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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.

WEY, v., n.2 Also wy(e) (Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shep. MS. 56; e.Lth. 1809 Foord Acct. Bk. MS. 35; Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 17); wee (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 274; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; em.Sc. (b), Slk. 1973), weegh (Rxb. 1877 J. M. Nelson Poems 64; Sc. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xvi. 11), wie (Per. 1784 Session Papers, Petition G. Croll (17 Feb.) 8; Bnff. 1920 Banffshire Jnl. (14 Dec.)), wei (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1942 Zai). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. weigh. Hence weeer, a weigher (Arg. 1930). [I., n.Sc. wɑe, em.Sc. (a), s.Sc. wəi; em.Sc. (b), wm., sm.Sc. wi]

I. v. As in Eng. Sc. phrs. and combs.: (1) a weel-wyed seck an' laid by, fig., of a girl engaged to be married (Abd. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (8 May) 10). See Seck, n.; (2) wey-, weigh-bauk, the beam of a pair of scales, the scales themselves, freq. in pl. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ork., ‡n.Sc., Bwk., Ayr., Gall. 1974), also fig. Phr. to be in the weigh-bauks, to be in a state of indecision or uncertainty (Sc. 1808 Jam.); (3) weigh-brod, the wooden platform of a large pair of scales on which a heavy object is set to be weighed (Cai. 1905 E.D.D.); (4) wey butter, -saut (Ork.), wey cheese, wee-, (or vice versa), a game in which two players stand back to back and linking arms, lift one another alternately in a kind of see-saw motion, the one chanting “wey butter” as he lifts to the other's “wey cheese” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; ‡Edb. 1965 J. T. R. Ritchie Golden City 22; Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., wm., sm.Sc. 1974). Hence weighing butter and cheese, id.; (5) weigh-scales, a pair of scales, weighing-machine, steelyard. Also in n.Eng. dial.; (6) wey-wecht, the weights used with scales (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 275; Ags. 1974); in pl. the scales themselves (em.Sc. (a), Ayr. 1974).(2) Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 144:
They'll sell their country, flae their conscience bare, To gar the weigh-bauk turn a single hair.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man (1972) xxix.:
It is nae witherweight this for the end of a weigh-bauk. A' the kye o' the Seven Dales winna carry the swee to the south side again.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xxiii.:
To see a' ane's warldly substance capering in the air in a pair of weigh-bauks, now up, now down.
Ayr. 1824 A. Crawford Tales of my Grandmother 274:
Being the head magistrate I hae the weigh-bauk o' authority in my ain han'.
Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 97:
Their heads gaen shoggin' like weigh-bauks.
Fif. 1883 W. D. Latto Bodkin Papers 85:
The karkitch was invariably put into the weighbauks.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. xxv.:
Weein' a' things in an aiqual weigh-bauk.
(4) e.Lth. 1813 Cheap Mag. 598:
Weighing butter and cheese, as it is called, is done by two boys entwisting the arms together, back to back, and thus swaying each other.
s.Sc. c.1830 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1916) 70:
There is a common amusement in the harvest time among reapers, called “Hesi hosi, or weigh butter weigh cheese.” A man and a woman stand with their backs to each other, the woman grasping the man round the breast, and he, the woman round the waist with his arms. The man then bends forward and lifts the woman off the ground and at the moment when the man erects himself, and when the woman's feel touch the ground, then she bends forward and lifts him from the ground. This being begun at the first slow, is encreased till it becomes like the motion of a balance, at which they continue till one of them gives in as beat.
(5) Lnk. 1886 A. G. Murdoch Readings I. 32:
The entire charge ov the weigh-scales in the Ree.
(6) Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 73:
Maybe he wis a merchan', an' nae vera honest wi' his wye-wechts or his ell-wand.
Abd. 1950 Buchan Observer (26 Dec.):
Wi' jumpin'-ropes an' wyin'-wechts or bonny coloured lames.
Ags. 1962 D. Phillips Lichty Nichts 23:
Girls, too, liked shops “wi' real wey-wechts” (but pasteboard money).

II. n. 1. In pl.: a (public) weighing-machine, a steelyard, beam and scales (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Cai., m.Sc. 1973, weys, wees); a weigh-bridge, waggon-weighing machine (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 72, weighs); the weights used with scales (m. and s.Sc. 1973).Dmf. 1812 W. Singer Agric. Dmf. 138:
In Dumfries, Annan, and Moffat, there are weighs for loaded carts.

2. A measure of weight, varying acc. to the district and the commodity: (1) for salt: 40 bushels; (2) for wool: two wool-stones, or 48 lbs.; (3) in Ork. for barley (18½ stones) or kelp (2 cwt.) (Ork. 1929 Marw.); (4) in Sh. for fish: 1 hundredweight (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.); (5) for hay.(1) Sc. 1706 Minutes of Parliament (16 Dec.):
All Foreign Salt Imported shall be Cellar'd and Lock'd up under the Custody of the Merchant Importer . . . and that the Merchant may have what Quantities thereof his Occasion may require, not under a Wey, or fourty Bushels at a time.
(2) Sc. 1855 H. Stephens Bk. of Farm II. 209:
Wool . . . is sold in Scotland by the wool-stone of 24 lb. avoirdupois, and is weighed out in double stores of 48 lb., each being called a weigh.
(3) Ork. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XV. 182:
The kind of grain called bear or big is sold, when raw, by the wey.
Ork. 1883 J. R. Tudor Ork. and Sh. 363:
For collecting the tangle and ware, and for burning, the crofters get so much a “weigh,” ten weighs going to the ton.
(4) Sh. 1838 J. Nicolson Incidents (1931) 49:
120 weighs. — Cod, ling, and tusk, average price, 5s.; £30.
Sh. 1883 J. R. Tudor Ork. and Sh. 140:
The next year her owners are said to have had a hundred weighs at the spring fishing.
(5) Bwk. 1759 Duns Glovers MS. 37:
Taken out for the hay wey.

[O.Sc. we(y), to weigh, a.1400, weye (of salt), 1368, weyis, a weighing machine, 1420, wey balk, 1552, wey-brod, 1536, wyhous, 1601.]

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"Wey v., n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Mar 2024 <>



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