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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.

V, n., letter of the alphabet.

The twenty-second letter of the alphabet, now called vee, as in Eng., but previously vow, vau, vaou [vʌu], from Lat. vau, Hebr. vav (cf. Ger. vau) (Fif. c.1830 G. Gourlay Our Old Neighbours (1887) 70; Crm. 1854 H. Miller Schools ii.; †Kcd. 1911 W. MacGillivray Cotbank 23), ev, iv [ɪv] (Ayr. c.1770 D. Landsborough Contributions to Local History (1879) 16; Bnff. 1836 Ellis E.E.P. V. 777; †Abd. 1910). In O.Sc. u, v, and w are used almost indiscriminately in spelling, but u and v are usually distinguished by the 18th c. according to modern usage with u as a vowel and v as a consonant. v has the same phonetic value as in Eng., that of the voiced lip-teeth fricative, but differs from Eng. in certain usages:

1. v is replaced by f in the pl. of many nouns with sing. in f, as halfs (Half), knifes (Knife), leafs (Leaf), sheafs (Sheave), thiefs (Thief), wifes (Wife), though now rather obsol. See P.L.D. § 70.

2. v disappears through previous unvoicing or vocalisation: (1) finally in monosyllables as Braw, Doo, Gie, v.1, Hae, v.1 (though gen. retained in emphatic or interrogative forms), lea (Leave), lue, loe (Luve), O, prep., 1., Pree, v.1; (2) finally in unstressed syllables, as in shirra; (3) after l and r, as Dell, v., Saw, n.1, Sel, Siller, Twal; Hairst, Ser, v.1, Ser, v.2; (4) medially between vowels, as in Abune, Deil, E'en, adv., n., Faur, neer (Naer); oer (Ower); but in many words doublet forms with and without v are frequent, as in Gavel, n.1, gael; Gavelock, n.2, Gellock; Laverock, lairock; Raivel, ra'el; Syver, syer. Cf. also Shuil, and Shuffle, n., where the v has been unvoiced.

3. v, as orig. a bilabial sound, and w freq. interchange: (1) v appears for w (i) initially before r, esp. in Ork. and ne.Sc., now obsol., as in Vrang, Vrapper, Vratch, Vreet, Vricht, Vrocht, etc. See also W, letter, P.L.D. § 137, and cf. Scott Diary (3 Feb. 1826); (ii) in Melvie, Mervie, Skiver, Syver, Thieveless; (iii) in ne.Sc. finally from an orig. O. or Mid.Eng. -aw-, as in blyaave (Blaw, v.1), Gnyauve, lavyer (Lawer), shaave (Saw, v.1), snyauve (Snaw), Tyauve, Yavin; (iv) occas. in I.Sc. as in Velter, Vender; (v) for w < v, See W, letter.

4. An excrescent v develops in Cruive, Reeve, n.1, Ruive, Spave, Spaiver, q.v., and in div (see Dae, v.1, A. I. 1. (2)).

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"V n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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