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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WRAN, n. Also ran (Cld. 1880 Jam.), ¶w'reng, ‡wirann (Ork. 1891 Buckley & Harvie-Brown Fauna Ork. 105); vran (Lth. 1801 J. Leyden Complaynt 383, ne.Sc. 1974). See V, letter, W, letter. Dim. forms (w)rannie, vrannie (ne.Sc.), ¶vranah (see Cock, n.1, III. 2. (21)); wran(n)ock (Ork. 1877 Sc. Naturalist (Jan.) 9). [rɑn; ne.Sc. ‡vrɑn]

1. The wren, Troglodytes troglodytes (Cld. 1880 Jam.: Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh., ne., em., sm.Sc. 1974). Freq. in folk-lore contexts. See also Cutty, adj., 1.Ayr. c.1785 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes (1870) 60:
I think we'll gie him the wee wran to be his wife.
Rnf. 1791 A. Wilson Poems 188:
My Wrannie, I canna Rest till thy waes thou tell.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 9:
What amus'd me maist of ony Was a wee bit bobin' Wran.
Gall. 1897 66th Report Brit. Ass. 457:
On the morning of New Year's Day the boys used to go in companies to catch wrens. When one was caught its legs and neck were decked with ribbons. It was then set at liberty. This ceremony was called ‘the deckan o' the wran'.
Abd. 1871 R. Matheson Poems 151:
To lay an egg in a simpleton o' a vranie's nest.
Fif. 1909 J. Colville Lowland Sc. 122:
Prying into the whin buss for the mouse hole entrance to the rannie's nest.
Bnff. 1936 C. W. Thomson Sc. School Humour 160:
When I asked for names of familiar birds in Buckie, I got ‘the vrannie'.

2. The hedge-sparrow, Accentor modularis (Mry. 1844 Zoologist II. 506).

3. Used as a term of endearment, esp. to a child (Bnff. c.1890 Gregor MSS.); also of disapproval, a peevish creature.Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals li.:
Those poor wee wrens of the Lord, the burghers and anti-burghers.
Kcd. 1899 A. C. Cameron Fettercairn 279:
But you may be sure she's aye ill, and sometimes waur; sae's a poor, croakin' w'reng.
Abd. 1929 J. M. Chessar MS.:
Ye wee vran, ye hiv broke the birdie's eggs.

4. A cowrie shell (Sh. a.1914 J. M. Hutcheson W.L., Sh. 1974).

[O.Sc. wran. = 1., 1450, O.E. wrænna, id.]

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"Wran n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Jun 2024 <>



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