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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WREATH, n., v. Also wreathe, wreeth(e), writh; (w)raith, wreth; wryth(e); ne.Sc. vraith(e), vreath, vryth(e), vreyth; wread, wreid, wrede, wrade, wride. See also Ree, n.5, v.4 Sc. forms and usages. [n. riθ, ne.Sc. + vriθ, vreθ, vrəiθ; v. rið]

I. n.

Sc. form of Eng. 1952 John R. Allan North-East Lowlands of Scotland (1974) 32:
It does seem a happy raith of garden ground, sheltered a little from those twin scourges, the north-west and the south-east winds.

Sc. usages: A bank or drift of snow, a heaped-up snow-drift, prob. orig. an accumulation of swirls of snow (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor), also fig. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc. Phr. kaimed wreath, a snowdrift in which the top is rounded by the wind or “combed ”over (Slk. 1825 Jam.).Sc. 1716 West-Country Intelligence (19 Jan.) 12:
He was found yesterday half a Mile off the Road, in a Writh of Snow.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 3:
Throw Wreaths that clad the laigher Field.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Winter Night ii.:
Burns, wi' snawy wreeths up-choked, Wild-eddying swirl.
Mry. 1804 R. Couper Poetry I. 217:
See ye him pressing through the wrythe: Ay drifts the snaw.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 277:
The roads were so blocked up by wreathes and ice.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 287:
Some think they sank in a snaw wride.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ii.:
It colleckit in immense wrades whaurever it faund a lowan corner to settle doon in.
Ags. 1893 Brechin Advert. (13 June) 3:
Fan the storm abated he was found dead aneath a muckle wread.
Bnff. 1918 M. Symon Wir Roup 1:
They briested bogs, they 'rastled owre Sic raiths as ne'er wis blawn.
Abd. 1950 Buchan Observer (26 Dec.):
The next blizzard, which piled the “vreyths” deeper than ever.
Abd. 1959 Scotsman (24 Jan.) 17:
A vraithe o' snowdrops, livrock-sang in Floo'er.

Hence wridy, adj., covered with snowdrifts. Liter.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 111:
Adown the deep snaw wridy glen.
Sc. 1933 N. B. Morrison Gowk Storm v. iii.:
The screes and scaurs of the hills were still wridy, and we came upon a beautiful lost snow wreath lying in a hidden hollow of the moor.

II. v. 1. To tie (a yoke) about the neck of a draught-ox. Only fig., after Lamentations i. 14.Sc. a.1732 T. Boston Works (1853) III. 533:
He will wreathe his yoke about their neck for ever.
Sc. 1759 W. Robertson Hist. Scot. I. 180:
The French troops were to be employed as instruments for subduing the Scots, and wreathing the yoke about their necks.
Sc. 1827 R. Pollok Course of Time II. 78:
To purchase human flesh, or wreath the yoke Of vassalage on savage liberty.

2. To writhe, to twist and turn the body in struggling, with semantic influence from writhe. Eng. wreath was sim. so used.Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 34:
He saw the wretchit men Wreein' and wreethin' wi the pain.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 77:
Better deid than come to see her Wreathin' neth the Kaiser's heel.

3. intr. To accumulate into drifts, of snow; tr. to cover or bury in drifted snow (sm.Sc. 1974).Rnf. 1792 A. Wilson Poems (1876) II. 3:
Deep the snaw had wreath'd the ploughs.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 405:
A round sheep-fold, where sheep are put into on snowy nights, to hinder the snow to ree, or wreath them up.
Slg. 1856 R. Buchanan Poems (1901) 24:
Blossoms were cow'ring 'mong white wreathing snaw.
Dmf. 1861 R. Quinn Heather Lintie (1863) 43:
We'd na be rad o' scath frae wather, Though snaw was wreathin'.
Fif. 1867 St Andrews Gaz. (26 Jan.):
The roads have, during the past and early part of the present week, been wreathed.
Sc. 1887 Jam.:
The snaw was wraithin in the glen.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 121:
When the winter storms hae come an' wreathed the roads wi' snaw.

[O.Sc. wreith, = II. 1., 1650.]

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"Wreath n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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