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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TREE, n., v. Dims. treeack (Mry. 1889 T. L. Mason Rafford 52), treeockie (Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxix.).

Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. As in Eng. Sc. combs. and deriv.: (1) tree-lark, the tree pipit, Anthus trivialis (Kcb. 1878 Zoologist (Ser. 3) II. 427); (2) tree-lintie, the chaffinch, Fringilla caelebs (Mry. 1844 Zoologist II. 508); (3) treeock(ie), id. (Mry. 1948); (4) tree-speeler, -speiler, the tree-creeper, Certhia familiaris (Slg. 1867 Zoologist II. 895; Clc. 1869 P. Alloa Soc. Nat. Science 50; e.Lth. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 57; Lnk. 1897 Annals Sc. Nat. Hist. 206; Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 355; Ayr. 1929 Paton & Pike Birds Ayr. 45; Lth., Ayr., Kcb., Dmf. 1973). See Speel, v.2

2. Wood, as a material, timber, freq. in ballad usage. Obs. or arch. in Eng.Edb. 1714 Burgh Rec. Edb. (1967) 278:
A sole of tree round the whole roum.
Gsw. 1758 Records Trades Ho. (Lumsden 1934) 434:
To make two new tables of plain tree for the large room.
Sc. 1792 Tam Lin in Child Ballads No. 39 A. xlii.:
I wad hae taen out thy twa grey een, And put in twa een o tree.
Sc. 1824 J. Maidment N. Countrie Garland 30:
O get to me a cloak of cloth, A staff of good hard tree.
Sc. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 281:
He threw the charters ower the table, And kissed the yates o tree.

Freq. in attrib. use in combs.: (1) tree-clout, a piece of wood used instead of leather to heel shoes (Peb. 1825 Jam.). Also attrib. of shoes: having wooden heels; (2) tree-ladle, a wooden ladle, gen. in phr. cutty-mun and tree-ladle, the name of an old dance tune (see Cutty, adj., 3. (2)). Also in corrupt form tree o ladle; (3) tree-leg, a wooden leg (Edb. 1809 J. Carr Caled. Sk. 212). Hence ppl.adj. tree-leggit, having a wooden leg.(1) Sc. 1819 Jacobite Relics (Hogg) 118:
Some tree-clouts and foul wisps o' strae.
s.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Till [about 1800] the heels of shoes were, in the south of Scotland, made of birch-wood. These were denominated tree-clout shoon.
(2) Sc. 1716 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 70:
He fits the Floor syne wi' the Bride To Cuttymun and Tree ladle.
Peb. 1832 R. Brown Hist. Sc. Village 32:
And trig Tam Thoomb's son, that can dance “Cutty-spoon and tree-ladle.”
Ork.1 1941:
[Orkney rhyme] Gaunt horse and riven saiddle, Broken spune and tree o ladle.
(3) Peb. 1765 C. B. Gunn Ch. Lyne (1911) 106:
Travelling though he has a tree leg.
Slk. 1832 Hogg Altrive Tales 100:
Stumping away with his tree leg.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie viii.:
The tree-legg't sailor.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 168:
E'en tree-legg'd Pate — 'twal been yer death To see him hobblet there.
Edb. 1881 J. Smith Jenny Blair 66:
Five blind fiddlers, an' a nigger wi' a tree leg.
sm.Sc. 1922 R. W. Mackenna Flower o' the Heather xxvii.:
A packman wi' a tree-leg.

3. A rod or stick, specif.: †(1) a cudgel, club. Obs. in Eng. Phr. to have the right end of the tree, to have the best of an argument, to have the stronger case in a dispute. Comb. herding-tree, a cow-herd's stick (Cai. 1905 E.D.D.).Bnff. 1719 Rec. Bnff. (S.C.) 397:
Striking the complainer with a big tree, for which he was committed to prison.
Abd. 1724 Third S.C. Misc. I. 55:
He saw a tree drawn between William Rae and John Garden.
Sc. 1733 J. Burnett Crim. Law (1811) 271:
He saw one of the prisoner's sons follow the defunct with a knife, and the other son with a tree.
Slg. 1792 G. Galloway Poems 66:
Revenge seiz'd my breast, I employed a lawyer; He swore that I had the right end of the tree.
Dmb. 1846 W. Cross Disruption iv.:
Faith, sir, ye ha'e the right end o' the tree.

(2) a staff or walking stick.Sc. 1826 Knight and Shepherd's Daughter in Child Ballads No. 110 B. xix.:
O he cam cripple, and he cam blind, Cam twa-fald oer a tree.
Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 136:
Limmers limpin' upo' trees, Wi' nought the matter.
Lth. 1895 A. S. Swan Gates of Eden vii.:
“There's my faither's tree till ye,” said David Campbell, handling out the stout crook.

(3) a stick or rod for stirring porridge, etc., a pot-stick. Cf. gruel-tree s.v. Gruel, 1.Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 220:
They that hae mael an' a tree, can mak' gruel i' the sea.
Cai. 1905 E.D.D.:
Porridge-tree, a stick for stirring porridge. Roolyin-tree, a stick for stirring potatoes in washing them.

4. Any long wooden bar, post or pole.Sc. 1699 Edb. Gazette (13 March):
A big tree they term the Camrell, which is that whereon they hing Carcasses.
Sc. 1736 in W. Roughead Trial Capt. Porteous (1909) 85:
A dyer's tree which is in the form of a gallows, about fifteen foot high, on which they dry their worsteds and cloths.
Ags. 1768 Session Papers, Petition J. Craich (24 Nov.) 2:
By removing from the flaik or stile three trees.

5. A wooden rafter, beam, prop, strut or the like (Sc. 1887 Jam.); in Mining: a pit prop (Sc. 1950 B.B.C. Broadcast (12 May); Fif., Lth., wm.Sc. 1973).Gsw. 1719 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 58:
Trees to the roof of the said session house, cartage of daills, sand and trees to the work.
Ags. 1728 Carmyllie Session Rec. MS. (23 Dec.):
Finding one stack heating he took from it the tree which supported it.
n.Sc. 1733 W. Fraser Chiefs of Grant (1883) II. 320:
I struck my forehead against a cross tree that was in the entry.
Ayr. 1734 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (3 July):
For Scaffoling Trees ffour pound scots.

6. A swingle-tree in the harness of a plough or harrow. See also Horse, n2. (51).Lth. 1829 G. Robertson Recollections 125:
A four horse plough, with all its trees and other tackling.
Slg. 1845 Trans. Highl. Soc. 105:
The greater and lesser main and common trees, by which ten or twelve horses may by yoked.

7. A wooden barrel, keg, cask, esp. a cask to hold ale, etc. (Sc. 1825 Jam.), freq prefixed by the number of gallons it contained, as nine-gallon tree.Sc. 1704 Atholl MSS. (26 June):
You must cause put it in 4 gallon trees that it may lye on each side [of a horse].
Sc. 1717 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 20:
With gratis Beef, dry Fish or Cheese; Which lent her fresh Nine Gallon Trees A hearty Lift.
Gsw. 1739 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1911) 4:
£2 6s. 4d. sterling for trees for holding the wine at the sacrament.
Dmf. 1755 W. A. J. Prevost Annals Dmf. Dales (1954) 87:
To bring two trees of tar.
Fif. 1774 Dmf. Weekly Mag. (13 Sept.):
A ship arrived last tide with great salt at Anstruther, but there is no tree to be had.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Legatees vii.:
A hot joint day and day aboot, and a tree of yill.
Lnk. 1865 J. Hamilton Poems 182:
A tree or barrel of gude yill.

8. An archer's bow. Obs.Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 22:
Wi' a' my maught the trusty tree I drew, An' shot the katrin's leader through and thro'.

9. Comb. tree an(d) trantel, treantrintle, a round piece of wood laid across the crupper of a horse to keep sunks or saddle pads from slipping (see first quot.). Cf. Eng. saddle-tree but tree an may represent Treen, adj. For trantel see Trintle and Trinnle, n.1, 1.Per. 1825 Jam.:
Tree and Trantel. A piece of wood that goes behind a horse's tail, for keeping back the sunks or sods, used instead of a saddle. This is fastened by a cord on each side, and used instead of a crupper; but reaching farther down, to prevent the horse from being tickled under the tail.
Cai. 1916 John o' Groat Jnl. (14 April):
The crubbans had a “clibber” for saddle, and a “treantrintle” for “brechan.”

II. v. To provide with supporting timbers or props, as the roof of a coal working (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 68), also tree up (Sc. 1883 W. Gresley Gl. Coal Mining 259). Ppl.adj. treed, propped (Id.).Lth. 1887 P. McNeill Blawearie 76:
To warn the men to have their wall-faces all cleared up, and their roofs well treed.

[O.Sc. tre, a post, beam, 1375, tree, a cask, 1513, a cudgel, 1588.]

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"Tree n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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