The Proverbs of Scotland
by Alexander Hislop
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"I am of opinion, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "that there is no proverb which is not true, because they are all sentences drawn from experience itself, the mother of all the sciences."










Transcriber's Note:

Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Dialect spellings and inconsistent hyphenation have been retained. The oe ligature is represented by [oe].









The gathering together of the Proverbs of Scotland has occupied the attention of several collectors. The earliest work on the subject which has been traced is that of Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow, who, about the time of the Reformation, made a small collection. The definite information which we have of this work is so very slight, however, that it has been of little or no value to subsequent collectors and writers on the subject. The first collection of importance is the well-known one made by the Rev. David Fergusson, minister of Dunfermline, who was a contemporary of Archbishop Beaton. Fergusson's collection, which numbered 940 proverbs, was, all circumstances considered, a very commendable one; and it has served as a foundation to the labours of subsequent workers in the same field. The next is that of James Kelly, published in London in 1721. This volume contains nearly 3000 proverbs, and is very carefully arranged, with notes and parallel illustrations. The collection of Kelly is an able and valuable one, as he was perfectly conversant with the subject of proverbs generally; but we are compelled to agree with Motherwell, when he says that this writer's rendering of the Scottish dialect is "most barbarous;" nor do we wonder that it excited the profound contempt of Allan Ramsay, who, from his thorough knowledge of the Scottish vernacular, was openly indignant at the reputation gained by Kelly's work, and made a collection himself, which was published at Edinburgh in 1763. In a sensible but pedantic preface, which he addressed to the "Tenantry of Scotland, Farmers of the Dales, and Storemasters of the Hills," he states his reasons for issuing a work on the subject, and strongly recommends the use of proverbs, particularly among the agricultural portion of the community. After alluding to the work of Kelly as a "late large book of them, fou of errors, in a style neither Scots nor English," he goes on to say:—"As naething helps our happiness mair than to hae the mind made up with right principles, I desire you, for the thriving and pleasure of you and yours, to use your een and lend your lugs to these guid auld says, that shine with wail'd sense, and will as lang as the world wags. Gar your bairns get them by heart; let them hae a place among your family books; and may never a window-sole through the country be without them. On a spare hour, when the day is clear, behind a rick, or on the green howm, draw the treasure frae your pouch and enjoy the pleasant companion. Ye happy herds, while your hirdsels are feeding on the flowery braes, you may eithly mak yoursels maisters of the hale ware! How usefou it will prove to you (wha hae sae few opportunities of common clattering) when you forgather with your friends at kirk or market, banquet or bridal! By your proficiency, you'll be able, in a proverbial way, to keep up the soul of a conversation, that is baith blythe and usefou."

Nearly a hundred years elapsed before a new collection appeared, although, during that period, many editions of the works which we have mentioned were brought out to supply the demands of a proverb-loving public. In 1832, the collection formed by Andrew Henderson was published at Glasgow. It is based upon the previous books, and is a very extensive one, although in arrangement it is defective. This collection, which is more ample than the former ones, has the advantage of an elaborate historical and literary disquisition on the general subject, in the form of an introduction by the poet Motherwell, which is allowed to be one of the most interesting and comprehensive papers on proverbs which has yet appeared.

The present collection of Scottish Proverbs, the first edition of which appeared in 1862, while it is the most extensive and systematic that has yet appeared, claims to be little more than a mere mechanical compilation. It was suggested by the work of Henderson, and has been carefully collated with it, and also with the previous collections of Fergusson, Kelly, and Ramsay. Large additions have been made from various sources, such as the works of Sir Walter Scott, Galt, Hogg, and other national writers, while not a few have been picked up and registered as they fell from the lips of friends and strangers with whom the compiler came in contact.

Throughout the volume, a considerable number of notes are introduced. These notes the compiler had some hesitation in inserting, from a feeling that many of them were mere literal explanations or illustrations, conveying generally but a very poor idea of the deeper meaning which the proverbs themselves are capable of yielding; and also in deference to opinions which have been expressed as to the propriety of adding notes to a collection of proverbs at all, as every reader of intelligence is competent to put an individual construction upon each, suited to circumstances; while the very wide inferences and applications which can be extracted from many of them, render the adapting of a brief and satisfactory note, in many cases, an impossibility. As it is, however, little merit is claimed for them; and if they are found to be of no aid in facilitating an interpretation, they will, at least, tend to relieve the monotonous or catalogue effect, so to speak, which is apt to be felt by many readers when perusing works arranged in alphabetical order. In all cases where the compiler could adapt a quotation or parallel proverb, he did so in preference to inserting an original note. To apply a proverb from the collection, it is hoped that, after all, the notes will be found no worse than "Like a chip among parritch—little gude, little ill." A simple but comprehensive Glossary is appended, containing and explaining the meaning of the Scottish words to be found in the book.

Of course, in a work of this nature, it is impossible to prevent redundancies and repetitions; and when it is mentioned that the gathering and arrangement of the first edition of this little work occupied the leisure hours of six years, and a similar period during the preparation of the present, it will be readily understood that many of the faults are to be attributed to the length of time which elapsed during its compilation.

In conclusion, the compiler begs to state that the present edition of this little work differs very considerably from its predecessor. Upwards of 2000 additions, alterations, and corrections have been made upon it, most of which he is of opinion are improvements; so that the book is, practically speaking, a new one. He has also to thank the members of the press for the very flattering reception accorded to the first edition, and hopes that the new one will be found equally worthy of their commendation. To several private friends, and very many total strangers, he desires to express his acknowledgments for many valuable hints and important additions. As he is anxious that this collection should be as complete as possible, he will be most happy to receive any suggestion or addition which may occur to readers, and would respectfully solicit such with a view to their incorporation in a subsequent edition, should such be required.

EDINBURGH, May 1868.


A' ae oo'.

Literally, "all one wool." "A proverbial phrase, equivalent to all one, all to the same purpose."—Jamieson.

A' ae oo', a' ae price.

A' are gude lasses, but where do the ill wives come frae?

"All are good maids, but whence come the bad wives?"—Spanish.

A' are no friends that speak us fair.

"All are not friends who smile at you."—Dutch.

A' are no thieves that dogs bark at.

A bad wound may heal, but a bad name will kill.

A bairn maun creep afore it gangs.

A bald head is sune shaved.

A bark frae a teethless dog is as gude as a bite.

A bauld fae is better than a cowardly friend.

A bawbee cat may look at a king.

A beggar's wallet is a mile to the bottom.

Because it generally contrives to contain all he gets.

"A begun turn is half ended," quo' the wife when she stuck the graip in the midden.

A jocular beginning of work, which, if it went no further, would be long enough ere it were finished.

A beltless bairn canna lee.

"I suppose it means a child before it be so old as to wear belted truese, will not have the cunning to invent a lie."—Kelly.

A bird in the hand's worth twa fleeing by.

A bit but and a bit ben maks a mim maiden at the board end.

"A jocose reflection upon young maids when they eat almost nothing to dinner, intimating that if they had not eaten a little in the pantry or kitchen, they would eat better at the table."—Kelly.

A bit is aften better gi'en than eaten.

A black hen can lay a white egg.

A black shoe maks a blythe heart.

"Whan a man's shoe is blackened and bedaub'd with industry, it will procure him such a supply as will make him cheerful."—Kelly.

A Blainslie lawin'—there's mair for meat than drink.

A blate cat maks a proud mouse.

When discipline is not enforced, subordinates are apt to take advantage of it.

A blind man needs nae looking-glass.

A blind man's wife needs nae painting.

A blythe heart maks a bloomin' look.

A body's no broke while they hae a gude kail stock.

"When all is not lost, all can be recovered."—English.

A bonnie bride is sune buskit, and a short horse is sune wispit.

"For little adornment is required to set forth the bride's charms; and the smaller the horse, it is the sooner 'wispit' or cleaned."—Kelly.

A bonnie gryce may mak an ugly sow.

"Fair in the cradle may be foul in the saddle."—English.

A borrowed len' should gae laughing hame.

When we return an article which has been borrowed, to its owner, we should do it with a good grace.

About the moon there is a brugh: the weather will be cauld and rough.

"The halo seen round the moon, being a consequence of the humidity of the atmosphere, may well betoken wet weather."—Robert Chambers.

A bow o'erbent will weaken.

Abundance o' law breaks nae law.

A careless watch invites the thief.

A' cats are grey in the dark.

A clean synd's better than a dirty dry.

"A clean thing's kindly," quo' the wife when she turned her sark after a month's wear.

A close mouth catches nae flees.

"A shut mouth keeps me out of strife."—Portuguese.

A cock's aye crouse on his ain midden-head.

"A cock is valiant on his own dunghill."—Danish.

A' complain o' want o' siller, but nane o' want o' sense.

A coward's fear maks a brave man braver.

A crackit bell will never mend.

A' cracks mauna be trew'd.

All that is heard must not be believed.

A crafty man's ne'er at peace.

A' craiks a' bears.

"Craik," to complain: great complainers wish to make others believe that their own lot is a very hard one.

A crammed kyte maks a crazy carcase.

"A full belly sets a man jigging."—French.

A craw will no wash white.

A crooked man should sow beans, and a woad man peas.

"The one agrees to be thick sown, the other thin."—Kelly.

A crookit stick will throw a crookit shadow.

A croonin cow, a crawin hen, and a whistlin maid, were ne'er very chancy.

"The two first are reckoned ominous, but the reflection is on the third, in whom whistling is unbecoming."—Kelly.

A cuddy's gallop's sune done.

A cumbersome cur is hated in company.

A daft nurse maks a wise wean.

A day to come seems langer than a year that's gane.

A dear ship lies lang in the harbour.

A dink maiden aft maks a dirty wife.

A "dink," neat or trim, maiden often forgets her "dinkness" after marriage.

A dish o' married love grows sune cauld.

A dog's life—muckle ease, muckle hunger.

"We have dogs' days, hunger and aise, through the blue month."—Irish. The "blue month" being the interval between the failure of the old crop of potatoes and the coming on of the new one, commonly the month of July.

A dog winna yowl if ye fell him wi' a bane.

"Pelt a dog with bones, and you will not offend him."—Italian.

A doucer man ne'er brak warld's bread.

A saying expressive of unqualified respect.

A drap and a bite's but a sma' requite.

Used to induce a friend to sit down to dinner or tea, meaning that such is but a poor requital of the friend's past services.

A dreigh drink is better than a dry sermon.

A drink is shorter than a tale.

An excuse for drinking during the telling of a story.

A drudger gets a darg, and a drucken wife the drucken penny.

A willing labourer gets a day's work, and people fond of drink, however poor they are, contrive to get it some way or other.

A dry summer ne'er made a dear peck.

"Drought never bred dearth."—English.

A duck winna dabble aye in ae hole.

A dumb man hauds a'.

That is, figuratively, makes no disclosures.

A dumb man ne'er got land.

A dumb man wins nae law.

A loquacious advocate is more likely to gain his case than a taciturn one.

Ae beggar's wae that anither by the gate gae.

He is sorry that another beggar should overtake him while pursuing his calling. This feeling is not strictly confined to the begging fraternity.

Ae fine thing needs twa to set it aff.

Ae gude friend is worth mony relations.

Ae gude turn deserves anither.

Ae gude turn may meet anither, an' it were at the brig o' London.

Meaning that a favour done may be returned at a time when least expected, and perhaps when very much required.

Ae half o' the warld disna ken how the ither half lives.

Ae hand winna wash the ither for nought.

Ae hour in the morning is worth twa at night.

Ae hour's cauld will drive oot seven years' heat.

Ae lawsuit breeds twenty.

Ae man may tak a horse to the water, but twenty winna gar him drink.

"'Reuben Butler! he hasna in his pouch the value o' the auld black coat he wears—but it doesna signify.' And, as he spoke, he (the Laird of Dumbiedikes) shut successively, and with vehemence, the drawers of his treasury. 'A fair offer, Jeannie, is nae cause o' feud—ae man may bring a horse to the water, but twenty wunna gar him drink. And as for wasting my substance on other folks' joes——'"—Heart of Midlothian.

Ae man may steal a horse where anither daurna look ower the hedge.

A man with a bad character is liable to be blamed for any misdeed which may be done; while a person who is not open to suspicion may commit depredation without challenge.

Ae man's meat is anither man's poison.

Ae scabbit sheep will smit a hirsel.

One bad character may pollute a whole company.

Ae scone o' that baking's enough.

Ae shook o' that stook's enough.

One specimen of a bad article is sufficient.

Ae swallow disna mak a summer.

Ae word before is worth twa behint.

Ae year a nurse and seven years a daw.

Does this very old proverb mean, that if a woman nurses for one year, it takes seven years to recover from the effects of it? Ray has a very ungallant note on the English version of this: "Because, feeding well and doing little, she becomes liquorish, and gets a habit of idleness."

A' fails that fools think.

A fa'ing maister maks a standin' man.

A fair maid tocherless will get mair wooers than husbands.

A fair offer is nae cause o' feud.

A' fellows, Jock and the laird.

"Spoken when unworthy fellows intrude themselves into the company of their betters."—Kelly.

A fey man and a cursour fearna the deil.

Meaning literally, that a predestined man and a war-horse (or stallion, as the word "cursour" more immediately implies) fear not the devil.

Affront your friend in daffin', and tine him in earnest.

Affront him not in jest, lest you lose him in earnest.

A fidging mare should be weel girded.

"A thief does not always steal, but always be on your guard against him."—Russian.

A findsilly bairn gars his faither be hang'd.

A fisherman's walk—twa steps and overboard.

A fleyer wad aye hae a follower.

This proverb illustrates a song of Allan Ramsay's, after an ode by Horace, referring to a girl running out of the room, in the hope that her lover would follow her.

A fool and his money are sune parted.

A fool at forty will ne'er be wise.

A fool is happier thinking weel o' himself, than a wise man is o' others thinking weel o' him.

A fool may earn money, but it taks a wise man to keep it.

A fool may gie a wise man a counsel.

"'Fair and softly gangs far,' said Meiklehose; 'and if a fule may gie a wise man a counsel, I wad hae him think twice or he mells with Knockdunder.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

A fool may speer mair questions than a wise man can answer.

A fool's bolt is sune shot.

A fool winna gie his toy for the Tower o' London.

A foul foot maks a fu' wame.

"Industry will be sure of a maintenance. A man that carefully goes about his business will have foul feet."—Kelly.

A foul hand maks a clean hearthstane.

A friend at court is worth a penny in the purse.

Kelly's note on this proverb is not favourable to the court usances of his time (1721). "A purse seems to be the only friend at court, for, without that, there is nothing there but neglect and empty promises."

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

A friend to a' is a friend to nane.

"Everybody's friend is nobody's friend."—Spanish.

A friend's dinner's sune dished.

That is, a true friend is easily served, and will not readily take offence.

A friend's ne'er ken't till he's needed.

Aft counting keeps friends lang thegither.

"Short accounts make long friends."—English.

After a sort, as Costlet served the king.

"One Captain Costlet, boasting much of his loyalty, was asked how he served the king when he was a captain in Cromwell's army, answered, 'After a sort.' Spoken when a thing is done slightly."—Kelly.

After a storm comes a calm.

After cheese, naething.

After clouds comes fair weather.

After dinner sit a while, after supper walk a mile.

This advice is unfitted for the dining practices of the present day; but when our ancestors breakfasted at six, dined at eleven, and supped at four or five, the counsel may have been good enough.

After joy comes annoy.

After Lammas, corn ripens by day and night.

After that comes a cow to be shod.

After words come weird: fair fa' them that ca' me "Madam."

After libel comes proof: let those who speak ill of me look to themselves.

After you is gude manners.

"Spoken when our betters offer to serve us first."—Kelly.

Aft ettle, whiles hit.

Often try, occasionally succeed.

Aft times the cautioner pays the debt.

A fu' cup is ill to carry.

A fu' heart is aye kind.

A fu' heart never lee'd.

Intimating that the truth generally comes out under the impulse of the feelings.

A fu' man and a hungry horse aye mak haste hame.

A fu' man's a true man.

A man under the influence of drink, if he speak at all, speaks truth, and often more of that than is pleasant.

A fu' purse maks a haverin merchant.

A man with a full purse engaged in commercial transactions is apt to "haver," or gossip freely.

A fu' purse never lacks friends.

A fu' sack can bear a clout on the side.

A man in prosperous circumstances can afford to listen to the envious remarks of those who have not been so fortunate.

A fu' wame maks a straught back.

A full stomach makes a man walk erectly.

A gaun fit's aye getting, were it but a thorn or a broken tae.

"A man of industry will certainly get a living; though the proverb is often applied to those who went abroad and got a mischief, when they might safely have stayed at home."—Kelly.

A gentle horse should be sindle spurr'd.

A gi'en game was ne'er won.

A voluntary concession may be no tribute to the skill of the opponent.

A gi'en horse shouldna be looked i' the mouth.

A gi'en piece is soon eaten.

A gowk at Yule 'll no be bright at Beltane.

He that is a fool at Christmas will not be wise in May.

A great rooser was ne'er a gude rider.

A great boaster is rarely a great performer.

A greedy e'e ne'er got a fu' wame.

A greedy e'e ne'er got a gude pennyworth.

This and the preceding proverb signify that a covetous or greedy man is never satisfied.

A green wound is half hale.

A green Yule maks a fat kirkyard.

"Ance I wrought a simmer wi' auld Will Winnet, the bedral, and howkit mair graves than ane in my day; but I left him in winter, for it was unco cauld wark; and then it cam a green Yule, and the folk died thick and fast."—The Antiquary.

A groat is ill saved that shames its master.

A grunting horse and a graneing wife seldom fail their master.

People that are constantly in the habit of complaining how ill they are, generally contrive to live as long as their neighbours.

A gude beginning maks a gude ending.

A gude calf is better than a calf o' a gude kind.

The one is good already, while it is possible that the other may turn out bad.

A gude cause maks a strong arm.

A gude conscience is the best divinity.

A gude day's darg may be done wi' a dirty spade.

A gude dog ne'er barkit about a bane.

A gude face needs nae band, and an ill ane deserves nane.

A gude fellow is a costly name.

A gude fellow ne'er tint but at an ill fellow's hand.

A gude goose may hae an ill gaiflin.

A gude green turf is a gude gudemother.

A mother-in-law is best in the churchyard.

A gude grieve is better than an ill worker.

A gude ingle maks a roomy fireside.

A gude lawyer may be an ill neighbour.

A gude man maks a gude wife.

A gude name is sooner tint than won.

"Good repute is like the cypress; once cut, it never puts forth leaf again."—Italian.

A gude pawn never shamed its master.

"It is no shame for a man to borrow on a good pawn; though I think it would be more for his honour to be trusted without one."—Kelly.

A gude paymaster ne'er wants hands to work.

A gude steel is worth a penny.

A gude tale's no the waur o' being twice tauld.

"It's very true the curates read aye the same words ower again; and if they be right words, what for no?—a gude tale's no the waur o' being twice tauld, I trow; and a body has aye the better chance to understand it."—Old Mortality.

A gude tongue's a gude safeguard.

A gude wife and health is a man's best wealth.

A gude word is as easy said as an ill ane.

A gude year winna mak him, nor an ill year mar him.

"A beggar will ne'er be a bankrupt."—English.

A guilty conscience self accuses.

A hadden tongue maks a slabbered mou'.

A hairy man's a geary man, but a hairy wife's a witch.

A half burn'd peat is easily kindled.

A hanfu' o' trade is worth a gowpen o' gold.

Literally, the knowledge of a trade is worth a handful of gold.

A hantle cry Murder! and are aye upmost.

Many that are least hurt cry loudest

A hasty man is never lusty.

A hasty man never wanted wae.

A hearty hand to gie a hungry meltith.

A hen that lays thereout should hae a white nest-egg.

Some attractions should be provided at home for those who are not naturally attached to it.

A' his buz shakes nae barley.

All his talking does no good, or, vice versa, all his stormy temper does no harm.

A hook is weel tint to catch a salmon.

"Throw sprats to catch whales."—Spanish.

A horn spoon hauds nae poison.

The humble rank indicated by the horn spoon is one in which simplicity and contentment are so general that no poisoning need be feared. "No hemlock is drunk out of earthenware."—Latin.

A horse broken and a wife to break, is a horse made and a wife to make.

A horse hired never tired.

A horse wi' four feet may snapper.

Snapper, to stumble. Even the best of men may err.

A houndless hunter and a gunless gunner aye see routh o' game.

Applied to those who are always boasting of what they can do, when they know that there is no fear of their powers being tested.

A house built and a garden to grow never brought what they cost.

A house fu' o' folk, and a pouch wi' three fardens i' the corner o't, dinna sort weel thegither.

Poverty and a desire to keep up appearances do not "sort weel."

A house in a hastrie is downright wastrie.

A house wi' a reek and a wife wi' a reard will mak a man rin to the door.

"Smoke, a dripping roof, and a scolding wife, are enough to drive a man out of his life."—Spanish.

A hungry louse bites sair.

"Spoken when the needy are importunate in their cravings, or exacting."—Kelly.

A hungry man has aye a lazy cook.

A hungry man's an angry man.

A hungry man smells meat far.

A hungry stomach is aye craving.

A hungry wame has nae lugs.

A hungry man is deaf to reason.

A' I got frae him I could put in my e'e, and see nane the waur for't.

A satirical way of expressing that some service has been allowed to go unrewarded.

A' ills are gude untried.

Air day or late day, the fox's hide finds aye the slaying knife.

Sooner or later justice overtakes evil-doers.

A Januar' haddock, a Februar' bannock, and a March pint o' ale.

"This semi-metrical proverb expresses the season at which the haddock and some other articles of aliment are supposed to be at their best. This, however, as far as the haddock is concerned, would appear questionable, as there is an almost universal notion that the young of this fish at least are best after a little of May has gone. It is said in the Mearns,—

"'A cameral haddock's ne'er gude Till it get three draps o' May flude.'"—Robert Chambers.

Formerly, brewers made ale only twice a year,—the summer ale in March, and the winter in October.

A Kelso convoy—a step and a half ower the door-stane.

"Ye ken in this country ilka gentleman is wussed to be sae civil as to see the corpse aff his ain grounds. Ye needna gang higher than the loan-head—it's no expected your honour suld leave the land—it's just a Kelso convoy, a step and a half ower the door-stane."—The Antiquary.

A kindly word cools anger.

A kiss and a drink o' water mak but a wersh breakfast.

Spoken disapprovingly of those who marry for love, without due regard to means.

A landward lad is aye laithfu'.

A country or rustic lad is always bashful.

A lang gather'd dam soon runs out.

A lang tongue has a short hand.

"They who are lavish in their promises, are often short in their performances."—Kelly.

A lass that has mony wooers aft wails the warst.

A laughing-faced lad often maks a lither servant.

A layin' hen is better than a standin' mill.

A standing mill is profitless, whereas a laying hen is not.

A leaky ship needs muckle pumping.

A leal heart never lied.

Ale-sellers shouldna be tale-tellers.

They hear everybody's story, but prudence demands that they should keep it to themselves.

A liar should hae a gude memory.

A light-heeled mother maks a heavy-heeled dochter.

A light purse maks a heavy heart.

Alike every day maks a clout on Sunday.

A little wit ser's a lucky man.

A' law's no justice.

A loving heart and a leal within, are better than gowd or gentle kin.

A lucky man needs little counsel.

A maid aft seen and a gown aft worn, are disesteemed and held in scorn.

"Amaist" and "Very near" hae aye been great liars.

Amaist was ne'er a man's life.

A man at five may be a fool at fifteen.

A man at forty is either a fool or a physician.

A man canna bear a' his ain kin about on his back.

A man canna wive and thrive the same year.

Amang you be 't, priest's bairns: I am but a priest's oe.

A man has nae mair gudes than he gets gude o'.

A man is a lion for his ain cause.

"No man so zealous for, or assiduous in, a man's business as himself."—Kelly.

A man maun spoil ere he spin.

A man may be kind, yet gie little o' his gear.

A man may haud his tongue in an ill time.

A man may keep silent at a time or under circumstances where it is an injury to himself.

A man may lose his ain for lack o' craving.

A man may see his friend in need, that wouldna see his pow bleed.

That is, a friend may be willing to do anything, even to fight for him, except, and as is too generally the case, to give him pecuniary assistance.

A man may speer the gate he kens fu' weel.

A man may spit in his neive and do but little.

He may make a great show of working, but still do very little.

A man may woo where he will, but maun wed where his weird is.

A man o' mony trades may beg his bread on Sunday.

"Jack of all trades, master of none."—English.

A man o' straw is worth a woman o' gold.

"It seems that the men contrived these proverbs, they run so much in their favours."—Kelly.

A man o' words, and no o' deeds, is like a garden fu' o' weeds.

A man's aye crouse in his ain cause.

A man's hat in his hand ne'er did him ony harm.

A man's mind is a mirk mirror.

A man's weel or wae as he thinks himsel sae.

A man was ance hang'd for leaving his drink.

"It took its rise from the villain that assassinated the Prince of Orange. Spoken when men proffer to go away before their drink be out."—Kelly.

A man wi' ae ee, can see mair than you wi' your twa.

A master's ee maks a fat horse.

"No eye like the master's eye."—English.

A mear's shoe will fit a horse.

"Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."—English.

A Merse mist alang the Tweed, in a harvest morning's gude indeed.

"Because it generally precedes a fine, warm, and breezy harvest-day—excellent for the winnowing and in-bringing of the precious grain."—G. Henderson.

A midge is as big as a mountain, amaist.

The latitude afforded in the meaning of the word "almost," furnishes the point in this and several other proverbs.

A mind that's scrimpit ne'er wants care.

"But aiblins, neibour, ye hae not a heart, And downa eithly wi' your cunzie part. If that be true, what signifies your gear? A mind that's scrimpit never wants some care."—Gentle Shepherd.

A misty morning may be a clear day.

A morning's sleep is worth a fauld o' sheep to a hudderin dudderin daw.

"A reflection upon lazy, sleepy drabs, who prefer nothing to soaking in their bed in the morning."—Kelly.

A mouthfu' o' meat may be a tounfu' o' shame.

"That is, if it be stolen—intimating that a little thing picked will procure a great disgrace."—Kelly.

A muckle mouth has aye gude luck for its meat.

A muffled cat was ne'er a gude hunter.

An Aberdeen man ne'er stands to the word that hurts him.

A nag wi' a wame and a mare wi' nane are no a gude pair.

An air winter maks a sair winter.

A naked man maun rin.

A man that is destitute must exert himself.

An auld dog bites sicker.

An auld horse may dee ere the grass grow.

"While the grass is growing the steed is starving."—German.

An auld knave's nae bairn.

"An old fox needs learn no new tricks."—English.

An auld man's a bedfu' o' banes.

An auld mason maks a gude barrowman.

An auld pock is aye skailing.

An auld pock needs muckle clouting.

Old things, generally, are often in need of repair.

An auld tout on a new horn is little minded.

An old story or complaint receives little attention even although it may be told in a different form.

Ance awa, aye awa.

When people once go away from home for a time, there is always a feeling among those left that the bond which binds them to home is weakened, and very little persuasion is required to take them away again.

Ance is nae custom.

Ance paid, never craved.

Ance Provost, aye My Lord.

Ance wud, and aye waur.

Ance wud, never wise.

A person once "wud," or deranged, is always suspected of being so, in the event of anything strange taking place.

Ane at a time is gude fishing.

An eating horse ne'er foundered.

An excuse for taking a hearty meal, meaning that plenty of food will injure neither man nor beast.

Ane beats the bush, and anither grips the bird.

Ane does the skaith, anither gets the scorn.

Ane gets sma' thanks for tineing his ain.

Ane is no sae soon healed as hurt.

An elbuck dirl will lang play thirl.

Ane may like a haggis weel enough that wouldna like the bag bladded on his chafts.

Ane may like the kirk weel enough, and no aye be riding on the rigging o't.

Ane would like to be lo'ed, but wha would mool in wi' a moudiewort?

The three preceding proverbs mean, that although a man may be very fond of his relations, property, and what not, still there are certain extremes to be avoided, for if even approached, they verge into the ridiculous.

Ane may think that daurna speak.

Ane never tines by doing gude.

Ane o' the court, but nane o' the council.

Meaning that although your presence and advice may on certain occasions be requested, it is only for form's sake.

Ane's ain hearth is gowd's worth.

Ane will gar a hundred lee.

A new pair o' breeks will cast down an auld coat.

A new article of dress will make the others look much more worn than they really are. The acquisition of a new friend may tend to lower our esteem for those of longer standing.

Anger's mair hurtfu' than the wrang that caused it.

Anger's short-lived in a gude man.

An honest man's word's his bond.

An idle brain is the deil's workshop.

"He that labours is tempted by one devil; he that is idle by a thousand."—Italian.

An ilka-day braw maks a Sabbath-day daw.

He that wears his best at all times will have nothing to suit extraordinary occasions.

An ill cook should hae a gude cleaver.

An ill cow may hae a gude calf.

An ill custom is like a gude bannock—better broken than kept.

An ill lesson is easy learned.

An ill life maks an ill death.

An ill plea should be weel pled.

An ill servant ne'er made a gude maister.

An ill shearer ne'er got a gude heuk.

"And now some learner tries to shear, But comes right little speed, I fear; 'The corn lies ill,' and aye we hear 'The sickle's bad:' The byeword says, 'Ill shearer ne'er A gude hook had.'"—The Har'st Rig.

An ill turn is soon done.

An ill wife and a new-kindled candle should hae their heads hadden down.

"But both must be done with care, caution, and discretion; otherwise you may put the candle out and make the wife worse."—Kelly.

An ill-willy cow should hae short horns.

"It were a pity that a man of ill-nature should have much authority, for he'll be sure to abuse it."—Kelly.

An ill-won penny will cast down a pound.

An inch breaks nae squares.

"A little difference ought not to occasion any contests among good neighbours."—Kelly.

An inch o' a nag is worth a span o' an aiver.

"A little man, if smart and stout, is much preferable to an unwieldy lubber, though much bigger."—Kelly.

An inch o' gude luck is worth a faddom o' forecast.

A nod frae a lord is a breakfast for a fool.

A nod o' honest men's eneugh.

A nod's as gude's a wink to a blind horse.

An olite mother maks a dawdie dochter.

An only dochter is either a deil or a daw.

An ounce o' mither-wit is worth a pound o' clergy.

An ounce o' wit is worth a pound o' lear.

"An ounce of mother-wit is worth a pound of school-wit."—German.

An unlucky fish taks bad bait.

An unlucky man's cart is eithly coup'd.

An ye loe me look in my dish.

A delicate request for a second supply of soup.

A' owers are ill, but ower the water and ower the hill.

"All owers are repute to be vyce, Ower heich, ower law, ower rasch, ower nyce, Owre het or zit ower cauld."—Cherrie and the Slae.

A' owers spills.

A party pot ne'er plays even.

An interested or prejudiced individual cannot be an impartial judge of both sides of a question.

A penny hain'd's a penny clear, and a preen a-day's a groat a-year.

A penny hain'd's a penny gained.

A penny in my purse will gar me drink when my friends winna.

A penny in the purse is a gude friend.

A penny in the purse is better than a crown awa.

A pennyweight o' love is worth a pound o' law.

A pickle's no miss'd in a mickle.

A poll parrot thinks weel o' itsel.

A poor man is fain o' little.

A poor man's debt maks muckle din.

A pound o' care winna pay an ounce o' debt.

Care here means sorrow, or trouble of mind, and must not be associated with care in the sense of frugality or economy, which has paid many an ounce of debt.

A pound o' woo' is as heavy as a pound o' lead.

A primsie damsel maks a daidlin' dame.

A proud heart in a poor breast has muckle dolour to dree.

A proud mind and an empty purse gree ill thegither.

"A true proverb! and the worst is, they meet often."—Kelly.

A raggit coat was ne'er a mote in a man's marriage.

A raggit cowte may be a gude gelding.

An uncouth, unpromising colt may turn out a fine horse. An ignorant, dull boy may ultimately prove a very clever man.

"Yet aft a ragged cowte's been known To mak a noble aiver; So, ye may doucely fill a throne, For a' their clish-ma-claver."—Burns.

A reckless house maks mony thieves.

A red nose maks a raggit back.

A reeky house and a girnin' wife, will lead a man a fashious life.

A reproof is nae poison.

"No, indeed! but a wholesome medicine, which whosoever refuseth is brutish!"—Kelly.

A rich man has mair cousins than his faither had kin.

A rich man's wooing's no lang doing.

A rough bane maks a fu' wame.

As a carl riches he wretches.

"Wretch, a covetous or niggardly person."—Jamieson. As a man becomes rich he also becomes more parsimonious.

A safe conscience maks a sound sleep.

A saft aiver was ne'er a gude horse.

As ane flits anither sits, and that keeps mailins dear.

As brisk as bottled ale.

As broken a ship's come to land.

"'I fear,' said Morton, 'there is very little chance, my good friend Cuddie, of our getting back to our old occupation.' 'Hout, stir; hout, stir,' replied Cuddie, 'it's aye gude to keep up a hardy heart—as broken a ship's come to land.'"—Old Mortality.

A's but lip-wit that wants experience.

A scabbed horse is gude enough for a sca'd squire.

A sca'ded cat dreads cauld water.

As canker'd as a cow wi' ae horn.

"As proud as a hen with one chick."—English.

A scar'd head is eith to bleed.

A scar'd head is soon broken.

A reputation already questionable is easily lost altogether.

As coarse as Nancie's harn sark,—three threads out o' the pound.

A Scotch mist will weet an Englishman to the skin.

A Scotsman and a Newcastle grindstane travel a' the world ower.

Alluding to the wandering propensities of the one and the good qualities of the other.

A Scotsman is aye wise ahint the hand.

"It is too late to throw water on the cinders when the house is burned down."—Danish.

As dark as a Yule midnight.

As day brake, butter brake.

"Spoken when a person or thing that was wanting comes opportunely."—Kelly.

A seven years' maiden is aye at the slight.

As fain as a fool o' a fair day.

A's fair at the ba'.

"All's fair in war."—English.

As fause as Waghorn.

"Waghorn, a fabulous personage, who, being a liar nineteen times greater than the devil, was crowned King of liars."—Jamieson.

A's fine that's fit.

A's fish that comes to the net.

As fu' o' mischief as an egg's fu' o' meat.

As gentle as Gorman's bitch, that lap ower the ingle and ate the roast.

As gude a fellow as ever toom'd a bicker.

As gude eat the deil as sup the kail he's boiled in.

As gude fish in the sea as e'er cam out o't.

As gude gie the lichtly as tak it.

"Lichtly, an expression of contempt or insult: to undervalue, to slight, to despise."—Jamieson.

As gude may haud as draw.

As gude may haud the stirrup as he that loups on.

As gude merchants tine as win.

As gude ne'er a bit, as ne'er the better.

"Unless you make a thing the better for you, you had as good let it alone."—Kelly.

A's gude that God sends.

A shave aff a new cut loaf's never missed.

A shor'd tree stands lang.

"Men do not die of threats."—Dutch.

A short grace is gude for hungry folk.

A short horse is sune wispit.

A sight o' you is gude for sair een.

"'Wha's this o't?' again exclaimed Madge Wildfire. 'Douce Davie Deans; the auld doited whig body's daughter, in a gipsy's barn, and the nicht setting in! this is a sight for sair een!—Eh, sirs, the falling off o' the godly!—and the t'other sister's in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

A sillerless man gangs fast through the market.

A silly man will be slily dealt wi'.

"He that makes himself a sheep, shall be eaten by the wolf."—English.

A sinking maister maks a rising man.

A skelpit bum breaks nae banes.

Ask the tapster if his ale be gude.

Ask your purse what you should buy.

Ask nae questions, and I'll tell nae lees.

"'What needs ye be aye speering then at folk?' retorted Effie. 'I'm sure, if ye'll ask nae questions, I'll tell ye nae lees. I never ask what brings the Laird of Dumbiedykes glowering here like a wull cat (only his een's greener, and no sae gleg), day after day, till we are all like to gaunt our chafts aff.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

As lang as a dog would be bound wi' a bluidy puddin'.

As lang as the bird sings before Candlemas he greets after it.

As lang as ye serve the tod ye maun carry his tail.

As lang as ye stand ye dinna stay.

"It is enough to make it appear that you did not stay, if you can say you never sate down; an argument to make our friend, who is in haste, to stand and chat awhile."—Kelly.

As lang lasts the hole as the heel leather.

"Spoken to them that quarrel with a hole in your coat or shoe: often applied otherways."—Kelly.

As lang lives the merry man as the sad.

As lang rins the tod as he has feet.

A slow hand maks a sober fortune.

A slow fire maks a sweat maut.

A sma' leak will sink a great ship.

As menseless as a tinkler's messan.

As merry's a mautman.

A smith's house is aye lowin'.

As mony heads as mony wits.

As muckle upwith as muckle downwith.

A's no gowd that glitters, nor maidens that wear their hair.

"It was the fashion some years ago (1721) for virgins to go bareheaded. The proverb means that everything is not so good as it appears."—Kelly.

A's no help that's at hand.

A's no ill that's ill like.

A's no part.

A's no tint that fa's bye.

A's no tint that's in hazard.

A sorrowfu' heart's aye dry.

"Spoken when widows or widowers drink liberally, alledging it was to quench their sorrow."—Kelly.

A sooth bourd is nae bourd.

"'D'ye hear that, Provost?' said Summertrees. 'Your wife's a witch, man; you should nail a horse-shoe on your chamber door. Ha, ha, ha!'

"This sally did not take so well as the former efforts of the laird's wit. The lady drew up, and the Provost said, half aside, 'The sooth bourd is nae bourd; you will find the horse-shoe hissing hot, Summertrees.'"—Redgauntlet.

As poor as a kirk mouse.

A spunefu' o' stink will spoil a patfu' o' skink.

"Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour; so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour."—Ecclesiastes, x. 1.

A spur in the head's worth twa in the heel.

As sair fights the wren as the crane.

As sair greets the bairn that's paid at e'en as it that gets its paiks in the morning.

As sib as sieve and riddle that grew in ae wood.

"Spoken of them who groundlessly pretend kindred to great persons."—Kelly.

As sune comes the lamb's skin to the market as the auld tup's.

"Of young die many, of old 'scape not any."—English.

As sure's death.

An emphatic assertion that the truth had been told. At school we had a pious faith in these words. Any narrative clenched with them was invariably believed. If anything was said of a questionable nature, the listener would say, "Say sure's death to that, then." If repeated, confidence was fully restored.

A steek in time saves nine.

As the auld cock craws the young cock learns.

As the day lengthens the cauld strengthens.

As the fool thinks the bell clinks.

As the market gangs the wares sell.

As the sow fills the draff sours.

As the wind blaws seek your beild.

That is, endeavour to suit yourself to circumstances. Kelly pawkily remarks, This is "a politick proverb! advising us to make our interest as the times change. This proverb some act very dexterously, and others cannot get acted."

A still sow eats a' the draff.

A's tint that's put in a riven dish.

All is lost that is put into a broken dish. Favours bestowed on ungrateful persons are thrown away.

As tired as a tyke o' langkail.

"Are ye fou already, Watty Walkinshaw? If ye mudge out o' that seat again this night, I'll mak you as sick o' pies and puddings as ever a dog was o' langkail."—The Entail.

As true as Biglam's cat crew, and the cock rocked the cradle.

"Spoken when we hear one call that true that we know to be a lye."—Kelly.

A' Stuarts are no sib to the king.

Although all of the same name, we are not of the same family. "There is some distance between Peter and Peter."—Spanish.

A sturdy beggar should hae a stout nae-sayer.

As wanton as a wet hen.

As weel be hang'd for a sheep as a lamb.

As weel be sune as syne.

Used as a suggestion that a thing had better be done at present than put off till a future time, or vice versa. "Ae wise body's eneugh in the married state. But if your heart's ower fu', take what siller will serve ye, and let it be when ye come back again—as gude syne as sune."—Heart of Midlothian.

As weel be out o' the warld as out o' fashion.

As wight as a wabster's doublet, that ilka day taks a thief by the neck.

As ye are stout be merciful.

As ye brew sae ye maun drink.

"Some will spend, and some will spare, And wilfu' folk maun hae their will; Syne as ye brew, my maiden fair, Keep mind that ye maun drink the yill."—Burns.

As ye brew weel ye'll drink the better.

"'So ye hae gotten your auld son married? I hope it's to your satisfaction.'

"'An he has brewed good yill, Mr Keelevin, he'll drink the better,' was the reply; 'but I hae come to consult you anent a bit alteration that I would fain make in my testament.'"—The Entail.

As ye mak your bed sae ye maun lie on't.

A's yours frae the door out.

"A jest upon those who pretend that such and such things in the house are theirs. As if you would say, all the household goods without the doors are yours."—Kelly.

A taking hand will never want, let the world be e'er sae scant.

A tarrowing bairn was never fat.

A child that refuses or is slow in taking its food. People who will not take advantage as opportunities offer, cannot expect to prosper so well as those who do.

A tale never tines in the telling.

A' that's said in the kitchen shouldna be tauld in the ha'.

A' that's said shouldna be sealed.

A' that ye'll tak wi' ye will be but a kist and a sheet, after a'.

In allusion to the death of persons who may be proud of their possessions.

A' the claes on your back was ance in clues.

A' the corn's no shorn by kempers.

To kemp, to strive. All do not strive alike. All cannot equally excel in work. This proverb supports the claims of those who do not excel, by suggesting that even the "kempers" cannot overtake all the work that is to do.

A' the keys of the country hang na in ae belt.

All the influence or power is not in one man's possession.

A' the men i' the Mearns can do nae mair than they may.

No man can do more than he has strength to do. There is an Aberdeenshire saying of similar import, "I can dee fat I dow: the men in the Mearns can dee nae mair."

A' the speed's no in the spurs.

A' the winning's in the first buying.

A' the wit o' the world's no in ae pow.

A'thing angers ye, and the cat breaks your heart.

A' things thrive at thrice.

A'thing wytes that no weel fares.

A thoughtless body's aye thrang.

A thrawn question should hae a thrawart answer.

A thread will tie an honest man better than a rope will do a rogue.

At my leisure, as lairds dee.

"Fair and softly, as lawyers go to heaven."—English.

A tocherless dame sits lang at hame.

A tocher's nae word in a true lover's parle.

"Oh wae on the siller, it is sae prevailing! And wae on the love that is fixed on a mailen! A tocher's nae word in a true lover's parle, But gie me love, and a fig for the warl!"—Burns.

A toolying tike comes limping hame.

"Toolying tike," quarrelsome dog.

A toom hand is nae lure for a hawk.

A toom pantry maks a thriftless gudewife.

A toom purse maks a thrawn face.

At open doors dogs gae ben.

A travelled man has leave to lee.

A tree's no a mast till its hewn.

"I like the lassie, Mundy, wi' my heart, An' as she's bonny, dootna but she's smart; The creature's young, she'll shape to ony cast— Nae tree till it be hewn becomes a mast."—Ross's Helenore.

A tricky man's easiest tricket.

A turn weel done is sune done.

A twalpenny cat may look at a king.

Auld chimes and auld rhymes gar us think on auld times.

Auld folk are twice bairns.

Auld moon mist ne'er died o' thrist.

"Foggy weather in the last quarter of the moon is supposed to betoken moisture."—Robert Chambers.

Auld sins breed new sairs.

Auld sparrows are ill to tame.

Auld springs gie nae price.

Things out of fashion are valueless.

Auld stots hae stiff horns.

Auld use and wont hings about the fire.

Old manners and customs are difficult to be got rid of.

Auld wives and bairns mak fools o' physicians.

Auld wives were aye gude maidens.

A vaunter and a liar are near akin.

A wa' between best preserves friendship.

Meaning that friends are best separate.

A wad is a fule's argument.

"Fools, for argument, lay wagers."—Butler.

A waited pat's lang o' boiling.

A wamefu's a wamefu' wer't but o' bare cauf.

A bellyful is a bellyful, no matter what kind of meat is taken. A variation occurs in St Ronan's Well:—"A wamefu's a wamefu' whether it be o' barley meal or bran."

A wee bush is better than nae beild.

"Dame Elspeth is of good folk, a widow, and the mother of orphans,—she will give us house-room until something be thought upon. These evil showers make the low bush better than no beild."—The Monastery.

A wee house has a wide throat.

A wee house weel fill'd, a wee piece land weel till'd, a wee wife weel will'd, will mak a happy man.

A wee mouse will creep beneath a muckle corn stack.

A wee spark maks muckle wark.

A wee thing fleys cowards.

A wee thing puts your beard in a bleeze.

A wee thing ser's a cheerfu' mind.

A wet May and a winnie, brings a fu' stackyard and a finnie.

"Implying that rain in May and dry winds afterwards produce a plentiful crop, with that mark of excellence by which grain is generally judged of by connoisseurs—a good feeling in the hand."—Robert Chambers.

A whang off a cut kebbuck's never miss'd.

A wife is wise enough when she kens her gudeman's breeks frae her ain kirtle.

Kelly gives a very indifferent version of this proverb, and says, "This is old, and a good one if rightly understood: that is, she is a good wife who knows the true measure of her husband's authority and her obedience."

A wight man ne'er wanted a weapon.

A wild goose ne'er laid tame eggs.

A wilfu' man maun hae his way.

"'Reuben Butler! Reuben Butler!' echoed the Laird of Dumbiedykes, pacing the apartment in high disdain,—'Reuben Butler, the dominie at Liberton—and a dominie-depute too!—Reuben, the son of my cottar!—Very weel, Jeanie, lass, wilfu' woman will hae her way—Reuben Butler! he hasna in his pouch the value o' the auld black coat he wears.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

A wilfu' man ne'er wanted wae.

"It has been said, and may be sae, A wilfull man wants never wae, Thocht he gets little gains."—Cherrie and the Slae.

A wilfu' man should be unco wise.

A willing mind maks a light foot.

A winking cat's no aye blind.

A winter day and a wintry way is the life o' man.

A winter night, a woman's mind, and a laird's purpose, aften change.

"Women, wind, and luck soon change."—Portuguese.

A wise head maks a close mouth.

A wise lawyer ne'er gangs to law himsel.

A wise man carries his cloak in fair weather, an' a fool wants his in rain.

"An encouragement to care, caution, and foresight, and especially not to leave your cloak, be the weather e'er so encouraging."—Kelly.

"Chiels carry cloaks, when 'tis clear, The fool when 'tis foul has nane to wear."—Ramsay.

A wise man gets learning frae them that hae nane o' their ain.

A wise man wavers, a fool is fixed.

A woman's gude either for something or naething.

A word is enough to the wise.

A working mither maks a daw dochter.

Another rendering of "A light-heeled mother," &c.

Aye as ye thrive your feet fa's frae ye.

"Unexpected interruptions occur in business."—Kelly.

"The farther you go, the farther behind."—English.

Aye flether away;—since I'll no do wi' foul play, try me wi' fair.

A yeld sow was never gude to gryces.

This more expressive than elegant proverb means that those people who have no family of their own are rarely inclined to be kind to the children of others.

Aye takin' out o' the meal pock and ne'er puttin' in't soon comes to the bottom.

Aye tak the fee when the tear's in the ee.

Aye to eild, but never to wit.

That is, he is always growing older, but never any wiser.

A' you rin you win.

"Taken from playing at bowls: applied to endeavours about a project that seems not feasible, where what you can make is clear gain."—Kelly.

A Yule feast may be done at Pasche.

Bachelors' wives and auld maids' bairns are aye weel bred.

Bad legs and ill wives should stay at hame.

Bairns are certain care, but nae sure joy.

Bairns speak i' the field what they hear i' the ha'.

Baith weal and woe come aye wi' world's gear.

"'And I positively must not ask you how you have come by all this money?' said the clergyman.... 'Is it anything that distresses your own mind?' 'There is baith weal and woe come wi' warld's gear, Reuben: but ye maun ask me naething mair.—This siller binds me to naething, and can never be speered back again.'"—Heart of Midlothian.

Baked bread and brown ale winna bide lang.

Bannocks are better than nae bread.

"Half a loaf is better than no bread."—English.

Barefooted folk shouldna tread on thorns.

"Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones."—English.

Bare gentry, bragging beggars.

Bare words mak nae bargain.

Bastard brood are aye proud.

Be a friend to yoursel, and others will.

Bear and forbear is gude philosophy.

Bear wealth weel, poortith will bear itsel.

Beauty, but bounty's but bauch.

Beauty is but skin deep.

Beauty's muck when honour's tint.

Beauty is worthless when honour is lost.

Be aye the thing you would be ca'd.

"Because" is a woman's reason.

"I have no other but a woman's reason: I think him so, because I think him so."—Shakespeare.

Beds are best, quo' the man to his guest.

We presume he said so on the score of economy, i.e., to evade supplying supper.

Beefsteaks and porter are gude belly mortar.

Bees that hae honey in their mouths hae stings in their tails.

Before an ill wife be gude, even if she was a' turned to tongue.

Before, I ween'd; but now, I wat.

Before, I only suspected; now, I am certain. "Spoken on the full discovery of some malefice, which before we only suspected."—Kelly.

Before the deil gaes blind, and he's no blear e'ed yet.

Before ye choose a friend, eat a peck o' saut wi' him.

Be gaun, the gate's before you.

Be going, the road lies before you. A jocose or surly hint to go.

Beg frae beggars and you'll ne'er be rich.

Beggars breed, and rich men feed.

Beggars downa bide wealth.

Beggars shouldna be choosers.

Begin wi' needles and preens, and end wi' horn'd nowte.

That is, beginnings apparently trifling may lead to very great results. Used here as a caution against dishonesty.

Be it better, be it worse, be ruled by him that has the purse.

Be it sae, is nae banning.

Used in yielding a point in dispute because you are either unwilling or unable to argue further; but also indicating that you do not admit yourself to be in the wrong.

Be lang sick, that ye may be soon hale.

Believe a' ye hear, an' ye may eat a' ye see.

Belyve is twa hours and a half.

A jocular allusion to the fact that if a person says he will be back, or done with anything "belyve," that is, immediately, or in a little, the probability is he will be longer than expected.

Be ready wi' your bonnet, but slow wi' your purse.

Be slow in choosing a friend, but slower in changing him.

Best to be off wi' the auld love before we be on wi' the new.

Be thou weel, or be thou wae, yet thou wilt not aye be sae.

Better a bit in the morning than a fast a' day.

Better a clout in than a hole out.

That is, a patched garment is better than one with holes in it.

Better a dog fawn on you than bark at you.

Better ae e'e than a' blind.

Better ae wit bought than twa for nought.

Better a finger aff as aye wagging.

"The first night is aye the warst o't. I hae never heard o' ane that sleepit the night afore the trial, but of mony a ane that sleepit as sound as a tap the night before their necks were straughted. And it's nae wonder—the warst may be tholed when it's kend: Better a finger aff as aye wagging."—Heart of Midlothian.

Better a fremit friend than a friend fremit.

Better have a stranger for your friend than a friend turned stranger.

Better a gude fame than a fine face.

Better alane than in ill company.

Better a laying hen than a lying crown.

Better a lean horse than a toom halter.

Better a poor horse than no horse at all.

Better a mouse in the pat than nae flesh.

Better an auld man's darling than a young man's warling.

"Used as an argument to induce a young girl to marry an old man, to the doing of which no argument should prevail."—Kelly.

Better an even down snaw than a driving drift.

Better an ill spune than nae horn.

Better a saft road than bad company.

"'I redd ye, Earnscliff' (this Hobbie added in a gentle whisper), 'let us take a cast about, as if to draw the wind on a buck—the bog is no abune knee-deep, and better a saft road than bad company.'"—The Black Dwarf.

Better a sair fae than a fause friend.

Better a shameless eating than a shamefu' leaving.

Better a sma' fish than an empty dish.

Better at a time to gie than tak.

Better a thigging mither than a riding father.

Better a tocher in her than wi' her.

That is, better that a wife have good qualities without money than vice versa.

Better a toom house than an ill tenant.

Better auld debts than auld sairs.

Better a wee bush than nae beild.

Better a wee fire to warm you than a big fire to burn you.

Better bairns greet than bearded men.

Better be a coward than a corpse.

"Discretion is the better part of valour."—English.

Better be at the end o' a feast than at the beginning o' a fray.

Better be before at a burial than ahint at a bridal.

Better be blythe wi' little than sad wi' naething.

Better be envied than pitied.

Better be friends at a distance than enemies at hame.

Better be happy than wise.

Better be idle than ill doing.

Better be John Tamson's man, than Ring and Dinn's, or John Knox's.

"John Thomson's man is he that is complaisant to his wife's humours; Ring and Dinn's is he whom his wife scolds; John Knox's is he whom his wife beats."—Kelly.

Better be kind than cumbersome.

Better belly burst than gude meat spoil.

A plea for gluttony on the score of economy.

Better bend than break.

Better be out o' the warld than out o' fashion.

Better be sonsy than soon up.

Better be the head o' the commons than the tail o' the gentry.

"To reign is worth ambition, though in hell; Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven."—Milton.

Better be the lucky man than the lucky man's son.

Better bow to my faes than beg frae my friends.

Better buy than borrow.

Better cry "Feigh, saut," than "Feigh, stink."

The first can be remedied or improved in cooking; but a putrid article cannot.

Better day the better deed.

Better do it than wish it done.

Better eat brown bread in youth than in eild.

Better fed than bred.

Better find iron than tine siller.

Better fleech a fool than fight him.

"'I have as much mind as ever I had to my dinner, to go back and tell him to sort his horse himself, since he is as able as I am.' 'Hout tout, man!' answered Jasper, 'keep a calm sough: better to fleech a fool than fight with him.'"—The Monastery.

Better gang about than fa' in the dub.

Rather a long road and safety than a short one attended with danger.

Better gang to bed supperless than rise in debt.

Better gie the slight than tak it.

Better greet ower your gudes than after your gudes.

Meaning that it is better not to sell goods at all than to sell and not be paid for them.

Better gude sale than gude ale.

Better guide weel than work sair.

Better hae than want.

Better hain weel than work sair.

Better half egg than toom doup.

"Better half an egg than empty shells."—German.

Better half hang'd than ill married.

Better hand loose nor bound to an ill bakie.

"Bakie, the stake to which an ox or cow is bound to the stall."—Jamieson.

Better hands loose than in an ill tethering.

Better happy at court than in gude service.

Better haud at the brim than at the bottom.

Better haud by a hair than draw by a tether.

Better haud out than put out.

"Prevention is better than cure."—English.

Better haud wi' the hounds than rin wi' the hare.

The policy of the Vicar of Bray. It is better to side with the strongest or winning party.

Better keep the deil out than hae to put him out.

Better keep weel than make weel.

Better lang little than soon naething.

Better late thrive than never do weel.

Better laugh at your ain pint stoup, than greet and gather gear.

It is better to be merry spending money, than sorrowful acquiring it.

Better learn frae your neebor's skaith than frae your ain.

Learn experience rather from the misfortunes of others than from your own.

Better leave to my faes than beg frae my friends.

Better leave than lack.

That it is better to have too much of some things than too little.

Better live in hope than die in despair.

Better marry ower the midden than ower the muir.

Rather marry among those whom you know than go among strangers for a wife. "Marry over the mixon, and you will know who and what she is."—German. "Your wife and your nag get from a neighbour."—Italian.

Better master ane than fight wi' ten.

Better my bairns seek frae me than I beg frae them.

Better my friends think me fremit than fashious.

Better visit friends seldom than so often as to prove troublesome.

Better nae ring nor the ring o' a rash.

Better ne'er begun than ne'er ended.

Better ower 't than in 't.

Better beyond the fear of danger than in it.

Better plays the fu' wame than the new coat.

A man may be well dressed but still have a hungry belly, and vice versa. He that has the "fu' wame" is the more likely to be in good spirits.

Better rough an' sonsy than bare an' donsy.

It is better to be rough in manners, if coupled with prosperous circumstances, than be "genteel" and at the same time poverty stricken.

Better rue sit than rue flit.

Better not remove at all than do so and then regret it.

"Didna I see when gentle Geordie was seeking to get other folk out of the Tolbooth forby Jocky Porteous? but ye are of my mind, hinny—better sit and rue, than flit and rue—ye needna look in my face sae amazed. I ken mair things than that, maybe."—Heart of Midlothian.

Better saucht wi' little aucht than care wi' mony cows.

Better comfort and peace of mind with little, than care and contention with much.

Better saut than sour.

Better say "Here it is" than "Here it was."

Better short and sweet than lang and lax.

Better sit idle than work for nought.

Better sit still than rise an' fa'.

Better skaith saved than mends made.

Better that offence should not be given than committed and then apologized for.

Better sma' fish than nane.

Better soon as syne.

"I tell'd your honour a while syne, that it was lang that I hae been thinking o' flitting, may be as lang as frae the first year I came to Osbaldistone Hall; and now I'm o' the mind to gang in gude earnest—better soon as syne—better a finger aff as aye wagging."—Rob Roy.

Better spared than ill spent.

Better speak bauldly out than aye be grumphin'.

If a complaint requires to be made, make it openly and straightforwardly, instead of continuing to fret about it in an indirect manner.

Better the barn filled than the bed.

Because a full barn denotes prosperity, a full bed trouble.

Better the end o' a feast than the beginning o' a fray.

Better the mother wi' the pock, than the faither wi' the sack.

"The mother, though in a low condition, will be more kindly to, and more careful of, orphans, than the father can be, though in a better."—Kelly.

Better the ill ken'd than the gude unken'd.

Better the nag that ambles a' the day than him that makes a brattle for a mile and then's dune wi' the road.

Better thole a grumph than a sumph.

Be troubled rather by an intelligent, though surly man, than by a stupid one.

Better tine life than gude fame.

"I might hae fled frae this Tolbooth on that awfu' night wi' ane wha wad hae carried me through the warld, and friended me, and fended for me. But I said to them, Let life gang when gude fame is gane before it."—Heart of Midlothian.

Better tine your joke than tine your friend.

Better to haud than draw.

Better to rule wi' the gentle hand than the strang.

Better twa skaiths than ae sorrow.

"Losses may be repaired, but sorrow will break the heart and ruin the constitution."—Kelly.

Better unkind than ower cumbersome.

Better unmarried than ill married.

Better wade back mid water than gang forward and drown.

Rather withdraw from a bargain or position found likely to prove bad or dangerous than proceed with either in hopes of improvement.

Better wait on cooks than leeches.

Better wear shoon than wear sheets.

Better you laugh than I greet.

Meaning, I would rather be ridiculed for not doing a thing, than do it and be sorry for it.

Better your feet slip than your tongue.

Between Martinmas and Yule, water's wine in every pool.

Between the deil and the deep sea.

Between two extremes equally dangerous.

"I fell into Claverhouse's party when I was seeking for some o' our ain folk to help ye out o' the hands o' the whigs; sae, being atween the deil and the deep sea, I e'en thought it best to bring him on wi' me, for he'll be wearied wi' felling folk the night, and the morn's a new day."—Old Mortality.

Between three and thirteen, thraw the woodie when it's green.

Train the minds and principles of children when young.

Between you and the lang day be'it.

Be what ye seem and seem what ye are.

Bid a man to a roast and stick him wi' the spit.

Pretend to show kindness to a man while your intention is to injure him.

Bide weel, betide weel.

Wait well or patiently and you will fare well; or at least as well as those who are hasty.

Biggin and bairns marrying are arrant wasters.

"Building is a sweet impoverishing."—Spanish.

Bind the sack ere it be fou.

Do not tax any person or thing to the utmost.

Birds o' a feather flock thegither.

Birk will burn be it burn drawn; sauch will sab if it were simmer sawn.

Literally, wood will burn even if drawn through water, and the willow will droop if sown out of season. Figuratively, natural will and inclination will predominate and exhibit themselves, although submitted to the most antagonistic influences.

Birth's gude but breeding's better.

Bitter jests poison friendship.

Black's my apron, and I'm aye washing 't.

When a man has got a bad character, although he may endeavour to redeem it, he will find great difficulty in doing so.

Black will tak nae ither hue.

Blaw the wind ne'er sae fast, it will lown at the last.

Blind horse rides hardy to the fecht.

"Who so bold as blind Bayard?"—French.

Blind men shouldna judge o' colours.

Blue and better blue.

"That is, there may be difference between things of the same kind and persons of the same station."—Kelly.

Blue's beauty, red's a taiken, green's grief, and yellow's forsaken.

Examples of the "Poetry of colour."

Blue is love true.

Bluid's thicker than water.

"'Weel, weel,' said Mr Jarvie, 'bluid's thicker than water; and it liesna in kith, kin, and ally, to see motes in ilk other's een if other een see them no.'"—Rob Roy.

Bode a robe and wear it, bode a pock and bear it.

According as our aspirations are high or low, so do we succeed or fail. "As you make your bed, so you must lie on it."

Bode for a silk gown and ye'll get a sleeve o't.

That is, if we "bode" or earnestly wish for an article or result, we will get at least something approaching to it. An Aberdeenshire parallel to this is, "They never bodet a house o' gowd, but aye got a caber o't."

Bode gude and get it.

Boden gear stinks.

The theory of the fox and grapes.

Bonnet aside! how sell you your maut?

Bonny birds are aye the warst singers.

Bonny sport, to fare weel and pay nothing for't.

"Diogenes is said to have thought that the best wine which cost him nothing."—Kelly.

Bourdna wi' bawty lest he bite ye.

Bourdna wi' my e'e nor wi' mine honour.

Do not jest or trifle with subjects of delicacy, character, &c.

Bread and cheese is gude to eat when folk can get nae ither meat.

Bread and milk is bairns' meat: I wish them sorrow that loe it.

Bread's house skail'd never.

A full or hospitable house never wants visitors.

Break my head and syne draw on my how.

Breeding wives are aye beddie.

Bridal feasts are soon forgotten.

Broken bread maks batet bairns.

Broken friendships may be souther'd, but never sound.

Burnt bairns dread the fire.

Busy folk are aye meddling.

But middlin' bonny, like Boles' gudemither.

Butter and burn trouts are kittle meat for maidens.

Butter's king o' a' creesh.

Butter to butter's nae kitchen.

Like to like is no improvement or relish.

Buy a thief frae the widdie and he'll help to hang ye.

"Save a rogue from the gallows, and he will hang you up."—French.

Buy friendship wi' presents, and it will be bought frae you.

Buy in the market and sell at hame.

Buy what you dinna want and ye'll sell what you canna spare.

By chance a cripple may grip a hare.

By doing naething we learn to do ill.

Ca' a cow to the ha' and she'll rin to the byre.

"Set a frog on a golden stool; Off it goes again to the pool."—German.

Ca' again: you're no a ghaist.

An intimation that your visits are agreeable.

Ca' canny and flee laigh.

Ca' canny, and ye'll break nae graith.

Literally, drive slowly, and you will not overstrain the harness.

Ca' canny, lad, ye're but a new-come cooper.

A caution to those who are new or inexpert at an occupation,—a hint that more experience or information is desirable.

Cadgers are aye cracking o' creels.

Cadgers hae aye mind of lade saddles.

The conversation of most men turns more or less on their own business.

Caff and draff is gude eneuch for aivers.

Chaff and draff, i.e., brewers' grains, are good enough for horses. Common food suits common people.

Can do is easily carried.

"At this moment the door opened, and the voice of the officious Andrew was heard,—'A'm bringin' in the caunles—ye can light them gin ye like—can do is easily carried about wi' ane.'"—Rob Roy.

Ca'ing names breaks nae banes.

"Sticks and stanes 'll break my banes, But names will never hurt me."—Schoolboy Rhyme.

Ca' me what ye like, but dinna ca' me ower.

Canna has nae craft.

To an unwilling person, or one who will not learn, instruction is of little or no use.

Canny stretch, soon reach.

Care will kill a cat, yet there's nae living without it.

Careless folk are aye cumbersome.

Carena would hae mair.

"Carena" refers here to an answer that may be construed into either "yes" or "no," and is treated accordingly. "'I don't want it, I don't want it,' says the friar; 'but drop it into my hood.'"—Spanish.

Carles and aivers win a'; carles and aivers spend a'.

"Servants' wages, buying and keeping of horses, and purchasing other utensils, eat up the product of a farm."—Kelly.

Carrick for a man, Kyle for a cow, Cunningham for corn and ale, and Galloway for woo'.

"This old rhyme points out what each of the three districts of Ayrshire, and the neighbouring territory of Galloway, were remarkable for producing in greatest perfection. The mountainous province of Carrick produced robust men; the rich plains of Kyle reared the famous breed of cattle now generally termed the Ayrshire breed; and Cunningham was a good arable district. The hills of Galloway afford pasture to an abundance of sheep."—Robert Chambers.

Carry saut to Dysart and puddings to Tranent.

This proverb, the meaning of which is obvious enough, is paralleled in all languages. The English say, "To carry coals to Newcastle." The French and German suggest that it is not necessary "To send water to the sea." The French also say, "To carry leaves to the wood;" and the Dutch are wise enough not "To send fir to Norway." Neither will the Asiatic "Carry blades to Damascus."

Cast a bane in the deil's teeth.

Cast a cat ower the house and she'll fa' on her feet.

Cast nae snawba's wi' him.

That is, do not trust him too much; he is churlish or dangerous.

Cast not a clout till May be out.

Cast the cat ower him.

"It is believed that when a man is raging in a fever, the cat cast ower him will cure him; applied to them whom we hear telling extravagant things, as if they were raving."—Kelly.

Cast ye ower the house riggin', and ye'll fa' on your feet.

"Throw him in the Nile, and he will rise with a fish in his mouth," says the Arab; and we have met somewhere with this saying, that "If he lost a penny he would find a ducat."

Castna out the dowed water till ye get the clean.

Cat after kind.

Cats and carlins sit i' the sun, but fair maidens sit within.

A rhyming intimation that exposure to the sun is not favourable to beauty.

Cats eat what hussies spare.

Cauld grows the love that kindles ower het.

Cauld kail het again is aye pat tasted.

Cauld kail het again, that I liked never; auld love renewed again, that I liked ever.

Cauld parritch are sooner het than new anes made.

Cauld water scauds daws.

Chalk's no shears.

"Taken from tailors marking out their cloth before they cut it, signifying that a thing may be proposed that will never be executed."—Kelly.

Change o' deils is lightsome.

Change your friend ere ye hae need.

Changes are lightsome, and fools like them.

Changes o' wark is lightening o' hearts.

Charge nae mair shot than the piece 'll bear.

Charity begins at hame, but shouldna end there.

Cheatery game will aye kythe.

"Kythe," to appear. That is, cheatery or evil-doing will almost invariably come to light. A qualified version of the English saying, "Murder will out."

Choose your wife on Saturday, not on Sunday.

This saying suggests that a wife should rather be chosen for her good qualities and usefulness, which are seen in her daily labours, than for her fine dress or her Sunday manners.

Claw for claw, as Conan said to the deil.

"In the Irish ballads relating to Fion (the Fingal of MacPherson), there occurs, as in the primitive poetry of most nations, a cycle of heroes, each of whom has some distinguishing attribute; upon these qualities, and the adventures of those possessing them, many proverbs are formed, which are still current in the Highlands. Among other characters, Conan is distinguished as in some respects a kind of Thersites, but brave and daring even to rashness. He had made a vow that he would never take a blow without returning it; and having, like other heroes of antiquity, descended to the infernal regions, he received a cuff from the archfiend who presided there, which he instantly returned: hence the proverb."—Sir Walter Scott, Note to Waverley.

Claw me and I'll claw thee.

Speak well of me and I will speak well of thee, whether, we presume, it is deserved or not.

Clawing and eating needs but a beginning.

Clean pith and fair play.

Clear in the south beguiled the cadger.

Cadgers (beggars, or gipsy pedlars), from their out-of-door experience, are allowed to be good judges of coming weather. The proverb means that even the best judges may be occasionally mistaken in their opinions. The one following is of similar import.

Clear in the south drown'd the ploughman.

Clecking time's aye canty time.

Good cheer and mirth in the house when a birth has taken place.

"'Perhaps,' said Mannering, 'at such a time a stranger's arrival might be inconvenient?' 'Hout, na, ye needna be blate about that; their house is muckle enough, and clecking time's aye canty time.'"—Guy Mannering.

Clippet sheep will grow again.

Clout upon a hole is gude gentry, clout upon a clout is gude yeomanry, but clout upon a clouted clout is downricht beggary.

"Facetiously spoken to those who quarrel with a patch about you."—Kelly.

Come a' to Jock Fool's house and ye'll get bread and cheese.

Spoken sarcastically of those who invite every person indiscriminately to dine or sup with them.

Come day, go day, God send Sunday.

"Spoken to lazy, unconscionable servants, who only mind to serve out their time, and get their wages."—Kelly.

Come it air, or come it late, in May will come the cow-quake.

Come not to council unbidden.

"Thair is a sentence said be sum, Let nane uncalled to counsell cum, That welcum weins to be; Zet I haif hard anither zit, Quha cum uncallt, unserved suld sit, Perhaps, sir, sae may ze."—Cherrie and the Slae.

Come unca'd, sits unserved.

Come when ye are ca'd and ye'll no be chidden.

Come wi' the wind and gang wi' the water.

Common saw sindle lies.

Common fame seldom lies; but another proverb says, "Common fame is a common liar."

Condition makes, condition breaks.

Confess and be hang'd, and syne your servant, smith.

Confess debt and crave days.

Confess'd faut is half amends.

Content's nae bairn o' wealth.

Contentibus, quo' Tammy Tamson, kiss my wife, and welcome.

"Spoken facetiously when we comply with a project."—Kelly.

Corbies and clergy are kittle shot.

Corbies dinna gather without they smell carrion.

"Where the carrion is, there do the eagles gather."—Danish.

Corbies dinna pike out corbies' een.

One rogue does not wrong another. "Crows do not peck out crows' eyes."—Portuguese.

Corn him weel, he'll work the better.

Counsel is nae command.

"Quod Danger, Sen I understand That counsell can be nae command, I have nae mair to say, Except gif that he thocht it good; Tak counsell zit or ze conclude Of wyser men nor they."—Cherrie and the Slae.

Count again is no forbidden.

Count like Jews and 'gree like brithers.

Count siller after a' your kin.

Courtesy is cumbersome to him that kens it na.

Crabbit was and cause hadna.

Crab without a cause, mease without mends.

That is, if you are peevish and ill-pleased without cause, you must regain your good nature without amends.

Craft maun hae claes, but truth gaes naked.

Credit is better than ill-won gear.

Credit keeps the crown o' the causey.

Creep before ye gang.

"Ye will never make your bread that way, Maister Francie. Ye suld munt up a muckle square of canvass, like Dick Tinto, and paint folk's ainsells, that they like muckle better to see than ony craig in the haill water; and I wadna muckle objeck even to some of the Wallers coming up and sitting to ye. They waste their time war, I wis—and, I warrant, ye might mak a guinea a-head of them. Dick made twa, but he was an auld used hand, and folk maun creep before they gang."—St Ronan's Well.

Cripples are aye better planners than workers.

Cripples are aye great doers—break your leg and try.

People who are always very ready to give advice are generally slow in giving assistance.

"Crookit carlin," quo' the cripple to his wife.

"Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursels as others see us! It wad frae mony a blunder free us, And foolish notion."—Burns.

Cry a' at ance, that's the way to be served.

Curses mak the tod fat.

So long as he is cursed only, not hunted, does he thrive; for "A curse will not strike out an eye unless the fist go with it."—Danish.

Cut your coat according to your cloth.

Daffin' and want o' wit maks auld wives donnart.

"Daffin'" is defined by Ramsay as "folly in general;" so the proverb means that foolish conduct in the aged is inconsistent or "donnart," i.e., stupid.

Daffin' does naething.

Playing accomplishes nothing.

Daily wearing needs yearly beiting.

Literally, clothes that are worn daily, require to be renewed annually.

Dame, deem warily, ye watna wha wytes yoursel.

"Deemer," one who judges.—Jamieson. That is, judge other people cautiously; we know not who blames ourselves.

Dammin' and lavin' is gude sure fishing.

"'Dammin' and lavin',' a low poaching mode of catching fish in rivulets, by damming and diverting the course of the stream, and then laving or throwing out the water, so as to get at the devoted prey."—Jamieson.

Danger past, God forgotten.

Daughters and dead fish are kittle keeping wares.

A suggestion that daughters should be married, and dead fish eaten, otherwise they will both spoil on the hands of their possessors. "Daughters are brittle ware."—Dutch. "Marry your son when you will, and your daughter when you can."—Spanish.

Daughters pay nae debts.

Dawted bairns can bear little.

Dawted daughters mak daidling wives.

Daughters who have been too much indulged or petted at home before marriage make but indifferent wives.

Daylight will peep through a sma' hole.

Dead men are free men.

Dead men do nae harm.

Deal sma' and ser' a'.

Death and drink-draining are near neighbours.

In allusion to the drinking usages formerly common at burials.

Death and marriage break term-day.

Death at ae door and heirship at the other.

Death comes in and speirs nae questions.

"Death does not blow a trumpet."—Danish.

Death defies the doctor.

Death pays a' scores.

Death's gude proof.

Deil be in the house that ye're beguiled in.

A compliment, meaning that a person is so shrewd that no less a person than his Satanic majesty can deceive him.

Deil be in the pock that ye cam in.

Deil mend ye if your leg were broken.

The two last sayings are directly opposed to the preceding one, as they wish all manner of evil to the agencies that bring any particular person, whose presence is disagreeable.

Deil speed them that speir, and ken fu' weel.

That is, shame befall those who ask questions upon subjects with which they are perfectly well acquainted; and who, by cross questioning, &c., lead people to commit themselves.

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