glossary of archaic Scots terms A


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Scotland - a glossary of archaic terms, as well as a number of Modern Scots words and phrases, useful for genealogical research. Legal terms, words linked to property and possessions, found in wills and testaments.



ABBACY, abbey, or abbot's office

ABOLEIST, vb. p. of aboleis, abolished

ABSOLVITOR, Judgement for the defender in a civil action (when the court assoizies).  

ABULZEAMENTIS (abulziements, abilyementis, abuilyiement, bulyament), clothes, but said to be distinct etymologically from  “habiliments." 2. arms, equipment

ACCIDENTS, the payment incidental to admission as a burgess.  

ACCRETION, The enlargement of an inheritance/legacy following the failure of a co-heir to prove their share.  

ACQUIET, guarantee undisturbed possession of land.  

ACTIS acts, legal documents recording what has been done; thus " askit actis," i.e., asked to have it recorded.  

ACTORNEY, attorney

ADJUGE, sentence to pay a fine

ADJUDICATION. CHARTER OF, charter granted by the crown to a creditor of the estate of his debtor in satisfaction of the debt.

ADMINICLE, Supporting documentary evidence (in proving the existence and nature of a lost deed).

ADMONEIS, admonish 

ADNUL, vb. annul, p. adnullit, annulled

ADOES (adois), business.

ADVISE, e.g., advise affairs, look to, see after.  

ADVOCATE (advoke), bring a judgment before a higher tribunal for review.

AE, only (e.g. son) ae coo's meat; enough land to raise one cow. Ae fur land, because of incline can only be plowed in one direction

AFOIR, before (M.Sc. afore)

AGANIS, against

AGNATE, one related on the father's side.

AIK, oak.

AIR, heir; airis, heirs ; air by progress, heir by virtue of the usual titles to the estate ; airschip guidis, moveable goods falling to the heir as such.  

AIRE, circuit court

AIRMY, army

AIRTH, quarter from which the wind blows (e.g., a room lighted to every airth) ; a particular quarter.

AISLE, covered burial place annexed to a church 

AITSEED, aitsen tyme; the season for the sowing of oats

AIXIES, ague, fever

ALEUIN, eleven

ALHALLOW, Allhallowtide. Alhallow day, All Saints Day

ALLEGEANCE, n. pl. allegings, allegations

ALLEKAY, 1. bridegroom's attendant 2. footman or lackey

ALIMENT, process of, legal process for the maintenance of children, wife, or parent.

ALLYE, kinship 2. allies or associate. Allyat, allied

ALMERAL, ammiral; admiral

AMAND (amend), 1. compensation 2. fine.  

AMAROLD, emerald.  

AMERCIAT, 1. fined 2. a fine

AMRIE (aumrie), cupboard (Fr. armoire).  

ANDERMESS, Andersmess, St Andrew's Day (November 30th)

ANE, One.

ANENT, about, concerning; cp. foranent.  

ANEUCT, enough

ANIS, once.  

ANNALZIE, transfer of ownership to another

ANNAT, ann, anna, initial six months or year's income due in payment to executors of an estate

ANNESIS, appurtenances, things annexed to land.  

ANNEX, (as annesis,) a minor property subsidiary to a more important one

ANNUAL RENT (annel-rent, @-rent, annuellis), interest on money, or mortgage ; literally, the yearly rent.  

ANNUALLAR  someone in receipt of annual rent, as above

ANSUER, ansuere, ansueir, answer ; ansuert, answered

ANTECESSOUR, antecestre, antecestor; ancestor

ANTIANT, ancient

ANTICIPET, anticipated vb.p.

APAYN OF, under penalty of

APPARENT (appeirand air), whereby the succession process has begun for someone following the death of a predecessor but is yet incomplete  (not to be confused with heir-apparent).

APPELL, appeal

APPOINT, order the destination of property (in court).  

APPREHEND, seize in the name of the law.  

APPRISE, to place and value on and sell the land of a debtor in order to pay off the debt

APPRISING (apprysing), the same as adjudication, q.v.

APPURTENANCE, Pendicle, thing hung on to, often a small portion of land.

AQUA, whisky

ARAGE, arrage, feudal service with avers or draught-cattle

ARAND, ploughing, tilling (O.E. earing, Lat. arans)

ARBITER, 1. arbitrator (chosen voluntarily by the parties concerned to settle a dispute). 2. arbitration

ARGYLEGAIT, a main street in Dundee, originally called the Ergaydilis-gat, or Ergeylis get, probably from Ergadia, the early designation of the Argyle family. The street was also called the Overgait. See Maxwell's Old Dundee, p. 89 n.  

ARK, arch, 1. a chest or trunk, suitable for storing grain, etc 2. Mill waterway

ARLE, take into service on payment of a sum of money

ARRELS (or arles), earnest money given to servants to bind an engagement ; cp. arlis-pennie.  

ARREST, 1. apprehend 2. seize property of a debtor which is being held by a third party.  

ARRESTEE, the person from whom a third party's assets are removed.

ARRESTMENTS, loosing, relaxing attachment for debt.  

ART OR PART (now art and part), "be art and part in", to be involved, or an accessory in.

ARTAILZERIE, artillery.  

AS, after comparative = than ; mair as, comp. more than, (German mehr als)

AS ACCORDS (of law), agreeable to law.  

ASHET, a large, usually oval but occasionally round, serving plate, sometimes lavishly decorated (Fr. assiette)

ASIAMENT, easement, convenience, advantage.

ASSEDATION, a tack or letting (setting) of land for a term. (Assedat: let or leased)

ASSIGNATION, deed assigning debts or rights to another, assigna(y); assignee

ASSIZE, jury, or inquest. 2. assize herring; royalty of herring due to king from herring fishermen

ASSOILZIE, acquit, hold not liable (civil action).

ASSUME, to levy a tax on church property 

ASSURANCE, guarantee

ASSYTH, compensation, indemnification, reparation

ASTRENZE, place under obligation

AS WODINSDAY, Ask Wedinsday, Ash Wednesday

ATENTIC, authentic

ATHILL, noble

ATTINGENT, close, in terms of age or relationship

ATTOUR, besides; by and attour, over and above.

AUCHT, This can mean "eight," or "eighth", sometimes " owned" or "owed", as well as a possession.  

AUEN, own

AUNTIE, an unmarried woman keeping a tavern 2. a drink purchased in such a tavern

AUSTRAL, southern

AUTHOR, the individual from whom a title/ownership is originated, i.e. by sale or gift

AVER (avair), 1. draught horse, old horse. 2. to assert as fact in proceedings.

AWAND (awin), owing.

AWARD (or awat), ground ploughed after the first crop from lea (ley) or fey ; see s. Ley.

AWBLASTER, crossbow

AWNER, shipowner

AY, always


AYR - IS, heir, -s



This glossary is under constant revision. We welcome all contributions of archaic terms linked to Scotland, that may be helpful in genealogical research. Please complete the SUGGESTIONS FORM with your ideas, additions and corrections. Thanks!


Plesure procuris pane

and pane procuris piete

and piete plesure cravis agane

quhilk aucht In lufe to be.


quod Robert Wedderburn 1546-1611


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