Tour Scotland
Home Page


Scots Dictionary

Scots Dictionary
(Collins Gem S.)

Scots Thesaurus

Scots Thesaurus (Scottish National...

Scots English Dictionary

Scots-English, English-Scots Practical...

Colloquial Scottish Gaelic

Colloquial Scottish Gaelic: The Complete...

Gaelic Word Search

Online Scots Dictionary

Scottish Dictionary

Scotland has a distinguished tradition in lexicography, not only in dictionaries of the Scots and Gaelic languages, but also in contributions by Scots to dictionaries of English. The earliest known dictionaries in Scots are two small Latin-Scots vocabularies published in the 1590s. In the 18th century two very different trends produced word lists. As part of the attempt to anglicise language, lists of so-called Scotticisms were produced to help people to avoid them. On the other hand many people saw the value of the Scots language and its literary traditions, and older texts were published with notes and glossaries. Robert Burns added a word list to his own poems in 1786 and 1787.

John Jamieson’s Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish
Language is a remarkable work, well ahead of its time; it
was first published in 2 volumes in 1808, with a so-called
supplement of equal length in 1825, and it continued to be used, in its various later editions, well into the 20th century, overtaken only by the considerable Scottish content of the Oxford English Dictionary, completed in 1928). The Scottish material is probably due in no small measure to the fact that two of its four main editors were Scots, including its main architect, Sir James Murray. Sir William Craigie (1867-1957) not only made a large contribution to the 0ED, but also edited the Dictionary of American English (1938-44) and became the first editor of the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (12 volumes 1931-2002), which covers Scots from its earliest medieval records and up to 1700.
He was succeeded in the 1950s by A J Aitken (1921-98), who was a pioneer in the use of computers in lexicography.

In the early years of the 20th century a project of word
collection was begun by William Grant (1863-1946) which
eventually developed into the 10-volume Scottish National Dictionary (1931 -76). Grant was succeeded by David Murison (1913-98) who brought the work to completion. Since then the Concise Scots Dictionary (1985) and other shorter works have brought these riches to a wider public, and the two major dictionaries are now available on the Internet in an electronic version produced in Dundee University, known as the Dictionary of the Scots Language. The work is being carried forward by Scottish Language Dictionaries.

Gaelic dictionaries have a less voluminous history but
some interesting people have been involved in them. The first printed word list (1702) was by the Reverend Robert Kirk. Alasdair Mac Mhaighstlr Alasdair compiled Leabhar a Theagasc Ainminnin (Galick and English Vocabulary, 1741) for the SSPCk. The first formal Gaelic dictionary was the Galic and English Dictionary (1780) by the Revd William Shaw (1749- 1831).

Nineteenth-century dictionaries included that of the Highland Society of Scotland completed in 1828, and the
Dictionary of the Gaelic Language by Dr Norman Macleod
(Caraid nan Gàidheal) and Dr Daniel Dewar, in the early 20th century a remarkable work was produced by an Englishman, Edward Dweiiy (1 864-1939), the Illustrated
Gaelic to English Dictionary, first published in parts
(1903—11). Dwelly used Macleod and Dewar as a base and spent long years collecting data from all kinds of sources; the book remains a prime souce of information on Gaelic a century later. Many smaller dictionaries have been published,
including the more specialised Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language (1896) by Alexander MacBain and H C Dieckhoffs Pronouncing Dictionary of Scottish Gaelic (based on the Glengarry Dialect...) (1932), and more recently dictionaries compiled by Gaelic learners, such as Angus Watson’s Essential Gaelic-English Dictionary (2001).

Scottish contributions to the lexicography of English have
not been confined to the OED. The Imperial Dictionary
first published by Blackie a Son (1847-50), edited by John
Ogilvie, revised by Charles Annandale (1882-3), became one of the most popular dictionaries of its time, not least because of its excellent illustrations and generous inclusion of technical terms and encyclopedic information. it later became a main source for the American Century Dictionary (1889-91, 6 volumes), which in its turn had considerable influence on 20th-century dictionaries of English.

Return to Scottish Culture

Tour Scotland
Tour Edinburgh
Tour Island Of Skye

Rent A Self Catering Hoilday Cottage In Scotland

Share This Tour Scotland Web Page

Top Destinations
Tour Europe