa' and mair.
Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 125:
When first your spare [of trousers] began to fail.
Lnl. 1880 T. Orrock Fortha's Lyrics 34:
They turned his breeks, as folk did see, The spare jist whaur the seat should be.

Combs. back-spare, a cleft or opening in the back of trousers (Sc. 1825 Jam.), front-spare, a cleft or opening in the front of trousers.Abd., Per. 1898 E.D.D.:
Back-spares and front-spares are not now used in making trousers.

[O.Sc. spair, of a petticoat, 1568, Mid.Eng. spaier, slit in clothing, of uncertain orig., poss. connected with O.N. spjǫrr, spjarrir, rag(s), tatter(s), Norw. spjœr, a rent, tear, in clothing.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Spare n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: