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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.

UN-, pref. Also Sh. and ‡ne.Sc. form oon-. See also On-, pref.2, Wan-. [ʌn-; ‡u:n-]

1. As in Eng., a neg. pref. sometimes corresponding to Eng. dis- or in-, and chiefly used before adjs. or advs. e.g. Unawaurs, Unconvenient, Uncraized, Undecent, Uneith, Unhailsome, Unhonest, Unskaithed, etc., q.v., ooncarin' (Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 50), ooncertain (Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 152), oonchancie (Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 12), oondeen, undone (Abd. 1921 Weekly Press (21 Dec.) 2), oondependent (Abd. 1882 W. Forsyth Writings 26), oonendin (Abd. 1920 C. Murray Country Places 11), oonhallow't (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xviii.), o(o)nhandy (Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 108; oonhonesty (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb viii.), oonleemited (Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 117), oonnait(e)ral (Abd. 1875 G. MacDonald Malcolm xliv.; Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 34), oonneebourlike (Abd. 1875 G. MacDonald Malcolm ii.), oonrichteous (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxvii.), oonrizzonable(ness) (Abd. 1893 G. MacDonald Heather and Snow xii.; Ags. 1893 F. Mackenzie Cruisie Sk. (1894) v.), oonsattle, unsettle (Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxv.), oonshaven (Abd. 1933 C. Murray in Abd. Press and Jnl. (16 March)), oontould (Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 23). See Tell. In words where the second element is Sc. see separate entries. In colloq. Sc. it is more usual to express the neg. by no, ne.Sc. nae, with the simple adj., as no weel for unweel.

2. In the sense of Eng. without followed by the gerund or vbl.n., un- prefixed to the pr.p. or pa.p. is found in Sc. from the 14th c. and still survives in ne.Sc. in the form On-, forms in tmesis being freq. as in 1825 quot. The construction is esp. common after Haud, Keep, to keep someone from. . . . See also On, pref.2, 2. and note.Abd. 1711 Stat. Acc.2 XII. 1124:
None should let the third year pass “ungooding the third of their barlands yearly.”
Slg. 1757 W. Hone Every-Day Bk. II. 687:
He went to that well at Airth, fetchit hom water untouiching the ground, left money and said the belief at it.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To a Young Friend viii.:
Resolutely keep its laws, Uncaring consequences.
Ayr. 1823 J. Lamb Annals Ayr. Parish (1896) 205:
Not order any more money to be paid to such applicant than is barely sufficient to keep him or her unbeggant.
ne.Sc. 1825 Jam.2 s.v. Deliver:
There's a quintry ca'd the Cabrach, where it dings on delyverly for sax ouks, un-ever uppiling.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 40:
Nae mair he'd sit and sing a canty sang To me at hame, to keep me unthocht lang.
Abd. 1880 W. Robbie Yonderton xxvii.:
Aw'm safe t' say, unlee't a word.
Abd. 1880 G. Webster Crim. Officer 40:
The peer fowk wud 'a been glaid to lat them gae wi' the fusky unpaid a fardin'.

[In sense 2. O.Sc. has unchangit, without changing, 1375, unmaid sekir, ungrievand God, 1456.]

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"Un- prefix". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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