Scottish National Dictionary

Last updated

The Scottish National Dictionary (SND) was published by the Scottish National Dictionary Association (SNDA) from 1931 to 1976 and documents the Modern (Lowland) Scots language. The original editor, William Grant, was the driving force behind the collection of Scots vocabulary. [1] [2] A wide range of sources were used by the editorial team in order to represent the full spectrum of Scottish vocabulary and cultural life.


Literary sources of words and phrases up to the mid-twentieth century were thoroughly investigated, as were historical records, both published and unpublished, of Parliament, Town Councils, Kirk Sessions and Presbyteries and Law Courts. More ephemeral sources such as domestic memoirs, household account books, diaries, letters and the like were also read for the dictionary, and a wide range of local and national newspapers and magazines, which often shed light on regional vocabulary and culture.

Given the fact that Scots has often been perceived as inappropriate for formal situations (including formal written text) during the period from 1700 to the present day, many words and expressions that were in regular everyday use did not appear in print. In order to redress this imbalance and fully appreciate the linguistic oral heritage of Scots, field-workers for the dictionary collected personal quotations across the country.

When David Murison took over the editorship of the dictionary in 1946, following William Grant's death. He greatly increased the number and range of written sources and expanded the coverage of oral material. He improved the layout and clarity of the entries, revealing the healthy position of modern Scots usage in spite of centuries of neglect. Murison was therefore instrumental in encouraging the study of modern Scots and fostering respect for it as a language. He was responsible for the completion of Volume III, and for overall control of Volumes IV to X. [3]

In 1985, the one-volume Concise Scots Dictionary based on the SND and DOST was published (editor-in-chief Mairi Robinson).

From 2001 to 2004, a team at Dundee University, led by Dr Victor Skretkowicz and lexicographer, Susan Rennie, digitised the full text of all ten volumes and made them freely available as part of the online Dictionary of the Scots Language . [4] [5] [6]

An award from the Heritage Lottery Fund brought the SND up-to-date with a New Supplement, published online in 2005 as part of the Dictionary of the Scots Language.

See also

Related Research Articles

Burns supper Celebration of the life and poetry of Alistair Robert Burns (1759-1796)

A Burns supper is a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns, the author of many Scots poems. The suppers are normally held on or near the poet's birthday, 25 January, known as Burns Night. However, in principle, celebrations may be held at any other time of the year. Burns suppers are held all around the world.


Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the old year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year in the Scottish manner. It is normally followed by further celebration on the morning of New Year's Day or, in some cases, 2 January—a Scottish bank holiday.

Scots language Germanic language

Scots is a West Germanic language variety spoken in Scotland and parts of Ulster in the north of Ireland. It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Goidelic Celtic language that was historically restricted to most of the Highlands, the Hebrides and Galloway after the 16th century. Modern Scots is a sister language of Modern English, as the two diverged independently from the same source: Early Middle English (1150–1300).

Merriam-Webster American publisher and dictionary

Merriam-Webster, Inc., is an American company that publishes reference books and is especially known for its dictionaries.

The speech of Glaswegians, popularly known as the Glasgow patter or Glaswegian, varies from Scottish English at one end of a bipolar linguistic continuum, with the local dialect of West Central Scots at the other. Therefore, the speech of many Glaswegians can draw on a "continuum between fully localised and fully standardised". Additionally, the Glasgow dialect has Highland English and Hiberno-English influences owing to the speech of Highlanders and Irish people who migrated in large numbers to the Glasgow area in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Glasgow vernacular also exerts considerable influence on the vernacular of the surrounding towns.

Scottish English is the set of varieties of the English language spoken in Scotland. The transregional, standardised variety is called Scottish Standard English or Standard Scottish English (SSE). Scottish Standard English may be defined as "the characteristic speech of the professional class [in Scotland] and the accepted norm in schools". IETF language tag for "Scottish Standard English" is en-scotland.

History of the Scots language

The history of the Scots language refers to how Anglic varieties spoken in parts of Scotland developed into modern Scots.

This is a presentation of the phonological history of the Scots language.

A seanchaí is a traditional Gaelic storyteller/historian. In Scottish Gaelic the word is seanchaidh. The word is often anglicised as shanachie.

In Scotland, a wirry-cow[ˈwɪɾɪkʌu, ˈwʌɾɪkʌu] was a bugbear, goblin, ghost, ghoul or other frightful object. Sometimes the term was used for the Devil or a scarecrow.

Draggled sae 'mang muck and stanes, They looked like wirry-cows

The Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL) is an online Scots-English dictionary, now run by Scottish Language Dictionaries, a registered charity. Freely available via the Internet, the work comprises the two major dictionaries of the Scots language:

The 'apologetic' or parochial apostrophe is the distinctive use of apostrophes in Modern Scots orthography. Apologetic apostrophes generally occurred where a consonant exists in the Standard English cognate, as in a' (all), gi'e (give) and wi' (with).

Shetland dialect

Shetland dialect is a dialect of Insular Scots spoken in Shetland, an archipelago to the north of mainland Scotland. It is derived from the Scots dialects brought to Shetland from the end of the fifteenth century by Lowland Scots, mainly from Fife and Lothian, with a degree of Norse influence from the Norn language, which is an extinct North Germanic language spoken on the islands until the late 18th century.

Languages of Scotland Languages of a geographic region

The languages of Scotland are the languages spoken or once spoken in Scotland. Each of the numerous languages spoken in Scotland during its recorded linguistic history falls into either the Germanic or Celtic language families. The classification of the Pictish language was once controversial, but it is now generally considered a Celtic language. Today, the main language spoken in Scotland is English, while Scots and Scottish Gaelic are minority languages. The dialect of English spoken in Scotland is referred to as Scottish English.

The Scottish National Dictionary Association (SNDA) was founded in 1929 to foster and encourage the Scots language, in particular by producing a standard dictionary of modern Scots. This primary aim was fulfilled in 1976 with the completion of the 10-volume Scottish National Dictionary (SND), covering the language from 1700 to 1976. Material for SND is drawn from a wide variety of written and oral sources of Lowland Scots from Shetland to Ulster. SND was produced under the editorial direction of William Grant, and of David Murison.

A Scotticism is a phrase or word which is characteristic of dialects of the Scots language.

Modern Scots Varieties of Scots traditionally spoken in Lowland Scotland, and parts of Ulster

Modern Scots comprises the varieties of Scots traditionally spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster, from 1700.

The history of Scottish Gaelic dictionaries goes back to the early 17th century. The high-point of Gaelic dictionary production was in the first half of the 19th century, as yet unrivalled even by modern developments in the late 20th and early 21st century. The majority of dictionaries published to date have been Gaelic to English dictionaries.

A historical dictionary or dictionary on historical principles is a dictionary which deals not only with the latterday meanings of words but also the historical development of their forms and meanings. It may also describe the vocabulary of an earlier stage of a language's development without covering present-day usage at all. A historical dictionary is primarily of interest to scholars of language, but may also be used as a general dictionary.

Mairi Robinson Scottish lexicographer

MairiRobinson was best known for her dedication towards the study of the Scottish language and Scottish lexicography. She worked on the later stages of the Scottish National Dictionary and became the editor-in-chief where she oversaw the 1985 publication for the Concise Scots dictionary. She was Scots language consultant for the complete edition of Sir Walter Scott's novels. She was committed to adult learning. Her work has been a noteworthy contribution to the Scots language and to the confidence of the Scottish people about their language.


  1. "The Confidential Causerie. The Scottish National Dictionary. Canon Wilkinson". The Glasgow Herald . 13 May 1933. p. 4. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  2. "Scottish National Dictionary. Burns Clubs to raise £20,000". The Glasgow Herald. 1 December 1945. p. 2. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  3. J. Derrick McClure (27 February 1997). "Obituary: David D. Murison". The Independent . Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  4. "Scots wha hae web access". Contact Magazine . May 2002. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  5. "MSP supports Scots language project". June 2002. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  6. "Online move for Scots language". March 2004. Retrieved 8 July 2020.