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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.

SPELL, n.1, v.1 Also speel (Bnff. 1871 Banffshire Jnl. (7 Feb.)). Sc. form and usages:

1. Spelling, spelling lesson (Bwk. 1971).Abd. 1867 A. Allardyce Goodwife xii.:
She'll read as clare's the Dominie. An's feerious at the spell.
Slk. 1897 D. W. Purdie Poems 74:
When oor spells we couldna say.
Bwk. 1912 J. Burleigh Ednam 125:
He makes them say their “spells.”

2. A spelling book.Sc. 1803 The Conductor Intro.:
The columns of Spelling which are generally interspersed in other Spells with the lessons of reading, in this Spell occupy a separate place.
Lnk. 1842 Children in Mines Report II. 366:
Had a little “spell” the other day in which he was learning his A.B.C.

3. Combs. (1) big spell, a spelling book printed in capitals (Lnk. 1840 T.S.D.C.); (2) large spelling book, id.; (3) muckle spell-buik, id.; (4) spell-book, a spelling book; (5) wee spell (-book), a spelling book in lower-case letters (Lnk. 1840 T.S.D.C.).(1) Dmb. 1894 D. MacLeod Past Worthies 119:
The wee spell, the big spell, the New Testament, the Bible, and the Collection, in rotation, comprised the whole literary equipment.
(2) Slg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 371:
They learn the sounds of the letters . . . then they receive the large spelling book.
(3) Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb x.:
He's i' the foort class an' complete maister o' the muckle spell-buik.
(4) Per. a.1843 J. Stewart Sketches (1857) 60:
Spell-book an' carritch syne to test Their skill in lear's in great request.
Gsw. 1865 J. Young Homely Pictures 137:
She's torn her spell-book into leaves.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (15 May):
Da lang nebbit wirds i' da saxpenny spell buik.
(5) Ayr. 1833 J. Kennedy G. Chalmers 253:
“The wee Spell! what kin' o' book is that?” “The second step up the ladder, sir,” answered the Dominie.
Sc. 1841 Tait's Mag. (June) 360:
He could hammer out some words in the “wee spell.”
Ayr. 1868 A. McKay Ingleside Lilts 166:
I toddled to the auld schule-house The wee spell-book to learn.

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



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