Nearer the rock, the sweeter the grass.
Nearest the heart, nearest the mou.
"Spoken to them who, designing to name one person, by mistake names another, perhaps a sweetheart."—Kelly.
Nearest the king, nearest the widdy.
"Widdy," rope or gallows. Meaning that those who occupy political or subservient positions do so only during the pleasure of their superiors.
Near's my kirtle, but nearer's my sark.
Near's my sark, but nearer's my skin.
The two last sayings are common to many nations. "Some friends are nearer to me than others—my parents and children than my other relations, those than my neighbours, my neighbours than strangers; but, above all, I am next to myself."—Ray.
Near the kirk, but far frae grace.
This fact is so well ascertained that there is another to the same effect. "Farthest frae the kirk aye soonest at it;" and the English are of a similar opinion, for Spenser writes:
"At kirke the narre from God more farre, Has been an old sayed sawe."
Necessity has nae law.
Necessity's the mither o' invention.
Neck or naething, the king lo'es nae cripples.
"A prophane jest upon those who are like to fall, wishing that they may either break their neck or come off safe; for breaking a limb will make them useless subjects."—Kelly.
Need gars naked men run, and sorrow gars wabsters spin.
"Hunger drives the wolf out of the wood."—Italian. In the second clause we have another discreditable imputation on the weaving fraternity, implying that they only work when compelled by hunger, and are not naturally industrious.
Need gars the auld wife trot.
"'This is your mother, is it not?' (Cuddie nodded.) 'What can have brought your mother and you down the water so late?' 'Troth, stir, just what gars the auld wives trot—neshessity, stir. I'm seeking for service, stir.'"—Old Mortality.
Need maks a man o' craft.
Need maks greed.
Need maks the naked quean spin.
Ne'er break out o' kind to gar your friends ferlie at you.
Do not do strange acts merely for the sake of astonishing your friends.
Ne'er count the lawin' wi' a toom quaich.
"Quaich," a small and shallow drinking-cup with two ears. The proverb has a similar meaning to "Fair fa' the wife," &c., q. v.
Ne'er do ill that gude may come o't.
Ne'er draw your dirk when a dunt will do.
That is, do not resort to extreme measures when mild means will suffice.
Ne'er fash your beard.
"'Tell them all this, and hear what they say till't.'
"'Indeed, mistress, I can tell ye that already, without stirring my shanks for the matter,' answered Nelly Trotter; 'they will e'en say that ye are ae auld fule, and me anither, that may hae some judgment in cock-bree or in scate-rumples, but maunna fash our beards about onything else.'"—St Ronan's Well.
Ne'er fash your thoom.
"Ne'er mind her flytes, but set your heart at ease: Sit down and blaw your pipe, nor fash your thoom, An' there's my hand, she'll tire, and soon sing dumb."—Fergusson.
Ne'er find faut wi' my shoon, unless you pay my souter.
Addressed to impertinent persons who find fault with the personal appearance or dress of others.
Ne'er gang to the deil wi' the dishclout on your head.
"If you will be a knave, be not in a trifle, but in something of value. A Presbyterian minister had a son who was made Archdeacon of Ossery; when this was told to his father, he said, 'If my son will be a knave, I am glad that he will be an archknave.' This has the same sense, 'As good be hanged for an old sheep as a young lamb.'"—Kelly.
Ne'er gie me my death in a toom dish.
This means, jocularly, if you wish to kill me, do it not by starvation; in other words, give me something to eat.
Ne'er gude, egg nor bird.
Ne'er kiss a man's wife, or dight his knife, for he'll do baith after you.
Ne'er let on, but laugh in your sleeve.
Ne'er let the nose blush for the sins o' the mouth.
Ne'er let your feet rin faster than your shoon.
"'But you must recollect, that before taking such a step you ought to be pretty well provided with means.'
"'Ou', fegs! I hae nae trick o' letting my feet rin faster than my shoon. I'll no forget the means, ye may be sure; and as for Jean hersel, I hae nae skill o' women folk, if she's no just as willing as me.'"—The Disruption.
Ne'er lippen ower muckle to a new friend or an auld enemy.
Ne'er marry a penniless maiden that's proud o' her pedigree.
Ne'er marry a widow unless her first man was hanged.
Ne'er misca' a Gordon in the raws o' Stra'bogie.
The Gordons were the ruling clan in Strathbogie; and the proverb means that we should never speak ill of a man on his own property.
Ne'er put your arm out farther than you can draw it easily back again.
"The deacon used to say to me, 'Nick—young Nick' (his name was Nicol as well as mine, sae folk ca'd us, in their daffin, young Nick and auld Nick)—'Nick,' said he, 'never put out your arm farther than ye can draw it easily back again.'"—Rob Roy.
Ne'er ower auld to learn.
Ne'er put a sword in a wudman's hand.
Ne'er put the plough before the owsen.
Ne'er quit certainty for hope.
Ne'er rax abune your reach.
That is, do not exert yourself beyond your strength.
Ne'er say gae, but gang.
Ne'er say "Ill fallow" to him you deal wi'.
Ne'er shaw me the meat, but the man.
"If a man be fat, plump, and in good liking, I shall not ask what keeping he has had."—Kelly.
Ne'er shaw your teeth unless ye can bite.
Ne'er speak ill o' the deil.
Ne'er speak ill o' them whase bread ye eat.
Ne'er spend gude siller looking for bad.
"John had never before taken any debtor to law, his motto being, 'Never spend gude siller looking for bad;' but in this case, he said, he was determined to roup them to the door, although it shouldna put a penny in his pouch."—Roy's "Generalship."
Ne'er strive against the stream.
Ne'er tak a forehammer to break an egg.
Ne'er tell your fae when your fit sleeps.
Ne'er throw the bridle o' your horse ower a fool's arm.
Ne'er use the taws when a gloom will do.
Of similar import to "Ne'er draw your dirk," q. v.
Ne'er was a wife weel pleased coming frae the mill but ane, and she brak her neck bane.
Kelly says this is "commonly said to wives when they come from the mill, but the occasion, sense, or meaning I know not." Is it not because they are always dissatisfied with the "mouter" which the miller takes?
Ne'er waur happen you than your ain prayer.
Neither fish, flesh, fowl, nor gude red herring.
Used to signify that an article is good for nothing.
Neither sae sinfu' as to sink nor sae holy as to soom.
Never's a lang word.
New lairds mak new laws.
"They were decent, considerate men, that didna plague a puir herd callant muckle about a moorfowl or a mawkin, unless he turned common fowler—Sir Robert Ringhorse used to say, the herd lads shot as mony gleds and pyots as they did game. But new lords new laws—naething but fine and imprisonment, and the game no a feather the plentier."—St Ronan's Well.
Next to nae wife, a gude ane's best.
Nineteen naesays o' a maiden is half a grant.
"Her laugh will lead you to the place, Where lies the happiness ye want; And plainly tell you to your face, Nineteen nae-says are half a grant."—Tea-Table Miscellany.
Nipping and scarting's Scotch folk's wooing.
"It may be Scotch folk's wooing; but if that's the gait Betty Bodle means to use you, Watty, my dear, I would see her, and a' the Kilmarkeckles that ever were cleckit, doon the water, or strung in a wuddy, before I would hae onything to say to ane come o' their seed or breed. To lift her hands to her bridegroom!"—The Entail.
Now-a-days truth's news.
Now's now, and Yule's in winter.
O' ae ill come mony.
O' a' fish i' the sea, herring is king.
O' a' ills, nane's best.
O' a' little tak a little; when there's nought tak a'.
O' a' meat i' the warld the drink gaes best down.
O' a' sorrow, a fu' sorrow's the best.
"Spoken when friends die and leave good legacies."—Kelly.
O' a' the months o' the year curse a fair Februar.
O' bairns' gifts ne'er be fain; nae sooner they gie than they tak it again.
O' gude advisement comes nae ill.
O' ill debtors men get aiths.
"Aith," or oath, is here used in the sense of promise, signifying that from "ill debtors" men get not money but promises, which, of course, are never performed.
Oh for a drap o' gentle blude, that I may wear black abune my brow.
"In Scotland no woman is suffered to wear a silk hood unless she be a gentlewoman; that is, a gentleman's daughter, or married to a gentleman. A rich maid having the offer of a wealthy yeoman, or a bare gentleman, wished for the last, to qualify her to wear a black hood. It is since spoken to such wealthy maidens upon the like occasion."—Kelly.
O' little meddling comes muckle care.
On painting and fighting look abeigh.
On the sea sail, on the land settle.
Onything for ye about an honest man's house but a day's wark.
"Onything sets a gude face," quo' the monkey wi' the mutch on.
Open confession is gude for the soul.
Oppression will mak a wise man wud.
O' the marriages in May, the bairns die o' decay.
O' twa ills choose the least.
Our ain reek's better than ither folk's fire.
Our sins and debts are aften mair than we think.
Our sowens are ill sour'd, ill seil'd, ill sauted, ill sodden, thin, an' little o' them. Ye may stay a' night, but ye may gang hame if ye like. It's weel kenn'd your faither's son was ne'er a scambler.
This proverb is, we think, fairly entitled to rank as the second longest on record, the first being, as recorded by Trench, the German one, "Folk say there is a lack of four people on earth," &c. Kelly says that "this was a speech of a countrywoman of mine to a guest that she would gladly have shaken off, and being so oddly expressed it became a proverb, which we repeat when we think our friend does not entertain us heartily."
Out o' debt, out o' danger.
Out o' God's blessing into the warm sun.
Out o' Davy Lindsay into Wallace.
"Davy Lindsay and Wallace" were two books formerly used in schools; and the proverb is used when a person changes, or, more properly, advances from one thing to another.
Out on the highgate is aye fair play.
Out o' sight, out o' languor.
"Long absent, soon forgotten."—English.
Out o' the peat pot into the gutter.
"Out of the frying pan into the fire."—English.
"Out of the mire into the brook."—Spanish.
Out o' the warld and into Kippen.
Kippen, in Stirlingshire, was formerly so very remote and little frequented by strangers, that a visit to it was jocularly deemed equivalent to going out of the world altogether; and the remark passed into a proverb, used when a person is going to a strange place. The feudal lord of this district was formerly styled King of Kippen.
Own debt and crave days.
Ower braw a purse to put a plack in.
That is, externally grander or more showy than internal means justify. "Spoken when one builds a magnificent house upon a small income."—Kelly.
Ower high, ower laigh, ower het, ower cauld.
That is, from one extreme to the other.
Ower holy was hanged, but rough and sonsy wan awa'.
Ower mony cooks spoil the broth.
Ower mony grieves hinder the wark.
Ower mony irons in the fire, some maun cool.
Spoken when a person has too many projects in hand; meaning that some must fail.
"Ower mony maisters," quo' the puddock to the harrow, when ilka tooth gied her a tug.
Ower muckle hameliness spoils gude courtesy.
"Too much familiarity breeds contempt."—English.
Ower muckle loose leather about your chafts.
A rude but expressive way of saying that a person is not looking well, or is, Scotice, "thin."
Ower muckle cookery spoils the brochan.
Ower muckle o' ae thing is gude for naething.
Ower narrow counting culyes nae kindness.
To "culye" is to gain, to draw forth. "When people deal in rigour with us we think ourselves but little obliged to them."—Kelly.
Ower reckless may repent.
Ower sicker, ower loose.
Or, you are either too harsh and stringent, or the very reverse.
Ower strong meat for your weak stamack.
Ower sune is easy mended.
Patch and lang sit, build and soon flit.
A slow and gradual rise is likely to prove a permanent one; but a rapid or sudden one merely temporary; or, as the Irishman said, "Up like a rocket, and down like its stick."
Paterson's mare aye goes foremost.
Pay-before-hand's never weel ser'd.
The tradesman is said to be troubled with two kinds of bad customers, viz., those who pay in advance, or "before-hand," and those who do not pay at all.
Pay him in his ain coin.
Pennyless souls maun pine in purgatory.
Penny-wheep's gude enough for muslin-kail.
"Penny-wheep," says Jamieson, "is the weakest kind of small beer, sold at a penny per bottle;" and muslin-kail is a common kind of broth. The proverb expresses that poor service merits poor reward.
Peter's in, Paul's out.
"Spoken when, after we had wanted a necessary person a long time, upon his arrival, another equally necessary is gone."—Kelly.
Pigs may whistle, but they hae an ill mouth for't.
Applied when an awkward person is attempting to perform some work of which he is incapable.
Penny wise and pound foolish.
Pint stoups hae lang lugs.
For a great deal is said over them, which, but for their influence, would not be heard.
Pith's gude at a' play but threading o' needles.
Plack aboot's fair play.
Placks and bawbees grow pounds.
Plaister thick and some will stick.
Play carle wi' me again if you daur.
"Do not dare to offer to contest with me. Spoke by parents to stubborn children."—Kelly.
Play's gude while it's play.
Pleading at the law is like fighting through a whin bush—the harder the blows the sairer the scarts.
The knowledge that "whin bush" is the furze renders this saying easily intelligible.
Please your kimmer, and ye'll easy guide your gossip.
Please yoursel and ye'll no dee o' the pet.
Plenty is nae plague.
Plenty maks dainty.
Poets and painters are aye poor.
This appears in no collection preceding Henderson's, and is probably a record of his own experience and that of his friends, he being a painter himself by profession, and on intimate terms with Motherwell and others.
Poets and painters hae liberty to lo'e.
Poor folk are fain o' little.
Poor folk maun fit their wame to their winning.
Poor folk seek meat for their stamacks, and rich folk stamacks for their meat.
Poor folk's friends soon misken them.
Poortith pairts gude company.
Poortith's better than pride.
Poortith's pain, but nae disgrace.
Poortith taks awa pith.
"'I tell you, Master Moniplies,' said Jenkin, 'I am as poor as any Scot among you. I have broken my indenture, and I think of running the country.' 'A-well-a-day!' said Ritchie. 'But that maunna be, man. I ken weel, by sad experience, that poortith takes away pith, and the man sits full still that has a rent in his breeks.'"—Fortunes of Nigel.
Poortith wi' patience is less painfu'.
Possession's worth an ill charter.
Poverty's a bad back friend.
Praise without profit puts little i' the pat.
Prayer and practice is gude rhyme.
Pretty man, I maun say; tak a peat and sit down.
We are unable to make much either of this proverb or of Kelly's note to it—"An ironical expression to a mean boy who would gladly be esteemed."
Pride and grace ne'er dwell in ae place.
Pride an' sweer'dness need muckle uphaudin.
"Sweer'd," lazy or unwilling. Pride and laziness require much to support them.
Pride finds nae cauld.
"Spoken heretofore to young women when, in compliance with the fashion, they went with their breasts and shoulders bare; and may now (1721) be applied to ladies with their extravagant hoops."—Kelly.
Pride ne'er leaves its maister till he get a fa'.
Pride prinks her brow for the deil to pouse.
That is, pride bedecks herself, and the devil despoils.
Pride's an ill horse to ride.
Pride that dines wi' vanity sups wi' contempt.
Pride will hae a fa'.
Provision in season maks a bien house.
Prudence should be winning when thrift is spinning.
Puddins and paramours should be hetly handled.
"Puddings when cold are uneatable; and love when coldrife is near the breaking off."—Kelly.
Put a coward to his mettle, and he'll fight the deil.
"A baited cat is as fierce as a lion."—English.
Put anither man's bairn in your bosom, and he'll creep oot at your sleeve.
"That is, cherish or love him, he'll never be naturally affected towards you."—Ray.
Put nae force against the flail.
Put on your spurs and be at your speed.
Put twa pennies in a purse, and they'll creep thegither.
Put your finger in the fire, and say it was your fortune.
Spoken of a person who has wittingly placed himself in difficulties, and who attributes his bad position to fortune.
Put your hand in the creel, tak out an adder or an eel.
"In buying horses and taking a wife, shut your eyes and commend yourself to God."—Italian.
Put your hand nae farther oot than your sleeve will reach.
Put your hand twice to your bannet for ance to your pouch.
"Put your hand quickly to your hat, and slowly to your purse, and you will take no harm."—Danish.
Put the man to the mear that can manage the mear.
Put the saddle on the right horse.
Put your shanks in your thanks and mak gude gramashes o' them.
Literally, put your legs in your thanks and make good gaiters of them. A sharp remark on those who pay in thanks only, when a more substantial reward is expected.
Put your thoom upon that.
"Conceal it carefully—keep it secret."—Jamieson.
Quality without quantity is little thought o'.
Quey calves are dear veal.
A "quey calf" is a female calf. They are generally kept to replenish the stock; it is bull calves that are principally fattened for killing young.
Quick at meat, quick at wark.
Quick, for you'll ne'er be cleanly.
"That is, do a thing nimbly, for you'll never do it neatly."—Kelly.
Quick returns mak rich merchants.
Quietness is best.
Rab Gibb's contract,—stark love and kindness.
Raggit folk and bonny folk are aye ta'en haud o'.
Spoken jocularly when a person has rent or caught his clothes upon a nail or other projection.
Raise nae mair deils than ye are able to lay.
"Raise no more spirits than you can conjure down."—German.
Rather spoil your joke than tine your friend.
Raw dads mak fat lads.
Raw leather raxes weel.
"Raw leather will stretch."—English.
Reavers shouldna be ruers.
Literally, robbers should not repent.
Reckless youth maks ruefu' eild.
"People who live too fast when they are young will neither have a vigorous nor a comfortable old age."—Kelly.
Reckon up your winning at your bed-stock.
Red brackens bring milk and butter.
"In October, the bracken or fern on hill pastures becomes red with the first frosty nights, and about that time the autumnal herbage is very rich, and productive of the good things in question."—Robert Chambers.
Red wood maks gude spindles.
"'Red wood,' the name given to the reddish or dark-coloured and more incorruptible wood found in the heart of trees."—Jamieson.
Refer my coat and lose a sleeve.
"Rejoice, bucks," quo' Brodie, when he shot at the buryin' and thought it was a weddin'.
Remember, man, and keep in mind, a faithfu' friend is hard to find.
Remove an auld tree an' it'll wither.
Riches are got wi' pain, kept wi' care, and tint wi' grief.
Rich folk hae routh o' friends.
"Routh o' friends," that is, many of them.
Rich folk's wit rives poor folk's jaws.
Rich mixture maks gude mortar.
Ride fair and jaup nane.
"Taken from riding through a puddle, but applied to too home jesting."—Kelly.
Right, Roger, sow's gude mutton.
A proverbial expression, meaning that a person is totally mistaken about a matter.
Right wrangs nae man.
Ripe fruit is soonest rotten.
Rise when the day daws, bed when the night fa's.
Robin, that herds on the height, can be blithe as Sir Robert the Knight.
Rome wasna built in a day.
Rot him awa' wi' ham and eggs.
Rowan-tree and red thread mak the witches tine their speed.
These particular articles were formerly supposed to have a controlling power over witches.
Royt lads may mak sober men.
To "royt" is to go about idly or dissolutely.
Rue and thyme grow baith in ae garden.
Rule youth weel, for eild will rule itsel'.
Ruse the fair day at e'en.
"Commend not a thing or a project till it has had its full effect."—Kelly.
"It is not good praising the ford till a man be over."—English.
Ruse the ford as ye find it.
Speak only of things as your experience has found them.
Rusted wi' eild, a wee piece gate seems lang.
Literally, decayed by age, a short road seems a very long one.
Sae mony men, sae mony minds.
"Saft beddin's gude for sair banes," quo' Howie when he streekit himsel on the midden-head.
"Saft's your horn, my friend," quo' the man when he grippit the cuddy's lug.
"Sail," quo' the king: "Haud," quo' the wind.
Sair cravers are ill-payers.
"This proverb, and the reverse, viz., 'Ill payers are sore cravers,' I have never yet seen fail."—Kelly.
Sairs shouldna be sair handled.
That is, delicate or painful subjects should be cautiously alluded to.
Sair wark and poortith downa weel be joined.
Sairy be your meal-pock, and aye your nieve i' the neuk o't.
An uncharitable saying, expressing literally a wish that the meal bag may be empty when the hand is put in to take some.
"Saut," quo' the souter, when he had eaten a cow a' but the tail.
"Spoken to them that flag when they have almost finished a difficult task."—Kelly.
Save yoursel' frae the deil and the laird's bairns.
"A caution of poor people to their children, how they meddle with their superiors; for, if they hurt the laird's bairns, they will be sure to be punished, but, if hurt by them, they will get no right."—Kelly.
Saw thin, shear thin.
Saw wheat in dirt and rye in dust.
Saw ye that and shotna at it, and you sae gleg a gunner.
A satire upon a boaster who is telling of some extraordinary thing which he pretends to have seen.
Say aye "No," and ye'll ne'er be married.
A jocular remark to a person who has refused something which has been offered to him.
Saying gangs cheap.
"Talking pays nae toll."—English.
Say weel and dae weel, end wi' ae letter: say weel is gude, but dae weel is better.
Say what you will, an ill mind will turn't to ill.
Scant-o'-grace hears lang preachings.
Or, at least, thinks them so.
Scanty cheeks mak a lang nose.
Scart-the-cog wad sup mair.
To "scart the cog" is to scrape the inside of the dish.
Scorn comes wi' skaith.
Scornfu' dogs eat dirty puddin's.
"'Hout, fye—hout, fye—all nonsense and pride,' said the Laird of Summertrees, 'scornful dogs will eat dirty puddings, cousin Crosbie. Ye little ken what some of your friends were obliged to do yon time for a sowp of brose or a bit of bannock.'"—Redgauntlet.
Scorn not the bush ye get beild frae.
Scotsmen aye reckon frae an ill hour.
Scotsmen aye tak their mark frae a mischief.
That is, always reckon from the date of some untoward event, such as a death, an accident, or a fire.
See for love and buy for siller.
Seein's believin' a' the world ower.
Seek muckle, and get something; seek little, and get naething.
Seek till you find, and ye'll never lose your labour.
Seek your sa' where you got your ail, and beg your barm where you buy your ale.
The surly reply of a person who has been shunned for some trivial or mistaken reason by one who is compelled by circumstances to apply to him for information or assistance.
Seil ne'er comes till sorrow be awa.
Seldom ride tines his spurs.
Seldom seen, soon forgotten.
Self-praise comes aye stinking ben.
Self-praise is nae honour.
Sel, sel, has half-filled hell.
"Sel, sel," that is, the sin of selfishness.
Send a fool to France, and a fool he'll come back.
Send your gentle blude to the market, and see what it will buy.
A reproach upon those who boast of their gentle birth, but who possess nothing of greater value.
Send your son to Ayr: if he do weel here, he'll do weel there.
Send you to the sea, and ye'll no get saut water.
"Spoken when people foolishly come short of their errand."—Kelly.
Ser' yoursel', and your friends will think the mair o' ye.
An answer of those who are asked to do a favour when they would rather not oblige.
Ser' yoursel' till your bairns come o' age.
Set a beggar on horseback, he'll ride to the deil.
Set a stout heart to a stey brae.
"Delay not, And fray not, And thou sall sie it say; Sic gets ay, That setts ay, Stout stomaks to the brae."—Cherrie and the Slae.
Set a thief to grip a thief.
Set him up and shute him forward.
"'A lord!' ejaculated the astonished Mrs Dods: 'a lord come down to the Waal!—they will be neither to haud nor to bind now—ance wud and aye waur—a lord!—set them up and shute them forward—a lord!—the Lord have a care o' us!—a lord at the hottle! Maister Touchwood, it's my mind he will only prove to be a Lord o' Session.'"—St Ronan's Well.
Set that doun on the backside o' your count-book.
That is, I have done you a service, see that you repay it.
Set your foot upon that, an' it winna loup in your face.
Shallow waters mak maist din.
"Shame fa' the couple," as the cow said to her fore feet.
Shame fa' the dog that, when he hunted you, didna gar you rin faster.
Shame fa' them that think shame to do themsels a gude turn.
Shame's past the shed o' your hair.
Sharp sauce gies a gude taste to sweetmeats.
She brak her elbow at the kirk door.
"Spoken of a thrifty maiden when she becomes a lazy wife."—Kelly.
She frisks about like a cat's tail i' the sun.
She has an ill paut wi' her hind foot.
She has gi'en them green stockings.
Spoken when a young woman marries before her elder sisters.
She hauds up her gab like an aumos dish.
"And aye he gies the touzie drab The tither skelpin' kiss, While she held up her greedy gab Just like an aumos dish."—Burns.
She hauds up her head like a hen drinking water.
The two last sayings are applied to persons who behave in an impudent or forward manner.
She'll keep her ain side o' the house, and gang up and down yours.
"Spoken to dissuade our friend from marrying a woman whom we suspect to be too bold."—Kelly.
She'll wear like a horseshoe, aye the langer the clearer.
She lookit at the moon, but lichtit i' the midden.
Applied to young women who have boasted, before marriage, of the "fine match" which they will get, but who afterwards are allied to common every-day people.
She looks as if butter wadna melt in her mou.
She looks like a leddy in a landward kirk.
This means that a person may appear very conspicuous on account of a peculiar dress or manner.
She pined awa like Jenkin's hen.
"To die like Jenkin's hen is to die an old maid."—Jamieson.
She's a bad sitter that's aye in a flutter.
She's a drap o' my dearest blude.
She's a wise wife that wats her ain weird.
That is, who knows her own destiny.
She's better than she's bonny.
A Highlander, in speaking favourably of his wife, is reported to have misquoted this, and characterized her as being "bonnier than she was better."
She's black, but she has a sweet smack.
That is, she is not very beautiful, but she is rich.
She's dinket out, neb and feather.
"Dressed completely; from top to toe."—Jamieson.
She's grown gatty that was ance a dautie.
She's no to be made a sang about.
"An abatement of a woman's commendation to beauty."—Kelly.
She that fa's ower a strae's a tentless taupie.
She that gangs to the well wi' an ill will, either the pig breaks or the water will spill.
She that taks a gift, hersel she sells; and she that gies ane, does naething else.
She wadna hae the walkers, and the riders gaed by.
"It is recorded of a celebrated beauty, Becky Monteith, that being asked how she had not made a good marriage, having replied, 'Ye see, I wadna hae the walkers, and the riders gaed by.'"—Ramsay's Reminiscences.
Shod i' the cradle, and barefit i' the stubble.
Applied to people who dress out of keeping with their work.
Shored folk live lang, an' so may him ye ken o'.
"'Force our way with the king's keys, and break the neck of every living soul we find in the house, if ye dinna gie it ower forthwith!' menaced the incensed Hobbie. 'Threatened folks live lang,' said the hag, in the same tone of irony; 'there's the iron gate—try your skeel on't, lads—it has kept out as good men as you or now.'"—The Black Dwarf.
Short accounts mak lang friends.
Short rents mak careless tenants.
Shouther to shouther stands steel and pouther.
Show me the man and I'll show you the law.
Sic a man as thou wad be, draw thee to sic companie.
Sic as ye gie, sic will you get.
Sic faither, sic son.
Sic reek as is therein comes out o' the lum.
Sic things maun be if we sell ale.
"This was the good woman's reply to her husband when he complained of the exciseman's too demonstrative gallantry."—W. K. Kelly.
Silence and thought hurt nae man.
Silence grips the mouse.
Silly bairns are eith to lear.
Sins and debts are aye mair than we think them.
Sit down and rest you, and tell us how they drest you, and how you wan awa.
A jocular way of asking a person about people whom he has been to see.
Sit on your seat, and nane will rise you.
"Sit in your place, and none can make you rise."—English.
Skill is nae burden.
Slander leaves a sair behint.
Slighted love is sair to bide.
Slipshod's no for a frozen road.
Slow at meat, slow at wark.
A reverse of this saying is common to many countries—"Quick at meat, quick at work."
Sma' fish are better than nane.
Sma' winnings mak a heavy purse.
Smooth water rins deep.
"Tweed said to Till, 'What gars ye rin sae still?' Till said to Tweed, 'Though ye rin sae wi' speed, And I rin slaw, Where ye drown ae man, I drown twa.'"—Berwickshire Rhyme.
Sober, neighbour! The night's but young yet.
A remonstrance with a person who is doing a thing too hurriedly, signifying that there is plenty of time to spare for the purpose.
Sodgers, fire, and water soon mak room for themsels.
Some ane has tauld her she was bonny.
Some are gey drouthy, but ye're aye moistified.
An insinuation that a person is very much addicted to tippling. "'Moistify,' a low word, generally used in a ludicrous sense in regard to topers."—Jamieson.
Some are only daft, but ye're red-wud raving.
Somebody may come to kame your hair wi' a cutty stool.
"Spoken by mothers to stubborn daughters, intimating they will come under the hands of a stepmother, who, it is likely, will not deal too tenderly with them."—Kelly.
Some can stand the sword better than the pintstoup.
Some folk look up, and ithers look down.
And, we presume, the proverb would have the reader to understand they prosper or fail accordingly.
Some fork low, but ye fork ower the mow.
That is, some people do not do their work sufficiently, but you overdo it.
Some hae a hantel o' fauts, ye're only a ne'er-do-weel.
Some, though very bad, still have some redeeming qualities; the party addressed has none.
Some hae hap, and some stick i' the gap.
Meaning that some have and some have not good fortune.
Some hae little sense, but ye're aye haverin'.
Some show a gliff o' the gowk, but ye're aye goavin.
To "show a gliff of the gowk" is to behave foolishly.
Some strake the measure o' justice, but ye gie't heapit.
Some tak a', but ye leave naething.
Some that hae least to dree are loudest wi' "waes me."
"Those who are least hurt cry loudest."—English.
"So on and accordingly," quo' Willie Baird's doggie.
Soon enough if well enough.
Soon enough to cry "Chuck" when it's out o' the shell.
Soon gotten, soon spent.
Soon ripe, soon rotten.
"Soor plooms," quo' the tod when he couldna climb the tree.
Sorrow an' ill weather come unca'd.
Sorrow be on your hands that held sae well to your head.
An imprecation on a person who has surpassed another in an undertaking.
Sorrow is soon enough when it comes.
Sorrow shake you out o' the wabster's handiwark.
Literally, sorrow shake you out of your clothes.
Sorrow's sib to a' body.
Souters and tailors count hours.
That is, tradesmen and commercial persons are aware of the value of time.
Souters shouldna gae ayont their last.
Spare at the spigot, and let out at the bunghole.
"Spoken to them who are careful and penurious in some trifling things, but neglective in the main chance."—Kelly.
Spare to speak, spare to speed.
Spare weel and hae weel.
Spare when ye're young, and spend when ye're auld.
Speak gude of pipers, your faither was a fiddler.
Speak o' the deil and he'll appear.
Jocularly applied to a person who approaches those who have just been inquiring for him.
Speak when ye're spoken to, and drink when ye're drucken to.
Speak when ye're spoken to, do what ye're bidden, come when ye're ca'd, an' ye'll no be chidden.
A sharp remark to those who join in the conversation of others unsolicited or impertinently.
Speir at Jock Thief if I be a leal man.
Spoken by rogues, who, when their respectability is questioned, refer to persons equally bad.
"Ask my comrade, who is as great a liar as myself."—French.
Spend, and God will send; spare, and be bare.
Spilt ale is waur than water.
Spit in your loof and haud fast.
This means, simply, take a firm hold of a thing.
Spit on a stane and it will be wat at last.
Stable the steed, and put your wife to bed when there's night wark to do.
"'Am I no gaun to the ploy, then?' said Maggie, in a disappointed tone. 'And what for should ye?' said her lord and master; 'to dance a' night, I'se warrant, and no to be fit to walk your tae's-length the morn, and we have ten Scots miles afore us? Na, na. Stable the steed, and pit your wife to bed when there's night wark to do.'"—Redgauntlet.
Standers-by see mair than gamesters.
Staunin' dubs gather dirt.
"Standing pools gather filth."—English.
Stay and drink o' your ain browst.
"Take a share of the mischief that you have occasioned."—Kelly.
"But gae your wa's, Bessie, tak on ye, And see wha'll tak care o' ye now; E'en gae wi' the Bogle, my bonnie— It's a browst your ain daffery did brew."—Old Ballad.
Stay nae langer in a friend's house than ye're welcome.
Step by step climbs the hill.
Stickin' gangsna by strength, but by the right use o' the gully.
Stretching and gaunting bodes sleep to be wanting.
Strike as ye feed, and that's but soberly.
Strike the iron while it's hot.
Stuffing hauds out storms.
"Advising men to take some good thing before they travel in a bad day."—Kelly.
Sturt pays nae debt.
"Spoken with resentment to them who storm when we crave of them our just debts."—Kelly.
Sudden friendship's sure repentance.
Sue a beggar and gain a louse.
Sunday wooin' draws to ruin.
Supp'd out wort ne'er made gude ale.
"Spoken when one asks us for a drink of our wort, for what is drunk in wort will never be ale, good or bad."—Kelly.
Suppers kill mair than doctors cure.
Surfeits slay mair than swords.
Swear by your burnt shins.
Sweet at the on-taking, but soor in the aff-putting.
In allusion to the contraction of debt and other liabilities.
Sweet i' the bed and sweer up i' the morning was ne'er a gude housewife.
"A jocose reproof to young maids when they lie long a-bed."—Kelly.
Tak a hair o' the dog that bit you.
This is a familiar rendering of the great law of Hom[oe]opathy, Similia similibus curantur; but is usually interpreted thus: Sober yourself by taking another glass.
Tak a piece; your teeth's langer than your beard.
Addressed to children who are diffident in accepting a "piece."
Tak a seat on Maggie Shaw's Crocky.
"Maggy Shaw's Crocky is a broad flat stone, near to the brink of a precipice, overhanging the sea-shore, about a mile to the north of Eyemouth. This stone was placed over the remains of an old woman who had hanged herself, and who is said to be frequently seen at night sitting upon it, in the shape of a white sea-mew—sitting lonely on the
"'glitty stane, Green wi' the dow o' the jauping main.'"—G. Henderson.
Tak a tune on your ain fiddle; ye'll dance till't afore it's dune.
"'I can hear no remonstrances,' he continued, turning away from the Bailie, whose mouth was open to address him; 'the service I am on gives me no time for idle discussions.' 'Aweel, aweel, sir,' said the Bailie, 'you're welcome to a tune on your ain fiddle; but see if I dinna gar ye dance till't afore a's dune.'"—Rob Roy.
"But sen ze think it easy thing To mount aboif the mune, Of our awin fidle tak a spring, And daunce quhen ze haif done."—Cherrie and the Slae.
Tak care o' that man whom God has set his mark upon.
"I went once to a conventicle on a mountain side, in company of a very sage intelligent gentleman, who, seeing the preacher want two joints of each ring finger, having a nail upon the third, he immediately took horse and rode away. I asked him what ailed him? He said, 'God had set a mark upon that man, and he was sure it was not for nothing.' This man proved a great plague to his country, was the death of a great many, and came to a violent end himself."—Kelly.
Tak a man by his word and a cow by her horn.
Tak him up on his fine eggs, and ane o' them rotten.
Tak nae mair on your back than ye're able to bear.
Tak pairt o' the pelf when the pack's dealing.
Tak the bit and the buffet wi't.
"What tho' sometimes, in angry mood, When she puts on her barlik hood, Her dialect seems rough and rude, Let's ne'er be flee't, But tak our bit, when it is gude, An' buffet wi't."—Allan Ramsay.
Bear patiently taunts and ill usage, if advantages come with them.
Tak the head for the washing.
Tak the readiest to serve the needfu'ist.
Tak the will for the deed.
Tak time ere time be tint.
"Tak tyme, in tyme, or tyme be tint, For tyme will not remain."—Cherrie and the Slae.
Tak your ain will and ye'll no dee o' the pet.
Tak your ain will o't, as the cat did o' the haggis—first ate it, and then creepit into the bag.
This and the preceding proverb, Kelly says, "are spoken to them who obstinately persist in an unreasonable design."
Tak your meal wi' ye an' your brose will be thicker.
Used sarcastically by those who take a good meal before they go to partake of one with a friend; signifying that they do not expect to be too well treated.
Tak your thanks to feed your cat.
Tak your venture, as mony a gude ship has done.
Tak your will, you're wise enough.
Tak wit wi' your anger.
Tam-tell-truth's nae courtier.
Tappit hens like cock-crowing.
Tarry breeks pays nae freight.
Persons in the same trade are generally willing to oblige one another. "Pipers don't pay fiddlers."—English. "One barber shaves another."—French.
Tarry lang brings little hame.
Tell nae tales out o' schule.
Tell the truth and shame the deil.
Thank ye for cakes, I have scones in my pocket.
That bolt came ne'er out o' your bag.
That is, such a thing is better done or told than you could do it.
That'll be a sap out o' my bicker.
Or will injure me by reducing my income or prospects.
That's abune your thoom.
Spoken to a person who is about to attempt a thing of which he is considered incapable.
That's a piece a stepmother never gied.
A hearty expression accompanying a substantial "piece" or meal.
That's a sair hair in my neck.
"I canna but think I maun hae made a queer figure without my hat and my periwig, hanging by the middle like bawdrons, or a cloak flung ower a cloakpin. Bailie Grahame wad hae an unco hair in my neck an he got that tale by the end."—Rob Roy.
That's as ill as the ewes in the yaird and nae dogs to hunt them.
The "yaird" being the safest place where the ewes could be, the proverb means that a thing is quite right.
That's a tale o' twa drinks.
That's a tee'd ba'.
That's but ae doctor's opinion.
That's equal aqual.
"Mr Novit, ye'll no forget to draw the annual rent that's due on the yerl's band—if I pay debt to other folk, I think they suld pay it to me—that equals aquals.—Jock, when ye hae naething else to do, ye may be aye sticking in a tree; it will be growing, Jock, when ye're sleeping. My father tauld me sae forty years sin', but I ne'er fand time to mind him."—Heart of Midlothian.
That's felling twa dogs wi' ae stane.
That's for that, as butter's for fish.
Meaning that such a thing is exactly what is wanted.
That's for the faither, and no for the son.
"Spoken when a thing is done with slight materials, and, consequently, will not be lasting."—Kelly.
That's Halkerston's cow, a' the ither way.
Halkerston, a lawyer and landed proprietor, gave permission to one of his tenants to graze an ox. The tenant's ox was gored to death by a heifer belonging to the lawyer. The tenant went to Halkerston, and told the story the reverse of what had occurred. "Why, then," said the lawyer, "your ox must go for my heifer—the law provides that." "No," said the man, "your heifer killed my ox." "Oh," said Halkerston, "the case alters there," and forthwith reversed his tactics.
That's ill paid maut siller.
"Metaphorically, a benefit ill requited."—Jamieson.
That's like seekin' for a needle in a windlin o' strae.
That's my gude that does me gude.
That's my tale, whaur's yours?
Spoken by a person who has forestalled another by telling the same news or story which the other was about to do.
That's no a heel to my shoe.
That's the ane the souter killed his wife wi'.
That's the best gown that gaes up and down the house.
That's the way to marry me, if ere you should hap to do it.
A sharp reply to those who presume to be too familiar.
That's waur and mair o't.
That which God will gie the deil canna reeve.
"Spoken when we have attained our end in spite of opposition."—Kelly.
That will be when the deil's blind, and he's no bleer-ee'd yet.
That winna be a mote in your marriage.
The ass that's no used to the sunks bites his crupper.
"'Sunks,' a sort of saddle made of cloth, and stuffed with straw, on which two persons can sit at once."—Jamieson.
The back and the belly hauds ilka ane busy.
The ba' maun aye row some way.
The banes bear the beef hame.
The banes o' a great estate are worth the picking.
The best is aye the cheapest.
The best laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft agley.
The best o' wabs are rough at the roons.
The best that can happen to a poor man is that ae bairn dee and the rest follow.
Kelly is democratically angry at the questionable sentiment of this proverb,—"A cursed distrustful proverb!" he says. "God is able to maintain the poor man's child as well as the young master or young miss, and often in a more healthy and plump condition."
The better day the better deed.
The jocular answer of a person who is blamed for doing something on Sunday.
The biggest horse is no aye the best traveller.
The biggest rogue cries loudest out.
The bird maun flicher that has but ae wing.
The bird that can sing, an' winna sing, should be gar'd sing.
The black ox ne'er trod on his foot.
"The black ox is said to tramp on one who has lost a near relation by death, or met with some severe calamity."—The Antiquary.
"Auld Luckie cries, 'Ye're o'er ill set, As ye'd hae measure, ye sud met; Ye ken na what may be your fate In after days, The black cow has nae trampet yet Upo' your taes.'"—The Farmer's Ha'.
The blind horse is aye the hardiest.
The blind man's peck should be weel measured.
The blind mear's first in the mire.
The bonny moon is on her back, mend your shoon and sort your thack.
"When the new moon is in such a part of the ecliptic as to appear turned much over upon her back, wet weather is expected."—Robert Chambers.
The book o' may-be's is very braid.
The breath o' a fause friend's waur than the fuff o' a weasel.
The cart doesna lose its errand when it comesna hame toom-tail.
"To come back toom-tail is to go away with a load and come back empty."—Jamieson.
The proverb is applied to those who accomplish more than their errand.
The cat kens whase lips she licks.
The cat's oot o' the pock.
The cause is gude, and the word's "fa' tae."
A profane grace of hungry persons who sit down to a good meal.
The clartier the cosier.
Literally, the dirtier the more comfortable. Whether true or not we cannot say.
The cost owergangs the profit.
The cow may dee ere the grass grow.
"While the grass is growing the steed is starving."—German.
The cow may want her tail yet.
"You may want my kindness hereafter, though you deny me yours just now."—Kelly.
The cow that's first up gets the first o' the dew.
Used as an incentive to diligence and industry.
"The early bird catches the worm."—English.
The cure may be waur than the disease.
The day has een, the night has lugs.
Prudence and caution are necessary at all times.
The day you do weel there will be seven munes in the lift and ane on the midden.
The inference is, that the person addressed has a very remote chance indeed of ever doing well.
The death o' ae bairn winna skail a house.
The death o' his first wife made sic a hole in his heart that a' the lave slippit easily through.
"It is supposed that he who has lost the wife of his youth and love will easily bear the loss of a second or third, who are commonly married rather for convenience than love."—Kelly.
The deil and the dean begin wi' ae letter; when the deil gets the dean the kirk will be better.
The deil aye drives his hogs to an ill market.
The deil bides his time.
The deil doesna aye show his cloven cloots.
The deil gaes awa when he finds the door steekit against him.
The deil gaes ower Jock Wabster.
"The deil gaes ower Jock Wabster, hame grows hell; And Pate misca's ye mair nor tongue can tell."—Gentle Shepherd.
The deil gae wi' ye and a sixpence, and ye'll neither want money nor company.
The deil made souters sailors that can neither steer nor row.
Applied to those who undertake work of which they are incapable.
The deil ne'er sent a wind out o' hell but he sail'd wi't.
The deil's a busy bishop in his ain diocese.
The deil's aye gude to his ain.
The deil's cow calves twice in ae year.
The deil's greedy, but ye're mislear'd.
The deil's greedy, sae are ye.
The deil's gude when he's pleased.
The deil's journeyman ne'er wants wark.
The deil's no sae black as he's ca'd.
"'Hout tout, neighbour, ye maunna tak the warld at its word,' said Saddletree; 'the very deil is no sae ill as he's ca'd; and I ken mair than ae advocate that may be said to hae some integrity as weel as their neighbours; that is, after a sort o' fashion o' their ain.'"—Heart of Midlothian.
The deil's ower grit wi' you.
"Ower grit," too familiar.
The deil's pet lambs lo'e Claverse's lads.
A saying of the Covenanters, that the followers of Graham of Claverhouse were on affectionate terms with the favourites of the Evil One.
The deil was sick, the deil a monk wad be; the deil grew hale, syne deil a monk was he.
Meaning that promises of amendment made on a sick-bed are seldom kept.
"All criminals preach under the gallows."—Italian.
The deil will tak little or he want a'.
The dorty dame may fa' in the dirt.
"Dorty," says Jamieson, "is applied to a female who is saucy with her suitors." That she may have to marry a more ineligible person than the one refused is here implied.
The drucken sot gets aye the drucken groat.
The e'ening brings a' hame.
The Englishman greets, the Irishman sleeps, but the Scotchman gangs till he gets it.
"A pretended account of the behaviour of these three nations when they want meat."—Kelly.
The farther ben the welcomer.
The farther in the deeper.
The farthest way aboot is aft the nearest way hame.
The fat sow's tail's aye creeshed.
Those who have sufficient money or property already are always getting additions to their stores.
The feathers carried awa the flesh.
The feet are slow when the head wears snaw.
The first dish is aye best eaten.
The first fuff o' a fat haggis is aye the bauldest.
Or the first threat of a boaster or coward is always the worst.
The first gryce and the last whalp o' a litter are aye the best.
The fish that sooms in a dub will aye taste o' dirt.
The flesh is aye fairest that's farthest frae the bane.
However, although fairest, it is not the best, for another proverb of our own says, "Nearer the bane the sweeter."
The foot at the cradle and the hand at the reel, is a sign that a woman means to do weel.
The foremost hound grips the hare.
The fu'er my house, the toomer my purse.
The goat gies a gude milking, but she ca's ower the cog wi' her feet.
Spoken of useful people who are, however, as troublesome as they are useful.
The grace o' a grey bannock is in the bakin' o't.
The grace o' God is gear enough.
The grandsire buys, the faither bigs, the son sells, and the grandson thigs.
Alluding to the uncertainty of earthly things; meaning, literally, that the grandsire buys estates on which the father builds, the son sells the property, and forces the grandson again in turn to beg.
The gravest fish is an oyster; the gravest bird's an ool; the gravest beast's an ass; an' the gravest man's a fool.
The greatest burdens are no the maist gainfu'.
The greatest clerk's no aye the wisest man.
The greedy man and the cook are sure friends.
The greedy man and the gileynour are weel met.
The gude dog doesna aye get the best bane.
The gude man's mither is aye in the gait.
"The husband's mother is the wife's devil."—Dutch.
The gude man's no aye the best man.
The gude or ill hap o' a gude or ill life, is the gude or ill choice o' a gude or ill wife.
"He who has a good wife can bear any evil; he who has a bad wife can expect no happiness that can be so called."—Spanish.
The happy man canna be herried.
The haughty hawk winna stoop to carrion.
The height o' nonsense is supping soor milk wi' an elshin.
This is equalled by a saying of another country, which has "keeping the sea back with a pitchfork" as its type of nonsense.
The hen's egg gaes to the ha' to bring the goose's egg awa.
"Spoken when poor people give small gifts to be doubly repaid."—Kelly.
The higher climb the greater fa'.
The higher the hill the laigher the grass.
The higher the tree the sweeter the plooms; the richer the souter the blacker his thooms.
The king lies doun, yet the warld rins round.
Applied to persons who have an exaggerated idea of their own importance.
The king may come in the cadger's gait.
This proverb, which is exclusively Scottish, means that a person who has been slighted, or whose services have been despised, may have an opportunity of retaliating at a future time.
The king may come to Kelly yet, and when he comes he'll ride.
"It signifies that the time may come that I may get my revenge upon such people, and then I will do it to purpose."—Kelly.
The kirk's aye greedy.
The kirk's muckle, but ye may say mass i' the end o't.
"Spoken when people say something is too much, intimating that they need take no more than they have need for."—Kelly.
The laird may be laird, and still need the hind's help.
The laird's brither's an ill tenant.
The langer we live we see the mair ferlies.
The langest day has an end.
The lass that has ower mony wooers aft wales the warst.
The lass that lightlies may lament.
To "lightlie" is to despise or treat with contempt.
The lazy lad maks a stark auld man.
The lean dog is a' fleas.
The leeful man is the beggar's brither.
The less debt the mair dainties.
"The less I lee."
This is merely a phrase, but a very expressive one. It implies emphatically that "the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," has been told.
The less wit a man has, the less he kens the want o't.
The loudest bummer's no the best bee.
The lucky pennyworth sells soonest.
The mair cost the mair honour.
The mair dirt the less hurt.
The mair mischief the better sport.
The mair the merrier; the fewer better cheer.
The mair ye steer the mair ye'll sink.
The maister's brither's an ill servant.
The maister's ee maks the horse fat.
A fat man riding upon a lean horse was asked how it came to pass that he was so fat while his horse was so lean? "Because," said he, "I feed myself, but my servant feeds the horse."
"The master's eye puts meat on the horse's ribs."—Irish.
The maister's foot's the best measure.
The man may eithly tine a stot that canna count his kine.
Or the man who does not know his business cannot look properly after it.
The man wha sits on the silk goun-tail o' the wife wha's tocher bought it, never sits easy.
The maut's abune the meal.
"Donald Bean Lean, being aware that the bridegroom was in request, and wanting to cleik the cunzie (that is, hook the siller), he cannily carried off Gilliewhackit ae night when he was riding dovering hame (wi' the maut rather abune the meal), and with the help of his gillies he gat him into the hills with the speed of light, and the first place he wakened in was the Cove of Vaimh an Ri."—Waverley.
"The meal cheap and shoon dear," quo' the souter's wife, "I'd like to hear."
The miller mouters best wi' his ain hand.
The morn's the morn.
"When northern blasts the ocean snurl, And gars the heights and hows look gurl, Then left about the bumper whirl, And toom the horn; Grip fast the hours which hasty hurl, The morn's the morn."—Allan Ramsay.
The moudiwart feedsna on midges.
Them that canna get a peck maun put up wi' a stimpart.
A "stimpart" is the fourth part of a peck. They who cannot obtain luxuries must content themselves with necessaries.
Them that canna ride maun shank it.
"'To shank,' to travel on foot."—Jamieson.
Them that likesna water brose will scunner at cauld steerie.
"'Cauld steerie,' sourmilk and meal stirred together in a cold state."—Jamieson.
Used as a taunt to those who complain of common food.
Them that winna work maun want.
Them that's ill fleyed are seldom sair hurt.
Them that's slack in gude are eydent in ill.
The muck midden is the mither o' the meal kist.
Them wha gae jumpin' awa aft come limpin' hame.
Them wha stand on a knowe's sure to be noticed.
Or they who elevate themselves to a public position are sure to be conspicuous.
Then's then, but noo's the noo.
"'Weel, Lindy man,' says Colin, 'that's a' true, But then was then, my lad, an' noo is noo; 'Bout then-a-days, we'd seldom met wi' cross, Nor kent the ill o' conters or a loss. But noo, the case is altered very sair.'"—Ross's Helenore.
The name o' an honest woman's muckle worth.
The nearer e'en the mair beggars.
A jocular salutation to those who drop in to visit a friend.
The next time ye dance, ken wha ye tak by the hand.
"Spoken to them who have imprudently engaged with some who have been too cunning or too hard for them."—Kelly.
The peasweep aye cries farthest frae his ain nest.
The piper wants muckle that wants the nether chaft.
"Spoken when a thing is wanting which is actually necessary."—Kelly.
The poor man is aye put to the warst.
The poor man pays for a'.
The poor man's shilling is but a penny.
The post o' honour is the post o' danger.
The proof o' the pudding's the preein' o't.
The proudest nettle grows on a midden.
And a very proud person may have sprung from a poor family.
The rain comes scouth when the wind's in the south.
To rain "scouth," is to rain abundantly or heavily.
There are great stots in Ireland, but they canna get here for horns.
There are mair foxes than there are holes for.
There are mair knaves in my kin than honest men in yours.
There are mair maidens than maukins.
Literally, there are more maidens than young hares. Figuratively, he has lost one sweetheart, but he'll soon get another.
There are mair married than gude house hauders.
Or more persons in the capacity of householders than are competent for the duties of the position.
There are mair wark-days than life-days.
There are nane sae weel shod but may slip.
There belangs mair to a bed than four bare legs.
Spoken to persons about to marry, signifying that more expenses are incurred in housekeeping than they are aware of.
There belangs mair to a ploughman than whistling.
There grows nae grass at the market cross.
There ne'er came ill frae a gude advice.
There ne'er was a bad that couldna be waur.
There ne'er was a fair word in flyting.
There ne'er was a fire without some reek.
There ne'er was a poor man in his kin.
There ne'er was a slut but had a slit, or a daw but had twa.
There ne'er was a five pound note but there was a ten pound road for't.
Such was the reply of a respected lady friend of ours when asked what she did with all the money she got. It does not appear in any previous collection, but it is too good to be lost.
There's a day coming that'll show wha's blackest.
There's a difference between fen o'er and fair well.
"There is a great difference between their way of living who only get a little scrap to keep them alive, and theirs who get every day a full meal."—Kelly.
There's a difference between the piper and his bitch.
There's a difference between "Will you sell?" and "Will you buy?"
There's a dub at every door, and before some doors there's twa.
A "dub" is a pool or puddle of water. Proverbially, there is a skeleton in every house.
There's ae day o' reckoning and anither day o' payment.
There's a flee in my hose.
"That is, I have some trouble of mind or body about me that takes up my thought."—Kelly.
There's a gude and a bad side to everything; a' the airt is to find it out.
There's a gude shape in the shears' mouth.
But it requires talent and skill to bring it forth.
There's a het hurry when there's a hen to roast.
"There's a mote in't," quo' the man when he swallowed the dishclout.
There's an act in the Laird o' Grant's court, that no abune eleven speak at ance.
A jocular remark when too many speak at once: that it is founded on fact is questionable.
"There's an unco splutter," quo' the sow i' the gutter.
There's a reason for ye, an' a rag about the foot o't.
The meaning of this is, that a very trifling or lame reason has been given for something having been done.
There's as gude fish in the sea as ever came out o't.
"I jalouse it's neither siller nor the Kirk o' Scotland that's fashing him. If I'm no mista'en, he's vexing himsel' a hantle mair about Miss Migummerie; but he needna be sic a fule—there's as gude fish in the sea as ever yet cam oot o't—that's a' that I'll say."—The Disruption.
There's a sliddery stane before the ha' door.
"Signifying the uncertainty of court favour, and the promises of great men."—Kelly.
There's as mony Johnstones as Jardines.
Meaning that there are as many on the one side as there are on the other; that the chances are equal.
There's a storm in somebody's nose, licht where it like.
Spoken when we see a person angry, and about to break into a passion.
There's a time to gley and a time to look straught.
There's a tough sinew in an auld wife's heel.
There's a whaup i' the raip.
There is a knot in the rope—there is something wrong.
There's a word in my wame, but it's ower far down.
Spoken by a person who is at a loss for a particular word to express himself.
There's aye a glum look where there's cauld crowdy.
Glum looks when there is cold shoulder of mutton for dinner, in England, are proverbial.
There's aye a wimple in a lawyer's clew.
"'The judge didna tell us a' he could hae tell'd us, if he had liked, about the application for pardon, neighbours,' said Saddletree; 'there is aye a wimple in a lawyer's clew; but it's a wee bit o' a secret.'"—Heart of Midlothian.
There's aye enough o' friends when folk hae ought.
"Daft Will Speirs was sitting on the roadside picking a large bone, when the Earl of Eglinton came along. 'Weel, Will,' said the Earl, 'what's this you've got noo?' 'Ay, ay,' said Will, 'anew o' friends when folk has ocht; ye gaed by me a wee sin', an' ne'er loot on ye saw me.'"—The Scotch Haggis.
There's aye ill-will among cadgers.
Synonymous with "Two of a trade seldom agree."—French.
There's aye life in a living man.
There's aye some water where the stirkie drowns.
There's aye sorrow at somebody's door.
"There's baith meat and music here," quo' the dog when he ate the piper's bag.
There's beild beneath an auld man's beard.
Beild, that is, shelter or protection.
There's brains enough ootside his head.
There's but ae gude wife in the warld, and ilka ane thinks he has her.
"This rule admits large exceptions, for some are fully apprised of the contrary."—Kelly.
There's life in a mussel as lang as it cheeps.
There's little for the rake after the shool.
"There is little to be gotten of such a thing when covetous people have had their will of it."—Kelly.
There's little wit in the pow that lichts the candle at the lowe.
He has little wit who does a thing in a dangerous or extravagant manner. There is an addition to this saying common in the north, "And as little in the croon, that kindles 't ower far doon."
There's little sap in a dry pea-shaup.
"There's little to reck," quo' the knave to his neck.
There's mair ado than a dish to lick.
There's mair knavery among kirkmen than honesty amang courtiers.
There's mair knavery on sea and land than all the warld beside.
"A facetious bull, upon mentioning of some knavish action."—Kelly.
There's mair room without than within.
A churlish remark of one who thinks his company is not wanted.
There's mair ways o' killing a dog than hanging him.
There's mair ways than ane o' keeping craws frae the stack.
There's mair ways to the wood than ane.
There's mair whistling wi' you than gude red land.
Or more play than work.
"'Red land,' ground turned up with the plough."—Jamieson.
There's measure in a' things, even in kail supping.
"There is reason in roasting of eggs."—English.
There's mirth among the kin when the howdie cries "A son."
There's mony a true tale tauld in jest.
There's mony a tod hunted that's no killed.
"'Oh, I hae nae friend left in the warld!—O, that I were lying dead at my mother's side in Newbattle kirkyard!'—'Hout, lassie,' said Ratcliffe, willing to show the interest which he absolutely felt, 'dinna be sae dooms doon-hearted as a' that; there's mony a tod hunted that's no killed. Advocate Langtale has brought folk through waur snappers than a' this, and there's no a cleverer agent than Nichil Novit e'er drew a bill o' suspension.'"—Heart of Midlothian.
There's mony chances, baith o' gude and ill, befa' folk in this warld.
There's muckle ado when dominies ride.
When people engage in a thing to which they are unaccustomed the necessity must be urgent. A Peeblesshire couplet embodies the same meaning:—
"There's muckle ado when muirland folk ride— Boots and spurs, and a' to provide!"
There's muckle between the word and the deed.
There's muckle hid meat in a goose's ee.
There's muckle love in bands and bags.
"There's meikle good love in bands and bags, And siller and gowd's a sweet complexion; But beauty and wit, and virtue in rags, Have tint the art of gaining affection."—Tea-Table Miscellany.
There's my thoom, I'll ne'er beguile thee.
This is the name of an old Scottish song, but is often used as a proverb.
There's nae breard like middling breard.
Applied to low-born people who suddenly come to wealth and honour; in allusion to the stalks of corn which spring up on a dunghill.
There's nae birds this year in last year's nest.
There's nae corn without cauf.
There's nae fey folk's meat in my pat.
There's nae friend like the penny.
There's nae friend to friend in mister.
There's nae fules like auld fules.
"Your auntie's no past the time o' day yet for jumping at a man if she just had the offer. There's no fules like auld fules; and tak ye my word for't, Maister James, neither your lass nor mines cares half as muckle about mautrimony as your aunty."—The Disruption.
There's nae hair sae sma' but has its shadow.
There's nae hawk flees sae high but he will fa' to some lure.
"There's nae ill in a merry mind," quo' the wife when she whistled through the kirk.
There's nae iron sae hard but rust will fret it; there's nae claith sae fine but moths will eat it.
There's nae lack in love.
There's nae reek but there's some heat.
There's nae remede for fear but cut aff the head.
There's nae sel sae dear as our ainsel.
There's nae sport where there's neither auld folk nor bairns.
There's naething for misdeeds but mends.
There's naething sae gude on this side o' time but it might hae been better.
There's naething ill said that's no ill ta'en.
There's naething sae like an honest man as an arrant knave.
There's nae woo sae coorse but it'll take some colour.
There's nane sae blind as them that winna see.
There's nane sae busy as him that has least to do.
There's nane sae deaf as them that winna hear.
There's ne'er a great feast but some fare ill.
There's ower mony nicks in your horn.
That is, you are too knowing or cunning for me.
There's plenty o' raible when drink's on the table.
To "raible" is to speak in a riotous, careless, or loose manner.
There's remede for a' but stark dead.
"For ony malledy ze ken, Except puir love, or than stark deid, Help may be had frae hands of men, Thorow medicines to mak remeid."—The Evergreen.
There's skill in gruel making.
"There's sma sorrow at our pairting," as the auld mear said to the broken cart.
"'If ye dinna think me fit,' replied Andrew, in a huff, 'to speak like ither folk, gie me my wages, and my board-wages, and I'se gae back to Glasgow—there's sma sorrow at our pairting, as the auld mear said to the broken cart.'"—Rob Roy.
There's steel in the needle point, though little o't.
"Spoken when a thing, commendable for its kind, is found fault with for its quantity."—Kelly.
There's the end o' an auld sang.
Or, all the information I can give you.
There's tricks in a' trades but honest horse-couping.
There's twa enoughs, and ye hae got ane o' them.
"That is, big enough and little enough; meaning that he has gotten little enough. An answer to them who, out of modesty, say they have enough."—Kelly.
There's twa things in my mind, and that's the least o' them.
Spoken by a person who declines to give a reason for a thing which he does not wish to do.
There was anither gotten the night that you was born.
"If one won't another will."—English.
There was mair lost at Sherramuir, where the Hielandman lost his faither and his mither, and a gude buff belt worth baith o' them.
Spoken jocularly when a person meets with a trifling loss. Sheriffmuir is the name of the field between Stirling and Dunblane, where a disastrous battle between the Scots and English was fought during the rebellion of 1715.
There was ne'er a gude toun but there was a dub at the end o't.
Or never a thing so perfect as to be faultless.
There was ne'er a height but had a howe at the bottom o't.
There ne'er was a silly Jocky but there was a silly Jenny.
There was ne'er a thrifty wife wi' a clout about her head.
There was ne'er enough when naething was left.
The scabbit head loesna the kame.
The scholar may waur the maister.
The shortest road's the nearest.
The shortest road's where the company's gude.
The silliest strake has aye the loudest "hech."
This means, literally, that the silliest stroke is accompanied by the loudest exclamation: those who pretend to do most perform least.
The slothfu' man maks a slim fortune.
The smith has aye a spark in his throat.
The smith's mear and the souter's wife are aye warst shod.
The snail is as sune at its rest as the swallow.
The souter gae the sow a kiss; "grumph," quo' she, "it's for a birse."
"Spoken of those whose service we suppose to be mercenary."—Kelly.
The stoup that gaes often to the well comes hame broken at last.
"The pitcher that goes often to the well leaves either its handle or its spout."—Spanish.
The stoutest head bears langest oot.
"The broadsword's pursuer, or plaintiff, as you Englishers ca' it, and the target is defender; the stoutest head bears langest out;—and there's a Hieland plea for ye."—Rob Roy.
The strongest side taks aye the strongest right.
The sun is nae waur for shining on the midden.
The thatcher said unto his man, "Let's raise this ladder if we can."—"But first let's drink, maister."
"Spoken when one proposes something to be done, and another proposes to take a drink before we begin."—Kelly.
The thiefer-like the better sodger.
The thing that liesna in your gait breaksna your shins.
The thing that's dune's no to do.
The thing that's fristed's no forgi'en.
The third time's lucky.
The thrift o' you and the woo o' a dog wad mak a braw wab.
A sarcastic manner of informing a person that he is lazy.
The thrift o' you will be the death o' your gudewife.
The time ye're pu'in' runts ye're no setting kail.
The tod keeps aye his ain hole clean.
"'Hout-tout, Dame Elspeth,' said Tibb, 'fear ye naething frae Christie; tods keep their ain holes clean. You kirk-folk make sic a fasherie about men shifting a wee bit for their living!'"—The Monastery.
The tod ne'er sped better than when he gaed his ain errand.
"Every man is most zealous for his own interest. Spoken to advise a man to go about such a business himself."—Kelly.
The tod ne'er fares better than when he's bann'd.
"Spoken when we are told that such people curse us, which we think is the effect of envy, the companion of felicity. The fox is cursed when he takes our poultry."—Kelly.
The tod's whalps are ill to tame.
The tree doesna aye fa' at the first strake.
The warld is bound to nae man.
The warst may be tholed when it's kenn'd.
The warst warld that ever was some man won.
The water will ne'er waur the widdie.
The water will never cheat the gallows; of similar meaning to "He that's born to be hanged," q. v.
"A neighbour of mine was so fully persuaded of the truth of this proverb, that being in a great storm, and dreadfully afraid, espies in the ship a graceless rake whom he supposed destined to another sort of death, cries out, O Samuel, are you here? why then, we are all safe, and so laid aside his concern."—Kelly.
The waur luck now the better anither time.
The weakest gangs to the wa'.
The wife's aye welcome that comes wi' a crooked oxter.
That person is always welcome who brings presents. The "oxter" is crooked because the arm is engaged carrying them.
The wife's ae dochter and the man's ae cow, the taen's ne'er weel and the tither's ne'er fu'.
The willing horse is aye worked to death.
The wolf may lose his teeth, but ne'er his nature.
The word o' an honest man's enough.
The worth o' a thing is best kenned by the want o't.
The worth o' a thing is what it will bring.
The wyte o' war is at kings' doors.
"You and me, Gilhaize, that are but servants, needna fash our heads wi' sic things; the wyte o' wars lie at the doors of kings, and the soldiers are free o' the sin o' them."—Galt's Ringan Gilhaize.
They are eith hindered that are no furdersome.
They who are unwilling to do a thing are easily hindered.
They are sad rents that come in wi' tears.
They buy gudes cheap that bring hame naething.
They craw crouse that craw last.
Because they who "craw" last exult that a matter is definitely known to be in their own favour.
They hae need o' a canny cook that hae but ae egg to their dinner.
They draw the cat harrow.
"That is, they thwart one another."—Kelly.
"For every lord, as he thought best, Brocht in ane bird to fill the nest; To be ane watcheman to his marrow, They gan to draw at the cat-harrow."—Sir David Lyndsay.
They'll flit in the Merse for a hen's gerse.
"They will flit for a matter of very small importance. Formerly in Berwickshire every hind was allowed to keep a few hens; and some of them actually removed for the sake of the hen's keep. Hence the saying."—G. Henderson.
They gang far aboot that never meet.
They'll gree better when they gang in by ither kirk doors.
Spoken of two persons who have quarrelled, meaning that they should avoid each other.
They maun be sune up that cheat the tod.
They maun hunger in frost that winna work in fresh.
They may dunsh that gie the lunch.
"Dunsh" is a word for which there is no perfect equivalent in English. It means to jog or thrust in a violent manner; but those who know its proper application will see how feeble these meanings are. Jamieson approaches it when he says it is to "push as a mad bull." The proverb here means that they upon whom we depend can do with us as they please.
They may ken by your beard what ye had on your board.
They need muckle that will be content wi' naething.
They ne'er baked a gude cake but may bake an ill ane.
They ne'er gie wi' the spit but they gat wi' the ladle.
Or they never confer a small favour, or give a trifling gift, but they expect a greater in return.
They ne'er saw great dainties that thought a haggis a feast.
They're a' ae sow's pick.
Or all one kind—all bad alike.
"They're a bonny pair," as the craw said o' his feet.
"They're a bonny pair," as the deil said o' his cloots.
They're a' gude that gies.
They're a' gude that's far awa.
They're a' tarr'd wi' ae stick.
"'For my part,' said Macwheeble, 'I never wish to see a kilt in the country again, nor a red coat, nor a gun, for that matter, unless it were to shoot a paitrick. They're a' tarr'd wi' ae stick.'"—Waverley.
They're aye gude will'd o' their horse that hae nane.
"He's free of his fruit that wants an orchard."—English.
They're as thick as three in a bed.
"They're curly and crookit," as the deil said o' his horns.
They're fremit friends that canna be fash'd.
That is, they are strange or false friends who will not allow themselves to be troubled in the least about their relations.
They're keen o' company that taks the dog on their back.
They're lightly harried that hae a' their ain.
They're like the grices, if ye kittle their wame they fa' on their backs.
Synonymous with "Give him an inch and he'll take an ell."—English.
They're no a' saints that get the name o't.
They're no to be named in the same day.
Or they are so different that there is no room for comparison.
They're queer folk that hae nae failings.
They're scant o' horseflesh that ride on the dog.
They're weel guided that God guides.
They rin fast that deils and lasses drive.
They should kiss the gudewife that wad win the gudeman.
They speak o' my drinking, but ne'er think o' my drouth.
"They censure my doing such a thing who neither consider my occasions of doing it, or what provocations I have had."—Kelly.
They that bourd wi' cats may count upon scarts.
They that burn you for a witch will lose their coals.
Applied to stupid people who pretend to be very clever. "Nobody will take you for a conjuror."—English.
They that come wi' a gift dinna need to stand lang at the door.
They that deal wi' the deil get a dear pennyworth.
They that drink langest live langest.
They that get neist best are no ill aff.
"'Well, my good friend,' said Tyrrel, 'the upshot of all this is, I hope, that I am to stay and have dinner here?' 'What for no?' replied Mrs Dods. 'And that I am to have the Blue room for a night or two—perhaps longer?' 'I dinna ken that,' said the dame. 'The Blue room is the best—and they that get neist best are no ill aff in this warld.'"—St Ronan's Well.
They that get the word o' sune rising may lie a' day.
They that hae maist need o' credit seldom get muckle.
They that herd swine think aye they hear them grumphin'.
They that hide ken where to seek.
"What! the siller?—Ay, ay—trust him for that—they that hide ken best where to find—he wants to wile him out o' his last guinea, and then escape to his ain country, the landlouper."—The Antiquary.
They that laugh in the morning will greet ere night.
They that lie down for love should rise up for hunger.
They that like the midden see nae motes in't.
They that live langest fetch wood farthest.
They that lose seek, they that find keep.
They that marry in green, their sorrow is sune seen.
"It is rather strange that green, the most natural and agreeable of all colours, should have been connected by superstition with calamity and sorrow.... To this day, in the north of Scotland, no young woman would wear such attire on her wedding day."—Robert Chambers.
They that love maist speak least.
They that never filled a cradle shouldna sit in ane.
"Because such will not consider whether there may be a child in it; whereas they who have had children will be more cautious."—Kelly.
They that rise wi' the sun hae their wark weel begun.
They that see but your head dinna see a' your height.
"Spoken to men of low stature and high spirits."—Kelly.
They that see you through the day winna break the house for you at night.
This ungallant proverb signifies that the person addressed is not very good-looking.
They that sin the sin maun bear the shame.
They that stay in the howe will ne'er mount the height.
They walk fair that naebody finds faut wi'.
They were never fain that fidged, nor fu' that lickit dishes.
"Spoken when people shrug their shoulders, as if it was a sign that they were not content."—Kelly.
They were never first at the wark wha bade God speed the wark.
They were scant o' bairns that brought you up.
They wha are early up, and hae nae business, hae either an ill wife, an ill bed, or an ill conscience.
They wist as weel that didna speir.
There are those who are more concerned for my welfare than you are, but do not make so many outward protestations of it.
They wyte you an' you're no wyteless.
Things maun aye be someway, even if they're crookit.
Thirteen o' you may gang to the dizzen.
This and better may do, but this and waur will never do.
This world's a widdle as weel as a riddle.
"'A widdle,' a wriggling motion; metaphorically, a struggle or bustle."—Jamieson.
Thole weel is gude for burning.
"Patience and posset-drink cure all maladies."—English.
Though auld and wise still tak advice.
Thoughts are free, and if I daurna say I may think.
Thoughts beguile maidens.
Though ye tether time and tide, love and light ye canna hide.
Three can keep a secret when twa are awa.
Three failures and a fire make a Scotsman's fortune.
Thrift's gude revenue.
Time and thinking tame the strongest grief.
Time and tide for nae man bide.
Time tint is never found.
Time tries a', as winter tries the kail.
Time tries whinstanes.
Tine heart, tine a'.
"'I couldna maybe hae made muckle o' a bargain wi' yon lang callant,' said David, when thus complimented on his valour; 'but when ye deal wi' thae folk, it's tine heart, tine a'.'"—Heart of Midlothian.
Tine needle, tine darg.
If you lose your needle you lose your day's work. Spoken to shiftless persons who complain loudly on the least trifle going wrong with them.
Tine thimble, tine thrift.
Tit for tat's fair play.
To fazarts hard hazards are death ere they come nigh.
"Then feir nocht, nor heir nocht, Dreid, danger, or despair, To fazarts hard hazarts Is deid or they cum thair."—Cherrie and the Slae.
To hain is to hae.
Toom barrels mak maist din.
Toom be your meal pock, and mine ne'er hang on your pin.
Toom stalls mak biting horses.
Touch a gaw'd horse on the back an he'll fling.
"Spoken when you have said something to a man that intrenches upon his reputation, and so have put him in a passion."—Kelly.
To work for naething maks folk dead-sweer.
"'Dead-sweer,' extremely averse to exertion."—Jamieson.
Traitors' words ne'er yet hurt honest cause.
Tramp on a snail, and she'll shoot oot her horns.
Tramp on a worm and she'll turn her head.
Tramping straw makes trottin' owsen.
Travell'd men are sindle trow'd.
Trot faither, trot mither; how can the foal amble?
"It is hard for those who have had a bad parentage, and, consequently, an ill education, to be good."—Kelly.
True blue will never stain, but dirty red will dye again.
True love is aye blate.
True love kythes in time o' need.
"Kythes," that is, shows itself.
True love's the waft o' life, but it whiles comes through a sorrowfu' shuttle.
Truth and honesty keep the crown o' the causey.
Truth and oil come aye uppermost.
Truth hauds lang the gate.
Try before you trust.
Try your friend ere you need him.
Twa blacks winna mak ae white.
Twa cats and ae mouse, twa mice in ae house, twa dogs and ae bane, ne'er will agree in ane.
Twa fools in ae house are a pair ower mony.
Twa gudes seldom meet—what's gude for the plant is ill for the peat.
Twa hands may do in ae dish, but ne'er in ae purse.
"Twa heads are better than ane," as the wife said when she and her dog gaed to the market.
Twa heads are better than ane, though they're but sheep's anes.
Spoken when a person offers a suggestion to another who is considering how he will do a thing.
Twa heads may lie upon ae cod, and nane ken whaur the luck lies.
"Spoken when either husband or wife is dead, and the sorrowing party goes back in the world after."—Kelly.
Twa hungry meltiths makes the third a glutton.
Twa things ne'er be angry wi'—what ye can help and what ye canna.
Twa words maun gang to that bargain.
Addressed to a person who is in too great a hurry to conclude a bargain, indirectly implying that the speaker is not quite satisfied with the article or terms.
Twine tow, your mother was a gude spinner.
"Spoken to those who curse you or rail upon you, as if you would say, take what you say to yourself."—Kelly.
Unco folk's no to mird wi'.
"Ye ken yoursel best where ye tint the end— Sae ye maun foremost gae the miss to mend. 'Tis nae to mird wi' unco folk, ye see, Nor is the blear drawn easy o'er their e'e."—Ross's Helenore.
Under water dearth, under snaw bread.
If a field has been inundated with water the crop will be spoiled; but if covered with snow it will be improved, as the soil is warmed and nourished thereby.
"Unsicker, unstable," quo' the wave to the cable.
"'Unsicker,' not secure, not safe, unsteady."—Jamieson.
Upon my ain expense, as the man built the dyke.
"Taken from an inscription upon a churchyard in Scotland—
"'I, John Moody, cives Abredonensis, Builded this kerk-yerd of fitty (Foot-dee?) upon my own expenses.'" —Kelly.
Untimeous spurring spoils the steed.
Up hill spare me, doun hill tak tent o' thee.
Use maks perfyteness.
The Scottish version of the very common saying, "Practice makes perfect."
Wad ye gar us trow that the mune's made o' green cheese, or that spade shafts bear plooms?
That is, Would you really try to make us believe anything so false or absurd as we know such a thing to be?
Waes the wife that wants the tongue, but weel's the man that gets her.
Waes unite faes.
Wae tae him that lippens to ithers for tippence.
Or, who trusts to another for a small obligation.
Wae tae the wame that has a wilfu' maister.
"Wae worth ill company," quo' the daw o' Camnethan.
"Spoken when we have been drawn by ill company into an ill thing. A jack-daw in Camnethan (Cambusnethan) learned this word from a guest in the house when he was upon his penitentials after hard drinking."—Kelly.
Walk as your shoes will let ye.
Waly, waly! bairns are bonny; ane's enough and twa's ower mony.
Want o' cunning's nae shame.
Wanton kittens mak douce cats.
Want o' warld's gear aft sunders fond hearts.
Want o' wit is waur than want o' gear.
Want siller, want fish.
Wark bears witness wha does weel.
War maks thieves and peace hangs them.
War's sweet tae them that never tried it.
"'A soldier! then you have slain and burnt, and sacked, and spoiled?' 'I winna say,' replied Edie, 'that I have been better than my neighbours—it's a rough trade—war's sweet to them that never tried it.'"—The Antiquary.
Waste water, waste better.
Watch harm, catch harm.
Wealth has made mair men covetous than covetousness has made men wealthy.
Wealth, like want, ruins mony.
Wealth maks wit waver.
"'Weel, weel,' said the banker, 'that may be a' as you say, sir, and nae doubt wealth makes wit waver; but the country's wealthy, that canna be denied, and wealth, sir, ye ken——' 'I know wealth makes itself wings,' answered the cynical stranger; 'but I am not quite sure we have it even now.'"—St Ronan's Well.
Weapons bode peace.
We are a' life-like and death-like.
We are aye tae learn as lang as we live.
We are bound to be honest, and no to be rich.
We can live without our kin, but no without our neighbours.
We canna baith sup and blaw.
That is, we cannot do two things at once.
We can poind for debt, but no for unkindness.
We can shape their wylie-coat, but no their weird.
Literally, we can shape a person's article of clothing, but cannot foretell his destiny.
Wedding and ill wintering tame baith man and beast.
Wee things fley cowards.
Weel begun is half done.
Weel is that weel does.
Weel kens the mouse when pussie's in.
"When the cat's away the mice will play."—English.
"The farmer now comes ben the house, Whilk o' their gabbin' makes a truce, The lads and lassies a' grow douce, And spare their din; For true's the tale, 'Weel kens the mouse When pussie's in!'"—The Farmer's Ha'.
"Weel!" quo' Willie, when his ain wife dang him.
We presume that this was intended by Willie as an expression of indifference at the punishment which was being administered to him.
Weel's him and wae's him that has a bishop in his kin.
"Because such may be advanced, and perhaps disappointed."—Kelly.
Weel won corn should be housed ere the morn.
"'Won corn,' corn dried by exposure to the air."—Jamieson.
Weel worth a' that gars the plough draw.
Anglice, Good luck to everything by which we earn money.
"We hounds slew the hare," quo' the messan.
Welcome's the best dish in the kitchen.
We'll bark oursels ere we buy dogs sae dear.
Addressed to persons who ask exorbitant prices for their wares: meaning that sooner than agree to their terms, we will do without the article altogether.
We'll bear wi' the stink when it brings in the clink.
We'll meet ere hills meet.
"Men may meet: but mountains never."—English.
We'll ne'er big sandy bourochs thegither.
"This refers," says Jamieson, "to the custom of children building houses in the sand for sport." The proverb means, after such an occurrence we need never expect to be on terms of intimacy again.
We maun a' gang ae gate.
"'Ay—and is it even sae?' said Meg; 'and has the puir bairn been sae soon removed frae this fashious world? Ay, ay, we maun a' gang ae gate—crackit quart-stoups and geisen'd barrels—leaky quaighs are we a', and canna keep in the liquor of life—Ohon, sirs!'"—St Ronan's Well.
We maun live by the living, and no by the dead.
We maun tak the crap as it grows.
We may ken your meaning by your mumping.
"To mump, to hint, to aim at."—Jamieson.
"Ye may speak plainer, lass, gin ye incline, As, by your mumping, I maist ken your mind."—Shirref.
We ne'er ken the worth o' water till the well gae dry.
Were it no for hope the heart wad break.
Wersh parritch, neither gude to fry, boil, or sup cauld.
West wind north about never hauds lang out.
Wet your wizen or else it'll gizen.
Spoken to a person who is telling a story. It may be either meant kindly or as a signification that the story is too "long-winded."
Wha burns rags will want a winding-sheet.
Wha can haud wha will awa?
Wha can help misluck?
"Wha can help sickness?" quo' the wife when she lay in the gutter.
Wha canna gie will little get.
Wha comes oftener, and brings you less?
Spoken jocularly by a person who is in the habit of visiting a friend frequently.
Wha daur bell the cat?
In addition to the fabulous illustration of the mice and the cat, this proverb has also an historical fact attached to it, which is well known in Scotland. The Scottish nobles of the time of James the Third proposed to meet at Stirling in a body, and take Spence, the king's favourite, and hang him. At a preliminary consultation, Lord Gray remarked, "It is well said, but wha will bell the cat?" The Earl of Angus undertook the task—accomplished it—and till his dying day was called Archibald Bell-the-cat.
Wha may woo without cost?
Wha never climbs never fa's.
What a'body says maun be true.
For "There's never much talk of a thing but there's some truth in it."—Italian.
What better is the house where the daw rises soon?
"Spoken often by mistresses to their maids when they have been early up, and done little work."—Kelly.
"Early up, and never the nearer."—English.
What carlins hain, cats eat.
What fizzes in the mou' winna fill the wame.
What is pleasant to the palate may be very unsubstantial for the stomach.
What maks you sae rumgunshach and me sae curcuddoch?
Literally, why are you so rude or unkind to me when I am so anxious to please or be kind to you?
What may be done at ony time will be done at nae time.
What may be mayna be.
What puts that in your head that didna put the sturdy wi't?
"Spoken to them that speak foolishly, or tell a story that you thought they had not known."—Kelly.
What's gotten ower the deil's back is spent below his belly.
What's gude for sick John's gude for hail Janet.
What's in your wame's no in your testament.
An injunction to a person to eat more: if they eat what is before them they will not leave it in their will.
What's like a dorty maiden when she's auld?
"'Dorty,' applied to a female who is saucy to her suitors."—Jamieson.
What's my case the day may be yours the morn.
What's nane o' my profit shall be nane o' my peril.
That is, I must decline to run any risk if I do not share the profit.
"What's no i' the bag will be i' the broo," quo' the Hielandman when he dirked the haggis.
What's pleasure to you bodes ill to me.
An epitome of AEsop's "Boys and the Frogs."
What's waur than ill luck?
What's your horse the day, may be his mare the morn.
What's yours is mine, what's mine's my ain.
A maxim occasionally adopted by a selfish husband to enable him to distinguish his own property from that of his wife.
What we first learn we best ken.
What will ye get frae an oily pat but stink?
What winna do by might do by slight.
What winna mak a pat may mak a pat lid.
What ye do when you're drunk ye may pay for when you're dry.
What ye gie shines aye, what ye get smells ill next day.
What ye want up and doun you hae hither-and-yont.
"'Hither-and-yont,' topsy turvy; in a disjointed state."—Jamieson.
If you have not the thing complete, you have everything necessary for making it so.
What ye win at that ye may lick aff a het girdle.
The inference is that his prospect of success is very poor.
What your ee sees your heart greens for.
When ae door steeks anither opens.
As one door shuts another opens: as one opportunity is lost another occurs.
When a ewie's drowned she's dead.
"Spoken when a thing is lost and past recovery."—Kelly.
When a fool finds a horseshoe he thinks aye the like to do.
When a' fruits fail, welcome haws.
When a hundred sheep rin, how mony cloots clatter?
When a' men speak, nae man hears.
When ane winna, twa canna cast out.
When a's in, and the slap dit, rise herd and let the dog sit.
"'Slap dit,' gate shut. Jocosely spoken to herd boys after harvest, as if there was no further use for them."—Kelly.
When death lifts the curtain it's time to be startin'.
When drink's in wit's out.
When folk's missed then they're moaned.
When friends meet hearts warm.
When gude cheer is lacking friends go a-packing.
When he dees of age ye may quake for fear.
When I did weel I heard it never; when I did ill I heard it ever.
"A reflection of servants upon hard and passionate masters, who are liberal in their reproofs, but sparing in their commendations."—Kelly.
When ilka ane gets his ain the thief will get the widdie.
When lairds break carls get lands.
"When the tree falls every one gathers sticks."—Danish.
When love cools fauts are seen.
When my head's doun my house is theiked.
"Spoken by those who are free from debts, concerns, or future projects: as common tradesmen, day labourers, and servants, who work their work and get their wages, and commonly are the happiest part of mankind."—Kelly.
When petticoats woo breeks come speed.
"Time to marry when the maid wooes the man; parallel to that Cheshire proverb, 'It is time to yoke when the cart comes to the caples,' i.e., horses."—Ray.
When poverty comes in at the door love flies out at the window.
When pride's in the van, begging's in the rear.
When she doesna scold she shores.
That is, when she does not scold directly, she threatens to do it.
When the bag's fu' the drone gets up.
When the barn's fu' ye may thresh afore the door.
When the burn doesna babble, it's either ower toom or ower fu'.
When the cow's in the clout she soon runs out.
Meaning that when the cow has been sold and converted into money, the proceeds soon come to an end, as "Ready money will away."—English.
When the craw flees her tail follows.
When the gudeman drinks to the gudewife a' wad be weel; when the gudewife drinks to the gudeman a's weel.
This will give English readers but a poor opinion of conjugal courtesy in Scotland—that when a man drinks to the good health of his wife, it is more from fear than from affection—more from a desire that she should have things properly done when they are not so.
When the gudeman's awa the board claith's tint; when the gudewife's awa the keys are tint.
Kelly prints this as two sayings, and says of them respectively—First, "Because the commons will then be short." Second, "For if she be not at home you'll get no drink."
When the heart's fu' o' lust the mou's fu' o' leasing.
When the heart's past hope the face is past shame.
When the hen gaes to the cock the birds may get a knock.
"Spoken when widows, who design a second marriage, prove harsh to their children."—Kelly.
When the heart's fu' the tongue canna speak.
When the horse is at the gallop the bridle's ower late.
When the man's fire and the wife's tow, the deil comes in and blaws't in lowe.
When the pat's fu' it'll boil ower.
When the pea's in bloom the mussel's toom.
Where the pig's broken let the sherds lie.
"A proverbial phrase, applied to death, as expressive of indifference with respect to the place where the body may be interred."—Jamieson.
Where the scythe cuts, and the sock rives, hae done wi' fairies and bee-bykes.
"Meaning that the ploughing, or even the mowing, of the ground tends to extirpate alike the earth-bee and the fairy. In various places, the fairies are described as having been seen on some particular occasion to gather together and take a formal farewell of the district, when it had become, from agricultural changes, unfitted for their residence."—Robert Chambers.
When the tod preaches tak tent o' the lambs.
"When the fox preaches, take care of the geese."—English.
When the tod wins to the wood he caresna how mony keek at his tail.
When the wame's fu' the banes wad be at rest.
When the wame's fu' the tongue wags.
"Wi' spirit bauld they work, I trow, And mony a strange tale they tell now, Of ilka thing that's braw or new, They never fag; Auld proverb says, 'When wames are fu' The tongues maun wag.'"—The Har'st Rig.
When the will's ready the feet's light.
When we want, friends are scant.
When wine sinks words soom.
When ye are poor, naebody kens ye; when ye are rich, a'body lends ye.
When ye are weel, haud yoursel sae.
When ye ca' the dog out o' your ain kail-yaird, dinna ca't into mine.
When ye can suit your shanks to my shoon ye may speak.
When you are placed in a position similar to mine you will be competent to speak on the subject.
When ye christen the bairn ye should ken what to ca't.
When you're gaun and comin' the gate's no toom.
When you're ser'd a' the geese are watered.
When your hair's white, ye wad hae it lockering.
"'Locker,' curled. Spoken of one who is immoderate in his desires."—Jamieson.
When your neighbour's house is in danger tak tent o' your ain.
Where drums beat laws are dumb.
Where the buck's bound there he may bleat.
"Men must bear these hardships to which they are bound either by force or compact."—Kelly.
Where the deer's slain the blude will lie.
Where the head gaes the tail will follow.
Where there are gentles there are aye aff-fa'in's.
There is such abundance of good prepared, that something may be reasonably expected for the poor. It may also be a delicate allusion to the failings of the aristocracy.